1) At the BESA Center Uzi Rubin discusses ‘Israel and the Precision-Guided Missile Threat’.
“Precision-guided missiles are being developed and deployed today by all the major world powers as well as by many smaller states. In the Middle East, Iran is leading the way; it is currently converting all its older rockets and missiles into precision weapons. It also supplies its allies in the region with expertise and materials with which to build their own precision missile capabilities—hence the Precision Project of Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies in the region.
Why is Israel so anxious to frustrate Hezbollah’s Precision Project? Because once it is achieved, it will elevate Hezbollah’s war-making capability to that of a state military force. Hezbollah will possess all the advantages of an offensive air force without needing to own a single combat aircraft. Its precision missiles will be able to paralyze any vital installation or terrorize any civilian population center in Israel.”
2) Nadav Shragai documents ‘Turkey’s Intrusion into Jerusalem’ at the JCPA.
“Turkey is working diligently to deepen its involvement and influence on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem, and in east Jerusalem neighborhoods. It is encouraging welfare-religious (dawa) activities – in the form of economic, communal, religious, and social assistance – aimed at drawing the Palestinian public toward the Turkish-Islamic heritage and at weakening Israel’s hold on the Old City and east Jerusalem.
In the second decade of the 21st century, Turkish nonprofit associations – and sometimes the Turkish government itself via the governmental aid agency TIKA – have funneled tens of millions of dollars into various initiatives that have enhanced Turkey’s influence on the Temple Mount compound, the vicinity of the Mount, the Old City, and east Jerusalem. In many of the locations, the activity has been done in cooperation with activists ideologically linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement in east Jerusalem or to members of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which is led by Sheikh Raed Salah (the Northern Branch was outlawed in November 2015).”
3) At the INSS Raz Zimmt gives his observations on ‘One Year until the Presidential Elections in Iran’.
“Although the presidential elections in Iran are expected only a year from now, the election campaign, which contains the potential for significant changes in Iran’s internal and foreign policies, is already attracting much attention both in Iran and in the West. Both main political camps in Iran, the pragmatist-reformists and the conservative-hardliners, have begun preparing for the presidential elections. President Hassan Rouhani will be finishing his term during one of the most challenging periods since the Islamic Revolution, given the intensifying pressure both at home and abroad. The conservatives enter the election campaign following two years in which they have managed to consolidate their hold on the main centers of power under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In contrast, the reformists, who over the past decade have been pushed out of positions of influence, must decide between boycotting the elections, running independent candidates who are affiliated with them, or supporting a moderate conservative candidate.”
4) Jonathan Spyer analyses ‘Assad’s Woes’.
“In late 2018, the regime appeared on the verge of strategic victory in the war. The rebels had lost their final holdings in the south of the country. President Trump had announced an imminent withdrawal from north east Syria. The remaining rebels in the north west were isolated, and dominated by extreme Sunni jihadi elements.
But the sense that one final round of diplomatic and military action could restore pre-2011 Syria has receded to the far distance. The Americans, despite periodic presidential tweets, are still there. The rebels, meanwhile, have benefited from deepening Turkish patronage and the desire of the Russians to draw Turkey closer. As a result, Syria remains territorially divided, with the regime controlling just over 60% of the country.
But even in the areas under his control, Assad is not succeeding in returning stability and re-consolidating his rule. The problem is first of all economic. Syria is a smoking ruin. Neither Assad, nor his patrons in Moscow and Teheran, have the money to begin desperately needed reconstruction. The Europeans and the US, meanwhile, will not offer assistance for as long as the regime refuses all prospects of political transition.”
(More on recent events in Deraa Province here)