US' Middle East policies come home to haunt America and ally, Israel, against Iran and Russia. Next moves?

Amidst finger-pointing over who in Washington is most to blame for Russia and Iran's aggression against Syria and Israel, how will America and Israel adapt and respond?

Israeli UN Amb. Danny Danon claims that 80K troops loyal to Iran are
fighting in the Syrian War (graphic: AlMasdarNews, Lebanon)
CNN: "Israeli PM: Airstrikes dealt 'severe blows' to Iran, Syria"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his nation dealt "severe blows" to Iranian and Syrian forces following the weekend downing of an Israeli fighter jet over northern Israel.

The Prime Minister said Israel would do so again if necessary.

. . . In retaliation for the downing of its jet, Israeli forces attacked 12 targets in Syria, including three aerial defense batteries and four targets described as Iranian, the IDF said.
An IDF statement described the four Iranian targets as "part of Iran's military establishment in Syria."

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Saturday that the US was "deeply concerned about today's escalation of violence over Israel's border."

"Iran's calculated escalation of threat, and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all of the people of the region -- from Yemen to Lebanon -- at risk," Nauert said. "The US continues to push back on the totality of Iran's malign activities in the region and calls for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens peace and stability."

CNN's Ian Lee reports on an Israeli combat helicopter successfully intercepting an Iranian drone that was launched from Syria, according to Israel Defense Forces.

In U.S., Israel-Syria Border Clash Triggers New War Over Iran Nuclear Deal by Allison Kaplan Sommer in Ha'Aretz Feb 12, '18
Republicans and pro-Israel camp point finger at Obama for being soft on Iran and Syria, while Democrats blame Trump for decertifying Iran deal

Like every other issue in the United States these days, foreign policy discussion has become fiercely partisan. Every new problem or conflict around the globe triggers a flurry of finger-pointing and accusations as to whether the legacy of President Barack Obama or the current policies of the Trump White House are responsible.

... For Democrats, it is President Donald Trump’s decertification and weakening of the Iran deal that’s to blame, sending Iranian leaders a message that they have little to lose by thumbing their nose at the United States. They also point to Trump’s refusal to criticize or pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin’s support and protection of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime would, presumably, put him in a position to rein in the Iranians.

“President Trump is obviously distracted by the Russian investigation and the White House staffing debacle,” ex-US Amb. to Israel, Dan Shapiro told the Daily Beast. “The State Department is generally sidelined from discussions with Israel. The U.S.-Israel relationship has generally been managed under Trump by only three or four people, which is just not a viable way to manage real time crises that require coordinated responses across the political, military, diplomatic and intelligence spheres.”

The staunchest opponents of the Iran deal are splitting the blame for Iran’s empowerment equally between Obama and Trump. They are critical both of Obama’s efforts over the Iran deal initially, and then Trump’s unwillingness to move against it more forcefully.

"Iran’s Stealth Drone that Penetrated Israel’s Border a Gift from the Obama Administration" in the Jewish Press, Feb 11, 2018
Several areas of concern emerged from Saturday’s short aerial war: the fact that an Israeli F-16’s deflection system was unable to avoid a dense barrage of some 25 S-300 Soviet-era anti-aircraft missiles, and, presumably, shrapnel from those missiles cut through; the fact that Iran today appears to be operating independently inside Syria; and the fact that Iran-proxy Shiite militias are so important to the Russians, serving as they do as gun fodder for the Russian army in its war against the Western-allied rebels, that Moscow is ready to endorse Iranian adventurism to secure their cooperation.

The fourth lesson from Saturday’s confrontation is that Iran has been able to take full advantage of the technological gift it received from the Obama Administration.

On December 4, 2011, an American stealth drone was captured by Iranian forces near the city of Kashmar in northeastern Iran. The Iranian government announced that the UAV was brought down by its cyberwarfare unit which commandeered the aircraft and safely landed it. Meaning it wasn’t shot down, as earlier reported. President Obama acknowledged that the downed drone was his, and requested that Iran return it. We’re not kidding.

Turns out the Iranians refused to give it back. Instead, on December 10, 2011, Iran announced that it intended to carry out reverse engineering on the captured RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft. In April 2012, they announced they had succeeded in extracting the entire data collected by the drone and were in the process of building a replica of the aircraft. US officials were doubtful Iran could replicate the aircraft, because of a precautions that was installed to protect malfunctioning drones, nevertheless, in May 2014, Iranian state TV displayed a reverse engineered RQ-170, and in November 2014 Iran said it carried out a successful test flight on the drone clone.

