Is Israel's Strategy Against Iran in Syria Working?

(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Spyer - The long Israeli campaign against Iranian attempts to consolidate in Syria has been partially successful. Israel has prevented Iran from constructing in Syria a situation analogous to that of Hizbullah's missile infrastructure in Lebanon. Moreover, the Iranian regional project is today in considerable difficulty. U.S. sanctions have sharply reduced the amount of money available for Iran's regional goals. In addition, the assassination of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has clearly left a large void which has not yet been filled. At the same time, claims that Iran is now reducing its presence are not accurate, since the Iranian conventional presence on the ground in Syria has been in a process of reduction since 2018 after most major combat operations had concluded. The Iranian presence in Syria is deep and multifaceted. There are Iranian IRGC and Quds Force personnel. There are IRGC/Hizbullah positions located within official Syrian Arab Army facilities. There are homegrown, locally-recruited, "Syrian Hizbullah"-type formations. There are non-Syrian proxy militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All this together has resulted in a contiguous area of Iranian control in Syria stretching from the Albukamal border crossing with Iraq to just east of Quneitra, near the Israeli border. From the Iranian point of view, this infrastructure, and Syria generally, constitute a central interest. Without it, Iran would lose a vital access route to its franchise in Lebanon, to the Mediterranean Sea, and to the borders of Israel. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.

2020-05-08 00:00:00

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