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LATEST ISRAEL & MIDDLE EAST NEWS – THE BUILD UP AND CLOSE PROXIMITY OF THE PSALM 83 AND GOG OF MAGOG WARS:

24/10/17

After Syria Civil War Ends, Guns Will Be Turned on Israel

Residents of Israel’s Golan Heights region are on edge following the latest exchange of fire on the border with Syria.

Early Saturday morning, five rockets were launched from Syria into Israel, hitting open areas, causing no injuries or damage. This prompted an IDF strike later in the day on three Syrian artillery pieces.

“Whether errant or not, any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response,” the IDF said. “The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible and won’t tolerate any attempt to breach Israeli sovereignty or threaten Israeli civilians’ safety.”

Eli Malka — the head of the Golan Regional Council — told the Hebrew news site nrg, “I hope that the clear response of the IDF will stop the shooting, but we are preparing for any potential escalation.”

Since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, Israel has largely sought to remain neutral in the bloody conflict, which has drawn in many regional players. 

However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire — both errant and deliberate — in the Golan Heights and has reportedly targeted a number of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys in Syria in recent years.

Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria.

According to nrg, IDF officials believe Saturday’s rocket salvo was intentionally aimed at Israel and ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Assad may feel that victory in the civil war is within his reach thanks to having Tehran by his side, along with Shiite militias from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and 8,000 well-armed Hezbollah fighters. So maybe he considers this a good time to send Israel a defiant message It doesn’t hurt that the same day, Iranian defense chief Mahmoud Bagheri signed a memorandum of understanding with his Syrian counterpart, Ali Ayyoub.

“These were not mortars or artillery shells, but rockets that struck our territory,” an unnamed IDF Northern Command officer was quoted as saying by nrg. “The chance this was not deliberate is low. 

There were no battles taking place in the area where the launch took place. This very well may have been a message from Syria. Our main concern now is that this doesn’t become routine, because we’ve already seen this sector heating up since March.”

For Malka, it did not matter whether the fire was directed at Israel on purpose or not. “A bomb is a bomb,” he said.

As Assad — aided by Russia and Iran — has gained strength over the past year, Malka added, authorities on the Golan Heights have been preparing for an end of the relative quiet that has prevailed in the area.

“After the civil war in Syria dies out, the guns will be turned on Israel,” he predicted.

Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired IDF general whose service included a stint as deputy Northern Command chief, told nrg that Iran — the patron of Hezbollah and other Shia militias operating in Syria — had “an unequivocal interest in heating up the border.”

“The real landlord in Syria, the Russians, cannot stop this, and the Americans are not there,” he said. Therefore, he warned, there was a possibility of a “significant escalation” in the north.

For now, at least, it doesn’t seem there is anybody who can stop the spread of Iran’s influence in the region.

Russia may be willing to turn a blind eye to the next Israeli airstrike, but that won’t torpedo Iran’s plan for Syria, which includes a broad and lasting military presence.

Originally published at Algemeiner.com – reposted with permission.

 

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 AFTER SYRIA CIVIL WAR ENDS, GUNS WILL BE TURNED ON ISRAEL

By Barney Breen-Portnoy – http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1699

Residents of Israel’s Golan Heights region are on edge following the latest exchange of fire on the border with Syria.

Early Saturday morning, five rockets were launched from Syria into Israel, hitting open areas, causing no injuries or damage. This prompted an IDF strike later in the day on three Syrian artillery pieces.

“Whether errant or not, any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response,” the IDF said. “The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible and won’t tolerate any attempt to breach Israeli sovereignty or threaten Israeli civilians’ safety.”

Eli Malka — the head of the Golan Regional Council — told the Hebrew news site nrg, “I hope that the clear response of the IDF will stop the shooting, but we are preparing for any potential escalation.”

Since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, Israel has largely sought to remain neutral in the bloody conflict, which has drawn in many regional players. 

However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire — both errant and deliberate — in the Golan Heights and has reportedly targeted a number of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys in Syria in recent years. 

Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria.

According to nrg, IDF officials believe Saturday’s rocket salvo was intentionally aimed at Israel and ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Assad may feel that victory in the civil war is within his reach thanks to having Tehran by his side, along with Shiite militias from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and 8,000 well-armed Hezbollah fighters. So maybe he considers this a good time to send Israel a defiant message.

