Iranian and Syrian Leaders Dig in Their Heels


by Sarah Ann Haves

Iran’s continued partnership with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and Iran’s determination to reach nuclear capability, has thrown the Middle East into mounting regional turmoil.

Increased instability in Syria poses a major security threat to Israel. As Assad’s power weakens, Israeli leaders are uncertain which religious sectarian powers will take control of Syria’s government and fill the vacuum.

Israel does not want to see an increased presence of Iranian officials in Syria, who could, potentially, take control of Assad’s strategic biological and chemical weapons plants. Israeli leaders are already worried by reports that Hezbollah terrorist groups are moving Syria’s mass weapons arsenals across the border into Lebanon.

While events on the ground heat-up in Syria, an unprecedented number of senior level U.S. officials have been visiting Israel in recent weeks. Speculations are that they are coordinating every possible military move that Israel might make towards a future strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Arab states are siding mostly with the West.

In addition, Iranian saber-rattling in the Gulf region is causing a rise in oil markets, threatening an already uncertain global economy. Iran recently docked two Iranian warships at a Syrian naval base. Iran has been accused of lending military support to Assad’s government forces.

The Syrian conflict is widening the rift between Assad’s allies (Iran, Russia, and China) and Western nations. Arab states are siding mostly with the West.

There is further evidence that the current upheaval in the Middle East may lead to a new confrontation between Sunni and Shiite forces for control in the region.

IRAN’S NUCLEAR PURSUIT AND THE U.S.- ISRAEL STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP

A recent visit to Iran by inspectors with the UN International Atomic Energy (IAEA) intensified concerns that Iran has sharply increased uranium enrichment capability. The IAEA admitted failure in its goal to seek evidence of Iran’s research and development of nuclear weapons. Iran would not allow inspectors in to some of the most hidden facilities within the country that are, reportedly, nuclear military plants.

Whether Israel will initiate a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, with or without the help of a U.S. led Western coalition (including Arab States), is still not clear. Media speculations have hit an all-time high that Western leaders are trying to talk Israel out of launching such a strike over the next few months. To add to the speculation, U.S. officials have suggested in interviews with international media outlets that it would be unwise for Israel to attack Iran.

While there have been accusations that the U.S. is trying to dictate Israel’s every move, American Jewish leaders insist that the two allies share compatible strategies. They also hope that the U.S. will be perceived as a strong and influential leader in the Middle East.

During a recent meeting in Jerusalem of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, several leaders gave their assessments on Iran, Syria, and the current complexities in the Middle East. Israeli Ambassador Avi Gil, a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute spoke of the regional problems, as well as Israel’s strategic relationship with the U.S.

“The dust is not going to settle in the Middle East very soon. But, still I think we can observe some of the important revelations with impact…Part of Israel's strategic might, in the eyes of the countries in the Middle East has to do with our bonding and friendship with America. And, if America is seen as weakening, it would have a negative affect at the way they look at us."

Dr. Eran Lerman, Deputy Director of Israel’s National Security Council explained that, despite what is being reported, Israel is not seen as a risk to the U.S. Administration. ”The recognition of Israel's value as an asset is, I think, bipartisan and broad, and well-entrenched in this administration as in past administrations."

Regardless of the supposition as to what is going on behind the scenes between Israeli and U.S. government leaders, the expectation is that Israel is preparing for a strike against Iran, whether it will use this option or not.

Reports indicate that Iran has nuclear military operations being conducted out of Fordow, Natanz, Parchin, Isfahan, Bushehr and Arak. These six nuclear facilities pose the greatest threat to Israel out of approximately 25 other facilities than are being used for Iran’s atomic program.

Analysts question how successful Israel would be at knocking out Iran’s nuclear installations, with the use of the most advanced fighter jets carrying powerful bunker buster bombs. Israel’s successful strike in 2007 of a secret Syrian nuclear reactor, as well as its 1981 strike against an Iraqi reactor, has set a precedent that Israel will not stand by idly when there is a serious threat to the Jewish State. This has been a concern for U.S. President Barack Obama, in an election year, when oil markets are already skittish, and the price of gasoline may go up as high as $4 per gallon by the summer of 2012. European leaders have joined in the chorus of dissenting views regarding the possibility of a direct Israeli conflict with the current Iranian regime.

At the Jerusalem meeting, Iranian expert Uri Lubrani, who is with the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs, implied that the West is being duped by Iran’s perceived strength.

"The regime in Iran is weak, and much weaker than we tend to believe. We are also, all of us, victims to their propaganda and grand standings. They are aces in make-believe. They are aces in leading people down the wrong path. They delude themselves that they will be able to survive what they now see in front of their eyes. And, they realize their time is up. This is my feeling."

Lubrani believes that there will be regime change in Iran, just as in Syria, and he hopes that it will come before Iran reaches nuclear capability.

SYRIA’S ON-GOING REVOLUTION

The current revolt by opposition forces in Syria could turn into a civil war followed by a religious war between Sunnis, Shiites, and the Alawites, which could then spread across the Middle East into a regional conflict.

Uncertainty of how to bring down Assad, without causing greater regional instability, has led to an impasse by Western nations and the Arab League. They have not been able to take significant action to stop Assad. While thousands of Syrians have lost their lives over the past year, little has been done to restrain Assad’s regime from killing those Syrians who oppose his rule. A divided UN Security Council has been unable to intervene militarily, and the Arab League, until now, has been unwilling.

Lubrani spoke of the deplorable conditions in Syria. He would like to see more global outrage regarding the loss of human life in Syria. He also declared that the Iranian regime is as determined as the Syrian regime to crush any opposition to its rule.

...China has accused the West of stirring up civil war...

Syrian President Bashar Assad took power after his father Hafez Assad died 11 years ago. The current bloody revolt has been a challenge to his leadership. Assad has, recently, been forcing the Syrian people into a referendum vote on drafting a new constitution for Syria. There’s been little interest in cooperating with the embattled leader who most Syrians think will try to stay in power for another two terms after his current term expires in 2014. That could mean an extended rule until 2028.

Meanwhile, China has accused the West of stirring-up civil war, implying that Syrian opposition forces are being supported by the West in an effort to bring down the Assad regime. China does not want to see foreign armed forces intervening in the Syrian crisis.

The hope among Western leaders, and Israel, is that both the Syrian and Iranian people will soon see regime change in their nations that will bring future stability and peace. But, the likelihood of that happening anytime soon seems dim, while the prospect of a regional war developing is ever increasing.

 

 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; And, all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” Luke 3:4-5 
   

Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.

(c) 2012 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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