Israel Versus Iran: Who Has the Upper Hand?
Israel has dropped the facade and taken credit for airstrikes on Iranian infrastructure in Syria. This has led to a more open military standoff between Iran and Israel. Is it a conflict that Israel can end easily? More at Haaretz.
Israel’s military has slipped below its arch-nemesis Iran in the ranking of military powers, ranking 16 out of 137 countries, according to the international defense site Global Firepower (GFP). It was the third year in a row that Israel fell in the site’s ranking, falling one spot from the previous year and down five spots when it ranked 11th in 2016. Iran, meanwhile, climbed to 13th in 2018 from 20th in 2017.
The Iranians have again fallen into a well-hidden trap laid by Israel: The events of the past two days are an almost exact replica of Operation House of Cards from May 2018. In both cases, the Iranians tried to punish Israel for bombing Revolutionary Guards targets in Syria… The Iranian rockets did not cause any damage, but did provide a pretext as well as legitimacy for what followed: Israel used its own response to the Iranian violation of its sovereignty to eliminate the bulk of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria in one fell swoop. The Iranians fell for Israel’s poker face.
Israel does not have relations with Tehran or Damascus. The United States has little influence on events in Syria, and the recent announcement by the Trump administration of a pull-out has rendered Washington irrelevant. The Netanyahu government has long realized that the key to reducing Iranian influence in Syria is the attainment of cooperation with Russia…The increased tempo of Israeli bombing attacks in Syria, however, has taken its toll on Russian-Israeli relations. In November a Russian spy plane was downed by Syrian anti-air missiles during an Israeli air raid.