Topic:

Syria

The Assad Regime Returns to the Golan

| August 15, 2018

The Assad regime’s recapture of the Syrian Golan Heights is advantageous to Israel, in light of the Israeli-Russian understanding to predicate the situation there on the May 1974 disengagement. Even if the new arrangement does not lead to a forty-year-long de facto peace like the one that prevailed prior to the eruption of the Syrian civil war, Assad will need to focus on rebuilding his regime, reconstituting Syria, and ensuring the continuation of Alawite rule. In these circumstances, not only does military confrontation with Israel not entail any conceivable gains but it would likely wreck the regime’s fragile recovery.

Have Putin and Netanyahu Struck a Grand Bargain?

| July 16, 2018

On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.

Why Russia Needs Israel

| July 16, 2018

Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israel’s need to prevent the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria?  Putin’s vision is to cement an alliance of minorities against the Sunni majority in the Middle East. Israel could be a valuable participant in making that vision a reality – but only if Moscow works to rid Syria of the Iranian presence, joins forces to topple its Islamist regime, and weans the Alawite regime in Damascus away from Tehran.

Israel’s Active Defense Campaign in Syria: The Next Phase

| July 12, 2018

Tehran’s recent decision to attempt direct clashes with Israel resulted in a resounding defeat on May 10, when the IDF destroyed 50 Iranian military targets in Syrian territory. Iran is now shifting gears back to its traditional proxy approach. While it appears reluctant to mobilize Hezbollah against Israel right now and risk a full-scale regional war, it is continuing to work on securing a military position in Syria to use for future aggression. Israel must maintain its flexibility and responsiveness in order to prevent the creation of a second Iranian mass missile front on the border.

Israel Must Stop Syria’s Advance Southward

| July 5, 2018

Israel must halt the reconsolidation of the Syrian regime, especially in the country’s south. Russia helped to bolster the regime through airpower. In response to the resulting and growing threat, Israel must now unleash the might of the IAF.

Assad Addresses the Chemical Weapons Issue

In an unprecedented television interview on May 30, Syrian President Bashar Assad made detailed comments about his army’s alleged non-use of chemical weapons (CW). Referring to the (confirmed) employment of chemical weapons in Douma on April 7 and the subsequent US-British-French retaliatory raid, Assad claimed that CW had not been used by anyone (rather than by the rebels, as is usually contended).

Russia in Syria: Caught Between Iran and Israel

| June 24, 2018

Intermittent Israeli strikes against Iranian positions in Syria have alarmed Russia, which is trying to solidify its military gains there. Active Israeli interference could bring down the highly unstable security architecture the Russians are working on in Syria. Moscow must balance between its war ally, Iran, and Israel, an important regional player – two states with radically different geopolitical imperatives.

The Syrian Intervention: Following the Wingate Model

| June 18, 2018

Orde Wingate’s approach to the liberation of Ethiopia from Italian occupation in 1941 provides a useful model for modern-day intervention in Syria. Rather than hand out money and materiel to local forces (à la the British support of the anti-Ottoman “Great Arab Revolt” of WWI), Wingate advocated committing one’s own forces and then allowing local forces to participate of their own accord. In Wingate’s view, loyalty bought with cash and weapons will always prove temporary.

The “Game” Israel and Iran Must Play in Syria

| May 8, 2018

Israel has neither the power nor the motivation to significantly influence the outcome of the war for control of all the pieces of Syria. Israel’s objective in Syria is to prevent Iran from building military facilities there that increase its ability to attack Israel. The only way Israel can achieve this is by destroying any such facilities that Iran builds, or by convincing Iran not to build any threatening facility out of fear that Israel will destroy it.  

Discouraging the Use of Chemical Weapons Is Valuable Unto Itself

| April 30, 2018

The attack on Syria’s chemical weapons (CW) sites wasn’t intended to influence the outcome of the war; it was designed to prevent the future use of CW.  This won’t save many lives, because regular bombs can kill as many people as CW. But ending the horrors of chemical warfare is a worthwhile and feasible international goal.  The way we react to the attack on Assad’s CW assets can affect the possibility of future use. We should applaud the international actions against Assad’s CW instead of complaining about what the attacks didn’t accomplish.