Israel's Strategic Clarity in Syria
By Tony Badran, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
In contrast to a U.S. Syrian policy of “confusion” that “contorts itself [walking] back a red line it never intended to enforce,” Israel, in the view of Tony Badran, employs a regional strategy that guides the latter’s actions vis-à-vis the conflict in Syria and beyond. Israel accepts, he writes, the importance of the American concern to prevent both the rise of jihadism in Syria and any use of Assad’s chemical weapons. Israel’s principal concern, however, is preventing any shift in the balance of regional power that favors Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), and Gaza (Hamas).
Guided by its regional perspective, Israel aims to prevent Iran from transferring to Hezbollah any “first-strike weapons [capable of threatening] Israel’s population centers.” To implement that policy, Israel attacked a Syrian arms convoy headed for Lebanon in February.
Thinking regionally, also Israel successfully assassinated several key enemy figures: Hezbollah’s military commander, two Hamas commanders involved in missile procurement, Assad’s missile liaison, and the head of Iran’s ballistic missile program. Israeli aircraft have additionally struck “factories and distribution centers” in Sudan, and mysterious explosions have occurred in Lebanon and areas of Iran used for missile research and storage.
Regarding Syria as “Iran’s Achilles Heel,” Israeli aircraft successfully bypassed Syria’s Russian air defenses to strike ballistic missile storage depots reportedly manned by Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel. These are the same air defenses that guard Iranian nuclear sites that the U.S. seems reluctant to challenge.
In sum, Israel is demonstrating what U.S. policy lacks: clarity of strategic vision and a willingness to act boldly.