"... Despite Netanyahu’s theatricality at the United Nations yesterday when he displayed a cartoon like poster of Iran’s nuclear capability, US officials were relieved by the substance of his speech. “He made it clear that Israel is not prepared to use military force anytime soon,” said one State Department official. “It is clear that he realized that he had overplayed his hand with recent and repeated threatening rhetoric.” Another well-placed official agreed, saying, “I think Bibi’s threats were counterproductive.” President Obama doesn’t like to be pushed.”There are other more substantive reasons why the Administration is pleased that the Israelis have given them more time to work out a non-military solution to moving Iran off its present course towards nuclear capability. To begin with, they see Iran, along with its surrogate in Lebanon, Hezbollah, becoming less and less popular with many throughout the Arab world. “Iran is clearly seen as being on the wrong side of the Arab Spring,” said one US analyst. Backing the Assad regime has further tarnished Teheran’s image `on the street’ and has greatly undermined Hezbollah’s appeal across the region.” At home, say US analysts, this is not the Iranian regime of the 1980’s, fresh from the revolution which overthrew the Shah and was capable of mobilizing the population in its war against Iraq. “The last thing we need is military action by Israel that causes the Iranian public to rally around its leadership,” says one a US analyst. Another telling point for those in the Administration most committed to stopping Iran’s nuclear development is that an Israeli military strike would undermine the international sanctions regime laboriously constructed by the US. “If Israel acts, it would allow many countries to get `off the hook’” argues one Administration planner.Israeli officials acknowledge that their Prime Minister has been playing a game of brinksmanship. But they argue that this approach has worked, so far. “It has gotten the major powers to impose serious sanctions on Iran,” notes one well-placed Israeli. Others point out Iran’s oil exports are down by nearly half, while suffering an even greater loss of revenue [due, in part to heavy discounting and other costly maneuvers to allow the continued export of oil]. The value of Iran’s currency has dropped even more dramatically over the past two months as the Rial has lost more than three quarters of its value when weighed against the dollar, according to some sources. Israeli sources also insist, despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s literal use of a red marker to denote the line beyond which Iran must not be allowed to go, that he doesn’t mean to be taken literally. Noting that Iran has already crossed other supposed Israeli “red lines” such as being allowed to enrich its uranium stockpile to 20%, these officials say that what the Israeli leadership seeks is reassurance that the US will not leave them uncertain about its commitment to do what is necessary to prevent Iran from going nuclear. For example, it was noted that the other key Israeli player, Defense Minister Barak, publicly complimented the Administration for its continued military build-up in the Persian Gulf. As one analyst put it, “The Iranians probably believe they can withstand an Israeli attack, but taking on the US is an entirely different matter. Finally, Israeli leaders are fearful that their independent deterrent could be compromised if the US is not seen to be steadfast. As one Israeli official put it last week, “We will not tolerate becoming a client state of the US. Ask other one time American allies how that can sometimes works out.”Among those one time allies the Israelis refer to must certainly include former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak. And these days, the praise now being heaped on his successor, Mohamed Morsi, gives some credence to Israeli concerns. Despite the belated response to mob violence directed against the US Embassy [sparked by the amateur anti-Islam video produced in the US], US officials have become fulsome in their praise of the new Egyptian leadership. While admitting they are still “feeling their way” in the new relationship, already they praise Morsi for saying all the right things about necessary economic reforms [something conspicuously absent when the “SCAF” or military command ran the country after Mubarak’s ouster and before Morsi’s election]. They are also commend him for his commitment to the Israel/Egyptian peace treaty [despite some important caveats] and finally his call for equal treatment of minorities at home [ie the Coptic Christian population]. As one official put it this week after meetings with Morsi at the UN, “He is a man we can do business with.”....... with his obvious political acumen, Moslem Brotherhood organization backing and widespread popular support has the potential to become, in his words, “The most powerful Egyptian in 6,000 years.”
As leader of the most populous Arab Sunni nation, Morsi has also been outspoken in his criticism of the Alawite-led dictatorship in Syria. But like nearly all other outsiders, the Egyptian President has not gone much further than rhetorical pronouncements that the Assad regime must depart. Although there are conflicting reports on the level of lethal assistance being given to rebels by Saudi Arabia and Qataar, it is clear that heavy weaponry, not to mention active engagement by neighbors, the EU and the US is not yet being provided. In fact, despite apparent agreement publicly, there is some bickering about the respective roles that should be played by those countries committed to the regime’s ouster. Privately, US officials are critical of Turkey’s inconsistent policies, while the Turks complain that they cannot act without US leadership. Meanwhile, the French have become more active on the ground as they seem to be moving towards providing the West’s first arms supply. But many junior officials in Washington as well as European capitals say the Syrian bloodbath will go on for many more months unless the US takes a more active leadership role.Again, officials not at a policy making level, tend to be more candid about the situation in Libya. Immediately after the murder of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, they admitted privately that they were caught completely off-guard having, in the words of one State Department insider, “No real protection at the US consulate in Benghazi.” They also say that Stevens himself, although an optimist by nature, believed that Libya’s future was anything but rosy. One long time Steven’s colleague said that the slain Ambassador never thought the Libyans had better than a one in three chance of establishing a stable, democratic nation in the near or medium term."