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Israel’s Risky Strategy of Banking on Muted Iranian Response in Syria
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It is likely that Israel launched the missile attack in Syria that killed at least 26 pro-government fighters, many of them Iranians, late on Sunday night. The targets included a ground-to-ground missile depot that exploded with the seismic impact of a small earthquake.

Iranian news outlets first confirmed and then denied that Iranian facilities had been destroyed, suggesting that Tehran wants to deny that the incident took place because it does not intend to retaliate against Israel at this time.

Israel has not confirmed officially that it was responsible for the airstrikes, but the Israeli media is reporting them as if there was no doubt that Israel was behind them.

Iran may feel that retaliatory military action against Israel is not in its interests in the days leading up to Donald Trump’s likely withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal on 12 May.

The Iranian leadership will want to avoid providing Mr Trump with an excuse for his actions, thus enabling them to put as much blame as possible on the US for pulling out of the 2015 agreement.

Israel may calculate that it can expect to benefit from Iranian restraint in Syria for the next few weeks or even months, even if Israel escalates its airstrikes against Iran-related targets.

It is a risky strategy: much depends on the extent of Israeli ambitions in Syria. It can expect strong support from the US and the new, hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had just left Israel when the missile attacks took place.

But if the Israeli air war in Syria continues and begins to affect the balance of power in the seven-year civil war, then Iran will certainly retaliate. Iranian reaction to developments affecting its interests in the Middle East – such as the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 – have tended in the past to be long delayed but effective.

Sustained Israeli military action in Syria could not single out Iranian targets. It would draw in Russia which does not want to see the military successes of it ally, Bashar al-Assad, reversed by Israel. Relations between Israel and Russia are deteriorating: previously Israel informed the Russians about impending Israeli attacks, but this liaison is reported to have lapsed.

Israeli strikes in Syria have increased this year, primarily focusing on facilities where Iranian fighters and equipped were alleged to be based. Serious incidents include an Israeli warplane shot down returning from a bombing raid in Syria on 9 February and an Israeli attack on the Syrian government’s T4 airbase between Homs and Palmyra on 9 April that killed seven Iranians.

Israel is certainly capable of inflicting losses on Iran in Syria, but would not be able to force them out of the country. Trying to do so might well provoke a wider war. US policy in Syria is contradictory, with Mr Trump demonising Iran as the source of all evil which must be opposed, but also saying that he wants to pull US forces out of the country.

An Israeli-Iranian confrontation in Syria, would add yet another battle front to the conflict there that already has multiple fronts.

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If sustained, it could draw in Hezbollah in Lebanon which has been an important ally of Assad. The US may back a more aggressive Israeli posture in Syria, but the single-minded obsession of the Trump administration with Iran as the source of all instability in the Middle East is dangerously simple-minded and injects more instability into a region already deeply unstable.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Israel, Syria 
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  1. “the single-minded obsession of the Trump administration with Iran as the source of all instability in the Middle East is dangerously simple-minded”

    Unfortunately it looks as if Trump has little control over “the Trump administration”. I’ve been saying for ages that Obama’s policies were relatively restrained.

    I wonder what FBI/CIA have on Trump, that President Trump is so much more Bush-like than Candidate Trump?

    • Agree: Felix Keverich
    • Replies: @Realist
  2. Jimmy Joe says:

    Here is an article that looks at the main reason why Benjamin Netanyahu wants a war with Iran:

    https://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2018/05/bibis-folly-benjamin-netanyahu-irans.html

    Given his track record for inaccurately predicting the ability of Israel’s enemies to develop nuclear weapons, Washington would be unwise to be dragged into Bibi’s latest folly.

  3. keitham says:

    It could have been a “friendly fire” false flag by Iran (for reasons yet unknown) for all we know since US has denied any involvement, “israel” too and there hasn’t been one body presented yet of the alleged victims and most importantly:

    Syria’s superb defences that has intercepted and to some 75-90% nullified not only “israeli” attacks but the mighty F.U.K.U.S (France, UK, US) onslaught, didn’t even react. One thing is certain, the impostors in occupied Palestine who usually braggs about everything is more befuddled and perplexed than anything else.

    Our staunch zionist Cockburn of course is [email protected] that the Yinon Plan is going down the drain and that his “dear leader” Benny Mileikowsky aka Yahoo is stupidly giving the game away.

    • Replies: @Momus
    , @El Dato
  4. Realist says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    I wonder what FBI/CIA have on Trump, that President Trump is so much more Bush-like than Candidate Trump?

    The ability to kill him and his family anyplace, anytime.

