America’s Enemies, Who’s On the List?

Prospects and Perspectives

Global Research, November 24, 2017

For almost 2 decades, the US pursued a list of ‘enemy countries’ to confront, attack, weaken and overthrow. 

This imperial quest to overthrow ‘enemy countries’ operated at various levels of intensity, depending on two considerations:  the level of priority and the degree of vulnerability for a ‘regime change’ operation.

The criteria for determining an ‘enemy country’ and its place on the list of priority targets in the US quest for greater global dominance, as well as its vulnerability to a ‘successfully’ regime change will be the focus of this essay.

We will conclude by discussing the realistic perspectives of future imperial options.

Prioritizing US Adversaries

Imperial strategists consider military, economic and political criteria in identifying high priority adversaries.

The following are high on the US ‘enemy list’:

1) Russia, because of its military power, is a nuclear counterweight to US global domination.  It has a huge, well-equipped armed force with a European, Asian and Middle East presence.  Its global oil and gas resources shield it from US economic blackmail and its growing geo-political alliances limit US expansion.

2) China, because of its global economic power and the growing scope of its trade, investment and technological networks.  China’s growing defensive military capability, particularly with regard to protecting its interests in the South China Sea serve to counter US domination in Asia.

3) North Korea, because of its nuclear and ballistic missile capability, its fierce independent foreign policies and its strategic geo-political location, is seen as a threat to the US military bases in Asia and Washington’s regional allies and proxies.

4) Venezuela, because of its oil resources and socio-political policies, challenge the US centered neo-liberal model in Latin America.

5) Iran, because of its oil resources, political independence and geo-political alliances in the Middle East, challenge US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia domination of the region and present an independent alternative.

6) Syria, because of its strategic position in the Middle East, its secular nationalist ruling party and its alliances with Iran, Palestine, Iraq and Russia, is a counterweight to US-Israeli plans to balkanize the Middle East into warring ethno-tribal states.

US  Middle-level Adversaries :

1)  Cuba, because of its independent foreign policies and its alternative socio-economic system stands in contrast to the US-centered neo-liberal regimes in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

2) Lebanon, because of its strategic location on the Mediterranean and the coalition government’s power sharing arrangement with the political party, Hezbollah, which is increasingly influential in Lebanese civil society in part because of its militia’s proven capacity to protect Lebanese national sovereignty by expelling the invading Israeli army and helping to defeat the ISIS/al Queda mercenaries in neighboring Syria.

3) Yemen, because of its independent, nationalist Houthi-led movement opposed to the Saudi-imposed puppet government as well as its relations with Iran.

Low Level Adversaries

1) Bolivia, because of its independent foreign policy, support for the Chavista government in Venezuela and advocacy of a mixed economy;  mining wealth and  defense of indigenous people’s territorial claims.

2) Nicaragua, because of its independent foreign policy and criticism of US aggression toward Cuba and Venezuela.

US hostility to high priority adversaries is expressed through economic sanctions military encirclement, provocations and intense propaganda wars toward North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Syria.

Because of China’s powerful global market linkages, the US has applied few sanctions.  Instead, the US relies on military encirclement, separatist provocations and intense hostile propaganda when dealing with China.

Priority Adversaries, Low Vulnerability and Unreal Expectations

With the exception of Venezuela, Washington’s ‘high priority targets’ have limited strategic vulnerabilities. Venezuela is the most vulnerable because of its high dependence on oil revenues with its major refineries located in the US, and its high levels of indebtedness, verging on default.   In addition, there are the domestic opposition groups, all acting as US clients and Caracas’ growing isolation within Latin America due to orchestrated hostility by important US clients, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Iran is far less vulnerable: It is a strong strategic regional military power linked to neighboring countries and similar religious-nationalist movements.  Despite its dependence on oil exports, Iran has developed alternative markets, like China, free from US blackmail and is relatively safe from US or EU initiated creditor attacks.

North Korea, despite the crippling economic sanctions imposed on its regime and civilian population, has ‘the bomb’ as a deterrent to a US military attack and has shown no reluctance to defend itself.  Unlike Venezuela, neither Iran nor North Korea face significant internal attacks from US-funded or armed domestic opposition.

Russia has full military capacity – nuclear weapons, ICBM and a huge, well-trained armed force – to deter any direct US military threat.  Moscow is politically vulnerable to US-backed propaganda, opposition political parties and Western-funded NGO’s.  Russian oligarch-billionaires, linked to London and Wall Street, exercise some pressure against independent economic initiatives.

To a limited degree, US sanctions exploited Russia’s earlier dependence on Western markets, butsince the imposition of draconian sanctions by the Obama regime, Moscow has effectively counteredWashington’s offensive by diversifying its markets to Asia and strengthening domestic self-reliance in its agriculture, industry and high technology.

China has a world-class economy and is on course to become the world’s economic leader.  Feeble threats to ‘sanction’ China have merely exposed Washington’s weakness rather intimidating Beijing.  China has countered US military provocations and threats by expanding its economic market power, increasing its strategic military capacity and shedding dependence on the dollar.

