November 21, 2012
Operation Pillar of Defense: Geopolitical Ramifications – Part 1
Rocket Attacks on Israel: Sirens in Israeli Cities Must Echo in the West
by: Avi Melamed
It is essential to understand that the most current round of rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip onto Israeli cities is yet another chapter in the long War by Proxies imposed on Israel by the Iranian regime.
On many occasions, I have described the militant axis nurtured and operated by the Iranian regime as “the axis of Resistance” (for an example read my article Masters of Chaos: The Iranian Mullah Regime, June 2010). In this article I outlined the mechanisms this axis employs time and again to create violence and instability, and I emphasized that each round brings the region closer to the verge of a massive regional collision.
For years the Iranian regime has caused Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians to bleed. The dozens of thousands of rockets launched at Israeli cities in the previous and most current violent rounds are made in Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards finance, train and provide the proxies who comprise the axis of Resistance with funds, weapons, advanced communication systems and military know-how.
This round may be the last one along the lines of the previous rounds. The next round – which most analysts assume is only a question of time – could take place in a totally different reality in which Iran has a military nuclear capacity.
In such a scenario, the odds for a massive regional collision increase significantly.
In the current round Iran’s major proxy in the region – the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon – who possesses, according to cautious estimates – 60,000 rockets aimed at Israel, is not involved. The reason is that Hezbollah is currently busy trying to rescue Iran’s strategic ally in the region – Assad in Syria.
In my February 2012 article entitled Is war in the Middle East inevitable? I described the connection between the war in Syria and the axis of “Resistance” and I also described the connection between the war in Syria and the Iranian military nuclear project.
Iran encourages these repeating rounds of violence. Their ability to generate constant instability is a card the Iranian regime uses in the face of international pressure and sanctions to improve its maneuverability in developing its nuclear project.
Over the last decades the Iranians have provided Hamas with weapons, military know-how, and funds. From the Iranian perspective, the investment in Hamas was money well spent. Hamas constantly generates violence and instability thus they serve the Iranian interests very well.
However, over the past months Hamas has made a strategic shift. Hamas detached itself from the Syrian-Iranian axis and turned back to the arms of the Arab Sunni world. At the same time, there was an inner-process within Hamas indicating that the more pragmatic wing within the organization is gaining momentum.
Iran is obviously not pleased with Hamas’ shift. Yet, the Iranians never put all their eggs in one basket. They also nurtured and developed additional proxies in the Gaza Strip – the most important one is the Islamic Jihad in Palestine organization (IJP) and there are others including the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). Over the course of time, and mostly following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip, the IJP, PRC and Salafi Jihadist groups grew stronger in the Gaza Strip. Unlike Hamas, whose radical policy is restrained by pragmatic political calculations, these groups are motivated by the concept of fighting Israel anytime any way, regardless of the ramifications.
That difference in priorities is creating a growing tension between Hamas on the one hand and these groups on the other. The current round is a clear example of that reality. The Iranian subcontractor of the most current round of violence is not Hamas. Though Hamas did increase its attacks on Israeli targets – mostly military ones – it was not in its interest to generate an escalation. In fact, Hamas’ attacks could potentially be contained within the mutually agreed upon ground rules between Israel and Hamas, without leading to a further escalation. The escalation was initiated mostly by the IJP and Popular Resistance Committees organizations, and partially by the Salafi Jihadist groups.
I discussed the process of growing tensions between Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip, and the ramifications of that process in my April 2011 article The Gaza Jungle Hamas is Under Stress and Other Predators Smell It.
This violent round between Israel and the Gaza Strip based organizations should be a wake-up call – because it could be the last one – for the international community regarding the enormous negative ramifications of a military nuclear Iran.
It is likely to expect that under a nuclear Iran, the next violent round will be on a much more significant scale. One can only imagine the outcomes of massive rocket attacks launched on Israeli cities both by the Hezbollah from the north and the Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip. The ramifications of such a conflict could spill beyond the region as well.
Senior Israeli leaders emphasize time and time again that an Iranian military nuclear capacity is an unacceptable and existential threat to Israel. The most current violent round will likely strengthen Israeli determination to prevent the realization of that scenario.
The sound of sirens in Israeli cities must echo in the West.