Voices from the Arab press: Israel and Iran: Between war and deterrence

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world

 ISRAEL IS now targeting the octopus’ head. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
ISRAEL IS now targeting the octopus’ head.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Israel and Iran: Between war and deterrence

El-Watan, Egypt, June 15

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For the first time ever, Israel targeted one of the most prominent civilian facilities in Syria: the Damascus International Airport. The IDF took it out of service for an unknown period of time. The bombardment affected the airport’s runways and electrical infrastructure, as well as a nearby administrative building.

Moreover, for the first time ever, an explicit Israeli admission of responsibility for the bombing was issued. Israeli sources justified the attack by claiming that it was designed to block Iran’s proxies and prevent them from transferring weapons, particularly guided munitions, to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Since 2018, Israel has launched more than 2,200 strikes on Syrian territory. Most of the attacks have been done covertly; however, in a recent policy shift, Tel Aviv started to publicly own the attacks and even celebrate them in the media. This is done in an effort to deter Iran and its allies on the one hand, as well as appease the Israeli public, which is rapidly shifting toward the extreme Right.

 Significant damage to runways at Damascus International Airport after alleged Israeli strikes targeted the site (credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL) Significant damage to runways at Damascus International Airport after alleged Israeli strikes targeted the site (credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL)

Targeting the Iranian interior is another part of the shift. Recently, scientists and engineers from across the country, associated with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, have been mysteriously killed. Similarly, several military facilities within Iran have been targeted by surprise drone attacks. All of these events are in line with what Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described as a new kind of confrontation strategy: instead of striking the tentacles, Israel is now targeting the octopus’ head.

This is perhaps the most significant evidence pointing to the imminent outbreak of a regional war, for which Israel is preparing. Israeli experts predict that in the event of a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran, the latter will target several strategic facilities inside Israel.

But practically, matters are not so simple. Without explicit approval from the US, Israel will not be able to take any unilateral military action against Iran. Moreover, such a complex operation would require explicit US participation. American support for an Israeli strike on Iran is very unlikely, mostly because the retaliatory responses would be difficult to control. US assets in places like Syria, Iraq and the Gulf will become immediate targets for reprisal attacks carried out by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In the US Congress, an attempt is being made to pass bipartisan legislation with the aim of forcing the Pentagon to prepare a plan to confront Iran within six months, including the preparation of a missile defense system, in which Israel and Gulf countries would participate. Some describe this as an Arab NATO led by the US.

On the one hand, the American legislators believe that they control the actions of the countries of the region – a perception that does not exist anywhere except their minds. On the other hand, the countries mentioned in this project already have self-protection capabilities and even those that have problems with Iran don’t have a whole lot of enthusiasm for war.

In general, the draft law aims to push the Arabs into a regional war to defend Israel without America bearing any costs. This is something that all concerned Arab leaders are fully aware of and they will, therefore, refuse to participate in its implementation. – Hassan Abu Talib

Water consumption quotas in Saudi Arabia

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 17

Saudi Arabia is a successful example of a country with robust water resource management. Despite its desert environment, arid climate, and lack of rivers and lakes, the kingdom’s inhabitants enjoy an abundance of water that surpasses even those countries with a rainy climate and smaller populations.

This is impressive and surprising at the same time because we not only live in a dry desert area, we are also witnessing a huge growth in population. Most of our parents and grandparents likely remember the days when many cities and villages in Saudi Arabia had wells that outnumbered the inhabitants who relied on them for water. Today, however, the situation is reversed, and the population has more than doubled at a time when wells have dried up. And despite all of this, Saudi Arabia has remained a leading country in providing water, not only for the consumption of its residents, but also for the production of foods that require huge amounts of fresh water.

The first reason for this success is the kingdom’s early awareness of the dangers associated with letting its water sources disappear. Saudi authorities realized at a very early stage the need to anticipate the rapid rise in population and the steady rise in the consumption of water. The second reason is the Saudi government’s early focus on technologies that enable the desalination of seawater and its conversion into potable water. The government’s investment in these technologies has proven to be suitable for our geographic and climate conditions.

There is only one problem that has always been difficult to solve: compliance and cooperation of the Saudi public. After all, no matter how innovative our government is, it can only be successful at preserving our water resources if the public supports its efforts. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the authority that oversees activities related to the provision of water and sanitation services in Saudi Arabia, has carried out commendable awareness campaigns to develop and govern the water sector.

Recently, the ministry established quotas on each household’s water consumption, in an effort to curb water waste. This service not only contributes to reducing water consumption, but also alerts the customer by various technical means that the consumption quota is about to be exceeded and the possibility of amending it at any time. According to my knowledge, a service like this is used and exists even in countries with abundant water resources. Its use helps not only in rationalizing our water consumption, but also in alerting citizens of possible leaks inside their homes. Without this awareness, and without this service, we actually risk consuming our already little balance of fresh water.

Yes, it’s true that we are the number one country in desalinated water consumption per capita; but, it’s also true that groundwater is still the main source of freshwater in Saudi Arabia. This resource is depletable and non-renewable and cannot be relied upon if we want to keep it as a strategic option for future generations. For all these reasons, I can say that citizen awareness and cooperation should be considered our third source of water, alongside groundwater and seawater desalination. – Fahad Amer Al-Ahmadi

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.