Day After Tensions Rising: Iran Says It Is Committed To Presence In Syria After Israeli Air Strike

The Israeli strikes last night killed 15 people (8 were Iranian), which only escalates things further in the region. Here’s the details…

Editor’s Note: For those who have not followed the rapid sequence of geo-political events that happened yesterday, first there was President Trump pulling out of the Iran Deal, and shortly after, there were airstrikes launched by Israel against the Syrian Army and Iranian Positions in Syria. This escalation is far from over. It’s only just begun.

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from Times of Israel

It would be premature to celebrate what appears to have been Israel’s success in thwarting Iran’s threatened “revenge attack” on northern Israel from Syria. The Iranian missile strike intended for Tuesday night may have been prevented by means of the raid on the Kisweh base, but presumably the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is not done yet.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 15 people were killed in the nighttime strike at Kisweh, of whom eight were Iranians. Which means the Iranian motivation for revenge has not dimmed; quite the reverse.

The head of the IRGC’s Al Quds Brigades, Qassam Soleimani, will try again via his various proxies in Syria to settle accounts with Israel, whether via missiles or an attack on IDF troops in the Golan like the one in January 2015.

Furthermore, keep in mind that Iran’s central goal in Syria is not a revenge attack on Israel, but rather the establishment of a permanent military presence. Iran has no intention of halting that effort, no matter how many attacks Israel allegedly carries out. The Persian empire is taking shape before our very eyes between Tehran and the Mediterranean. Any effort to strike at Israel is a marginal consideration when looked at in the context of that years-long process.

Here’s how the Iranians may view the ongoing activities attributed to Israel in Syria: Israel will not agree to the transfer of “game-changing” weaponry to Syria for the use of Hezbollah or the IRGC — neither long-range Fateh-110 missiles nor attack drones entering Israel and impinging on its absolute air supremacy. Also on Israel’s red line list: an Iranian or Shiite/Hezbollah militia presence close to the Golan Heights border, and an Iranian air force presence.

In other words, the Iranians will have recognized that Israel’s concern is focused on an Iranian military presence. But Iran’s ambitions in Syria are not solely military in nature. Iran wants economic and political influence in an area where its main rival is Saudi Arabia. And it is making gains. While Riyadh sustains political defeats (cf the Lebanese parliamentary elections) and military defeats (cf Yemen), Iran is deepening its hold.

The Shiite crescent that Jordan’s King Abdullah began warning of a decade ago is now becoming a real monster. Iran wields growing influence in a corridor from Tehran to the sea, if not full control. Tehran will continue to win tenders to operate cellular companies, to mine phosphates, and maybe even to (indirectly) operate a naval port.

Iran attempted last year to lease land near Tartus for an Iranian port, but was turned down by Damascus, which was under intense Russian pressure. But the Iranian regime believes that anything that doesn’t work via formal channels can always be accomplished through the back door. It now plans to lease the land and operate a Mediterranean port via a private company unconnected — at least not visibly — to the Iranian government.

Tuesday night’s preventative action allegedly by Israel, and evidence of the immense capabilities of Israeli intelligence allegedly on display, may prompt Tehran’s leaders to think more carefully about their threatened retaliation — “revenge,” it is worth stressing, for an alleged Israeli raid on the T-4 air base from which Iran launched an attack drone into Israel three months ago.

Soleimani and his colleagues will have woken up on Wednesday morning with considerable unease and some pointed questions about the vulnerability of their forces in Syria to Israeli intelligence. That could lead to a change in tactics.

But make no mistake. Nothing that Iran has seen thus far, and that includes the impressive display of alleged Israeli military and intelligence capabilities inherent in the airstrikes against its forces, will alter its strategic goal of expanding its sphere of influence via an economic, political and military expansion into Syria. Iran intends to be there for the long term.