    • Replies: @mr meener
  5. El Dato says:
    @keitham

    It could also have been UFOs.

    US has denied any involvement, “israel” too

    No, “israel” has neither confirmed nor denied.

    Which means it was them.

    But yeah, the bad part is that they went in fast & easy and no-one seem to have even seen them coming.

    Those air defenses are still Emmentaler.

  6. imbroglio says:

    Whether it’s Cockburn or Giraldi or any of the (((anti))) crowd, these Monday morning quarterbacks always assume that Israeli policy is both deviously intelligent and naively stupid.

    • Replies: @Realist
  7. mr meener says:
    @Realist

    if I was trump and they threatened me like that I would call in the delta force commander and give him a long list of targets

    • Replies: @Realist
  8. Nabakov says:

    US won’t get rest until they see the whole Middle East divided and and destroyed just for the sake of Israel’s security.

    • Replies: @Realist
  9. Realist says:
    @mr meener

    if I was trump and they threatened me like that I would call in the delta force commander and give him a long list of targets

    I would, at first, tend to agree with that. But it is fraught with problems:

    Where do you get the list?
    It better be complete..
    How do you know the delta force commander is not part of it?
    The President does not have the authority to do that….legally.
    There would be a political shit storm.
    Do you have proof?

    Probably others I overlooked.

    If Trump were a dictator it would be a lot different. He would have his own secret organization. He would not be encumbered by laws or press, politics would not matter.
    Dictators are seldom overthrown from within.

    Trump is, kind of, in a reverse dictator situation. He is in effect trying to overthrow the dictators.

  10. Realist says:
    @Nabakov

    US won’t get rest until they see the whole Middle East divided and and destroyed just for the sake of Israel’s security.

    It isn’t just for Israel. The Deep State wants total world domination or a unipolar (kind of an oxymoron) world. Number one in hegemony.

  11. Realist says:
    @imbroglio

    Whether it’s Cockburn or Giraldi or any of the (((anti))) crowd, these Monday morning quarterbacks always assume that Israeli policy is both deviously intelligent and naively stupid.

    I pick deviously intelligent. They know that they can’t deceive everyone, but enough to make it work.

  12. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:

    I hope Pakistan comes to its senses , disengages from S Arab and USA Embraces Russia and Iran .
    sail its submarines near Lebanon coast

  13. Custer says:

    The American military has not been under civilian control for quite some time. This was put on public display when Trump said he wanted to get out of Syria, then the next day generals were testifying before Congress saying that it would not happen and that the American military was going to get more involved in Syria.

    These are not ‘contradictory’ statements. The key is to realize that the American military has no one above it who is ‘in charge’. The American military is the power that rules America. The mistake is to listen to Trump as if he’s the “decider”. Trump is not. Listen to what Gen. Mattis says, and that’s a sure guide as to what America will do.

    America is not a democracy any more, and the constitution is only used as bathroom paper in Washington.

  14. @Realist

    One of the mistakes that Trump has made that shows him to be incompetent at this level is that he has completely failed to have any section of the US government or military loyal to him.

    It was a sure thing that a government after 8 years of Obama/Hillary appointments was going to have a large number of people hostile to Trump. What Trump needed to do was to begin to carve out at least some areas of the government that were loyal to Trump. But Trump has proved to be incompetent at finding and empowering people who are loyal to Trump. One key area was the Internal Police (aka the Justice Dept), and Trump made a huge mistake of not putting someone in power there that could be absolutely trusted to be Trump’s man/woman.

    Trump has no idea whether the Delta Force commander would be loyal to him. In fact, its far more likely that after long service in the military the Delta Force commander is loyal to the people above him. And that those people put him into that job for that very reason. And Trump has no one else he can turn to whom Trump can believe will be loyal to Trump. Trump has stabbed in the back and discarded the people who came with him after the campaign, Trump has done nothing to inspire loyalty amongst subordinates, and at this point Trump has no-one he can turn to with the possible exception of his family who are as clueless and incompetent as he is.

  15. Miro23 says:

    Trump has no idea whether the Delta Force commander would be loyal to him. In fact, its far more likely that after long service in the military the Delta Force commander is loyal to the people above him. And that those people put him into that job for that very reason. And Trump has no one else he can turn to whom Trump can believe will be loyal to Trump. Trump has stabbed in the back and discarded the people who came with him after the campaign, Trump has done nothing to inspire loyalty amongst subordinates, and at this point Trump has no-one he can turn to with the possible exception of his family who are as clueless and incompetent as he is.

    Now that’s an interesting comment.

    Having read Trump’s business books over the years (recommended), he’s very good at assessing power relationships and turning them to his advantage (i.e. doing deals and winning). There’s no morality involved.

    He approached the election the same way. He calculated correctly that he could get enough votes from the losers of Neo-liberal global economics (the losers from mass outsourcing and mass immigration) to defeat the big money globalists represented by Hillary Clinton.

    He also calculated that the election process would offset the usual overwhelming MSM advantage, with its unedited direct televised national debates (i.e. the public for once get the raw input), which also explains his use of MSM avoiding Twitter.

    The conclusion is, that when he became President, he wasn’t going to have a sudden change of character – so what does “winning” mean when you’re President?

    Firstly, he could discard the Deplorables, since they’d done their job.

    Secondly, he was left with the power players that he’d defeated to win the election – the Zionists – the Globalists and the MIC. “Winning” with them, was getting their power on your side, which means 100% support for Israel (tick), attacking Syria and Iran (tick), expansion of the military (tick), no border wall (tick) – with the result that they should be cheering for him. The problem is that they aren’t.

    Possibly / maybe / who knows? – their issue with Trump, is that in the election, he focused US nationalism (cynically for his own advancement – but he still focused it), and it’s still growing, even while he’s no longer on board. So his new “friends” hold a grudge against him because he’s the originator of their growing isolation from the public, and he’s irrevocably shown their MSM to be the fake that it is.

    It was Trump who surfaced a whole package of taboo subjects like government sanctioned illegal mass immigration, uncontrolled outsourcing of manufacturing, economically disastrous trillion $ ME wars and the 0,01% elite FED/Wall St. screwing of Main Street.

    As far as the military are concerned, they took an oath to defend the Constitution, but in the US (that most money obsessed of all countries) they’re not going to be worried if they are personally (financially) OK. In other words, the US military (and the associated MIC) are a business, and they’re doing well.

    So, in US national terms, Trump is trying to make friends again with the Deplorables since his new “friends” have rejected him – but in reality, he’s also now waste of time for the Deplorables, and they’d be better off getting rid of him.

    • Replies: @Randal
  16. Randal says:
    @Miro23

    So, in US national terms, Trump is trying to make friends again with the Deplorables since his new “friends” have rejected him – but in reality, he’s also now waste of time for the Deplorables, and they’d be better off getting rid of him.

    It’s a genuinely more complicated situation than that, for those who supported Trump’s election and have mostly been betrayed, I think. The question, as always in a two party “democracy” situation, is whether they have anywhere better to go, and whether they can afford to stand aside after having been betrayed. But you could also legitimately ask, can they afford not to?

    Otherwise I think your analysis of the situation is pretty good there. Trump probably genuinely does not understand why so many of the power elite will not accept that he won, forgive and forget, and move on to mutually productive and profitable interactions. As for the power elite, they see the long term harm Trump has caused to them and to their interests resulting from the way he fought them, and they see their longer term goals as better served by bearing a grudge against him and continuing to try to bring him down, as noisily and as publicly as possible.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  17. Randal says:

    Israel’s Risky Strategy of Banking on Muted Iranian Response in Syria

    This is a rather bizarre interpretation of Israeli actions in Syria. Surely the obvious interpretation is rather that those determining Israel’s policies and actions are, to the contrary, desperately hoping for an Iranian response.

    It’s pretty clear that Israel’s ruling Likudniks and the US Israel lobby have a long term goal of using US power to destroy Iran as they used US power to destroy Iraq.

    In the end, Iran’s deterrence capability, while substantial, is not sufficient to override the sheer power of the Israel Lobby in the US. The lobby will use that power, as soon as it has the kind of pretext that will allow it to evade the blame for the immense costs and disastrous consequences for the US and for the world. All they are waiting for is that pretext, and an Iranian response to this repeated Israeli aggression, that would assuredly be painted as “Iranian aggression”, is exactly what they need and what they hope for.

    The only thing that can derail this would be Russia. But Russia has been rather irresolute and dilatory in its support for its regional allies and its willingness to oppose Israeli and jewish lobby power too directly there.

  18. Not at all risky. Geographically-speaking, Israel is tiny. Its populations are compacted into tiny areas. Ballistic missile attacks like those aimed at Saudi Arabia by Iranian proxies in Yemen would devastate Israel’s economy. Saudi Arabia’s economy is based on oil production, but those facilities aren’t being targeted by Iran. Whereas Israel’s is a knowledge economy whose very basis would be ruined by constantly having to move into bomb shelters on top of the daily stress of bomb attacks, to say nothing of the fatalities from such attacks.

