US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that there is a possibility of military confrontation between Iranian and Israeli military forces on Syrian soil. The Israeli officials have arrived in Washington to discuss the matter, and Mattis was quick to warn the Congress of another military conflict in the Middle East. When he was asked whether the two sides could engage in a fight, he responded: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where. I think that it’s very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”
Mattis said that Iran was strengthening its position in Syria and he also accused the country of “bringing advanced weapons for Hezbollah through Syria. [Israel] will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.”
The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who spoke with Mattis and US national security adviser John Bolton warned that Iran might strike. He told Arabic news website Elaph: “Any site in which we see an Iranian attempt to achieve a military foothold in Syria will be struck. We won’t let that happen, regardless of the price.” In February, Israeli forces attacked Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria when one of their F16 jets was taken down at the Syrian border.
According to Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute, the Iranian presence in Syrian has become a “hugely explosive issue.” Mr. Lister told The National “The threat is unacceptable, and Israel can’t continue to watch it grow.” He added: “What it means is they [Israelis] need to do something, so we started to see more aggressive, more risky strikes.” With Russia’s inability to keep Iran calm, the possible confrontation might spread on Lebanon as well, and that is why it has to be nipped in the bud.
According to Mattis, Trump had not made the decision to get out of the Iran deal, and the White House is a place where national security meetings are held. At the meetings, the president and his aides are considering the options once the May 12 deadline passes. Of the Iran deal, Mattis said: “I have read it now three times, all 156 pages, and I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran will try to cheat. So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in.”
Another big thing happened on Thursday as the former CIA director Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as the new Secretary of State. He will replace incapable Rex Tillerson and find the department in the sorry state. However, Pompeo will fly to Brussels right away where he will discuss the NATO defenses, and from there he will go to the Middle East. There are several vacant spots on the department which need to be filled immediately, and Mr. Pompeo has promised to do it. According to Bloomberg, Paula Dobriansky is going to be the nominee for Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, and she would replace Tom Shannon. She has already been on the various positions in both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush’s administrations.