IAF CROSS-BORDER RAIDS IN THE LARGER PICTURE OF HEZBOLLAH VS ISRAEL

IAF Cross-Border Raids in the Larger Picture of Hezbollah vs Israel

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Written by Dennis M. Nilsen exclusively for SouthFront

As has become worldwide news, on February 10 the Syrian Air Defense Forces succeeded in causing, directly or indirectly, the downing of an Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16I.  The warplane comprised part of an eight-plane attack group returning from a raid on the Tiyas Military Airbase just west of Palmyra, launched in response to the shooting down of a drone over Israeli territory just beyond the Golan Heights.  An Apache attack helicopter of the IAF shot down what Israel claims was an Iranian drone launched from the Syrian airbase, and upon the demise of one of its F-16s the IAF launched further raids on Syrian and Iranian military targets in the vicinity of Damascus, including three air defense posts.  Syria claims its air defense thwarted the attacks, while the Iranian IRGC have refused to confirm the Israeli claims and, further, deny that they have set up military installations in Syria.  The Syrians and Iranians both claim that the drone was engaged in an operation against one of the several terrorist groups operating on the Syrian-Lebanese border.  Incidentally, the two Israeli pilots successfully ejected; while one is in serious condition in hospital, his partner walked away with minor injuries.  Casualties for their opponents have yet to be confirmed.

While Israeli consternation at the violation of its airspace is understandable, the fact that the IAF has done the very same to Syria on over 100 occasions since the beginning of the revolt against President Assad is getting lost in the media coverage.  This brings up the larger picture of the opposition between the US/Israel block and the Axis of Resistance.  The Zionists insist that the IRGC is taking advantage of the generally distracted state of Syria to move arms shipments to Hezbollah through the country and into the forward areas of that group in southern Lebanon, concerned as they have become at a pending Israeli attack to wipe them out.  They have further accused the Islamic Republic of building missile factories in southwest Syria near to Hezbollah-controlled areas in order to considerably cut the supply route distance.  However, the larger arsenal which Hezbollah possesses and which it continues to augment thanks to the IRGC only makes the Israelis that much more jittery over the existence of such a weapons cache just across their northern border.  Are both sides to blame here, or does the blame lay solely on one side?

Hezbollah formed in 1982 to oppose the secular Amal then engaged in the Lebanese Civil War.  Frustrated at the Shiite group’s refusal to seek an Islamic state and inspired by the recent revolution in Iran, a group of clerics actively sought the aid of the newly-established IRGC to form a military to pull away Shiite support from Amal and to organize a viable front to the South Lebanese Army, allied with the Israelis.  Though it has modified its militant stance considerably vis-à-vis internal Lebanese politics, Hezbollah continuously refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Zionist State and to stand against any compromise short of the full withdrawal of Israel to the 1948 borders (the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and the return of the Palestinian exiles.  Since these objectives have not been met, Hezbollah continues to exist in opposition to both Israeli policy and the Israeli state.

The considerable missile arsenal which it possesses (thanks to the IRGC) is officially proclaimed to stand collectively as a defensive weapon against a potential Israeli strike, although Israel and its chief ally the United States refuses good faith to Hezbollah and as a consequence refuses this doctrine.  With their backs to the sea, it is entirely reasonable for the Israelis to face the southern Lebanese border with a strong military presence and to constantly plan and exercises for another war with the group.  Further, because the Zionist State was formed without the acceptance of most of the Arab world, its leadership cannot afford to abide by the ruling of any international body, particularly the UN and its refusal to acknowledge the legality of Israeli occupation of the three above-named territories.  The result, impossible for Western mainstream media comprehension, is the existence of Israel as a rogue state, not only occupying land foreign to it but also allowing and (depending upon the party in power) actively encouraging the creation of settlements in those territories by militant members of Israeli society who claim their right to do so based not upon international law, but upon a very worldly interpretation of the Old Mosaic Dispensation.

This may very well serve as the historical background to Hezbollah’s and the larger Muslim animosity against the Zionist State, but the immediate blame which Israel must shoulder is the continued violation of Syrian airspace to strike at targets they rightly or wrongly believe to directly aid Hezbollah’s military capabilities.  Even if their military intelligence is correct about the targets they hit, such strikes must only occur with the permission of the Syrian Government and, lacking this, constitute de facto acts of war.  This latest incident merely showed Syria responding in kind and the IAF suffering the loss of an aircraft, which perplexedly drove an additional IAF raid to destroy as much of the Syrian air defense system as possible, which was merely carrying out its duty in the first place.

What of the Hezbollah missile arsenal in Lebanon?  If it does indeed constitute a threat to Israel, does the latter have the right to invade another country to prevent its augmentation?  Certainly not.  Saying yes, as many apologists in the West do, is like agreeing that Russia, mutatis mutandis, has the right to send weapons to the forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to oppose the Ukrainian armed forces bent on subduing them.  The Ukrainian means of waging war have been nothing short of savage and so it is reasonable for the rebels to wish to arm themselves as much as possible to prevent injustice against themselves, their families and their property.  Is Hezbollah’s arsenal likewise a reasonable precaution against a repeat of the 2006 Israeli aerial campaign that destroyed most of Lebanon’s infrastructure, or a primarily offensive weapon for use against Israeli population centers?  Even if it is the latter, Hezbollah will not risk fomenting a war against the Zionist state unless provoked by the latter, and so the Israelis have no choice but to allow this build up.  But with the military they possess – including the multi-layered missile defense system – what do they really have to fear?  The fact that they are seeking to prevent it only adds fuel to the regional fire and further ostracizes them diplomatically.

As for Iran, if it is establishing missile manufacturing bases in Syria with that country’s permission explicitly to supply Hezbollah and to create a deterrent to another possible massive Israeli military action against Lebanon, or the West Bank or Gaza for that matter, what of it?  As is admitted by all the world save themselves, the Israelis possess a nuclear arsenal in addition to technology and a military far superior to any of its neighbors.  Distrusting the Zionist state as it does, how can Hezbollah be blamed for seeking to acquire the only deterrent to give the Israelis pause?  Israel seeks the destruction of that group and vice versa so how can the one be blamed any more than the other?  If the Israelis continue to act as they do, this will only prove to Hezbollah as well as to Syria and Iran that the former cannot be trusted and to the further build up an arsenal to be ready as a counter to any Israeli attacks.  Iran is free to choose its regional partners and for religious, ideological and strategic reasons, it has chosen Hezbollah.

Western commentators, especially those who espouse the right of NATO to move troops right up to Russia’s border and to conduct military exercises in the teeth of Putin’s veterans, should take pause before leveling charges against the Axis of Resistance.

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Who is doing what in Syria and why

February 10, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

It seems that every time a chapter in the war on Syria comes to an end, a new factor surfaces. Just like the 1975-1989 civil war in Lebanon before it, and which started off with a clash between the PLO and the Lebanese rightwing Phalangist militia and then ended up with an Israeli invasion and its aftermath, the war on Syria is now a totally different war from the one that started seven years ago.

With other players gone or having their roles changed, the only persisting player is the Syrian Army of course, fighting here for the integrity and sovereignty of Syria. We cannot include its allies, because even its allies have changed.

There is much speculation about recent events, a lot of war and fear-mongering, but if all elements of the current powers on the ground are dissected and analyzed, it becomes very easy to see what is going on and who is doing what.

Before we try to understand who is doing what and why, let us first identify who are the main players on the ground and behind the scenes; past and present. This is a short list:

  1. Syria of course
  2. Saudi Arabia
  3. Qatar
  4. Kurds
  5. Turkey
  6. Iran
  7. Hezbollah
  8. Israel
  9. the USA
  10.  Russia

Notwithstanding the inevitable continuing role and presence of Syria and popular national Syrian allied forces in the war against her, we must acknowledge that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already played their role and walked away as losers. For the sake of historic documentation, this had to be mentioned even though they do not have much of an influence and clout at all at present.

Kurds are playing a role that cannot be discussed without acknowledging the role they played between 2011 and 2015/16. Kurdish fighters, separatists or otherwise, have upheld Syrian border integrity in Syria’s north from as early as 2011 when the Syrian Army had no allies on the ground. And even though the Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters did not fight physically within the same trench, the Kurds fought fiercely in the north, holding their ground, against Turkish-facilitated incursions and against ISIS later on.

However, as Kurdish separatist movements were established and as they were not preemptively contained under the roof of Damascus, something had to give.

Kurds who are separatists will do anything and make deals with anyone to make their dream come true. History has shown that they are prepared to join hands with America and even Israel.

It must be acknowledged however that Kurds who are not separatists, and there is no way of telling their percentage any more than there is a way of telling the percentage of those who are, do not seem to have much of a voice in their community. Furthermore, seemingly there isn’t an all-inclusive nationally-endorsed rationale where they can address their concerns against those who are separatists and in a manner that can allay their fears and apprehensions as a minority group in such a way that would quell their desire for independence.

Turkey’s role has been changing with the tides in the last seven years. From wanting to topple the Syrian Government and Erdogan praying at the Omayyad Mosque as the conqueror of Damascus, Erdogan is now in a much more humble damage-control mode hoping to at least be able to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state south of his borders. The turn of events in the war, and the bargain plea reconciliation he has had with Russia after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 in Nov 2015 has put Erdogan in that position. But Erdogan, the compulsive Islamist and nationalist, will always try to look for opportunities to turn and stab anyone in the back because his dreams of a great Turkey-based Muslim sultanate are bigger than any deal and treaty he signs with anyone.

That said, Erdogan will not settle for any outcome that will mean the establishment of a Kurdish state. Unless the tides change in his favour, it is highly unlikely that he will change course and demand more.

In effect, the war in northern Syria is more or less totally separate from the one heating up in the south with Israel.

Iran: The Syrian theatre has brought Iran physically closer to Israel in a manner that opened up a new border line that is bigger than the one Hezbollah has in Southern Lebanon. Israel does not have the reciprocal privilege. That said, whilst Israeli presence is not officially recognized in states like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there is little doubt that the Eastern coast of the Persian/Arabian Gulf is under Israeli direct or indirect control in more ways than one.

That said, it must be remembered that Iran’s issue with Israel is doctrinal and not territorial.

In brief, Iran’s military presence in Syria is in adherence to the common defense treaty it has with Syria, but it is also aimed at protecting Iran’s own interests and establishing military presence and rocket-launching capabilities that are only a few kilometers from major Israeli cities in comparison to the one thousand or so kilometers that separate Israel from Iran, or at best a couple of hundred that separate the east coast of the Persian/Arab Gulf from Iran’s southern cities.

Given that Iran is not a nuclear power and Israel is, based on the above, any conventional military confrontation with Israel will put Iran in a position of advantage.

Iran’s status in Syria can be either seen as offensive or defensive vis-à-vis Israel. Most likely, it is defensive, and Iran is unlikely to use its Syrian-based positions to initiate an unprovoked attack on Israel given Israel’s nuclear deterrence.

Hezbollah: In more ways than one, ideologically-speaking, Hezbollah is an extension of Iran. But strategically-speaking, Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese political process. Moreover, Hezbollah’s issue with Israel is both doctrinal, and territorial.

Hezbollah went into Syria to defend Syria of course, but in defending Syria, Hezbollah was defending itself and Lebanon.

The supply lines for Hezbollah came from Syria, and this is no secret. But even if Hezbollah had to establish alternative routes after seven years of war, Hezbollah remains dependent on Syria for ensuring the depth of its survival and ability to fight. Even if Hezbollah went further and managed to establish its own military manufacturing base, and this is not unlikely, it remains entwined with Syria at levels that are essential for its survival and continuity.

Ideologically, Hezbollah is perhaps closer to Iran than any other ally, but strategically, it cannot be closer to any other ally more than Syria. To expect Hezbollah to yield to pressure and withdraw from Syria prematurely is tantamount to expecting North Korea to surrender its nuclear arsenal.

Israel: It wouldn’t be surprising to say that the post-Kissinger USA has left Israel feeling secure and privileged to the extent that it was able to coerce the world’s single superpower to rubber-stamp what suited it; even if it was against the interests of that superpower.

However, with all the support America gave Israel, Israel was not able to find peace, real lasting peace. Military superiority and peace are two different things, and America was able to provide Israel with the former, but not the latter.

But even that military superiority that meant once upon a time that Israel was untouchable has been eroded. The rise of Hezbollah to power in a manner that enabled it to bomb “Haifa and beyond” in July 2006 has sent shivers down the spines of Israeli military strategists.

Israel now has no idea what to expect if and when another military escalation ensues with Hezbollah and it is bracing for the worst.

Given the latest confrontations with the Syrian air defenses, Israel seems to be in a similar position in not knowing what to expect from Syria either.

The USA: In all what the USA has done in supporting the initial Saudi/Qatari/Turkish attack in the war on Syria, it achieved nothing more than defeat after defeat.

If there was ever a time during the last seven years for America to launch a major attack on Syria, it would have been done on the pretext of a chemical weapon attack allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian Army on Eastern Ghouta, but Obama did not take the Saudi-orchestrated bait. If Obama took a single and somber decision for which he will be positively remembered once all the dust has settled, it will have to be his decision not to attack Syria in early September 2013.

But Trump’s America inherited a Syria in which America has no presence or influence. The ailing nation cannot be seen to be standing still doing nothing about this.

Russia: Discussing the role of Russia was left till the end because to emphasize once again, as per previous articles, that the role of Russian diplomacy is becoming increasingly important in Syria and the Levant in general.

To put all of the above into a realistic perspective, there is a potential war brewing in southern Syria, a war that has little to do with the one raging in the north, and only Russia has the potential of dealing with the conflict.

There is no speck of doubt in my mind that Russia has a Middle East peace plan.

There is no doubt in my mind that Russia wants to catapult America out of its role as the Middle East peace talk negotiator; a role that it played for more than four decades now without any scores on the board.

It must be remembered that despite all the concessions PLO leaders gave Israel, America was unable to provide any peace to Palestine, and not even to Israel for that matter. It is highly likely that even Israel is growing tired of America’s elusive promises of peace; and the peace Israel was promised was based on quashing the axis of resistance and establishing toothless puppet Arab regimes that dance to America’s tune, and who would normalize relationships with Israel and not pose any threat at all, not now, not in the future.

So Russia is strengthening her position in the Middle East in preparation for the opportune moment to elevate herself to be accepted by all parties concerned as the single arbitrator who is capable of negotiating an all-inclusive deal.

The rest is simply posturing.

The recent escalation between Syria and Israel is not a prelude for a bigger war. Nobody wants a war; not right now, as they are all aware of the damage that can be inflicted upon them.

Israel keeps testing the waters, testing Syria’s air defense capabilities, and above all, testing Russia’s resolve and determination to create a true balance of power in the Middle East.

Some Arabs would be disappointed that Russia would not allow the total destruction of Israel, but Russia has never promised this. On the other hand however, Russia is pushing Israel to be realistic, and has never promised Israel total and unconditional support like the USA did since the days of Kissinger.

Unless Israel can safeguard itself against Hezbollah rockets, and which it can’t, it will never initiate an all-out war with either Syria, Hezbollah, or both; not forgetting the Iranian presence on the ground in Syria, just outside Israel’s borders.

Israel has to either accept that the rules of the game have changed, or risk an escalation that will inflict huge damage on its infrastructure and civilians. The recent downing of an Israeli F-16 by Syrian air defenses and the subsequent call Netanyahu made to Russian President Putin is a clear indication that Israel is not happy with the fact that Russian arm supplies to Syria are changing the balance of power.

An astute look at recent events can only propose that Russia is trying to drag Israel into peace talks that are based on a regional balance of power, but Israel is not convinced yet that it has to do this anymore than it is convinced that it has lost its military upper hand. On the other hand, Russia will find it very difficult to convince Syria, Hezbollah and Iran that they should have any peace at all with Israel. All the while, America realizes that it has no presence in the war in the south, and is using the Kurdish pretext to have “a” presence in the north in order not to miss out on being party to any settlement. Erdogan is doing his bit to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state in Syria. Other than that he has no role to play in the potential brewing conflict in the south. At the end, America will stab the Kurds in the back like it did many times earlier, the Kurdish aspirations for independence will be pushed back for many decades, and the real focus will be on the south, on Russia’s yet undeclared role and plan for a Middle East peace plan.

The Coming War on Lebanon: Israel, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Prepare “Long-Planned Middle East War”

Global Research, February 13, 2018

This previously published article (December 2017) on Global Research reveals the well-calculated plan of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia on inciting a “civil war” in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah. 

Israel – seemingly leading the squad with the green signal from Washington – has just fabricated yet another grounds for war. 

***

Washington’s plan to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ultimately failed. Now Lebanon seems to be in the cross-hairs with tensions between Israel and Hezbollah on the same level that led to the 2006 Lebanon war. There is also the possibility that a new offensive against Syria that might take place as Washington maintains its troop levels in the devastated country caused by ISIS and other terrorists groups they supported. Various reports suggests that the Pentagon may reveal that there are close to 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria even though ISIS has been defeated. So why is Washington staying in Syria? Will there be another attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the near future? Most likely, yes. Adding the Trump administration’s continued hostilities towards Iran, the drumbeats of a new war in the Middle East is loud and clear.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have one main objective at the moment and that is to destabilize Lebanon and attempt to defeat Hezbollah before they prepare for another offensive in Syria to remove Assad from power. Before they declare an all-out war on Iran, they must neutralize their allies, Hezbollah and Syria which is by far an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

The Israeli government knows that it cannot defeat Hezbollah without sacrificing both its military and civilian populations. Israel needs the U.S. military for added support if their objective is to somewhat succeed. Israel and the U.S. can continue its support of ISIS and other terrorist groups to create a new civil war in Lebanon through false-flag terror operations which in a strategic sense, can lead to an internal civil war. Can Hezbollah and the Lebanese military prevent terrorist groups from entering its territory? So far they have been successful in defeating ISIS on the Lebanon-Syria border, and will most likely be successful in preventing a new U.S.-supported terrorist haven in Lebanon. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri who originally resigned from his post while visiting the Saudi Kingdom, then suspending his resignation is a sign that a political crisis has been set in motion. So what happens next?

The Curse: Lebanon’s Natural Resources and the Greater Israel Project

In the case of a devastating war on Lebanon, with a civil war intact, Israel would surely attempt to take control over Lebanon’s natural resources. Since Trump got in the White House, Israel has expanded its Jewish settlements through land seizures throughout Palestine at unprecedented levels and with the occupation of the Golan Heights (a Syrian territory), they already control a portion of oil, gas and vital water supplies. Lebanon would be a huge bonus. In 2013, Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassilestimated that Lebanon has around 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore. With Lebanon’s political chaos and Israel preparing for a long-term war with Hezbollah, all leads to Israel Shahak’s ‘The Zionist Plan for the Middle East’ which states the intended goal for the fragmentation of Lebanon and other adversaries in the Middle East:

3) This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme. This theme has been documented on a very modest scale in the AAUG publication, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Based on the memoirs of Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s study documents, in convincing detail, the Zionist plan as it applies to Lebanon and as it was prepared in the mid-fifties.

4) The first massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 bore this plan out to the minutest detail. The second and more barbaric and encompassing Israeli invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, aims to effect certain parts of this plan which hopes to see not only Lebanon, but Syria and Jordan as well, in fragments. This ought to make mockery of Israeli public claims regarding their desire for a strong and independent Lebanese central government. More accurately, they want a Lebanese central government that sanctions their regional imperialist designs by signing a peace treaty with them. They also seek acquiescence in their designs by the Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian and other Arab governments as well as by the Palestinian people. What they want and what they are planning for is not an Arab world, but a world of Arab fragments that is ready to succumb to Israeli hegemony. Hence, Oded Yinon in his essay, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980’s,” talks about “far-reaching opportunities for the first time since 1967” that are created by the “very stormy situation [that] surrounds Israel” 

Israel is gearing up for a long and devastating war against Hezbollah, an Iranian-ally who is . based in Lebanon’s southern region to deter Israel’s expansionist ideas. As Saudi Arabia (Israel’s closest ally in the region) continues its immoral and devastating war on Yemen, it is raising tensions with Iran. According to Thomas L. Freidman’s article ‘Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, At Last’ praising who he calls “M.B.S.” or Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman for his reformist policies. According to Friedman 

“Iran’s “supreme leader is the new Hitler of the Middle East,” said M.B.S. “But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.”

The Trump administration’s continued support of the Saudi Monarchy which negotiated an arms deal worth billions to take place has only emboldened the Saudi government to take an aggressive stand towards its adversaries in the Middle East namely, Iran.

Lebanon Prepares for Another War

On November 21st, Reuters’ published an article titled ‘Lebanon army chief warns of Israel threat amid political crisis’based on Lebanon’s Army Chief warning his troops to be on high alert concerning Israel’s aggressive behavior along the Southern border. It was reported that 

“Lebanon’s army chief told his soldiers on Tuesday to be extra vigilant to prevent unrest during political turmoil after the prime minister quit, and accused Israel of “aggressive” intentions across the southern frontier” despite Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s return to Lebanon and decided to put his resignation on hold.

Commander-General-Joseph-Aoun (Source: The National)

The army’s Twitter account quoted the Lebanese Army’s Commander General Joseph Aoun who said that

“Troops should be ready to “thwart any attempt to exploit the current circumstances for stirring strife” and that “the exceptional political situation that Lebanon is going through requires you to exercise the highest levels of awareness.”

Israel understands that a defeat against Hezbollah and the Lebanese military will be absolutely difficult to accomplish, therefore preparations to engage the Hezbollah this time will be an effort to create as much damage as possible and reduce their military capabilities, maybe in time for U.S. troops to enter the war through Syria and coordinate targets with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). As I mentioned earlier, and may I add, with an interesting choice of words, a report published by Reuters on November 24th suggests that the Pentagon might announce how many troops they have in Syria:

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could, as early as Monday, publicly announce that there are slightly more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. They said there was always a possibility that last minute changes in schedules could delay an announcement. That is not an increase in troop numbers, just a more accurate count, as the numbers often fluctuate

A War That No One Will Win 

The Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), an establishment think-tank based in New York City published an article on July 30th of this year by Neocon warmonger Eliot Abrams who was a deputy assistant and deputy national security adviser for President George W. Bush titled ‘The Next Israel-Hezbollah Conflict’ admits that “the next war is a war that will not be “won” by Israel or Hezbollah.” Abrams said that “Israel’s realistic war aims will not match the damage it will suffer—and the damage it will necessarily inflict” in reference to a strategic assessment ‘by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies titled ‘Political and Military Contours of the Next Conflict with Hezbollah’ by Gideon Sa’ar, an Israeli politician and a former Likud member of the Knesset and Ron Tira, a strategist, Israeli Air Force officer and a pilot highlights what Israel’s realistic goals should be:

Israel’s objectives in a future conflict will be derived first and foremost from what it wants to achieve in the distinct context (such as, for example, preventing Hezbollah’s buildup of certain qualitative edge capabilities or preventing deployment of high quality Iranian weapon systems in Syria), but a review of the fundamental data reveals a few “generic” objectives that could be applicable in many contexts: postponing the following conflict, shaping the rules for the routine times that will follow the conflict, increasing deterrence with respect to Hezbollah and third parties, undermining the attractiveness of Hezbollah’s war paradigm (use of rockets and missiles hidden among the civilian population), preserving Israel’s relations with its allies, and creating the conditions to reduce Iranian involvement in the post-war reconstruction of Lebanon, as well as imposing new and enforceable restrictions on the freedom of access of the Iran-Alawite-Hezbollah axis

The strategic assessment mentioned what realistic goals Israel can achieve when the conflict takes place according to the assessment:

There is only a limited range of “positive” and achievable objectives that Israel can hope to attain from Hezbollah and from Lebanon. While the purpose of an armed conflict is always political, in many contexts it is hard to find a political objective that is both meaningful and achievable at a reasonable cost, and that is the reason for the basic lack of value that can be found in an Israel- Hezbollah military conflict 

The reason according to Mr. Abrams’s conclusion that an Israeli defeat over Hezbollah is impossible is because of Russia’s presence in the region:

That’s because Russia cannot be expelled, Lebanon will remain roughly half-Shia, and Hezbollah will survive—as will its relationship with Iran. After the war, the best assumption would be that Hezbollah will rebuild, as it did after 2006. But Hezbollah would achieve nothing positive in such a conflict, suffering immense damage and bringing immense destruction upon Lebanon. Its only possible “gain” is the damage it would inflict on Israel. In a way this is the only “good news”

Israel’s Economy During Wartime

David Rosenberg’s opinion piece ‘Israel’s Next War: We Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ on the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict in the Israel-based news source Haaretz explains the consequences of war and how it effects Israel’s economy. Rosenberg said that

 “In 2014, the missile war wasn’t a threat so much as a spectacle, as Israelis watched Iron Dome missiles bring down Qassam rockets, to applause. Score one for the home team.”

However, Rosenberg claims that the next war with Hezbollah will be different, in fact it will effect Israel’s economy in several ways:

The next war isn’t going to look like that. The round figure everyone uses for Hezbollah’s missile arsenal is 100,000. That is a suspiciously round figure and is probably wrong, but no one disputes that the Shiite militia is well-armed, and more importantly, many of its missiles carry much more powerful warheads and are much more accurate than they were in 2006. Hezbollah’s arsenal includes attack drones and coast-to-sea missiles, too. For its part, Israel is also better prepared. Iron Dome, which is designed to bring down short-range rockets, has been complemented by the introduction of the David’s Sling and Arrow systems, designed to intercept long-range rockets and ballistic missiles, respectively. 

But against an onslaught of thousands of missiles, no Domes, Slings or Arrows will be able to provide the kind of defense Israelis have grown used to. Israel’s infrastructure and economic activity are vulnerable to even a limited missile attack from Hezbollah. Geographically, Israel is a small country with no hinterland, which means facilities for electric power and water are concentrated in small areas. More than a quarter of electric power is generated at just two sites. Natural gas is produced at a single offshore field and delivered via a single pipeline. A large portion of our exports derive from a single industrial plant. A prolonged missile war will almost certainly bring business to a halt

Israel’s economy will shrink within a short-time period according to Rosenberg:

In the worst-case scenario, a post-war Israel would no longer be seen by global investors and businesses as a safe place to put their money and do deals. Imagine Startup Nation without the constant flow of cross-border capital and mergers and acquisitions. The fantasyland of the last 11 years would disappear in a matter of days or weeks

Rosenberg is correct. For example, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict, Israel was faced with economic uncertainties. The Times of Israel published an article during the conflict with an appropriate title ‘War depresses people, economy; strong shekel harmful’ clarified what experts said on how the economy would be effected during a “drawn-out” conflict:

Experts temper the pessimism by noting that in the past, the Israeli economy has been resilient. If the current conflict is resolved quickly, there may be little cause for concern. On the other hand, a drawn out conflict in Gaza may cause investors to worry about the country’s stability and could cause long term damage to Israel’s reputation and position as a key player in the global economy. 

“Our key concerns are the openness of the Israeli economy and our ability to be a key player in the global markets,” Zvi Eckstein, former deputy governor of the Bank of Israel and dean of the School of Economics at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, noted in an interview with The Times of Israel. “It’s really still a key uncertainty how the conflict will end up,” said Eckstein. “Most people predict we will get back to the same relatively stable geopolitical situation as we were in early July, and if so, I would say the economy would rebound back later next year. But if not, the threat to Israel’s economy would be quite devastating”

That conflict was against a weaker adversary, Hamas. For starters, a war with Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria however would have a negative impact on Israel’s tourism industry where it receives more than 3 million tourists (mainly from the U.S. and Europe) per year. Israel’s level of production will also take a hit. The Street published an interesting article ‘How Is Israel’s Economy Affected by the Current War?’ explains what happened to Israel’s economy during the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict:

The Israeli economy suffers directly from reductions in productivity every time missile alert sirens send the country’s residents into bomb shelters. The economic costs of the war are estimated upwards of $2.9 billion, and already the war has soaked up 1.2% of the GDP. In the event that quiet prevails after a ceasefire is reached, the Israeli economy is resilient enough to withstand the costs of this operation.

History reflects that the Israeli economy surged at a rate of 6% prior to the 2006 Lebanon war and then slowed down to 2.9% prior to this current conflict. The tourism sector is going to be particularly hard hit, and if a third intifada ensues the economic costs for Israel could be crippling. Since a big chunk of Israel’s workforce is enlisted in the IDF, productivity declines are widespread and costs are mounting. The IMA (Israel Manufacturers Association) has already listed a figure of $240 million in losses as a result of the war effort

Another War, Another Tragedy

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Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. want to permanently eliminate the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance and to achieve that goal, Lebanon will have to become another Libya causing more chaos in an already volatile situation. The only beneficiaries in this coming war is Israel and the U.S. if of course, they are victorious. The U.S. and their allies would re-establish themselves as the hegemonic power in the Middle East with absolute control over the natural resources including oil, gas and water. Israel would also expand and conquer more territory for Greater Israel. Saudi Arabia would remain a vassal state with more political leverage over its neighbors.

And if Saudi Arabia foolishly decided to go to war with Iran, the House of Saud will inevitably collapse since Iran is much more stronger, militarily speaking. Washington plans to keep its military presence in Syria is a signal that removing Assad from power is still on the agenda. Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Trump administration (decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal with the intention to eventually kill the deal) is a recipe for a planned long-term conflict. Israel’s economy would suffer a major setback if they were to launch an attack against Hezbollah. Besides the fact that a war against Hezbollah would mean that missiles would constantly strike within Israel, creating a massive amount of stress on Israeli citizens and a downturn of the economy would only add another dimension to the wide-reaching full-scale war. Israel hopes that Hezbollah will be temporally neutralized until the U.S. congress and the Trump Administration jointly approve another military and economic aid package worth billions in time to continue its wars. Then there is the possibility of a joint U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israeli orchestrated attack on Syria to remove Assad from power to ultimately isolate Iran, but with Russia and China backing Iran, it would be a no-win situation.  The biggest loser in all of its foreign policy blunders is the U.S. Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s plan to launch more aggressive wars against its neighbors to further an expansionist objective would come at a great cost to Israeli citizens as their economy sinks into the rabbit hole and with the threat of incoming missiles from southern Lebanon makes it that much more worst. Lebanon and to an extent Israel will be once again devastated by a new war. For both sides of the border, it is a formula for disastrous consequences.

