Is Israel’s Netanyahu preparing for War on Iranian Special Ops in Syria?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu filled the ear of visiting UN secretary general Antonio Guterres with complaints about Iran and Hizbullah on the latter’s visit to the region.

He complained that the UN border patrol, UNIFIL, in South Lebanon, has not reported the thousands of rockets delivered to Hizbullah by Iran.

He also alleged that Tehran is turning Syria into a military base, and aims at making Damascus and Beirut two fronts from which it can launch war on Israel.

He also accused Iran of establishing factories in Syria and Lebanon to build precision missiles so that it can destroy Israel, which he said is Iran’s goal.

He said Iran was making Damascus a fortress from which it could attack.

Netanyahu had made similar accusations and exhibited similar bluster on a recent trip to see Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Since Iran is useful to Putin in Syria, inasmuch as he wants to see Sunni radicals allied with extremist Chechens defeated. He is therefore unmoved by Israeli unease, which in any case is not well founded.

Netanyahu’s dark apocalyptic fantasies would be a little comical if he were not so erratic and did not give every evidence of believing them.

First of all, Iran has not vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Rather, Iran has a no first strike policy that has been repeatedly underlined by Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. The only country in the region that has gone around invading other countries until recently was Israel. Nowadays Saudi Arabia has joined the club with its attack on Yemen.

Second of all, Iran has not turned Damascus into a fortress or Syria into an army base. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers to Syria to train and advise the Syrian Arab Army. They are the equivalent of special ops. It is likely that there aren’t more than a couple of thousand Iranian military personnel in the country. Iranian officers have died at such a rate that they must have been in the field leading Hizbullah and Iraqi Shiite militias rather than only in the barracks doing training. There are estimated to have been as few as 500 Iranian personnel killed in Syria despite the big battles at places like Aleppo, and so there just can’t be very many Iranian troops fighting there. Of the couple thousand, a substantial number appear to be Afghan refugees in Iran who were pressed into service on pain of being sent back to Afghanistan.

This tiny rag tag force helped make a difference for the al-Assad regime in fighting Sunni rebels who have only light to medium weaponry. But it isn’t the kind of force that offers a significant threat, or a threat at all, to Israel. Even when al-Assad had 300,000 men under arms and a proper army and good Russian tanks, no one thought Syria was a serious challenger to Israeli military might. what about now, when it has been devastated by civil war.

Third, Iran is very unlikely to be building missile factories in Syria and Lebanon, and Netanyahu just asserts these things rather than giving any evidence for them. He is a one man walking fake news. Israel has several hundred atomic bombs and the means to deliver them, and Iran is not so crazy as to send a missile against Israel.

Likewise, Hizbullah, of which Netanyahu is so afraid, is just a regional militia. It has no armor to speak of and no air force.

The only reason for Netanyahu to be afraid of Hizbullah is if he wanted to invade Lebanon and/or Syria. It would put up a good guerrilla defense, as in 2006. But it isn’t capable of offensive action against the Israeli army, the best-equipped military in the Middle East.

Netanyahu is actually just using the alleged Iranian bogey man to take the spotlight off his own aggressive military actions against Palestinians in the West Bank, whom he is gradually expelling from their property.


Related video:

Press TV: “Netanyahu spews usual anti-Iran rant in meeting with Putin”

13 Responses

  1. Netanyahu like the Neocons, regards evidence in the same way as Count Dracula regards holy water, a religious cross and garlic, with fear and terror. These people never make any pretense at providing evidence and any evidence which might contradict their own mantra is derided and consigned to the dustbin of the conspiracy theorists.

  2. Netanyahu may sense his days are numbered, his cries of victimisation falling increasingly on the ears of those too young to have been chilled by the events of WWII and for whom they have faded into the historical past to rank lower than Hiroshima as a salutary warning for today. Only a few years ago people lost their jobs in academia for suggesting Israel’s aggressive absorption of Palestine might provoke anti-Semitism. I never really saw such a connection because I don’t believe racists think in causal ways. However, what it has done is overshadow the pathos of victimisation. Netanyahu has surfed this transformation with astonishing dexterity but the old evocations of Western guilt have worn thin and need a lot of gaudy make up and dim light to achieve the same impact today, whereas regular images of Gazan suffering, and occasional heart lifting stories of achievements against all odds are close enough to touch. Palestinians now rank high among the world’s more poignant victims and Israel with its IDF and demonic settlers among the oppressors. Although the White House now denies it, Kushner reportedly told Abbas the other day that stopping settlement construction was Impossible as it would topple Netanyahu. link to . Whether the report was true or not, the notion is now out there and providing an opportunity to bypass the quick sands of anti-Semitism and unleash sympathy for Palestinians by focusing blame on Netanyahu and his politics. He is also facing what promises to be an untidy day or two in court link to Call for the Iranian bogeyman!

