The Arrest of Two Operatives Shows That Hizballah Poses a Serious Threat to the U.S.

Syrian opposition leaders asked John Kerry last September why America wouldn’t support them in fighting Iranian proxies like Hizballah. The secretary of state bluntly replied that “Hizballah is not plotting against us.” This statement, difficult to believe at the time, has been proved decisively false by the recent arrest of two highly trained Hizballah agents—both naturalized U.S. citizens. Marc C. Johnson writes:

It seems clear now that Kerry’s principal motivation in attempting to steer the opposition away from any confrontation with Iran’s terrorist proxies was fear of angering the regime in Tehran. Kerry was at pains to avoid jeopardizing the Obama administration’s already fragile nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, which Barack Obama and his team desperately wanted to hold up as a key, legacy-burnishing foreign-policy achievement. But Kerry’s off-the-cuff comment betrayed either a shocking ignorance or cynical indifference. . . .

Hizballah, it should be noted, is the most advanced terrorist organization operating today. It long ago became a de-facto state within the country of Lebanon [and] has both a functional military wing and fairly sophisticated intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities. The members of this latter branch . . . operate just like many moderately advanced sovereign intelligence and security services the world over. They identify, train, recruit, and dispatch spies for all the usual reasons that nation-states do so. But their spies have the added mandate of preparing for and executing terrorist attacks.

For every [Hizballah operative] that is caught and prosecuted, there are others still lurking in the shadows. And these are no mere “sleeper cells”; they are active, planning, and preparing for eventual operations against and even within the United States. Dangerous as Islamic State and al-Qaeda may be, they have achieved nowhere near this level of sophistication in terms of planning, training, or spycraft. Arrests such as these are a sobering reminder that, contrary to what John Kerry may believe, Hizballah continues to plot against us, both here and abroad.

Read more at National Review

More about: Hizballah, John Kerry, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy

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