In Syria, a risky subplot: Iran vs

14 February, 2018, 18:50 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • UN officials, Church leaders decry escalating situation in Syria

In the event of a war with Hezbollah, Israel's concern centers on a possible power vacuum emerging in war-torn Syria where Iran could utilize strong Russian influence to establish military bases in the country with the aim of opening up a second front against Israel.

The bad news and the good news about the war in Syria is that all the parties involved are guided by one iron rule: You don't want to "own" this war.

The warning from Syria's Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sussan came after an Israeli fighter jet was shot down inside Syrian territory Saturday as it was flying home from a blitz that reportedly wiped out around half of Syria's anti-aircraft batteries.

"This weekend, Iran committed an unprecedented, blatant act of aggression against our close friend and ally, Israel".

American interests may or may not be served by Israeli intervention.

"So when Syria, which has made no - has not hidden at all, made no excuse for what they're doing alongside Iran, when they are providing throughput for Iran to give weapons, including more sophisticated weapons, to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves", Mattis said.

In the northwest, Turkey has sent its Syrian allies to attack Afrin, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Manbij, 80 miles to the east, where USA troops commingle with the Kurd defenders, and us generals were visible last week.

In a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Netanyahu affirmed Israel's right to self-defence and pledged continued cooperation with Moscow to avoid inadvertent clashes with Russian forces in Syria. Odd, when Iran dropped no bombs on Israel. And I would like to paraphrase the well-known saying: "'This is not the time to bark, this is the time to bite'".

Hence the Iranian determination to follow through with this strategy despite their clear understanding of Israel's red lines. From the Israeli point of view the question is not whether there will be a next round, but when it will arise. So Russia's decision to help Assad is more about supporting Iran. In addition, by raising the cost of Iran's presence in Syria, the USA could exacerbate internal tensions for Iran's leaders, who are already beset by protests against its foreign involvements. In addition, there are roughly a few hundred Iranian experts from the Revolutionary Guards and Quds forces. Iran denies the Israeli version. The organization fought in the Syrian Civil War and lost more than 2,000 members to this date. Now the Syrian regime is dependent on Iran for its survival.

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Rescue teams made it to the crash site in time to save the pilots-both ejected, one was severely injured- but Israel would respond again, this time with a range of attacks on a dozen or more Iranian targets inside Syrian's borders.

That puts Russian Federation and the United States on a possible collision course if a more serious clash flares up between Damascus, backed by its Iranian ally, and Israel. Iran seems determined to remain there. But we do see some cracks, when looking under the surface.

The only player in Syria with any kind of leverage over Iran is the Kremlin.

In other words, Washington's previous attempts to stay away failed, and the reality of the Syrian conflict forced it to intervene but in a more complicated environment.

Steinitz also blasted the Assad regime, calling it the "weak link in the Iranian-Shia axis".

But even before this latest Iranian provocation, the Russian death toll was starting to creep up.

How do you see Russia's role with regard to Israel and Iran?

These interventions were punctuated by frequent airstrikes by Israel against Shia militia targets near its borders, as it sought to intercept any hostile build-up by Iran and its allied militias there.

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