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Israel's Landscape of Strategic Threats

IDF Intelligence Estimate For 2013: 'Middle East Will Be More Unstable & Islamist - Region Could Go Up In Flames'

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon: 'Iranian Regime Has Reached Very Advanced Stage Of Nuclear Weapons Project. Before It's Too Late, Iranianss Must Be Faced With Dilemma Of Nuclear Weapons Or Regime's Survival'

IsraCast Assessment: With U.S. President Barack Obama Preoccupied With Getting Reelected, Israel's Appeal Is Likely To Fall On Deaf Ears In Washington'

 With Iran closing in on nuclear weapons and the 'Arab Spring' in high gear, the stark IDF intelligence estimate comes as no surprise. The outlook for 2013 is for a more unstable and Islamist Middle East and a higher security threat to Israel. IDF Intelligence Commander, Maj.Gen. Aviv Kochavi has briefed the IDF high command and will also present it to the full cabinet. The Yisrael Hayom newspaper has disclosed some details of the classified document that will serve as as Israel's security assessment for 2013.

 Middle East In Flames...

'The Middle East could go up in flames in 2013' - that's the assessment of IDF intelligence chief, Gen. Aviv Kochavi. The IDF's annual assessment for 2013 paints a stark portrait of the coming year. Picture a Middle East that will be more 'unstable and Islamist', that's the code word for militant Muslims waging a jihad. This document is the culmination of the entire intelligence gathering of the IDF and Israel's substantial intelligence community. In his confidential briefing to the IDF General Staff, Gen. Kochavi reportedly warned of a possible conflagration.

In light of recent developments, the intelligence outlook comes as no surprise. The Arab Spring is in full bloom, with a big question mark hanging over a new emerging Egypt, now ruled by the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979, the U.S. has armed the Egyptian military with advanced aircraft and weaponry. Could they now threaten Israel? Apparently President Mohamed Morsi has tried to allay some of those concerns by stating that he will honor Egypt's international agreements. And more specifically, Egypt's increased military presence in Sinai was solely to cope with 'criminal elements', such as the Salafi terrorists, who recently murdered sixteen Egyptian soldiers.

In the interview, Morsi steered clear of mentioning Israel by name, that may be asking too much from a Muslim Brotherhood president. In an out of character response, Israel's brash Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman swiftly invited Morsi to visit Israel. Be that as it may, and although the IDF's liason with the Egyptian Army is still good, Israel's strategic planners must scrutinize Egypt's military moves more closely than during the previous Mubarak era.

Who will take charge of Syria...

Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syria: The current bloodbath may only be a prelude to even greater carnage after the fall of the Assad regime. Sunni Muslims may wreak their vengeance on Assad's ruling Alawite community that has oppressed them for decades. And in the midst of this pandemonium, what will become of the Syrian Army's massive arsenal of chemical weapons? Israel is coordinated with the U.S. on how to cope with this danger - President Obama has indicated he would be ready to act militarily to prevent those weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah fighting on Assad's side, or from coming under control of Al Qaeda fighters and other Islamic Jihadists, who have joined the rebel cause. In addition, the IDF has to be concerned with the forces that will eventually occupy the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

So far, the Syrian Army that has refrained from heating up the border knowing the IDF would retaliate in force. This has always been the working agreement between Israel and Syria that the Assads have honored since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. (Even the fierce fighting between IDF and Syrian forces in Lebanon during the first Lebanon War of 1981 did not spill over to total war). But what will happen if Syria breaks up into various cantons ruled by Sunnis, Kurds, Alawites etc. There may no longer be any central address for Israel in Damascus.

Iran, before it's too late!...

Israeli Air Force F15 (photo: iaf.org.il)

Iran & Hezbollah-Lebanon: There are more questions than answers about how the Israeli-Iranian nuclear crisis will be resolved in 2013. But amid the uncertainty about what the U.S. will or will not do, there appear to be two givens:

1. Israel will not agree that Iran acquires nuclear weapons

2. Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons and the sanctions have not succeeded

This situation has the ingredients of a major clash and another damning IAEA report is about to be released that will cast even greater suspicions on Iran's nuclear weapons development. Instead of deterring the Iranians, they have shrugged off the sanctions and have actually stepped up their nuclear program. It appears the Iranians are exploiting U.S. President Barack Obama's preoccupation with getting reelected to ramp up their nuclear development.

Moshe Yaalon (Photo: Debbi Cooper)

What is the latest Israeli assessment of how close Iran is to Israel's red line that differs from that of the U.S.? On August 28th, Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon said: 'The Iranians have reached a very advanced stage and could use such lethal weapons for terror attacks on different targets world wide. Their goal is to spread the Islamist revolution, to crown a fanatic global regime and to wipe the state of Israel off the map. The Iranian leaders are dead serious and dangerous in their intentions and that is why they are developing a nuclear military program'.

Yaalon then proposed: 'The sanctions must be stiffened against Iran and no one should live under the illusion that this is a conventional regime. No single option should be taken off the table. As soon as possible, before it's too late, the tyranical and dangerous Iranian regime must be faced with the dilemma of nuclear weapons or its very survival'.

Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, was speaking at a memorial ceremony at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria where five Israeli tourists were killed in a bus bombing on July 18th. Israeli intelligence sources said they had proof positive that Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon and now in Syria, had perpetrated the atrocity.

If Iran crosses Israel's red line and Obama does nothing, the chances are that Israel will go solo against the Iranian nuclear weapons sites. Some Israeli pundits have warned that Prime Minister Netanyahu might even do so before the presidential election on Nov.6th. But without real solid evidence that Iran had started its 'breakout' for the bomb, this would be a rash move leaving open Israel to damaging charges that it had intervened in the U.S. election. Moreover, the PM would require cabinet approval for such a grave decision and that is an open question.

But if and when Israel's push may come to shove, Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned he would be ready to join the fray by launching salvoes of rockets and missiles that 'would endanger thousands of Israelis'. For his part, Netanyahu has sent a stern message to the Lebanese government that Israel will hold Lebanon responsible, if it is attacked from Lebanese territory.

Rachel Corrie & Israeli Justice

Some facts that often get lost in the discussion:

Rachel Corrie, with other 'peace activists', entered a combat zone known as the Philadelfi Axis along the Gaza border, where Palestinians terrorists repeatedly killed and wounded IDF soldiers by road side charges, mines and sniper fire. The D-9 bulldozers were working there to prevent more soldiers from being wounded. Rachel Corrie and her comrades were repeatedly warned they had entered a closed and dangerous area and to leave but refused to do so.

Experts analyzed the site and concurred that the driver in the heavily armored cabin of his bulldozer could not possibly have seen her from inside. In fact, the driver volunteered to take a lie detector test and was found to be telling the truth when he said there was a pile of rubble blocking his vision.

Rachel Corrie was not 'crushed by the bulldozer', she was killed when a cement block fell on her head during the bulldozer's demolition work.

The state prosecutor issued this statement: 'The death of Rachel Corrie is without doubt a tragic accident. As the verdict states - the driver of the bulldozer and his commander had a very limited field of vision, such that they had no possibility of seeing Ms.Corrie and thus are exonerated of any blame or negligence'.

David Essing

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