“We will not accept any such violation”

Tensions continue to rise on the Golan Heights after Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet, which crossed into its airspace.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following on the incident:

“Our air defense systems identified a Syrian Air Force jet that took off from the T-4 Syrian Air Force base and penetrated Israeli airspace. This is a gross violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement with Syria. I have reiterated and made clear that we will not accept any such violation. We will not accept any such penetration of, or spillover into, our territory, neither on the ground nor in the air. Our forces acted appropriately. We insist that the Syrians strictly abide by the Separation of Forces Agreement between us and them.”

With the rebel collapse in the Syrian occupied Golan Heights, regime soldiers as well as Iranian and Hezbollah forces are closing in on Israel’s territory.


Bibi Netanyahu: “We will not tolerate the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies anywhere in Syria”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Sunday, 8 July 2018), at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, made the following remarks:

“This week I will fly to Moscow for an important meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We meet from time-to-time in order to ensure security coordination and, of course, to discuss regional developments.

At the meeting I will reiterate the two basic principles of Israel’s policy: First, we will not tolerate the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies anywhere in Syria – not close to the border and not far away from it. Second, we will demand that Syria, and the Syrian military, strictly uphold the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement.

It is self-evident that I am in regular contact with the American administration. These links with the two great powers are very important to the security of Israel at all times and especially at present.

Regarding the Polish law, the goal of the contacts with the Polish government was to abrogate the criminal clauses in the Polish law that cast a pall of fear over research and free discourse regarding the Holocaust. This goal was achieved. I thank the team of Joseph Ciechanover and Jacob Nagel for succeeding in removing the criminal clauses from the Polish law.

The declaration that was published following the change in the law was overseen by a senior historian.

However, various comments were made after its publication. I have listened intently to the comments of the historians, including about several things that were not included in the declaration. I respect this and I will give expression to it.

We are marking 78 years since the passing of Zeev Jabotinsky (the Cabinet will hear a briefing). I think that with the perspective of history it is possible to understand the magnitude of his contribution to the Zionist enterprise. First of all, before anything else, there was the establishment of a Jewish fighting force after generations in which we did not have the strength to wield the sword and defend ourselves. His great work in establishing combat brigades [click here for details] in the British army during the First World War, in effect, laid the important foundations for the establishment of the IDF.

All of this started with the effort of Jabotinsky and Trumpledor with the British authorities during the First World War and, of course, in cooperation with the legendary commander of these forces, Col. John Henry Patterson, whom my family knew well. Today we will receive a new addition of Jabotinsky’s writings; I would be pleased if you could display it.”

Are the Golan Heights Ground Zero for the Coming Conflict with Iran and Syria?

The coming war between Israel and Iran is nearly a foregone conclusion.  The Iranian drone incident and F-16 downing now over 2 weeks old was not only the first direct clash between Israel and the Ayatollahs, it outlines the course of events now unfolding on Israel’s Golan.

For years, Israel’s armed forces and generals prepared for a missile war with Hezbollah.  Large budgets had been put together for missile defense.  The drone incident has scrambled the notion that it is Hezbollah that will fire the opening shot. Iran has moved close to Israel’s border and if reports are accurate the Iranian movements are supported by Russia.

The ceasefire in Ghouta unanimously passed by the UNSC and now implemented by Russia for 5 hours a day has the potential to send thousands of refugees to Israel’s Golan border.  Whether this was purpseful or not doesn’t quite matter.  The coming chaos on the Golan will enable Iran to send fighters into Israel and try to accomplish what Syria has failed to do for years; that is to recapture and occupy the Golan Heights.  If Israel fights back then Hezbollah will unleash its hundreds of thousands of missiles on Israel.

The Golan is now ground zero for the coming war.  The faster Israel prepares to hold back the flood of refugees and impending Iranian invasion the easier it will be to defend itself against a much wider conflict.

Kurds Continue to Hold Strong Against Turkey in Afrin

Despite the announcement of President Erdogan of Turkey, the Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to be a serious thorn in the side of Erdogan’s dream of recreating the Ottoman Empire.

