Summary:Comedians say that the art of telling jokes relies on "timing". Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the world's top comic politician, seemed to be proving the point with his "timely" claims about seizing Iranian rockets aboard a cargo ship in the Red Sea.
Standing in front of 40 pointed missiles, each carefully displayed on props (you sense the stilted exhibitionism here), the Israeli leader said the seized cache "showed the true face of Iran" in its support for terrorism. Netanyahu lashed out at Western leaders who are "shaking hands with Iran" and preparing to finalize a political settlement to the long-running nuclear dispute.
Iran swiftly denounced the Israeli allegations as orchestrated, indicating that the capture of munitions on a Panamanian-registered vessel was a set-up.
Even some of the Israeli media have grown weary of such "propaganda stunts" as the newspaper Haaretz described Netanyahu's melodramatic display of Iran's alleged clandestine cargo in the port of Eilat at the weekend. Netanyahu's corny sensationalist manner, standing in front of the green-colored rockets, was reminiscent of his previous presentation to the United Nations using a cartoon bomb in which he claimed then that Iran was "only months away from building a nuclear weapon".
Netanyahu's record of failure over the past 20 years in predicting "imminent" Iranian nuclear arms capability makes him a laughing stock. Some people watching the latest televised stunt of displaying "captured" Iranian rockets may have wished that one of the devices could have accidentally fired off during the Israeli premier's speech.
The buffoonish Netanyahu cannot be taken seriously on anything he says. Nevertheless it is worthwhile defusing the latest Israeli propaganda hoax to reveal the mindset of those in Tel Aviv and their backers in Washington and the Western mainstream media who shamefully never fail to lend credibility to such reprehensible smear jobs. "Israeli forces seize rockets 'destined for Gaza' in raid on Iranian ship in Red Sea", read a headline in the British Guardian, according to press tv.
It is amazing how much credence is afforded to baseless Israeli and Western government claims against Iran. In recent years, the Western public has been fed with tall tales of Iranian plots to assassinate diplomats in Washington, and involvement in bombings or attempted bombings in Argentina, Thailand, India, Georgia, Bulgaria and Kenya. Tellingly, none of these stories, always initially reported with ubiquitous fanfare in the Western media, are ever followed up or substantiated.
Yet the same absurd story line, with dramatic plot variations, is peddled over and over again. This systematic regurgitation shows that the Western media is nothing but an instrument of state propaganda.
Of course, Zionist lobby groups, sympathetic Zionist media owners, reporters, pundits are a big part of the charade. So too is the political agenda of Washington government and its European allies who slavishly indulge Israel for geopolitical reasons, and who are only too glad to undermine Iran with regard to their support for Israel and the despotic Arab oil sheikhdoms, as well as in their covert war against Tehran's ally, Syria.
The latest stunt may be also a pretext for the Western governments to procrastinate on the G5+1 settlement, and to subject Iran to further torturous illegal sanctions.
Let's look at some of the claims in the latest smear job against Iran, which has seen US defense secretary Chuck Hagel also weighing into accuse Iran of "destabilizing the region".
The Israelis claim that Syrian-made M-302 rockets, with a firing range of 160km, were first flown by air cargo to Iran. Then Iran moved the ordnance to the port of Bandar Abbas, where it was loaded on to a ship, the KLOS-C. As mentioned, the ship is reportedly registered in Panama with an owner in the Marshall Islands. So what connection Iran has to the vessel is right away tenuous.
Next, the ship is said to have sailed North to the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq, where it was loaded with bags of cement conveniently bearing Iranian trademarks. The KLOS-C made its way out of the Persian Gulf and into the Red Sea, where Israeli Special Forces raided the ship last week off the coast of Sudan.
The Israelis claim, and Western media gave full vent to the claims, that the rockets were to be shipped over land from Sudan via Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and delivered to Hamas in Gaza. Hamas, as well as Tehran, denies any involvement. It was even speculated in some Western media that the shipment of rockets could also have been intended by Iran for Al-Qaeda groups based in Sinai.
This circuitous route, involving weeks of transport time over one of the most intensely surveyed sea-lanes in the world, does not bear serious scrutiny. The risk of such a smuggling plot being uncovered is so high as to make it implausible. Put another way, the chances of it being part of a stage-managed set-up are all the more plausible.
The destination aspect of the alleged plot does not hold water either. Egypt, under the military junta led by General Abdel al Sisi, has stepped up its collusion with Israel to seal off the Sinai Peninsula and all land crossings into Gaza. The notion of trucks carrying dozens of medium-sized surface-to-surface missiles driving into Gaza, undetected, is inconceivable to the point of ridicule.
So too is the Israeli-inspired sub-plot that Iran may have been trying to send the weapons to Al-Qaeda in Sinai. This group is waging a Western-backed covert terrorist campaign against Syria and against Shiite Muslims in particular. The idea that Shiite Iran or its ally Syria would supply Syrian-made rockets to such enemies illustrates how moronic the thesis for this Israeli propaganda stunt is.
The Israeli seizure, by the way, was given the ever-so contrived title of "Full Exposure". The give-away to this being a stunt is the timing. It came just as Netanyahu was in Washington trying to tell the world that the failure of Mid-East "peace talks" was all the fault of the Palestinians, not anything to do with the genocidal policies of Israel. In other words, it serves as a handy foil to shield Israel from international opprobrium. As Netanyahu was speaking in the White House, Israeli warplanes killed two Palestinians in air strikes on Gaza.
The second timed factor is that Iran is scheduled to complete the G5+1 negotiations for a final settlement over the nuclear dispute. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton was in Tehran at the weekend when Netanyahu fired off rhetorical salvos about "Western hypocrisy in the face of Iranian support for international terrorism". Israel is livid at the prospect of any nuclear deal being reached. And no doubt there are political forces in Washington and Europe that would relish an accord being sabotaged.
Netanyahu went on to warn about Iranian "armed nuclear suitcases" being sent to every port in the world.
Who needs imaginary nuclear-armed suitcases when we already have a nuclear-armed nutcase, Netanyahu and his apartheid regime?
Comic Netanyahu may have a dubious skill at timing, but his tedious jokes have by now become just stupidly bad. The latest one about "Full Exposure" of Iranian rockets has backfired.
By Finian Cunningham
This article originally appeared on ‘US CLOSEUP’ on 12 March.