130,000 Iranian Fighters on Israel’s Border?

Reported details of a possible U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal indicate more than ever that President Barack Obama is under the deadly delusion that he has the magic power to transform the Iranian regime into a responsible, peaceful player on the world stage. As Times of Israel editor David Horovitz sums it up:

Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for an end to intrusive inspections in some 10-15 years…. Some of the terms reported by the AP are even more worrying than those that were leaked in Jerusalem: “The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement,” the AP said, “gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program and slowly easing economic sanctions.” There is also no indication of restrictions on Iran’s missile development—its potential delivery systems.

Meanwhile the Middle East Media Research Institute—or MEMRI, an essential resource for translations of Middle Eastern media—has published an alarming report on Iran’s growing military presence along Israel’s border with Syria. The authors are Yigal Carmon, founder of MEMRI and a former counterterrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, and MEMRI director Yossi Yehoshua.

Iran Is Increasing Its Physical Presence Along the Israeli Border

Carmon and Yehoshua note that whereas “in the past, Iran preferred to manage the conflict with Israel exclusively through its proxies and allies—[Syrian president Hafez] Assad and Hizbullah…, there has recently been open physical presence of [Iranian] IRGC and Qods Force soldiers in Syria, specifically in the Syrian Golan”—meaning directly across the border from the Israeli Golan.

Reports of Iranian Solders Along the Golan Have Been Censored

Carmon and Yehoshua further cite published statements in Iran from May 2014—which were censored immediately after they appeared—that “130,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters [are] waiting to enter Syria” for deployment at command posts on the Syrian Golan. Meanwhile, with Lebanese Hizbullah in control of Lebanon, Iran is reportedly now building a new force, Hizbullah Syria, that already numbers 70,000 fighters.

Israel’s standing army, it should be noted, numbers about 200,000, along with another few hundred thousand reserve soldiers.

For Iran, the aim of deploying such forces across the border from Israel is not only to confront Israel militarily but also, say Carmon and Yehoshua, to

limit…Israel’s ability to use military measures against Iran’s nuclear program…. In the past, it was Hizbullah Lebanon that deterred Israel, to some extent, from acting militarily against Iran’s nuclear program. Today this deterrence is significantly strengthened by the advent of Hizbullah Syria and the direct presence of Iranian forces in the Golan.

Iran Remains Intent Upon Destroying Israel

Along with those aims, Iran’s overall objective (among others)—the destruction of Israel—remains the same. Carmon and Yehoshua quote Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on July 23, 2014: “the only solution is to destroy the Zionist regime.” Some other recent quotes from top Iranian officials (see the article for further details):

  • Iran’s sword is currently stuck in the throat of the accursed Israeli regime…we must remove this oppressive regime from the world map.... The Imam Khomeini saw the Basij [as a force] that would destroy the Zionist regime, and today, thanks to divine grace, Iran has besieged Israel with those same popular forces.
  • Destroying the Zionist regime is a very simple matter.... [It] will take place gradually. It is a matter of divine faith, [it is] more than a mere wish for us.
  • [Israel] will be eliminated from the world map in the near future thanks to the resistance of Basij and Hizbullah members throughout the world.

All this should put into sharper relief Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress on March 3. There have even been calls in Israel for opposition leader Isaac Herzog, whose bloc will run against Netanyahu in Israel’s March 17 elections, to join Netanyahu for the speech and present a united Israeli front on an existential issue. So far Herzog has rejected these calls.