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Israel made headlines for its support of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in their fight against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. This support included frequently bombed Syrian targets (and here and here) as well as providing funding, food and fuel to Syrian rebels. This seeming paradox is explained by the quarter century long hostility toward Iran that is at the center of Israeli foreign policy, which is now increasingly driving Israel and the U.S. into an unlikely alliance with Saudi Arabia, the Sunni kingdom that also single mindedly views Iran as its regional enemy.

Sima Shine, who is in charge of Iran in Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, confirmed that Israel’s involvement in Syria was due to this regional power struggle when she explained that weighing whether or not to remove Assad from power, one should weigh in the impact his removal would have on Iran. “The ‘devil we know’ is worse than the devil we don’t,” she said, adding that the Israeli security community believes that keeping Assad in power is worse than removing him.

Israel hoped to see at least three things accomplished by the war in Syria. It wanted to see the Iranian umbilical cord cut from a devastated and divided Syria. It wanted to see Iran lose an ally and be further weakened and isolated. And it hoped to see Hezbollah impoverished and mired in the Vietnam like quagmire of Syria.

Israel as a Saudi proxy in the conflict with Iran.(Image: Carlos Latuff)

It got none of those things. But the war isn’t over. Because Israel’s war wasn’t against Syria, it was against Iran. That Hezbollah and Iran are on Israel’s borders is only a problem if Israel and its allies leave Hezbollah and Iran on Israel’s borders. And the pattern of events over the past few days reveal a strategy to turn the gun sights on Hezbollah and Iran. Israel backed the Islamic State over Assad to target Iran. It didn’t work. So, now they will target Hezbollah to target Iran.

Recently, two mysterious events illuminated the pattern that revealed Hezbollah in the Israeli’s sights. The first was the mysterious resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri. Speaking from Saudi Arabia, Hariri claimed his resignation was catalyzed by fear of an Iranian-Hezbollah assassination. But there was no plot to assassinate Hariri. The Lebanese army said “it had not uncovered any plans for assassinations in Lebanon.” So, why resign?

The clue may be provided by Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan who expressed Saudi Arabia’s desire for “toppling Hizbullah.” He promised that “The coming developments will definitely be astonishing”. He said that the desire was not just his own, and that people “will see what will happen in the coming days.”

The astonishing thing that happened is the resignation of Hariri in the midst of a Saudi royal purge of princes and powerful people. The resignation came just one day after a meeting in Beirut with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Kahmenei that was reportedly very positive. Velayati praised Hariri and reaffirmed Iran’s support for his coalition government. The Saudis say Hariri resigned because Hezbollah had “hijacked” his coalition government.

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, says that the resignation was “imposed on Prime Minister Hariri” by the Saudis. Nasrallah says that Hezbollah did not want Hariri to resign. Hezbollah has been a part of Hariri’s coalition government for almost a year. Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, seems to share Nasrallah’s suspicion, insisting that he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until Hariri returns to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia because his “resignation must be voluntary”. There has even arisen in Lebanon suspicion that Hariri is being held under house arrest. Top Lebanese officials have now said that this is the belief of Lebanon. A senior politician who is apparently close to Hariri says that the Saudis ordered him to resign and has placed him under house arrest. Another person familiar with the situation has also said that Saudi Arabia is limiting and controlling his movement. On November 10, President Aoun told a meeting of foreign ambassadors that Hariri has been “kidnapped.”

Israel seems to have applauded Saudi Arabia’s Lebanese intervention. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and his statements are a wake-up call for the international community to act against Iranian aggression.” Netanyahu referred to an Israeli-Saudi alliance when he said that Iran was driving Israel into cooperative arrangements with what he called “the modern Sunni states.” He referred to “a new alliance between Israel and Islamic states.” “The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before. It is something that I would have never expected in my lifetime,” Netanyahu added. Though he says he never would have expected it, it is the same message he delivered nine months ago when he said “. . . for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but, increasingly, as an ally.” According to reporting by Israel’s Channel 10, a leaked classified cable from the Israeli foreign ministry to Israeli ambassadors reveals that Israel ordered them to support Saudi Arabia’s efforts and to rally support for Hariri’s resignation.

Iran has also suggested that Donald Trump and the United States approves of, and was even involved in, the Lebanese intervention. The royal purge and the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister came days after Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia on a trip that was not made known publicly.

While the alliance against Iran refocussed its sights on Hezbollah in Lebanon, it was simultaneously doing the same in Yemen. On November 5, Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi forces in Yemen. The missile was intercepted by Saudi Arabia’s American manufactured Patriot missile defense system. The Saudis accused Iran of providing the missile and ordering the attack. They then accused Hezbollah of assembling and firing the missile. Saudi Arabia has called the actions of Iran and Hezbollah an “act of war.”

