Iran Axis in Syria Leads Israeli Security Concerns

(Times of Israel) Raphael Ahren and Judah Ari Gross - "The most important strategic issue we're currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria, especially after the fall of Aleppo," Hagai Tzuriel, director-general of the Intelligence Ministry who served for 28 years in the Mossad, told the Times of Israel. Recent developments in Syria have created "a strong imbalance in the region to Iran's benefit." Yet at the same time, since Moscow decided to take a more engaged role in actively supporting the Assad regime, Iran's role as Damascus' main backer has been diminished. "The Russians have managed to become the key player with only a few dozen aircraft. That's proof that political will and the readiness to use military force are key." "For Israel, it is important to see the U.S. remaining active in Syria and the region," Tzuriel said. Continued U.S. involvement is crucial to Israel's interest in seeing Iran kept from extending hegemony to Syria, allowing the Islamic Republic to link Tehran and Beirut. He said President Obama's decision, in 2013, to not use military force against Assad's regime despite its use of chemical weapons, "was a pivotal moment for the entire region....This moment changed everything. It showed Putin that the U.S. was not willing to use force. It opened the door for Russia to take center stage." For Israel, the most important issue is making sure Iran and its proxies aren't able to set up a base in Syria from which to attack Israel. "If Iran and Hizbullah manage to base themselves in Syria, it would be a permanent source of instability in the entire region," he said, referring specifically to the threat of an Iranian naval base on the Mediterranean.

2017-03-03 00:00:00

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