Archive for September 10, 2017

Trump Should Block Obama Move to Send Stolen Jewish Religious Artifacts to Iraq

September 10, 2017

Trump Should Block Obama Move to Send Stolen Jewish Religious Artifacts to Iraq, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, September 10, 2017

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

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The Point has been covering this story for a while. This goes back to 2013.

Iraq in the 40s had 350,000 Jews. Today it has somewhere between four and none.

Despite that the Obama administration plans to send the Jewish Archive consisting of religious artifacts, bibles, marriage contracts, community records and private notebooks seized by the Iraqi Secret Police from the Jewish community back to Iraq.

The material is not the property of the Iraqi government, either Saddam’s regime which stole it, or its Shiite successor which claims to want it, but not the Jews who owned it. It’s the property of Iraqi Jewish refugees and their reconstituted communities in America, Israel and anywhere else.

The personal material, like marriage contracts and school books, should go to the families that owned them and to their descendants. The religious material, which a Muslim country that purged its Jewish and Christian communities has no use for, should go Iraqi Jewish religious communities wherever they are now.

Jewish bibles seized from the custody of the Nazi SS would not be sent to the German government. There is no reason to send Jewish bibles into the custody of the Iraqi government.

Despite that, the State Department has announced that the stolen Jewish property will be sent to the Iranian puppet regime in Baghdad.

The United States will return to Iraq next year a trove of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to keep in this country, a State Department official said.

A four-year extension to keep the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the U.S. is set to expire in September 2018, as is funding for maintaining and transporting the items. The materials will then be sent back to Iraq, spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement sent to JTA on Thursday.

Rodriguez said the State Department “is keenly aware of the interest in the status” of the archive.

“Maintaining the archive outside of Iraq is possible,” he said, “but would require a new agreement between the Government of Iraq and a temporary host institution or government.”

No, it doesn’t. The archive doesn’t belong to the Iraqi government, but to the Jewish population that was ethnically cleansed from Iraq.

The United States recovered the archive and should have turned it over to the Jewish community. Instead we had a bizarre Kafkaesque process in which the archive was restored to be turned over to the thieves who stole it.

Jewish political leaders have invested a lot of energy into looted art in Europe. And that’s a worthwhile cause. Yet this is a far more compelling issue. The archive contains the history of a Jewish community. It matters far more than a Klimt painting. Sadly, the priorities are those of a secular Ashkenazi leadership that is uninterested in the Iraqi Jewish archive because it’s Sephardi and religious. Meanwhile the American Sephardi Federation’s Ashkenazi boss Jason Guberman-Pfeffer seems far more interested in defending the hateful anti-Israel prejudices of David N. Myers, than in fighting for the archive.

And, another factor was the reluctance of a largely liberal leadership to stand up to Obama.

The archive is set to be exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Maryland Oct. 15-Jan. 15. The exhibit page says the items include a Hebrew Bible with commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793 and an 1815 version of the Zohar, a Jewish mystical text.

“There is no justification in sending the Jewish archives back to Iraq, a country that has virtually no Jews and no accessibility to Jewish scholars or the descendants of Iraqi Jews,” Gina Waldman, founder and president of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, said Friday in a statement to JTA. “The U.S. government must ensure that the Iraqi archives are returned to its rightful owners, the exiled Iraqi Jewish community,”

Stanley Urman, executive vice president for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, echoed Waldman in saying there was no justification for sending back the archive.

“This is Jewish communal property. Iraq stole it and kept it hidden away in a basement. Now that we’ve managed to reclaim it, it would be like returning stolen goods back to the thief,” Urman told JTA on Friday.

It’s exactly like it. Meanwhile here’s the bizarre anti-Semitic justification on the Iraqi side for wanting the archive. Here’s Al Arabiya’s explanation

Experts add that Israel is keen on obtaining the manuscripts in order to prove their claim that the Jews had built the Tower of Babel as part of its attempt to distort the history of the Middle East for its own interests.

Wonderful.

Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”

“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.

It’s exactly like it.

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

September 10, 2017

H/t Beyond the Cusp

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

 

 

H/t Power Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rouhani Calls for Formation of Tehran-Caracas Joint Economic Commission

September 10, 2017

Rouhani Calls for Formation of Tehran-Caracas Joint Economic Commission, Tasnim News Agency, September 10, 2017

Iran and Venezuela enjoy a high level of diplomatic ties and are known as allies, as both are opposed to the US policies.

While street riots and anti-government protests have escalated in Venezuela in recent months, Iran has voiced backing for Venezuela’s democratically elected government, saying Tehran supports talks between the government and the opposition for peaceful resolution of differences.

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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said formation of a joint economic commission would greatly help expand Tehran-Caracas relations.

“The establishment of a joint economic commission between the two countries is an important step to further strengthen mutual cooperation (between Iran and Venezuela),” Rouhani said in a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Sunday ahead of a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

He also underlined the importance of more consultations among oil exporting countries, saying efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, Venezuela in particular, have played an important role in balancing the global oil price and production.

In his turn, Maduro called for enhanced ties between Iran and Venezuela in various fields and said, “The formation of a joint economic commission could prepare the ground for (the two nations) to explore new opportunities and strengthen their cooperation.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, he noted that the Venezuelan nation would never buckle under US pressure and sanctions, saying, “We will resist foreign pressure (and sanctions) by maintaining our unity”.

Iran and Venezuela enjoy a high level of diplomatic ties and are known as allies, as both are opposed to the US policies.

While street riots and anti-government protests have escalated in Venezuela in recent months, Iran has voiced backing for Venezuela’s democratically elected government, saying Tehran supports talks between the government and the opposition for peaceful resolution of differences.

CIA’s New Boss Accused of Not Being Interested in Diversity

September 10, 2017

CIA’s New Boss Accused of Not Being Interested in Diversity, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, September 10, 2017

Another reminder of what a disaster McCabe is.

During his very first all-hands speech to the CIA workforce, Pompeo cheered the officers and analysts, pledging to support them. But on the issue of diversity, Pompeo’s response raised concerns. According to two sources familiar with the speech, he was repeatedly asked about his commitment to diversity. After the third question, he visibly lost his temper. He snapped back, saying he didn’t know what people wanted him to do besides seek out the best person for the job, one source who was present at the speech recalled.

The best person for the job? Come on. What is this? Some sort of meritocracy. 

“He didn’t seem to understand the need for a workforce that reflects America,” another source familiar with speech noted.

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The CIA needs diversity like a racehorse needs a fifth leg. 

The Foreign Policy “expose” accidentally demonstrates that with its opening anecdote.

In early summer, Judy and Dennis Shepard bought plane tickets to give a speech to the workforce at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The Shepards in 1998 had founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in honor of their late son — a 21-year-old college freshman who was viciously attacked and left tied to a fence before he was brought to a hospital where he died of his injuries. One of the most notorious anti-gay acts of violence in U.S. history, his death led to some of the country’s first federal hate crime laws.

The Shepards had been invited to the CIA to talk about diversity and LGBTQ rights, joining a long line of guest speakers at the covert overseas spy agency including lawmakers, former officials, authors, and celebrities.

The schedule was set, and the details arranged, but in the 11th hour, the senior leadership shut down the event. The seventh floor, where the director’s office sits, had the Shepards’ speech canceled, questioning what value it would bring to the CIA mission.

Good question. What value does it bring? FP’s article treats the answer as self-evident. But it isn’t at all.

Does the CIA have a major gay bashing problem? Is it involved in solving gay hate crimes? There’s no concievable reason for this except Obama Inc’s obsession with shoehorning its social justice agenda into everything. And so it was rightly canceled. The CIA should have better things to do than diversity training. Except not according to FP.

