Market Overview

Moment of Truth: Israeli Air Force Preparing for Attack on Iran?

Should we expect Israel to attack Iran this summer?

The Drudge Report on Sunday linked to an article from The Times of Israel's Greg Tepper suggesting that the Israeli Air Force is "gearing up" for an attack on Iran. According to the article, journalist Alon Ben-David "had spent weeks with the pilots and other personnel" in preparing an extensive report for a major Israeli TV station. Even further, Ben-David's "assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor."

According to Ben-David, "No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May... But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense." The P5+1 countries include France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and the United States. If negotiations fail to dissuade Iran and an order is given for the attack, "'dozens if not more planes' will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid-air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters." Whereas the Israel Air Force "does not have the capacity to destroy the entire Iranian program", the outcome of such a strike "won't be definitive."

According to the article, Ben-David said that in the event that negotiations "break down" and Iran "moves key parts of its nuclear to its Qom facility", the Israeli Air Force "is likely to get the order and to set out on the long journey to Iran." Ben-David: "Years of preparations are likely to come to realization... The moment of truth is near."

The article ominously suggested that an attack on Iran "would presumably" ignite a regional war "with missile attacks" from Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is significant to note that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently commented that Sinai has become a "terror zone" in light of a rocket being fired from terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. In the aftermath of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Ben-David said, "There will be no tranquility and peace anywhere in Israel." According to Ben-David's report, "This could be the first full-scale war the IAF has fought in nearly 30 years."

Whereas Ben-David's report seems to foreshadow an impending attack on Iran, it would appear that the P5+1 negotiations will be key as to what may come this summer. According to the Hill's Lacie Olson, "There is some reason to believe that these talks may hold more promise than those of the past. Burdened by ever-tightening sanctions and the increasing threat of attack, Tehran may be more willing to negotiate." Even so, Olson suggested that the "the reopening of dialogue" appears to be merely a "first step in a long process" toward a workable solution.

Per Olson, "the US...has shown some willingness to compromise in recent weeks." Olson discussed that "the Obama Administration has reason to avoid escalation and seek diplomatic progress, particularly in an election year." In terms of the White House's perspective on an Israeli attack on Iran, former US diplomat John Bolton recently suggested that "the Obama administration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran's nuclear program." The alleged leak pertains to an article in Foreign Policy magazine discussing that "Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan -- along Iran's northern border." Bolton: "I think this leak...is part of the administration's campaign against an Israeli attack."

While an Israeli attack on Iran may be against Pres. Obama's interests in potentially causing skyrocketing gas prices and declining approval ratings in an election year, Bolton commented, "Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak. This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I'll leak this out. It's just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies." Whereas the administration may have reasons for taking steps to avoid such an attack, the coin has two sides -- in terms of diplomatic ramifications and public criticism. Conservative commentator Mark Levin recently opined that the Obama administration's foreign policy has been a disaster -- with America's enemies not fearing the US and America's allies not trusting the US.

In terms of the timing of an Israeli attack on Iran, Zero Hedge's Tyler Durden had a very interesting article on March 21, 2012 discussing how an Israeli attack would probably occur during a moonless, New Moon period in order for Israeli forces to have a night vision advantage over Iranian defenses. Durden: "Following last Friday's majority vote by the Israel Security Council authorizing Iranian 'action' when required, answering the 'if', the only open question remains 'when.'" According to the Rapidan Group, "officials see high odds of an attack sometime between 2Q12 and the end of the year, with most pointing to 2Q or 3Q. If Israel elects to conduct a conventional military strike, the optimal conditions would be moonless and cloudless nights."

The Rapidan Group discussed that "[a]ttackers would want to avoid sandstorms, which have afflicted Iran in April, July, and September in recent years." Per Durden's analysis, "If one removes the sandstorm prone months of April, July, and September, there are 7 periods in which a military strike is realistic." Owing to the possibility of sandstorms, the maneuvering of aircraft carriers in the Middle East, and recently instituted limits on crude trading, Durden noted that "one can likely eliminate the immediately proximal March 17-27 window. Which leaves six." These six New Moon windows include May, June, August, October, November and December.

It is significant to note that per Durden's analysis, the next scheduled window opens on April 16, 2012 and closes April 26, 2012. Given the development of diplomatic talks, the next optimal windows open on May 15, 2012 and June 14, 2012 with New Moons on May 20, 2012 and June 19, 2012. In taking into account possible sandstorms, if we make it to July 2012 and there has yet been no attack on Iran, the next optimal period would appear to be between August 12, 2012 and August 22, 2012 with the New Moon on August 17, 2012.

For those who use astrology in forecasting markets and forming trading strategies, it is interesting to note that the August period occurs during the Leo sign of the Zodiac, with Leo being a fire sign and the lion symbol being reminiscent of the tribe of Judah, the tribe of King David. An odd coincidence? In light of Durden's analysis, we could very well see spikes in crude oil prior to the six remaining windows in 2012. In taking into account the wisdom of crowds, we could see a considerable rise in the price of crude oil in the days and weeks prior to an actual attack on Iran as the market could portend such an event. West Texas Intermediate crude oil is currently trading at $102.85. To put things into perspective, the current regular average gasoline price in the US is currently $3.89. In light of geopolitical tension and precarious economic times, we could very well be in for a long, hot summer in the months to come.

Posted-In: Long Ideas Commodities Politics Psychology Topics Economics Hot Markets Best of Benzinga

 

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