- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2006

The whirlwind of events in recent days involving Iran, Syria and Israel is ominous, suggesting that the rogue regimes in Tehran and Damascus may have made a strategic decision to escalate the level of conflict with the Jewish state — and perhaps with Washington and the European Union as well.

Consider what has taken place since Thursday: A suicide bomber affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (and apparently in cooperation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization as well) blew himself up in the middle of Tel Aviv, injuring more than 20 Israelis; while visiting Damascus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met for 90 minutes with Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the leader of the PIJ in Damascus, along with representatives of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups; Israel said that, in the past year alone, Iran has doubled to $10 million its funding for PIJ operations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Mr. Ahmadinejad held a separate meeting with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, which receives an estimated $100 million annually from Iran. (Aside from al Qaeda, no modern terrorist organization has killed more Americans than Hezbollah, and it plays a major role in fomenting Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza). Mr. Assad took Iran’s side in the nuclear confrontation with Washington, the International Atomic Energy Agency, etc. and made the bizarre allegation that Israel was behind Yasser Arafat’s death. Meanwhile, Mr. Ahmadinejad continued to say that Israel is an illegitimate state and its citizens should be relocated to Europe.

For its part, Israel, while emphasizing that it wants to avoid armed confrontation, has not shied away from talking about the role played by state sponsors of terror such as Iran and Syria in fomenting violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Saturday night that Israel would under no circumstances accept a nuclear Iran, adding that his country is preparing for the possibility that diplomatic efforts to prevent this from taking place would fail. Mr. Mofaz described the combination of a radical regime, long-range missiles and attempts to develop a nuclear capability as a shreat to Israel and the world, and warned that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s policies would be disastrous for Iran.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about Thursday’s bombing in Tel Aviv and the events in Damascus is the realization that the state sponsors of the terrorists who target Israel may be on the verge of obtaining a nuclear shield. If the Islamofascists in Tehran succeed in this endeavor, it will be a geopolitical catastrophe for the United States and the free world.

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