Iran׳s Al Quds Force builds forward command near Israeli border, but war isn't on the horizon

Analysis: Despite reports in the Israeli media, a briefing with IDF Northern Command officers does not suggest any change is afoot on the northern border.

August 17, 2015 15:15
3 minute read.
Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria

Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria. (photo credit: REUTERS)

This is how hysteria is spread. As in the sketches on the political satire television program Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Country), when the fake newscaster asks the reporter, “What’s your story?” television analysts and journalists create make-believe headlines.

On Sunday the IDF gave Israeli military reporters a tour of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights and later there was a briefing with senior commanders of the Northern Command. As is usually the case with such briefings, facts and assessments were presented.

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They were rather routine. There certainly was not anything dramatic in the IDF’s comments that suggested a change, an increased state of preparedness, or higher level of alert.
IAF eliminates terror cell attempting to plant explosives near Syrian border, April 26, 2015 ‏

But to drive 200 km. from Tel Aviv in each direction and to go a whole day without filing news? No way. So after the tour and the briefings, journalists were filmed in a fighting stance with the northern Golan Heights border fence in the background, delivering reports on an IDF plan for a ground attack in Syria.

Indeed, this possibility was also brought up, but it was a marginal piece in a presentation of a number of hypothetical scenarios.

Imagine the response from media, politicians, or the public if the chief of staff or another senior officer were to say that the IDF has no plan and is not prepared for a worst-case scenario. Of course the IDF prepares for every possibility, even the most difficult. This is the role of the commanders: to prepare the IDF for every situation, scenario or eventuality.

However, the few sentences uttered by the officers giving the briefing about the possibility of the IDF taking control of territory in Syria, and even conquering a village or two at the border, were on the margins of what was said. These sentences were intended to explain that this is only one scenario that was practiced in a wide-ranging exercise that was carried out recently by the IDF’s 210th Regional Bashan Division.

The drill was to prepare for a situation in which a terrorist group, like the Nusra Front or Islamic State, would try to break through the Golan border to attack IDF soldiers, similar to what the Sinai Province of the Islamic State (formerly known as Ansar Bayit al-Maqdes) is doing to the Egyptian Army.

In all actuality, the description of the current situation that was given shows that there is no change on the Golan Heights or on the Israel-Lebanon border. The quiet is being kept and one can confidently say that there is not a lot new happening in the North.

In Syria, Assad continues to get weaker and lose territory. The Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, continues to control most of the border with Israel on the Golan Heights, but doesn’t dare attack and challenge the IDF. The closest ISIS forces in Syria are some 70 km. from the Israeli border. The danger to Syria’s Druse population has not increased.

Iran, through Hezbollah, continues trying to establish terrorist cells in the Golan Heights and we can already talk about a “forward command” of the Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds Force.

In Lebanon, amid the threats from the Nusra Front and ISIS, the cooperation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army has gotten stronger, and the latter is being armed with French and American military equipment. However, this is a relationship whose purpose is to block the Sunni terrorist organizations and it is less aimed at Israel.

In short, according to all estimates from Military Intelligence and senior officers in the Northern Command, war is not on our doorstep. What will continue are the aggressive headlines in the media, especially during the long, hot summer.

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