Ben Gurion Airport.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The West’s rush to work with radical Shi’ite forces in the war against the Sunni Islamic State organization is a serious mistake, a senior army source warned on Thursday.
In unprecedented criticism from Israel directed against the coalition that has formed against the Islamic State, the source said, “I’m not enthusiastic about the unity against the Islamic State. The West is making a serious mistake by supporting radical Shi’ites.
This is the axis that has Hezbollah, Iran and Assad in it. It doesn’t make sense. The Shi’ite axis is no less extreme. Iran has 11 percent of the world’s oil and 25% of gas supplies. Is this not more dangerous [than the Islamic State]?” The officer also criticized those in the West who he said try to present the Syrian dictator as a moderate element.
“Let’s put things in proportion. This is someone who butchers his people,” he said.
The Iranian-Hezbollah presence in Syria is still developing, and Iran’s presence in Syria continues to grow, the officer added.
In the past year, all terrorism directed against Israel from the Syrian border, every deliberate incident of cross-border fire or bomb attack, was launched by the Shi’ite Hezbollah-Iranian axis, not radical Sunni organizations, the source noted.
Yet Israel is not the center of the developing Middle Eastern war, between radical Shi’ite and radical Sunni Islamic forces.
“What really keeps Iran’s leaders up at night is not Israel. It’s the possibility that Iraq and Syria will be gobbled up by the Islamic State. This is the real story of what is happening in the Levant,” said the source.
Hezbollah, under Iranian directives, is involved “up to its ears” in Lebanon. It has “lost hundreds of fighters. But Hezbollah is not in distress. It’s focusing on its problems in a manner that is certainly remarkable,” the source stated.
“Our level of influence on events is Syria is close to zero. We do not want to get involved in the war.”
All of the maneuvers taken by the Assad military in Syria are directed by the Iranians, or coordinated with them, the source said.
“The same thing is now happening in Iraq, where a new front has been opened against Iran by the Islamic State.”
Hezbollah and Iran do not have an interest in starting a war with Israel, the source assessed, but warned that wars can nevertheless start even without prior intentions. Israel must tread with caution in order to avoid upsetting a strategic situation that is basically reasonable for it at this time, he argued.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah continues to arm itself and smuggle weapons into Lebanon, though not on a massive scale.
In any future war, Hezbollah will be able to shut down Ben-Gurion Airport and Haifa Port due to large-scale projectile attacks, he said. The IDF will have to deploy the full scope of its power against Hezbollah and can’t rely on air power alone to do the job.
“It’s clear that Hezbollah won’t shrug its shoulders in the event of an Israeli interception of weapons.... There is a pain threshold for Hezbollah which, if crossed, will cause it to respond.
Syria has in the past year destroyed its strategic chemical weapons program, but retains tactical chlorine weapons. This means soldiers in the IDF’s Northern Command must train in chemical gas masks on occasion, he added.
Additionally, the threat to offshore gas rigs in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone posed by Hezbollah’s surface to sea missiles has grown, and new defenses are needed, the source said.
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