Sunday, August 10, 2014

Implications for Israel of Obama's new Iraq War

Amos Harel reports on some of the practical benefits and drawbacks to Israel's current government from the Obama Administration decision to resume direct combat in the Iraq War (Islamic State draws heat from Israel - but not for long Haaretz 08/11/2014):

From the Israeli perspective, there’s some public diplomacy benefit here. The world is being somewhat distracted from what’s going on in Gaza, and now Israel is not the only country bombing Islamic extremists. But these are small comforts at best. Europe, in particular, seems to have gotten fed up with the IDF’s operations in Gaza, even as it declares its understanding for Israel’s right to defend itself. And despite the renewal of rocket fire, even the United States is expecting Israel to come to some long-term agreement with Hamas.

The Islamic State's progress has no direct or immediate ramifications for Israeli security, but one can't ignore the indirect effects. Jordan, one of Israel's closest allies in the region, is in a panic – not just because the Islamic State's rampages are liable to bring even more refugees banging on its gates, but because they pose a real threat to its borders. To a great extent, Israel sees the border between Jordan and Iraq as its strategic eastern border. In recent months, the world media has reported extensively on the intelligence and military assistance Israel is providing Jordan, so the latter can cope with threats along its borders with Syria and Iraq.

Another indirect effect relates to the situation in Lebanon. Along with its operations in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State recently seized control of the village of Arsal along the Syrian-Lebanese border. The presence of Sunni extremists there forced the Lebanese Army to deploy units along the border to block their progress, and Hezbollah was also forced to make changes in its military positions. [my emphasis]
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