With at least some Hezbollah forces tied down in the fighting in Syria, and the organization experiencing political blowback in Lebanon for its support of the Assad regime, the US may be concerned that Israeli leaders believe the cost of an Iran strike — especially in terms of rocket strikes on Israeli cities from across the border — has dropped significantly, according to the report.
In July, Netanyahu told NBC’s “Face the Nation” that Iran was getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and that “they’re edging up to the red line.”Sponsored Ads
Netanyahu said, “They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate — that is, within a few weeks.”
“I won’t wait until it’s too late,” Netanyahu vowed at the time.
But thanks to the Syrian civil war, the threat of Iranian retaliation has been dramatically reduced. Partly, of course, that’s because two of Iran’s principal allies, Syria and Hezbollah, are too preoccupied with that war to be able to mount serious reprisals against anyone. But even more importantly, the tremendous importance Iran attaches to Syria gives both Israel and America a powerful lever with which to restrain any Iranian reprisals.
Iran has poured billions of dollars and thousands of crack fighters–from Hezbollah, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, and its own Revolutionary Guards Corps–into propping up Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, because it deems Assad’s survival strategically vital. As one senior Iranian cleric explained in February, “Syria is the 35th province [of Iran] and a strategic province for us. If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or Khuzestan [in western Iran], the priority for us is to keep Syria….If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”
An attack two weeks ago that destroyed an advanced Russian missile shipment delivered to Syria’s Assad regime should also serve as a warning to Iran – and to those complacent Western diplomats who have (dangerously in my view) reconciled themselves to the idea of allowing Iran to go nuclear and then trying to contain it. For it seems that the July 5 attack on an arms depot near the Syrian naval base of Latakia, which has been attributed to Israel, came not from the air (as CNN and the New York Times reported last weekend) but from under the water.
Many Western officials who have apparently concluded that Israel could only destroy Iran’s nuclear program from the air – and that Israel does not have the capability to carry out such long-range air strikes in a decisive way – should take note. In recent years, Israel has greatly advanced its sea-based capabilities, and the geographical range of operations that Israel can mount from the sea, I am reliably told, now spans the entire globe. Israeli submarines are no longer confining themselves to the Mediterranean.
A camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria has been bombed by chemical weapons, a Syrian opposition group based in Turkey said.
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces said Sunday that the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus had been gassed by regime forces amid heavy fighting.
According to Israel Radio, at least 22 people were killed in the Sunday attack, the majority from inhalation of toxic gases, according to Palestinian sources cited in the report.
The situation in Syria has descended into a new level of Hell, as the civil war continues, refugees fleeing the country increase, and the fractured rebel groups have begun to turn on each other as much as fight the Assad family regime.
The Security Council remains politically deadlocked and thus neutralized, while the UN relief agencies carry out outstanding humanitarian efforts despite the fighting and the searing summer temperatures.
Within a week of Morsi’s ouster, the ubiquitous gas lines and power shortages in Egypt ended.
Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, because production can only sustain half its needs.
This sudden turn of events started to take shape even before the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait promised Egypt $12 billion in cash and fuel aid.
Evidently, the change of economic conditions in Egypt is due to certain business and other interests deliberately victimizing Egyptians by artificially throttling gas and power access.
These interests were keen to foster hostility against the Morsi regime — a clever, if mean act of subversion.
The Egyptian press drew quick attention to these “miraculous” events. The new military-installed regime knows the value of controlling the flow of information and misinformation.
As a result of these machinations, Egypt may have more fuel available than most people, including the Morsi government, had believed.
Now that Russian ships can stop in Cyprus, having personnel in Syria isn’t worth the risk.
“Now that the battlefield initiative in Syria’s civil war is in the hands of the Assad regime, Russia might fear some [rebel] provocations against our people. Another possible reason may be to help promote the Geneva-2 talks. We have information that Russia, the United Nations and the US have agreed to a format for the talks. So, perhaps Russia wants to dispel impression that its position is based on some desire to hold on to this station,” Mr. Sotnikov says.
“In any case, Russian ships have the opportunity to go to Cyprus for supplies and maintenance, and it’s safer for them to do so right now,” he adds.
Saudi news site Elaph, which recently reported that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria is imminent, repeats that report on Sunday. According to the site, a number of secret decisions were taken by the participating countries, including a no-fly zone over Syria, the establishment of a buffer zone in the country’s south, and an attempt to orchestrate a military coup against Assad.
Saudi columnist Abdullah Al-Oteibi comments on the American and Western change of heart towards intervention in Syria.
“The debate in the corridors of the American administration has moved from arming [the opposition] to establishing no-fly zones and even to bombing the airports used by the Assad regime and hitting his air defense systems,” writes Oteibi in A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
Unchecked, Tehran and its ally will emerge more aggressive than ever.
For those who have hoped that the Syrian quagmire might swallow up Iran’s influence in the region, it’s time to wake up: Tehran and its ally Hezbollah are set to emerge from the Syrian conflict more aggressive than ever.
Iran is also likely to continue leveraging the Assad regime to transport weapons to Hezbollah’s coffers, despite threats of additional Israeli airstrikes. …
Rather than confront the looming threat of Hezbollah, Western strategists are still grappling with concerns over which rebel group to arm, or what regime might replace Assad’s. They fail to realize that if Hezbollah’s involvement continues unchecked, these questions will become irrelevant. The time has come for the West to stop obsessing about the risks of stopping the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran, and start considering the consequences of not stopping them.
Mr. Nisman is the Middle East and North Africa intelligence director at Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical and security risk consulting firm.
Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.
The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.
She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.