Dubai - “We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.” These were the words of Gadi Eisenkot, in his final interview as chief of staff of the Israeli regime’s army before he retires next week. And in a rare public confirmation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his regime had at the weekend carried out an air strike on Iranian weapons in Syria.
Since the start of the war in Syria, Iran has done its utmost to ensure the survival of Bashar Al Assad’s regime. In the pursuit of that goal, and as part of its general policy of interference in the affairs of Arab states, Tehran has established several dozen bases in Syria – for weapons storage, drone flights, and training. It has sought to use its intervention in Syria to build a force of thousands of proxy fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. It has intelligence bases and an air force base within almost all Syrian air bases.
Just as the Syrian war has given Tehran the opportunity of opening up a direct front against Israel, it has also given the Israeli regime the possibility of delivering painful blows to Tehran, whose response is bound to be limited as launching a full blown assault on Israel would (a) lead to massive Israeli regime reprisals that may threaten the Al Assad regime’s survival; (b) reveal the sheer scale of Iranian presence in Syria.
Iran has also not received the support of Russia, its “ally” and certainly the most prominent backer of the Al Assad regime. Moscow and Tel Aviv seem to have an understanding; as far as Israel doesn’t threaten Russian forces or directly attacks Syrian forces, Russia seems to be willing to look the other way while Israel hits Iranian targets.
The Iranians have undoubtedly been surprised by just how much the Israeli regime apparently knows about their operations in Syria. The scale of the Israeli intelligence penetration in Syria is indeed vast. However, this has not prompted Iran to scale down its efforts in Syria. Its primary goal remains channelling arms and support to its most potent regional proxy, Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Tehran seems to have come to the conclusion that absorbing painful blows is a price worth paying in the pursuit of its expansionist goals.
While the threat of full-scale Israel-Iran war has receded, tensions continue to remain high.