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Tension Remains High on Israel’s Borders; Tillerson’s Visit Shows One-Way Street

Israel, Iran and Syria fought briefly one week ago, but the scuffle continues to resonate throughout the region. The military toll was one Israeli F -16i lost to a Syrian missile barrage; while the Syrians lost a major portion of its missile defense system and several soldiers killed. The emotional toll on the Israeli side was a populace already unsettled further shaken by the first loss of a combat aircraft in three decades and the revelation that Iran is dug-in on the other side of its border that is already a flashpoint. The political toll included the realization of the power held by Russian President Vladimir Putin who among all players was able to end the Israeli retaliation and presumably the Iranian provocation with a single telephone call. The series of events also drew attention to the coincidentally simultaneous multi-state Mideast visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose remarks in Amman undercut UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s promise to “take names” and the corroborating Presidential Tweet that warned member-nations who didn’t support the American position when the General Assembly voted against President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration that they would lose US aid. Instead, Tillerson signed a 10-year aid package for Jordan – prominent among those who trashed the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – that included a $275 million annual increase. But perhaps more ominous was Tillerson’s surprising ratification of the lethal fiction that justifies [sic] the so-called “political arm” of the Hizbullah terrorist organization as a legitimate player in the Lebanese government while Beirut flouts UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which forbids armed groups other than the Lebanese army. On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres called the possibility of an Israeli-Hizbullah clash a “nightmare scenario.”