Washington’s high priority targets are not vulnerable to frontal attack: They retain or are increasing their domestic cohesion and economic networks, while upgrading their military capacity to impose completely unacceptable costs on the US for any direct assault.

As a result, the US leaders are forced to rely on incremental, peripheral and proxy attacks with limited results against its high priority adversaries.

Washington will tighten sanctions on North Korea and Venezuela, with dubious prospects of success in the former and a possible pyrrhic victory in the case of Caracas. Iran and Russia can easily overcome proxy interventions.  US allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, can badger, propagandize and rail the Persians, but their fears that an out-and-out war against Iran, could quickly destroy Riyadh and Tel Aviv forces them to work in tandem to induce the corrupt US political establishment to push for war over the objections of a war-weary US military and population. Saudi and Israelis can bomb and starve the populations of Yemen and Gaza, which lack any capacity to reply in kind, but Teheran is another matter.

The politicians and propagandists in Washington can blather about Russia’s interference in the US’s corrupt electoral theater and scuttle moves to improve diplomatic ties, but they cannot counter Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and its expanding trade with Asia, especially China.

In summary, at the global level, the US ‘priority’ targets are unattainable and invulnerable.  In the midst of the on-going inter-elite dogfight within the US, it may be too much to hope for the emergence of any rational policymakers in Washington who could rethink strategic priorities and calibrate policies of mutual accommodation to fit in with global realities.

Medium and Low Priorities, Vulnerabilities and Expectations

Washington can intervene and perhaps inflict severe damage on middle and low priority countries.  However, there are several drawbacks to a full-scale attack.

Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Bolivia and Syria are not nations capable of shaping global political and economic alignments.  The most the US can secure in these vulnerable countries are destructive regime changes with massive loss of life, infrastructure and millions of desperate refugees . . . but at great political cost, with prolonged instability and with severe economic losses.

Yemen

The US can push for a total Saudi Royal victory over the starving, cholera-stricken people of Yemen.  But who benefits?  Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a palace upheaval and has no ability to exercise hegemony, despite hundreds of billions of  dollars of US/NATO arms, trainers and bases.  Colonial occupations are costly and yield few, if any, economic benefits, especially from a poor, geographically isolated devastated nation like Yemen.

Cuba

Cuba has a powerful highly professional military backed by a million-member militia.  They are capable of prolonged resistance and can count on international support.  A US invasion of Cuba would require a prolonged occupation and heavy losses.  Decades of economic sanctions haven’t worked and their re-imposition by Trump have not affected the key tourist growth sectors.

President Trump’s ‘symbolic hostility’ does not cut any ice with the major US agro-business groups, which saw Cuba as a market. Over half of the so-called ‘overseas Cubans’ now oppose direct US intervention.

US-funded NGOs can provide some marginal propaganda points but they cannot reverse popular support for Cuba’s mixed ‘socialized’ economy, its excellent public education and health care and its independent foreign policy.

Lebanon

A joint US-Saudi economic blockade and Israeli bombs can destabilize Lebanon.  However, a full-scale prolonged Israeli invasion will cost Jewish lives and foment domestic unrest.  Hezbollah has missiles to counter Israeli bombs.  The Saudi economic blockade will radicalize Lebanese nationalists, especially among the Shia and the Christian populations.  The Washington’s ‘invasion’ of Libya, which did not lose a single US soldier, demonstrates that destructive invasions result in long-term, continent-wide chaos.

A US-Israeli-Saudi war would totally destroy Lebanon but it will destabilize the region and exacerbate conflicts in neighboring countries – Syria, Iran and possibly Iraq.  And Europe will be flooded with millions more desperate refugees.

Syria

The US-Saudi proxy war in Syria suffered serious defeats and the loss of political assets.  Russia gained influence, bases and allies.  Syria retained its sovereignty and forged a battle-hardened national armed force.  Washington can sanction Syria, grab some bases in a few phony ‘Kurdish enclaves’ but it will not advance beyond a stalemate and will be widely viewed as an occupying invader.

Syria is vulnerable and continues to be a middle-range target on the US enemy list but it offers few prospects of advancing US imperial power, beyond some limited ties with an unstable Kurd enclave, susceptible to internecine warfare, and risking major Turkish retaliation.

Bolivia and Nicaragua

Bolivia and Nicaragua are minor irritants on the US enemy list. US regional policymakers recognize that neither country exercises global or even regional power.  Moreover, both regimes rejected radical politics in practice and co-exist with powerful and influential local oligarchs and international MNC’s linked to the US.

Their foreign policy critiques, which are mostly for domestic consumption, are neutralized by the near total US influence in the OAS and the major neo-liberal regimes in Latin America.  It appears that the US will accommodate these marginalized rhetorical adversaries rather than risk provoking any revival of radical nationalist or socialist mass movements erupting in La Paz or Managua.

Conclusion

A brief examination of Washington’s ‘list of enemies’ reveals that the limited chances of success even among vulnerable targets.  Clearly, in this evolving world power configuration, US money and markets will not alter the power equation.

US allies, like Saudi Arabia, spend enormous amounts of money attacking a devastated nation, but they destroy markets while losing wars.  Powerful adversaries, like China, Russia and Iran, are not vulnerable and offer the Pentagon few prospects of military conquest in the foreseeable future.

Sanctions, or economic wars have failed to subdue adversaries in North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Iran.  The ‘enemy list’ has cost the US prestige, money and markets – a very peculiar imperialist balance sheet.  Russia now exceeds the US in wheat production and exports.  Gone are the days when US agro-exports dominated world trade including trade with Moscow.

Enemy lists are easy to compose, but effective policies are difficult to implement against rivals with dynamic economies and powerful military preparedness.

The US would regain some of its credibility if it operated within the contexts of global realities and pursued a win-win agenda instead of remaining a consistent loser in a zero-sum game.

Rational leaders could negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with China, which would develop high tech, finance and agro-commercial ties with manufacturers and services.  Rational leaders could develop joint Middle East economic and peace agreements, recognizing the reality of a Russian-Iranian-Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian alliance.

As it stands, Washington’s ‘enemy list’ continues to be composed and imposed by its own irrational leaders, pro-Israel maniacs and Russophobes in the Democratic Party – with no acknowledgement of current realities.

For Americans, the list of domestic enemies is long and well known, what we lack is a civilian political leadership to replace these serial mis-leaders.

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Syria Summary: The Idlib Battle Comes Into Sight

Source

There have been few significant movements during the last weeks. The war on Syria slowly grinds towards its end. The political tussle continues as ever. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis made a curious announcement of plans he can not fulfill.


General Situation on November 3 – bigger

Our last Syria summary looked at the situation around the last refuge area of the Islamic State near the Syrian-Iraqi border:

The twin-cities of Abu Kamal (al-Bukamal) in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq are ISIS’ last urban refuge. The cities are on the south site of the Euphrates with the important border crossing between them. Coming from the east Iraqi government troops retook the al-Qaim crossing today. They now control the border and are breaking into the city proper. Syrian government forces approach Abu Kamal from the north-west and from south-east.

The U.S. proxy forces north of the Euphrates announced that they had taken several oil-fields north of the river and were also progressing towards Abu Kamal. The Syrian government and its allies fear that the U.S. [is trying to take] Abu Kamal itself. It could then claim to have control over the border crossing towards Iraq and severe that important line of communication. A race is on to prevent that.


Situation on November 10 – Abu Kamal is at the bottom right of the map – bigger

For a few days it seemed that Syrian government forces were easily winning the race. Coming through Iraq, troops moved deep into Abu Kamal and found it empty. They prematurely declared victory but had been deceived. ISIS used tunnels to move undetected into well prepared positions and attacked them from the rear. The Syrian forces were badly mauled and had to retreat.

Since then more troops have arrived and are now ready to launch an all out attack. Coming from Russia long range bombers hit ISIS positions. The U.S. is trying to make such support more difficult by claiming an “air corridor” over the city:

Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of providing de-facto cover for Islamic State units in Syria
..
Specifically, the Russian Defence Ministry said the U.S. air force had tried to hinder Russian strikes on Islamic State militants around Albu Kamal.

In October, after the U.S. made a deal with ISIS fighters to evacuate Raqqa, it had escorted foreign ISIS fighters towards Abu Kamal:

He says the convoy went to the countryside of eastern Syria, not far from the border with Iraq.

From the cab of his truck, Abu Fawzi watched as a coalition warplane flew overhead, dropping illumination flares, which lit up the convoy and the road ahead.

Abu Kamal is now well defended with the most ferocious ISIS troops inside. They have nowhere to go. It will be difficult to dig them out of their positions. Meanwhile the U.S. SDF proxy forces north of the Euphrates move further towards the area.

But the whole SDF concept is in trouble. The U.S. proxy forces are led by Kurds. They need local Arabs to take the remaining areas north of the Euphrates but the Arabs do not want to fight under Kurdish command. Talal Silo, the SDF spokesperson, just defected to Turkey. With such allies any semi-permanent U.S. position in Syria is further in doubt.

East of Damascus a mix of militant groups, including Al-Qaeda, are still holding the area of East Ghouta. Last month a propaganda campaign (implausibly) claimed that people in the surrounded area were starving. On October 30 a large Red Cross convoy was dispatched from Damascus and delivered supplies to East Ghouta. Twelve days later the militants in East Ghouta launched an attack on the surrounding Syrian army positions. At the same time they fired salvos of missiles and mortars into the capital and killed several civilians there. People there are wondering how the militants managed to acquire fresh ammunition.

