In a blanket denial that relations between Tel Aviv and Washington are strained over how best to deal with the rising threat posed by Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, U.S. and Israeli officials are nevertheless focused on looking at ways to enhance their cooperative efforts to thwart the terrorist organization.
First, the politics. White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is alleged to have yelled at his Israeli counterparts and dismissed concerns about Hezbollah being a terror organization during a high-level meeting in August, but officials from both countries have denied that. Michael Anton, a spokesman for the White House NSC, denied that McMaster ever yelled at his Israeli counterparts and described multiple media reports claiming otherwise as flatly untrue.
Next, the intelligence indicators. McMaster is said to have tasked the National Security Council “staff to look at ways the U.S. can be more aggressive in its posture towards Hezbollah,” according to Michael Anton, an NSC spokesman.
According to one published report, “The effort to counter Hezbollah, which is supported by the Israelis, is ‘a major element of our Iran strategy,’ according to Anton, who described this policy as directed at ensuring that Iran and it’s [sic] terror proxies do not retain a permanent foothold in Syria, where they would ‘endanger Israel’s borders.'”
Previous Watchfloor reports and Strategic Intelligence Summaries have noted Israeli concerns about Iran’s interest in raising its profile and influence in a post-war Syria, directly and with its proxies, which includes Hezbollah — and how Israel views that (and a lasting Iranian and Iranian proxy presence) on its border as an unacceptable threat. This report indicates that the United States, rather than diverging from Israel on this concern, is focused on finding ways to better help Israel deal with it.
Without question Hezbollah, and to a great degree Iran, are positioning themselves for the next stage of conflict with Israel.
Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 4: What are the latest indicators of war in the Middle East? Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region. Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.