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`Attack on Iran would ignite regional conflict`
Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – An Israeli strike in Iran will have disastrous ramifications and place Israel and the United States at risk, Bruce Riedel, the former special assistant to the US president and senior director for near east affairs on the National Security Council, told Ynet on Wednesday.

`An Israeli attack on Iran could ignite a regional conflict from Afghanistan to the Gaza strip,` warned Riedel, adding that `for the Americans and the Obama administration it will be a disaster.`

Riedel, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution, noted that such a scenario would lead to an Iranian ballistic missile attack on Israel and another possible front with Hezbollah.

`Hezbollah will see an attack on Iran as a threat to their patron and there is a very good chance that they will initiate (another) Lebanon war only this time (with) even more rockets and missiles than in 2006,` said Riedel, adding that an Israeli strike in Iran must include a preemptive strike on Hezbollah.

The former CIA analyst said The Brookings Institute made a war game simulating an Israeli attack on Iran, and came to the conclusion that a perfect strike is impossible, and would place Israel in a vulnerable position – and the United States in an even tougher spot.

`We have every reason to believe that the Iranian will see an Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities as a joint American-Israeli attack and they will retaliate not only on Israeli targets but on American targets.

`The Iranian (have the) capacity to retaliate against America not only in the Middle East and the Persian gulf – (but even more so) in Afghanistan where we have 90,000 troops and where the Iranians (have) well-established links to the Taliban,` he said.

`Media feeds the flames`
Riedel commented on the recent media frenzy in Israeli papers surrounding the possibility of an IDF strike in the Islamic Republic, saying: `I took a look at your papers. It`s crazy. I don`t really understand why now.

`It almost feeds the flames. Either the Netanyahu government has something new that the rest of us don`t know about, or (he is) misreading the events in the region.

`Perhaps the spoiled assassination (attempt) against the Saudi ambassador would make the Obama government more sympathetic to an attack on Iran. If that`s the case, they are making a very big mistake,` Riedel noted, adding that `the Obama administration made it clear from day one that they don`t support an Israeli military strike on Iran.`

Meanwhile on Wednesday, UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported that Britain`s armed forces are stepping up their contingency plans for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern over Tehran`s nuclear program.

British defense officials told the newspaper that the `the window (of opportunity) is closing and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning` by the 2012 US presidential elections.

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