De­ter Iran

Don’t de­stroy Le­banon to stop the main prob­lem

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By ELY KARMON (Reuters)

The strat­egy pro­moted by the Is­raeli po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary ech­e­lon in the con­fronta­tion with Iran and Hezbol­lah in the north – the threat “to re­turn Le­banon to the Stone Age” by mas­sive de­struc­tion of civil­ian in­fra­struc­ture and caus­ing many ca­su­al­ties among the Le­banese pop­u­la­tion – is, in my opin­ion, dan­ger­ous and in­ef­fec­tive.

It is clear to ev­ery pro­fes­sional ob­server that in the event of a war in the north and the ma­te­ri­al­iza­tion of Hezbol­lah’s threat to launch tens of thou­sands of long-, medium- and short-range mis­siles at Is­rael, in­clud­ing pre­ci­sion mis­siles at strate­gic tar­gets, there will be mas­sive civil­ian ca­su­al­ties and in­fra­struc­ture dam­age.

The vast arse­nal of 100,000 to 120,000 mis­siles that Iran has pro­vided to Hezbol­lah over the years is not meant to pro­tect Le­banon but rather to de­ter Is­rael from at­tack­ing the Ira­nian nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture, and to al­low Hezbol­lah to take con­trol of Le­banon.

In this sense, the lead­er­ship of Hezbol­lah is, ide­o­log­i­cally and strate­gi­cally, part and par­cel of the Tehran regime, even when the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ac­tiv­i­ties, such as its in­volve­ment in the Syr­ian civil war, en­dan­ger the lives and in­ter­ests of the Le­banese peo­ple in gen­eral and the Shi’ite com­mu­nity in par­tic­u­lar.

There­fore, a mas­sive Is­raeli mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion that threat­ens to de­stroy the civil­ian in­fra­struc­ture in Le­banon and in­flict thou­sands of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties will not im­press Iran’s and Hezbol­lah’s lead­ers, who are com­mit­ted to de­stroy­ing Is­rael.

The ay­a­tol­lahs will be ready to sac­ri­fice ev­ery sin­gle Le­banese cit­i­zen, and Le­banon as an in­de­pen­dent state, on the al­tar of its supreme strate­gic in­ter­ests, and Hezbol­lah leader Has­san Nas­ral­lah will not hes­i­tate to act ac­cord­ing to Iran’s or­ders.

The de­struc­tion of Le­banon by the IDF will cause ha­tred against Is­rael for gen­er­a­tions, not only among the Shi’ite com­mu­nity, but also among the Sun­nis, Chris­tians and Druse, who in some sce­nar­ios could be able to change the bal­ance of power against Hezbol­lah’s con­trol of Le­banon.

There is also no doubt that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will not ac­cept Is­rael’s pol­icy. It will press Is­rael to end quickly the mil­i­tary cam­paign, which will be dif­fi­cult and com­plex any­way, be­fore reach­ing a de­ci­sive vic­tory or sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments on the ground. And af­ter the cease­fire, the pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to con­demn Is­rael for vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law and ac­cuse it of mas­sacres and “geno­cide” will iso­late Is­rael in the in­ter­na­tional arena.

There­fore, Is­rael should de­ter Iran, if not pre­vent al­to­gether war in the north, at least to pre­vent the night­mare sce­nario of thou­sands of mis­siles fall­ing on Is­raeli ter­ri­tory.

Is­rael should tar­get Ira­nian cities, Tehran and other ma­jor ones, which should pay the price of mas­sive Hezbol­lah Ira­nian-made mis­sile fire on Is­rael. The mil­i­tary threat should be ac­com­pa­nied by a mas­sive pub­lic cam­paign to­ward the Ira­nian peo­ple to con­vince it of the mad­ness of their lead­ers’ pol­icy, which en­dan­gers their se­cu­rity.

There is a his­tor­i­cal ex­am­ple that sup­ports this strate­gic ap­proach. Ay­a­tol­lah Khome­ini, the first supreme leader of the Is­lamic Repub­lic, de­cided to end the bloody eight-year war with Iraq in 1988, only af­ter the fail­ure of Iran’s many “fi­nal” failed at­tacks, the crum­bling war econ­omy and a cam­paign of 520 Scud mis­siles fired on Tehran which ex­acted many ca­su­al­ties and pushed 30% of the res­i­dents to aban­don the cap­i­tal. Khome­ini de­clared then: “The ac­cep­tance of this is­sue [the cease-fire with Iraq] is more bit­ter than poi­son for me, but I drink this chal­ice of poi­son for the Almighty and for His sat­is­fac­tion .... ”

The Ira­ni­ans are very sen­si­tive to the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties even among their forces sta­tioned in Syria, es­pe­cially the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, and there­fore pre­fer to re­cruit, fi­nance and dis­patch tens of thou­sands of Shi’ite mili­tias.

It is also im­por­tant to note that the pop­u­lar ri­ots in Jan­uary 2018 in Iran took place against the back­ground of the dif­fi­cult eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try and the calls by the demon­stra­tors to stop the war aid to Syria, Hezbol­lah and the Houthis in Ye­men.

Among Is­raeli politi­cians only Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett re­cently ex­pressed sup­port for “con­sis­tent fight­ing against the forces of IRGC and Iran, the head of the oc­to­pus,” in or­der to re­duce the like­li­hood of war, shorten the du­ra­tion of the cam­paign if im­posed on us, and save lives.

The tense mil­i­tary events of the past days in the north af­ter the down­ing of an Ira­nian “stealth” drone in Is­raeli airspace, only strengthen the need to change Is­rael’s strat­egy against the Ira­nian threat.

It should be noted, that the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment has acted well these past two years in defin­ing its red lines against Iran’s in­fil­tra­tion into Syria and Le­banon, has made clear its in­ten­tion to the great pow­ers, most of all to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia, and to the Is­raeli and in­ter­na­tional pub­lic, and has re­acted ac­cord­ingly dur­ing the last bat­tle.

DE­TER THIS.

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