US, Israel in open rift over Iran, cancel a joint military drill

USS Abraham Lincoln and its battle group is on its way to the Persian Gulf as the US builds up military presence around Iran
The US and Israel cancel a joint military drill, which was originally scheduled to be held in spring, in what seems to be a sign of deepening rifts between the age-old allies

On January 5, Israeli military announced that Tel Aviv is gearing up for a major missile defense exercise, codenamed Austere Challenge 12, with US forces.

According to DEBKAfile, a recent comment by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon sparked a dispute between Washington and Tel Aviv and prompted the White House to call off the January 15 drill.

Speaking in an early morning radio interview, the Israeli official said the United States was hesitant over sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank and oil sector for fear of a spike in oil prices.

Following his interview, Washington announced that the exercise had been officially postponed from spring 2012 to the last quarter of the year over “budgetary constraints” – an obvious diplomatic locution for cancellation.

An unnamed military source told DEBKAfile that the White House made the announcement urgently at an unusually early hour Washington time to underscore the Obama administration’s total disassociation from any preparations to attack Iran. Washington also aimed to stress its position that if an attack took place, Israel alone would be accountable.  Continue reading