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The Coming War with Hizballah and Other Thoughts from Israel’s Former Chief of Military Intelligence

Jan. 22 2018

Amos Yadlin was the Labor party’s candidate for defense minister in Israel’s 2015 elections, served as deputy commander of the Israeli air force and later as the head of IDF intelligence, and in 1981 flew one of the planes that bombed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. In conversation with Zev Chafets, he discusses some of the threats and challenges confronting the Jewish state. On the possibility of war with Hizballah, Yadlin comments:

[Israel must] prepare not for a third war in Lebanon but for the first “northern war,” one that will be fought not only against Hizballah but against Syria and Iranians in Syria, all along the northern front. . . . Israel has a better air force [and] better intelligence [than its enemies], and it has learned the lessons of previous wars and implemented them. This time, for example, it will not differentiate between Hizballah and Lebanon. And if Bashar al-Assad joins the fighting, he could well lose everything he has gained, with Russian help, over the past two years. . . .

[Nonetheless], we will pay a higher price than we did during the Lebanon war of 2006, especially on the home front. Israel has developed a very effective defensive shield built on several layers and dimensions, including the world’s best missile-defense system. We have intelligence capabilities that will allow us to destroy some long-range rockets on their launch pads. We can also mitigate damage [at home] with an early-warning system that will give civilians a couple of minutes to reach shelter. But there will be substantial damage.

Israelis are resilient. But they are also critical. There is an asymmetrical balance of expectations on both sides. They want the IDF to protect them 100-percent, to win the war in six days, and to force the other side to raise a white flag of surrender. This will never happen. If we measure the score of the next war like a basketball game, Israel will win 99 to 19. Hizballah will declare a divinely inspired victory. Israelis will complain and nominate a committee to investigate the failure.

As for the possibilities of an American peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, rumored to be in the making, Yadlin comments:

As an Israeli, I’m praying that it will be a success. As an analyst, I think the chances for a final deal are close to zero. But if President Trump can come up with something that is good enough for now—an arrangement that preserves Israeli security, enables Palestinian state-building from the bottom up, and demonstrates to our Arab allies that we are sincere—he will deserve a Nobel Prize. The rest of the unbridgeable parameters he can leave for future generations to solve.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Donald Trump, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen