That Airstrike Against Syria
If it’s true, as seems to be the case, that it was Israel that carried out the missile strike on a major Syrian airfield last week, it would be a mistake to think it was a reaction to the Syrian government’s use of poison gas on a besieged rebel town. This is not to say that Israel doesn’t have a security interest in seeking to eliminate the threat posed by such a weapon. But the poison gas “red-line” was America’s, not Israel’s.
Why then did Israel strike the airfield? Because Iran essentially controlled it and is using it to consolidate its presence in Syria. (In addition, with Syrian concurrence, Iran has set up a huge staging area to supply arms to Hezbollah, Israel’s arch enemy.) On several occasions we have suggested that the end of the ISIS threat will mean Iran turning the vast resources in Syria it committed to defeating ISIS to establishing a permanent Iranian counter to Israeli power next door.
We are doubtless, then, seeing the beginning of Israeli efforts to address the mushrooming Iranian threat to Israel’s security.
The wild card continues to be Russia. While Russia condemned the raid, diplomatic sources on both sides of the Israel/Syrian divide say Moscow is willing to turn a blind eye to Israeli actions as long as they don’t threaten Syrian President Assad’s rule.
The Iran Nuclear Deal
As we all await President Trump’s upcoming decision on whether to scrap, or reform, the Iran deal (JCPOA), we were drawn to a revealing statement by the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization last Sunday. He said that although the Obama administration maintained that the deal ensures that Iran would need 12 months to effectively restart its nuclear program, Iran can, in fact, restart it in as few as 2-4 days.
He said he was offering this news “as a warning” to the United States and other global powers that the financial benefits to Iran that were to flow from signing JCPOA had better materialize or Iran will promptly resume its nuclear program. The U.S. and others have slowed that process in light of Iran’s missile testing and development, which Iran maintains is not covered by JCPOA.
Ironically, Iran has just made the case for the president to insist that major changes to JCPOA be adopted or risk the U.S. pulling out of it. After all, one of its nuclear leaders has essentially conceded that, effectively, Iran never ended its nuclear program, JCPOA notwithstanding.