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Trump’s fastest way to Iran might be through Lebanon
The US is keeping itself busy in the regime-change department during the first two months of 2019. While a lot of recent focus has been on Venezuela, the US still maintains a strong anti-Iran stance which cannot go unnoticed.”
The real question then becomes: if the US is sincere in its aim of bringing down the Iranian government and if Europe, Russia, and China are successful in helping Iran elude US-enforced economic sanctions, at which point will the US actually take its military to Tehran for a genuine confrontation?
While the US has threatened war with Iran for decades, even shooting downits civilian aircraft in the process and refusing to apologize for it, the truth is that the US has constantly looked for ways to bring down the Iranian government as an alternative to relying on brute force. A clear example of this is a leaked release from the Hillary Clinton archives which states that the “best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”
This was a nice and hopeful strategy for a while, but after Russia and Iran intervened in support of the Syrian government, the US has essentially found Syria to be a lost cause. Iran has more influence in Syria than it ever would have had if not for the overwhelmingly violent support for the Syrian opposition from the US, NATO countries and the Gulf States, and Russia more-or-less emerged from the rubble of the Syrian battle arena as a major power-broker in the region, leaving the US on the sidelines. Remember that the US is supposedly withdrawing its military from Syria around April this year, further cementing the idea that the US has basically lost any meaningful leverage it has in the war-torn country. (In Vietnam War 2.0 fashion, the American military made sure to make as much of Syriauninhabitable as possible before it voluntarily decided it was time to leave the country, though that is a topic for a separate article).
The US may have lost a meaningful opportunity to confront Iran in Syria, but there is still one other major country in the region which it has not managed to raze to the ground just yet, which can potentially be another route to draw Iran into an open conflict or alternatively, remove (or attempt to remove) yet another key Iranian ally.
Just days ago, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered Iran’s support for the US-backed Lebanese military while speaking to reporters at Beirut’s airport not long after his arrival, having been met by Hezbollah lawmakers at his destination. His controversial comments followedHezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s calls to ask Iran to supply Lebanon with weapons and aerial defense systems to take on Israeli warplanes.
Over the past few years, the US’s steadfast ally Israel has been activelypreparing for a rematch with Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2017, Israel hosted its largest military drill in 20 years, specifically designed to simulate a war with Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon.
In March last year, Israel simulated a multi-front war in which Russia had intervened to protect Syria from Israeli attacks. Such a scenario could only come about as a result of Israel’s true intention to take on Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
Just so we are clear: Israel practiced a full-on invasion of Lebanon, and then ran simulations to prepare for a scenario in which Russia – a nuclear power – had intervened in Syria to protect Syrian forces from Israeli aggression.
In February last year, thousands of US and Israeli troops took part in the biennial “Juniper Cobra” drill which also simulated a “massive ballistic missile attack against Israel” and in turn, the joint US-Israeli response. As far as we know, there is only one country likely capable of launching a massive ballistic missile attack against Israel, and that country is not Iran or Syria.
“According to Israeli intelligence,”Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT told me via email last year, “Hezbollah has lots of missiles based in many parts of Lebanon that are capable of serious damage to Israeli cities, and to take them all out would require quick virtual destruction of Lebanon, it seems.”
There are enough indications that if Israel goes to war in any of the arenas presented to it, that the US will support its endeavors to counter Iran militarily. If this is the case, then the US will almost certainly enough find itself in a disastrous war with Iran sooner or later, even if that war begins to open up in Beirut first.