Inside Israel's New Iran Strategy

(Reuters) Maysam Behravesh - Israel has confirmed that it has carried out over 200 air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria over the last two years, indicating a zero tolerance defense posture toward Iran's military presence in Syria. In May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that "we believe that there is no place for any Iranian military presence, anywhere in Syria." Israel's security strategy towards Iranian presence in its neighborhood is driven by three major factors: First, Israel does not seem to be entirely convinced of the Trump administration's willingness to take on Iran in Syria, nor can it rely on Russia to keep Iran in check and secure Israeli interests in its backyard. Second, the strategy of opposing Iranian military presence anywhere in Syria resonates strongly with the Sunni Arab bloc in the region and can bring Israel closer to Tehran's other nemeses, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These emerging ties, which Netanyahu calls the silver lining of the "bad" Iran deal, are very important to Israel. Third, the Israeli security establishment has a deep-rooted belief that Iranian revisionism and expansionism knows no limits, and that the Islamic Republic is hell-bent on creating an aggressive empire in the Middle East and beyond. The apocalyptic rhetoric of Iranian hardliners vowing "annihilation" of Israel, coupled with the much-vaunted tour of Iran-backed paramilitary commanders along Israel's border with Lebanon and Syria, have stoked these fears. The writer is a journalist at the TV channel Iran International and an affiliated researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, Sweden.

2018-09-20 00:00:00

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