SHOWDOWN IN SYRIA: The Coming Israel-Iran War in Syria

For all the negativity surrounding the agreement forged between the USA and Russia at the G20 summit in July to impose a ceasefire agreement for the Southwestern part of Syria close to the Israeli border, it has accomplished a few things that had been left in the shadows to ferment.

The first is that the agreement exposed the lie that both the US and Russia were sort of passive players in a chaotic conflict both were just trying to manage.  The very fact that both super powers had the power to actually enforce such an agreement makes it clear that the two were behind the maelstrom of fighting from the beginning.

The second is that the control over the Quneitra and Daraa provinces given over to Russia and defacto Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran means that Israel’s ability to stay out of open conflict with Iran is over. The Israeli government has been content up until in now to use local rebels in battling regime forces, Hezbollah, and Iranian militias, but with the Russians in the neighborhood this strategy has been effectively terminated.

This means that Israel must take on Iran in Syria or risk becoming isolated while the Persians strengthen their hold over the region. The air attacks on various Iranian and Hezbollah installations in Syria make it apparent that Israel is willing to increase its operations there. Yet, there are significant factors that will mean that an Iranian counter-strike could be more imminent than thought.

The first is the Israel-US backed Kurdish independent state in Southern Kurdistan (situated in the KRG area of Northern Iraq). Iran sees this as a dagger pointed directly at the regime in Tehran as it not only breaks up its direct control of the region, but inspires the 15 million Iranian Kurds to agitate for independence.

The second is the increasing ease the Israeli airforce has in attacking Iranian targets in the Levant. While Putin may not be in agreement with Israel on the need to remove Iran from Syria, he appears to be willing to allow the IAF to attack when it feels necessary.

Therefore, Iran will not wait much longer to make a move against Israel or at the very least attempt to solidify its stranglehold over the Southern corridor in Syria as well as push Iraq into a direct war with the Kurdish Peshmerga.  Iran has benefitted from the six years of instability in the region.  With Israel’s ascendancy and Kurdish independence the Mullahs are looking to throw more chaos into the mix to ensure they can finish their solidification as the regions superpower.

In order to ensure this does not happen Israel must be willing to strike hard in Syria as well as push Washington to bolster a young but strategic Kurdistan.

Does Russia Have a Deal With Israel on Quneitra De-escalation?

With Russian forces moving into Quneitra as early as July 16th, the realization that Israel is being cornered by Iranian and Hezbollah contingents has now become apparent.  Local Quneitra community councils welcomed the opportunity to force “militants associated with Zionist entity” to lay down their arms.

Russia is aware that the Netanyahu government is not happy about the ceasefire deal hammered out between Trump and Putin at the G-20 on July 7th.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister had this to say:

“I can guarantee that we have done everything and the US side has done everything to ensure that Israel’s security interests within this framework are taken fully into account.”

There is more to this statement than just acknowledgment.

Former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said the following on Monday in relation to the Iranian presence so close to the Golan:

“Israel may need to take military action to prevent Iran or Hezbollah from setting up permanent bases in Syria.” 

This is no accidental comment. Amidror is a close confidant of the Prime Minister and his comment was meant to send a message to the Russians.

The idea that Iran and Hezbollah is setting up permanent bases so close to Israel’s Golan Heights may appear to be a dangerous step for Israel.  The Russian forces that have now entered the region have only complicated the situation. The peril for Israel cannot be overstated.  However, Amidror’s comments contain a hint of possible solution to the menace forming on Israel’s border.

The Russian’s have at times allowed Israel to take out Hezbollah and Iranian arms transfers, with analysts observing that Russia itself tipped off the Israeli airforce to the location of the hidden arms and gave it fly by capabilities to destroy the targets.  If Israel can convince Putin it is far better to let Israel defend itself by destroying Iranian and Hezbollah fighters on its border than making the IDF attack covertly, then a similar relation can develop even within the framework of the current ceasefire.

More than 18 months ago I wrote the following:

Many analysts believe that Russia, in the long-term, has no interest in allowing Iran to take over the Middle East. Russia views its relationship with Iran as a tactical necessity to prop up Assad and destroy Sunni radicals. After this task is done, the experts in this particular camp believe their paths will diverge.  

If this is so, then logic lends itself to believe Putin wants relationships and long term strategic partnerships with countries that are not only stable, but also share similar security and economic outlooks with himself, and yet will not step in his way. Israel is one of these countries.

We are about to see if this theory holds weight.  If Russia does not prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up their forces on Israel’s border, then Russia either will have to allow the Israeli airforce to neutralize the growing threat or risk losing leverage over Israel.

Putin has spent much of the Syrian Civil War navigating a variety of local interests while cementing Russia’s control over the Northern Levant. The question remains: At what point does Putin jettison his relationship with Iran in favor of a more moderate and stable relationship with far more rational actors?

If Russia truly wants a stable Middle East then we may be about to see the beginning of a Russian-Iranian divergence.


Syrian Regime Continues to Violate Ceasefire, This Time in Quneitra Next to Israel

The Free Syrian Army based East of Israel’s Golan posted the following tweet:

Given the ecstatic jubilation over the “ceasefire deal” brokered between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 these sorts of violations that have been growing in the descalation zones have esentially deemed the ceasefire deal to be at the most a PR stunt if not rendered pointless.

With Al-Baath under attack by regime and Iranian forces, which is only 2 km away from Israel’s Golan the infractions are far more serious.

Is the Regime Goading Israel into Attacking?

One possible strategy is for the regime to blame Israel for breaking the ceasefire.  If the regime continues to advance in towards the Israeli border in the Golan, the Israelis would have no choice but to resume attacking regime military targets as they were doing last week.

Any counter-attack by Israel to sure up their FSA allies will run into the growing presence of Russian military police. The ceasefire has essentially be flipped to place US allies in the region on the defensive.  This will continue until the Trump administration is able extricate itself from the already collapsing ceasefire.

Is the Syrian Regime Getting One Last Battle In Before Today’s Ceasfire Kicks In?

Arab news reports are filled with an ongoing battle in the Syrian Golan, close to the DMZ that separates Israel’s Golan, from the Syrian held Golan.  The Syrian regime and their Iranian allies are skeptical of the ceasefire deal Russia and the US have inked and have made it clear to teir Russian counterparts they have little intention of following it for long.

After all, the Syrian regime has been on a role and has drawn close to the Israeli border.  The Russian ceasefire essentially freezes Syria’s war on the FSA, but at the same time places Russian military police in charge of the area.

As the battle rages between the Syrian regime and rebel forces in the Quneitra region, Israel has taken no chances and has used drones and other surveliance tools to monitor the battle as the ceasefire comes in. Iran has made it clear they will use the ceasefire to regroup and build up their Syrian allies to be ready to take more rebel controlled territory near the Israeli border when the ceasefire collpases.

SYRIAN CEASEFIRE: Russia Now in Charge of Israel’s Border

The G20 meeting between Putin and Trump has already produced some immediate results.  According to reports the two sides agreed to implement a ceasefire for Southwest Syria, along the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

“A ceasefire will come into force in that zone (Syria’s south – Daraa and Quneitra) at 12.00 Damascus time on July 9,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “The United States has made a commitment that all the groups present there will observe the ceasefire.”

The security in the de-escalation zone in the south of Syria will be ensured by the Russian military police in coordination with the US and Jordan.

“At first, the security around this zone will be ensured with the use of the personnel and resources of the Russian military police,” Lavrov said.

The ceasefire has brought a tenuous relief to Israel as the Syrian regime forces and their Iranian allies were marching straight for the Golan. Reports indicate that Iran was brought to in on the deal by Russia who has grown wary of the Iranian army’s involvement in the conflict.

The deal covers the Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida areas of Syria.

Is the Ceasefire Really Good for Israel?

Although there is a feeling of relief in Israel due to the ceasefire, the agreement itself is still not without flaws. Israel has demanded that Russia not be alowed to control the ceasefire zones without US involvement.  More than that the ceasefire does not prevent movements by the Syrian regime or its allies to other parts of the country. This essentially means that the Syrian regime can prepare for the next round.

This puts Daraa and Quneitra under a immediate threat once the ceasfire breaks down as it most probably will.

So why did Trump sign such a precarious deal?  Trump was left with little choice. By not committing to ground troops himself, Trump had to put a stop to Syria/Iran’s move to the Meditereanean or risk a broader war with Israel getting involved. Trump found a willing partner in Russia’s Putin to make it happen.

