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New Middle East

Jihadist Control at Israel’s Northern Borders Casts Shadow of War

Middle East power vacuums are fuel for war. A withdrawal of Assad’s army from across the Golan Heights, and fierce clashes between Hizbullah and Syrian rebels, threaten Israel on both northern fronts.
Israeli soldiers boarding a helicopter during the Second Lebanon War. August 12, 2006.

Israeli soldiers boarding a helicopter during the Second Lebanon War. August 12, 2006.
Photo Credit: Abir Sultan/FLASH90

Toss in Iran, backing Hizbullah, and Saudi Arabia, supporting the Sunni factions. The ingredient of adaptive expectation – “ what do I have weapons for if not to use them” – makes the recipe explosive.

Pro-Syrian elements, probably Hizbullah, assassinated Lebanon’s intelligence chief and Sunni Muslim Brigadier Gen. Wissam al Hassan last October. He had helped organize weapons shipments to Syrian rebels.

Hizbullah and the anti-Syrian March 14th faction “will eventually bring the war to Lebanon,”  Farid Khazen, a Christian member of parliament and a political-science professor at the American University of Beirut, told the Journal.

The Sunni Muslims’ Jabhat al-Nusra  jihadist militia has taken the lead in aiding rebels and fighting Hizbullah.

A war between Al-Nusra and Hizbullah seems like a great idea – let each one kill the other –  but that is not the necessary conclusion.

“Sure one could say this is the equivalent of the movie Alien vs. Predator and we should be sitting back and munching on a bag of popcorn,” according to a Daily Beast article quoting Jonathan Schanzer, a scholar in Middle Eastern studies and vice president of research at the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But we are looking at a fierce war that has left 70,000 people dead and more than a million as refugees and this isn’t going to make things any better; in fact, it will make things worse.”

The one-two punch of jihadists in control of the Syrian Golan and the almost certainty of civil war in Lebanon leaves Israel in a defensive position.

There is no justification now for a pre-emptive strike on Lebanaon or Syria, unless it is to eliminate chemical weapons.

But rival jihadists wanting to outdo the other always have the option of attacking Israel to show their loyalty to destroying the Jewish state.

If Israel is attacked, the IDF would have no choice other than to respond and face a worse stage – nothing unites rival jihadists more than the common “Zionist enemy.”

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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