The aim of the terrorists (green) is to cut off and capture a Syrian army base (red) that protrudes into the area. A Syrian general was killed during their attack, the militants capture some positions (blue) and vicious fighting is ongoing. It may take a week or two to defeat these attacks and to regain the lost positions.

bigger

The U.S. and Russia agreed on a deconflicting area in the south-west of Syria, next to the Golan heights and the Jordan border. There is a significant ISIS contingent near the Golan height which is protected by Israeli artillery. Israel claimed that the new deconflicting agreement will forbid Iranian led groups or Lebanese Hizbullah forces to come near to the area. Russia denied that any such restrictions are part of the deal. When the right time comes ISIS and other militants in the area will be fought down by whatever group in the Syrian government alliance is available. It does not matter how much Netanyahoo is howling about “Iran”. Israel is not in a position to launch any significant attack and will not be allowed to have any say on the issue.

In the north-east of Syria Al-Qaeda and its allies are still holding Idleb governate and Idleb city. As soon as the Syrian army operations at Abu Kamal are finished, Idelb will become the main battlefield. Already troops were put into position for an all out attack. Probing moves on several axes were launched to disperse the al-Qaeda fighters over a wide area. Several townswere liberated in a move towards the Ad Duhur area.


biggerOver the next six month Idelb governate will be at the center of the war. Al-Qaeda, which rules the area, is not willing to give up without a fight. They are Takfiri terrorists. There is nothing to negotiate with them.

The Syrian government position is now better than at any other point of the war. It can concentrate experienced forces and it has the full support of significant allies. Syria’s external enemies have mostly given up. It is unlikely that al-Qaeda will have and significant new supplies or support. I expect the fighting for Idleb province to be intense but relatively short.

 

U.S. Secretary of Defense General Mattis has announced that he wants to stay in Syria:

The U.S. military will fight Islamic State in Syria “as long as they want to fight,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, describing a longer-term role for U.S. troops long after the insurgents lose all of the territory they control.

He also stressed the importance of longer-term peace efforts, suggesting U.S. forces aimed to help set the conditions of a diplomatic solution in Syria, now in its seventh year of civil war.

One wonders if Mattis has cleared the issue with his president. It is wishful thinking. Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Russia are against any residual U.S. troops in Syria. The U.S. has absolutely no right to be in the country. That its troops were so far allowed to operated there, was conditioned on the fight against ISIS. When ISIS has lost the last area it still holds, that fight will be over and the U.S. will have to leave. The rest of ISIS will be nothing more than a defeated guerilla movement on the run which the Syria government can easily hold down and eventually destroy.

Preparations have already been made to fight the U.S. troops in Syria should they not move out on their own. Local cells have been prepared in the north-east to attack U.S. forces wherever they move. The U.S. public does not support the hostile occupation of another Arab state. With all surrounding countries against a U.S. stay, Mattis’ announcement is clearly of an unsustainable endeavor. Sec Def Mattis will have to climb down from his position. He is another example for the inability of military men to grasp a bigger political situation.

 

Large parts of Syria and its cities were damaged or destroyed by the war against its sovereignty. But destroyed cities can and will be rebuild. The wounds will heal. This picture of some devastated street in east-Aleppo exemplifies the hope and will of its people. Ahmed is back and reopened his shop. Five years on these streets will again be full of life.


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Posted by b on November 16, 2017 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

The Real Syria Story No One Wants You to Know About

RSFP

The conflict in Syria and the flashpoint of Daraa, a town near the Syria-Jordan border where the CIA, working with the Muslim Brotherhood, attacked police and set the stage for a conflict that has so far claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Syrians. The proxy war is designed to take down a secular government and replace it with a Salafist principality controlled by the Brotherhood, a longtime CIA and British intelligence asset. ~ Notes HERE

SYRIAN WAR: HOW DEFEAT OF ISIS CHANGES PROSPECTS OF CONFLICT

South Front

The liberation of al-Bukamal become another turning point marking the start of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. ISIS has lost all important cities, which it used to control in Syria, thus becoming just a terrorist group rather than a terrorist state.

The terrorist group still controls some villages in an area between al-Bukamal and Deir Ezzor, a part of the border between Syria and Iraq, a part of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus and a chunk of territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Many ISIS members are now fleeing the country in an attempt to reach safe havens around the world. The remaining terrorists will be involved in a guerilla war against the Syrian government and US-backed forces.

Now, Syria could be divided into 7 sectors controlled by various parties:

  1. The Syrian government, backed by its allies – Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, controls the biggest part of the country, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Deir Ezzor, Damascus, Latakia, as-Suwayda and Tartus. However, the militant-held pockets inside the government-held area pose a significant security threat. The situation is especially complicated in Eastern Ghouta and the Yarmouk Refugee Camp. The pockets of Bayt Jinn, Jayrud and Rastan are relatively calm.
  2. The situation is complicated in Daraa where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies are in control of a part of the provincial capital. The Russia-US de-escalation zone agreement in southern Syria allowed the intensity of fighting there to decrease. Despite this, clashes erupt from time to time in Daraa city and near the Golan Heights. Militants in southern Syria are mostly backed by Jordan, the US and Israel. Tel Aviv often uses tensions in the area to justify its strikes against Syrian forces and describes its support to local militants as a humanitarian assistance to the local population. It is interesting to note that Israel has no problems with the ISIS-linked Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which operates near its forces. The so-called local armed opposition does not seek to fight ISIS there either.
  3. The at-Tanf area on the Syrian-Iraqi border is controlled by the US-led coalition and a few US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups. FSA units are concentrated around the US garrison at at-Tanf and in the nearby refugee camp. The US says that it needs this garrison to fight ISIS while in fact it is just preventing Syria and Iraq from using the Damascus-Baghdad highway as a supply line. US forces respond with airstrikes and shelling to any Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attempts to reach at-Tanf.
  4. Northeastern Syria, including the cities of Raqqa, Tabqah, Hasakah and a part of Qamishli, is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ are a core of the SDF and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) de-facto controls this area. A notable number of US military facilities and troops in this area are an important factor contributing to the SDF’s confidence. Some aggressive SDF statements against Damascus can serve as an illustration of this fact.
  5. Northwestern Syria is also controlled by the SDF. However, the US influence in this area is lower and local Kurdish militias maintain better military relations with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. They also face more pressure from Turkey and its proxies.
  6. Turkey and pro-Turkish militant groups control a chunk of the border area, including al-Bab, Azaz and Jarabulus, in northern Syria. Ankara has a strong position there and pro-Turkish militants have repeatedly clashed with SDF members near Tall Rifat.
  7. Turkish forces are also deployed at the contact line with the SDF in the province of Idlib. However, almost the entire province is still controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). This means that Ankara and the terrorist group have reached a kind of agreement over the deployment of the Turkish troops. Ankara actively uses various militant groups to pressure Kurdish forces, which it sees a part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK operates in Turkey and northern Iraq and has been seeking for a long time to establish an independent Kurdish state there.

Clashes of various intensity between the SAA and HTS have been ongoing in northern and northeastern Hama since October. This clearly shows that the Idlib de-escalation agreement is not working and creates HTS positions in the area, which will be an obvious target for the expected SAA operation after ISIS is driven out from the rest of villages in the Euphrates Valley. According to pro-government sources, the SAA has already started redeploying elite units from Deir Ezzor to Hama.

Experts believe that the mid-term SAA goal there is to further expand buffer zone along the Ithriyah-Khanaser-Aleppo highway and to liberate Abu ad-Duhur. This will allow to shorten frontline and increase a concentration of troops and equipment on the contact line when the so-called opposition decides that it’s time to negotiate.

Another possible hot point is Daraa. Local militants will resume their military activity in the city if they see that their Idlib counterparts have become a target of a large-scale SAA operation.

Now, Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran and Syria are increasing their diplomatic activity in order to find a way, which could allow work to start on developing a final political settlement of the crisis. They all have objective limits to their influence on the ground and some contradictory goals. This complicates the situation, especially amid a lack of strategic vision from the US which, according even to American experts, has no long-term strategy for Syria. The US elites and their Israeli and Saudi counterparts are especially dissatisfied with the strengthened position of Hezbollah and Iran.

If the sides are not able to find common ground in the nearest future, the conflict may easily give rise to a new round of violence.

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Ynet: Hezbollah’s Future Is Still Bright

Yoav Zitun

06-09-2017 | 11:39

Hezbollah seems to be tiptoeing towards becoming the Middle East’s second strongest army, Yoav Zitun wrote for ynetnews.

Hezbollah

According to the writer, the ‘Israeli’ occupation forces’ [IOF] widespread combined arms exercise that began Tuesday in the occupied territories’ northern region comes on the heels of the Zionist army coming to terms with the fact the next war in the northern sector versus Israel’s main enemy-Hezbollah-will differ from what was planned a few years ago in light of the rapid-fire changes in Syria and Lebanon.

According to the website, the axis that Hezbollah makes up is inching ever closer to growing in strength.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is waging a successful war against Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] on the Syria-Lebanon border and even closes prisoner-swap deals with them.

Hezbollah’s learning curve, despite the difficulties, has become one of its stronger suits. Deemed by some in the IOF as the “second-strongest army in the Middle East”, Hezbollah is now capable of waging regimental war and utilizing offensive drones, along with efficient intelligence gathering and using attack tunnels and caves, Zitun added.

It also fires both small arms and artillery while using tanks, all the while growing its ranks rapidly and expertly by 4,000 men in a specific area-as it has done only recently against Daesh.

Source: Ynetnews.com

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‘Israeli’ Defeat … Not Just a Failure هزيمة إسرائيلية… لا مجرد فشل

Ali Haider

06-09-2017 | 08:21

Benjamin Netanyahu did not stop with simply articulating the importance of Daesh in the context of the general ‘Israeli’ strategy to confront the axis of resistance, including Hezbollah (Al-Akhbar, 22 August 2017).

 

Israeli soldier


In an interview with the ‘Israeli’ Channel 20, he reiterated ‘Israel’s’ position opposing the elimination of the terrorist group, describing its demise as “bad” for ‘Israel’. He went on to describe the dangers surrounding the shrinking territory under Daesh control and the group’s ultimate elimination, pointing out that “Iran pursues regular infiltration into the areas left” by the terrorist organization.

Netanyahu implicitly admitted that “Daesh” was playing the role of a dam, which prevents the growing threat to ‘Israel’, warning of “an Iranian plan that threatens ‘Israel’ and the countries of the region” during the post “Daesh” era.

Netanyahu’s insistence on being distinguished from the American administration regarding the elimination of the barbaric organization stems from the recognition of the political and military institutions in Tel Aviv of the narrow ‘Israeli’ options in the post-Daesh phase, and that any other alternative option is unlikely to rise to the level of services the terrorist organizations provided to ‘Israel’ on Syrian soil.

It is true that the failure of ‘Israeli’ intelligence assessments to foresee the future of the political and field developments on the Syrian, Lebanese and regional arenas, was catastrophic – similar to the failures of Western and regional intelligence apparatuses. But ‘Israel’s’ problem lies not only in the fact that it was late in discovering the gravity of the outcome on the current regional battlefield and political scene. The crux of the problem also lies in the constraints that deter the ‘Israeli’ political and security decision makers from the operational initiative, which leads to a change in the course of developments and causes a shift in the balance of power, especially in the Syrian arena.

It may be said that ‘Israel’ stood by in the first months of the Syrian crisis. Estimates in Tel Aviv and regional and international capitals were reassuring that the fall of President Bashar al-Assad and the establishment of a Syrian regime in Damascus hostile to Hezbollah and the axis of resistance were only months away.

However, the intervention of Hezbollah and its regional allies in support of the Syrian army – which was not factored in by ‘Israel’ – knocked out ‘Israeli’ hopes and gambits. What ‘Israel’ considered, at the time, a preoccupation for Hezbollah in Syria that would pave the way for its depletion and an attack on it in Lebanon, later turned into a threat following the success of the party, the Syrian army and the allies in turning the field equations.

The ‘Israeli’ strategic dilemma is not limited to the failure of its bets on the armed groups in the Syrian and Lebanese arenas – in particular Daesh – to achieve Tel Aviv’s objectives. But it seems that this failure had strategic consequences and implications related to the growing capabilities of the axis of resistance, spilling over into its conflict with ‘Israel’, and paving the way for a regional scene quite different from the one prior to the Syrian war. From here, ‘Israel’ dealt with – and is still dealing with – this war as an ‘Israeli’ war that others are fighting.

From here, Tel Aviv found itself very concerned with the outcome of this battle. Therefore, Netanyahu, in order to reverse the reality in Lebanon and Syria, initiated a proactive political move through Washington and Moscow. He sent a high-level intelligence delegation to the former and he headed another delegation to the latter. He repeatedly mentioned military options and warned of Iranian positioning and of the growing capabilities of Hezbollah and the resistance axis in the Syrian and Lebanese arenas.

The harsh and successive criticism by ‘Israeli’ officials and experts in Tel Aviv of the Obama administration came over the latter’s reluctance to intervene directly to change the balance of power in Syria – specifically after the Russian intervention. This revealed ‘Israel’s’ assessment that altering the reality on the battlefield only happens through a direct military intervention that it cannot bear. This was in the hands of the Americans. However, the Trump administration distanced itself from this option to avoid falling into the same dilemma in the region as the previous administrations did after the invasion of Iraq.

In recent weeks, there have been many reports and interventions by ‘Israeli’ experts regarding the characterization of the victory of the Syrian state and its allies and the threat that has been formed and which could be formed in the wake of victory. One of the reports on the ‘Israeli’ Channel 2 pointed out that “‘Israel’ could have entered Syria to create a situation where the rebels, not Daesh nor Al Qaeda, could control the entire southern region to the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus. ‘Israel’ did not want to do that because we are deterred, both in the security establishment and, of course, in the political establishment.” The report stressed that ‘Israel’ was defeated because it “suffers from the complex of the first Lebanon war.” In this way, the report acknowledges the awareness that the resistance had engraved in ‘Israeli’ consciousness during the period leading up to the liberation in 2000, which deterred it from exploiting the Syrian scene.

But what the report failed to mention is the military intervention by proxy armed groups. This was the view circulated by the Jewish reports, imitating Russia’s choice and scenarios of its military intervention in Syria. However, ‘Israel’ did not adopt this option and did not demand it, because it simply understands that it was a 2006 war scenario, multiplied by a few times, despite its awareness of the dangers that stem form the liberation of Lebanon’s eastern border, the liberation of Iraq, and the withdrawal of the insurgents on the way to their final defeat in Syria. The ‘Israeli’ channel 2 displayed a clear reference to the ‘Israeli’ performance: “It completely violates the legacy of the Zionist movement before the establishment of the state, where the Arabic division of the Zionist agency was involved in the internal policy of each Arab capital.”

Thus, ‘Israel’s’ bets on “Daesh”, its brothers and those who preceded them have failed. It was defeated when it retreated from the operational initiative that compensated for this failure. It also failed to cut the road to Hezbollah’s increased capabilities and was defeated when it was deterred from exploiting its (Hezbollah’s) preoccupation with terrorist and takfiri groups to expand its range of attacks targeting the party’s capabilities in the Lebanese arena (the response to the Ghenta attack early 2014, as a model).

‘Israel’ failed in its intelligence assessments of the future of the Syrian and regional developments. It was defeated when it was unable to devise a parallel or alternative immediate option. It is an option present at the theoretical level, but its constraints are more present at the decision table. It also failed to convince the US administration to impose red lines to prevent the victory of the resistance axis. It was defeated when it did not take the initiative for this mission. Its bets to have Hezbollah preoccupied with the Takfiri threat on Lebanese territory failed along with efforts to consume Hezbollah with its rhetoric and the “policy of escalation” of an attack on Lebanon. But it was defeated before Hezbollah and the axis of resistance when Lebanon liberated its land, while at the same time maintaining a more effective deterrent equation than ever before.

Al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by website team

هزيمة إسرائيلية… لا مجرد فشل

علي حيدر

لم يكتف بنيامين نتنياهو بسلسلة المواقف التي أكد فيها أهمية دور «داعش» في سياق الاستراتيجية الإسرائيلية العامة لمواجهة محور المقاومة وحزب الله، («الأخبار»، ٢٢ آب ٢٠١٧). بل كرر قبل أيام، في مقابلة مع قناة «20» العبرية، موقف إسرائيل المعارض للقضاء على هذا التنظيم، واصفاً ذلك بأنه «أمر سيئ» لإسرائيل. وأسهب في وصف المخاطر المترتبة على تراجع سيطرة «داعش» والقضاء عليه، لافتاً إلى أن «إيران تنتهج التسلل المنتظم الى المناطق التي يتركها» التنظيم الإرهابي.

وأقر نتنياهو، ضمناً، بأن «داعش» كان يضطلع بدور السد الذي يحول دون تعاظم التهديد المحدق بإسرائيل، محذراً من «مخطط إيراني يهدد إسرائيل ودول المنطقة» في المرحلة التي تلي «داعش».
إصرار نتنياهو على التمايز عن الإدارة الأميركية في الموقف من القضاء على التنظيم المتوحش، ينطلق من إدراك المؤسستين السياسية والعسكرية في تل أبيب ضيق الخيارات الإسرائيلية في مرحلة ما بعد «داعش»، ومن أن أي خيار بديل آخر مفترض لن يرتقي الى مستوى الخدمات التي وفّرتها لإسرائيل التنظيمات الإرهابية على الأرض السورية.

صحيح أن فشل التقديرات الاستخبارية الإسرائيلية في استشراف مستقبل المسارات الميدانية والسياسية في الساحات السورية واللبنانية والإقليمية كان ذريعاً، شأنها شأن بقية الأجهزة الغربية والإقليمية. لكن مشكلة إسرائيل لا تكمن فقط في أنها اكتشفت متأخرة خطورة نتائج المشهد الميداني والسياسي الإقليمي الحالي، وما ينطوي عليه من مسارات مستقبلية، بل إن جوهر المشكلة يكمن تحديداً في القيود التي تردع صانع القرار السياسي والأمني الإسرائيلي عن المبادرة العملانية بما يؤدي الى تغير مسار التطورات، ويحدث انقلاباً في موازين القوى، وتحديداً في الساحة السورية.

قد يكون مفهوماً أن تقف إسرائيل موقف المتفرج في الأشهر الأولى من بدء الأحداث السورية، إذ إن التقديرات في تل أبيب والعواصم الإقليمية والدولية كانت مطمئنة الى أن سقوط الرئيس بشار الأسد وإحلال نظام سوري في دمشق معاد لحزب الله ومحور المقاومة لم يكونا سوى مسألة وقت لا يتعدى الأشهر.

إلا أن تدخل حزب الله وحلفائه الإقليميين لدعم الجيش السوري، وهو أمر لم يكن محسوباً ومقدراً جيداً في إسرائيل، أطاح الآمال والرهانات الإسرائيلية. وما حسبته إسرائيل، في حينه، إشغالاً لحزب الله في سوريا يمهّد لاستنزافه والانقضاض عليه في لبنان، تحوّل لاحقاً الى تهديد، بعد نجاح الحزب والجيش السوري والحلفاء في قلب المعادلات الميدانية.

المعضلة الاستراتيجية الإسرائيلية لا تقتصر فقط على فشل الرهانات على الجماعات المسلحة في الساحتين السورية واللبنانية، وتحديداً «داعش»، في تحقيق ما كان يؤمل منها. بل بدا أن لهذا الفشل نتائج وتداعيات استراتيجية، تتصل بتعاظم قدرات محور المقاومة، وتطال مجمل معادلة الصراع مع إسرائيل، وتعبّد الطريق أمام مشهد إقليمي مغاير تماماً لما كان قائماً قبل الحرب السورية. من هنا، تعاملت إسرائيل ــــ ولا تزال ــــ مع هذه الحرب، باعتبارها حرباً إسرائيلية يخوضها الآخرون عنها.

من هنا، وجدت تل أبيب نفسها معنية جداً بنتائج هذه المعركة. لذلك بادر نتنياهو، لقطع الطريق على الواقع المتشكل في لبنان وسوريا، الى خطوة سياسية استباقية على خطّي واشنطن وموسكو. فأرسل وفداً استخبارياً رفيعاً الى الأولى، وترأس آخر الى الثانية. وكرر التلويح بخيارات عسكرية، والتحذير من التموضع الإيراني، ومن تعاظم قدرات حزب الله ومحور المقاومة، في الساحتين السورية واللبنانية.

الانتقادات القاسية والمتوالية التي يوجهها المسؤولون الرسميون الإسرائيليون والخبراء في تل أبيب لإدارة الرئيس السابق باراك أوباما، بسبب عزوفها عن التدخل المباشر بما يغير موازين القوى في الساحة السورية ــــ وتحديداً بعد التدخل الروسي ــــ لتحقيق قدر من التوازن، كشفت عن تقدير إسرائيل بأن قلب المعادلات الميدانية لا يتم إلا بتدخل عسكري مباشر لا تقوى هي عليه، بل هو في يد الجانب الأميركي، فيما تبعد إدارة ترامب نفسها عن هذا الخيار منعاً للوقوع في ما وقعت فيه الإدارات السابقة في المنطقة بعد غزو العراق.

في الأسابيع الماضية كثر صدور تقارير ومداخلات من الخبراء الإسرائيليين، حول توصيف واقع انتصار الدولة السورية وحلفائها، والتهديد المتشكل، وذاك الممكن أن يتشكل، في أعقاب الانتصار. ومن بينها تقرير في القناة الثانية العبرية أشار الى أنه «كان بإمكان إسرائيل الدخول الى سوريا لإيجاد وضع يسيطر فيه المتمردون، لا داعش والقاعدة، على كل المنطقة الجنوبية حتى الأطراف الجنوبية للعاصمة دمشق. إسرائيل لم ترغب بفعل ذلك لأننا مردوعون، سواء في المؤسسة الأمنية، وبالطبع في المؤسسة السياسية». وأكد التقرير أن إسرائيل منيت بالهزيمة لأنها «تعاني من عقدة حرب لبنان الأولى». وهو بذلك أقر بكيّ الوعي الذي حفرته المقاومة في المرحلة التي أعقبت تلك الحرب، وصولاً الى التحرير عام 2000، الأمر الذي ردعها عن استغلال المشهد السوري.

لكن ما لم يشر إليه التقرير هو التدخل العسكري عن بعد وترك الميدان للجماعات المسلحة. وهو رأي جرى تداوله في التقارير العبرية، في تقليد لخيار روسيا وسيناريوات تدخلها العسكري في سوريا. مع ذلك، لم تتبنّ إسرائيل هذا الخيار ولم تطالب به، لأنها تدرك، ببساطة، أنه سيناريو حرب عام 2006، مضروباً بأضعاف، رغم إدراكها المخاطر التي ستترتب عن تحرير الحدود الشرقية للبنان، وتحرير العراق، وتراجع المسلحين في الطريق الى الهزيمة النهائية في سوريا. وفي القناة الثانية العبرية إشارة واضحة الى الأداء الإسرائيلي: «يخالف كلياً إرث الحركة الصهيونية قبل قيام الدولة، حيث إن القسم العربي في الوكالة الصهيونية كان متورطاً في السياسة الداخلية لكل عاصمة عربية».
هكذا تكون إسرائيل قد فشلت في الرهان على «داعش» وإخوته ومن سبقهم. وهزمت عندما تراجعت عن المبادرة العملانية التي تعوض هذا الفشل. كما فشلت في قطع الطريق على تعاظم قدرات حزب الله، وهزمت عندما تم ردعها عن استغلال انشغاله في مواجهة الجماعات الإرهابية والتكفيرية لتوسيع نطاق اعتداءاتها التي تستهدف قدرات الحزب في الساحة اللبنانية. (الرد على اعتداء جنتا مطلع عام 2014، نموذجاً).

فشلت إسرائيل في تقديراتها الاستخبارية إزاء مستقبل التطورات السورية والإقليمية، وهزمت عندما لم تتمكن من بلورة خيار بديل فوري أو مواز. وهو خيار حاضر على المستوى النظري، إلا أن قيوده أكثر حضوراً على طاولة القرار. كذلك فشلت في إقناع الإدارة الأميركية بفرض خطوط حمر تمنع انتصار محور المقاومة، وهزمت عندما لم تبادر هي بنفسها لهذه المهمة. فشلت في الرهان على مفاعيل إشغال حزب الله بالتهديد التكفيري على الأراضي اللبنانية، وفشلت في إشغال حزب الله بمواجهة تهويلها و«سياسة التوثب» للاعتداء على لبنان، عن مواجهة التهديد التكفيري. لكنها هزمت أمام حزب الله، ومحور المقاومة، عندما حرر لبنان أرضه، وحافظ في الوقت نفسه على معادلة ردع، أكثر نجاعة وفعالية، من أي وقت مضى.

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