Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Seeing the Big Board

So that's interesting:

Israel's Security Cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has begun holding its weekly meetings in a secure underground bunker in Jerusalem, Israeli media said on Tuesday.

The facility, known as the "National Management Centre", was first used by the Security Cabinet in 2011 to rehearse a national crisis scenario. It was carved out beneath the government complex in Jerusalem and includes living quarters as well as command facilities.

Meeting in a secure bunker? What's up with that?

Is Israel telegraphing a decision to go to war against Iran by tearing up Hezbollah in Lebanon?

Is Israel trying to look like it is preparing to order the mission? Or something bigger?

Is Israel planning to use the facility but want to dull expectations of Israeli action every time the leadership enters the bunker?

UPDATE: More here and here. Israel seems determined to inflict a defeat on Iran that pushes Iran back from Israel; but Russia won't allow Israel to damage Russia's position in Syria (where Russia has naval and air bases); and Russia wants to diminish Iranian influence in Syria.

To me, that implies that Russia won't let Israel really hit the Iranians hard in Syria or go after Assad. By being Assad's protector in ways Iran can't, Russia gains influence in Syria.

But Lebanon and Gaza are another matter for Russia. They aren't going to oppose Israel in those places where Iran invests in actors who can fight Israel for Iran.

So again, it makes sense that Israel would hammer Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel gets to tear up a weakened Hezbollah that has bled heavily in Syria for Assad and which is still deployed there.

Perhaps the weak UN force in southern Lebanon can actually police the south rather than let it be a Hezbollah rocket platform aimed at Israel.

Perhaps other actors in Lebanon can cripple Hezbollah's political power in the government.

Hamas will be more isolated politically by losing Hezbollah as an ally.

And of course, if Israel also limits operations in Syria to firepower directed against Iranian and Hezbollah targets, Iran is further reduced in power in the region; and Russia can portray their presence as limiting Israeli action.

Indeed, Assad surely would like Iranian influence reduced in Syria after taking Iranian help to defeat rebels in the core Syria in the west. If Assad is assured by Russia that Israel will observe red lines on actions against Iran, Assad would quietly be fine with anything that takes Iran down a peg or two.

Or I'm wrong to connect dots with no actual connections other than my long-standing view that it makes sense for Israel to hammer Hezbollah in Lebanon in a giant ground raid that goes deep into eastern Lebanon.