The Kurds were meant to be crushed in a manner of days as a result of the Turkish invasion of Afrin dubbed operation “Olive Branch,” but instead of retreating they have pushed back heavily against the Turkish army.

On Saturday (February 10th) alone eleven Turkish fighters involved in Ankara’s invasion of Afrin were killed. Another eleven  were injured on the same day, according to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).

Two service members were killed when a T129 ATAK attack helicopter was shot down by YPG/YPJ fighters. The helicopter crashed in the Turkish province of Hatay.

The rest of the Turkish fighters were killed or injured in clashes with SDF forces in defending Afrin from the TAF.

Of course the TAF’s general staff claimed that 1,266 ‘terrorists’ have been ‘neutralized’ in Afrin since the start of Operation Olive Branch on January 20. These numbers are completely unsubstantiated and more than likely inflated to help Erdogan with his citizens as the operation is not going well.

It is hard to see how Erdogan can claim he will have th operation wrapped up in a short time.  Every day that goes by without a decisive victory as the potantial to turn “Operation Olive Branch” into a serious quagmire for the neo-Ottoman autocrat.  Unless Russia and Syria do more than passive allowance of Turkish attacks in Kurdish controlled territory, Erdogan will either have to pull back and accept defeat or go in under full capacity and doing so risk direct conflict.

Syria is becoming the testing ground for the neo-Cold War that is far closer to an active war between the super powers.  Afrin, Deir ez-Azur, and the Golan are ground zero for the coming conflagration.


Syria with Russian Backing Shoots Down Israeli F-16 over the Golan

The reports streaming out of Israel and Syria paint a clear turning point in the tense relationship between the two countries. Despite differences in reports and who is repsonsible, what is clear is that an Iranian military drone took off from a Syrian base that is also manned by Russian soldiers and flew into Israeli airspace.

The Israeli airforce (IAF) shot down the drone and then went on to destroy the UAV base it took off from.

Watch below:

The drone incident led to a barrage of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. Syria responded with heavy anti-aircraft fire that set off multiple warning sirens in Israel. Syria used its Russian supplied S-200 air defense system and fired at Israeli F-16s downing one. The two pilots ejected and landed in Israeli territory. and managed to down an Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory, seriously wounding a pilot.

The IAF said the battle began with the Iranian drone violating Israeli airspace before being destroyed by a combat helicopter over the city of Beit Shean, near the Jordanian border.

In retaliation to the downing of its F-16, the IAF attacked 12 known Iranian installations in Syria. Many of these bases are acknowledged by Russian military to be used by the Iranian Al Quds forces.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following about today’s incident:

“I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”

Clear Russian Involvement Should Worry Everyone

With Russia’s involvement in allowing an Iranian drone to take off from a UAV base it commondeers with Syria, the prospects for aregional conflagration spiralling out of control have increased considerably. More than that, Moscow has seemingly decided to push back against the US strike that took place on February 8th against Shiite troops in Eastern Syria that killed Russian troops as well.

Russia seemingly thought that the IAF would not reatliate as it did, which triggered a serious knee jerk respinse from Syria. The deeper issue is Putin’s move to back up his erstwhile ally Syria against Israel.  This renders Bibi Netanyahu’s private agreements with Putin null and void.

The Middle East is fast being broken down into proxies that are either connected to Russia or the USA. This air battle between Israel and Iran/Syria may blow up into a major conflict or at the very least spell the beginning of a far more chaotic situation.

While Putin and Bibi Speak, Syria Installs Latest Russian Air Defense System Near Damascus

According to the Israeli media, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Vladamir Putin held a phone conversation in order to ensure that Russia was kept abrest of Israel’s security needs despite the latter being a part of the Iranian axis.  These types of conversations have been going on for over a year in order to minimize friction between the IDF/IAF and Russian forces in Syria.

These conversations have been promoted to the Israeli public as a way assuage fears by claiming to use Russia to help mitigate the forward movement of the Iranian axis towards the border with Israel.  The challenge with this sort of thinking is that we see that after the fall of Beit Jinn, Russia has done little to keep Iran and Hezbollah outside the deconfliction zone.

