A top Israeli general tasked with writing his country’s defense policy has admitted that Israel cannot take on Iran’s military alone if the day should come that the regional powers face off in a direct military confrontation, Defense News reports.
“We cannot fight Iran alone,” Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, a former IDF deputy chief of staff and a candidate to become the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, told a think tank gathering on September 7. “They can affect us; we can affect them. It’s all about attrition. But if you want to gain something which is deeper, we cannot do it alone. This is a fact of life. It’s better to admit that.”
According to Golan, Israel must prepare for a direct confrontation all the same.
“This is new. We cannot allow ourselves not to prepare for direct confrontation with Iran,” he also said.
As a visiting military fellow at the Washington Institute, Golan said he was spending his time in Washington drafting a national defense policy document at the request of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. The document prescribes the funding, equipment and “operational perception” needed to confront Iran.
For Israel, terror groups like ISIS continue to be identified as a minimal threat. Instead, Israel’s main focus tends to remain enveloped in an obsession with Iran. Currently, Iranian-backed militias are taking strategic areas of Syrian territory and may ultimately set up shop permanently on Israel’s border. At the end of August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Russian president Vladimir Putin in person that Israel will not tolerate a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria, saying Israel is prepared to take action in Syria to curb the alleged threat. According to Golan:
“For decades, we’ve dealt with ISIS-style terrorism. I don’t say it’s not a problem. But we managed to live with that. … They are primitive and with relatively limited capabilities. Yes, they have their determination and they are dangerous”
“But when looking at the Iranian threat, it’s much more dangerous compared to the ISIS threat…They [Iran] are a higher form of civilization. They have nice, academic infrastructure, impressive industry, good scientists and many talented young people. They are very similar to us, and because they are similar to us they are much, much more dangerous. And we can’t cope with them alone.” [emphasis added]
Golan also went so far as to appear to praise the Iranian leadership for their cunning tactics, which have bought them success in the region recently:
“They try all the time to invest as least as possible. And if they have to invest, they prefer to invest money, not blood. And when it comes to blood, they want to invest as little as possible and use other proxies. And if it’s absolutely necessary to work with them, they support them by military leadership, not warriors. That’s the way they work. … It’s very clever, very sophisticated and therefore very dangerous.” [emphasis added]
In another example of Iran’s apparent skills, at the beginning of September Anti-Media detailed how Iran had drawn Saudi Arabia into a years’ long, multi-billion-dollar conflict in Yemen and, in return, Iran had barely lifted a finger (investing “as least as possible” in the process)
However, defeating Iran in Syria does not concern Golan, who believes such a victory could be achieved relatively easily. In order to defeat Iran as a country and regional power, Israel would rely on U.S. support, instead, Golan explained.
“We can achieve decisive victory over Hezbollah, and we don’t need help from a single American soldier, but we cannot fight Iran alone,” he said. “I consider future cooperation with the U.S. much more important than anything we’ve had in the past.”
Iran’s defense spending is relatively low, but the country boasts a military of over 500,000 ground troops. This doesn’t take into account the number of volunteer troops Iran regularly calls upon when faced with a looming invasion. During the Iran-Iraq war, thousands of volunteers rose up to sacrifice themselves against Saddam Hussein’s U.S.-backed invasion, eventually forcing Hussein’s forces to retreat.