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August 27, 2019 4:19 am

Israel Is Besting Iran in the Middle East, at Least For Now

avatar by Eyal Zisser / Israel Hayom / JNS.org

Opinion

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the unveiling ceremony for the domestically built mobile missile defense system Bavar-373, to mark the National Defense Industry Day in Tehran, Aug. 22, 2019. Photo: Official President website / Handout via Reuters.

JNS.orgIsrael managed to thwart a terrorist attack by Iran’s Quds Force on Saturday night. The foiled attack, which was likely to have taken place well within Israeli territory by means of drones, was probably designed to serve as retaliation for alleged Israeli strikes on Iranian assets in Syria and Iraq recently.

It appears that Israel’s success in denying Iran a permanent military presence in Syria, and its successful efforts to target Iran and its allies across the region, has enraged Iran, leading it to take the unusual step of launching the (foiled) terrorist attack.

It seems that Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was so certain the attack would be successful that he may have leaked his plans to an Iranian newspaper, Kayhan.

The paper warned last week that Israel would wake up one day and discover that its population centers had been attacked by Iranian drones. As it turned out, it was Iran that woke up to discover its plans had been thwarted.

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The recent Israeli attack near Damascus was a great military and intelligence success, and sent the message to Iran that its plots will be discovered and thwarted by Israel. This is not enough to stop Iran from carrying out hostile acts, but in this protracted match between Israel and Iran, the former has so far scored more points.

The attack also sent a clear message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian benefactors: Israel will not sit idly by as Iran continues to use Syria as its forward operating base in its struggle against Jerusalem.

Assad still needs Iran, but not as much as before. One might hope that he wakes up one day and decides that he has had enough of the embarrassment that the Shiite militias cause.

Assad might eventually decide to pressure Iran, with Russian backing, to scale back its activity. Israel’s decision to publicly claim responsibility for the attack was probably designed to nudge Damascus and Moscow in that direction.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. A version of this article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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