Thursday, 3 January 2013
Why would the Alawites, fighting for their lives, dare to risk Israeli retaliation by taking any measures to help Iran? In 1967 Syria lost the Golan Heights, when it went to war against Israel. In 1973, Syrian forces were mauled n the most significant (though hardly the largest) tank victory in history, that of greatly-outnumbered Israeli tanks against Syrian tanks in the area of Mt. Hermon. In 1982, Syrian airplanes made the mistake of challenging Israeli warplanes; the result was 82 Syrian planes shot down, with not a loss of a single Israeli plane. The Alawites, who have wrapped themselves for decades in the mantle of being the leaders of the anti-Israel "Resistance," continue to play that chord, strum that theme, but they don't mean it. They know that of all their neighbors, the one least desirous of a Sunni Muslim regime in Syria is Israel, and that Israel has no quarrel with the Alawites, nor with the other minorities in Syria that view a Sunni Muslim takeover with fear and horror. If Syrian forces were to help Iran, then the Israelis would reply with such a crushing blow that would weaken the Alawites fatally, and leave them helpless before their real enemies, the Sunni Muslims. They may be glad for Iran's support, but not glad enough to commit suicide.
Here is the story, telling us the obvious:
Syria 'would not join Iran in war against Israel'
Iran's ability to retaliate for any Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities has been "dramatically" reduced by the disintegration of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, an Israeli intelligence report has said.
This assessment, from the intelligence department of Israel's foreign ministry, predicts that Syria's army would not join its Iranian ally in a war against Israel because of the 21-month uprising.
Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia movement armed and funded by Iran's regime, would face an acute dilemma over whether to intervene.
Iran has supplied Hizbollah with about 50,000 rockets and missiles, all targeted on Israel with the aim of retaliating for any assault on the nuclear plants. But these weapons reached Hizbollah using Syrian territory. If those supply lines were severed either by Mr Assad's downfall or continuing civil war in Syria, Hizbollah might be unable to replace any rockets that were fired.
Iran's presumed ability to use Hizbollah as to strike back over Israel's northern border has been cited as an important factor deterring any Israeli attack. But the report, presented to Israeli ambassadors in Jerusalem this week, suggests that Syria's crisis has constrained Hizbollah's options.
"Iran's ability to strike Israel, in response to a strike of ours, has gone down dramatically," the newspaper Maariv quoted an official as saying. "The Iranian response will be far more insignificant than previously anticipated had the northern front continued to exist."
The foreign ministry report also predicted that Egypt would stop Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, from helping Iran by launching rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, acknowledged on Thursday the pressure his organisation was under, warning that Syria was heading for collapse into separate "emirates" or religious fiefdoms. "We fundamentally and ideologically reject any form of partition or division of any Arab or Islamic country," he said.
But experts said the Israeli assessment was excessively rosy. "Hizbollah will strike back with everything it has because if it doesn't, it will lose Iran's financial support," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iran specialist at the Inter-Disciplinary Centre in Herzliya, an Israeli university.
Posted on 01/03/2013 4:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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