Iranian retaliation, U.S. appeasement and the folly of “Good Infidel, Bad Infidel”

Slain IRGC Quds Force commander in Syria and Lebanon Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zahedi. Source: Social media.

by Jonathan Feldstein

According to foreign reports, Israel was responsible for the targeted assassination of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi in at a facility adjacent to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus this week. Zahedi was the most senior Iranian official killed since the Americans assassinated IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani four years ago.

The Wall Street Journal called the killing of Zahedi “the first real price” that Iran has paid “for its proxy warfare in the Middle East,” referring to Israel’s war against Hamas, the threats and daily missiles being fired at Israel from Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis who have hijacked Yemen and international waters of the Red Sea and Egypt’s Suez Canal, and an array of other Iranian and Iranian backed forces targeting Americans and others throughout the region.

The world should be celebrating with behind-the-scenes high fives, champagne corks flying, and balls spiked in the end zone. Rather, led by the U.S., they are cowering to Iran almost as if apologizing and begging the Islamic regime not to retaliate against Americans or on American soil.

At the beginning of the war against Hamas, during a CNN interview President Biden “threatened” Hezbollah and Iran against escalating the war by saying “Don’t. Don’t, don’t, don’t.” Biden sent two aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean to show some U.S. muscle.

After withdrawing the aircraft carriers and releasing billions of dollars to Iran since, enabling a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israel to pass, using language that’s not only untrue but makes matters worse, the Biden administration decided to whimper to the Ayatollahs this week and deny any knowledge of the targeting of their latest general to become a “martyr” in what’s been credited to an Israeli assassination.

The Administration didn’t have to say anything. They should be celebrating, not cowering to and enabling the Islamists.

But it’s clear that Biden’s “Don’t. Don’t, don’t, don’t,” is hollow. It’s clear to Israel, to Americans who support Israel, and to the terrorists who understand that they can literally get away with murder. The Iranian Islamic regime and all the other terrorists see an Administration cowering, bending over backwards to protect themselves (which in the end actually endangers all Americans), by continuing to fund and enable the terrorists.

In addition to emboldening the terrorists, the U.S. response directly leaves Israel hanging out on its own, thrown under the bus for undertaking a super precise and expertly executed mission, in broad daylight, highlighting that the reach of Israeli intelligence is as far and wide as the reach of the terrorist tentacles of the Iranian octopus.

Coupled with the U.S. releasing to Iran $10 billion in frozen funds, the U.S. policy has gone from acceptance and appeasing to actually funding Iranian terror.

Zahedi was not the first Iranian military leader to be targeted since the beginning of the war, but he was the highest-ranking of them. His assassination sends a clear message to Iran and Hezbollah both of Israel’s intent and capabilities.

It has been reported that Israel’s intelligence on Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are light years ahead of what they were about Hamas before Oct. 7. This operation is not just an important message to Iran and Hezbollah, but for Israelis, that despite the unprecedented failures that allowed the Oct. 7 massacre to take place, and despite the risk for retaliation, Israel is still in the driver’s seat.

Either way, now Israel is bracing for a retaliation alone, one that might include a strike on Israeli territory, Israelis or Israeli diplomatic missions abroad, or even Jewish communities around the world. Basically, the U.S. has given Iran the green light to target Jews anywhere else, just not in the U.S.

Since December, Iran has admitted that many IRGC officers have been killed by alleged Israeli strikes. Until now, the most prominent of these was on Dec. 23 in a Damascus suburb, targeting Seyed Radhi Mousavi. Mousavi was in charge of the transfer of Iranian weapons to Syria and Hezbollah.

Zahedi’s death makes it clear that not even the most significant Iranian military official is out of reach or immune. It also indicates that Israel is prepared to extract a heavy price from Iran directly, and not just its proxies, for continued attacks on Israel.

Seeing U.S. equivocation now, Arab states also may be realizing that like under Obama, the U.S. cannot be relied upon to be a true partner in combatting Iranian terror and regional threats. One of Obama’s legacies by appeasing and funding the Islamic regime was pushing Israel and many Arab states closer together. This made the diplomatic situation ripe for the Abraham Accords that, until Oct. 7, seemed as if the Saudis were on the verge of becoming the most significant new partner.

Whether the Saudis, or the Emirates, Bahrain as relatively new Israeli allies, or Jordan and Egypt, they all fear the same Iranian octopus, and all see the U.S. as unreliable. This week’s bold targeting of Zahedi makes it clear to Arab countries who oppose or fear Iran, despite the Oct. 7 massacre, Israel remains the only reliable ally and partner to oppose Iranian threats.

Six months since, the Oct. 7 massacre and war against Hamas, the IDF has shown that it not only has the ability to defeat Hamas, but also to carry out major precision operations on other fronts, targeting the most significant leaders among Israel’s enemies.

What the Biden Administration doesn’t realize, or perhaps worse, is actively ignoring, is that in playing a Middle Eastern version of good cop, bad cop — “Good Infidel, Bad Infidel,” doesn’t work. In the eyes of the Iranian Islamic regime and their proxies, we are all infidels: Israel, the U.S. and all the West, Jews and Christians alike. We are all legitimate targets. Our collective defeat is their goal. The U.S. would be well advised, for the security of its territory, troops, and citizens, to get on board with Israel and not throw it under the bus. Fortunately, there are many IRGC and other high value Iranian targets available, and their nuclear program. More than enough to go around. They must be defeated, not funded and enabled, or negotiated with and cowered to.