Hezballah Leader Hassan Nasrallah continues to make empty boasts and threats he knows would bring devastation on Lebanon and specifically Hezballah if he were to act upon his words. The claim he makes is similarly made by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and all of Israel’s enemies. Their claim is, as Hassan Nasrallah boasted, that should Israel make an assault on Lebanon that Hezballah in response, in his words, “We will destroy your tanks, kill your soldiers and defeat your army.” Hassan Nasrallah can make this threat for one simple reason, he knows that without a provocation or imminent threat from Hezballah that Israel will not attack them in Lebanon or even in Syria where most of Hezballah is engaged in a futile cause against less threatening forces than the IDF could bring to a war with Hezballah. Of course threatening Israel is one thing every foreign power can do with impunity knowing that the possibility of an Israeli strike on their forces are as remote as it would be to have fish fall upon the Hezballah training facilities in the Bekaa Valley out of the sky on an otherwise perfectly sunny day along the Lebanon-Syrian border. We hear these boasts mostly from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and twice a year from Hezballah. Their boastings are made for the morale of their supporters and their fighters such that Israel not taking the bait and attacking to prove the IDFs prowess and make a liar out of Hassan Nasrallah in turn makes his boasts taken to be true and thus Israel is viewed as being weak. Of course Hassan Nasrallah means nothing by these protestations and would be terrified if Israel were to take such boasting to heart and thus be led to make an assault to prove his boasting to be dead wrong. This boast was timed to coincide with the two year commemoration of the second Lebanon War, not exactly the most stellar performance by the IDF but was sufficient for Hassan Nasrallah to state in an interview something along the gist of had he realized the scope of the Israeli response to the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers, he would never have approved the raid. One of his statements can only be valid and I am more prepared to believe his gut reaction immediately after invoking Israeli retribution for an attack than his boasts made knowing that Israel will never attack solely over words and as no rockets are flying over the border, no IDF or Israeli civilians have been kidnapped, his boast is as safe as any statement alone could be.
On the other side, why would Hassan Nasrallah make such a provocative remark when his forces are locked into a losing battle against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and the line that Hezballah must protect gets longer mile by mile as Bashir al-Assad and whatever remnants of the Syrian army that was not Druze, who had retreated to their own home areas to protect their own families, leaving the Alawites and Bashir al-Assad to defend themselves. Perhaps it is a rallying cry screamed into a deep void which is ever widening leaving Hezballah, and by fact of locations, the Bekaa Valley and anywhere else that ISIS or al-Qaeda might seek to finish what Hassan Nasrallah started when he first engaged the forces in Syria fighting to dethrone Bashir al-Assad, to make this struggle a true Sunni vs. Shiite affair. Now that the Alawites are being squeezed into an ever collapsing area along the coast slowly inching their retreat towards the point which will require Russian Naval forces to intervene, this will make the town of Latakia, where the Russian Mediterranean Fleet docks, secure and providing a last bastion for the Alawites and al-Assad. If I were an Alawite I might be tempted at this point to make a deal where al-Assad and his leading cohorts be turned over half to each al-Qaeda and ISIS forces with the winner of a coin toss to get Bashir himself in exchange for being left the strip of land they currently hold. Of course they would also have to make the port facilities available to the governing bodies replacing al-Assad once the rest of the fighting ends, if it ever does.
That brings us into the entire debacle unfolding in Syria and the different scenarios which are potentially about to develop. The current Turkish bombing campaign, presumably to prevent any further spread by the Islamic State forces, has had a strange set of targets as they all appear to be areas where the Kurdish fighters have been holding off Islamic State or ISIS, whichever name anybody prefers in this theater. These areas are not under Islamic State control nor Shiite or al-Qaeda but Kurdish Controlled who has been one of the most stalwart allies of the United States anti-ISIS efforts. The Kurds are viewed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as his most hated foes and considered as much an ally as the PKK and Turkey’s Kurdish Party who currently are blocking Erdogan and his party from all but turning Turkey into an Islamic state. Erdogan hopes to inaugurate himself as its once elected permanent leader and finishing the complete eradication of the vision of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who ruled Turkey after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Meanwhile, the United States cannot be faulted for attempting to enlist the aid of Turkey against ISIS and by doing so allow the United States to finally fly strikes out from the Incirlik Air Base in the coming days making striking at ISIS forces and Islamic State secured regions that much more feasible and less taxing on American assets with the addition of the air base. There have already been a few reconnaissance announced to have been flown from the NATO Incirlik Air Base in central Turkey and talks are continuing to set guidelines for the use of the base. Actual sorties should start over the weekend or early next week while the reconnaissance flights will obviously continue as well from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. These attacks may work to the advantage for Hezballah and Bashir al-Assad by forcing their opponent to recede allowing al-Assad room to reconstitute his forces. As long as al-Assad and Hezballah can hold on to the International Airport in Damascus for another five weeks then Iran will likely have a large inflow of funds allowing for availing al-Assad with fresh supplies and potentially additional IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) units sufficient to alter the balance of powers. Allowing for al-Assad to reestablish his hold on the eastern areas in Syria and then hold those lands and allow the airstrikes by the United States and Turkey to do their damage and weaken their opponents could inadvertently make the retaking of Syria easier for by Bashir al-Assad. Further, by assisting in defeat of Islamic State with United States air support providing whatever support the Iranian military might require, Iran could finally reestablish their puppet states in Iraq and Syria thus retaining the Shiite Crescent across the Middle East as revealed in the map below.
This will be the starting point which will be gifted to Iran by the United States along with the P5+1 placing Iran as the hegemonic power and new nuclear power potentially breaking out unannounced and finally leaving the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and after six months announcing their building of nuclear warheads and having developed ICBMs capable of striking anywhere throughout the world. The question soon after President Obama leaves office will be what can be done now that it may be too late to reel in Iran as with the unification of the Crescent under their singular rule with puppet governments in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, the question becomes where does the world place the line which must not be crossed. Will that line be Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Romania, where? The threat right now appears to be the Islamic State as their atrocities have grabbed the attention of many and will eventually lead to the turning to the one country currently perched to best threaten and destroy the Islamic State, Iran. The question that will likely never be asked is whether we are making an even worse and more dangerous problem reinforcing Iran and giving them such a huge swath of land as depicted below, and that is a conservative estimate as by the time the next United States President is sworn in Iran might already have swallowed Jordan and joined forces with the Arab Palestinians currently in Judea and Samaria as well as having crossed into the Arabian Peninsula and grabbed all of Kuwait and the Saudi Arabian oil fields all in the name of liberating oppressed Shiites which will be encouraged to riot and cause disturbances such that Iran can come to their rescue, all with the blessing of the United States and Europe in the hopes that they will be eaten last. Perhaps by then there will be no place at which the line can be drawn as the dye will have been cast and the doom of nuclear war facing the world dead in the face, then what?
Once the Iranians can establish their desired and long sought Iranian Shiite Crescent across the Middle East reaching from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea after Islamic State Defeat and Iran Surge Retaking Syria for Bashir al-Assad with Hezballah retaining their iron-fist control over Lebanon with the Iraqi Shiites retaining their hold on the southern half of Iraq, this really is a case of then what. This could very well be the starting positions for a final World War resulting in exchanges of nuclear weapons before the end is reached. This map also depicts the areas bordering the Iranian influence which could become the future red lines and the trip wire for a horrific conflagration, exactly what the Twelvers desire to bring back the Twelfth Imam and the Islamic Messiah who will lead them to finally realize their destiny of world conquest. Despite what many in the West view as an outdated and dead idea, the Iranian leadership dreams of world conquest and desire to that end. Would the tripping point be Israel or perhaps Turkey who could demand NATO support under Chapter Five of the NATO Charter. Maybe Iran would take Kuwait and the oil fields of Saudi Arabia and that would trip the wire for Western intervention in response to the Saudi Royals. Perhaps a sweep from Yemen, we cannot forget the Iranian southern front, into Eretria, Somalia, Djibouti and then across the Sudan and into Egypt which could be yet another call for Western assists against Iran. The only thing we can be assured, the Crescent is the beginning, not the end of Iranian expansion.
Beyond the Cusp