The novel begins with a terror attack on a residential area in Israel, resulting in multiple causalities. It may, or may not, have involved members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Menachem Begin is the Israeli Prime Minister and Ariel Sharon is the Defense Minister. The story begins immediately after the (postponed?) end of the Iran – Iraq war in 1988.
A massive armor, infantry, artillery and air attack on Israeli positions in the Golan follows the terrorist attack. The Israelis are outnumbered and suffer many thousands of casualties.
Israel had anticipated a simultaneous attack via Jordan, so most Israeli tank, infantry and air resources are deployed there, rather than in the Golan, to conceal themselves and await the arrival of Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian forces. They come and are defeated, most killed or fleeing. The Israeli forces then move into Syria and have similar successes there as well.
As the story evolves, it becomes evident that Israel must have known that the Iran – Iraq war had been allowed to fester to permit Iran, Iraq and Syria to develop a well coordinated plan to dispose of Israel, in hopes that a surprise attack could be made as soon as the Iran – Iraq war ended. Other events also suggest that Israel had prior notice:
Nuclear facilities of several hostile nations explode mysteriously.
The Israeli Navy had managed to infiltrate Iranian oil ports — apparently before the attack on the Golan — without being noticed. Then, at a propitious moment near the end of the fighting elsewhere, they destroyed all oil tankers in, entering or leaving port, along with all Iranian oil storage facilities.
The Israel Navy, which had suffered no losses, then moved to Saudi Arabia to protect her oil ports and ships coming to buy her oil and leaving.
As these events unfold, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey* are negotiating a united front against Iran, Iraq and Syria, much to the displeasure of the U.S. Secretary of State, who wants a cease fire and return to the status quo ante. Fortunately, the U.S. President favors Israel and her coalition and generally ignores his SecState.
I won’t spoil the story by relating what happens at the end, but it’s very good for Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Kurds, and very bad for Iran, Iraq and Syria. The novel is well worth reading, perhaps twice.
*Historical note: Turkey in 1988 was reasonably secular and also in other ways quite different from now. Egypt under President Al-Sisi is, in some but not all respects, similar to Egypt in 1988 under President Mubarak. Beyond a good relationship with Israel, Al-Sisi is working to modernize and reform Islam by turning it away from the violent jihad which drives both the Islamic State (Sunni) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Shiite). Egypt remains under fire from the Obama administration due to the “coup” which ousted President Morsi, who had made Egypt essentially an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt now helps to protect Israel with her military presence in the Sinai to oppose Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood activities there. Saudi Arabia and Jordan, like most countries in the Middle East, look out for the interests of their rulers first and are quite concerned about both the Islamic State and Iran.