The cancellation, now under review by the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, according to a second source, left employees disheartened — particularly those invested in the diversity reforms that were emphasized during the tenure of John Brennan, the former CIA director.

…if you were looking for yet another reason why John Brennan shouldn’t have ever been allowed to run the CIA or fry eggs over the stove…

But the media is playing the same old game of turning embedded Obama operatives in an organization into anonymous sources that highlight some larger supposed frustration about the organization’s mission. Because #Resistance.

For those who have worked inside the agency, the backtracking on diversity represents a threat to the workforce and national security,

Yes, not hearing a lecture on Matthew Shepard undermines our national security…

The agency needs employees from different backgrounds and orientations to effectively recruit agents abroad.

Somehow the old CIA managed to recruit all sorts back in the day. Has the new diversity CIA gotten better at recruiting assets?

“The most important intelligence product … during the 1950s and ’60s and ’70s was essentially produced by old white men,” said David Priess, a former CIA briefer and author of The President’s Book of Secrets.

Not to mention science. If only Newton or Einstein had been forced to sit through a lecture on Angela Davis or Matthew Shephard.

In March 2013, John Brennan was appointed director under President Barack Obama, and the new CIA head moved to make diversity and employee rights a priority. Senior leaders competed for spots to speak at employee gay pride events and accompanied the director to diversity events and celebrations.

…priotiies. When the left takes over, national security ceases to be a priority and is replaced by political correctness.

But for Brennan, the changes were a matter of building a better workforce, as well as national security. “I believe strongly that diversity and inclusion [are] what this country is all about,” Brennan said in a phone interview with FP. “I can think of no organization that can make a better business case for diversity and inclusion than the CIA.”

Except just about every organization. But who wants to waste time on intel when there’s virtue to be signaled.

In June, the intelligence community held its pride summit at FBI headquarters. Speakers included then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who said the intelligence community’s credibility derived from the importance it placed on diversity. “We all need to be allies, to walk in each other’s shoes, to try to understand what it’s like, for example, to be gay, a person of color, or transgender, or all of these at the same time,” he said in a keynote speech.

Another reminder of what a disaster McCabe is.

During his very first all-hands speech to the CIA workforce, Pompeo cheered the officers and analysts, pledging to support them. But on the issue of diversity, Pompeo’s response raised concerns. According to two sources familiar with the speech, he was repeatedly asked about his commitment to diversity. After the third question, he visibly lost his temper. He snapped back, saying he didn’t know what people wanted him to do besides seek out the best person for the job, one source who was present at the speech recalled.

The best person for the job? Come on. What is this? Some sort of meritocracy.

“He didn’t seem to understand the need for a workforce that reflects America,” another source familiar with speech noted.

They don’t want a workforce that reflects America, but one that reflects Berkeley.

When asked if Pompeo had attended any diversity events, the spokesperson instead referred to Pompeo’s commitment to hiring the best person. “Whether that person is an African American IT professional from New York, a Pashtun speaking Italian from Montana or a Hmong scholar from Mississippi, there is only one question:  can that person deliver the mission they are tasked with undertaking to keep America safe?” the spokesperson said.

“This is heartbreaking,” said Bakos, the former CIA analyst, of reports that diversity efforts are backsliding. “It’s already too easy to get these flag-waving, chest-bumping people” hired into the agency.

And why would we want those?

US-Russian pincer for ISIS in Euphrates Valley

September 10, 2017

US-Russian pincer for ISIS in Euphrates Valley, DEBKAfile, September 10, 2017

The US and Russia have just agreed to each provide air support for a conjoined pincer movement to pin the Islamic State down in its last strongholds of Abu Kamal and Mayadin in the Euphrates Valley, DEBKAfile reports from exclusive intelligence sources.

The number of jihadists assembled there, mainly from Mosul and Raqqa, is estimated at 10,000.

