When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to the Middle East today, he will be mainly tasked with trying to stave off an all-out war brewing between Israel and Iran’s proxies in Syria and Lebanon. On Saturday, Syrian regime’s anti-aircraft guns downed an Israeli fighter jet that Tel Aviv claims was targeting an Iranian-made weapons shipment intended for the military group Hezbollah in Lebanon. But that is an act of aggression since the Israeli jet entered Syrian airspace without permission. Tensions have skyrocketed recently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a provocative visit to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week vowing to confront any “threats” against it.
The Israeli regime has repeatedly voiced concern over Iran’s growing influence in Syria, where it appears that the government of Bashar Al Assad is here to stay — thanks to the help of Iran and Russia. While Iranian expansionism in the region is dangerous and should be countered by all means, the latest developments mark a very critical stage in the tinderbox that is the Middle East. Already, the region is inflamed in war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya and the prospect of another brutal conflict is not in anyone’s interest. The real agents of provocation here are Israel and Iran because they prefer to fight their wars on the battlefields of other countries. A war between Israel and Syria will spark another refugee exodus that the region is not prepared to handle. Alternatively, Lebanon, which experienced utter destruction in 2006 during a war between Israel and Hezbollah, is barely standing on its feet.Therefore, if Israel and Iran want to sort out their problems, they should do it on their own soil and spare the Arabs of any bloodshed.