The Beating Drums of War :: By Matt Ward

Israel is facing a multi-spectrum war in the very near future. While the West has largely been distracted, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia have been busy over the past six months cementing their positions in Syria, readying themselves for what is fast becoming an inevitable confrontation with Israel. At this point, it is not a question of “if” but “when” war will come to the Middle East.

Yet, strangely talk of “peace” will not be quieted. Both Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump are still addressing closed-off meetings, garnishing support for the much-anticipated US-led peace plan. At point of writing, the assumption is that this peace plan will be presented later this year, possibly “after the Israeli” elections, which would be later on in the second half of 2019. And the air is full of talk of “concessions” being needed from “both sides.”

Despite this talk of concessions, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has not dismissed the suggestion of this peace plan out of hand, but seemingly remains open to its possibilities. He said, “We wait and see what the final plan will look like. It will be presented after the Israeli elections – as you can imagine, that takes up a little bit of my time right now. I don’t think that any of us should reject the plan and reject this initiative by the American administration before it’s even presented.”

Netanyahu went on to say, “If we make progress and indeed a formal peace with the Palestinians, it would help enormously in the Arab world, and I would say with parts of the Muslim world; but I think it is equally true that the normalization of relations with the Arab world also helps achieve peace with the Palestinians, and I’m happy to say that there’s progress on that.”

Yet, amidst the continued talk of “peace,” what we actually see in the Middle East is frantic preparations for war. On Israeli’s southern and northern borders, war is only a hair’s breadth away.

Hezbollah, Israel’s implacable and blood-avowed enemy from Lebanon, north of Israel, are now resurgent in Syria and have been working hard on converting their Zel Zal 2 medium range missiles into precision-guided missile systems. Of the 14,000 missiles they currently have, at least 250 have so far been upgraded and converted into precision-guided cruise missiles.

Hezbollah is striving to develop its precision-guided missile technology, and there can only be one immediate target for that technology: Israel. At the moment, 250 upgraded missiles would not constitute enough to fight a war with Israel, but it is a very good start, and as clear an indication as is needed of their intention for war.

Considering the density of population in the Israeli heartland, if only a few of these missiles got through the Israeli defenses, or were not shot down by the IDF, the devastation they could cause would be shocking. As, no doubt, would be the Israeli retaliation.

Yet, the missile threat now facing Israel does not end there. Iran themselves are a growing and increasingly significant threat. On February 2nd, the new Iranian designed and built Hoveizeh cruise missile was tested. This is a medium-range cruise missile designed specifically for attacking Israel. It is clear that Iran has a growing determination to use them. This Hoveizah missile has a reliable range exceeding 1,200 km, which just so happens to also be the exact distance from Iran to Israel.

This Iranian cruise missile is different from all others that have come before it. Unlike other missiles produced by the Islamic Republic, where defensive countermeasures do exist, this low-flying missile flies underneath radar to its target, thus enabling Iran to claim, with some justification, that neither the United States nor Israel have any credible defense against this specific threat.

They are likely right in that assumption as up to this point there is no military in the world that has been able to develop a consistently reliable means of intercepting cruise-missile technology, including the United States of America.

This missile represents a grave threat to the Jewish State. One can only assume that the only thing keeping this from Israel right now is the international condemnation using such a weapon would bring, and the enormous retaliation Israel would undoubtedly bring to bear on Iran should they dare launch even one at the Israeli heartland.

There is no benefit at this point in playing down the growing threat to Israel; the Hozeizeh represents a powerful new weapon in the Iranian armory, and at present there is nothing Israel or her allies can do to counter it.

Additionally, Iran has been heavily lobbying Russia to extend its formidable S-300 air-defense systems over Lebanon and southern Syria. The reason for this is that such a system would dramatically increase cover for Hezbollah’s own precision-missile programs. To this effect, Moscow has recently announced that it has begun the process of actually training Syria crews in the operation of these S-300 batteries, training that is predicted to be completed by mid to late March.

