Tuesday, March 31, 2015

31-Mar-15: The other Iran, the one with less need of Swiss hotel rooms and press conferences

One of a collection of snapshots published in December 2014 on an
Iranian military website under the headline "We come..." depicts
uniformed Iranian soldiers touring southern Lebanon, close to the
border with Israel [Iranian source]
Israel, and especially our country's border zone, is often described as tense.

This might seem odd so long as no actual shooting or rocket firing is taking place. Some might seet it as paranoia, maybe even war-mongering.

But it's less so to Israelis. Many of us understand that the general level of a population's anxiety is a function of the extent to which real and physical threats are reported. If you don't know they are there, or choose to look in the other direction, you may feel more relaxed.

But that does not mean there are no enemies, or that they are not deployed out there.

Here's part of a chilling news report about our northern border ("Iranian troops advance towards Israeli border") from yesterday's Times of London:
Iran is close to putting its forces on Israel’s northeast border for the first time, as its allies crush rebel groups in the Golan Heights area of Syria. The prospect of Iranian troops being posted on a frontier that has been calm for decades is causing alarm in Israel, and comes as international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions near a climax.
“Iran will be so close to the Israelis that it will no longer need long-range missiles to hit them,” said Abu Ali, a fighter with Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah organisation who has served multiple combat tours in Syria...
Mortar fire and heavy machineguns are audible daily from the area as Hezbollah fights Syrian rebel forces, some of them aligned with al-Qaeda.
Israel assesses that the Syrian government army, apart from some artillery units, is largely exhausted. With its best divisions stationed around Damascus, the Assad regime is now leaving the fight in the south to Iran and its proxies. A spokesman for the Syrian rebel forces in southern Syria, Major Issam el-Rayyes, said that 80 per cent of a 5,000-strong force attacking rebels around the Golan Heights were Iranian-backed militias, including Hezbollah, but also Shia fighters from Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
The offensive into the southern region of Daraa and Quneitra, bordering the Golan Heights, began in February. It is the first time that Iranian forces have operated openly in southern Syria.
Same Iranian, same Lebanon/Israel border
“Iran is on the march, its proxies are taking territory,” an Israeli official said.
Abu Ali confirmed that Iranian troops were on the ground. “We are taking the area square by square until we reach the border with Israel.” ...From August to October last year, rebel groups gained territory along the southern half of the Golan Heights adjacent to the Israeli line, leaving only one village in the northern border area under Syrian government control.
Israel has offered medical assistance to more than a thousand wounded Syrian rebels and civilians, in a medical centre in the town of Zefat — but the Assad regime has accused Israel of going beyond humanitarian aid, and providing rebels with weapons, ammunition, communications equipment and tactical intelligence. This pragmatic decision to be a “good neighbour” to Syrian rebels — even though some elements are affiliated to al-Qaeda — appears to be aimed at countering the more pressing threat from Iran.
Abu Ali said that, over the past year, a military infrastructure of bunkers and tunnels had been constructed in parts of the Golan Heights under the Assad regime control — echoing the facilities Hezbollah built in south Lebanon before a month-long war with Israel in 2006. “We are almost ready,” he said.On January 18, Israeli drones targeted a convoy of vehicles near Quneitra, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing an Iranian general and six Hezbollah fighters. The highly unusual attack was interpreted as a forceful message to Iran to stay away from the Golan Heights. It appears to have fallen on deaf ears...
Is it paranoia if they say at every opportunity they really are out to attack your home and community? And they have colossal means of doing so?

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