Iran Is Trying to Expand Its Presence in Syria, and Israel Has Struck Back

Nov. 19 2020

After discovering explosives planted along the Israeli-Syrian border, the IDF on Wednesday morning struck a joint Syrian and Iranian military headquarters near Damascus. Ron Ben-Yishai places the attacks in the context of Tehran’s efforts to turn Syria into a base for attacking the Jewish state:

A new strategic challenge has surfaced in Syria following a recently signed agreement between Tehran and Damascus, which will allow Iran to transfer state-of-the-art air defense designed to combat Israeli aerial attacks. This agreement is evidence of a new phase in Iran’s presence in Syria, with increased shipments of anti-aircraft and missile systems to Syria—most of which are Russian-made or acquired from Moscow—meant to bolsters Bashar al-Assad’s air defenses.

Tehran also threatened to send advanced surface-to-air missiles to Syria, the same ones that shot down an American drone over the Persian Gulf in 2019. There were several attempts to deliver these systems, but according to foreign reports they were always thwarted by the Israel Air Force upon arrival in Syria.

It can be assumed that the installations attacked early Wednesday by the IDF were part of this effort, with Israel sending a clear message that it will not allow Iran to bolster Syria’s anti-air apparatuses with Russian-made equipment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, Syria

How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy

Nov. 25 2020

While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].

Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: France, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, US-Israel relations