Saturday, May 09, 2009

still no war with Iran

Iran war watch; Pat Lang quotes a Ha'aretz story about the Israeli air force practising long-range missions towards Gibraltar as preparation for an attack on Iran. The original is here. The first thing that is interesting is that this story has been repeated at regular intervals for some time. In fact, I believe it's been floated every spring for several years (2007, for example). The second is that, if you look at the actual text, it's got several markers of nonsense in it; the only sources are references to other media, and none of those actually quote any text. There are direct claims, but they are sourced to anonymous intelligence briefers, and they don't actually corroborate the story. Rather wonderfully, one of them goes so far as to say that:
The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words
Of course not. But what I'm interested in is the significance of Gibraltar here; it's not a set of coordinates in the open ocean or the desert, it's an actual place with people, who have newspapers and the Internet. (Of course, it's possible that it has a similar psychic significance to the Be'kaa Valley as a Happy Hunting Ground of nonsense.) Not only that, it's a military base that bristles with radars and electronic intelligence equipment. Carrying out a major air exercise near it seems...bizarre, unless the point was to show off.

But the only people who they could show off to would be GCHQ, and they aren't talking. And it's not just Britain, either. Both Spain and Morocco have air-traffic control and air-defence radars operating in the area. Further, wouldn't it all have been a bit obvious? Past descriptions of this mentioned as many as 50 aircraft, an impromptu airshow that could hardly have failed to attract attention on the beach at La Linea.

This is what the Panorama, Gibraltar's local newspaper since 1975, has to say:
This is not the first time that there has been a mention of 'Israeli military aircraft flying to Gibraltar', but in the past this has been interpreted to mean that aircraft may have flown to the 'Strait of Gibraltar area' and back to Israel, but NOT to Gibraltar itself.
So nobody's actually seen one? Consider me the Tony Dye of Iran-war bullshit.

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