Russia May Be Setting the Stage for Hizballah’s Next War with Israel

For several years, Hizballah forces have been deployed in Syria to defend the reign of Bashar al-Assad. The Iran-sponsored militia has thus become a de-facto ally of Russia in its fight against Syrian rebels. Jonathan Schanzer explains the implications for Israel:

Iran is . . . arming Hizballah in preparation [not just to fight in Syria but also] for the next conflict with Israel. In fall 2015, Israel’s military assessed that Hizballah had increased its rocket arsenal from an estimated 100,000 to roughly 150,000 since the Syrian war began. [In addition], Russia [has] established fusion centers so that it could coordinate its war effort with Iran, Hizballah, and the Assad regime. Hizballah has benefited from Russian air cover, and even fought alongside Russian forces against Syrian rebels.

Meanwhile Iran and its Lebanese proxy have tried to exploit both the Russian presence and the fog of war to move what Israelis have called “game-changing weapons” from the war zone to Lebanon. Israeli officials say the weapons they are attempting to acquire include long-range and high-payload rockets, lethal anti-ship missiles, and perhaps even sophisticated anti-aircraft systems. . . .

The longer Iran and Hizballah have to perfect their weapons-smuggling infrastructure, the higher the likelihood of a successful transfer of “game-changing weapons.” Hizballah already has tens of thousands of rockets, but a successful transfer of more advanced weapons would be a red line for Israel, prompting a pre-emptive strike before those weapons can be deployed.

The Israelis have warned repeatedly that the next war with Hizballah could be one in which Israel will seek nothing less than total defeat and ousting of Hizballah from Lebanon. Vladimir Putin’s foray into Syria has been described as an attempt to resurrect Russia’s past. But Soviet actions in the Middle East contributed inexorably to the Six-Day War and its own weakening in the region. Russia risks repeating the mistakes it made a half-century ago, mistakes that still have a profound impact on the region today.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC