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Israel-Iran tension on the rise

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Zamir Awan

Scaring scenario is developing in the Middle East. Senior Israeli defense officials say the country is preparing for the possibility of an armed conflict with regional arch-rival Iran and its proxies. Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, said Tuesday that the Israeli military was “speeding up the operational plans and readiness for dealing with Iran and the military nuclear threat.”

Israel is the only Jewish state created in the heart of the Muslim world and surrounding Muslim nations all around it. Israel is the only nuclear state in this part of the world and in the habit of invading and grabbing Arab land. Israel does not wish that any country around it should gain nuclear technology or develop nuclear technology. Israel can not afford to have any competitor in the whole region.

Israel considers Iran an existential threat and has warned that it would act with military force if needed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Last month Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that “if a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act.”

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran is set to renew nuclear talks with world powers this month, after the 2015 accord to curb its nuclear program collapsed following the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.

Addressing lawmakers at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Kohavi said the military “continued to act against our enemies in covert operations and missions around the Middle East” during the past year.

His remarks came following a string of reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on Iran-linked military targets in neighboring Syria in the past decade but rarely acknowledges its operations.

It has been said that Iran’s presence near its northern frontier is a red line and that it targets arms shipments bound for Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran-linked facilities in Syria.

Speaking during a visit to a defense industry factory in the northern city of Shlomi, near the Lebanese border, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel was “working all the time to prevent war – carrying out operations, conveying messages, preventing (a military) build-up.”

In the event of war, he said, “we will be prepared to execute operations that haven’t been seen in the past, with means that weren’t in our hands in the past, that will harm the heart of terror and its abilities.”

On the other hand, Iran is also well prepared to respond to any aggression from any country. During the Trump administration, the U.S. killed the top Iranian General Qasmi in Iraq, which was well retaliated by Iran in a very appropriate manner. Retaliation of any aggression is the legitimate right of Iran.

Scared, if Isreal opts for any misadventure, the Iranian response may become even worse. The whole region may be pushed to war. It may not be a limited strike but may spread across the entire region, engulfing many nations in the area as well as globally.

Middle-East is a region supplying Oil to the rest of the world. Any disturbance in the area will ultimately create hype in the oil prices, which is already relatively high. Europe, Japan, and China depend on Oil from the Middle East. Instability in the region will affect their economies adversely.

Unfortunately, it is unfair that an illegitimate nuclear state is warning another country to attack if it suspects nuclear activities. Isreal is a country, defaulter of U.N. resolutions and ignored U.N. supremacy or the rule of law.

Recently, Israel has been gaining recognition from a few oil-rich Arab rulers, who are not democratically elected or representing the public. The rulers may recognize the state of Israel, but public opinion is instead the opposite. In case of war, most of the Arab world, especially the public, may not support their government to stand with Israel. Anti-Isreal sentiments are on the rise.

Also, Russia and China have a deep interest in Iran and may not allow the U.S. to involve freely in Iran. The revival of Russia and the rise of China is counter-balance power in geopolitics. The U.S. is no longer a unique supper power in the unipolar world. The U.S. has to think twice before deciding to be involved in Iran–Israel conflict.