Weekly cables

Week 23 - 2017

Is Israel preparing to go to war with Hezbollah?

As of late, Israeli media have been abuzz with news regarding Israel Defense Forces (IDF) getting ready for a confrontation with Hezbollah. On June 14 an IDF commando brigade completed a drill in Cyprus’ Troodos Mountains and the media promptly noted how Cyprus’ terrain closely resembles Lebanon’s. Moreover, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s top military officer, went as far as stating that, in case of war, Israel would take care of thousands of Lebanese civilians who would have to leave their homes. In fact, eleven years after their last clash, time would seem ripe for a new war between Israel and Hezbollah. Also, Lebanon’s most prominent Shia guerrilla group has been trapped in Syria’s quagmire for several years and, according to Israel’s intelligence, its arsenal could be moderately depleted. All the more reason for Israel to seize the moment. However, any war needs a narrative and a casus belli and, aside from the need for Jerusalem to regularly «mow the lawn», the purported upcoming war between Israel and Hezbollah lacks both. And until both emerge war can be near but not too near.

Iran’s Reformists reject Tillerson’s call for regime change

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently expressed America’s support for a peaceful transition of government in Iran. However, Tillerson’s brazen statement – which confirms MacroGeo forecasting the Trump administration resorting to a conventional American narrative  - is less important than it seems. The US lacks the power to spur regime change in Iran and even if it did harness such power the Pentagon would most likely oppose the plan. Anyhow, Iran’s most prominent Reformist figures, including those who have been in prison for a long time, have promptly and boisterously objected Tillerson’s posture. Reformist leaders wrote an official statement accusing the US of sowing chaos in the Middle East: «one of the major causes of crisis in our region is the interference of foreigners, especially the US government». The Reformists’ disapproval of Tillerson’s words reminds us of how imperial countries, such as Iran or the US itself, tend to overcome their internal divisions if faced with an external enemy. No matter their ongoing internal fights for power.

America’s promises and Turkey’s weakness

The Pentagon allegedly assured Ankara that it will take back the weapons it's been handing out to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia, once the fight against the Islamic State is over. Turkey, on its part, has signaled to trust the US and might soon receive a running inventory of all the weapons Washington has given to SDF. However, preposterous assurances aside, in the near future the US intends to use Syrian Kurdish fighters against Ankara by threating to have them reach for their fellow compatriots living in Anatolia, this way making Turkey’s main nightmare come true. Erdogan understands America’s intentions all too well but has no choice at this point rather than waiting the Americans (and the Russians) out as to try to extend its influence over Syria and possibly Iraq. Hence, Ankara’s apparently sincere acceptance of Washington getting cozy to the Kurds. In fact, a clear show of weakness. Especially considering that Washington won’t leave the Middle East any time soon.