Israel is looking with deep concern at the growing influence and strength of the Iraqi military factions and is preparing for the danger coming from Iraq.
According to Israeli observers, the surplus power that these factions possess after they have effectively ended their fight against the Islamic state in Iraq is a danger directed against them in the first place. In the latest comments from Tel Aviv after growing signs of growing interest in Israel over what is going on inside Iraq, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Tamir Hayman, said yesterday that Iran could use its growing influence in Iraq to turn it into a platform for attacks on Israel.
“Iraq is subject to the growing influence of the Al Quds Force and Iran”, Hayman said at a conference hosted by Tel Aviv, referring to the Al Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which carries out secret foreign operations.
He said the Iranians could “see Iraq as a suitable theater of concentration similar to what they did in Syria and use it as a platform for military mobilization that could also threaten the State of Israel”.
The Israeli military intelligence chief noted that the Iranians, especially under US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the region, “may view Iraq as a suitable place to concentrate, as they did in Syria, to use it as a platform to strengthen their forces, which threatens the State of Israel”.
General Hayman predicted a “significant change” in 2019 in Syria, and also said: “This presence of Iran with the return of stability to Syria under the umbrella of Russia is something we watch closely”.
Israeli concern has grown as the US president recently announced the withdrawal of US troops based in northern and eastern Syria which in the Israeli view will enhance Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq, and allow Iran to support the territorial communication between Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus, Beirut.
Thus making it possible for the Iranians to unite anti-Israel fronts.
In August, Reuters quoted Iranian, Iraqi and western sources as saying Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles to its allies in Iraq.
However, Baghdad denied the news.
According to Reuters, the Iranian missiles that were transferred to Iraq of the type of “Zilzal” and “Fateh 110” capable of hitting targets in the range of 200 to 700 kilometers, and thus may reach Tel Aviv from western Iraq.
The following week, Israel said it could attack such sites in Iraq, which would effectively expand its campaign, which is now focused on Syria.
In addition to the visit of the secretary-general of the Palestinian Jihad movement, Ziad Nakhla, Iranian military and intelligence sources said that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had asked Jihad to establish a joint operations room with Hezbollah and Iraqi factions.
To open a second front against Israel in case of war.
“Khamenei’s plan, which he put forward during his meeting with the Jihad delegation in Tehran, includes the annexation of the Iranian Al Quds Force to the operations room to be established in the Gaza Strip”, the report quoted the sources as saying.
Iraqi factions have threatened Israel against the backdrop of its escalation against the Gaza Strip last November, and threatened Hezbollah Brigades Iraq to escalate in response to what it described as the Israeli aggression on Gaza.