The new US-Russian understanding, our military sources say, provides a roadmap for twin offensives – one led by Syrian regime, Hizballah and pro-Iranian militia armies; the second, by the pro-US Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),  the Kurdish YPG and the Syrian Arab Shammari Sanadid Brigade. The first will fight under Russian air cover and the second under US air support. The tribesmen are fighting with the blessing of Saudi Arabia.

The two columns will advance through two separate corridors.

The Russian-backed formation will head east from the town of Ash-Shula along the M20 highway. En route, they are tasked with completing the capture of Deir ez-Zour, after breaking through the ISIS siege last week, and mopping up ISIS fighters outside the town. After that, they will head northwest to their final destination, the border town of Abu Kamal.

The US-backed force will set out from the northern Syrian Kurdish province of Hasakeh and push on to the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates. (See map.)  After crossing the Khabur, they will head along the Euphrates bank for the same destination, Abu Kamal.

Since the Russian and US air forces will both be operating in a very tight space, the US war room at the CENTCOM commander center in Baghdad and the Russian Hmeimim Air base in Syrian Latakia, will be coordinating aerial operations closely enough to prevent accidental collisions.

An agreement was reached between the US and the Syrian regime to drop references to “de-escalation zones”  and instead talk about “deconfliction.”

Although the two powers have reached an unprecedented measure of accord for working together with their respective allies and proxies for a concerted effort to wipe out the last ISIS strongholds along the Syrian-Iraqi border, nonetheless certain areas are still unresolved:

1. Which of the two will take charge of the oil fields of Deir ez-Zour? Control of this oil-rich region region is a valuable strategic prize for the winner.

2. Which of the two formations will actually lead the battles for Abu Kamal and Mayadin?

3.  And which of the two will be left in control of the Syrian-Iraqi border running through the Euphrates Valley?

Leaving any of these these points up in the air is a recipe for major clashes between the pro-Russian and pro-US forces which have banded together pro tem against the Islamic State’s last stand.

China Warns Trump: “We Will Back North Korea If The US Strikes First”

September 10, 2017

Source: China Warns Trump: “We Will Back North Korea If The US Strikes First” | Zero Hedge

All day Saturday, South Korea braced for a possible new missile test by North Korea as the provocative northern neighbor marked its founding anniversary, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test rattled global financial markets and further escalated tensions in the region. Throughout the week, South Korean officials warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of U.N. sanctions and to further provoke the US. As Reuters reports, Pyongyang marks its founding anniversary each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware. Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.

Ultimately, September 9 came and went, and North Korea did nothing, perhaps signalling its eagerness to de-escalate. Or perhaps not, and Kim is simply looking to surprise his adversaries with the ICBM launch date. Experts have said the rogue, isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something Trump has vowed to prevent.

Celebrating its founding anniversary, a front-page editorial of the Saturday edition of North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said the country should make “more high-tech Juche weapons to continuously bring about big historical events such as a miraculous victory of July 28.”. The July date refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile test (Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather).

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Meanwhile, South Korean nuclear experts, checking for contamination, said on Friday they had found minute traces of radioactive xenon gas but that it was too early to link it to Sunday’s explosion. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said it had been conducting tests on land, air and water samples since shortly after the North Korean nuclear test on Sunday. There was no chance the xenon “will have an impact on South Korea’s territory or population”, the agency said.

What is more concerning, however, is a Friday report on NBC, according to which Trump is readying a package of diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, including cyberattacks and increased surveillance and intelligence operations, after the nation’s sixth and largest nuclear test.

Trump’s top national security advisers walked him through a range of options over lunch in the White House on Sunday, just hours after North Korea’s latest test, officials said.

According to NBC, Trump is also seriously considering adopting diplomatically risky sanctions on Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang and upgrading missile defense systems in the region, administration officials said. In addition, the administration is not ruling out moving tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea should Seoul request them, a White House official said, though many consider such a move a nonstarter. It would break with nearly three decades of U.S. policy of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. officials have also made the case to China that if Beijing doesn’t take stronger steps against North Korea, such as cutting off oil exports, South Korea and Japan are likely to pursue their own nuclear weapons programs and the U.S. won’t stop them, the official said. “It’s more a message for China than North Korea,” the official said.

