Smoke bomb iraq baghdad 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen )
In March 2007, the IDF presented its new multi-year plan aimed at rehabilitating
the military following the Second Lebanon War. As expected, the plan emphasized
the need to invest in the ground forces, to renew training and to develop and
procure new offensive and defensive capabilities.
RELATED:IAF may buy jets used by US in Iraq
One of the interesting
changes to the plan though, was its strategic assessment of the Middle East.
While American plans to withdraw from Iraq were unclear then – George W. Bush
was still president and Barack Obama was a first term junior senator from
Illinois – the IDF inserted Iraq back into its strategic
Then head of the IDF Planning Directorate
Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, the author of the multi-year plan, explained
that as long as the US remains in Iraq, Israel has little to be concerned about
in terms of a military threat from that country. But, he said, who knows what
will happen when America leaves.
Today, Nehushtan is commander of the
Israel Air Force and in April, he will step down after a four-year term, leaving
behind a force that might not only have to deal with Iran’s nuclear program but
also with a potential future threat from Iraq.
regarding Iraq are split into two categories.
On the one hand, there is
the long-term strategic concern that following the US withdrawal, the government
in Baghdad will have difficulty reigning in the different factions that make up
the country and that Iran will take advantage of the power vacuum and move in to
solidify its control. A more powerful Iran would not bode well for Israeli and
Western attempts to convince Tehran to stop its nuclear program.
second concern is the possibility that Israel will once again have to take into
consideration what is referred to in the IDF as the “Eastern Front,” another
term for Iraq as a military threat. Iraq was in fact the primary threat that the
IDF believed it faced until the mid-1990s following the First Gulf War, when
Israel began to shift its focus to the evolving missile and nuclear threat in
While Iraq is not believed to be strong militarily today, that
could and is already beginning to change. By 2015, Iraq will take receipt of 18
F-16 fighter jets. Israel, for its part, is not actively lobbying Washington
against the deal as part of an understanding that it is in the US interest to
bolster the Iraqi government and to ensure that it continues to retain some
level of influence over Baghdad.
At the same time, there is concern in
Israel that changes in the region and the rise in Islamic power could also have
an impact on the future stability of the western- aligned government in
At the moment, this does not require the development of special
capabilities since the same fighter jets that Israel would need to use to attack
Iran’s nuclear facilities – if it decides to – would also be used in a future
confrontation with Iraq.
It is likely that the greatest investment would
need to be in intelligence collection – mapping out the country, preparing
target banks and learning about Iraqi air defense systems.
In the 1990s
this information was consistently updated but in recent years – with the
American presence in Iraq and the shift in Israel’s focus to Iran, Syria and
Hezbollah – Iraq has fallen to the bottom of Israel’s list of
This is of course not an immediate threat but with the Middle
East undergoing historic changes, Israel needs to be prepared.