It doesn’t hurt that the same day, Iranian defense chief Mahmoud Bagheri signed a memorandum of understanding with his Syrian counterpart, Ali Ayyoub.

“These were not mortars or artillery shells, but rockets that struck our territory,” an unnamed IDF Northern Command officer was quoted as saying by nrg. “The chance this was not deliberate is low. 

There were no battles taking place in the area where the launch took place. This very well may have been a message from Syria. Our main concern now is that this doesn’t become routine, because we’ve already seen this sector heating up since March.”

For Malka, it did not matter whether the fire was directed at Israel on purpose or not. “A bomb is a bomb,” he said.

As Assad — aided by Russia and Iran — has gained strength over the past year, Malka added, authorities on the Golan Heights have been preparing for an end of the relative quiet that has prevailed in the area. 

“After the civil war in Syria dies out, the guns will be turned on Israel,” he predicted.

Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired IDF general whose service included a stint as deputy Northern Command chief, told nrg that Iran — the patron of Hezbollah and other Shia militias operating in Syria — had “an unequivocal interest in heating up the border.”

“The real landlord in Syria, the Russians, cannot stop this, and the Americans are not there,” he said. Therefore, he warned, there was a possibility of a “significant escalation” in the north.

For now, at least, it doesn’t seem there is anybody who can stop the spread of Iran’s influence in the region.

Russia may be willing to turn a blind eye to the next Israeli airstrike, but that won’t torpedo Iran’s plan for Syria, which includes a broad and lasting military presence.

 

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 ISRAEL ACCUSES HEZBOLLAH OF GOLAN SHELLING TO SPARK WAR WITH SYRIA

Anna Ahronheim – http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-accuses-Hezbollah-of-Golan-shelling-to-spark-war-with-Syria-508200

Israel has largely stayed out of the six-year Syrian civil war.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that the errant rocket fire from Syria over the weekend was deliberately carried out by a local Hezbollah cell instructed by the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, and called on the Russian forces present in the region to reign in the Shi’ite terror group.

“It was not a leakage but a deliberate attack by a local cell operated by Hezbollah” he said, adding that it had been “personally instructed by Nasrallah in order to compartmentalize the Assad regime.”

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Yisrael Beytenu faction, Liberman stressed that the five projectiles which were fired from Syria towards Israel on Saturday was not errant fire “but directed and deliberate firing carried out by Hezbollah with Assad’s permission in an attempt to draw us into the Syrian conflict.”

Liberman said that he hopes that all parties involved is responsible enough to prevent further escalation, and will take all necessary steps to do so.

“We call on the Assad regime, which we consider responsible for everything that happens on Syrian soil — especially when it currently controls 90% of its territory, and the Russian forces there, to restrain Hezbollah,” Liberman said, stressing that Saturday’s fire was another reason why Hezbollah must leave Syria as soon as possible.

The border with Syria has been tense since the war erupted in 2011, and the IDF retaliated on Saturday by hitting three Syrian regime artillery positions after three out of five projectiles landed in open territory in Israel’s northern Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries.

Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red-lines for the Jewish State.

Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.  

While Saturday’s projectiles followed other errant rockets that had struck open fields on the Golan Heights earlier last week, Channel 2 reported Saturday night that the IDF believed that they were deliberate, especially since they didn’t fall close to the border like the other rockets earlier in the week, but deeper inside Israel’s Golan Heights.

Following the rocket fire the IDF warned that “Even if this is spillover, this is an exceptional event and the continuation of such events will only exacerbate Israel’s response.”

Last week Liberman met with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss the Jewish State’s ongoing concerns regarding Iran’s presence in Syria. Shoigu is reported to have told Israel that Moscow has expressed willingness to extend a 10-15 kilometer off-limits zone where Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be allowed to enter.

Hours before Shoigu landed in Israel, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft missile battery stationed some 50 kilometers east of Damascus which had fired on Israeli planes in Lebanese airspace earlier that morning. 

Following the incident, Iran’s military chief Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri who was in Damascus on an official visit, warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace, saying “it is not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria anytime it wants.”

On Saturday, Syria and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding to broaden and develop military cooperation and coordination between the two armies. According to SANA, the MoU focuses on developing military cooperation in various fields, including training, the exchange of combat and field expertise, intelligence information and military technology.

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 ONE BATTLE OR THREE?

By Daymond Duck – http://www.raptureready.com/2017/10/22/one-battle-or-three/

Is the Psalm 83 Battle, the destruction of Damascus in one night, and the Battle of Gog and Magog one battle or three (Psa. 83; Isa. 17; Jer. 49:23-27; Ezek. 38-39)? Are they one war or three wars? Well, that depends upon which prophecy teacher you ask.

It is difficult to get a clear answer because there are differences of opinion on these wars.

Some prophecy teachers believe there will be a Psa. 83 War, but others don’t.

Some prophecy teachers believe the Battle of Gog and Magog will take place before the Rapture, but others believe it will take place after the Rapture.

Some prophecy teachers believe the Battle of Gog and Magog will take place before the Tribulation Period, but others believe it will start at or near the middle of the Tribulation Period and continue until the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation Period.

So, there are differences of opinion on these events.

But regardless of these differences of opinion, there are at least two things that most of the best prophecy teachers agree on: One, in that day (at the time of the end), Damascus, Syria will be destroyed in one night; and two, there will be a Battle of Gog and Magog in the latter years and latter days.

When I am talking about a potential Psa. 83 War, the destruction of Damascus and the Battle of Gog and Magog, I usually treat them as three different battles.

When asked about the sequence of these battles, I usually tell people it is just my opinion that they will happen at or about the same time.

If there is a Psa. 83 War (and I won’t argue about it, but I tend to agree with those that teach it), I believe it will be before the Battle of Gog and Magog.

But I hasten to tell people that I believe a war between Israel and her neighbors could trigger a war between Israel and Syria. And either one of these wars could trigger the Battle of Gog and Magog.

War could break out as one battle on one front and wind up being several battles on several fronts. One event could also follow another by only a matter of days.

Having said that, on Oct. 10, 2017, Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told a group of listeners that “the lines between countries and regions are rapidly disappearing.”

He said, “The next outbreak of violence would require the mobilization of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) on multiple fronts.”

Lebanon and Hezbollah are now essentially one entity, not two. Both are dominated by a third power called Iran. A war with one could be a war with all three.

Russia and Iran dominate Syria. Both have bases, troops and weapons in Syria. A war with Syria could turn into a war with Russia and Iran.

Iraq is dominated by the Shiite government of Iran.

Hamas, a terrorist group in Gaza, is building a base in Lebanon with Hezbollah support.

The Fatah-run PA government in Gaza has signed a reconciliation agreement with the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza to enhance their opposition to Israel, etc.

This is the point: These groups have become so intertwined that a war with one of them is essentially a war with all of them.

This means Israel must prepare to fight all of them on several fronts, not just one of them on one front. 

And that is what Israel is doing.

Israel has issued warnings to the whole world, but no one is listening.

Israel has tried diplomacy, but that has not worked.

Israel has now concluded that war is the only option and that the Jewish nation is running out of time to act. 

The world may view all of this as one battle, but it could fulfill one, two or three prophecies before it is over.

About this, keep in mind the fact that Israel, the Arabs and the U.S. have formed an alliance to oppose Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, to discuss Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation and to explore the possibility of a Mid-East peace treaty.

This opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons may have influenced Pres. Trump’s Oct. 13, 2017 decision to de-certify the JCPOA (Iranian nuclear deal).

Congress now has 60 days to act. If Congress doesn’t act in 60 days, Pres. Trump will be free to act as he sees fit.

It is just possible that Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons, the Arab and Israeli opposition to it, and Pres. Trump’s desire for the ultimate deal (a peace treaty in the Middle East) are all coming together at the same time in history to fulfill several prophecies in rapid succession.

Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.

Daymond & Rachel Duck

[email protected]

 

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 THE IRAN-HAMAS PLAN TO DESTROY ISRAEL

By Khaled Abu Toameh – https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/96680/iran-hamas-plan-destroy-israel/#TpFPA1j3zauCjeOb.99

In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This does not bode well for the future of “reconciliation” between Hamas and Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction run by President Mahmoud Abbas.The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East.

