Categorized | Middle East Briefing

Iran’s Syrian gambit puzzling strategy

Posted on 27 August 2015 by admin

Last week’s deadly rocket fire between Israel and Syria was not an accidental falling of munitions inside Israel during one of the Syrian civil war battles, nor was it just another minor tit-for-tat exchange started by a terrorist organization for whatever reason.
On the contrary, it was a major event that gives us a good indication of Iran’s strategy, based on its long-term declared goals: eradication of Israel, establishment of hegemonic control over large swaths of the Middle East and an ongoing, death-by-a-thousand-cuts humiliation of the West in general and of the United States in particular.
What happened last week?
On Thursday, for the first time since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, four rockets were deliberately fired at an Israeli community in the Galilee from an area under the control of Bashir al-Assad’s military.
Israel retaliated immediately with air, rocket, drone and mortar fire toward Syrian military bases near the launch site, killing one Syrian soldier and wounding seven.
The next day, Friday, Israeli forces struck a car in the village of al-Qom in the Syrian-controlled area of the Golan Heights, killing five terrorists of the Islamic Jihad cell that launched the rockets.
The Israeli military said its forces targeted the area, describing those there as “part of the terror cell responsible for the rocket fire at northern Israel on Thursday.”
Israeli officials blamed Thursday’s attack on militants affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a radical group headquartered in Gaza with some fighters based in Syria. Israel says the group depends on Tehran for funding and direction.
According to Israel, the attack was directed by Saeed Izaadhi, the head of the Palestinian unit of the Iranian military’s Quds Force, under the direct command of General Qassem Suleimani, a close confidant of the Grand Ayatollah.
“This attack on Israeli territory was directed by Iran,” said an Israeli senior official. “In other words, the Iranians launched aggression against Israel using a surrogate organization.”
But, why now?
There are several theories, but I agree with Israeli military and Arab commentator Ron Ben Yishai, who wrote in Politico: “The recent rocket fire toward Israel fits the policy of Iran’s protégés (terrorist organizations in Gaza and Syria) in the past year — retaliating against any perceived attack by Israel — whether it’s the interception of smuggled weapons from Syria and Iran via the bombing of supply convoys, or the targeted assassination intended terrorist bombings in the Golan Heights and Galilee panhandle.”
As Ben Yishai sees it: “According to Iran’s new policy, the Golan and Lebanon are a single front, on which Hezbollah is fighting Israel. This January, Hezbollah fighters shot anti-tank missiles at Israeli forces in Har Dov, killing two IDF soldiers, in retaliation for the assassination of two Hezbollah leaders, which was attributed to Israel.”
But Iran is careful at the moment. According to Ben Yishai: “The policy has stayed the same, and it seems that this time the Iranians chose to fire into Israel, even deep into it, but not to cause much damage or kill. This is probably due to the fact that the targets of the three-vehicle assassination were fairly low-ranking (Islamic Jihad) members.”
Today, Iran holds over 100,000 short-, middle- and long-range missiles and rockets in Lebanon, under the control and command of elite IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) forces that are capable of reaching everywhere in Israel with potentially catastrophic results.
But since Israel has put Iran, and the world, on notice that at the start of a war between the two countries, it will deploy massive tactical and strategic conventional forces to destroy a majority, if not all of those missiles, rockets and launchers (together with the Iranian IRGC fighters and Hezbollah terrorists located near them), while simultaneously destroying tactical and strategic military targets in Iran … It doesn’t seem logical that the Ayatollahs really want to go to war with Israel before they have a chance to reap all the benefits from what I still call a very bad “deal.”
Then again…this is the Middle East — don’t count on logic.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Email Gil Elan at: gil@swjc.org

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