Is Israel and Iran starting war of attrition? Middle East News and main news


The alleged attack by Israel against an Iranian outpost in Syria last Saturday could start a new confrontation between Tel Aviv and Tehran. It also indicates that tensions between Israel and Russia are on the rise.

The civil war of almost seven years of the Syrians may be coming to an end, but that does not mean peace for the Levant. Quite the opposite: a new battle has begun.

On the one hand, Russia and Iran, the official sponsors of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have invested in their regime. Now they reap the fruits of victory. Russia wants to expand its only port in the Mediterranean in Tartus, Syria, and increase its military presence on the southern flank of NATO. Moscow has also signed contracts with Assad on economic cooperation.

Iran has come closer to fulfilling its dream of a land runner to the Mediterranean. He has stated that he intends to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, close to his archenemy Israel.

These prospects have the United States and Israel extremely concerned, and determined to preempt such a scenario at any cost. Now, his war of words may have turned into a military intervention.

According to Syrian official media, Israeli forces attacked a military compound in Al Kiswah, south of Damascus. A report by the BBC said the base was being refitted to serve as a future center for the ground troops of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Independent sources have confirmed this.

The attack by Israel served as a warning message with two addressees: Iran and the alleged ally of Israel, Russia.

That may be a surprise. In public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted of his excellent relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They established a unique mechanism to avoid a potential clash between Israel's air force and Russian troops in Syria. That has given Israel a great degree of freedom in the skies of Syria to safeguard its security interests.

 Residents observing the damage after an air strike on Sunday in the eastern Ghouta rebel enclave outside Damascus, allegedly by forces loyal to the Syrian government. Syria's nearly seven-year civil war may be coming to an end, but residents
observed the damage after an air strike on Sunday in the eastern Ghouta enclave outside Damascus, allegedly by forces loyal to the Syrian government. The civil war of almost seven years of the Syrians may be coming to an end, but that does not mean peace for the Levant. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

According to its air force chief, Israel has attacked targets in Syria more than 100 times since the outbreak of the civil war, mainly to destroy shipments of weapons destined for to Hezbollah , a Shia militia bent on destroying Israel that has become Iran's most powerful foreign policy tool. Moscow refused to comment on almost every attack, taciturn recognition of Israel's security needs.

Now, however, it seems that the Russian-Israeli agreement has reached a standstill over Iran. Putin has refused to support Israel's request to limit Tehran's military presence in Syria.

A year ago, Netanyahu warned that Iran was replacing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria there. That warning has come true. According to the Iranian opposition, Iran has more than 70,000 fighters in Syria: hundreds of its own soldiers, around 7,000 Hizbollah fighters, thousands of Afghan recruits in the Al Fatemiyoun militia and volunteers from Iraq and Pakistan.

Mr. Netanyahu visited Putin repeatedly, warning him in August in Sochi that Iran "no longer tries to create a terror front in Syria but, rather, (is) establishing a military force." "These are things we can not accept," he warned. That did not impress Putin, nor has it stimulated Israel's most important ally, the United States, into action.

When Moscow, Washington and Amman signed a ceasefire agreement for southern Syria several weeks ago, they did not order the Iranian troops to stay far from the border of Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu felt compelled to raise the bet. His defense minister requested to increase Israel's defense budget by more than one billion dollars (S $ 1.35 billion) over the next five years. Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot told a Saudi newspaper that Israel would not tolerate Iranian troops within 50 kilometers of its border.

The attack on Al Kiswah, closer to Israel than the one plotted by General Eisenkot, is the increase of Israel's diplomacy the pressure another notch. "It was a signal for Moscow," said Russian expert Alex Tenzer. "They wanted to show Putin that they want to say what they say."

It is not clear how Moscow will respond, but last week, the head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, Avi Dichter, returned from Moscow and said: "Russia is working for Assad to control Syria and that the country will be clean of foreign forces, including Iranians. "

With Mr. Putin maintaining neutrality and the United States maintaining morale, Israel's attack is understood primarily as a warning to Tehran. Its central message: Israel is even willing to risk open warfare to prevent Iran from deepening its military presence near its borders. Therefore, the attack was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign, in which Iran will try to build, and Israel will demolish, the military infrastructure.

For now, the war seems remote since Israel carefully calibrated the attack to attack empty buildings, so Iran is not obliged to retaliate. Still, nothing guarantees that things remain discreet. The climb is just another distance bomb.

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