The Iranians are urging Hamas to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent “reconciliation” agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

A high-level Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s “political bureau,” traveled to Tehran last week to brief Iranian leaders on the “reconciliation” deal with Fatah. During the visit, Iranian leaders praised Hamas for resisting demands (by Fatah) to disarm and relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.

“We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons, an issue that you consider as a red line,” Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials. “The Palestinian cause is the most important cause of the Islamic world, and after all this time you remain committed to the principle of resistance against the Zionists despite all the pressure you are facing.”

Arouri and his colleagues rushed to Tehran to seek the support of the Iranian regime in the wake of demands by Abbas that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume security control over the Gaza Strip. The “reconciliation” agreement stipulates nothing about the need for Hamas to disarm, and Hamas officials have stressed during the past two weeks that they have no intention of laying down their weapons or dismantling their security apparatus in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas views the demand to disarm as part of an Israeli-American “conspiracy” designed to eliminate the Palestinian “resistance” and thwart the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas’s Fatah. Hamas’s refusal to disarm is already threatening to spoil the “reconciliation.”

Arouri was quoted during his visit to Tehran as saying that Hamas “will not backtrack on the option of defending the Palestinian people.” He specified that the “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah would not affect the weapons of the Palestinian “resistance,” including Hamas. Hamas, he added, will “confront the Israeli-American conspiracy through national unity and reconciliation and by continuing the resistance. The Palestinian resistance forces will always stick to their weapons and will not lay them down.”

Hamas also sees the visit of its top officials to Tehran as a rejection of Israel’s demand that it cut off its ties with Iran. Hamas officials say they continue to see their relations with Iran as “strategic and significant,” especially in wake of Tehran’s financial and military aid to their movement in the Gaza Strip.

By aligning itself with Iran, Hamas is also seeking to resist any demand that it abandon its ideology and charter, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iranian officials apparently do not like Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and are not keen on seeing them return to the Gaza Strip. Iran considers Abbas a “traitor” because his Palestinian Authority conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and claims that it is committed to a “peace process” with Israel. This position goes against Iran’s wish to destroy the “Zionist entity.”

Abbas, for his part, has always considered Iran a threat to his regime as well as to stability in the region. In the past, he has criticized Iran for “meddling” in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Iran after a senior Iranian official accused Abbas of waging war in the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel. The official’s statement came in response to a series of punitive measures imposed by Abbas on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and some Arab countries. He said that Iran’s actions “encouraged divisions” among the Palestinians. “Iran must stop feeding civil wars in the Arab world,” he said. “Iran must stop using rhetoric that only serves Israel and the enemies of the Arabs.”

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now convinced that Iran is working towards foiling the “reconciliation” agreement with Hamas. They believe that Iran invited the Hamas leaders to Tehran to pressure them not to lay down its weapons.

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their “reconciliation” agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.

Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.

The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran’s plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.

Iran’s continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.

Many Palestinians see the “successful” visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the “reconciliation” would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.

As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.

Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the “reconciliation” agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.

 

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ISRAELI, RUSSIAN & IRANIAN INTERESTS COLLIDE IN SYRIA

Ari Lieberman – http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/268178/israeli-russian-iranian-interests-collide-syria-ari-lieberman

Russia takes on key role in de-escalating tensions between Israel and the Mullahs.

On October 16, Syrian anti-aircraft units fired a SAM-5 anti-aircraft missile at Israeli planes conducting a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon. Israel frequently conducts these types of intelligence gathering operations over Lebanon to keep tabs on Hezbollah. The missile missed, and all Israeli planes returned safely back to base. Shortly thereafter, Israel retaliated transforming the missile battery, located approximately 50 kilometers east of Damascus, into an expensive heap of scrap metal. Following the Israeli strike, an Israel Defense Force spokesman stated that Israel “hold[s] the Syrian regime responsible for the anti-aircraft fire and any attack originating from Syria.”

This isn’t the first time that the Syrians launched anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli fighter planes. In March, Israel intercepted and destroyed a Syrian SAM-5 missile with an Arrow anti-missile system. The Syrians had fired the missile during an Israeli air raid on a Syrian airbase known as T4 near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which was believed to be housing Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. While the missile missed, Israeli radar operators who were tracking its flight path feared that the missile, with its 478lb warhead would land in Israeli territory prompting the commander on the scene to order a launch.

These clashes underscore the volatile nature of the existing situation in Syria. With an airbase at Khmeimim, and a naval base in Tartus, and other forces scattered about the country, Russia maintains a formidable military presence in Syria. Israel and Russia maintain cordial relations but a miscalculation by a jittery Russian technician sitting behind a computer screen could trigger a clash between Israeli and Russian forces. 

Precisely because of this possible scenario, in 2015 Israel and Russia worked out a de-conflict mechanism designed to prevent accidental mishaps. The two sides routinely conduct high-level political meetings and phone calls to further enhance communication. This week Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, met his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman for high-level consultations. No doubt the two discussed the recent clash. According to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, the Russian defense minister termed the Israeli operation a “dangerous hostile operation that almost caused a severe crisis.” That characterization is somewhat one-sided given that it was the Syrians who opened fire first.

Israel and Russia had tangled before. In July 1970, following a series of cat and mouse engagements, Israeli Phantom and Mirage aircraft shot down five Soviet MiG-21 fighter planes over the Suez Canal. Of course back then, Israel and the Soviet Union were bitter enemies and both sides were sporting for a fight. The fear today however, centers on accidental mishaps between two formidable powers and how best to avoid them.

The two defense ministers also discussed Iran and its Shia proxy Hezbollah. These two malevolent forces have increasingly played a dominant role in Syria and assisted Russia its campaign to prop up Assad and defeat the anti-Assad insurgent groups. Israel is concerned that Iran and Hezbollah will attempt to open a second front against Israel near the Israeli-held Golan Heights, and has aggressively acted to thwart this effort. 

In January 2015, the Israeli Air Force struck a combined Iranian-Hezbollah cell operating near the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, which resulted in the deaths of 12 senior Hezbollah and Iranian operatives. In December 2015, an Israeli strike in Damascus killed Samir Kuntar, a convicted child murderer and Hezbollah operative who was attempting to foment anti-Israel activities along the border. And in March 2017, an Israeli drone liquidated Yasser al-Sayed, a pro-Assad militia commander who was coordinating planned attacks against Israel with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Israel has asked Russia to ensure that neither Iranian nor Hezbollah forces would operate within 40 kilometers of the Israeli border. The Russian defense minister reportedly rejected the Israeli demand but yielded to a request to expand the existing buffer beyond the 10-15 kilometer zone already agreed upon. 

While Russia and Iran (and by extension Hezbollah) are allies, their interests are not necessarily congruent in all respects. Russia wants to continue to exert its influence over Syria and maintain its military bases. The Iranians wish to expand their Shia hegemony and confront Israel. It is not in Russia’s interests and serves no Russian purpose to see a clash between Israel and its enemies – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

As such, Russia’s presence in Syria represents a double-edged sword for Israel. On the one hand, it somewhat constrains Israeli military action given the close proximity of Russian forces to Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian forces. An Israeli strike could conceivably cause Russian casualties which in-turn could spark a political crisis. Moreover, Russia’s powerful military intervention in Syria’s civil war likely saved Assad and enabled Iran to maintain a dominant position in Syria. 

On the other hand, Russia’s interests in maintaining stability in Syria and good relations with Israel serve to prevent Iran from acting recklessly. The Russians will exert their heavy-handed influence over the Iranians to rein them in and keep them from moving close to the Israeli border. 

Meanwhile, while Shoigu was meeting with Liberman, Iran’s top military chief, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, met in Damascus with his Syrian counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Ali Ayoub. The Iranian stated that his nation would not sit idly by while Syria was attacked by the “Zionist regime.” The Iranians are notorious dissemblers and much of what they spew amounts to hot air but their recent assertiveness – a product of political success through the calamitous Iran deal and military successes in Iraq and Syria – is deeply alarming.

Regardless, as it has demonstrated on countless occasions, Israel will continue to act to safeguard its citizens from malign external threats and preserve its security interests.

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