Hezbollah operatives and Iranian military officials, is a sign that things are going to get worse in the volatile area that encompasses southern Lebanon, Syria, northern Jordan, and northern Israel. (See also here and here.)
Among those killed were high-ranking Iranian officials connected with Hezbollah’s use of Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, and with Iranian Special Forces units that focus on raids and small-unit tactics. In the words of a retired Israeli general (see first link, and below), this was a very high-level convoy, clearly preparing for serious incursions against northern Israel.
Meanwhile, we’ve reached the point in the post-Arab Spring Middle East at which many of the spin-off developments – perhaps most of them – are a consequence of the policies followed by the Obama administration. Although there have been long-term policy failures, it’s a specific, proximate policy failure that opened the door to the current result in the Golan Heights.
Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time. But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.
A door opened by the Obama administration
The reason: ISIS gained a foothold there when the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS. The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions holding territory directly adjacent to the “area of separation” between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN. In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.
That defection didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened because in early December, the Obama administration disclosed (through the back door), after more than two years of cooperation with the FSA, that it would not be working with them to build a defense force in Syria.
The point here is not that Obama should have stayed with the wrong allies. The point is that passivity, lack of leadership, and ally-hopping have consequences. Part of picking allies is shaping who they are and what expectations they have. It starts with having common and enduring goals with those allies, which keep both sides committed. These things matter to a responsible power, at any rate. The Obama administration has consistently failed to exhibit signs of being one.
The failure has had a game-changing result in the Golan. Now ISIS is there, with an entrenched infrastructure handed to it by FSA factions, and Iran can’t afford to ignore that. Iran isn’t going to let ISIS build up a stronghold of its own on the Syrian border with Israel.
But don’t imagine that that means Iran and ISIS will be having at it. Think Persian. Certainly, the Iranians and Hezbollah want to be able to operate in the Golan, and attack Israel from it. But Iran and Hezbollah don’t want to invite retaliation from Israel on southern Lebanon, where it’s important to them to protect their own stronghold. Iran would like to get Israel shooting into Syria.
Israel has so far managed to keep that necessity limited. Until very recently, the impression of the situation in the Golan has been that it is relatively stable: worrisome, but not unstable to the point of being an exploitable opportunity for one or more bad guys. Iran would like to change that, in part because preoccupying the Israelis with self-defense is the key to limiting Israel’s strategic reach against Iran. The objects of that reach include, but are not limited to, the nuclear and missile programs inside Iran.J. E. Dyer
About the Author: J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.
If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.
- 205 Experts Polled: Hamas, PLO Likely to Split October Municipal Elections
on August 28, 2016 1:25 PM
- Defense Witnesses in Hebron Shooting Trial Accuses Ya’alon of Meddling
on August 28, 2016 12:00 PM
- Kurds Shoot Rockets at Turkish Airport, Kill 11 Police in Truck Bomb Attack
on August 28, 2016 11:07 AM
- Israel Pays GPS App Waze to Push Periphery Tourism
on August 28, 2016 9:38 AM
- Stabbing Attempt Foiled Near Beit Hagai
on August 28, 2016 9:17 AM
- Samaria Jewish Resident Arrested by Shabak
on August 28, 2016 9:11 AM
- IAF Fires at Gaza Fishermen
on August 28, 2016 8:55 AM
- Former Defense Minister Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer in Hospital
on August 28, 2016 4:24 AM
- Cat Rescued from the Western Wall [video]
on August 27, 2016 11:59 PM
- Terror Attack Foiled in Hebron
on August 27, 2016 9:29 PM
- Israeli Satellite Company Sold to Chinese for $285 Million
on August 27, 2016 9:21 PM
- IDF Fires Towards Syrians Approaching the Border
on August 27, 2016 9:14 PM
- Philly Jewish Woman Painting Flowers Over Swastikas
on August 27, 2016 8:42 PM
- Netanyahu OKs Major Road Works on Shabbat with Tacit Haredi Approval
on August 26, 2016 4:11 PM
- Updated: Arab Killed Near Ofra
on August 26, 2016 1:05 PM