JERUSALEM – Next week’s scheduled White House meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected to focus on a possible preemptive Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear installations.
The Iran issue may be moved somewhat down the agenda, however, as flailing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is being pressured by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to move both his WMD cache and long-range Scud missiles to well-protected Hizbullah bases inside Lebanon.
According to intelligence sources, the Pentagon expressed concern to the Obama administration on Monday after Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn, who is aligned with the Hizbullah-dominated government, met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss increased military aid to the Lebanese army in order to “confront the West and Israel.”
Israel’s mass circulation Yediot Aharonot reported that the Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah are in a race against time to secure major parts of the Syrian army’s unconventional weapons arsenal before they fall into the hands of anti-Assad rebel militias, who have threatened to “settle scores” with Hizbullah for assisting in the massacre of Syrian civilians and rebel soldiers.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who met with high-ranking members of the Pentagon this week, told American military commanders that the Israeli air force would attack convoys carrying suspicious weapons across the Syrian border into Lebanon. In addition, IDF ground forces reportedly are preparing to reoccupy large swaths of Southern Lebanon in order to thwart any Iranian order to Hizbullah missile units to launch attacks on Israeli cities.
Last week an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander warned that his forces would launch preemptive strikes if the regime felt threatened by impending American or Israeli attacks. The Syrian military possesses some of the world’s most lethal chemical weapons, including the VX nerve agent, which can be mounted onto Scud missiles.
On March 14, Israel will conduct a massive anti-missile drill in the Tel Aviv metro region. Codenamed “Hit in the Heart,” the drill will focus on the aftermath of a theoretical missile attack on a major shopping mall in Tel Aviv by either Hamas or Hizbullah, both of which are equipped with Iranian-produced medium range Fajr-5 missiles that can reach Tel Aviv.
According to some news reports, the IDF would need at least ten Iron Dome anti-missile units to defend major Israeli cities against even a limited number of short- and medium-range rockets.