By: Hamada Al Kohly
The drums of war are beating in the region. The inevitable confrontation between Iran and Israel is approaching and it will extend to regional and international states and powers.
The signs of impending war have begun several months ago, since the current US President Donald Trump took office.
Since the beginning of the year, there are some skirmishes between Israel and Iran over the Syrian arena. Concurrently, the process of mobilizing for this war has begun as follows.
- Last January, US President Donald Trump decided to extend the Iran nuclear deal once more, in preparation for changing or abandoning it. The US president must sign a waiver suspending the US sanctions on Iran every 120 days. The period is due to expire on May 12, as Mr. Trump is expected not to renew his commitment to the agreement.
European fears based on confirmed information after the failure of a visit made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for 3 hours to Washington to hold a 30-minute meeting with US President Donald Trump regarding this issue. As this agreement prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Merkel conveyed a unified European position calling for implementing the agreement between Iran and the major powers.
- Following a US-French summit took place a few days ago, French President Emmanuel Macron said he believes US President Donald Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. I don't know what the US president will decide on the 12th May, Macron added.
- Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the nuclear deal his country reached with six international powers in July 2015 is "not negotiable."
- In his first tour in the Middle East and from Riyadh, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump will withdraw from the nuclear deal if it can't be fixed to his satisfaction. While Iran reaffirm the deal is not negotiable, which means that the clash is soon.
- During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo's keenness to highlight the need to end the crisis with Qatar and focus on the Iranian threat was clear. He said that confronting the Iranian influence in the region should be a top priority for the Arab states.
On February 10, Israel announced that an Israeli army fighter shot down an Iranian drone that had crossed the border to the north. Meanwhile, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, shot down by Syrian air defenses and its commander has survived.
- Days later, during a speech at the Munich Security Conference, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared holding a piece of the Iranian drone that Israel downed. Waving the drone debris, Netanyahu warned Iran, saying "do not test Israel's resolve." He said that Iran is the serious threat to the world, stressing that he will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria. "We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself," he said. Netanyahu statements were considered as a clear indication of a coming war.
- On April 9, Damascus accused the Israeli air force of raiding a central airbase in Syria, leaving 14 members of the pro-regime forces killed, including Iranians.
- On April 14, US, French and British forces targeted a number of locations in Syria. The West claimed that this process was to punish Damascus for launching an alleged chemical attack in Douma in eastern Gaouta a week ago.
- The three countries' strike did not target Russian positions in Syria. It seemed realistic that Russia allowed other sites to be hit, including Iranian positions, which indicates that Russia does not want Iran to increase its influence in Syria. In addition, Moscow has not commented on the Israeli raids on Hama base, which left more than 20 Iranian killed.
- The Israeli Knesset recently passed a new law allowing the prime minister and defense minister to decide alone whether their nation will go to war. The measure passed by a vote of 62-41 in the 120-seat Knesset.
- On April 25, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman began a visit to the United States to discuss coordination between the two countries and the Iranian nuclear file. He met with his American counterpart James Matisse. During the visit, Lieberman said that Israel will not allow Iran to "establish a military position" in Syria.
On the same month, 26 pro-regime fighters, most of them Iranians, were killed by missile strikes targeting military bases belonging to the regime forces in Hama and Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has suggested that the Israeli Air Force was responsible for the attack.
- The New York Times quoted informed sources as saying that about 200 missiles were destroyed in the attack on Hama countryside, adding that 16 people were killed, including 11 Iranians.
-On April 30, NBC quoted a senior US official as saying that Israel was probably preparing for military action against Iran and that Tel Aviv is seeking to acquire Washington support.
- In the same context, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced on Monday that Tel Aviv had provided Washington with conclusive evidence that Iran was developing a clandestine program to acquire a nuclear weapon.
- The Iranian Foreign Ministry responded to Netanyahu's accusations against Tehran over Iran's nuclear program, saying that he had nothing to say but a pack of lies.
Finally ,The potential war depends on three important factors. The first is in Washington, when US President Donald Trump decides, on May 12, the fate of the nuclear agreement. The second factor is in Lebanon after the completion of the long-awaited parliamentary elections and determines the internal situation of Hezbollah. The third one is in Europe, which stands firmly to convince the US President and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to open fronts of conflict.