The U.S. Can Best Restrain Hizballah by Pressuring Beirut

Sept. 15 2017

While Hizballah might now be too involved in Syria to desire conflict with Israel, writes Tony Badran, it is only a matter of time before the organization decides to turn its attention southward. And it will do so from a position of much greater strength, leading to disaster in Lebanon. The U.S. can, and should, try to prevent war:

[T]he war [in Syria] has significantly boosted Hizballah’s strategic position, because it has boosted Iran’s, and Hizballah is simply an extension of Iran. So despite its serious losses, Hizballah has managed to . . . establish territorial contiguity and strategic depth through western Syria. Hizballah and Iran have expanded their direct control over Syrian areas adjacent to the Lebanese border and the Damascus area with its airport. They [also] expanded their presence in southern Syria and are trying to move on eastern Syria to connect with Iran’s assets in Iraq. . . .

Iran and its proxies [now] need time to connect their Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese assets. Hizballah will then use that territory for, among other things, striking Israel, transforming its presence in Syria from a constraint to an enormous advantage. The clock is ticking for Israel. . . .

U.S. policy in the region needs an urgent adjustment to tackle the strategic mess of President Barack Obama’s policy of realignment with Iran. This means that priority should be given to undoing Iran’s position in Syria, and to preventing its deployment of strategic weapons and establishment of military infrastructure there.

Our current failed Lebanon policy should also be radically revised, as it has resulted in the consolidation of Hizballah’s control and in the growth of its military capability. The notion that we can coddle the Lebanese “state,” which Hizballah controls, and support the Lebanese military, which works directly with Hizballah, and then say we’re weakening Hizballah and rolling back Iranian influence simply doesn’t add up. Hizballah is using our investment in Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces to its advantage. That should end.

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Read more at Cipher Brief

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Lebanon, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship