For Israel: ISIS Is Bad, But the Iranian Axis Is the Graver Threat

(Fathom-BICOM) Brig. Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog - Syria has become the epicenter of global jihad, emitting waves of terrorism and refugees far beyond the Middle East. What started as a civilian protest five years ago has turned into a bitter sectarian and proxy battle-ground, drawing in thousands of young Muslims - Sunnis and Shiites - as well as external forces competing to shape the end-game. Israelis naturally share Western concerns over the Islamic State (ISIS), and its capacity to project both terrorism and its ideological message around the region and the world. ISIS represents not only a radical anti-Western ideology but is also virulently and explicitly anti-Semitic. ISIS already has affiliates operating along Israel's borders with Egypt and Syria and it poses a direct threat to key Western ally Jordan, with which Israel shares its longest border. At this point ISIS is not focused on Israel. From an Israeli perspective, the gravest strategic threat still comes from the Iranian-led axis. Iran is a regional power deeply hostile to Israel, harboring hegemonic and nuclear ambitions and commanding the region's most heavily armed sub-state actor, Hizbullah, with over 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel. Iran also supports terror groups in Gaza, seeks to establish terror infrastructure in the West Bank, supports Hizbullah's international terror network and activities, and launches continuous cyber-attacks against Israel. For Israel, there is the challenge of hostile actors positioning themselves in the Golan Heights along Israel's border with Syria and turning it into an active front with established military infrastructure and cross-border attacks. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and some ISIS-affiliated elements such as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade are already there, though currently focused on fighting Assad's forces and their allies. The writer is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.

2015-12-02 00:00:00

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