Benjamin Netanyahu did not stop with simply articulating the importance of Daesh in the context of the general ‘Israeli' strategy to confront the axis of resistance, including Hezbollah (Al-Akhbar, 22 August 2017).
In an interview with the ‘Israeli' Channel 20, he reiterated ‘Israel's' position opposing the elimination of the terrorist group, describing its demise as "bad" for ‘Israel'. He went on to describe the dangers surrounding the shrinking territory under Daesh control and the group's ultimate elimination, pointing out that "Iran pursues regular infiltration into the areas left" by the terrorist organization.
Netanyahu implicitly admitted that "Daesh" was playing the role of a dam, which prevents the growing threat to ‘Israel', warning of "an Iranian plan that threatens ‘Israel' and the countries of the region" during the post "Daesh" era.
Netanyahu's insistence on being distinguished from the American administration regarding the elimination of the barbaric organization stems from the recognition of the political and military institutions in Tel Aviv of the narrow ‘Israeli' options in the post-Daesh phase, and that any other alternative option is unlikely to rise to the level of services the terrorist organizations provided to ‘Israel' on Syrian soil.
It is true that the failure of ‘Israeli' intelligence assessments to foresee the future of the political and field developments on the Syrian, Lebanese and regional arenas, was catastrophic - similar to the failures of Western and regional intelligence apparatuses. But ‘Israel's' problem lies not only in the fact that it was late in discovering the gravity of the outcome on the current regional battlefield and political scene. The crux of the problem also lies in the constraints that deter the ‘Israeli' political and security decision makers from the operational initiative, which leads to a change in the course of developments and causes a shift in the balance of power, especially in the Syrian arena.
It may be said that ‘Israel' stood by in the first months of the Syrian crisis. Estimates in Tel Aviv and regional and international capitals were reassuring that the fall of President Bashar al-Assad and the establishment of a Syrian regime in Damascus hostile to Hezbollah and the axis of resistance were only months away.
However, the intervention of Hezbollah and its regional allies in support of the Syrian army - which was not factored in by ‘Israel' - knocked out ‘Israeli' hopes and gambits. What ‘Israel' considered, at the time, a preoccupation for Hezbollah in Syria that would pave the way for its depletion and an attack on it in Lebanon, later turned into a threat following the success of the party, the Syrian army and the allies in turning the field equations.
The ‘Israeli' strategic dilemma is not limited to the failure of its bets on the armed groups in the Syrian and Lebanese arenas - in particular Daesh - to achieve Tel Aviv's objectives. But it seems that this failure had strategic consequences and implications related to the growing capabilities of the axis of resistance, spilling over into its conflict with ‘Israel', and paving the way for a regional scene quite different from the one prior to the Syrian war. From here, ‘Israel' dealt with - and is still dealing with - this war as an ‘Israeli' war that others are fighting.
From here, Tel Aviv found itself very concerned with the outcome of this battle. Therefore, Netanyahu, in order to reverse the reality in Lebanon and Syria, initiated a proactive political move through Washington and Moscow. He sent a high-level intelligence delegation to the former and he headed another delegation to the latter. He repeatedly mentioned military options and warned of Iranian positioning and of the growing capabilities of Hezbollah and the resistance axis in the Syrian and Lebanese arenas.
The harsh and successive criticism by ‘Israeli' officials and experts in Tel Aviv of the Obama administration came over the latter's reluctance to intervene directly to change the balance of power in Syria - specifically after the Russian intervention. This revealed ‘Israel's' assessment that altering the reality on the battlefield only happens through a direct military intervention that it cannot bear. This was in the hands of the Americans. However, the Trump administration distanced itself from this option to avoid falling into the same dilemma in the region as the previous administrations did after the invasion of Iraq.
In recent weeks, there have been many reports and interventions by ‘Israeli' experts regarding the characterization of the victory of the Syrian state and its allies and the threat that has been formed and which could be formed in the wake of victory. One of the reports on the ‘Israeli' Channel 2 pointed out that "'Israel' could have entered Syria to create a situation where the rebels, not Daesh nor Al Qaeda, could control the entire southern region to the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus. ‘Israel' did not want to do that because we are deterred, both in the security establishment and, of course, in the political establishment." The report stressed that ‘Israel' was defeated because it "suffers from the complex of the first Lebanon war." In this way, the report acknowledges the awareness that the resistance had engraved in ‘Israeli' consciousness during the period leading up to the liberation in 2000, which deterred it from exploiting the Syrian scene.
But what the report failed to mention is the military intervention by proxy armed groups. This was the view circulated by the Jewish reports, imitating Russia's choice and scenarios of its military intervention in Syria. However, ‘Israel' did not adopt this option and did not demand it, because it simply understands that it was a 2006 war scenario, multiplied by a few times, despite its awareness of the dangers that stem form the liberation of Lebanon's eastern border, the liberation of Iraq, and the withdrawal of the insurgents on the way to their final defeat in Syria. The ‘Israeli' channel 2 displayed a clear reference to the ‘Israeli' performance: "It completely violates the legacy of the Zionist movement before the establishment of the state, where the Arabic division of the Zionist agency was involved in the internal policy of each Arab capital."
Thus, ‘Israel's' bets on "Daesh", its brothers and those who preceded them have failed. It was defeated when it retreated from the operational initiative that compensated for this failure. It also failed to cut the road to Hezbollah's increased capabilities and was defeated when it was deterred from exploiting its (Hezbollah's) preoccupation with terrorist and takfiri groups to expand its range of attacks targeting the party's capabilities in the Lebanese arena (the response to the Ghenta attack early 2014, as a model).
‘Israel' failed in its intelligence assessments of the future of the Syrian and regional developments. It was defeated when it was unable to devise a parallel or alternative immediate option. It is an option present at the theoretical level, but its constraints are more present at the decision table. It also failed to convince the US administration to impose red lines to prevent the victory of the resistance axis. It was defeated when it did not take the initiative for this mission. Its bets to have Hezbollah preoccupied with the Takfiri threat on Lebanese territory failed along with efforts to consume Hezbollah with its rhetoric and the "policy of escalation" of an attack on Lebanon. But it was defeated before Hezbollah and the axis of resistance when Lebanon liberated its land, while at the same time maintaining a more effective deterrent equation than ever before.
Al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by website team