Iraq’s Disintegration Threatens Israeli Security

Last week, a heretofore unheard-of Iraqi militia, likely sponsored by Tehran, threatened to “bomb” the Jewish state. The week before, Iran-backed guerrillas launched a rocket at an Iraqi military base used by the U.S. military—one of many signs that the Islamic Republic’s terrorist network in the country is stepping up its attacks. Jonathan Spyer notes a common thread connecting these events:

The Iranian strategy for Iraq is clear. . . . The intention, along the lines of what [Iran] has already achieved in Lebanon [through Hizballah], is that the formal structures of representative government should remain, but should be hollowed out of any meaningful content. Political [and] military structures in the service of Iran will enjoy freedom of action and will possess military capacities superior to those of the nominal forces of the state.

The territory of the country will then be used both for the transportation of men and materiel in the direction of Israel, and for the deployment of missiles capable of reaching the territory of the Jewish state. . . . Iran has already deployed missiles in the deserts of western Iraq, in the hands of its militias, that have Israel within range.

In the event of the “First Northern War” as Israeli defense planners call the scenario of a general war between Israel and Iran with its proxies, Iraq would play an important role in the transfer of weaponry. The Shiite militias would be used to provide additional manpower for the Iranian side, as seen in the Syrian civil war. Missiles would almost certainly be launched from Iraqi soil.

Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iraq, Israeli Security

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy