Beyond the Cusp

September 10, 2019

Why Am I not All That Worried?

 

Everyday I hear a similar question in several parts. Perhaps writing articles here at Beyond the Cusp makes them believe I actually know and understands what is going on in the world and especially in Israel. It might also be my record of making predictions which have a great amount of veracity and often coming true almost exactly. Whatever the reason, I realize these questions are posed hoping I can ease their minds or accurately warn them when to start to worry and make plans accordingly. The first part of the question is worded something like, is a war coming in the near term? This is usually followed by asking for clarification as to where. This is when I have had to provide some not so great news. The reason is that Hamas in Gaza in the south has stated that they will join in any war should Israel engage with Hezballah in Lebanon to the north while Hezballah has promised to join any war Israel might engage with Hamas. The answer is it matters little where the next conflict starts, it probably, thanks to orders from Iran, will encompass a two-front war against both Hamas (with Islamic Jihad) in the south and Hezballah in the north. This, fortunately, may not matter for the remainder of this year as my feelings are that there will not be any all-encompassing conflict, or this is my wishful thinking.

 

There have been a slowly increasing escalation from out of Lebanon and Syria where Hezballah and the IRGC are aiding Syrian forces loyal to Bashir al-Assad along with Russian air and defensive support. The escalations by these forces have gone from single or twin drones to a drone swarm and single rockets to multiple rocket launches and the use of guided anti-aircraft missiles against ground vehicles. Hamas in Gaza use rocket launchers, anywhere from two or three to as many as a dozen or two. On both fronts, the Iron Dome has intercepted the majority of these projectiles projected to strike populated regions at an unreal excellence and proficiency. There have been threats made after every exchange with Hezballah always making the claim that Israel started everything and thus they will respond to the Israeli belligerence. The only problem with their claims is that the exchanges are almost if not always initiated by Hezballah or Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas also has their weekly, of more accurately daily, rioting along the border replete with launching of kites, balloons and the occasional drone with explosives and incendiary packages aimed for the destruction of Israel. They love the land so much they are willing to completely destroy everything such that nobody can use the region. These are the situations which many in our circles are concerned about, even to the point where it dominates conversation more than the coming election, but not more than the general banter which makes leaving the house worthwhile.

 

To the best of my discernment, many in our circles are displaying a level of tenseness and apprehension noticeably higher than usual. They claim that my lack of uneasiness with what I write and apparently obsession with the news cycle is unexplainable, even considering that I do not believe a war is inevitable this summer or until late next spring. Tomorrow morning, I fully expect to have this conversation within fifteen minutes of meeting the first of my regular circle leading to the same reaction of head shaking and pressing their feelings of ill-at-ease adding an, are you sure, to the conversation. If I am fortunate, others will not overhear our conversing as that almost inevitably brings others echoing the same questions and disbelief and even some expressing concern for my levels of sanity. I always assure them that I am still as unbalanced as ever. The upside of this tense situation surrounding us guarantees that people will want to converse so they can ask and be reassured that there is nothing coming in the immediate time-frame as none of the enemies of Israel desire having everything they own broken and having to wait for Iran to smuggle in a resupply of the necessary components for their rockets and drones. Outside events often supercharge the conversation and the number of scenarios discussed and presented as reasons why I am confused and unfounded in holding such an optimistic, almost Pollyannaish, attitude regarding the danger level around the threats which are thrown around weekly if not daily some weeks. Between Nasrallah boasting of the competence and preparedness of the Hezballah military units being capable of returning the Galilee to Lebanese control, read as Arab control, from the occupation by the Zionist Entity and Yahya Sinwar who leads Hamas insisting that the Friday (and often other days just peeking on Fridays) rioting will continue until the occupation by the Zionist Entity has been destroyed, we are pretty much guaranteed two to five threats each week depending on the need to distract the people from their poor governance. When one includes spokespersons from Islamic Jihad, commanders of the IRGC, Iran itself and Mahmoud Abbas and the rest of the Palestinian Authority (read PLO) circus all coming at the same demands, that the Jews take their rightful subjugation by their Islamic superiors, we seldom go two days without some threat raising concerns.

 

Hezballah is a terror army with all the abilities of the Lebanese Army in addition to their own forces as two-thirds of the Lebanese Army are members of Hezballah or sympathizers and thus do pose a credible threat. The IRGC is a second military fielded by Iran and are Islamic hardliners with radical beliefs. They are well trained and receive the same if not better equipment than the Iranian Army. This provides them with all the same capabilities as the Iranian Army with the possible restriction of less air support. Add in the Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei with his and the Iranian fanatics chants each Friday after religious services screaming, “Death to America, Death to Israel,” there is an additional guarantee for my conversation. The way I figure things, if there really was a threat of a war coming in the near period, they would have displayed a far higher rate of increase in the attacks and terrorism. There was the latest attack by Hezballah where they fired anti-aircraft guidable missiles at an IDF base targeting the vehicles and striking a field ambulance which could be claimed was an attempted escalation, almost, as they struck a converted Merkava I battle tank, which are obsolete as a main battle tank but make for a far safer ambulance for the rescue of injured soldiers in an active battle scenario, and claimed they had injured numerous IDF soldiers and claimed possible fatalities. The entire scene at this base was set up with mannequins which were evacuated as if being actual injuries. After Hezballah made their bombastic claims, IDF spokespeople revealed the reality that no Israeli was injured or killed and that the entire exchange was a trap which Hezballah took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

 

Still, the situation which Israel faces on a daily basis is serious and threatening. In the Middle East, threatening is the natural condition, and not just between Israel and her neighbors. Syria is in the midst of a long-running civil war, Iraq is fighting its own Kurdish citizens in the north securing the northern routs for Iran to provide supplies, forces and weaponry for the IRGC, Hezballah and forces fighting supporting Bashir al-Assad, Yemen is in a civil war with the Houthis attempting to overthrow the elected government with Iranian support provided by both the IRGC and Hezballah forces, the Jordanian King is facing the threat of massive unrest from the Arab Palestinians plus all the other conflicts surrounding the MENA nations and the remainder of the world. This is also another reason why I doubt that there will be any conflict this year. Iran is behind almost half of the conflicts in the Middle East. The other violence is mostly Islamic forces attacking those of Animist, Christian or other non-Islamic faith across central Africa in the Transition Zone (see map below). There are also conflicts between India and Pakistan as well as the civil unrest on Mindanao in the Philippines among other regions of strife. With most of the Arab and Islamic world facing internal as well as external conflicts, Israel has become less of an issue throughout their world.

 

African Transition Zone

African Transition Zone

 

This lowering of the level of concern and hatred against Israel as there exists an even more menacing threat, Iran. This has sent Saudi Arabia and many Gulf States to form an almost speaking relationship with Israel. There is far less mention of the Zionist Entity and threats with an exception for the Imams whose entire repertoire consists of hating Israel and Jews. This has caused the uninitiated to express their prediction that Israel will ally with Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order to counter the Iranian threat. Put absolutely no credence in this theme as everything will revert back to hate for the Zionist Entity as soon as Iran ceases to threaten the Sunni Islamic world. Simply put, take Iran out of the equation and the Sunni world will return to their emphasizing the destruction of the Zionist Entity and the return of the region to Arab Islamic rule, their defined norm for not only Israel but to the remainder of the world. Islam has a very simple definition for the world. They divide the world into two camps, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb; being defined as the world of Islam and the world of war respectively. Making this slightly more complicated, the Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims each consider the other to be heretics and thus part of Dar al-Harb. This also explains the high level of animosity between the Sunni Arab states and Shiite Iran. With Iran actively holding heavy sway over Iraq and their total control of Lebanon through Hezballah and Syria where they are assisting al-Assad defeat his opposition for control of Syria; this forms what many refer to as the Shiite Crescent and has all but encircled Saudi Arabia potentially explaining their sudden affections for Israel, the sole military which is capable of restraining Iran from doing whatever they please.

