What An Expanded War In The Middle East Could Look Like
By Mordechai Kedar/JNS.orgOctober 17, 2023
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I hesitated quite a bit about whether to publish this piece because of the panic it might cause in Israel. However, in the Middle East environment and particularly in Iraq, these things are known and serve as a topic of open discussion, so it is unthinkable that the Israeli public should not be aware of them as well, especially since they concern Israelis much more than the citizens of Iraq.
A source I've known for years--an expatriate from the Middle East, a supporter of Israel, who lives in Europe and is in continuous contact with people in Iran and Iraq--conveyed to me their assessment that Iran plans to launch a combined attack on Israel in the foreseeable future that will include all the forces at its disposal in several Arab countries:
In Lebanon: Hezbollah and Hamas, with many thousands of missiles, some of them precision-guided, and UAVs.
In Syria: Seventeen armed and ready combat units ("militias"): Fatimiun, Zinbioun, Nujabaa', Hezbollah, Abu Al-Fadhl Brigade, 'Asaa'b Ahl al-Haq, Khorasani Brigade and more. Iran has transferred a very large number of missiles and UAVs to Syria, and these are ready to be launched.
In Iraq: Dozens of militias, armed with missiles and UAVs.
In Yemen: The Houthis, who have Iranian long-range missiles and UAVs capable of reaching Israel.
In Gaza: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with missiles capable of disabling the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli Air Force bases.
It is likely that Iran will not launch anything directly from its own territory, so as not to expose itself to retaliation.
What follows is my interpretation:
Under the pretext of the duty of the Muslim world to save the Al-Aqsa mosque from the Israeli occupation and oppression, Iran will conduct a staged, comprehensive, integrated and coordinated attack on Israel. The first phase will be a shower of missiles and UAVs from all the aforementioned arenas together; the Iranian estimate is that the stock of Iron Dome interceptors will run out within two to three hours, after which the Israeli skies will be open and the air force degraded or grounded.
The first phase, the aerial one, will be accompanied by a cyber-attack on Israeli infrastructure systems. After a full day of cyber-attack and a rain of missiles and UAVs on military bases and civilian infrastructure, the second phase will begin. This will be a coordinated ground attack from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza by infantry forces mounted on dirt bikes and ATVs and equipped with anti-tank weapons, that will attack Israeli ground forces in order to reach Jewish settlements as quickly as possible.
The calculation of the Iranians is that the mobilization of Israel's reserves will take several days and will at best be partial due to the chaos that will ensue from the initial attack. IDF reinforcements will not arrive in time to the various fronts, and the regular forces will collapse within hours in the face of the ground assault, as happened in the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur (1973) war.
The invasion of ground forces from Syria, Lebanon and Gaza will focus on Israeli settlements, with the aim of demoralizing the Israeli public and forcing the government to surrender in order to save the lives of the many Israeli civilians who will be captured by the Arab and Iranian militias. The Israeli media and especially the social media groups will increase panic among the Israeli public.
It is not clear what role the Iranians will assign to the Palestinians in the war. However, it is likely that Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority will encourage them to do everything in their power to harm Israelis, the army, the police and civilians moving on the roads, in addition to attacks on settlements and military bases.
In addition, the Iranians expect Arabs in the Galilee and Negev to carry out actions against the IDF such as blocking roads, damaging bridges, spilling oil on roads, blocking intersections, damaging high voltage lines and attacking Jewish settlements ("May 2021 on steroids").
Due to the fact that Israel's National Guard is not yet operational, these actions will cause great damage.
The international arena:
Russia and China, Iran's allies, will "call on both sides to cease violence," will support Iran almost openly and provide it with information about what is happening in Israel. Turkey will join the call to cease violent actions but will implicitly support Iran.
In the Arab and Islamic world, crowds will come out for demonstrations of support for Iran and its action to eliminate the Zionist entity, similar to the support the crowds gave to Hassan Nasrallah in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. This time, unlike in 2006, Saudi Arabia will not take a negative position towards the attack on Israel.
The American and European governments will not intervene militarily but will content themselves with words because no one in the West is looking for another war zone in addition to the Ukrainian one, which is emptying NATO's ammunition depots and drying up its leaders' desire to intervene in wars that are not theirs.
Some will see the Iranian attack as an opportunity to get rid of the "headache" that Israel has caused them for years. This view has intensified in recent months after the internal turmoil in the State of Israel, which projects the image of a conflicted and messy country with a depleted civil force that has lost all will to mobilize and fight and on the other hand--a directionless, irresponsible, powerless government that cannot even deal with people blocking roads.
From the point of view of the West, the loss of Israel would not be so terrible, because in any case, the Middle East turned its back on the West when Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners--countries much more important than Israel--decided to turn their backs on the weak Western coalition and join the strong and growing Eastern Alliance that includes Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and more.
The Iranian government is very impressed by the continued desire of the Americans in particular and the West, in general, to appease them, lift the sanctions and accept it as a respected member of the family of nations, while demonstrably ignoring the Iranian race towards the bomb. This Western behavior instills in the hearts of the decision-makers in Iran the feeling that no one in the West will do anything on the practical, military level to stop an air and ground attack on Israel such as the one described above.
The U.S. forces deployed in eastern Syria are meant to protect American interests, not Israeli ones, and Iran has already demonstrated several times that it has no problem attacking these American forces with missiles and drones. The American administration knows the negative attitude of the liberal majority of American Jewry towards Israel, particularly in recent months, and therefore is not afraid it will pay too great a public and political price if it allows Israel to deal with the Iranian invasion on its own. Biden will of course declare to the cameras that "Israel has the right to defend itself," but he will try not to take actual steps.
A coordinated missile and UAV attack is not a theory; Iran has already done this in Saudi Arabia, on Sept. 14, 2019, and this attack caused enormous damage to Saudi Arabia's oil export capacity, reducing it for many months. This was probably the reason for Saudi Arabia's avoidance of joining the Abraham Accords and a factor that pushed Saudi Arabia into recently abandoning the understanding it had with Israel and joining the Iranian camp. The United States under Trump's presidency, and Europe, did nothing against Iran following the attack in 2019, so it is certain that today they will do nothing when Biden is the president.
I don't know how realistic this scenario of an air and ground attack on Israel is, but even if the chance of it happening in the foreseeable future is only one percent, the State of Israel must act as one united entity, and it is very important that the coalition work with the opposition in order to prepare the country and military for this scenario.
If the Israeli public wants to survive, it must prepare--mentally and physically--for war with the Iranian octopus that has managed to establish its grip on Gaza and the failed countries adjacent to Israel: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen--all countries that have almost nothing to lose. Qatari money and the jihad media channel Al Jazeera are constantly pouring jet fuel on the fire of hatred for Israel and preparing public opinion in the Middle East and the wider world for the great, final campaign.
Qatari money has also bought Western politicians so that they would not see what Qatar does not want them to see, from the violation of human rights and foreign workers in Qatar to what Qatar's ally--Iran--is planning to do to Israel.
It's time to wake up. This dangerous scenario may be realistic.
Originally published at JNS.org - reposted with permission.