    Ballistic missiles are expensive – way too expensive to use against Syrian rebels, especially given that Assad has both his air force and its Russian counterpart at his disposal . It’s clear these missiles are being deployed for use against Israel. Which is why the Israelis have made it a point to not just attack Iran’s ballistic missile depots in Syria – they’ve warned the Iranians that any attempt to carry out the kinds of attacks they’ve mounted against the Saudis in Israel proper will be met with missile attacks against Iranian targets in Iran itself.

  19. The real problem here is that every “Western liberal democracy” has a Zionist occupied government. Add to that, the sectarian split among the Muslims, and the “not my problem” attitude prevalent in Asia, and you end up with Israel calling all of the shots. If there were any testosterone and hint of cohesiveness, two actions would be taken:
    1) Under the NPT, signatories are required to come to the defense of a NPT signatory if attacked by a non-signatory. If that is triggered, Russia, China, and others have every right to bomb the shit out of Israel. If the FUKUS and other NATO countries block the attack, it becomes perfectly obvious to the rest of the brain dead citizens of the “West” that their government is Israel’s bitch. What then?

    2) Israel was admitted to the UN, by the General Assembly, on a conditional basis. Under Resolution 273 it promised to be peace loving and allow the right of return to Palestinians, among other things. It has failed to meet those conditions. If a motion to revoke membership hit the floor of the General Assembly, and the debate was about Israel’s failure to meet the conditions under Resolution 273, and all other Resolutions, again, even the brain dead and maybe even the brainwashed “Christian Zionists” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) would start to get the big picture that, to paraphrase Benjamin Freedman, Christian boys are being sacrificed for Israel’s wars.

  20. Miro23 says:
    @Randal

    Tactically the Deep State are making a mistake with Trump.

    He’s signaling that he’s willing to do everything they want , but they’re still going after him.

    If they swallowed their pride and accepted him, they would in fact get everything they wanted policy wise, and he would serve to keep the Deplorables quiet with their illusion that their hero is playing 3D chess or something or other.

    However, if they harass him enough and maybe impeach him, Trump himself may give up on his new “friends” and go back to the Deplorables. If Trump is anything, he’s a cynical deal maker, and he thought he had a deal, “Accept that I won, I’ll join the club and I’ll do everything that you want”.

    Not bad for the Deep State, and they should have accepted it.

    • Replies: @Randal
  21. Randal says:
    @Miro23

    I think you are correct in your analysis of the situation here, and I hope you are correct that they are making a mistake.

    If nothing else, an awful lot of very dirty laundry is likely to be shaken out into the open if they do go for the kill.

  22. It’s fine to hate Israel. What isn’t fine is to campaign against it while refusing to learn anything about it because it leads to you saying utterly retarded things.

    Israel is categorically not “banking on” a “muted Iranian” response to their (Israel’s) attacks. Instead, these attacks are being done with the explicit purpose of triggering Iranian retaliation. Not only is this the exact same thing Israel did in 1967, but it is being openly reported in the Israeli media. When one chooses to get all their news from The Saker, Elijah Magnier, PressTV, Russia Today and SouthFront, however, one is unable to understand Israeli strategy and instead elects to just write fan fiction in its place.

    The IDF is growing increasingly frustrated with Iran’s refusal to retaliate as any of you would know if you ever just read some fucking Israeli sources, but that would involve stepping out of the world of delusions that you have built for yourselves. The IDF had assumed that the Iranians had too much honor to just allow themselves to be blown up without any response but, once again, the IDF overestimated it’s opponent.

    Currently the IDF is looking at the following options:

    1. Just give up and accept that Iran will never start a war. This is the strategy that Bibi is pushing for.

    2. Drastically expand the strikes with the idea that if the IAF kills enough Iranians, Iran will eventually have to respond. This is the path that Lieberman and some of the IDF want to take.

    3. Step up arms and training to the rebels and carry out more terrorist attacks inside Iran itself to try to drain the Iranians. This is what most of the IDF wants to do.

    Obviously I hope Israel goes with option 2, but I suspect that it will ultimately choose option 3. I’ll admit that option 2 wouldn’t work, Iran will never start a war with Israel because they know that Israel would destroy them in a matter of days, but I love it how your guys’ heads explode every time the IAF effortlessly pierces Syria’s garbage air defense system and blows up some Iranian bases.

    • Replies: @byrresheim
  23. @Greasy William

    You, sir, have written the harshest words about the plans of the Zionist entity I have read in weeks.

    Congratulations.

    This is not going to end well, and we all know that.

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