Naturally, the fact that the supposedly stealth Iranian drone was detected way ahead of its crossing into Israeli airspace should suggest it isn’t so stealthy after all. But the symbolism of the new round of confrontations with Iran, a terrorist state cuddled by the Obama administration centering on that abandoned Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel should not be lost on Israel’s leadership. Nor should the Trump administration’s reluctance to act tough with Russia in Syria.
Iran hacked US drone, copied it, flew into Israel from Syria
Iran’s stealth drone used against Israel #ThanksObama
Knock-off of American drone brought down in Iran in December 2011, which Obama refused to destroy on the ground
before the Iranians got to it. Posted by William A. Jacobson in Legal Insurrection| Sunday, February 11
Despite Iranian claims, it remains a mystery how the Iranians brought down the American stealth drone, if indeed it wasn’t just an accident, Who Tracked, Hacked-N-Jacked, the Beast of Kandahar?

What is not a mystery is that Obama had a chance to destroy this technology on the ground after it was brought down in Iran. Instead, he let the Iranians have it, and now it’s being used against Israel, and sooner or later, will be used against American troops.

"Russian troops were involved in Iranian-Syrian clash with Israel" - DebkaFile

This situation underwent a fundamental strategic change when Iran sent a UAV over Israel from a Syrian base it shares also with the Russians. It may be assumed that the Russian command, which keeps a close eye on all Syria’s air facilities, was in the know about the Iranian operation and was not surprised when Israeli warplanes retaliated. One of those jets was shot down and its two pilots landed safely in northern Israel. One of them was badly injured.

Whether or not the Russians and Iranians discussed likely Israeli retaliation and decided to ambush one of the planes has yet to be investigated. But it is significant that the second, much broader wave of Israeli air strikes against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets later Saturday morning, was also attacked by air defense missiles that were fired from Lebanon as well. This has brought Hizballah into the Syrian-Iranian-Russian equation, and even the Lebanese army. Civilian air traffic was consequently halted in northern Israel.

Iran Expert, Berman: Post-Obama/Kerry  nuclear deal, the emboldened Islamic republic seeks to expand global reach, build an anti-US axis in Latin America
The publisher's description of "Iran's Deadly Ambition: The Islamic Republic's Quest for Global Power" by Ilan Berman (published August, 2015).  In this sobering book, Ilan Berman illuminates the multiple dimensions of the Iranian threat and exposes the perils of lodging confidence in diplomacy with the Islamic Republic."

"There is ample reason for skepticism that the United States and its allies can truly curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions by diplomatic means. Moreover, the West’s current focus on Iran’s nuclear program is deeply dangerous insofar as it fails to recognize—let alone address—Iran’s other international activities or its foreign policy aims. Those objectives are global, and they continue to grow in scope and menace.

Ilan Berman, VP, American Foreign Policy Council interviews with Democracy Broadcasting on the then Democrat administration's enabling of Iran nuclear deal and how the then rival presidential candidates would handle it from 2017-2021. Recorded at the AIPAC Policy Conference, March 4, 2016.

Iran’s Saegheh drone in Syria – a worry for US as well as Israel in DebkaFile Feb 11,'18
Iran, by deploying a fleet of Saegheh drones in Syria, armed with missiles, has not only ramped up its threat to Israel, but also raised a tough regional challenge to America. If one of these drones can be used against Israel, why not against American forces in the Middle East or Saudi Arabia? The Revolutionary Guards' Dep Chief Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami made no bones about this on Saturday, when he declared that Iran had the military power “to destroy all American bases in the region.”

The Iranian stealth drone’s trajectory through Jordan on Saturday was revealing. It flew from Palmyra along Syria’s eastern frontier with Iraq undetected by American military surveillance. When it came over the US-Jordanian garrison of Al Tanf in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle, it turned right to northern Jordan and then crossed the border to fly over Beit Shean. Ninety seconds later, Israeli Apaches conducted their interception – but not before the “Storm” had triggered the first direct military skirmish between Israel and Iran.

Iran lost a valuable armed drone, but it was in the air long enough to gather plenty of information on the American, Jordanian and Israeli air defense and radar systems on the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders, as well as reporting on their anti-air missiles’ operational capabilities. The IDF announced Sunday the boosting of its air defense systems in the North.
"It’s time for Trump to attack Iran’s Revolutionary Guard" - Op/Ed in the New York Post by Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Feb 12,'18

Now is the time for Trump to re-establish a robust military deterrent toward Iranian expansionism in close collaboration with regional allies.

His administration declared the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist entity in October, and he should target key Guards’ bases and weapons in Syria accordingly. Such an approach could help prevent a larger-scale conflict.

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