New War Threat Looms For Israel

The next Middle East conflict could be a regional war, the likes of which has not been seen for decades.

The Syrian civil war has been bloody and seemingly endless, but one positive aspect of the infighting among Syrian factions is that Israel’s border with the hostile Arab regime has been quiet. As the Iran-backed Syrian government forces solidify control over much of the country that fragile peace may be coming to an end.

Bloomberg reports that Syrian rebels now have only two major strongholds left in the country. Thanks to Russian intervention – and a lack of interest from both Barack Obama and Donald Trump in aiding opposition forces – it seems that the rebels’ days are numbered. Once the regime eliminates its domestic enemies, it is likely that it will turn its focus toward Israel once again.

At the height of the war, Israel used friendly relations with rebel groups to create a buffer zone near the border. The Israelis reportedly supplied rebels with aid, medical help and money for weapons and salaries. They also provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees camped along the border. The assistance also helped boost Israel’s image with its Arab neighbors.

“We were brainwashed for decades to hate Israel,” said a resident of southern Syria, who declined to give his name, after being treated for shrapnel wounds at Israel’s Galilee Medical Center. “I now see that my enemy isn’t Israel, but the people who came and destroyed our village.”

There have been a number of Israeli airstrikes against targets in Syria during the past few years, including a recent attack on Syria’s T-4 airbase, home to Iranian units, but now things seem to be heating up on the ground as well. Last weekend, a mortar shell from Syria exploded in the buffer zone between the two countries. Israel responded with artillery fire. This morning Israel shot down a drone that entered its airspace from Syria.

Haaretz notes that the final rebel holdouts are likely to occupy the southern part of Syria near the Golan Heights on the border with Israel. Israel captured the Golan Heights during the Six Day War of 1967 and has occupied them ever since. The two countries agreed to disengagement lines in 1974.

Israel reportedly gave the Assad regime and Russia the green light for operations against rebels in southern Syria provided that Iranian forces were kept away from the border. This agreement seems to have been honored only in part since Iranian and Hezbollah forces were spotted taking part in the fighting in Daraa, the city in southwestern Syria where the Syrian uprising began in 2011.

The immediate problem is that Syria will not be able to root out rebel fighters from the Golan Heights without intruding into the disengagement zone. Incursions without Israeli approval could lead to expanded fighting.

“Any Syrian soldier who enters the buffer zone endangers his life,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told Bloomberg. “We are not prepared to accept any Iranian presence in Syria.”

But Iran is unlikely to leave post-war Syria easily and their Russian allies are unlikely to press them. Putin’s influence with Iran may be limited and he has little incentive to push too hard. Haaretz reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu may offer Putin relief from US sanctions in exchange for help against Iran.

It is possible that Iran will sit out the campaign against the rebel fighters near the Golan Heights and wait for an opportunity to insert themselves into the area to act against the Israelis directly. Iran’s ultimate goal of destroying Israel seems clear.

Last month, the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said, “Today an international Islamic army has been formed in Syria, and the voices of the Muslims are heard near the Golan. Orders are awaited, so that… the eradication of the evil regime [Israel] will land and the life of this regime will be ended for good. The life of the Zionist regime was never in danger as it is now.”

If there is a bright spot, it is that the Sunni Arab countries in the region are no more enamored with the Iranians than the Israelis are. Saudi Arabia and Iran have already engaged in proxy wars in other countries such as Yemen and Qatar.

The Syrian civil war is winding down, but expanded Iranian influence in the region and Iranian soldiers near the Israeli border may mean that the stage is already set for the next war. Where the fighting for the last decade has been largely contained within Syria’s borders, the next Middle East conflict could be a regional war, the likes of which has not been seen for decades.

[Photo credit: The 13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade during a drill held in the Golan Heights, northern Israel. Photo by Staff Sgt. (res.) Abir Sultan/The Israel Defense Forces]

Comments
No. 1-2
Jules*
Jules*

@Myron_J_Poltroonian, thanks for your commentary on Islam as a religion. Your definition is better than mine, which has always just been a political system with a thin veneer of religion slapped on to make it more palatable.

Yours was a great post----though some would whimper piteously that it is a "wall of words"---and made many good points. This can't be repeated too often:

"I also know that the western mind (developed over the past three to four millennia) is reticent to accept the reality of the middle eastern religio-political thought process and mindset. A process and mindset that has, I might add, been subtly refined on the surface (the "Two Faced" part) but reinforced and ingrained to achieve one goal - total domination - over the past millennia and a half."

