Can Netanyahu risk a “battle of missiles” with Syria?

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2019. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

It was the eleventhand the most important meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli visitor heard clearly from his host that Moscow has no leverage to ask Iran to leave or to stop the flow of weapons to Damascus and that Iran will remain in Syria and that Russia has no say over the Syrian-Iranian relationship. Moscow informed Tel Aviv about “Damascus’s determination to respond to any future bombing and that Russia doesn’t see itself concerned”.

According to well-informed sources in Damascus, “the few hours of the visitof President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran were enough to send messages in all directions. The first message was the fact that the visit took place just before Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with Putin. The second message was to display the robust cemented relationship between Iran and Syria, immune from any outside interference from the US or Russia and that Syria has the sovereign right to choose its strategic partners. The secretive nature of the visit – not even Russia was informed in advance – speaks volumes about the Syrian-Iranian relationship”.

“Russia exerted pressure on President Obama to prevent the US from bombing Damascus on the false flag pretext of chemical weapons and set up its military apparatus in Syria in 2015. Russia helped Syria to victory, imposed a political dialogue, and protected Syria in the international arena, speeding up the return of refugees (the US wanted to use the refugees in a failed attempt to gain concessions that it could not obtain by war). Moreover, Russia is putting pressure on many countries to contribute to the reconstruction of Syria and to resume diplomatic relations with Damascus. Russia is a strategic ally but exerts no power of control over the central government”, said the source.

The strategic relationship between Tehran and Damascus started – under the “Axis of the Resistance” – long before the war. In 2011, Iran rushed to support the central government to prevent the US-EU-Arab “regime-change” plan. It thwarted the transformation of Syria into Islamic Emirates ruled by Takfiri jihadists. Tehran offered oil, financial and military support to Syria throughout its seven years of war and rejected any proposition, even by Russia, to change President Assad for any other Syrian personality, as repeatedly proposed by the US.

Russia enjoys an excellent relationship with Israel and intend to maintain that relationship. Iran, on the other hand, is ready to wage war against Israel if Netanyahu ever decides to bomb significant strategic objectives in Syria. The head of Iran’s National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, saidIran will respond by hitting Israeli targets if Israel bombs Syria. The same warning was delivered by Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, who recently warned that his country will retaliateif Damascus is bombed.

Since these last warnings, Israel has refrained from violating Syria sovereignty (except for one insignificant artillery bombing against an empty position in south Syria). Iranian officials in Syria had a curt response to their Russian counterparts who asked to have details on the locations of their military deployment in Syria. Iranians told the Russian military to inform Israel that the Iranian positions have been integrated with those of the Syrian army all over Syrian territory, and that any bombing of the Syrian army will hit Iranian advisors.

Iran in effect asked Russia to inform Israel that any future Israeli attack will trigger a retaliatory response, since the presence of Iranian advisors in the Levant is at the official request of the Syrian government. It is legitimate for all allied forces, if under attack, to respond with the similar firepower against any future aggression.

Netanyahu seems willing to bomb Syria. Nevertheless, if Iran and Syria stand by their promised response, he will not be able to stop the precision missiles ready to be launched against Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister is not aiming to dislodge Iran from Syria, an objective he knows to be impossible. Neither can he aspire to destroy Syria’s military capacity because Russia continues to supply Damascus with highly sophisticated weapons. His only  plausible objective is an electoral one, with the goal of escaping imminent indictment for bribery charges related to corruption. A second term may postpone his indictment and prolong his immunity. 

However, if the Israeli Prime Minister decides to bomb Syria, his decision will have a boomerang effect, especially if Syrian missiles hit deadly targets in the heart of Israel. Will Netanyahu take the risk and bomb his political future? It is his decision. 

Proof-read by: C.B.

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9 thoughts on “Can Netanyahu risk a “battle of missiles” with Syria?

  1. For Netanyahu, it will be a stretch, his time is up, his political life is over. He, like Trump, is on denial of what’s coming, they have no choice but to keep on digging their holes. The indictment is a stinky, foul-smelly albatross hanging heavily around his neck, and any political and/or military action taken by him this late into the game, is going to be a “wag the dog” diversion, just to keep him in power. In Israeli politics, Netanyahu is now the equivalent of a political leper, international snubbing will certainly follow. The forecast before the indictment was, he’d lose 4 to 5 seats after the announcement, enough to block him from having a majority, while Gantz already stated he’s not forming coalition with Netanyahu. The dice is loaded, endgame.

    Gantz is calling for Netanyahu to resign, a bold move marking a red line against which the Israeli establishment (and the US fifth-column) will have to define themselves, while aiming at potential cracks inside Likud and the right-wing coalition. Gantz call for Netanyahu’s resignation was made on practical terms, Netanyahu cannot govern while busy responding to legal entanglements, at the same time, it highlights Netanyahu’s now questionable, quasi-illegitimate hold to power, a stain on the PM office. Parallel to his political challenge of Netanyahu, Gantz’s “coalition of the generals” has long tentacles inside the IOF, and Netanyahu’s support inside the army has been drastically eroded by his political use of it, and successive reports questioning the readiness and capabilities of the Israeli army vis-à-vis Israel’s enemies, real or imagined.

