ANALYSIS: Israel and US Working Against Growing Iranian Missile Threat
Israel and the US determined to block completion of Iranian land corridor from Tehran to the Golan Heights
While the international community continues issuing condemnations about the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights it becomes increasingly clear that the measure is related to Iran’s activities in Syria.
Earlier this week, US officials told Investigative reporter Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon that “the Trump administration’s recent recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights territory is part of a larger effort by the White House to open new fronts in efforts to combat Iranian militants and terror proxies in the region.”
While EU commissioner for foreign affairs Frederica Mogherini claimed that the American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights did not constitute a “solution” for the conflict over the ownership of the mountainous plateau, the Trump Administration begs to differ.
“This decision is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and the stability of the Middle East,” an unnamed White House official told Kredo.
“To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the threats emanating from a Syrian regime that engages in atrocities and from Iran and terrorist actors, including Hezbollah, seeking to use the Golan Heights as a launching ground for attacks on Israel,” the official added.
“This administration, unlike previous administrations, is willing to acknowledge the reality that there can be no comprehensive peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel’s security needs in the Golan Heights,” another White House official said.
Highlighting the radically changed situation on Israel’s north-eastern border where Iran has been staging cross-border missile attacks over the past year the official said “the president’s statement on the Golan reflects a recognition of the unique circumstances that make it appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty at this time.”
These “unique circumstances” include Iran’s belligerent activities in Lebanon, Iraq and Gaza where the Islamic Republic is constantly trying to keep the war of attrition against Israel going.
At the same time, Iran’s missile threat against Israel is growing by the day as we will see.
Let’s first take a look at the situation in Gaza where Egyptian mediators are still trying to establish a long-term truce between Israel and the ruling terrorist organization Hamas.
Hamas claims that the parties are close to signing such a truce, something that has been denied by Israel.
The Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), however, through its proxy IslamicJihad in Gaza is doing everything it can to prevent the implementation of a truce between the sides.
Islamic Jihad was responsible for the missile barrage that hit southern Israel after the Israeli army retaliated to the missile attack that destroyed a house in Moshav Mishmeret north of Tel Aviv with a long-range rocket almost two weeks ago.
The same happened when two missiles ‘accidently’ were lobbed at Tel Aviv two weeks before the attack on Mishmeret.
Islamic Jihad (IJ) immediately issued a statement declaring its readiness for war with Israel while Hamas tried to avoid an escalation by condemning the IJ provocation and by publicly stating that the rocket attacks were an attempt to drag the sides into war and had to be stopped.
Islamic Jihad’s increasing influence in Gaza is the work of its new commander Ziad Nakhallah who is very close to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
Nakhallah has sped up the transformation of IJ into a Hezbollah-styled fighting force and is stirring up violence in Gaza all the time.
The terror organization has no financial problems since it is wholly funded by Iran and is trying to take over Gaza in order to escalate the war against Israel.
When Hamas was trying to de-escalate the situation along the Israeli border last week Islamic Jihad issued a statement threatening Israel with war if it would kill Palestinian Arabs participating in the so-called Land Day protests along the Gaza Israel border last Saturday.
As for Lebanon, Israel again revealed that Iran, together with Hezbollah has completed the construction of an underground production facility for precision missiles.
The existence of the new missile facility in Lebanon was reportedly one of the issues discussedduring last week’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo reportedly warned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Iran’s activities could lead to a new disaster for Lebanon because Israel would not sit on its hands and could take military action to eliminate the growing threat from Iran in Lebanon.
Then there is the increasing long-distance missile threat to Israel from Iranian soil.
Over the past few months Iran has conducted several tests with intercontinental ballistic missiles (IBM’s) which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. All attempts to launch these missiles failed, however.
Iran apparently doesn’t adhere to UN Security Council resolution 2231 which calls on the Islamic Republic “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches.”
However, the tests with the IBM’s and several new revelations about Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate the Islamic Republic is feverishly working to make “strategic leap” in its missile program, as deputy commander Hossein Salami called it.
Indeed, on February 2, 2019, it revealed the Hoveizeh cruise missile, a variant of the existing Soumar missile (itself a copy of Russia’s Kh-55 nuclear cruise missile), according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The Hoveizeh has a range of 1350 kilometer according to the IRGC almost double the reach of the Soumar missile and is capable of carrying a much larger warhead.
Since the Hoveizeh is a cruise missile it can be stationed on Iran’s fleet of submarines and threaten Israel from the Mediterranean Sea.
A successful test which was conducted in the Persian Gulf showed the missile struck its targets 1200 kilometers away with extreme accuracy according to Amir Khatami Iran’s Defense Minister.
Also at the beginning of February, Iran unveiled the second generation of the Khoramsharh ballistic missile.
The KhoramSharh-2 missile reportedly has a manoeuvrable warhead which makes it a precision missile. The missile has a range of 2000 km which allows it to hit targets in all of Israel while it is capable of carrying several three-ton warheads.
Then there was the sudden revelation of a new Iranian underground missile factory in February.
The production line of the IRGC facility assembles the Delzal ballistic precision missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers and could reach northern Israel. If deployed in northern Iraq or Syria the Delzal could hit any target in Israel.
As for the Iranian missile threat from Iraq, the fact that the Iranian proxy Hash al Shaabi, an umbrella organisation of Iranian-founded Shiite militias, is currently taking control over northern Iraq and is in the possession of ballistic missiles is a source of concern for Israel as well.
The missiles have already been used against the Kurds in Syria and against the Islamic State jihadist terror group and could be used against Israel in a future missile war.
To prevent Iran from carrying out transports of troops and missiles from the border with Iraq all the way to the Golan Heights the US has now decided to keep more troops in Syria than originally had been planned.
The US military is currently reinforcing its bases in Iraq and Syria with more troops arriving in Kirkuk in northern Iraq and at the at-Tanf base in eastern Syria on the border of Iraq.
Both Israel and the United States are determined to prevent the completion of the Iranian land corridor from Tehran to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.