Myron_J_Poltroonian
Myron_J_Poltroonian

I’ve made this observation now for the past several years. I wasn’t being prescient, just being real. It was the “Nation” of Turkey’s Caliphate and its ideological descendants, whose actions in the name of “The Religion Of Peace”, that are what inspired me to pen what I call “Nation Renaming”:

How about this. Instead of "Nation Building", after throwing out their terrorist supporting regimes and budding Caliphates in the Middle East and/or the so called "Tribal Areas", let us try (preemptive) "Nation Renaming". Yes! Lets let them be known as "NukeStan" [pronounced: Nuke'-Es-Stan.] (Only until or unless they change their evil ways, of course.) Two or three examples should be enough. If not, then reduce to molten glass those places they hold most dear. (Mecca, Medina, etc. .. .)

I do have a serious question though: Have you ever stopped to examine why so many of you had the reaction to this thought you just did? The only reason I can come up with is the fear (based on reality) of real world, barbaric, pre-planned violence, committed against civilians where you and other innocents live. You are asking for civil, restrained "reactive defense" towards those who despise you for living and breathing on the very same planet as they. We, in the West, view reporters and artist's, women and children, Doctors and Nurses, their patients and the elderly, for example, as "hold harmless" bystanders and completely off limits in any combat. The radical terrorists, practicing the "Religion of Peace", as it is referred to by the politically correct in charge of leading us in this war declared on the West, do not so consider it to be. To Jihadist's, it is a holy call to arms. A call to subjugate or destroy all nonbelievers. It is a war which has been declared against all of humanity (not just the West) that either does not believe as they do or submit to their will. They only gain strength and power in their world, by our appearance of weakness, and revel in the throat-slitting, baby-killing, Mosque; Church; Synagogue; Temple; Alter desecration and marketplace bombings, as well as the suicide killings of any and everyone in or around such places committed by these vermin who hide behind women's skirts (or burkah's (sic)) and set up rocket launchers in or next to Mosques, schools and hospitals, et cetera.

The only difference between Christianity and Islam (other than the fact that Jesus and Mohammed were about as polar opposite as "Prophets" as one could get) is the fact that Christianity has undergone it's Reformation during the Age of Enlightenment and Islam has not. And It never will until it's so-called moderate coreligionists get over their extremely real fear of retribution and scourge the fanatics from their midst. Thus far, unfortunately, they seem "under motivated" to do so. It appears that without a very real consequence for their immoderate inaction, they will remain ineffectively on the sidelines, awaiting to see who will win so they may claim loudly and enthusiastically, they were with them all along. I, for one, intend it to be us and not the barbarians who are on the winning side. As I've noted before: "If you want to know what life would be like under a Caliphate, ask an Armenian".

Addendum:

In a recent posting of this commentary I was gently taken to task for conflating Islam with Christianity by someone's reply, as if I viewed both as being strictly religions only (which Christianity has primarily become since the Reformation), whereas Islam is, strictly speaking, not just a religion, but a Socio/Political-Religious/Political System, better known as a Theoracy. I wrote what I did in a manner to try and breach the western mindset's fog of presumption that, "Everyone basically wants the same things we do, so all we have to do is try to reach out a little harder with kindness to win them over to our ‘Enlightened’ mindset of tolerance”.

This was my response: Er, I know all this. I also know that the western mind (developed over the past three to four millennia) is reticent to accept the reality of the middle eastern religio-political thought process and mindset. A process and mindset that has, I might add, been subtly refined on the surface (the "Two Faced" part) but reenforced and ingrained to achieve one goal - total domination - over the past millennia and a half.

My grandparents on my father's side came to this country to escape the tender mercies of the Ottoman Empire back around the turn of the last century. They acculturated, had and raised three children here and insisted on speaking only English and practicing American customs (except, of course, for some of the food) in their home. They never taught their children, and my cousins and I never were raised, to hate the sons and grandsons of those who murdered 1½ million Armenians. After all, it wasn't their fault what their parents or grandparents did. All that changed for me on September 11, 2001.

There is only one way for this to be over and, as I noted before, I intend for us - Western Civilization - to be on the wining side. What-Ever-It-Takes. Harsh? Yes. Vital? Absolutely!

Addendum Ad Addendum: When will any atrocity finally awaken the (hopefully) "Sleeping Giant" of Western Civilization? Or, will the slumbering giant be cowered into somnambulant submission and shuffle off the stage of enlightenment and sink into the pits of seventh century darkness? Never to return.

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