Monday, January 21, 2019

'Israel And Iran On The Cusp Of All-Out War': 9 Things to Know For Jan 21

Israel and Iran heading downhill fast: 9 things to know for January 21

1. Snowballing violence: Things are heating up on the Israel-Syria border and nobody seems to have much patience left for any sort of strategic ambiguity.

  • In a pretty much unprecedented move, the Israeli military announced early Monday morning that it was bombing sites belonging to Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force in Syria.
  • This was less than a day after Israel allegedly carried out a daytime attack, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all but yelling through a bullhorn ‘It was us!”
  • As some pointed out, though, while Israel almost never admits to individual strikes on targets in Syria (or elsewhere), it is not shy when it comes to retaliatory strikes, and indeed as dawn broke Monday it officially confirmed that the strikes on Iranian sites in and around Damascus were in response to the missile fire (which came in response to the daytime attack).
  • The targets, though, were not missile launchers or symbolic posts, but rather qualitative sites such as weapons storehouses and a Quds force training facility, meaning the attacks were about more than sending a message.
  • The Ynet news site calls it the “strongest and widest attack yet,” quoting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  • And while Israel is clear it holds Syria responsible, it also accuses Iran of having fired the missile itself.
2. Scarier than a triple black diamond: Israel is under no impression that it has gotten the last word, closing down the Mount Hermon ski resort out of apparent fear that the site may be caught in the crossfire.

3. War drums: The prognosis, though, is not great. With both sides engaged in tit for tat brinkmanship, war seems more a possibility than ever.
    • “Israel and Iran are on the cusp of all-out war,” Israel Hayom’s Yoav Limor says.
    • Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer notes on Twitter that the missile launch was evidence of Iran getting fed up with Israel always bombing it, and may be a sign of more to come.
    The missile launched towards Israel from Syria earlier today (intercepted by Iron Dome) was almost certainly directed by Iran, which is getting fed up by its forces being bombed on what they regard their own turf. Question is will Iran at some point retaliate with more firepower?
    • Yedioth Ahronoth’s Alex Fishman writes that by firing a rocket with an almost half-ton warhead, “The Iranians, or their Syrian messengers, are signaling to Israel: Their restraint is maxed out. Every attack will bring a response against Israel. An overt war of attrition.”
    4. They’ll never suspect Israel: What also has not crystallized is whether Israel is still playing its games of ambiguity about strikes or not, after Netanyahu pretty much lifted the veil last week, along with outgoing IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot. Harel notes that it doesn’t seem that the Syrians, Iranians or the Israeli public are buying it anymore, though one must ask whether they ever did.

    5. Chummy with Chad: Things are changing elsewhere too. Netanyahu paid a lightning visit to Chad Sunday to reestablish ties with the Muslim-majority country, his latest diplomatic win.

    • The prime minister called reforging ties with Chad “a breakthrough into the heart of the Muslim world,” which is some potentially damaging verbiage.
    6. Salesmen of death: Netanyahu claimed there was no opposition — other than in Iran and among the Palestinians — to Israel and Chad rekindling their flame, but not everybody feels that way.
      • In Mali, al-Qaeda jihadists killed 10 UN peacekeepers and blamed the attack on Netanyahu visiting Chad, as well as staking a claim to defending Jerusalem.
      • The claim was quite similar to a statement made by Somalia’s al-Shabab after an attack in Kenya last week, notes Rita Katz of SITE Intelligence.
      7. Lede of the day goes to The New York Times’s Vivian Yee, who writes about a meeting of the Arab League in Beirut where nobody important showed up.

      • “The eyes of the world were nowhere near Beirut, where the kings and presidents of the Arab world had been ceremoniously summoned to a summit of the Arab League over the weekend and had, in all but two cases, ceremoniously declined,” she writes.
      8. Unsettling insult: One leader to attend was Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, though he devoted some of his time to internal matters, ordering a probe into a government minister who claimed that anti-government protesters were being led by a person who lived in the settlements, ToI’s Adam Rasgon reports.

      • “He essentially wanted to say the people of Hebron had fallen prey to an Israeli project. What he said was disparaging and belittling,” Mahzouz Shlalda says.
      9. Desert landing: Monday is slated to see the opening of the Ramon airport in southern Israel, Israel’s second major international terminal, though it will only partially open at first.

      • The airport was already responsible for putting Israel on The New York Times 52 places to see this year list, and it’s being touted as a possible lifesaver for the southern resort city of Eilat.

      No comments: