Israeli minister prefers ISIL over Iran
In a previous post entitled Is ISIL in cahoots with Israel I made the point that Israel appears more concerned with the threat posed by Iran than that posed by ISIL. Well if one needed any proof that this is the case, here it is. Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli Minister of Military Affairs, has stated “For us, the leading enemy is Iran and, after hearing different voices on this, I can only stress that if I had to choose between Iran and Daesh [ISIL], I would prefer Daesh.”
Now why would Ya’alon prefer ISIL over Iran? Firstly Ya’alon also added that “We believe ISIS will be eventually defeated territorially after the blows it has been suffering, and in light of the attacks on its oil reserves.” This statement implies that the Israelis perceive ISIL to be a less formidable enemy than Iran as it is on the back foot and will likely be defeated, although even if defeated it will still persist as a terrorist group in the mold of al-Qaeda. I also suspect that Israel views ISIL as a ragtag bunch of Sunni extremists, that while capable of great brutality, would not be much of a direct challenge to the Israeli military.
This brings us to another question why is it that Israel is so concerned with Iran? To answer this question we will have to look at the other enemy that Israel faces, the Sunni Arab world. The latter have waged numerous wars against Israel, and although they possessed a significant numerical advantage, Israel was victorious in each conflict. For this reason I suspect Israel is confident that in any future conflict with the Arabs that they will once again emerge victorious.
Another reason for Israeli confidence vis-à-vis the Sunni Arabs, is that the latter are currently disorganized and in a state of disarray. Economically they are poorly developed and organized. For instance the oil rich nation of Saudi Arabia, has invested little of its wealth to increase the productivity and manufacturing capacity of their country. In other words the Sunni Arab nations are in no condition to attack Israel and hope to succeed. Furthermore the nations of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, while they still have a hatred for the Jews, appear willing to coexist with Israel.
For all of these reasons Israel appears unconcerned with the Sunni Arab world, but this is not the case with the Shiites of Iran. The difference is that the Iranians seem to be more dogmatic in their hatred of the Jews than their Sunni coreligionists and they have taken concrete and and at times successful action against Israel. Furthermore the Iranians have evinced a desire to economically develop their nation.
It appears that Iran wants to be economically self-sufficient, particularly when it comes to science and technology and the ability to develop and manufacture advanced indigenous weapon systems. Hence why Iran has a nuclear program and is developing ballistic missile technology, something which the Sunni Arab nations have not yet accomplished themselves. Because Iran is attempting to become an autonomous regional hegemon, economically and militarily, this objective worries the Israelis, because Iran not only has the will to attack Israel but is attempting to develop the economic and technological ability to do so.
Ultimately I do not believe that Israel is worried Iran will nuke them in the short term. First of all because Khamenei’s strategy to defeat Israel entails low intensity warfare, which is intended to make the lives of Jews in Israel so unpleasant that they will leave for America or Europe, thereby allowing the Palestinians to take over.
Secondly Iran is too smart to lob a single nuke at Israel. While, Israel is a very small country, it would still take multiple nukes to destroy its military and its ability to retaliate with their own nuclear arsenal. For this reason, if Iran wants to nuke Israel, multiple nuclear weapons would be needed, something that appears to me to require at least a few years for Iran to develop the necessary nuclear weapons and the concomitant delivery systems.
I believe the Israelis are cognizant of this as well, and as such are not afraid of Iran’s nuclear program per se but more so of their economic and technological development. Iran will only have the power to challenge and destroy Israel if its economy is productive and strong, which will provide the Iranians with the wealth needed to empower them militarily.
In my opinion these are the reasons why Israel is very concerned with the threat posed by Iran and as such would rather have to deal with ISIL. In one way this appears to be a rational and understandable stance, but I do feel that Israel is underestimating the threat posed by ISIL. While ISIL appears to be on the back foot and is obviously not as formidable as a nation state such as Iran, it nonetheless is a highly fanatical and dogmatic group, which seems to be unperturbed about challenging nation states far more powerful than themselves.
In simple terms ISIL is psychotic enough to have a go at Israel, even in situations that may be unadvantageous to itself, while Iran is pragmatic enough, although still desiring the destruction of Israel, to adopt a more measure approach against Israel. Ya’alon should be careful what he wishes for.