The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, called the charge against Iran “baseless,” as did Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo. Even Saudi officials were calling the missile a Yemeni Burqan 2H missile when it was intercepted. The Houthis say that it was they who fired the missile. They say it was a response to a previous Saudi attack that killed 26 people.

Nonetheless, based solely on information provided by Saudi Arabia, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley called on the U.N. to hold Iran accountable for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions by supplying the missile. She called on the U.N. to take “necessary action” against Iran. The Saudi ambassador informed the U.N. that Saudi Arabia was “taking appropriate measures to respond to these terrorist acts.”

These two fictions—the voluntary resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and the Saudi accusations over the Yemeni missile—form a pattern that reveals Hezbollah as the potential new target in the Israeli-Saudi-U.S. war on Iran now that targeting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has failed.

Ted Snider

Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in U.S. foreign policy and history. His work has appeared in, ConsortiumNews, and other places.

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18 Responses

  1. marc b. on November 14, 2017, 3:28 pm

    see moon of alabama on recent release of memorandum on saudi duplicity re: palestine. for what it’s worth, SA allegedly is giving up on support of right of return (and then some) in exchange for action on iran.

  2. Bumblebye on November 14, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Robert Fisk is also certain Hariri’s resignation is a Saudi put-up job. He takes that from the delivery of the speech and the Saudi-styled Arabic (rather than Lebanese style). Hariri, being a dual national (SaudiLebanese) was summoned to a meeting with the king. Flew there, did that, couple days later, summoned to another meeting, then the resignation.

    Almost the same time-frame, we’ve had (UK) the blow-up of a diplomatic storm over Boris Johnson’s comments about British/Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff. About a year and a half ago she took her infant daughter on an extended family visit to Iran. Arrested and imprisoned as some kind of spy. After being told the usual keep your head down, we’re doing what we can for several months, her husband Richard Ratcliff, began taking to the airwaves to broadcast her plight and try to get some positive action. Pretty much banging his head against a brick wall. The politicians gave themselves a get-out clause as she’s a dual national. Yet suddenly, when this proxy-war is being planned, Boris can endanger her further by claiming she was teaching journalists? And then his side-kick Michael Gove throws oil on the fire, claiming not to know why she was there – after iranian judiciary have taken Boris at his word and increased her sentence. In my opinion all very deliberate and an attempt to manipulate and inflame UK public opinion against iran. Doing so would be well received by CFI and tory donors as well as israel, also by Saudi as major customer of british arms who May’s government are anxious to please.

  3. Misterioso on November 15, 2017, 11:01 am

    Surely, there can be no doubt that the forced creation of the anachronistic, racist, fascistic, militaristic, expansionist, ethnic cleanser, illegal occupier entity known as “Israel” was and remains the number one geopolitical blunder of the post WWII era.

  4. James Canning on November 15, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Is Nikki Haley a stooge of Biibi Netanyahu?

  5. Elizabeth Block on November 15, 2017, 5:41 pm

    “Iran has also suggested that Donald Trump and the United States approves of, and was even involved in, the Lebanese intervention. The royal purge and the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister came days after Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia.”

    Remember how Indonesia invaded and took over East Timor a few days after a visit from President Ford? Anyone want to bet that Ford didn’t give them permission? Ditto the Saudis.

  6. Ossinev on November 16, 2017, 10:12 am

    “So, now they will target Hezbollah to target Iran”

    I assume that targeting Hezbollah means carpet bombing Lebanon in its entirety having carefully excluded all civilian locations and infrastructures with the exception of the 100 % which are being deployed as “human shields”. Zioland doesn`t do “wars” any more just the occasional remote and totally safe aerial bombing to satisfy egos and blood lusts. The last” war” they attempted in Lebanon in 2006 left them with severely bloodied noses and a sense of oh shit this for real. Unlike the 8 year olds in the West banks refugee camps at 3.00 am these Hezbollah people are well trained battle hardened increasingly well armed AND they fight back big time and OMG we suffer casualties ( all that and we can`t bear to think of all those real missiles as opposed to Hamas firecrackers targeting Tel Aviv and OMG the thought of it our beloved Dimona ).

    Yes I am sure that all these brainwashed braindead Zio conscripts are really looking forward to a proper ground war as in fouling their underwear.

    The big problem with Fascists who have had victories in the distant past is that they believe in their own invincibility and Zio Israelis really do believe that nothing has really changed since 1973(and even then they needed a massive arms infusion from big buddy to prevent a disaster).

  7. Ozma on November 16, 2017, 1:12 pm

    America needs to end its “alliance” with Israel before it Israel ends America. A gory war with Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Russia and China at best will turn America into an impoverished third world country and at worst into a post-apocalyptic ash heap. Any Americans left standing will definitely not be pro-Zionist.

    Jews with loved ones in Israel need to take a hard look at the billionaires and neocons who are making the decisions on Israel’s upcoming war with Lebanon. This is also a war with Syria, Iran, possibly China, and probably Russia. Do these billionaires and neocons, who don’t live in Israel, have the self-restraint to stop their war before Israel turns into a burning bunker or are they dreaming of some Euphrates-to-Nile fantasy, atomic arsenals be damned?

    Let’s cope with some facts. America does not have the power to defeat Russia. It can only commit suicide with Russia. Israel can be destroyed by a single atomic bomb. These days atomic bombs can be made small enough to be carried in a suit case. Creating armies of enemies by waging perpetual wars with their neighbors will only increase the likelihood that someone will arrive in Tel Aviv with a suitcase bomb. In this case, Jews in Israel will not be better off than Palestinians in an Israeli prison. Even if a war does not escalate to a nuclear level Israel won’t necessarily be safe. The Hezbollah does have missiles capable of reaching any part of Israel and if Israel invades Lebanon it may use these on Israeli cities. The iron dome is not infallible. It’s easier to design a missile than an perfect anti-missile. See “Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War”.

    Calling everyone else on the planet an anti-Semite won’t change any one of these possibilities. If Israeli Jews want a good chance at survival, they will have to stop Israel’s wars or leave. Holocausts don’t always come for evil enemies; they can come from unrealistic “friends”.

  8. Qualtrough on November 16, 2017, 10:34 pm

    Noodles raises an excellent point. It would only take one effective nuclear weapon to render Israel uninhabitable/non-functional. If Israel maintains its course of continually supporting chaos in the middle east eventually someone is going to succeed in smuggling or lobbing one in and the game is finished. Whoever does that won’t give a hoot about any Samson option. Just one example. If Israel succeeds in getting a war going against Iran, does anyone doubt that there will be Iranians whose sole and overarching goal will be to build a bomb and eradicate Israel? The conditions would be ripe for that in a defeated and chaotic Iran.

  9. DaBakr on November 16, 2017, 10:55 pm

    As usual, the commentators on MW act no differently then Iranian puppets, spewing out gushing support for the arch enemy of the USA as well as Israel. Typical hypocrisy from the far left fringe. Calling supporters of Israel traitors while supporting the terrorist militia controlling Lebanon and its puppet master dictator, ayatollah Khameini. Who is the traitor… Let’s see the immigration figures of ANY westerners let alone other refugees trying to get into Iran or Hezbollah controlled Lebanon.

    • gamal on November 17, 2017, 9:49 am

      “let alone other refugees trying to get into Iran or Hezbollah controlled Lebanon”

      ok, from the pages of the imperial running dogs of the Independent,

      “Iran’s ‘exemplary’ refugee hosting efforts praised by UN
      Iran has sheltered approximately three million Afghans for almost four decades, a success story international officials say is ‘not told enough’ ”

      “the Tehran government still shelters around one million registered Afghans, and up to two million are thought to also be living in the country – making Iran home to the world’s fourth largest refugee population.

      “The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,” Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, told AFP on Wednesday.

      “It’s a story that’s not told often enough.”

    • Atlantaiconoclast on November 17, 2017, 12:18 pm

      what arch enemy? Russia? Iran? Neither are real threats, and neither has any hatred for the US outside of what the US has done to them over the years.

      And FYI, Hezbollah is one of the reasons AQ and ISIS have failed in Syria. You have some nerve calling resistance fighters terrorists.

  10. Ozma on November 17, 2017, 11:04 am

    Dear DaBakr:

    Thank you for your reply, and it’s a sad one. You are telling me that Israel supporters are so deeply involved in “patriotism” that they can’t look at facts even if their own life depends on it.

    The lives of all of the people in Israel depend on whether or not missiles come home to roost. Face it–anyone who is shouting “bomb Damascus” or “bomb Tehran” is also shouting “bomb Tel Aviv”. Israel is on the edge of a war with Russia. This is a war that Israel and America can’t possibly win.

    Your response to us contained some masterful insults, but it didn’t answer any crucial questions. Will a war with Russia and Syria become a nuclear war? Will the Hezbollah use the missiles it has to bomb Tel Aviv? Will Israel’s continuous wars eventually result in an atomic suitcase bomb?

    If Israel wants to survive, it is going to have to start thinking of conflict resolution. You are telling me it can’t.

  11. Ozma on November 17, 2017, 11:59 am

    I wouldn’t call the neocons who make decisions about Israel’s wars traitors, but I would say they think like a Fukushima engineer.

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