Thursday, May 24, 2018

Israel’s Coming War Won’t Be Against Iran or Syria - By Darius Shahtahmasebi

Writing in the Asia Times earlier this month, David P. Goldman lamented that an Israel-Iran war is unlikely to take place any time soon. His observation appears surprising considering the mainstream media has been hyping up the idea of such a war over the past few months.
Nevertheless, he is correct. Short of something catastrophic that completely upsets the current status quo, there are many signs that Israel and Iran are not headed for a direct confrontation in the immediate future. Though the mainstream media dishonestly advertises such a war, the truth is that Israel’s next war will not take place in Iran — or even Syria for that matter. It is far more likely to take place in Lebanon.
As Goldman explained:
“Harder to calculate is Iran’s capacity to hit Israel. Hezbollah has perhaps 120,000 missiles in Lebanon, more than enough to swamp Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ and other defenses. They are embedded in approximately 200 Shi’ite villages in Lebanon’s south. That makes it difficult for the Israeli Army to attack missile launchers without killing a large number of Shi’ite civilians who provide an enormous human shield.
“But if Israel perceives the missiles as an existential threat, it will ‘bomb Lebanon back to the stone age,’ as Transportation Minister Israel Katz said in February. Casualties would be in tens of thousands. Hezbollah is Iran’s ally and to a great extent its creation, but an Israeli counterattack might mean the end of the Shi’ite community in Lebanon with catastrophic casualty levels – what one Israeli analyst described as “a Dresden,’ referring to the destruction of the German city by firestorm during the Second World War.”
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As Anti-Media has documented over the past few years, Israel has been actively preparing for a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon for some time, including conducting extensive military drills that simulated a full-on invasion of Lebanese territory.
“There’s no doubt that Israel is planning for a war with Hezbollah, but it isn’t an easy task,” public intellectual Professor Noam Chomsky told Anti-Media via email last week.
“According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah has lots of missiles based in many parts of Lebanon that are capable of serious damage to Israeli cities, and to take them all out would require quick virtual destruction of Lebanon, it seems.” Chomsky further observed.
Writing to Anti-Media via email, Miko Peled, human rights activist and author of The General’s Son and Injustice and The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five agreed with the assertion that Israel’s most immediate impending war will take place in Lebanon, not Syria or Iran.
“I don’t believe any of the Iran threat nonsense has anything to do with a threat from Iran. It serves two purposes: a smokescreen for Israeli crimes in Palestine in general, particularly in Gaza, and in order to allow Israel to attack Syria and Lebanon more freely,” Peled explained.
According to Peled, Trump’s decision to nix the Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was part and parcel of this up and coming war. What no one seems to have noticed was that Trump’s recent announcement on Iran also coincided with elections in Lebanon, which further improved Hezbollah’s position in the country (Lebanon’s Christian president is already a strong ally of Hezbollah).
“Having Trump accept Netanyahu’s [position on the Iran deal] and disregard the international community, international agencies, and world opinion regarding the Iran deal – and the economic sanctions – was a huge political boost for Netanyahu,” Peled explained. “The election results in Lebanon will surely be manipulated and presented as a ‘threat’ to Israel and will be used as an excuse to attack. I doubt that Israel will risk suffering another humiliating defeat from Hezbollah and so it may well be another horrifying air assault.”
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In March of this year, Israel even simulated a multi-front war in which Russia stepped in to protect Syria from Israeli attacks. While this was a scenario in which Russia was protecting Syria, not Lebanon, the fact remains that this hypothetical event was considered as a result of Israel’s true intention to take on Hezbollah in Lebanon, which would naturally segue into other arenas, including Syria.
It is also important to note that Israel’s recent all-out assault in Syria, allegedly tied to Israel’s perceived Iranian involvement, has actually helped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu improve his domestic standing in the face of numerous allegations of corruption and bribery. It could be the case that the strikes on Syria and the demonization of Iran are just tools for domestic pacification while the real impending conflict we should be turning our attention toward continues to be overlooked.
Also overlooked by the corporate media is an event which took place at the end of April: Newly appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Tel Aviv and allegedly gave Israel the go-ahead to use bunker-busting bombs to take out Iranian armaments in Syria.
In September of last year, Israel held its largest military drill in 20 years, which was specifically designed to simulate a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. In February of this year, thousands of U.S. and Israeli troops took part in the biennial ‘Juniper Cobra’ drill, which simulated a “massive ballistic missile attack against Israel” and the joint U.S.-Israeli response. At this stage, with the exception of some unknown capabilities in Syria (a significant number of which were already destroyed by Israel last month), there’s only one country that could potentially launch a “massive ballistic missile attack against Israel” — and no one is talking about it.