May 2, 2012
Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak offered the view this week that the next round of Six-Power talks with Iran taking place on May 23 in Baghdad would lead nowhere, throwing cold water on the current optimism. As for US media reports of a lessening in war tensions over Iran because of the internal debate in Israel over an independent attack, they were soon overtaken by significant military steps embarked on Tuesday, May 1, by the US, Israel and Iran.
The large-scale Israel Defense Forces war game on the borders of Syria (Golan) and Lebanon was quickly followed by naval drills along Iran’s southern Persian Gulf coast by its border guards. Tehran was making good on the policy agreed with Syrian and Hizballah allies in early 2011 to counter any Western or Israel military movement in the region with a comparable response.
Israeli army spokesmen were cagey about the scale and nature of the exercise beyond preparing people living in the north for heavy military traffic on regional highways and the sounds of gunshots and explosions.
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the IDF drilled a strengthened, proactive presence in the North to meet al Qaeda’s looming presence  and expanding operations next door, especially in Syria, and the threat of the Syrian civil war spilling over into Lebanon.