The other pervading theory is that Israel has a deal worked out with Putin that the IAF is allowed to attack Hezbollah, Iranian, or even Syrian positions within Syria if they are deemed a threat to Israel. Yesterday’s installation of the Russian S-125 Pechora Batteries (a Soviet-designed system originally built in the 1960s) in the Marj Ruhayyil airbase located south of Damascus puts to rest this line of thinking.

According to AMN the modernized variant in question is reportedly the M2 version of the S-125 Pechora, “which in addition to having an improved kill probability record, is technically capable of tracking and intercepting low-flying cruise missiles.

Why is this important? The assumption has been that the IAF would be able to attack Syrian-Hezbollah-Iranian forces with impunity.  The Russians clearly have other ideas.

Does Putin Want to Destroy Israel?

Not at all. He wants to use the Iranian axis he has been tacitly covering for to hold Israel at bay and force its government to turn to him for its needs. While the situation is not at that point yet, it is rapidly approaching.  The Trump administration of course understands this and appears to be ready to back up Israel.  The Jerusalem announcement was as much part of Trump’s calculus in relation to Russia’s moves as it was a declaration of support that flowed from his own beliefs.  For Trump the two aligned.

With more and more IDF forces quietly being moved North, the stakes are high on both sides of the Golan.  Russia’s play at attempting to militarily isolate Israel by using forces hellbent on its destruction is a gamble that could trigger a far wider war.

WAR DRUMS: Syria-Hezbollah-Iran Moves Within 4km of Israel’s Golan

Arab sources and media are reporting that the combined strength of the Syrian Regime army and Iranian backed Hezbollah succeeded in cornering the Syrian rebels in the Beit Jinn enclave, located 4km from Israel’s Golan.  The rebels, seeing no help from Israel have now offered to surrender peacefully.

Once the regime and Hezbollah fully capture the enclave, they will have unfettered access to the Hermon, essentially surrounding the key area from both Lebanon and Syria.

Israel’s government has little time to decided how and when to stop the forward momentum of the Syrian-Hezbollah-Iranian forces before they are able to dig into fortefied positions along Israel’s Northeastern border.

While Israelis are disracted by news reports connected to the imminent police recommendation to charge Prime Minister Netanyahu with corruption, the danger on the country’s Northern border is growing.  Without a bold move soon, Iran and its Syrian and Hezbollah allies will achieve what Netanyahu pledged would never happen.  The Ayatollahs would be ready to pounce on Israel at a time of their choosing, that is unless Israel hits them first.

Russia Cuts Out USA By Playing Dealmaker Between Israel and Syria

According to an anonymous Israeli source, Kuwati newspaper Al Jarida reported on Sunday that Israel relayed a message to Putin that the IDF would destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers of Israel’s Golan Heights.

The message was relayed to Putin directly by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  The Russian President took the liberty to pass the threat in person to President Basher Assad of Syria who surprisingly was said to offer a deal to Israel.

According to Al Jarida the source reported that “Assad said Damascus was ready to discuss the disarmament of the Golan Heights with a zone equalling 40 kilometers from the Golan as well as considering autonomy for the Kurds and Druze.”

Whether Iran ultimately agrees with this or not is still the stumbling block to the deal going through. Yet, it is important to note that it is Russia that has begun to play the vaunted role of “peace” maker in the region.  With the USA playing a soft power role within the behind the scenes shuffling in Saudi Arabia, Israel has had no choice but to reach out to Putin in a last-minute play to stave off a wider war with Iran and Hezbollah.

While there has been much noise that Israel and the Saudis are locked together against Iran and Hezbollah, that is only strategic.  There appears to be tactical differences between the two countries.  Afterall, if Israel were to go after Hezbollah in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, it would potentially suffer far more casualties and damage than the Saudis, whose land mass is far bigger.

Netanyahu’s approach has always been to hold off on what many see as the impending conflict with Iran and rather cut deals when possible.  This is of course a great short-term tactic, but relying on Putin to cut your deal for you may not be the best strategic option.

The unfolding changes across the Middle East are happening at a fast pace.  Giving Assad a pass now will not help once the Sunni-Shiite conflict reaches a far more acute phase. Strategically speaking, Israel is tied to Saudi Arabia and the moves the USA is making and setting place in the region.  The Russian may be seen now as the big winner in the region, but strategically speaking that is only if they are not given an outsized role by others.

The Russian propaganda machine and those online that support it have been spreading a narrative of a collapsing Sunni front under dwindling oil revenues.  While there is some truth to that, one must remember that Sunni Islam represents 90% of Muslims around the world.  Iran was able to achieve its geopolitical successes not because of its advanced military or technology, but rather it road the coattails of bad policy decisions flowing from the previous US administration that created a vacuum in the Middle East.

Russia has been adept at cutting out the USA when necessary, especially in relation to America’s long time allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.  On one hand Russia claims it wants to play the role of peacemaker, yet this is more or less equivalent to a person claiming they want peace, but does so while holding a gun up to the other person’s head.

The lure of ensuring that 40km of Syrian land would be demiliarized may be attractive, but it also will come at a price, which has yet to be made public.


“Conflict management”: The Collapse of a Concept

While Israel has been “managing the conflict”, its non-state adversaries have been enhancing their capabilities so dramatically that they now a grave strategic threat

…to remain at peace when you should be going to war may be often very dangerous. ..–Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, 431 BCE

This week, Israel conducted its largest military exercise for almost two decades code named “Or Hadagan” (“the Light of the Grain”), reportedly in honor of the late Meir Dagan, former director of Mossad.

Far reaching shift in threat perception

The drill, which took place in the north of the country, and involved tens of thousands of troops from all branches of the IDF, was intended to prepare the Israeli military for a possible future confrontation with Hezbollah.

This, in itself, reflects far-reaching changes in the realities on the ground and the resultant shift in Israeli threat perception and hence in the armed forces’ operational focus and strategic outlook  that have taken place since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Thus, while the Syrian army has been almost totally eroded by six-and-a-half years of civil war; Israel now considers Hezbollah as the primary and most immediate threat, and the Lebanese front, the one of most pressing concern.

In many ways, the recognition of the ascendant threat from Hezbollah comprises a grave indictment of the conduct of the 2006 War—and an admission (at least implicitly) of its gross mismanagement.

This is significant, because the calm that has generally prevailed in the North since 2006 has —despite wide acknowledgment of the disappointing IDF performance in that engagement—led numerous pundits to applaud the deterrent effect that the massive damage inflicted on Lebanon at the time, allegedly produced.  In some cases, this prompted suggestions that a more favorable retrospective assessment of the war and its execution might be called for.

Sadly, there is little to support this benign attitude—and emerging realities serve only to underscore the long term detrimental impact, which  that indecisive encounter—and its subsequent political and strategic ramifications—have had (and are still likely to have) on Israel’s security.

“To defeat, not deter…”

But changing threat perception was not the only major shift in military thinking associated with the drill.  For the reported definition of its objectives seem to indicate an emerging awareness that the approach adopted over the last few decades has been both dysfunctional and detrimental.

Thus, in a recent opinion piece in Haaretz, entitled Israel Dare Not Allow Hezbollah to Strike First veteran commentator Israel Harel wrote: “For many years, including (or especially) the Second Lebanon War, the IDF did not truly aspire, as an army going to war must aspire, to defeat the enemy once and for all, in other words to neutralize its capacity to further endanger the lives of Israel’s citizens, soldiers and infrastructure.”

This time” he noted “the military commentators wrote and broadcast, the “intention” is clear: to finish (the word expressly used by the exercise’s commander) the enemy.”

Articulating the  move towards this new (or rather renewed) aspiration to defeat, rather than deter, the enemy was a report by Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel (not to be confused with previously-mentioned Israel Harel) in which the sub-headline declared: “Military says it will no longer settle for deterring Hezbollah, which replaced Syria as No. 1 threat on Israel’s borders.” Referring to the professed goal of the “Or Hadagan” drill, Harel wrote“ The objective is to defeat Hezbollah. This time the talk is not of inflicting significant harm to Hezbollah, to deter it, or to quash its desire to fight until the next round of violence.”

Conflict management: A concept discredited

The conceptual paradigm that forms the basis of the IDF’s aversion to victory-oriented strategies is the idea of “conflict management”. One of the prime proponents of this approach has been the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University.

A synopsis  of “months of debate in BESA seminar rooms”  published about a year ago, reported that a consensus  had emerged among the  center’s experts that “Conflict management is currently the least-worst option”, and that it  “is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse”.

Arguably, one of the most explicit advocates for the idea of conflict management is Prof. Efraim Inbar, formerly BESA’s longstanding director, who declared: “Israel’s recent governments are left, willy- nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options.” He conceded that: “there are costs to this wait and- see approach”, but counselled “…this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals …

In a 2014 policy paper entitled Mowing the Grass in Gaza and coauthored with Eitan Shamir, he set out the essence of this conflict management approach as it pertained to Hamas in Gaza:  “Israel is acting in accordance with a “mowing the grass” strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities…The use of force… is not intended to attain impossible political goals, but rather is a long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities”.

Clearly, this prescription has failed dismally both with regard to  Hamas and Hezbollah, neither of whom have had their capabilities “debilitated”, nor have forgone their “radical goals.

Conflict management discredited (cont.)

After all, not only is there any sign of either of these organizations moderating their radical rejectionist approach towards Israel, but the periods of inter-bellum calm have been consistently used by both to dramatically upgrade their capabilities.

Thus, when Israel left Gaza (2005), the range of the Palestinian rockets was barely 5 km., and the explosive charge they carried about 5 kg. Now their missiles have a range of over 100 km. and warheads of around 100 kg.

When Israel left Gaza, only the sparse population in its immediate proximity was threatened by missiles. Now well over 5 million Israelis, well beyond Tel Aviv, are menaced by them. To this alarming tally, add the massive array of attack tunnels that Hamas was able to develop since the evacuation while Israel was “mowing the lawn”, making any suggestion that its capabilities have been “debilitated” utterly ludicrous.

This is even more so  in the case of Hezbollah, who, since 2006, has reportedly increased its then-already formidable arsenal in South Lebanon, abandoned to them, courtesy of the hasty 2000 unilateral IDF withdrawal mandated by Ehud Barak, tenfold—to anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000!

Moreover, the improvement has not only been in the quantity of the missiles trained on Israel’s population centers, as well other civilian and military targets, but in the accuracy and the explosive charges of the war-heads. Likewise, the ranks of its fighters has more than doubled, and their operational capabilities greatly enhanced, among other things, due to the combat experience acquired through their participation in the Syrian Civil War.

Mistaking “regrouping” for “deterrence”

In light of all these daunting developments, it is clear that successive bouts of limited fighting have done little to deter either Hamas or Hezbollah in the sense of breaking their will to engage in battle. Rather, after every round, they have been forced to regroup, redeploy and rearm—only to  re-emerge spoiling for a fight, ever bolder, with ever-greater (indeed, once inconceivable) capabilities.

In this regard, a far from implausible claim could be made that it was not the consequences of the 2006 war that dissuaded Hezbollah from entering the fighting in 2014 to support Hamas against the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. Rather the fact that the organization was bogged down in the Syrian civil war, propping up their patron Bashar Assad—a fortuitous outcome that cannot really be ascribed to the efficacy of Israeli deterrence policy.

Accordingly, it is difficult to refute the recent cocky taunts of Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, that “Every time an Israeli official refers to Hezbollah’s growing power, he admits Israeli defeat in the summer of 2006”.  Well, at least if not defeat, denial of victory.

Indeed, just how appallingly the Second Lebanon War was conducted can be judged by the fact that, according to Israeli estimates, the number of missiles liable to rain down on Israel in any future confrontation with Hezbollah is somewhere between 1000 to 1500 a day—ten times that which fell in the previous war, and which kept millions of Israelis huddling in shelters for weeks on end.  Now imagine an assault ten-fold larger, factoring in the greater accuracy and greater explosive power of the missiles today—coupled with a possible auxiliary attack from Gaza…  

These are the bitter fruits that conflict management has produced.

There but for the grace of God…

Against this grim backdrop in Lebanon, the developing realities in Syria must be taken into consideration: The deployment of Russian forces and the growing dominance of the Iranian presence in the country.