The developing situation in Iraq does not look much better. In Iraq – not often talked about these days amidst the backdrop of a ruined Syria – Iran is utterly dominant, having finally succeeded in creating a land bridge through to the Middle East. At this point, Iranian forces are moving, almost uninhibited, through Iraq to take up positions almost directly against the Israeli border in northern and eastern Syria. To deflect international attention from this obvious provocation, Russia has been jumping on the Palestinian issue as international “cover” for these Iranian movements, successfully drawing attention away from Iran and back onto Israel.

It is also worth noting that there is no doubt that the recent announcement by the US of its forthcoming troop withdrawal in Syria has, without question, benefited both Iran and Hezbollah. Intelligence has already confirmed that Iran has been redeploying its forces, regrouping them in northern and eastern Syria. This can only be so that they can take immediate advantage of the US withdrawal and so extend their strategic depth deep into Syria, increasing the stranglehold on this ruined Middle Eastern nation.

War is coming to the Middle East between Iran and Israel. There seems to be an inevitability to it at this point. In order for war between Israel, Iran and her proxies to be prevented, it is absolutely essential that Israel is able to develop a stable deterrence to their actions in Syria.

Israel simply has not been able to do so. In fact, they haven’t even come close to developing a coherent deterrence to the Iranian threat in the Syrian theater. The downing last year by Syria of a Russian transport aircraft with the loss of a number of active Russian servicemen, and the subsequently hostile Russian reaction (blaming Israel) has fundamentally changed the environment for Israel, effectively tying Israel’s hands behind her back.

Equally, a second key component part in the prevention of regional war lies in Israel’s ability to make explicitly clear, and then be able to fully enforce, what her “red lines” are. At present, while everybody seems to know what Israel’s “red lines” are, the menacing presence of Russia in Syria, and Russia’s overt support for Iran and her proxies like Hezbollah has meant that, frankly, nobody cares about Israel’s declared “red lines” anymore.

Where there is no deterrence for war, war often becomes an inevitability. The truth is that Iran and Hezbollah feel emboldened in their opposition to Israel. On February 23rd, Iran’s National Security Advisor, Ali Shamkhani, decided to take the extraordinary step of publically publishing, and then commenting on, Iran’s foreign policy goal of toppling Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Iran has even gone so far as to openly acknowledge that they intend to do this through war.

Moscow is also no longer masking its true intentions in the Middle East. Ahead of the recent visit to Russia by Netanyahu, Moscow revealed that its loyalty now lies exclusively with Hezbollah, whom they believe is a “force for stability and security” in the region.

Vladimir Putin is simply not interested in hearing reports from Netanyahu about the misdemeanors of Hezbollah, and has no time for talk of their military buildup in Syria opposite to the Israeli border. This deepening Russian attitude towards the Shiite Lebanese group comes after a direct face-to-face meeting between Vladimir Putin (Russia), Hassan Rouhani (Iran) and President Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey) at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14th. The discussions centered on two discussion points: Israel and Syria. It would seem to me that Israel’s enemies, as predicted long ago in scripture, are indeed now taking counsel together, actively preparing to invade an un-walled land to take a “plunder.”

Russia is not even attempting to hide these intentions anymore. Russia has revealed that its support for Hezbollah and Iran’s buildup in Syria is expressly because of Lebanon’s energy and gas supplies. Russian energy giant, Rosneft, has just signed a 20-plus year contract for the exclusive management of the oil and gas fields in northern Lebanon. And because of this, they are very soon expected, with full Russian backing, to claim that the recently discovered Israeli Leviathan gas fields belong to them, and not Israel.  And now they have the full weight and might of Russia backing up that claim.

We are on the brink of the prophesied war of Gog and Magog. I have always viewed this war as a post- rapture event because it is about the time of this war that God once again begins to turn His face back to his ancient inheritance, Israel. Whether this is right or wrong, it is looking increasingly likely that we will not have too long to wait to determine whether this confrontation really does take place after the Gentile age has concluded or not, because this war is going to happen soon. Really soon.

Keep looking up.