Yadlin: Coronavirus may delay Iranian threat, won’t get it out of Syria

Eisenkot: IDF must stay healthy to defend.

Amos Yadlin
The coronavirus may delay the various threats posed by Iran, but it will not get it to change its policy or leave Syria, former IDF Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference Thursday night.
Speaking via live-streamed video without a nearby crowd to comply with Health Ministry directives, Yadlin, who is INSS executive director, said: “The coronavirus may lower the explosiveness” of threats from Iran and elsewhere to postpone them.
At the same time, “in the shadow of the coronavirus, Iran can continue” to promote its various threats, he said.
“The Middle East does not get stressed about the coronavirus,” Yadlin said. “Iran is very stubborn, and it knows how to absorb suffering.”
Rather than the official number of 429 Iranians having died from the coronavirus, “maybe thousands have died,” he said. “They still haven’t gone out of Syria for this.”
“The coronavirus leaves all of the [security] problems” that Israel faces, “but maybe pushes them off” until the COVID-19 crisis dissipates, Yadlin said.
On the same panel, former IDF chief of staff and INSS fellow Gadi Eisenkot said: “The security situation was complex before the coronavirus, and now it is even more” complex.
“What will be with the Iranians?” he asked. “Will they continue their efforts to establish themselves in Syria? Will Hezbollah keep trying to get precision missiles? How will Hamas act? Will it let things stabilize or have things get out of hand?”
“We need to guard the health of our soldiers,” Eisenkot said, as it is critical that they “keep carrying out both their defensive and offensive roles.”
Former Mossad official and INSS fellow Sima Shine said Iran has been hit very hard by the coronavirus compared with other countries because of the religious ideology that is part of its governance.
Dozens of Iranian parliamentarians have been infected and died, and top advisers and ministers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have been infected and died. All of this is in addition to at least 9,000 Iranians being infected, according to official numbers, with suspicions that the actual number is much higher.
When the contagion began hitting the Islamic Republic hard in the holy city of Qom, instead of telling the public to avoid that city, many religious and government leaders encouraged the public to visit it and receive blessings that would protect them from the disease, she said.
The process of giving blessings often involves physical contact, hugging and kissing, and this aggravated the crisis for Iran, Shine said.
Several speakers said Israel has a special challenge of dealing with the coronavirus crisis during an extended period with no government and no budget.