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With Escalating Conflict in Syria, Israel Can’t Afford to Flinch

Last week, Israel struck Iranian positions near Damascus, evidently to prevent an attack on its own territory. Tehran responded by launching rockets from Syria into the Golan Heights, which either fell short of their targets or were intercepted by Israeli countermeasures; to this, Jerusalem responded with a series of attacks throughout Syria. The episode constitutes a new escalation in the ongoing conflict between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic, about which Yaakov Amidror comments:

Unlike past reports involving attacks on select targets or a single warehouse, the IDF sought to strike a vast array of targets, apparently the entirety of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria—from intelligence outposts to weapons facilities. [In other words], Israel sought to exploit the opportunity to hit a wide range of targets. The IDF had surely been aware of many of these targets for some time, but the opportunity or the diplomatic justification to attack them hadn’t emerged yet. The Iranians created the justification by firing directly at Israel for the first time. The new situation necessitated a different type of response—decisive and comprehensive.

Because Israel cannot allow Iran to build another war machine in Syria—on top of the one it already has in Lebanon in the form of Hizballah—it had to put a “price tag” on Tehran’s activities. Such an attack, if it was indeed successful, will have set the price appropriately. With that, Israel must not ease up. Its intelligence branches need to understand what was destroyed and then identify where and how Iran intends to push its military build-up forward—and neutralize that as well.

Israel’s mission planners [also] need to study the operation and look into the seemingly exaggerated Russian claim that some of the missiles fired by Israel were intercepted by Syrian air defenses (which the IDF targeted only after they opened fire on Israeli planes). They need to think of new attack methods to overcome the dense Syrian defenses, which mainly consist of Russian air-defense systems. The fight isn’t over yet; it seems Iran still hasn’t given up on its plans.

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

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