A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 25, 2010 Iran- Syria- Hamas Meeting- What Risks Should Israel Take
Hafez Assad hosted a meeting today in Damascus with Ahmedinejad, President of Iran, and Halid Meshal, head of the Hamas. After the meeting Ahmedinejad once again said he looked forward to a future Middle East free of Israel. This week in Newsweek, Farid Zakaria wrote an article entitled: Don’t Scramble the Jets as a response to Sarah Palin suggesting that President Obama should be ready to bomb Iran. Zakaria claims that Iran can be deterred. He writes: Can we live with a nuclear Iran? Well, we're living with a nuclear North Korea (boxed in and contained by its neighbors). And we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and Communist China. Iran, we're told, is different. The country cannot be deterred by America's vast arsenal of nukes, because it is run by a bunch of mystic mullahs who aren't rational, embrace death, and have millenarian fantasies. This was never an accurate description of Iran's canny (and ruthlessly pragmatic) clerical elite. But it's even less so now.
Of course this is the crux of the matter. It hard for me to believe sanctions-- if they ever get imposed-- will really deter the Iranian regime. So does Israel accept Zakaria’s position? Does Israel trust that the Iranian leaders will act rationally?
In the meantime, the IDF held one of it s largest nationwide military exercises ever. The exercise, which has been planned for a year, simulated a war with Syria and Hezbollah simultaneously, with Hamas getting into the act as well. At this moment, Israeli intelligence believes the chances of war are low. However, there is one school of thought that is worried that if real sanctions are imposed on Iran it will respond by unleashing Hezbollah on Israel. It is that threat for which Israel has been preparing. Would Syria become involved in that scenario? Experts are divided.