The U.S. has adopted sanctions aimed at Chinese entities that conduct business with North Korea, but has so far held back on broadly targeting China’s banking system. China has told U.S. officials it would protest such a move diplomatically and retaliate, according to the senior administration official.

So what happened on Sunday? According to NBC, Trump’s national security advisers presented him with U.S. military options, including pre-emptive strikes, and nuclear capabilities should America be called on to abide by its treaty obligations in the region, White House and defense officials said.

The president’s advisers have made the case, however, that military strikes on North Korea could have serious repercussions, senior defense officials said, and the most glaring among these is that China has told administration officials that if the U.S. strikes North Korea first, Beijing would back Pyongyang, a senior military official told NBC.

 

This is not the first time China has warned the US not to escalate: on August 11, Beijing, through the state-owned media, cautioned the US president on Friday that it would intervene (militarily) on North Korea’s behalf if the US and South Korea launch a preemptive strike to “overthrow the North Korean regime,” according to a statement in the influential state-run newspaper Global Times.

“If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said.

At the same time, the Chinese regime made it clear that its preferred outcome would be a continuation of the status quo, warning Kim Jong Un, or perhaps Trump, that it would “remain neutral if North Korea were to strike first.”

As we said almost one month ago:

“not surprisingly, analysts have compared the standoff between the two nuclear powers (the North is a recent, if untested, member of this club) to a modern day Cuban Missile crisis.  “This situation is beginning to develop into this generation’s Cuban Missile crisis moment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note. “While the U.S. president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution.

Since then, the potential risks, mutual threats and near-hostilities have grown exponentially. China – which is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92% of two-way trade last year, and also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime – has only dug in deeper, explaining repeatedly that it wants a peaceful de-escalation and that it would not side with the US in case of a military conflict.

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What happens next? Well, on one hand, after today’s lack of launch, there is hope that things will indeed de-escalate. A headline that just hit from Yonhap may accelerate this:

  • SOUTH KOREA SEES NO SIGNS OF IMMINENT ADDITIONAL PROVOCATIONS BY NORTH KOREA THAT COULD LEAD TO ANOTHER MISSILE OR NUCLEAR TEST: YONHAP

On the other hand, what the US does next may be a sufficient provocation to force Kim to lob another ICBM. Earlier today, Reuters reported that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier left its home port in Japan for a routine autumn patrol of the Western Pacific, a Navy spokeswoman said. That area included “waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.” North Korea vehemently objects to military exercises on or near the peninsula, and China and Russia have suggested the United States and South Korea halt their exercises to lower tension.

Another imminent escalation is due on Monday.

That’s when the United States told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions.  U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last Monday that she intended to call for a vote on Sept. 11 and then the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday.

The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and to subject Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear how North Korean allies China and Russia would vote, but a senior U.S. official on Friday night expressed scepticism that either nation would accept anything more stringent than a ban on imports of North Korean textiles. Chinese officials have privately expressed fears that imposing an oil embargo could risk triggering massive instability in its neighbor.

Meanwhile, tensions are also growing between China and South Korea. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China. Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and key suppliers slid on Friday on worries over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments. Recently Hyundai auto sales in China have crashed as local suppliers and potential customers have shied away from the company due to nationalistic prerogatives. The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumor”.

The good news, for markets, is that this Saturday’s widely anticipated ICBM launch from North Korea did not take place; the bad news is that said launch was at best delayed, and if and when it comes, the US will have to choose: do nothing again, and appears increasingly weak on the global diplomatic arena, or retaliate, and risk dragging China into the conflict, potentially precipitating the appearance of mushroom clouds around the globe.