 

Shiite Crescent including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran

Shiite Crescent including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran

 

There is one other reason that we doubt that there will be a war this year, and this includes elections. We can gladly say that the Israeli elections are not the main criteria but the 2020 American elections. Iran is aware that should they be caught pressing for a war anywhere in the Middle East, even Israel, then President Trump would have a free ticket to pose a massive assault on Iran destroying their nuclear program and military ability. As long as after hitting Iran and dealing them a definitive and debilitating strike President Trump departs Iran, then this would leave the rebuilding and possible selecting new governance for the people to do as they see fits them best. Should Iran return to being ruled by a governance nearly identical to their current theocracy, then they would face the same policies from the Trump administration. If the Iranians built a representative governance and called for recognition and relations with the rest of the world, this might be accomplished once their new governance was solidly in place, a constitution or similar document designed and order restored allowing for free and open elections, then perhaps Iran might join the rest of the world. This would require their disbanding the IRGC, ending all support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezballah and all other terrorist organizations, ceasing their support and control over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and liberalizing their civil laws allowing for greater human rights and other freedoms. Then the Middle East could return to their natural positions of complete and total rejection of Israel. This would work to relieve some of the terrorist threats on Israel, but all of them would remain and simply be seeking new backers such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabian entities and other support even to include the European Union, United Nations with accompanying agencies, European nations and others around the world. Things would take a while to settle into whatever the new conditions would become, and things would become more unstable as the terrorist groups would start to compete with one another while seeking funding and support. This would make things unsettled and far more dangerous and quite possibly could press a war with Israel to prove they are the real and true threat to the Jewish State. That is the Middle East, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” the description Winston Churchill gave in a radio broadcast in October 1939 talking about the actions the Russians might take in World War II.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 15, 2017

Hezballah Threats Growing in Intensity

 

When threats of Hezballah invading Israel start being the next great idea used by Hassan Nasrallah to rally the troops and spark excitement in the Lebanese Shiite public replacing his usual anti-Christian rhetoric and claims of preparedness to repel and Israeli attack which may be imminent as the Jews nefarious ways can never be predicted, one can only expect the worst. That such news would be reported by, of all places, Yahoo News then either things are a whole lot worse than one thinks or Yahoo was going for broke trying to sell the story. The problem is Nasrallah has been speaking big much more than usual of late and that never bodes well. Part of the reason for his big chest pounding rhetoric could largely be due to things not going as well as hoped for on the Syrian front and Hezballah has been losing more men than they had initially expected when answering the call from Iran to assist Bashir al-Assad hold to power in Syria. Hezballah has lost a number of commanders including Mustafa Badriddine whose death was commemorated this past week in Lebanon. This too could be a further reason for the boastful threats by Nasrallah as he needs to make it sound as if the Syrian debacle has not swerved the terror outfit from fighting their supposed main enemies, Israel. Whenever the troops and/or the people need a little pick-me-up, well, there’s nothing like some anti-Israel threats topped with a little anti-Semitic slurs claiming that the Jews could never match his Hezbollah fighters.

 

Hassan Nasrallah

Hassan Nasrallah

 

In Nasrallah’s televised speech he declared, “Israel has been threatening for 10 years to open a front against Hezbollah, but it hasn’t done anything. Israel is afraid of any confrontation.” This is standard grist for the mill and can be found in virtually every Nasrallah speech in some form or another. The interesting declaration, which has been added in the last couple of years, has been the insistence that the next war, whether started by Israel or by Hezballah, will be fought in the Galilee, otherwise called occupied Palestine. They can only use the word Israel in conjunction with words such as annihilation, decimation, elimination or other wonderful threat or another, otherwise it is always occupied Palestine, occupied territory, occupied something or another. Nasrallah’s speeches almost always speak of the massive armaments and fearless Hezballah fighters who are going to fight scared Israelis, again win another war against the accursed Jews or some other fantastical fantasy, if you will permit the double-speak. Somehow redundancies actually seemed apropos when speaking of Nasrallah and his threats which come periodically from the man who seldom leaves his presumed hidden bunker appearing solely by teleconference on a bigger than life television screen even for outside events.

 

