Jerry Seib made some interesting observations over at the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the ongoing Gaza war and how it pertains to Iran. Iran, he surmised, may have pushed for the current conflict with Hamas’ leadership in order to tie Israel down militarily on its southern border, thereby limiting Israel’s ability to contemplate taking action against Iran’s nuclear program. But Iran may have miscalculated:
By opening the way to a harsh Israeli reprisal in coming days, Hamas might simply be giving Israel an excuse to take down much of the Hamas military capability, at least for now. And that would weaken Hamas’ ability to launch any reprisal attacks on behalf of its Iranian allies later on, should Israel choose to go after that Iranian nuclear sites. If that’s the case, Hamas might in the long run, and quite unintentionally, be allowing Israel to reduce one worry as it contemplates action against Iran.
Indeed, this could add incentives for Israel to move against Iran sooner rather than later. If Israel succeeds in destroying most, if not all, of Hamas’ arsenal, they could find themselves with a decent window of opportunity during which they will be able to act without having to worry about rockets raining down on their civilian population from Gaza. This window will not stay open forever. Hamas will eventually re-arm, and Israel’s chance to strike a definitive blow against Iran’s nuclear program without facing consequences in its south will be lost.
In President Obama’s first term he tried to reduce American engagement in the Middle East; so far, it is beginning to look as if he will spend much of his second term getting sucked back in.