On Feb. 25, an Israeli television report revealed that President Barack Obama will detail for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “window of opportunity” for a United States military strike against Iran during their scheduled March meeting, according to the Times of Israel.
The report cites June 2013 as the optimal timeframe for the U.S. to begin military operations against Iran, with President Obama planning to urge Prime Minister Netanyahu during his March visit to “sit tight” by refraining from deploying the Israeli armed forces into any potential combat with the Islamic Republic. Prime Minister Natanyahu will also be asked to not speak publicly about Iran or any potential military conflict between the nation and Israel and its allies, according to Times of Israel account of the report.
President Barack Obama’s timing of June 2013 as the “window of opportunity” to begin a U.S. war campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran could be revealing in terms of intelligence operations. Iran is scheduled to have national elections to determine the successor to outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 14. The last Iranian presidential election stirred weeks of riots and street violence after Ahmadinejad was declared the victor by the nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
During the intervening four-year period, President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly challenged the Supreme Leader and his allies at the top of the Islamic Republic’s theocratic establishment. Although Iran elects an official president and a parliament, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei possesses ultimate authority over the nation, its foreign policy, the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, and is the commander of its armed forces.
Beneath the somewhat quiet surface, Iran’s political system is deeply divided between the ruling elitists and clerics in the Islamic Republic’s theocratic establishment controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and the populist passions of the revolutionaries who deposed the Shah while they were college students in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and which are personified by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As the Christian Science Monitor described in a Feb. 5, 2013 article detailing Iran’s ongoing internal political conflicts, by writing:
“Yet Ahmadinejad has since challenged Ayatollah Khamenei himself, and today is disregarding months-old advice from the Supreme Leader, who said that, before the June election, anyone who ‘tries to take differences to the public and use their feelings…will be committing treason.’”
The Christian Science Monitor account interviewed a respected Iranian political analyst from Tehran – speaking on condition of anonymity because of the dangerous political climate in the nation - who described the exploding tensions between the factions represented by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad in historic terms by saying:
“The fight is so serious, it's like they are going for the kill, We have the expression in Persian, that they have 'fastened their swords on top of their clothes,' and are fighting in the open. That has scared the rest of the establishment, and they don't know what to do with it.”
The internal clashes in a divided Iran could present President Barack Obama with a unique opportunity to use U.S. armed forces to strike the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities and attempt to destroy its uranium enrichment program.
Evidence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s fear of political dissent is the fact that the 2009 Iranian presidential candidates who contested the election – and lost, due to the decision of the Supreme Leader – by encouraging their supporters to reject Ahmadinejad’s claim of victory are still under detention.
Nearly four years after the 2009 post-election crisis, opposition leaders Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi – and their wives - remain under house arrest for the past two years since the Supreme Leader’s security forces detained them in February 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Neither man has received a trial and the Iranian government has set no guidelines for their release.
During a visit to London on Feb. 25, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran that time for negotiating the nation’s ascendant nuclear program is running out. Without explicitly threatening military strikes against the Islamic Republic, Kerry clearly engaged in unmistakable saber-rattling by saying:
“The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now, here is still time but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure. And so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians.”
President Barack Obama, according to the Times of Israel report, now appears ready to embrace Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “red line” regarding the Iranian nuclear program. The consequences of such aggressive action will stand in contrast to Obama’s history, as many have noted over the past four years about President Obama’s feckless response in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, and will undeniably be a “game changer” that defines his legacy.