Thursday, May 10, 2018

Did the War Begin?


Israel and Iran reached the brink of full-scale war Thursday as the Islamic Republic's unprovoked rocket attack on soldiers in the Golan Heights gave way to an unprecedented Israeli counter-strike that targeted nearly all Iranian infrastructure inside Syria.

The Israeli Defense Force said it deployed fighter jets and used missiles to strike a range of targets, including military compounds, intelligence operations and munitions warehouses, a statement read. The strikes were Israel's largest air operation in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The Iranian rocket attack was not the biggest anything by anybody since 1973:

Israel on Thursday just after midnight local time reported that Iranian forces fired 20 rockets at its military bases in occupied Golan Heights.

The Iron Dome defense system intercepted some of the missiles and damage to Israeli military bases was “limited,” an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson told The Times of Israel. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Iran fired 20 relatively small rockets. And did little damage while inflicting no casualties.

Did Israel respond "proportionately" as some people who want Israel to lose always demand?

Nope. The Israelis unleashed a large aerial barrage that did some serious damage.

My view is that if an enemy attacks you, any response you make that doesn't stop the enemy from attacking you again has not exceeded a "proportionate" response.

The funny thing is, Iran's rocket attack may have been a response to a small Israeli attack on Tuesday. The Israelis may have baited the Iranians given this activity that went along with the Israeli strike:

The Israeli military said that, upon identifying "irregular activity" by Iranian forces in Syria, it instructed civic authorities on the Golan Heights to ready bomb shelters, deployed new defenses and mobilized some reservist forces.

So Israel was ready for some type of Iranian response.

If Israel is planning to hammer Hezbollah in Lebanon soon, the big Israeli strikes inside Syria against Iranian forces make the right flank of the Israeli ground drive a little more secure; and establish the precedent of hammering Syrian territory if the smallest Iranian attack takes place from there.

And as I noted in an update to the above post, Netanyahu just met Putin, which could have established what Russia will accept Israel doing in Syria against Iran (and clearly the biggest air attack inside Syria since 1973 falls within those limits).

Remember, Putin just wants a quiet Syria run by the Assad government compliant to Russia which hosts Russian military bases in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Russia does not want Iran running Syria, risking a war with Israel or anybody else which might threaten those bases or increase the cost of maintaining the Assad government in power.

We shall see.

UPDATE: And given that Lebanon's just concluded elections favored pro-Hezbollah forces, there is little hope that Hezbollah will be defanged as a threat to northern Israel without an Israeli multi-division ground raid into Lebanon.

UPDATE: Also, Congress is advancing legislation to give Israel priority on precision ammunition even though American stockpiles had run low in the latter Obama administration.

Is somebody expecting Israel to need a lot of smart bombs soon?

Although I wouldn't think that would be the kind of thing shared with members of Congress.

UPDATE: Much more from Strategypage.

UPDATE: If there is a single trigger for the war I've long anticipated against Hezbollah in Lebanon, I'd guess that any Iran-related violence in response to the formal opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem would be it.

UPDATE: It may be relevant to recall that prior to the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 it seemed to me that intensified American air strikes to enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq were more about shaping the future battlefield than enforcing the no-fly zone.

UPDATE: Israel may have set back Iran in Syria for months, but not to sound all obvious--that setback will last months. What does Israel do with the months they bought?