By H. London
The Iranian desire to acquire nuclear weapons involves several political and military scenarios, including the oft repeated desire to “annihilate” the state of Israel. However, Supreme Leader Khamenei has made it clear that even without nuclear weapons, he intends to surround Israel from the north (Hezbollah), the south (Gaza and Hamas), and the east (the West Bank) with an unbroken ring of rocket and missile arsenals.
Since the end of the summer war between Hamas and Israel, Iran has openly supplied advanced missiles to its surrogates in the region without a word of condemnation from the West.
As expressed by Supreme Leader Khamenei during the International Congress on Extremist and Takfiri [apostasy] Orientations, “We have passed through the barrier of denominational discord. We helped Hezbollah (Shia)…in the same way that we helped Sunni groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Of course, few things unite disparate Muslims more than hatred of Israel.
Ahmad Bakhsharyesh, a member of the Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, emphasized the belief that in arming the areas contiguous to Israel, a blow has been struck against Israeli security. He also argued that through encirclement, Iran has forestalled any Israeli effort to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Khamenei has noted that in bolstering the missile arsenals of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel’s security will be challenged and “the liberation of Jerusalem – which is the duty of every Muslim” will be achievable.
Moreover, the Fateh-110 Missile, developed in Iran, has sufficient range to strike at every target in Israel – from the north to the south. While Iran has been engaging in nuclear negotiations in Geneva and Vienna, its arms industry has been working overtime to develop advanced offensive rocket capability and has made it part of its military planning to place these upgraded weapons in the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah.
With the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, the rapprochement towards Iran by the Obama Administration, and the strengthening of Iran’s influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, Israeli security – to some degree – has been compromised.
Surely Israeli military planners understand the new challenges that have emerged. Terrorist mobilization in the Golan has increased dramatically in the last year. At the moment, Israel is quiescent, but this is likely to be a temporary reprieve from battle.
Each day that passes introduces new complications for Israeli security. Israel won the war against Hamas, and from a tactical point of view, Operation Protective Edge provided information about Hamas’ leadership, and planning and infiltration methods. But it is also true that the enemy learned a good deal about the capacity of Iron Dome, the deployment of Israeli forces, and Israel’s intelligence apparatus.
Iran’s transparent encirclement strategy is not entirely new, but it is being reinforced based on accumulated knowledge. Encirclement is also a variable that must be entertained in any preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Iran’s obsessive desire to destroy Israel must be met by an equally obsessive desire to defend the Jewish nation. If encirclement compromises Israeli defenses, a strategy must be developed to break through missile intimidation with a clear and unequivocal response.
Herbert London is the President of the London Center for Policy Research.