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Israel’s “red lines” are clear: Lebanon’s radical Shiite Hezbollah militia must not receive any more sophisticated weapons systems. This is consensus throughout the political spectrum of the Jewish state. To ensure this red line, Israel’s Air Force has flown hundreds of air strikes during the past half-decade.

After the destruction of the “Islamic State” – at least as a phenomenon that appears on maps – now there is another “no go” for Israel: The Iranians are not allowed grasp hold permanently in Syria. Both, Hezbollah’s armaments and Iran’s hegemonic aspirations are inextricably linked. “Allah’s Party,” which is the translation of “Hizb Allah,” is nothing but a battalion of the Iranian army.

This new red line of the Israelis clearly contradicts the diplomatic efforts of Russians, Turks and Iranians. This troika has filled in recent years the vacuum left by the Americans in the Middle East. These three potent players on the stage of power politics in the Middle East are trying to restrain the influence of the United States even more. And they aim to maintain and expand their respective spheres of influence.

The so-called “Shiite Crescent” has become actual reality since the disappearance of the Islamic State from the map. The mullahs in Tehran have succeeded in creating their land connection from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. From Iran they rule Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In fact, the Hezbollah militia has for years been controlling the once-Christian Lebanon. At the same time, from the perspective of Israel, the pincers are tightening from the south, because the Iranians exercise massive influence in Yemen through the Houthi militias and through Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

War on Hezbollah

If it comes to a war with Hezbollah, Israel faces a dilemma: It will only be able to protect its own civilian population by destroying Lebanon. Hezbollah has stationed more than 130,000 missiles in Lebanon, enabling it to reach all of Israel as far as Eilat. This Shiite militia now owns more missiles than all NATO states combined, with the exception of the US. And this murderous arsenal is not housed in military bases, but mostly stored in civilian residential areas.

In the event of an acute military conflict, Israel cannot afford to wait for these missiles to be launched at Israel. The Israeli army must destroy them as soon as possible. The massive collateral damage among the Lebanese civilian population that is unavoidable will most likely be attributed by world public opinion not to Hezbollah, but to the Jewish state. At the same time, Israeli politicians are aware that images from a devastated neighboring country also have a massive impact on public opinion in their own country.

In Israel, however, not only another “Lebanon war” is feared, but a war on the entire northern border, from Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast to Hamat Gader at the southern end of the Golan Heights, at the border triangle Israel-Syria-Jordan.

Unavoidable Contradictions

This scenario is a nightmare for Israel, where there can be no winners, let alone joyful victors. That’s why Israel has no choice. It must take care not to fundamentally violate Russian interests in Syria. Jerusalem must accept Moscow’s rules, even if they violate its own red lines.

If the Russians want to realize their own interests, they must not overstretch their Iranian allies. At the same time, Russia, itself a multiple target of Islamic extremists, does not want to completely alienate Israel. Therefore, Russia will probably continue to accept Israeli air strikes on Syria, even though it controls Syrian airspace. But it will also not prevent the Syrian army from trying to shoot down Israeli fighter jets.

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By Published On: February 19, 20183.1 min read
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