This article was originally published by Silent Crow News.

Featured image is from the author.

ISRAEL SEEKS TO USE FREE SYRIAN ARMY TO ESTABLISH 40KM DEEP ‘SAFE ZONE’ IN SOUTHERN SYRIA – REPORT

South Front

Israel Seeks To Use Free Syrian Army To Establish 40km Deep 'Safe Zone' In Southern Syria – Report

By The Intercept, click to see the full-size map

Israel is using several Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in a three phases-plan to impose a 40km-deep ‘safe zone’ in southern Syria, the Intercept reported on January 23.

According to the report, Israel already accomplished the first phase of its plan and it is currently working with different Israeli and American NGOs to accomplish the second phase. The goal of this effort is to push Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed forces 40km away from the Israeli border. An unnamed officer of the FSA told the Intercept that Israel is even willing to push these forces “as far back as Hama.”

A unnamed Syrian Arab Army (SAA) source revealed to the intercept that a small group of Israeli Army and intelligence personnel entered the western Dara countryside in July 2017 and met with commanders of the two FSA groups – Liwa Jaydour and Jaysh al-Ababil.

In September 2017, another meeting between Israeli representatives and commanders of Liwa Jaydour, the Golan Knights and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front took place in the border town of Rafid in the southern Quneitra countryside, according to the Intercept.

Abu Ahmad, a Syrian opposition activist, confirmed to the Intercept that several FSA groups in southern Syria are currently getting money and weapons from the Israeli side, especially after the US Military Operation Center (MOC) in Jordan had suspended its military support for FSA groups.

“Jordan stopped sending them weapons, so they turned to Israel instead,” Abu Ahmad told the Intercept.

The Intercept report also revealed that the Israeli Army started training and equipping a border police force of around 500 FSA fighters from the Golan Knights group as a part of the second phase of the Israeli safe zone plane. This border force is expected to patrol the separation of forces line from south of the government-held Druze town of Hadar through FSA-held towns of Jabata Khashab, Bir Ajam, Hamadiyah, and Quneitra, all the way to Rafid in the southern Quneitra countryside, according to the report.

This was not the first time when the coordination between Israel and FSA groups in southern Syria became public. On December 2, 2017 the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi revealed that the FSA and the Israeli Army are preparing a joint attack on the ISIS-affiliated Khalid ibn al-Walid Army in the western Daraa countryside.

The FSA-Israeli joint attack may be launched in the end of January, according to several oppositions sources, and it’s possible that this effort is a part of Israeli’s safe zone plane.

Israel could indirectly control the FSA groups in southern Syria and eliminate the ISIS threat in the western Daraa countryside. Hwever, it will be much more complicated to establish a 40km-wide safe zone in southern Syria because the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) controls large parts of Daraa governorate, including more than half of the city of Daraa.

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Tel Aviv’s Syria Gambit

Darko Lazar

20-01-2018 | 08:01

The outcome of the latest “Israeli” attack on Syrian military outposts near Damascus is not exactly what the leadership in Tel Aviv was hoping for when it decided to carry out what was, by most accounts, a sophisticated operation.

Syria

During the January 9 attack, the “Israeli” Air Force deployed four state-of-the-art F-35 stealth multirole fighter jets, which fired a total of five missiles at weapons storage facilities and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria’s Qutayfeh.

The jets fired the missiles from relatively safe distances in the hope of avoiding Syrian anti-aircraft weapons, including the Pantsir-S1 and the S-200.

Although the F-35s are limited by their high fuel consumption, the “Israeli” pilots compensated by utilizing all available electronic combat systems against both the S-400 radar division stationed at Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base and Syrian air defenses.

The “Israelis” had reportedly managed to temporarily ‘blind’ the Syrians by using a number of radar stations, including the JY-27 “Wide Mat”.

But despite this barrage of electronic signals, the Syrian S-200 still managed to locate the supposedly undetectable Adir (the “Israeli” name for the F-35), and fire at the aircraft.

“Israeli” computer simulations and other maneuvers were reportedly unsuccessful in rescuing one of the fighter jets.

Meanwhile, the Pantsir-S1 destroyed three of the missiles fired by the “Israelis”. Some reports have suggested that the S-400 was also involved in the action.

It is difficult to say how prepared the “Israelis” were for such an outcome. After all, this was always going to be a risky operation, and not just because “Israel’s” fifth generation stealth aircraft is now vulnerable.

According to some media reports, a growing number of Russian military personnel stationed in Syria are being killed by the “Israeli” strikes. And Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is now said to be contemplating measures designed to dissuade Tel Aviv from attacking Syria.

The timing

In recent weeks, the Syrian military has exhibited a high degree of efficiency in fighting back militant groups across the country’s southern regions – not far from the “Israeli” occupied Golan Heights.

Efforts to break the siege on Eastern Ghouta by groups like Tahrir al-Sham have been foiled following the deployment of three Syrian army divisions in the area, including tanks and heavy armor. The Syrian army has also deployed mobile observation teams, which enabled the successful use of the Sukhoi Su-24 fighter planes – recently supplied by the Russians.

Similar successes were recorded in the southwestern province of Quneitra against Jabhat al-Nusra.

Further north, Nusra came under attack from the Syrian military and its allies, as they edged toward the highly strategic Abu al-Duhur air base in Idlib.

The combination of these successes prompted the “Israelis” to ignore the growing risk involved and launch their attacks on Syrian military installations.

“Israeli” objectives

The degree of “Israeli” support for groups like Jabhat al-Nusra has reportedly become so extensive in southern parts of Syria, that “Israel’s” intelligence assets and special operation units get directly involved in battles to get the militants out of tight situations.

Such operations are frequently accompanied by the “Israeli” shelling of Syrian army and Hezbollah positions.

In the occupied Golan, the “Israelis” have already deployed at least one armored division made up predominately of the Merkava Mk3 tanks, but also consisting of self-propelled anti-tank vehicles and artillery units.

Meanwhile, in the skies over southern Syria, “Israeli” military intelligence is reportedly studying the routes of Syrian aircraft.

“Israel’s” continuing reliance on terrorist groups and its military maneuvers has led some experts to conclude that Tel Aviv is looking for the right opportunity to launch a ‘lighting’ ground offensive in southern Syria.

And although the latest airstrikes highlight Syria’s improving air-defense capabilities, the attacks also suggest that “Israel” has not entirely parted ways with the idea of toppling the Damascus government.

Moreover, “Israel” is exhibiting a willingness to take on increasingly risky operations, in a desperate bid to achieve its immediate strategic objective – the removal of the Iranian military contingent from Syria, especially along the country’s southern frontier.

Policies adopted by the Trump White House – the scrapping of the Iran nuclear deal, the recognition of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as the “Israeli” ‘capital’, the rejection of the two-state solution and the withholding of funds for Palestinian refugees – are certainly reassuring for Tel Aviv.

But how much help can the “Israelis” expect on the battlefield? The answer: probably none.

If the “Israelis” were to launch a direct military incursion into parts Syria, they would be confronted by the full weight of the Resistance Axis and their Russian partners.

And if the “Israelis” have trouble ruling the skies – Tel Aviv’s last remaining frontier of dominance – attempts to score successes on the ground may prove utterly disastrous.

Source: Al-Ahed

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Zionist Entity Concerned about Syrian Army, Allies Advance into Border with Occupied Golan Heights

December 28, 2017

Zionist army

The field advance achieved by the Syrian army and allies in the southwestern countryside of Damascus into the border of the occupied Golan heights triggered the Zionist concerns about the complete collapse of the ‘security zone’ controlled by the militant groups, according to the Israeli media.

The Zionist media has expected that Hezbollah and the Syrian will benefit from the advance in Mount Hermon (Jabal Al-Sheikh) to launch a decisive attack on the militant groups in Quneitra and Daraa and destroy the Israeli-backed ‘security zone’ which provides the occupation entity with the needed protection.

The Zionist media has considered that this field development as a strategic change, adding that it blows all the Israeli bets on the militant groups as they have been expected to prevent the resistance forces from fighting the Zionist occupation army.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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Syrian forces eye Israeli borders with conclusion of Beit Jinn ops

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:46 P.M.) – As the rebel evacuation of the Beit Jinn pocket concludes, the Syrian Arab Army and its allied forces begin eyeing other jihadist strongholds in southern Syria.

According to a military source, the Haramoun Regiment, NDF, Quneitra Hawks, and other units will shift their focus towards liberating Quneitra’s countryside in the region south of the loyalist stronghold of Hader.

The prioritized targets seem to be the towns of Jabbata al-Khashab, Taranja, Mohammadiya, and their surroundings. The rebel supply line to Jabbata al-Khashab from Dara’a province is very thin and seems prone to being cut by fire control of SAA cannoneer units.

Securing this area will allow the Syrian Army considerable control of much of the Syrian border with Israel and will serve to cut the rebels’ long arm in the south Damascus countryside once and for all.

However, such an offensive will not come at no cost as the Israeli side has made clear their determination to provide their allies across the borders with whatever support they can afford whether that materializes as air support, medical support, or logistical support (ie: allowing Syrian rebels to use Israeli territory as supply and logistical route for passage of reinforcements).

First batch of rebels to evacuate Beit Jinn stronghold tomorrow

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:23 A.M.) – The first wave of jihadist rebels is scheduled to begin evacuation of the Beit Jinn pocket tomorrow.

The fighters whose loyalties lie with the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group will be sent to Idlib while those pledged to the FSA will be transported to the nearby Dara’a province. Meanwhile, a portion of the rebels have decided to reconcile with the government and have their status settled after growing weary of this war.

 

So far, the evacuation was delayed two times already. The first delay came as a result of the violation of the ceasefire by the insurgent side while the second is the result of incomplete preparation for the execution of the agreement.

 

The government forces allocated for the Beit Jinn front await the conclusion of the treaty as they set their eyes on other insurgent stronghold’s in Syria’s south.

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