Is Canada’s closure of its Tehran embassy a precursor to an attack on Iran?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to reporters this weekend to clarify the reasons behind his government's decision, Friday, to cut ties with Iran.

"Ever since the attack on the British embassy last year, I have increasingly concerned about the safety of our diplomats," he said.

"Whether it's [their] nuclear programs, support from Assad, its antisemitism, its support for terrorism...the risk to our diplomats just keeps going up so ever since last year we have been scaling down our presence."

[ Related: Why Canada severed relations with Iran ]

There are many in the Twitterverse, blogosphere and comment boards that remain skeptical, believing that the closure of Canada's embassy in Tehran is a precursor to an imminent Israeli attack on Iran.  In other words, Harper is getting our diplomats 'out of dodge.'

[ Related: Cut of diplomatic ties to Iran a bad idea: professor ]

On the one hand, it's a theory not without merit.

Over the past month, there have also been a growing number of Israeli media reports suggesting that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear facilities within the coming weeks. According to Time Magazine, the the front pages of the Israeli newspapers have been peppered with such headlines:

"'[Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Ehud] Barak determined to strike Iran in the fall,' proclaimed Yedioth Ahronoth.

Haaretz offered: 'Senior Israeli official — The Iranian sword at our throat is sharper than the run-up to the war in 1967.'

Maariv informed us in its banner headline that 37 per cent of the Israeli public believes that 'If Iran gets the bomb, it might result in a second Holocaust.'

And Yisrael Hayom said: 'Iran significantly speeds up its progress toward the bomb.' The following day, the latter paper included a headline claiming that, according to Israeli TV, a 'Decision by [Prime Minister] Netanyahu and [Defence Minister] Barak to strike Iran is almost final.'"

There is also speculation that some in the Israeli cabinet are pushing for an attack on Iran before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 6; the theory here is that the Barack Obama administration would be politically motivated to back Israeli action.

But while Israel seems motivated to attack, its allies don't.

According to Reuters, Washington has urged Israel to hold fire to give economic sanctions and diplomacy more time to curb Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

Martin Indyk, the U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Clinton, told USA Today that a pre-Nov. 6 attack on Iran would be "disruptive" for Obama and for that reason he doesn't believe Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will act before then.

"[Netanyahu] knows he's going to need the United States," Indyk said.

The impact to Canada if Israel attacks Iran:

Even with our diplomats out of Iran, Canada would experience some painful impacts if Israel attacks:

Gas prices would soar:

Former Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who now operates, recently told Yahoo! Canada News that in the event there is a war with Iran, "the sky is the limit" with regards to gas prices.

"Remember [oil prices] doubled in 1991...last time during the Gulf War," he said.

Canada enters the war:

An Israeli attack on Iran will inevitably lead to a retaliation.

The anecdotal evidence tells us that Canada would come to the defence of its ally. Both Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have publicly touted their unconditional support for the Jewish state.

"There is no better friend to Israel than Canada," Baird said in speech in January.

"We shall always be there for you, and in front of you."

High terror alert levels:

An Israeli attack against Iran would likely spur a new wave of international terrorism.

Does that mean they would attack Canada or Canadian consulates abroad? At the very least, you can expect high terror alert levels in both Canada and the United States.

For Canadians, that would mean longer border lineups and security delays at our airports.

[ More Iran: Iran says may retaliate for Canada's move ]