    • I wouldn’t argue with much of this, except for the fact this line continues to work objectively, in terms of US dollars and a free pass for Israeli malfeasance.

      Everybody knows the game here, but it is bought and paid for. Still, not to say how long any one salesman will last once past his good PR expiration date is past.

  3. I’m not surprised. Netanyahu has always been interested in the destabilization of Middle Eastern countries to ensure Israeli hegemony and to weaken any support for the Palestinian cause. Which is why he is running scared of Hezbollah which has guarded Lebanon against the multiple Israeli incursions.
    Contrary to what he says about fighting terrorism, there have been reports of Israel aiding the Al-Nusra Front, an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda that also has a record of brutal massacres against civilians. I’d be extremely worried about that.

  4. Of course, your final paragraph sums it up. In fact, Netanyahu has a rather limited range of BS.

    From all this sudden talk I’d presume either a looming election, or plans to tighten the screws on the Palestinians. With no elections, I’d expect some sort of impending action. More land grabs would be the most obvious thing.

  5. Israel’s policy during the past few decades has been to grab more and more Palestinian lands, expand illegal Israel settlements and displace more and more Palestinians, as well as making life hell for the remaining Palestinians in order to force them to flee. Gradually, “occupied” territories have become “contested” territories, and now Israeli leaders and their US backers openly say that the Golan Heights belong to Israel and will never been relinquished, the same as what they say about Jerusalem, a city that is holy to the Christians and Muslims, as well as the Jews and which according to the UN Partition Plan had to be regarded as “corpus separatum” and according to Resolution 181 shall be “under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations”. There is already open talk in Israel that the Palestinians in the West Bank should be transferred to Jordan and those in Gaza should be pushed to the Sinai Peninsula.

    The only way that the Israelis have been able to divert public attention from those illegal activities has been to create an imaginary foreign foe that poses an “existential threat” to Israel. During the past two decades, Iran’s civilian nuclear program played that role. Even now after the landmark nuclear agreement that has blocked all the paths to a possible Iranian nuclear bomb, rightwing Israeli officials and their US allies continue to demonize Iran, with President Trump making every effort to avoid certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

    Meanwhile, Israeli leaders talk about the danger that Iran poses to them from Syria and Lebanon, two devastated countries that are no match for the nuclear-armed Israel. With a very supportive administration in the United States there is nothing to stop the Israelis from attacking the Hezbollah or Syria under a flimsy excuse, and even continuing to incite the US government to attack Iran. In the absence of massive popular opposition to Israeli plots there is nothing that would constrain her from engaging in greater atrocities.

  6. Not surprisingly, the current US Trump admin is also looking for an excuse to initiate some sort of new aggression against Iran.

    link to

    “White House ‘pressuring’ intelligence officials to find Iran in violation of nuclear deal”

    Not even Obama’s deal, North Korea or memories of Iraq are holding them back.

  7. It is not so much Netanyahu’s accomplishment of what Israel is and to what it is developing. Israel’s problem is that it needs a credible enemy and frequent small wars to keep the different active diverse Jewish camps relatively united. Without those more or less fictional enemies the internal rivalry among the numerous Jewish subgroups would become fierce and make ruling Israel as a Jewish state impossible.

    Let us imagine Israel making a two-state solution with Palestinians, peace with Syria etc. A peaceful Israel would loose completely its influence and much of its present opportunities. It would sink in the same influence category as other small countries with a population under 10 million. No more visits in the White House every 3 months, the Jewish lobbies real influence in the Western countries would be little over zero without the “fighting Israel”, weapon making and selling would collapse etc. The Israeli Jews have besides their religion as a uniting factor only the need of the keeping their rather recent loot. Is it enough to make it a nation?

    Who ever leads Israel, from the left or right, will have to keep finding “enemies” and present political/military line. A peaceful and rational Israel is simply impossible if it wants to hold the present “achievements” and Jewish status. And the problem is that it wants. Netanyahu will not be replaced by a rational dove, he will be replaced by a even worse irrational hawk.

  8. The real problem now is the double team of Israel and Saudi-Arabia. Each has its own reasons to push for someone like the US to go to war with Iran. In Washington they are two of the most formidable lobbies and can move the craven US Congress to act on their behalf contrary to US interests.

  9. Yes he is preparing just what title you stated. Israel even setting up and training right now special forces to attack ground targets and Iranian personnel inside Syria, commando style raids, to avoid flying in and facing S400’s and Putin’s response.

  10. It’s plainly rational for Israel to try and maintain its regional hegemony in the Middle East by defanging Iran, as such would allow it to act practically without any restraint in the region. Indeed, it’s likely that Iran and Hezbollah have caused Israel to slightly moderate its aggression, and thus they have enhanced regional stability.
    It’s always worth noting that while Iran has been openly threatened with aggression by the US and Israel, the US Pentagon has formally acknowledged the defensive nature of Iran’s foreign policy. Consider the following portion of a Pentagon report: “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.”
    link to

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