Iran and Israel on a collision course as Syria burns

There are now real concerns that Iran and Israel are on a collision course.

We have already seen the first shots fired.

In February, Iran sent a drone into Israeli airspace, Jerusalem responded by hitting a Syrian air base used as an Iranian command and control centre.

Just last week, the same air base was struck, killing Iranian military advisers.

Israel is believed to have carried out the attack, but there has been no confirmation or denial.

Middle East analysts are fearing a full-blown war between the two.

Syria ‘starting to resemble a world war’

Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has warned of what he says, “could be the ugliest Middle East war of the 21st century

Last week, he told ABC News program Matter of Fact the Syrian conflict was beginning to resemble a world war.

Writing in The New York Times, columnist and longtime Middle East watcher Thomas L. Friedman is warning Syria, “is going to explode”.

He says the region is, “heading for a high noon shootout in Syria over Iran’s attempts to turn Syria into a forward air base against Israel, something Israel is vowing to never let happen”.

Friedman adds: “Israel and Iran are now a hair trigger away from going to the next level — and if that happens, the US and Russia may find it difficult to stay out.”

Iran ’emboldened’ after nuclear deal

Friedman says Iran is, “the biggest ‘occupying power’ in the Arab world today”.

It is already fighting a war in Yemen, supporting rebels, that pits it against another of its declared foes, Saudi Arabia.

It supports militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon that has fought wars against Israel and continues to pose a threat.

And, of course, it is mired in the Syrian conflict.

Critics of Iran say it has been emboldened after striking a deal with the Obama administration and European powers to shelve its nuclear program in return for the West lifting economic sanctions.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the deal.

That position has strengthened with the appointment of America’s former UN ambassador, John Bolton, as the new White House National Security Adviser.

Mr Bolton has in the past advocated for pre-emptive action against Iran.

Before being appointed to his new role, Mr Bolton told Fox News Mr Trump should reinstate sanctions, back opposition forces in Iran, and work with Saudi Arabia and Israel to isolate Tehran.

He said simply: “Our goal should be regime change in Iran.”


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