Senior Saudi journalist Abdul Rahman al-Rashed published an article in London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat this week praising Israel’s recent actions against Iran in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, calling them “an important political and military development.”

Following the recent preemptive Israeli strike against Iranian operatives in Syria, as well as attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al-Hashd Al-Sha’bi in Iraq attributed to the Jewish state, al-Rashed, formerly editor-in-chief of Asharq al-Awsat and currently the head of the editorial board of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV and Al-Hadath TV, wrote that the attacks were “unprecedented” in “scope and … daring.”

He stressed the enormous role these operations played in the struggle against Iran and its allies, and described Israel as a major regional player in the international effort to besiege Iran economically, financially and militarily, one that had managed to embarrass Iran in the international and domestic arenas. He concluded by stating that defeating Iran is possible if the pressure on it is maintained.

The following are excerpts from his article:

“Within a 24-hour period Israel attacked three countries, [targeting] Aqraba, south of Damascus [in Syria], the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim on the Syrian border, and the southern Dahiyeh [neighborhood of] the Lebanese capital [of Beirut]. Although these were limited attacks using drones, this is nevertheless an important political and military development unprecedented in its scope and its daring.

“While Israeli drones are flying through the skies to target Iran, American satellites are tracking Iranian vessels, including oil tankers, impeding their movement across the seas and monitoring the harbors where they anchor. And this is in addition to the expansion of the lists of individuals and companies that have been hit with sanctions for maintaining business ties with Iran.

“Those who claim that the escalation of Israeli [military action] has to do with the [upcoming Israeli] election and is manufactured by [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu as part of his bid for re-election, [I say that] this may be one of the motivations behind the three recent attacks [but not the only motivation].

“As a matter of fact, the Israeli presence in these battle arenas is part of its regional strategy, based on intensive attacks on Iran and its militias on Syrian and Iraqi soil, which began over a year ago. These actions have positioned Tel Aviv as a regional player that is no longer viewed [only] in the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in a wider framework.

“These Israeli actions seem to be [part of] its supreme strategic playbook, rather than an election tactic, and have turned Israel into a central component in the international formula whose aim is to besiege Iran economically, financially and militarily and push it back, after it gained power as a result of the nuclear deal that ignored its foreign escapades.

“Defying Iran’s threats, less than two days after an Iranian cleric [Kazem al-Haeri] issued a fatwa [Islamic religious ruling] urging the Iraqis to attack U.S. [forces] in Iraq, Israeli drones carried out a new attack on the Iraqi Hashd al-Sha’bi [the Popular Mobilization Forces, a Shi’ite militia], which is loyal to Iran, bombing its weapons depots on the Syrian border. The Israelis did not issue a statement boasting of their heroic attacks on Al-Qaim in Iraq or the Dahiyeh in Lebanon, but everyone can recognize their fingerprints and knows they carried out [the attacks].

“The attacks are not large-scale enough to destroy Iran or its armed militias in the region, but they play a huge role in the military and psychological [struggle] against Iran and its allies, and embarrass Iran in front of its followers in the Middle East and domestically. [Iran] cannot retaliate against Israel with the same force without paying a heavy price, due to the [military] superiority of the Jewish state.

“Amid the news reports [about the attacks], heard by millions, the Iranian leadership found no [way] to fend off the public shame except to falsely deny [the reports]. This is what Mohsen Rezai, commander of [Iran’s Islamic] Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC], did. Addressing the Iranians, he denied that there had been an Israeli attack in Syria, contradicting the government of Syria [itself], which officially admitted the incident, as well as Hezbollah leader [Hassan Nasrallah], who [usually] refrains from speaking of the losses incurred by his Iranian commanders, [but this time] admitted [that the attack had occurred].

“Defeating Iran is possible, if the pressure on it is maintained by relentlessly targeting its armed militias in the region, its oil sales and its transactions in dollars.”

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