If the ominous developments in Lebanon can, in large measure, be ascribed to the flaccid policies of the Olmert government; in Syria, they are due  to those of the Obama administration.

The former,  shackled to its political doctrine of territorial concession and compromise, could not take the necessary and timely action to bring Hezbollah to its knees in a humiliating defeat—and end the fighting with a white flag of surrender over the Hezbollah positions and Hezbollah combatants being led into Israeli captivity.

The latter, unshackled from a traditional view of American national interest, created a vacuum into which Russia and Iran inserted themselves. Of course, the Iranian activity in Syria (and elsewhere) has been greatly facilitated by the appallingly naïve (or is that nefarious?) agreement orchestrated by the Obama administration in July 2015 over Tehran’s nuclear program, which greatly empowered the Iranian theocracy, enriched it economically and entrenched it politically.

One of the many menacing aspects of this is that the strong Iranian presence in Syria will allow the deployment of its proxies—including Hezbollah—along the border in the Golan, effectively increasing the length of the front along which Israel will have to confront such forces in any future military encounter.

All this should cause us to shudder with dread at the thought that, had the “enlightened” voices of moderation, reason and understanding of the “Other”, carried the day, and Israel had withdrawn from the Golan, all these perils would be perched on the heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the city of Tiberias and much of northern Israel.

There but for the grace of God…

Backing away vs. backing into confrontations

For several years now I have been warning against clear and present dangers inherent in conflict management—cautioning that it is little more than “kicking the can down the road” into a risk fraught future.  I expressed growing concern that by adopting a policy of avoiding confrontations. which Israel could win, the government  may well back the nation  into a confrontation so severe that it may not—or only do so at devastating cost.

Now, faced with a prospect of thousands of rockets (many accurate and high explosive) being launched daily against Israel  along two possible fronts – an extended one in the north and one in the south; faced with the threat of an array of yet to be discovered terror tunnels—both in the north and the south; with these forces operating under the auspices of near-by Iranian troops and with the possibly inhibiting presence of Russia in the region,  we can only hope that such a crucial confrontation is not upon us.

But  should such a conflict erupt, our fervent wish must  be that the  IDF is not tempted to attempt to “manage” it, but be true to the declared aims of the “Or Hadagan” drill–and strive for unequivocal victory in it…


Putin Holds the Key to the Golan

The pervading assumption is that Vladamir Putin, Russia’s President was willing to work with Israel.  Afterall every time there has been a near conflict of interest between Israel and Russia, Bibi Netanyahu and Putin have met to smooth it out. This was the appearance this past week between the two leaders in the Russian resort city of Sochi.

Reports indicated that Prime Minister Netanyahu did indeed lay out red lines for Putin on Iran’s approach to the Golan, but these red lines have already been obliterated as Arab and Israeli media report that Iranian special forces have taken up positions on the Golan border.  According to reports Iran had asked for this allowance as payback for helping Russia stabilize Syria.

This ultimately means that Israel’s North is now surrounded by Hezbollah and Iran under Russian protection.

Russia as the Keymaster

Voices are being raised in Israel for a preemptive strike to knock out Iranian positions East of the Israeli Golan,  but Russian troops positioned there are providing cover for the Iranian militias and Hezbollah.  Israel has little choice but to either take a chance in opening a wider war between Russian backed Iranian militias, Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime or beg for Russia to force these troops back.

Putin understands Israel’s predicament and will want something in exchange for this move. The only question for Israel will be whether his price is too high.

The coming days will be critical in determining Israel’s next course of action. As Iran strengthens its position on the Golan, Israel may have no choice but to knock out these troops before they become to many to quickly get rid of.

A Deal in the Works?

Yet, in the “Great Game” of the Middle East, there is still time for Putin to give Israel a free hand to rid himself and Israel of Iran by allowing the IAF to wipe out the nascent Iranian positions near Israel. Doing so would send a message to Iran not to approach the Golan and would convey Putin’s view that Iran’s partnership can be terminated whenever he deems fit.

Given the present fluid situation, it impossible to predict the next steps, but what is clear is that the region is fast approaching a point of no return.