Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Secret Israeli Pirates

An article posted on Monday by TIME magazine alleges that the Russian ship which disappeared in the Atlantic last month was secretly carrying arms. Furthermore, it argues that the ship was not hijacked by Russian and former-soviet hijackers, but was in fact intercepted by Israel. The following meager justifications are given for this challenge to the official version of facts:

1) Israel has been wary of Russian arms sales to states like Iran, with little progress on the diplomatic front.
2) Shimon Peres paid a surprise visit to Russia on August 18, 2009, a day after the ship was rescued.

Neither of the two justifications are particularly compelling. While it's true that Israel hasn't successfully guaranteed Russia will refuse to sell arms, such as the S-300 anti-aircraft system, to Iran, it's dubious Israel would go so far as to intercept a Russian ship. Firstly, Israel is getting support from Europe and the U.S. in its push to halt Russian arms sales to Iran. Secondly, considering Israel's slightly compromised position vis-a-vis its relationship with the U.S., alienating Russia is probably not the best move at this point. The article also fails to mention that at the August 19th meeting, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev promised to reconsider Russia's plans to provide arms to Iran. This is not really the reaction you'd expect from a country who'd just had a ship intercepted by one of their allies in the Middle East. An ally the size of New Jersey.

Also, while the Estonian admiral quoted by TIME might be an expert in piracy, he is certainly not an expert in Israeli foreign policy. And blaming "Israel" in general is a vague blanket accusation that lacks any specifics or details. Were the men involved Mossad agents? Were they working on behalf of Mossad? Is an Estonian army chief objective about an issue involving Russia? In the absence of any evidence whatsoever, its impossible to say that the case made in the TIME article is in any way conclusive or valid.

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