The Pros and Cons, for Israel, of the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

The American decision to remove its troops from Syria benefits Iran to Israel’s detriment, writes Yaakov Amidror, but there is also a potential upside for the Jewish state:

Israel must operate on the . . . assumption that has always been the foundation of [its] defense doctrine: that Israel will defend itself. This is the country’s raison d’être as well as the outcome of geopolitical realities. . . .

With respect to [Israel’s] battles against Iran, there will be no change after the withdrawal of American forces, for the simple reason that the American forces have not taken part in these battles. The U.S. did not even once act against the Iranian war machine that is emerging in Syria. All U.S. forces and efforts were invested in the elimination of Islamic State (IS). . . . [Nevertheless], the withdrawal of American forces will immediately open up new maneuvering possibilities for the Iranians, which were previously denied them due to the presence of the important American base in the region on the main transportation route connecting Iraq and Syria, close to the Jordanian border.

The Iranian dream of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean which will serve their logistic needs will quickly be realized after the American withdrawal. Such a move will make it much easier for Iran to transport equipment and forces by land, and therein lies its importance both to Hizballah and to the project of building an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. . . . There is no doubt that this will pose a greater challenge to Israel. . . .

From Israel’s point of view, [however], there are [also] two possible benefits arising from the president’s decision. Once the U.S. has left the region, there will be one fewer player that Israel must consider when planning its operations in Syria. In general, an equation with fewer variables is easier to understand and deal with. . . . The withdrawal of the U.S. leaves Israel as the strongest and most stable country in the region and the only serious player with which the main Arab countries can cooperate in the confrontation with Iran and IS. The extent to which Israel’s position is strengthened as a result of the vacuum left by the Americans is difficult to assess, but the potential benefits are significant.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat