Counter terrorism today 04/09/2017
This edition of Counter Terrorism Today is titled Israel and its Neighbours in the Middle…
Dan Diker interviewed (via telephone) Dr. Nir Boms who is one of the greatest experts on Syria in the Middle East, a research fellow at the ICT and at the Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern studies at Tel Aviv University; Mr. Meir Javedanfar, a leading authority in Israel on Iran, a lecturer in contemporary Iranian politics at the Lauder School of Government at Reichman University, Herzliya; and (in studio guest) Dr. Hayim Iserovich the foreign affairs reporter for the Israeli Ma’ariv Newspaper.
The interview began with addressing the urgency of the recent meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Iserovich explained the urgency of the meeting was due to the situation near the Syrian border. The new status quo taking shape in Syria involving new weapon factories, revolutionary guards and bringing arms to Hezbollah is limiting Israel’s ability to respond, creating concern for Israel.
A new topic was then raised; how is Iran achieving the fulfilment of their foreign policy and what does the regime want? Mr. Javedanfar confirmed the continuous success of their foreign policy dream whilst pro-republic Iranian citizens simultaneously prevent the downfall of the regime. They believe that to protect and sustain the revolution and Hezbollah they need to maintain a presence in Syria by confronting Israel and America’s allies in the region.
Furthermore, the topic of Israel’s red line policy was discussed and Iserovich supported this as a means of creating deterrence. Another question directed at Boms asked his opinion on the fragile relationship between Russia and Israel. Israel has shot at Syria many times under the watchful eyes of the Russians. Israel has also warned Syria of their zero tolerance towards the conflict advancing closer to the Israeli border. Boms spoke of the important mechanism as a means for safeguarding each-others interests. Until now this system proves effective; the future is uncertain, however, it appears both leaders want to ensure the continuation of this type of collaboration.
Javedanfar commented on the friendly alliance between Russia and Iran as a complicated and convenient relationship. The Iranians serve as an important purpose for the Russians whereby they are providing over 20,000 militias to fight on the ground in Syria. Whilst simultaneously, Iran needs the strength of the Russian air force. Javedanfar claimed that the truth of this relationship will not be exposed until the Syrian war is over.
Iran thrives off chaos worldwide – Javedanfar agreed and noted, that for the Iranian constitution, it is more important to save the Islamic Republic than anything else and posed that any strategic mistake made by Iran in Syria, could lead to one of the biggest and costly mistakes of the Islamic Republic. If such a mistake occurs, the next war between Israel and Hezbollah could extend directly into Iran and directly into terror.
What is the likelihood that it can lead to a regional war? Iserovich argued that it is a possibility and likened this situation to the current Korean crisis.
What role do the Americans play in this whole crisis? Iserovich explained their role as minor compared to the Russians and emphasised the Russian’s presence and power in the Middle East and claimed that only if the conflict is exacerbated, will the American presence be seen. The question of an internal change of power in Iran was raised, to which Jevedanfar disagreed, arguing that despite rising tension between the regime and pro-freedom Iranian citizens. When asked will there be an independent Syrian Kurdistan, Boms’ response described the Kurds as the problematic side, whereby the Syrians and the Russians do not support an independent Syrian Kurdistan.