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While poking around Iraqi news I ran across an odd little piece in the Arab Times reporting that Israel was denying reports that Israeli fighter jets were using US bases in Iraq to practice for an attack on Iran. My perennial worry about an attack on Iran kicked in – and was not eased by the report in the Sunday Times of London that Bush has “amber lighted” an Israeli attack on Iran:

President George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official.

and that Israel may well want to act before a potential Obama presidency:

Senator Barack Obama’s previous opposition to the war in Iraq, and his apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat, have intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November’s US presidential election. “If I were an Israeli I wouldn’t wait,” the Pentagon official added.

The Israeli news site Ynet makes that last bit even more worrying in their video account which includes a mention of Obama’s plan to visit Israel this summer and notes that:

In the event a military strike takes place during his visit the Democratic candidate would be forced to make a stand regarding the issue possibly jeopardizing his position as America’s next president.

Is that called a "win-win" by the Bush/Olmert crew?

Back to the original report that set me digging about – it all apparently came from Nahrrainnet and Badger translates as follows (in the comments to this post):

People around two US airbases (Assad in Anbar, and Ali bin Abi Talib in Nassiriya) had been noticing unusual nighttime takeoffs and landings of fighter planes, along with unusually tight security for several weeks, and anonymous Iraqi Defence Dept people had concluded it was American or Israeli (more the latter since the Anbar flights seemed to be coming from Jordan), and they pointed out that from the Nassiriya base you could in in Iranian airspace in 5 minutes and to Bushehr very quickly.

The Jerusalem Post article mentioned in the Arab Times reports a official denial of the story but it is less than categorical and AFP ran with the following less than reassuring denials:

Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari dismissed the report on Friday.

"We have no information about Israeli jets using Iraqi airspace for rehearsals," he told AFP.

In Jerusalem, meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesman told AFP he was aware of the report and said, "I have no information on this."

The US military did not comment on the report.

So add this all to the jitters file …

Add as well some very interesting questions over at Pat Lang’s place (and Lang continues to be a must-read especially on Iran)

I am not an expert in the field of missile technology, but the missiles in the faked photograph appear to be anti-aircraft ground to air missiles or artillery rockets. The slanted attitude of launch speaks to that. No? Anti-aircraft missiles would be a threat to aircraft, not to Israeli cities. Artillery rockets are a battlefield weapon.

If those missiles are not ballistic missiles, then several interesting questions arise:

1- Which governments are fooling around here?

2- If these are not ballistic missiles, why are the MSM propagating the implication that this photograph displays missiles that are a threat to Israel?

I’m swearing off caffeine until this all settles …