The present standoff between the US and Russia over Georgia and Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia virtually guarantees that Russia will not support further sanctions against Iran in the United Nations. Since Russia is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto power, it is doubtful that the US and their allies will even bother raising the issue of sanctions against Iran until the conflict over Georgia and the separatist states has been resolved.
So, where does this leave Israel?
Israel and the Israel lobby in the US has been champing at the bit to bomb Iran but would much prefer it if the US were to do it for them. Unfortunately for Israel, the US, or more specifically, George Bush, has got his hands full with an American people who are in no mood for more war, especially on the eve of a Presidential campaign that many see as being one of the most important in American history.
However, all is not entirely lost for those rightwing Israelis itching to let loose on the Iranians. Firstly, Condoleezza Rice has said that the US would not say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Israel doing what it thinks it needs to do in order to ‘defend’ herself, which, of course, is an open invitation for Israel to attack Iran. Secondly, the fact that Russia is now unlikely to support further UN sanctions against Iran could work in Israel’s favour. Waiting for the slow process of the UN imposed sanctions to wind its way through the system has always been the cause of great frustration to Israel but, since the US has insisted that it must go down this road in order to get public opinion on side, Israel has just had to grit its teeth and go along with it. Now, though, they can see themselves being relieved of that particular burden and claim that there is now no time to waste and that Iran is an immediate threat that can no longer be tolerated especially since the UN is no longer able to apply sanctions. In this case Israel may just feel free to ‘unilaterally’ attack Iran but knowing full well that the US will come to Israel’s aid just as soon as the first shot has been fired by Israel.
Which all kind of begs the question: What was the Georgians aim of attacking South Ossetia in the first place and to what extent was there Israeli involvement and US collusion given that we know that there was very heavy Israeli influence within the Georgian government among some of their ministers?