The ploy appears to be working, as Israeli opposition leaders are demanding the Netanyahu government launch a major military campaign against the terrorist-controlled Gaza Strip.
Just in the past few days, militants in the Hamas-ruled strip have bombarded southern Israel with more than 100 rockets and mortars. The instability in Cairo with the fall of the Mubarak regime has helped the Iranian-backed terrorists in the Sinai area attack Israel from within Egypt’s borders and has enabled Iran to smuggle in thousands of rockets to arm the militants. On Aug. 18, gunmen infiltrated Israel and killed six civilians and two soldiers. And at least one civilian was killed and 20 others were wounded in the rocket attacks.
The Iranian leader had previously sent a letter to President Obama warning him that unless he avoided interfering in Syria’s affairs, consequences would take place in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the White House continued its condemnation of the atrocities in Syria, attacks against U.S. forces picked up in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with several U.S. fatalities.
The Iranian regime apparently is willing to start a similar Arab-Israeli war like the one in 2006 initiated by the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon. At that time, the Iranian regime feared that President George W. Bush had decided to attack Iran, and therefore it created a diversion not only to flex its muscle in the region but also to keep America busy with yet another crisis. Now fearing the fall of Mr. Assad, who has been complicit in many of Iran’s terrorist plots in the region over the years, it sees the need for another war to divert attention from Syria’s suppression of its people.
Ever since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Syrian regime has provided the kind of gateway for the radicals ruling Iran to create Hezbollah, arm Hamas, sabotage any peace activity between the Palestinian authorities and Israel, and push for the destruction of Israel through its proxies.
Syria is the most important ally of the Iranian regime, and the fall of Mr. Assad would drastically decrease Iran’s influence in the region. It also would threaten the demise of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Iran has done everything at its disposal to help suppress the months-long uprising in Syria. The Iranian supreme leader has called the Syrians involved in the unrest enemies of God and agents of Israel. Back in May, Ayatollah Khamenei held a covert meeting in Tehran with commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, representatives of the Syrian Embassy, members of Hezbollah and leaders of the Sadr movement in Iraq. There, he demanded that all operational and logistic forces be applied to stamp out the blaze of sedition in Syria and destroy those who were enemies of Allah in that country.
The guards also have warned Turkey and any other country that might interfere in Syrian affairs of consequences and that Iranian missiles would be used to retaliate against any interfering force.
Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, a marja scholar in the city of Qom, announced on Sunday that Israel has had a direct hand in the unrest in Syria and issued a fatwa that any change in Syria will be against Islam.
The Iranian regime is determined to save Mr. Assad, and in doing so it will not hesitate to destabilize the region. Mr. Obama, who has rightly called for Mr. Assad to step down, must make clear that Iran will not be allowed to continue with its adventurous policy in the region and that any instigation of war will come back to haunt the Iranian leaders themselves.
The dual tracks of negotiations and sanctions have failed to stop the radicals ruling Iran in their nuclear-bomb ambitions. Just today, Iran announced it has moved some of its centrifuges to an underground uranium-enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes. It is critical to global security that we act in time to stop the jihadists in Tehran from checkmating the world.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who is a fellow with EMPact America and the author of “A Time to Betray,” about his double life in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010).