Alwaght – The Syrian war is heading to its end as the central government, backed by its allies, has now retaken a majority of the territories from the terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the anti-Damascus regional and international actors, finding their ambitious plans to redraw a new order in the West Asia region through splitting Syria into small regions fully failed, are desperately struggling to minimize the damages to their own interests and cover up the tracks of the defeat.
One perfect example here is the Israeli regime, a regional player with interests in the conflict of Syria, which finds the current course of developments detrimental to its interests and so finding itself the main loser of the equations. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the West intervened militarily with the aim to damage the Iran-led Axis of Resistance, including Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and create a respiration space for the Israeli regime. Therefore, whenever the US threatened the Syrian government with military action, the Tel Aviv concerns were the major drive behind.
Iran presence in Syria
One of the main sources of the severe Israeli concern about the Syrian future is related to Iran. The Israeli leaders argue that the strategic cooperation of Tehran and Damascus, followed the crisis and mainly came as a result of the Syrian government’s invitation of Iran to help the fierce battle against the foreign-backed terrorist groups, has now reached its peak in four decades. Tel Aviv leaders have resorted to a range of efforts to force Iran out of Syria, from launching intermittent air raids in the battlefields to asking such influential players as the Russians, as Iran’s allies, to help, only to find all of their struggles going nowhere.
The Iranian and Syrian response to the air aggression has been firm so far. On February 10, the Syrian air defenses shoot down an intrusive F-16 Israeli fighter jet, the first incident in over three decades. Moreover, the allies brought under fire the occupied Golan Heights with 68 missiles on May 9 targeting highly sensitive Israeli posts. The attack prevented further anti-Syrian strikes of the Israeli air force.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made several visits to Moscow to sow division between Iran and Russia to deter further cooperation of the allies in Syria. Netanyahu also pressed the US President Donald Trump to raise Iran withdrawal from Syria during his contacts with the Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. To his frustration, none of the demands found their way to materialization. The Russians repeatedly asserted that the Iranian presence was legitimate in Syria because it was called for officially by the Syrian government. Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, has recently made that clear to the Israelis and their Western allies. Responding to the remarks by the US National Security Advisor John Bolton who during a visit a fortnight ago to the occupied Palestinian territories said that Iran should move its forces out of Syria, Ryabkov maintained that Moscow “respects” the Iranian presence in Syria which is at the behest of the official authorities of Syria.
Last week, the Israeli anxiety even intensified after the Iranian Defense Minister Major General Amir Hatami last week visited Syria heading a top defense delegation and finalized a security pact with the Syrian government. Reacting to the agreement, the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said agreements in the Middle East pertaining to the morning after the Syrian war will not apply to Israel, which prioritizes its own security interests.
“We’re seeing different gatherings in … Ankara, in Tehran, in Geneva, for after the battle for Idlib, regarding the reshaping of Syria”, he was quoted as saying, adding: “With all due respect and esteem to all agreements and understandings, we are not bound by this. What we are solely bound to is the security interest of the state of Israel.” Tel Aviv’s trepidation very well exhibits the effectiveness of an official security collaboration Accord between Tehran and Damascus.
Hezbollah close to Israeli borders
The war, which was imposed on Syria to undermine Hezbollah by taking Damascus off the circle of Resistance and thus cutting the links between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, has turned into not only a military strengthening factor but also brought it close to the borders with the occupied Palestinian territories. The development dealt a blow to four decades of setting in motion various policies to weaken the Lebanese resistant movement. The Israeli concerns have now forced the Tel Aviv officials to move back from their expansionist Nile-to-Euphrates ideal and struggle to maintain the occupied Palestinian lands by passing the Jewish Nation-State Law, a highly racist bill that gives the Israeli regime a Jewish status. Another move is seeking to destabilize Lebanon, a strategy assisted by Saudi Arabia, an opponent to Hezbollah. The destabilization plan serves a hope to see Hezbollah leave Syria under home pressure. Another path the Israelis resort to is the expansion of UN peace-keeping mission on the Israeli-Lebanese border, officially known United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Greater powers for the UNIFIL was raised in early August by John Bolton, a strongly pro-Israeli figure in the Trump administration.
Idlib and Turkish opposition
Following the recapture of the southern cities, the Syrian government and allies are bracing for an offensive against the armed groups in Idlib in the northwest of the country. Tel Aviv was hoping that the upcoming operation will trigger strong opposition of Turkey, which supports parts of Idlib-based armed groups, and take it out of the alliance with Iran and Russia. But to the Israelis’ surprise, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey announced the continuation of joint work with Tehran and Moscow in Syria. Another frustrating issue to Tel Aviv is the Kurdish peace with Damascus. The Syrian Kurds are engaging in agreements with the central government. The Kurdish fighters, reportedly, will join the battle for Idlib with a Syrian Arab Army uniform.