Israel Must Seize the Initiative in the Simmering Conflict with Hizballah

At least since March, when its operatives set off a bomb near the town of Megiddo, injuring an Israeli, Hizballah has engaged in acts that seem intended to provoke Jerusalem, or at least to test its limits. Jacob Nagel argues that a firmer approach is necessary:

Israel must punish Hizballah for every provocation and attempt to change the situation on the ground in Lebanon, but this is not enough: Israel must also punish those who fund and encourage Hizballah, i.e., Iran. The Iranian punishment does not have to come immediately or directly; there are many ways and means to harm and weaken Iran.

The IDF knows how to carry out such a shift in policy. As has been the case in the recent operations in Jenin and many times in the past in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria, this must include the element of surprise, subterfuge, and a disproportionate response that will harm [Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan] Nasrallah, his organization, and the state of Lebanon. The fear of escalation is understandable, but it cannot be the leading factor in the decision-making process by the IDF and the cabinet. The IDF is the strongest power in the Middle East; those who should fear a potential deterioration are Hizballah, Iran, and Lebanon. If Israel will act wisely, this will be the case, as we have seen in the past.

Nasrallah understands strength and identifies weaknesses, and now his perception (never mind if he is right or wrong) is that Israel has been deterred; . . . he must be disabused of that notion.

I am definitely not calling for a war in the north, but in order to prevent a war, Nasrallah must understand that it will not break out on his terms, nor will it end by the power of his decision. If Nasrallah will not understand the message, Israel must take the initiative.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy