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Reply #26: US Marines in Red Sea - Help or Hinder Israel Attack on Iran? [View All]

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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-25-05 09:11 AM
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26. US Marines in Red Sea - Help or Hinder Israel Attack on Iran?
Edited on Wed May-25-05 09:14 AM by leveymg
Israeli jets can attack Iran without overflying any third country. But, IAF fighter-bombers and tankers would have to fly down the Red Sea to do so. Denied direct U.S. assistance, Israel might move to seize a temporary landing field en route to Iran to carry out such a mission. Preparations for this would likely be spotted by American forces who have redeployed in force without much explanation in the area.

Look at a map of the region. This explains what may be about to happen.

IAF F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers fly south from bases near Elat Airport in Southern-most Israel out the Gulf of Aqaba and straight down the middle of the Red Sea (1100 nm.) The Red Sea exits at the Gulf of Aden into the Arabian Sea where, over international waters, these planes are refueled by IAF tanker aircraft (yes, they have them), and then proceed northeast another 900 nm until they turn 90 degrees left, flying into Iran near the entrance to the Persian Gulf at the Straights of Hormuz. From there, it's a straight line to the nuclear reactor at Bushehr 300 nm northwest up the Iranian coast and on to other targets in Iran.

Approached from the Arabian Sea, IAF F-15s can strike anywhere within Iran, while the shorter-range F-16s can hit targets in the southern half of the country before they have to turn around and fly back out to meet circling Israeli Air Force air tankers, fill up again, before returning to bases in Israel.

Not an easy mission, but not outside the technical abilities of the Israelis. Everyone will feign surprise, particularly in Washington. Aside from Iran, no one can complain about encroachment into their airspace, and Iran will have a hard time justifying to the world any decision to attack U.S. or third country installations in the region on the basis that Israel received de facto overflight rights.

This makes it almost too tempting for Sharon to resist. Because we armed Israel with 600 bunker busters and a whole lot of other guided munitions (not to mention the aircraft to deliver them to targets in Iran), of course, Iran would blame the U.S. for all the Iranian citizens who are going to be killed by such an attack. Therefore, Iran may decide to launch its missiles and chemical and biological weapons at US targets in the region anyway.

Such an eventuality would likely signal a wider war with massive casualties.

Recent U.S. activity on the Coast of the Red Sea in Northern Somalia

There have been reports that US Marines are back in some numbers in Northeast Somalia. Marine helicopters seem to be looking for something on the ground in the area on the Red Sea coast between Berbera and Basaso. Yet, that area has generally been quiet.

We all know Israel has been very publicly planning to bomb nuclear installations in Iran. However, Sharon apparently hasn't been able to get overflight rights from anyone in the region, not even the US that controls Iraqi airspace. So, the Israeli Air Force will have to fly F-15s and F-16s around the Arabian Peninsula to get to Bushehr, a 4,500 mile round trip.

Problem is, according to public sources, the IAF only have five tanker aircraft. Not enough to refuel a sufficient number of strike aircraft to assure a successful mission. If this is the case, they could be preparing to temporarily seize airstrips in north-east Somalia near the outlet of the Red Sea.

There's a paved 13,000 ft. runway at Berbera and a 3,500 ft. dirt strip at Bosaso, on the coast of the Gulf of Aden. The long, paved strip could be a place to land and refuel the three big KC-135 (Boeing 707) IAF tankers and perhaps some of the fighter-bombers. The turboprop KC-130s could use one of several dirt strips.

If the Marine helicopters spot foreigners with lots of refueling equipment near Somali landing strips, that might tell them something. The U.S. could also be doing friendly reconnaisance in preparation for such an Israeli operation. Or, they could just be looking for Osama's friends in Somaliland, which is the public cover.

The question then comes down to whether the Bush Administration actually decides to assist the Israelis bomb Iran, thwart that plan, or look the other way. One thing is most unlikely: such an attack by Israel would really come as a surprise at the White House.
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