Michael Herzog:The Growing Risk of an Israel-Iran Confrontation in Syriaمايكل هرزوك: ازدياد أخطار المواجهة الإسرائيلية-الإيرانية في سوريا


The Growing Risk of an Israel-Iran Confrontation in Syria
Michael Herzog/The Washington Institute/December 2017
Click here to read the article in PDF formate

The push by Iran to fill the void created by the defeat of the Islamic State looms large in Israel’s strategic landscape. If the current trajectory persists, these two determined regional actors could increasingly face each other in Syria and eventually slide into confrontation. Tehran seeks to create an enduring military presence in Syria that it can turn into a front with Israel by sponsoring permanent proxy forces such as a “Syrian Hezbollah,” building a Mediterranean naval base, and establishing indigenous industries for accurate rockets. This is part of a broader strategic move to consolidate a contiguous sphere of direct influence—a “land corridor” that stretches through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Whereas Israel views such moves as a long-term strategic threat, the United States and Russia appear reluctant to confront Iran in Syria. So Israel is expanding—and increasingly acting on—its redlines in this theater.
In this timely Policy Note, Michael Herzog assesses the range of current risks and makes the compelling case that an Iran deeply entrenched in Syria will foreclose any hopes of future stability in the country.
Michael Herzog, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, is the Israel-based Milton Fine International Fellow of The Washington Institute. He previously served as head of the IDF’s Strategic Planning Division and as senior military aide and advisor and chief of staff to four Israeli ministers of defense.



Serious setback for Israel on Golan border. Syria and Hizballah bisect Beit Jinn enclave
انتكاسة لإسرائيل في الجولان:الجيش السوري وحزب الله يسيطرون على بلدة بيت جن
Debka File/December 22/ 2017
Syrian and Hizballah forces have seized a key village in the strategic Beit Jinn enclave north of Israeli Golan, just 4km from IDF Hermon positions.
The village of Mahar Al-Mir was captured in two days of fighting ending Friday, Dec. 22. Mostly populated by Syrian Druzes, the village was held until now by Syrian rebels belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Syria and Hizballah claim that this group was sustained by arms and logistic support from Israel. According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, by capturing the village, the Syrian-Hizballah force has managed to split the rebel forces into two parts, each of them effectively under siege.
Israel has repeatedly sent out warnings that Hizballah would not be permitted to come near its Golan border, yet the IDF did not raise a finger to save Mahar Al-Mir. Since its fall, the rebel chiefs offered to retreat from the enclave without a fight. This development, our military sources stress, would bring Syrian and Hizballah troops right up to the Syrian-Israel borderline running through the Hermon foothills up to northern Golan.
Syria and Izbal Hizballah intend using the fall of Beit Jinn and the rebel forces’ retreat as a fulcrum for rooting out the influence Israel maintains among the rebel groups holding the Quneitra region of Syrian Golan. In negotiations taking place on Friday, the Syrians and Hizballah informed the rebel leaders that their safe retreat was contingent on their surrender of members who liaised with the IDF, according to a list presented them. If they refused, the battle would continue until Syrian and Hizballah troops wiped out every last fighter cornered in the divided village.
The fate of Syrian rebels who collaborated with the IDF does not bear thinking of if they are turned over to the two armies. If this happens, the rebel groups holding Quneitra would lose all trust in Israel after counting on the IDF for protection.