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Why Iran is also a strategic asset for Israel

A significant number of Arab and Muslim leaders in the Middle East and the world fear Iran. For them, Israel is the only real answer to the Iranian threat and the only country able to confront it.

There is broad agreement in Israel about the fact that Iran has captured the top spot on the list of the Jewish State’s bitterest enemies over the past decade. Israel views the “Iranian threat” as the sole existential threat to the country’s future. Iran is Israel’s last remaining significant strategic threat in all security-related respects. The Iranian nuclear program is considered a direct strategic threat, and Iran’s expansion throughout the Middle East and the Shiite axis it heads from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Syrian port of Latakia in the north are regarded as a significant conventional threat. To top it all off, Iran is also the main purveyor of state-sponsored terrorism against Israel and the prime funder of the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah movements, all committed to Israel’s annihilation. Whereas Iran describes Israel as “little Satan,” for Israel, Iran is undoubtedly “big Satan.”

By the same token, one can describe Iran as one of Israel’s most significant strategic assets at this time. This is no exaggeration, but a fact. Recent months have seen the unveiling of a growing number of clandestine contacts Israel is conducting with Arab and Muslim states in the region and the world with which it does not have diplomatic ties. The budding romance between Israel and several Sunni states is also turning slowly into an up-front relationship. This is all being enabled “thanks” to Iran. The Shiite threat and Iranian expansion westward are of great concern to a large number of regional leaders. Israel is being sucked into the center of this arena as the only response to the primeval fear of a reconstituted Persian Empire and the growing Shiite influence on the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the energetic help of Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, is effectively leveraging the emerging situation to fortify Israel’s standing as a bastion of regional defense and a magnet for all those who fear Iran.

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