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Russian intervention brings Iran to Israel’s borders

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Russian Deputy Chief of Staff General Nikolay Bogdanovsky was in Israel two weeks ago pursuing Israeli/Russian plans to avoid military confrontation, particularly in the air over Syria. With understandable foresight, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had already flown to Moscow, with four Israeli air chiefs, as soon as the extent of the Russian military intervention in Syria was realised. You won’t read analytical criticism of this fundamental power shift caused by Russia backing Iran from blockheaded, anti-Israel fanatics like Robert Fisk, or the Pollard–McNeill axis of low-grade Australian reporting. But the Russians have installed total air defence with sophisticated SA-22s covering much of Syria’s airspace. As Daesh (IS) doesn’t even have a crop duster, this makes even more farcical US President Obama and our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s initial enthusiasm for Russian President Putin claiming the Russians were there to join the fight against Daesh. Jerusalem is wise to make arrangements with Moscow as best it can, in a world with a US administration so feckless and strategically confused.

Full colour advert, page 2, Australian Financial Review 16 October 2015

Lack of American leadership is obviously confusing loyal allies in Australia. Julie Bishop’s announcements of support for Syria’s dictator Assad, who has murdered 200,000 of his own people, as the only alternative to Daesh taking over Syria is untrue and unethical. Russia’s massive intervention, on the side of Iran and Hezbollah, cements in place Iran’s Shiite crescent from Lebanon, through Syria and Iraq, to Iran. Worse, the Iranian-controlled Iraqi government, where Australia has 300 of its finest soldiers trying to retrain Iraq’s cowardly army, has announced its gratitude by openly joining a pact with Iran, Syria and Lebanon under Russian auspices!

In Arabic and Russian, “The time of masculinity and men.” Bashar al-Assad (l) and Vladimir Putin (r); the legend says

This power shift to Iran is inimical to Western interests. That is one of the reasons I have moved a resolution in Parliament. The motion calls for Australian soldiers to be withdrawn from the Taji military camp where we are at least implicitly cooperating with the Iranians (if we were serious about destroying Daesh, our guys would in Erbil training and arming the 25,000 Kurdish fighters. The Kurds, who hate Daesh, could occupy Raqqa, the centre of IS evil, which is but 50 kms from territory controlled by the Kurds. From a direct Australian national security point of view, of course, this would be much more useful, in preventing attacks like the ones in Parramatta, or Dandenong, by deranged Jihadist teenagers, who are getting their direct orders from Raqqa from Daesh, rapists and murderers like Al-Cambodi (Neil Prakash).)

Neil Prakash aka "al-Cambodi"

But back to the main strategic shift, the Russian invasion of Syria and what is portends. It is above all another victory for Iran, who after duping and cajoling the Americans and Europeans into the nuclear deal, will, in the medium-term, be able to refinance, re-arm, and renew Iran’s bid for the atom bomb.

Map of the Syrian civil war

At the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon war, an Israeli naval ship was hit by a Russian missile shore-to-sea missile, fired by and supplied to the Iranian stooges, Hezbollah. In all of the years since 2006, the Israeli air force has been free to intercept, bomb and destroy further shipments from Iran to Hezbollah of the even more sophisticated precision 300km-range Yakhont missiles. These Yakhonts in the hands of Hezbollah can, from the coast of Lebanon, attack any Israeli ship, port, defence site or gas installation.

Michael Danby interviewed by Helen Dalley on Sky News, 26 October, about the situation in Israel, as well as Russian intervention in Syria

Julie Bishop should be reminded that these Iranian mercenaries, Hezbollah are still classified as a terrorist organisation by the Australian Parliament. She should also be reminded that, under Australian legislation, it is also forbidden to provide Syria or Iran “technical advice, assistance or training … if it assists with, or is provided in relation to … a military activity…”

Iran is so emboldened by Western weakness that it is now boasting of its previously secret military sites

Our foreign minister thinks the nuclear deal with Iran is good, that Assad should be kept in office, and that Russia is fighting Daesh. Putin’s massive intervention, particularly his control of the Syrian skies, mean that, unlike every time in the past nine years, Israel will have to beg Putin to be allowed to destroy covert shipments of these deadly missiles to Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s long-range missiles target Israel’s people, her ports, her navy, and its gas installations.

Another negative outcome of Russia’s involvement in Syria is the reprieve it will give Hezbollah fighters. Thousands of these Shiite fanatics have been killed or injured – dying for Assad and Iran. However, with close Russian air support, volunteer Russian troops, plus the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that have just arrived as part of the Russian–Iranian ground offensive against non-Daesh rebels in the north and south. How strange it is for the Australian foreign minister to say “If we use [the Iran nuclear deal] as an example of Russia's preparedness to be part of a solution rather than part of the problem, then we can have some optimism that Russia's involvement [in Syria] is positive.

Iran test-fired a ballistic missile on 11 October, in defiance of a UN ban

Russia’s armed guarantee of the Hezbollah–Assad–Iraq–Iran alliance also brings Iranian power to the borders of Israel on the Golan. Well done, President Obama—your weakness in Ukraine and now Syria endangers the peaceful lives of people everywhere. Iran is a much more serious and existential threat to Israel than the hoodlums, crucifiers and rapists of Daesh. Australia should still oppose Daesh without giving over our country’s democratic imprimatur to Putin, Assad and Khamenei’s ghastly gang.

At least I’ve been able to encourage the Australian Opposition to question this existential threat to Israel with the power shift to Iran. Selling a few more tonnes of Australian beef is not worth our soft-peddling on Iran and Syria. In a world upside down the outcome of the nuclear deal with Iran gets worse and worse.


Michael Danby is the federal Member for Melbourne Ports

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