Simmering Tensions between US and Iran; the Implications for Israel

May 16, 2019

by: Jo Sarah Stanford

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Sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the strike group deployed in the Mideast, deliberate after a flight operation.

Thursday, 16 May 2019 | As tensions in the Middle East continue to simmer between the US and Iran and speculations rise over a possible military confrontation, Tehran made its intentions clear: “We are on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy.”

Iranian Major General Hossein Salami—recently appointed as the Chief of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF)—made the comments on Wednesday, saying “This moment in history…is the most decisive moment of the Islamic revolution,” reported the Times of Israel.

 Tensions have been high since Iran began its withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Moreover, the US designated the IRGC a terrorist organization last month, and now Iran is suspected of using its own terror proxies to attack Saudi oil interests in the Gulf of Oman. Four oil tankers—two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati—were sabotaged on Sunday. The US suspects Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels from Yemen were responsible for the attack.

Also on Sunday, the US announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the region to address what National Security Adviser John Bolton termed a “credible threat” from Iran. The US is also withdrawing all nonessential personnel from neighboring Iraq in anticipation of further attacks.

Salami wasn’t the only high-ranking Iranian making threats. On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani referred to the US sanctions implemented following the US pullout of the nuclear deal, as an “economic war” and “crimes against humanity.”

Rouhani’s comments come a day after his close adviser Hesameddin Ashena took to Twitter to tell US President Trump: “You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead.”

As the rumors of war in Israel’s backyard rage, many wonder how any potential conflict will affect the Jewish state. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that Israel will do everything it can to stay out of the conflict.

Netanyahu met with the chiefs of Israel’s defense forces this week, instructing them “to take steps to separate Israel from these developments,” reported the Times of Israel, and to do all they can to steer clear of the fray. At the same time, they discussed precautions if war was to break out, as Israel would inevitably be affected.

Not only would Israel experience fallout, but may become the target of attacks itself. Some likely scenarios are the firing of Iranian missiles from Iraq or Syria on Israeli communities, attacks from Iran’s terror-proxies—particularly Hezbollah—along Israel’s northern borders or an onslaught from the Islamic Jihad terror group in the Gaza Strip.

Israel is closely monitoring the situation and keeping in contact with the US over any further developments, but with neither side backing down, fears are that tensions may escalate into a full-scale conflict.

Posted on May 16, 2019

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 16, 2019)

Photo Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremiah Bartelt/US Navy/flickr

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