"Israel has no coalition against Iran, acting alone is madness"
    Interview with Israeli journalist

    INTERVIEWS  30 March 2023 - 14:30

    Huseyn Safarov

    Caliber.Az interview with Israeli journalist, editor-in-chief of " The Best Radio" Zvi Zilber.

    - Iran and Saudi Arabia (SA) announced two weeks ago that they had restored diplomatic relations, which had been severed in 2016. Was the announcement a disappointment for Israel?

    - Yes, there has been some disappointment in Israel, but perhaps only at the media level. Experts explain that, in principle, nothing has changed in the conflict between the Saudi Sunnis and the Iranian Shiites. Religious confrontation is almost impossible to resolve. From the point of view of the Saudis, the restoration of diplomatic relations has only one goal - to end the war in Yemen, which no one needs anymore and has long bothered them. On the other hand, it is in the interest of the SA to keep Iran away from nuclear weapons. So, when the Americans tried to stop Iran, the Saudis asked America for nuclear technology. But the Americans are even less satisfied with that, because if the Saudis develop nuclear weapons, it means Türkiye will follow, then Egypt, and the whole Middle East will become a nuclear region. Nobody wants that.

    - Do you think the other Gulf countries - the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain - will follow Saudi Arabia's example?

    - I think it doesn't depend much on the smaller Gulf emirates. For example, Bahrain has a majority Shia population that is pro-Iranian, but at the same time it has a Sunni regime. So, it is a very complicated situation there, and Bahrain will not go to an open confrontation with Iran. In addition, it seems to me that Bahrain did not break diplomatic relations with Iran.

    Kuwait also has its own position - it stayed away because it is far from Yemen. The UAE, on the other hand, is likely to stick to the course of the SA.  Qatar, meanwhile, has also never severed relations with Iran and has always found a balance between the Sunni and Shiite worlds. Because of this, SA and the UAE even broke off diplomatic relations with it and for several years Qatar was in a complete boycott.

    - The geopolitical situation around Iran is escalating. Will Israel take any measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran?

    - In fact, they are already being taken, but everything is happening in the plane of hybrid warfare. This is when unidentified air forces bomb Iranian targets in Syria. Sometimes the Americans get involved, and in response to Iranian hostility, they also bomb something there.

    As for the large-scale military operation that has been talked about so much lately, claiming that it is Israel that will solve the Iranian nuclear program, I think this is just an illusion. Yes, in 1981 Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear program with a single air strike. At that time the world community condemned Israel, but then everyone was generally satisfied. However, the situation there was very different. First, Iraq was much closer to Israel, and second, in Iraq the entire nuclear program was concentrated in one place, which was not particularly fortified. In Iran, there were dozens of nuclear facilities located in different parts of the country. In addition, they are very well protected. Often the Iranian nuclear facilities are underground, with millions of tons of rock above them. To dismantle these fortifications requires superpowers, which only the US has today. Air refueling of warplanes is also needed, because it is unlikely that SA or Azerbaijan will provide Israel with their airfields for this operation. Ultimately, Israel will need allies for this anyway.

    Besides, there is also such a factor as Hezbollah. And if we strike some kind of blow against Iran, there is no doubt that Hezbollah will launch massive rocket attacks against Israel at the same hour. And this is not the situation that we had during the Second Lebanon War - back then they fired on the northern parts of Israel, mostly from Katyusha field rocket artillery systems. Today, with Iran's encouragement, Hezbollah has missiles with precision-guided systems that can hit targets anywhere in our country. This is a very undesirable scenario for Israel.

    Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet won the support of his traditional allies. European leaders - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak even refused to issue a joint communiqué after Netanyahu's visit to Berlin. Biden did not want to meet with him at all. In other words, Israel currently has no coalition against Iran, and to act alone would be madness. Moreover, all the Israeli military unanimously say that such an operation is not feasible with the current balance of forces and capabilities. So, if such an operation is to be carried out, it would have to be a joint one with the United States. But so far it is also hard to believe that.

    - How serious is the US willing to support Israel in the current fight against Iran?

    - In 2021, the US wanted to return to the nuclear deal with Iran in the first place. Washington believes that it is possible to stop Iran's nuclear program through diplomatic efforts. One way or another, the negotiations on the nuclear deal seem to be off the table now. And it is not just because Iran supports Russia in the war against Ukraine or the violent suppression of protests inside the country. There is a whole set of reasons why negotiations with Iran are no longer possible. Europe, too, is not ready to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, at least not at this stage, despite the requests of the Israeli side. By and large, everything now depends on the situation in Ukraine. If the Russian army is defeated by the Ukrainians, then Iran, which has made a very big bet on Russia today, will also fly down the same slope into the abyss.

    - What do you think, in the case of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, what position will Russia take?

    - I think that Moscow's position here does not matter at all.  We see that Armenia has officially recognized the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). And if Russian President Vladimir Putin is on Armenian territory, he will be arrested for further extradition to The Hague. The Kremlin took this as a spit, a loud slap in the face. And there is no doubt that the Kremlin will take revenge.

    On the other hand, Russia already did not particularly like Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. So, I do not think that in a hypothetical war the Kremlin will take Armenia's side. Besides, Russia has no military potential today - everything is thrown to the Ukrainian theater of military operations. Russia pulls its forces from Armenia and Karabakh, because there is no one to fight in Ukraine. And, of course, for Putin, relations with Erdogan are of strategic importance today - Putin will not want to quarrel with him under any circumstances. Based on all this, Moscow, even at the level of rhetoric, will not intercede for Yerevan. Despite the fact that Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

    - In general, the area of military action is expanding in different regions - there is Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and the entire Middle East, with the participation of many states and individual political groups. Does this indicate that we are on the eve of World War III?

    - There is no doubt that World War III is already underway. It is partly unfolding as a hybrid war involving a wide variety of proxies. By the way, there is an opinion that this is already the Fourth World War, and the Third World War may well be considered the Cold War. Although there were no active hostilities between NATO and the Soviet bloc, the war was nevertheless fought in different regions of the world. The Americans were usually behind one side and the Soviet Union was behind the other. The conflict in Ukraine was undoubtedly something of an apogee of World War III, declared by Putin and other dictatorial regimes that want to establish a new world order.

    - The day before, for the first time in the history of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, an Azerbaijani embassy was opened in Tel Aviv. What can you say about this significant event?

    - I think that from now on, relations between Israel and Azerbaijan will develop even faster, even better. I have a very optimistic view of this event.


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