The Trump opportunity has passed at least for the summer. There was the opportunity for a change in Israel and the standoff with the Arab world. The Israeli hesitation over moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, specifically the warnings of potential violence which, according to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, was something Israel was not prepared to face at the time forced President Trump to hesitate and at best postpone any actions on the embassy or possibly totally abandoned, time will tell. President Trump was elected President with a Republican platform which had refused to continue with the two state solution as part of its Middle East policy, a first for United States policy since the Oslo Accords were signed in September of 1993. The Republicans managed to do something which apparently far too many Israeli politicians are unprepared to do, reject the paradigm of the two state solution and accept something entirely separate. President Trump has stated even since taking office that he is ready to accept whatever decision is presentable to the individuals, which guarantees that he is open to almost any solution providing it is a workable solution. Between President Trump’s statements, the appointments made concerning Israel and the Republican platform, anything is potentially acceptable once one takes all of these particulars together and weighs all of the possibilities. Unfortunately it appears that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is not prepared to take any alternative before other issues including but not limited to Iran, Hezballah, Islamic State and the stability of the areas surrounding Israel are more secured and balanced. Netanyahu also is most concerned with the Iranian race to produce nuclear weapons and properly fears their finally becoming nuclear weapons capable, or worse, having tested and produced a nuclear weapons arsenal which would permit them to project power and terrorism throughout the entirety of the Middle East and across North Africa threatening Europe and possibly beyond to include the United States, China and even Russia. None of the current main nuclear weapons powers should consider their position secure as the potential for Iran to commit nuclear terrorism must not be considered as impossible or out of the question as such will be a definitive and dangerous possibility once Iran has produced miniaturized nuclear weaponry, something they are predicted to have the capability to produce within the next decade.
Another threat which Israel is facing has ties to Iran as well. Syria is allied with Iran and Hezballah which controls Lebanon under Iranian direction to the point that Hezballah commands the Military of Lebanon using their strength in the war in Syria against the Sunni rebels including the Islamic State. This conflagration which has destroyed much if not almost all of Syrian infrastructure outside of a thin strip along the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Latakia where the Russians have their active port facilities in the Mediterranean Sea. The losses being taken by Iran and Hezballah in the Syrian catastrophic civil hostilities have produced much consternation within their respective publics which is demanding good and understandable reasoning as to why they should continue to support such bloodshed. Thusfar they have not been rewarded with results which show that their involvement is of any worth as Syria is beginning to appear as a killing field where they are being asked to sacrifice for no good reason. There is a building demand that Assad be replaced allowing for an end to a seemingly endless and pointless waste of resources. The one means for making the Syrian war to appear to have an acceptable reason, at least in Lebanon as well as much of Iran and vast numbers of the IRGC and Hezballah soldiers and their families would be an expansion of the war to include a full on war with Israel. Such a war against the Zionist entity would make the efforts in Syria appear to have a payoff which would be understood and well received thus rejuvenating the support for the forces which are fighting in Syria and an excuse for the losses. Such a decision requires for Iran, as it is the Iranian leadership, the Mullahs and the Supreme Leader who decide, to decide to take such a move as they will be the ones providing the majority of the military resources should such a war be initiated. The cost of such a war for Syria would be inconsequential as much of the nation is already in ruins and most of the military supplies would be provided by Iran. On the other hand, for Hezballah such a war would be a double sided sword cutting both ways as Lebanon has not been near as torn asunder as has Syria. Any war with Israel which included Hezballah would also endanger much of the infrastructure south of the Litani River and the length of the Bekaa Valley as well as parts of Beirut as well as potentially the Beirut International Airport should it be utilized by Iran to fly in provisions for Hezballah using the airstrips of this airport.
Where losing men and munitions fighting in Syria is growing less and less popular, a war with Israel if it should bring destruction raining down within Lebanon itself could backfire. While it is possible to have Hezballah troops only attack Israel from areas such as across the Golan Heights, this would not guarantee that Israeli responses would only be targeting Hezballah forces in Syria and not their rocket stores and command and control headquarters within Syria. This would be a definite possibility as Hezballah has sufficient stores of rockets and missiles provided by Iran and placed under the noses of UNIFIL forces assigned by the United Nations to prevent exactly that buildup, they failed completely. These rockets pose an existential threat to Israel and should Hezballah forces be fighting Israel, even if just across the Golan Heights, Israel could not permit Hezballah to have the opportunity to choose the point at which to introduce these assets into such a conflict. In any conflict with Hezballah, Israel correctly feels that their first and most important targets are the stores of rockets and missiles, their launching facilities and the command and control nexuses in order to remove this threat from their civilians, their infrastructure and the Israeli Defense Forces. Even with the Arrow systems, the Iron Dome and David’s Sling, the well over one-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles held by Hezballah could be launched in such a manner as to overwhelm the Israeli defenses and thus inflict unacceptable damage. Where Israel has exceptional interception capabilities, no such system is one-hundred percent successful and with the numbers of weapons Hezballah alone has, not even counting the potential from Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian stores, Israel would be hard pressed to rely on interception thus only destruction of these threats before they can be utilized is the only answer.
There is another set of reasons which might cause Iran to seek a war with Israel, and these include Russia and the United States. The Iranians would probably desire testing President Trump as well as pressing him to take a stand one way or the other concerning supporting Israel. If Iran can show that President Trump supports Israel against them, they could attempt to portray themselves as leading the fight against the Zionists and use any United States support as proof that President Trump was fighting a war against Islam. They would use all the claims by the left and the United States liberal media who claimed that the immigration restraint against seven terror prone nations which were so labeled by the Obama Administration and simply that classification was used by President Trump for his imposing an immigration hold until proper vetting could be arranged for these nations but Iran could use the media claims of that being President Trump starting a war against Islam. This would be blown into a full-fledged campaign by President Trump and the United States in supporting Israel as simply the next step in Trump’s war on Islam which Iran would claim they and Hezballah were fighting for the entire Muslim world and in the name of the Prophet Mohammad. The Iranians could attempt to persuade some, if not all, the Gulf States to join them in this noble war against the evil Zionist entity and then attempt to pull Turkey’s Erdogan into the war using popular pressure to drag him into a war thus using his own program of using anti-Semitism to raise his own support levels. How much success Iran might have in turning the Islamic world against Israel and the United States could be debated but results would need to wait to be seen. Further, Iran could use such a war with Israel as a means of forcing Russia to take sides thus driving a wedge between Russia and the United States or driving a wedge between the United States and Israel as Trump would have to choose which side to inflame should Russia be forced to support Iran against Israel. This could lead to a whole new proxy war in the Middle East pitting the two powers, Russia and the United States on opposing sides and once again drag much, if not all, of the Arab world into the Russian sphere of influence and heighten the risk of embroiling the entire Middle East in a war even broader in scope than the 1948 War where the Arab League attempted to wipe Israel from the map. Now the idea of wiping Israel from the map is a wholly, or is it holy, Iranian concept. Iran has threatened to open a front against Israel as a means of leading the rest of the Islamic world into a general war with Israel and granting themselves with the title of the great leaders of the new Caliphate which is what they would use as their alliance’s title so as to give it an Islamic rallying cry. Iran has already made some inroads with some of the Gulf States much to the chagrin of the Saudi Royals who used to have an iron grip on these states.
Further reasoning behind Iran taking the lead in a charge to try and bring down Israel is to bring themselves to the fore of the Islamic world and to attempt to sell their brand of Shia Islam as the real bold, brave and action center for all Islam and thus start to turn the Islamic world from Sunni to Shiite. Iran has had this dream to form a crescent of Shia states across the heart of the Middle East, their Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon crescent which was looking good until Syria disintegrated. What Iran needs now is some means by which to force much of the Syrian resistance to come across to their side and thus reestablish their hold on most if not all of Syria. Iran might even try to win the Kurdish to their side by sacrificing a small section of northwestern Iran and northern Iraq along with some of northeastern Syria forming a Kurdish nation state if they will ally and take up Shia Islam. This would sandwich the Sunnis in central Iraq placing them in a very precarious position which just might force many to accept Shia Islam in exchange for protection from Islamic State. This would leave Iran with a smaller set of opponents to their taking the lead as the great power in Islam allowing their reestablishment of the power which once was Persia. With such a success and Russian backing, the Iranians might even be able to really crack the back of Sunni Islam and convert the Muslim Brotherhood over to Shia Islam if Iran would work with them to remove President Sisi in Egypt and place the Muslim Brotherhood back into power in Egypt which could be assisted with pressure from the south using their friendly relations with the Sudan as their wedge. From this they could then take control of the Horn of Africa and complete their vanquishing of their opposition in Yemen and now have Saudi Arabia surrounded. All of this is speculation and highly unlikely but this is also seen by the Mullahs as potentially plausible if only they could gain an upper hand along the Gulf States and win over many in the Islamic world through a war with Israel. The one catch there is that any war with Israel promises to be as short as Israel can possibly make it which would very possibly not turn out so well for Hezballah or Lebanon. The only thing that Iran would not be risking is the infrastructure of Syria. Also, getting Russia to work against Israel is iffy at best as Russia and Israel have already been working in cooperation sharing intelligence and Israel warning the Russians before striking at targets in Syria or near the Syrian Lebanese border in the Bekaa Valley. Add to that the news that the missile shot from the sky by an Israeli Arrow System was a Russian made SA-5 missile proving that the Israeli military technology is everything it is cracked up to be and this should make Putin wary of any plans to go against Israel. Iran would be treading dangerously trying to force such a conflict and may find they could lose Russian assistance in Syria and that Russia might just take Western Syrian coastal cities as their own just as they did the Crimea with one difference, Israel would welcome Russia as their new friend in the region and that would leave Iran weaker for their efforts.
Beyond the Cusp