    On another, more important note, trying to wage a “wag the dog” little war while running for a PM position against a decorated paratrooper with impeccable military credentials, doesn’t sound very smart for Netanyahu. His every move will be scrutinized with magnifying glasses, any damage to Israel’s infrastructure and/or human casualties from a missile barrage will be blamed on Netanyahu, and any escalation will have to be questioned as legit for Israel’s security, or yet another PM ploy to remain in power. He doesn’t have the political capital to launch a war, a dangerous proposition for Israel given Netanyahu’s vulnerable predicament. He’ll be foaming at the mouth against Iran all the way to election day and can certainly try to make some spectacular attacks against Syria, fireworks and all for public consumption, just to show his Israeli “deplorables” he won’t back down despite Iran, Syria & Hezbollah warnings of retaliation if they are attacked again. He declared so in Moscow a few days ago, where he went to secure Putin’s support in difficult times, in what could be their last official encounter with Netanyahu as a PM. The tempo of Netanyahu’s attacks will coincide with Israeli polls showing he’s been checkmated, unable to surmount Gantz coalition, despite his resurrection of Nazi Zionist zombie Kahane.

    On a marginal, comedy note, Netanyahu and Trump could start a circus after their respective terms, with them as the main act as contortionists. Netanyahu’s defense is a copy-cat of Trump’s, Israeli version, and a preview of Trump’s future lines of attack. Netanyahu’s accusations against the AG office as “puppets of the left” only reveals his desperation, made for an ever-narrowing audience, his right-wing deplorables and Kahane’s Nazi Zionist zombies. Israel was laughing yesterday listening to Netanyahu’s self-flattering about Trump’s support from Viet Nam, who said he’s “done a great job as a PM,” and called him “tough, smart and strong,” meanwhile Cohen was spilling his guts, literally, calling Trump a racist and exposing him as a worldwide mafia capo. Guess they made the decision to survive or go down together, a blood pact between mafia bosses.

    Can Netanyahu risk a “battle of missiles” with Syria? Of course, he can. He’d like to test the Axis of Resistance determination to confront Israel and would look for an opportunity coup to make it happen. A little more than a month into Israeli elections, his sole focus is on survival, anything goes. The dilemma remains that the boomerang effect Mr. Magnier forecasts for Netanyahu’s future, can also engulf the region in a war with unpredictable consequences, and Netanyahu seems to have made the decision to let Rome burn with him.

    Lone Wolf

  2. For Netanyahu, it will be a stretch, his time is up, his political life is over. He, like Trump, is on denial of what’s coming, they have no choice but to do something, whatever, to keep on digging their holes. The indictment is a stinky, foul-smelly albatross hanging heavily around his neck, and any political and/or military action taken by him this late into the game, is going to be seen as a “wag the dog” diversion, just to keep him in power. In Israeli politics, Netanyahu is now the equivalent of a political leper, international snubbing will certainly follow. The forecast before the indictment was he’d lose 4 to 5 seats after the announcement, enough to block him from having a majority, while Gantz already stated he’s not forming coalition with Netanyahu. The dice is loaded, endgame.

    Gantz is calling for Netanyahu to resign, a bold move marking a red line against which the Israeli establishment (and the US fifth-column) will have to define themselves, while aiming at potential cracks inside Likud and the right-wing coalition. Gantz call for Netanyahu’s resignation was made on practical terms, Netanyahu cannot govern while busy responding to legal entanglements, at the same time, it highlights Netanyahu’s now questionable, quasi-illegitimate hold to power, a stain on the PM office. Parallel to his political challenge of Netanyahu, Gantz’s “coalition of the generals” has long tentacles inside the IOF, and Netanyahu’s support inside the army has been drastically eroded by his political use of it, and successive reports questioning the readiness and capabilities of the Israeli army vis-à-vis Israel’s enemies, real or imagined.

    On another, more important note, trying to wage a “wag the dog” little war while running for a PM position against a decorated paratrooper with impeccable military credentials, doesn’t sound very smart for Netanyahu. His every move will be escrutinized with magnifying glasses, any damage to Israel’s infrastructure and/or human casualties from a missile barrage will be blamed on Netanyahu, and any escalation will have to be questioned as legit for Israel’s security, or yet another PM ploy to remain in power. He doesn’t have the political capital to launch a war, a dangerous proposition for Israel given Netanyahu’s vulnerable predicament. He’ll be foaming at the mouth against Iran all the way to election day, and can certainly try to make some spectacular attacks against Syria, fireworks and all for public consumption, just to show his Israeli deplorables he won’t back down despite Iran, Syria & Hezbollah warnings of retaliation if they are attacked again. He declared so in Moscow a few days ago, where he went to secure Putin’s support in difficult times, in what could be their last official encounter with Netanyahu as a PM. The tempo of Netanyahu’s attacks will coincide with Israeli polls showing he’s been checkmated, unable to surmount Gantz coalition, despite his resurrection of nazi-zionist zombie Kahane.

    On a marginal, comedy note, Netanyahu and Trump could start a circus after their respective terms, with them as the main act as contortionists. Netanyahu’s defense is a copy-cat of Trump’s, Israeli version, and also a preview of Trump’s future lines of attack. Netanyahu’s accusations against the AG office as “puppets of the left” only reveals his desperation, made for an ever-narrowing audience, his right-wing deplorables and Kahane’s nazi-zionist zombies. Israel was laughing yesterday listening to Netanyahu’s self-flattering about Trump’s support from Viet Nam, who said he’s “done a great job as a PM,” and called him “tough, smart and strong,” meanwhile Cohen was spilling his guts, literally, calling Trump a racist and exposing him as a worldwide mafia capo. Guess they made the decision to survive or go down together, a blood pact between mafia bosses.

    Can Netanyahu risk a “battle of missiles” with Syria? Of course he can. He’d like to test the Axis of Resistance determination to confront Israel, and would look for an opportunity coup to make it happen. A little more than a month into Israeli elections, his sole focus is on survival, anything goes. The dilemma remains that the boomerang effect Mr. Magnier forecasts for Netanyahu’s future, can also engulf the region in a war with unpredictable consequences, and Netanyahu seems to have made the decision to let Rome burns with him.

    Lone Wolf

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