We have often wondered what he is making up for with these super-sized television screens. It couldn’t be some inadequacy such as fear of assassination, which keeps him seriously safe from anyone who might desire to replace him thinking that his actions have betrayed their main purpose and is now sacrificing their people in the service of Iranian and Syrian overlords. There are likely some who feel that Nasrallah has failed in many ways including not taking care of job number one, Israel, and instead is wasting lives and resources fighting in the Syria civil war. Somebody does not appreciate that the Iranians pay the bills and provide the weaponry, especially the advanced rockets and missiles including those, which can reach from Lebanon into Egypt and Saudi Arabia, not to mention all of Israel. That is the problem as well, as the Iranians have provided, over the past five years, somewhere between one-hundred-thousand and two-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles of varying sizes and ranges including Scuds and Chinese knockoffs made in Iran, missiles including the C-701 and C-802 and Yakhont subsonic Chinese anti-ship missiles, as well as Zelzal-1 and 2, Fateh-110, Fajr-3 and 5 Missiles and a myriad of smaller rockets which can rain down on many towns and cities in northern Israel. Making matters slightly more problematic is the fact that Hezballah is aligned, more like subsumed, by the Lebanese Army which provides them with tanks, the T-55, T-62, and T-72 Russian Main Battle Tanks as well as M-1 Abrams United States Main Battle Tank. This also includes Armored Personnel Carriers. Their armaments also include various MANPADS (anti-aircraft man-carried anti-aircraft rockets) SA-7, SA-14, SA-16, SA-18, FIM-92 Stinger, QW-1 Vanguard, Misagh-1 and Misagh-2 which are of Russian, American and Iranian manufacture. They also possess both stationary and self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons. Further Hezballah received SA-8, SA-17, SA-22 and the Sayyad-2 surface to air missile systems. Further weapons include a myriad of anti-tank missiles from wire-guided to fire and forget and everything in between. Hezballah has become the beneficiary of main battle tanks, which they could never have gained on their own but were capable of purchasing them through the Lebanese Military, which claimed they had no connection with Hezballah when making the arrangements with the United States for the Abrams Main Battle Tanks, which was a complete and utter misrepresentation of the truth. We suspect that the Obama Administration was fully aware of the lie but went through with the deal in order to provide Hezballah with this formidable weapon system. Also attained by the Lebanese Army were seventy M-198 Howitzer artillery units, along with twenty-six-million rounds of ammunition. A summary reported by Breitbart tells that, “Lebanon is now the 5th largest recipient in the world of U.S. military foreign assistance. Over $100 million last year, and over $1 billion in the last 8 years.” The list of weaponry provided all but directly to Hezballah by the United States is astounding and frightening making one wonder who was the person behind making such weapons available to the second arm of Hezballah, the Lebanese Military which were known to be one and the same as long as a decade ago when it was first suspected by the administration of George W. Bush though they refused to go public and stay from admitting any direct link.

 

We can only hope that with a new administration in the White House that shipments of such weaponry to the Lebanese Military, and thus to Hezballah, have come to a close. Still, the damage has been done and cannot be undone. These weapons make the threats by Nasrallah all the more dangerous and the chance of war far more likely, not less. Hezballah has at most a limited number of pilots making them completely dependent upon the Lebanese pilots. The only other break is that the Lebanese Air Force is completely made of helicopters that can be dangerous to fixed wing aircraft no matter the sophistication. The Israeli Defense Forces also have helicopters that include the Apache, very likely one of the most advanced and capable attack helicopters. Still, any war between Hezballah and Israel would include the Lebanese military making it an all-out war between the two nations. Israel has realized this and made it evidently clear through contacts that any attacks by Hezballah would be taken by Israel as a declaration of war by Lebanon and constitute a state of war between the two nations. Israel desires to keep the peace with her neighbors but the threats and boasting by Nasrallah will eventually lead to the rank and file terrorist fighters that make up Hezballah’s fighting force demanding to be permitted their glorious and victorious war with Israel. Nasrallah realized that any war with Israel would devastate all of Lebanon and Hezballah but he does not care. Nasrallah will continue to periodically make his threats despite knowing that some day his big mouth will trigger that hated of results, an infernal war which destroys both nations with one probably incapable of recovering and the other taking a long time but rebuilding and, believe it or not, once rebuilt offering to assist the other as that is the Israeli way, help people, even former enemies. Israel sent tons of relief aid including food, medicines, diesel fuel, electricity, water and other provisions into Gaza during the Gaza War with Hamas even to include a field hospital at one of the crossings because the average Gazan was not the problem and should suffer as little as possible. The same will be true for Lebanon as much as conditions allow, but the conditions are likely to be horrific as Hezballah, like Hamas, use the civilians to protect their military assets. The real problem is not his threats but that one-day he will use such a threat to launch such an attack leading to total carnage, mostly in Lebanon, once their initial assault has been turned back as the rockets and missiles are the real threat, not so much any ground fighting. That day will provide an honest evaluation of the limits to Israeli missile defenses where Iron Dome, David’s Sling and both Arrow 1 and 2 will need to work together and seamlessly if Israel will be successfully defended.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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