Prospects Of Israel-Iran Proxy War Grow
As Israelis here celebrated the Jewish state’s 70th anniversary, the prospects for an Israel-Iran proxy confrontation in the near future seem significant.
Airstrikes on the T-4 airbase in central Syria last Monday have been widely attributed to Israel, with U.S. officials confirming the Jewish state carried out the hits and informed Washington in advance.
The decision to target the T-4 base is instructive. Reports in Israel revealed the establishment housed an Iran-run drone base. Last week’s raid apparently marks the second time Israeli jets bombed T-4. In February, following strategic victories over the Islamic State and Turkey-backed rebels inside Syria, Iran was brazen enough to send an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli territory before it was quickly shot down by the Israeli military. Last week, the IDF revealed that an analysis concluded the Iranian UAV was carrying explosives and was seemingly deployed to attack.
The latest strikes resulted in Iranian casualties, with Iran’s state-run media confirming that four Iranian “military advisers” were killed in the bombing raid. While Iran largely attempts to keep its operations in Syria low key, the public display this week may prompt Tehran to seek retaliation against Israel.
Iran and Russia are allies of Assad, with Iran evidencing some control over Syrian military installations. Russia, the Iranian military and Hezbollah members have been aiding Assad’s fight against the rebels in various capacities.
Seeking to expand its influence, Russia involved itself in Syria during that country’s civil war as the U.S. under Barack Obama failed to respond to Moscow’s meddling. Tellingly, Kremlin officials protested that they were not forewarned about this week’s strikes.
Iran is entrenched in Syria in a clear campaign aimed at extending its fundamentalist tentacles to Israel’s north and exerting hegemony across the region while ensuring an open corridor to Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.
Now Russia finds itself in the crosshairs of a possible showdown between the U.S. and Israel on the one hand and the Iranian axis on the other.
While the crisis may not escalate to an all-out war, Iran will want to secure its investment in Assad by attempting to make Israel pay a price for trying to check Tehran’s involvement in Syria. “The crimes will not remain unanswered,” warned Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iran could activate Hezbollah to target Israel, but that would risk massive Israeli retaliation and the ensuing clash would hamper Hezbollah’s continued ability to fight the anti-Assad rebels. In an all-out war, Hezbollah has tens of thousands of rockets that could devastate Israeli civilian population zones.
Besides Hezbollah, Iran has other Shiite proxies in Syria and Lebanon that could be put into action against the Israeli Golan Heights.
Tehran could use its terror proxies overseas to carry out an attack that would not directly bear Iranian fingerprints.
It could also use Palestinian Islamic Jihad to draw Israel into a confrontation in the Gaza Strip or West Bank. And Iran can increase financing to Hamas and ride the current wave of violent riots at the Israel-Gaza border to further distract the Israeli military in the south.
Comey Failed To Tell Trump Who Financed The Steele Dossier
Former FBI Director James Comey stated it “wasn’t necessary” to inform President Donald Trump that the infamous dossier had been paid by Trump’s primary political opponents, namely Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos ahead of the release of his memoir on Tuesday, Comey described numerous conversations he had with Trump about the contents of the dossier. Yet, Comey repeatedly failed to tell Trump that the dossier was produced by the controversial Fusion GPS political opposition research outfit and funded by the DNC and Clinton’s campaign.
Comey first briefed Trump about the dossier claims at a pre-inauguration intelligence briefing at Trump tower. Stephanopoulos asked Comey whether he informed Trump about the dossier’s political origins and whether Trump had a “right” to know.
Here is a transcript of that portion of the interview:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you tell him that the Steele Dossier had been financed by his political opponents?
JAMES COMEY: No. I didn’t– I didn’t think I used the term “Steele Dossier,” I just talked about additional material.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he– but did he have a right to know that?
JAMES COMEY: That it’d been financed by his political opponents? I don’t know the answer to that. I– it wasn’t necessary for my goal, which was to alert him that we had this information. Again, I was clear on whether it’s true or not, it’s important that you know, both because of the counterintelligence reason and so you know that this maybe going to hit the media.
Earlier in the interview, Comey admits that he knew about the dossier’s questionable funding when he was first told about the document’s charges the summer before the election.
Comey describes numerous other talks with Trump about the dossier contents, including a Jan. 11 phone call; a one-on-one White House dinner on Jan. 27; and two subsequent phone calls from Trump.
At the dinner, Comey admits that he pushed back against Trump’s suggestion of probing the x-rated claims inside the dossier. This while Comey was aware – but still kept to himself – that the document was funded by Trump’s main political opponents.