Israel’s security interest in not giving Iran free rein in its neighboring country remains U.S. policy, with or without a nuclear deal.
The U.S. airstrikes in eastern Syria are rooted in past events, namely the drone attacks on the al-Tanf American military base located farther south in the tri-border region of Syria, Iraq and Jordan. These were attributed to Iran-backed militias. As the U.S. sees it, the latest attacks on areas used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are retaliation.
However, it would not be wrong to look at this issue in its wider context. For years, Israel has been attacking military targets in Syria that have been linked to Iran. This has been tolerated by Russia, which — against a backdrop of deteriorating Israeli-Russian relations — recently strongly criticized these actions. At the same time, according to Israeli media, the government in Jerusalem expects the U.S. and Iran to reach a new nuclear deal.
In this sense, with its airstrikes, the U.S. government under Joe Biden is not only sending a military message to Iran but, despite all the differences of opinion, also a political one to its closest allies in the region. That message is: Israel’s security interest in not giving Iran free rein in its neighboring country remains U.S. policy, with or without a nuclear deal. The former would result in a windfall for Iranians by way of relief from U.S. sanctions and the unfreezing of Iranian funds. They should not make the mistake of investing this in their aggressive regional policy — in Lebanese Hezbollah, for example.