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Saturday, January 19, 2013
Amir Rapaport: Our Situation Has Never Been More Complicated

Our Situation Has Never Been More Complicated
Will 2013 be a good or bad year in defense for Israel? Several
clarifications on the eve of Israel's elections

Amir Rapaport 18/1/2013
http://www.israeldefense.com/?CategoryID=483&ArticleID=1913

The main characteristics of the regional situation picture at the start of
2013 are an absence of stability (since 2011) and complexity. Therefore, the
claim that Israel’s strategic situation has improved is simplistic (not to
say expressly: incorrect).

Let us start with the good news: the analysis recently presented by the
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is accurate with regards to at least two
issues. Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis has indeed weakened considerably in the
past year due to the Syrian civil war; and the pragmatism displayed by the
Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt (and its influence on Hamas in Gaza) is
encouraging and even very surprising. In the short range, there is no danger
of war against a regular army following the disintegration of the Syrian
military, and due to the internal affairs in which Egypt finds itself
immersed.

Now for the not so good news: the main reason Hezbollah has been holding its
fire since the Second Lebanon War is not Israeli deterrence, but rather a
strategic decision by Iran not to let Hebzollah get into trouble in any
entanglement with Israel until “judgment day.” Iran strengthened Hezbollah’s
strength in recent years, but only as a threat to Israel’s home front, for
the day that it is attacked. This threat is not like the weapon arsenal
possessed by Hassan Nasrallah in 2006, nor is it like Hamas’ fire from Gaza
during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Hezbollah’s weapon stockpiles include missiles with warheads of hundreds of
kilograms and precision of up to dozens of meters. Meanwhile, Iran is
advancing towards acquiring a nuclear weapon according to its strategy. Next
spring, it can announce the suspension of the uranium enrichment, thus
neutralizing any option for an attack against it (the short route to a bomb
will be continued far from the eyes of the UN inspectors, even if it takes
several years). There should be no mistake: even if an attack eventually
occurs, Iran and Hezbollah are capable of attacking Israel with heavy
weaponry, at a scope that the Iron Dome and Arrow systems will find it
difficult to confront.

The situation in Egypt is not encouraging either: when the Muslim
Brotherhood establishes its rule, it might gradually dissolve the peace
treaty with Israel, and even gradually become an enemy again. The situation
in Jordan is not stable, and the possibility of the collapse of the
Hashemite rule is no less than a defense nightmare from Israel’s
perspective. The situation in Syria might be encouraging in the long range
(if a moderate Sunni government will be established after Assad), but in the
short range, the instability might lead to terror attacks and even the fire
of missiles towards Israel. What about the Judea and Samaria region? There a
wave of popular terror has begun, in part due to the growing perception in
the Palestinian street that the path of struggle against Israel is the
correct path.

Worst of all is the fact that Israel’s strategic support, the US, is no
longer the only all-capable superpower as in the past. Furthermore, for the
first time in decades, Israel does not even have one significant ally in the
Middle East (after initially losing Iran, and later Turkey and Egypt). Is
there anyone in Israel that wouldn’t want to return the situation in the
region back by at least a few years? Perhaps only in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs.

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