Iran's Syrian Front

(Wall Street Journal) Editorial - The driving political power in Syria is Iran and its attempt to make Syria part of its growing Shiite-Persian empire. Iran has propped up Assad since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, and along with Russia is largely responsible for the regime's survival. Iran wants to establish a new imperial outpost on the border with Israel. Toward that end, Iran is building a robust military presence of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops, Iran-backed Lebanese Hizbullah, foreign fighters from Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, and local Syrian militias in Assad-controlled areas. Iran's ultimate goal is "the eradication of Israel," as the leader of the IRGC's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, said recently. An Iranian redoubt in Syria would open another front in a war with Israel from which to launch more rocket and other attacks. U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster worried publicly in December about "the prospect of Iran having a proxy army on the borders of Israel." Earlier this month, Iran-backed forces launched a drone from Syria into Israeli air space. The provocation is a sign that Iran is turning its attention from propping up Assad and toward establishing a more permanent presence in Syria, including the construction of military bases and weapons factories. Israel is protected by a robust antimissile system. But even Israel's defenses would be strained by 1,500 to 2,000 incoming missiles a day from Syria and Lebanon, especially if Iran succeeds in upgrading Hizbullah's arsenal to precision-guided weapons. President Trump promised in October to work with allies to counter Iran's "destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region," but in Syria the U.S. has shown no strategy for doing so.

2018-02-22 00:00:00

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