Israel just bombed a chemical weapons factory that Syria shouldn’t have had

September 10, 2017

Source: Israel just bombed a chemical weapons factory that Syria shouldn’t have had – Vox

This could also raise tensions with Iran and Hezbollah.

An Israeli F-16 jet takes off on December 9, 2014 at the Ovda airbase in the Negev Desert near Eilat, southern Israel.
Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

While the international media was transfixed by the crisis in North Korea this week, Israel did something provocative and potentially dangerous: It bombed a suspected Syrian chemical weapons factory. It’s a move that escalates Jerusalem’s quiet involvement in the Syrian civil war and that may heighten tensions with Iran.

Around 2:42 am local time on Thursday, Israeli jets attacked a Syrian military installation near the city of Masyaf that allegedly produces chemical weapons and advanced missiles. The Syrian Army said two soldiers died, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the UK-based monitoring organization that supports anti-government forces in the civil war, claims there were at least seven casualties.

In a statement, the Syrian military said there could be “serious repercussions of such acts of aggression on the security and stability of the region.”

The Israeli government didn’t comment on the operation. But it looks like it hit Syria to prevent Iranian ally Hezbollah — a Lebanese militant group that considers Israel an enemy — from acquiring precision-guided missiles to use against Israel.

And the strikes came just one day after the United Nations blamed Syrian forces for a chemical weapons attack in April. After that attack, President Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian military base but didn’t completely destroy it. Israel’s strikes, however, appear to have hit much harder. And it’s a very big deal that Syria still had a chemical weapons facility, given that it had earlier promised to give up all of those weapons.

But even though the facility was in Syrian territory, the real target of the strike was Iran.

That’s because Tehran has spent the past five years fighting to keep Assad in power while taking advantage of the civil war’s chaos to gain more control in the region, in part by providing Hezbollah with advanced weapons. Israel, however, is willing to use military force to stop it from achieving those goals — and that could lead to problems down the road.

“This is something Israel cannot accept”

There’s little doubt that Israel is trying to send a message to Iran and Hezbollah.

“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment,” Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said at a news conference last week. “It wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel.”

“This is something Israel cannot accept,” he continued.

That line of argument has been used by other senior members of the Israeli government.

“Everything will be done to prevent the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said during a radio interview on Thursday.

Israel has launched around 100 strikes inside Syria over the past five years, according to Amir Eshel, a former chief of the Israeli Air Force. Usual targets include convoys of Syrian military or Hezbollah members. But Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, told reporters in a conference call that Thursday’s airstrikes went further than other attacks because it targeted the chemical weapons center.

Israel is particularly worried about Hezbollah because they fought each other before. In 2006, they battled in a month-long war where the militant group fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces fired around 7,000 bombs and missiles into Lebanon. About 160 Israelis troops and civilians died, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and about 1,100 Lebanese — most of them civilians — perished, per the Human Rights Watch, a US-headquartered advocacy organization. It also reports about 4,400 Lebanese were injured, and around 1 million people were displaced.

Today, Israel believes Hezbollah has around 150,000 rockets at its disposal. But those weapons aren’t as advanced as the precision weapons made at the facility Israel struck. If Hezbollah acquired them, then it could more effectively damage Israel in a future war.

It’s worth noting the timing of the strikes. On Wednesday, a UN commission said Syria was responsible for killing around 80 people with chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Assad denies his government had anything to do with the attack. In 2013, Syria promised to give up his chemical weapons as part of a diplomatic deal with Russia and the United States to avert a planned American strike that would have been in response to Assad gassing almost 1,000 of his own citizens to death near Damascus.

“The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli intelligence, tweeted on September 7.

Hezbollah and Assad-backed forces have yet to strike back after Israeli attacks in Syria. As the New York Times notes, that’s likely because they prefer to focus on winning the civil war rather than on another fight with Israel.

But that could change. “Now it’s important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response and even opposition from Russia,” Yadlin tweeted.

So far, at least, Syria and Hezbollah haven’t hit back.