Gog and Magog? Russia Warns Israel of War Over Syria
What many Israelis deemed unthinkable now seems possible amid tensions over Syria.
February 17, 2020 | Israel Today Staff
Russia’s ambassador to Syria this week issued what some saw as a veiled threat should Israel continue bombing Iranian assets in the war-torn country. On February 6, an aerial attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials. It also caused Syrian air defences to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers. The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport.
Israel Defense Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are admittedly in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.
But Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov wasn’t interested in Israeli justifications. In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.” He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.”
Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.
Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.” It’s something they believe is going to happen.
However, given the warm relations between Jerusalem and Moscow in recent years, many found it hard to believe the traditional interpretation that this great Gentile army would include Russia.
But, Ambassador Yefimov is not wrong about the stage being set for the kind of incident, intentional or not, that could suddenly turn friends into foes.
Israel is aware of this risk, but apparently deems the threat of Iranian hegemony to be greater than the possibility of accidentally sparking an apocalyptic showdown with Russia.
How Iran is Preparing for War With Israel
Iran has been caught building yet another missile base in Syria that can have only one purpose: destroying Israel
March 21, 2019 | Israel Today Staff
Iranian leaders are very outspoken about their plans with Israel and have repeatedly warned that the ‘Zionist project’ or the Zionist ‘cancer tumor’ will be erased very soon.
Already for a long time Israel’s political establishment realizes that this is not merely rhetoric but a very important part of Iran’s strategy for regional hegemony.
Although Shia Islam doesn’t have any connection to Jerusalem, the Iranian leadership nevertheless is acting as if it’s the holy duty of every Shiite to join the relentless efforts to destabilize Israel and to cause its demise.
For this reason, the regime of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has named the division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) which is tasked with exporting the Islamic Revolution after Jerusalem or al-Quds in Arabic.
Recently a massive drill with remote-controlled unmanned combat aircraft (UAV’s) got the code name “Bayt al-Maqdis” or Beit HaMaqdish in Hebrew.
Bayt al-Maqdis (or Temple in English) was the name the early Muslims gave to Jerusalem.
By naming a drill with attack drones after Jerusalem the regime made clear that the exercise was a preparation for war with Israel. When we take a look at what’s currently going on in Syria and Iraq the contours of Iran’s grand strategy for the elimination of Israel, which was designed by Qassem Soleimani the shrewd commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, become visible. Iran is clearly trying to turn Iraq into another proxy-state while Syria has already been transformed into a second Lebanon and has been brought under the control of the Quds Force.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani recently paid a three-day visit to Iraq where he was granted a rare meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq. After arriving in Baghdad, Rouhani signed trade and travel agreements which aim to boost economic relations between Iran and Iraq and to offset the damage done by the re-introduction of a heavy sanction regime on Iran by the United States.
The new Iraqi government is made up of many supporters of Iran and has reduced ties with the US while allowing the Iranian-founded Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias to control the territory of northwest Iraq. This is the territory Iran needed to complete its land bridge which stretches from Tehran all the way to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights and the Mediterranean Sea. Hash al-Shaabi has an estimated 100,000 fighters at its disposal and is currently doing Iran’s dirty business in Iraq.
According to Israeli Iran-expert Jonathan Spyer, Hashd al-Shaabi units are beginning to constitute a “second power” in Iraq and are chasing down or murdering any critic of Iran’s increasing entrenchment in the war-torn country. Hashd al-Shaabi fighters were reportedly also caught preparing for a missile attack on the large al-Assad US Special Forces base in the Anbar Province in Iraq while others were seen harassing a US army patrol.
Ja’afar Husseini, spokesman of Kataib Hezbollah one of the largest Shiite militias within Hashd al-Shaabi recently announced that a battle against US forces in Iraq may start any moment. “There is no stable Iraq with the presence of the Americans,” Husseini said.
A member of the Iraqi security forces told Spyer that Iraq’s military will be remodelled along the concept of Iran’s security forces. “In Iran, you have the Artesh (army) and the IRGC. So it will be also in Iraq. There will be the army to defend the borders, and the Shia militias to defend the regime,” according to the official who furthermore warned the US not to underestimate Hashd al-Shaabi.
Spyer thinks that Iraq will be turned into another Lebanon where Hezbollah has become an untouchable force which dominates military and political affairs in the country, an opinion shared by the think thank Soufan. Rouhani has reportedly pressed the Iraqi government to allow Hashd al-Shaabi and the Quds Force to activate the routes from the Iranian border to Syria in order to complete the land bridge Iran needs to transport weapons and troops to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
Then there is Syria, where the Quds Force built another Shiite-only force of 100,000 fighters among them the so-called Golan Liberation Brigade which is made up of Shiites from Iraq. This force has become – just like Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq – an integral part of the Syrian army and is currently recruiting disgruntled Sunni Syrians in the border region with Israel. They will operate under the command of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah commander Abu Hussein Sajid, a terrorist who was sentenced to life in jail by the United States for murdering American soldiers in Iraq but was released after five years by the Iraqi government, leads the effort to create a fighting force which is destined to terrorize northern Israel. At the beginning of this week the IRGC organized a meeting between military officials from Iran, Syria and Iraq to discuss economic and military cooperation between the countries, another indication Iran is cobbling together an anti-Israel axis.
The Chief of General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is presiding the talks, not Assad’s military brass, and the Iranian top commander immediately made clear that ‘foreign forces’ (read US soldiers) should get out of Syria. Iran is also negotiating with the Assad regime over use of a container port on the Mediterranean coast in the Latakia Province. Officially Iran seeks this port for economic reasons but the Israeli government is convinced the port will be used by the Iranian naval forces in a future war with Israel.
Last week Iran was again caught building a new missile facility in Syria. The Israeli company ImageSat International published satellite images which showed a new plant where missiles will be assembled. The plant is located in Safita in north western Syria and is only eight kilometers away from the border with Lebanon.
The Quds Force is, furthermore, active in Lebanon where it helps Hezbollah converting crude rockets into GPS guided missiles. The GPS kits are shipped to Lebanon in suitcases on civilian flights which makes Israeli action against this dangerous development virtual impossible. Iran’s blind hatred for Israel was this week best illustrated by its so-called moderate President Rouhani.
The Iranian leader called upon Iranians to put their “curses” on “the Zionists” and the US as well on Saudi Arabia for re-imposing new sanctions on Iran and for the very difficult economic situation in the Islamic Republic.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was the first one who called for the re-introduction of a heavy sanction regime and recently warned Israel could target Iranian oil transports. Iran is ducking the sanctions on its oil sector by shipping crude oil via Iraq, Reuters reported on Wednesday.