Southern Syria: How to Stop the Iranian Plan for Regional Dominance

(Fathom-BICOM) Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog - Israel is concerned that Iran and its proxies might fill the void created by the upcoming defeat of ISIS and turn Syria into a permanent political, military and economic stronghold, threatening Israel and Jordan. Israel has closely followed the developing intentions and plans by Iran and Hizbullah to establish an operational infrastructure in southern Syria and to ultimately turn it into a military and terror front against Israel. Following Russia's military deployment in Syria, Israel was quick to launch a close dialogue with the Russian leadership. The Russians not only understand Israel's red lines but have respected them, in almost all cases saying nothing following reported Israeli attacks in Syria. Iran's design to create a land corridor stretching to Lebanon is well underway. Iran plans on a long-term military deployment in Syria with permanent naval and air bases as well as a military industry in order to create an Iranian sphere of direct influence in the heart of the Middle East. From Israel's perspective, this Iranian design is a major long-term strategic threat, as it would entrench Iran - a mortal enemy sworn to Israel's destruction - in a neighboring country, allowing Iran to turn Syria into an active front with Israel alongside Lebanon. There has been talk of establishing a Syrian Hizbullah, together with a "Shiite Legion" against Israel that would include tens of thousands of fighters from Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. The U.S. and its major European allies should pay careful attention to Israel and Jordan's warning against Iran's push to fill the post-ISIS void. In practical terms, the U.S. and the UK should carefully examine if and how their existing military assets on the ground, which were originally deployed to fight ISIS, could be used to block Iran's plans, rather than withdrawing them following the defeat of ISIS. The writer is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.

2017-09-28 00:00:00

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