Now that the deal appears to be going into effect on Sunday, the Trump administration has essentially given Putin what he wants. Israel will have a far more precarious future with Russia in the mix on its border.

The deal essentially puts Russia on the border with Israel. This will make it harder and harder for the Israeli military to strike back if it is hit by Syria or Hezbollah. Israeli sources say that Israel’s government is in intense discussions on the specifics of Russia’s role within the ceasefre zones.

SYRIA CRISIS: Fighting Intensifies Near the Israeli Golan as Second Mortar Hits Israel

With all the talk and excitement of the arrival of the USS H.W. Bush Aircraft carrier at the port in Haifa, an ominous battle keeps moving closer to Israel’s Eastern border.

For the second time in one hour mortars from a battle between Syrian regime forces and rebel militia has hit the Israeli Golan.  On Friday the IDF retaliated again for a stray mortar. With two mortars hitting Israel, the IDF will have no choice but to hit back.

Due to the rebel (FSA and Jihadi Forces) continued assault of Al-Baath, the location of the forward Iranian base in South-West Syria, the IDF will again use the opportunity to attack Assad’s forces.

The initial assault began just over a week ago, but has stalled in its goal of taking Al-Baath and splitting the regime’s control over the Damascs-Daraa highway. The Syrian regime forces and their Iranian allies have brough the battle close to the Israeli border, in fact 3 kilometers away.

According to the Syrian regime there are still Israeli drones flying over al-Baath and seemingly posted there for a follow up attack.

Given the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu has insisted that Israel won’t allow Syrian and Iranian troops to take up positions on the Golan border, Israel may have not choice but to step up attacks with or without continued provocation.

Is the Worst Over on the Syria-Israel Border?

The IDF Spokesperson tweeted the following out this morning:

While this is a good short-term development, notifying the end to what seemed to be an acute situation on the Syrian border, the message should be taken very superficially. The spillover into the Israeli side of the Golan was certainly nerve-wracking for the residents of Northern Israel, yet the fact that the IDF took great pains to focus their return fire on the Syrian regime should be a warning on just how close regime forces and their Iranian allies have come to once again claiming the Golan border.

The retaliation by the IDF against the Syrian regime in many ways goes far beyond the scope of Israel’s claimed focus of their relationship to the many sides in the Syrian civil war.

It is no accident that the IDF retaliated heavily on regime positions at the same moment the FSA was leading and offensive to cut through the road leading from Damascus to Daraa. The regime forces of Assad and his Iranian allies have yet to fully crush the resistance in Daraa and so the FSA was trying to break their supply lines.


Base image source: MrPenguin20


For the first time Israel was willing to show Syria some of their hand in order to relay a message. “Quneitra is off-limits.” The Quneitra based division of the FSA is more and more becoming aligned with Israel. What started out as simple humanitarian gestures have morphed into an Israeli backed rebel militia.

With Hezbollah stationed oppositie Har Dov and routinely coming close to the base there, Israel can ill-afford to have the Syrian regime and Iran take up positions opposite the Eastern border of the Golan.

As the Trump administration weighs its next move against the Syrian regime, Israel is moving fast to push back againstAssad’s forces without fully entering the civil war.

Israel Needs to Conquer Quneitra NOW!

After many years, it appears that the brutal civil war in Syria is significantly shifting in Bashar Assad’s favor. The Syrian Armed Forces, with relentless assistance from Russia, Turkey and Hezbollah/Iran, are advancing in all areas of the country against the various rebel factions. The rebel factions including ISIS, the former Al-Qaeda affiliate, the somewhat secular/somewhat democratic rebels, and numerous other small Sunni militias, are all in retreat. 

Despite the savage barbarism seen throughout the conflict, including the use of chemical weapons, execution of civilians, torture, rape and sieges by all sides, the previous long-standing general stalemate seemingly has been in the strategic interest of the State of Israel. As long as no side could win in Syria, no side could afford to be overtly aggressive to the neighboring countries.

However, all indications are that this will now change. Along with ferocious fighting in Aleppo, the Syrian armed forces and their allies are reportedly massing near the Golan Heights area, planning to eradicate the eclectic rebel presence in the area, primarily around the symbolic and strategic city of Quneitra. Now is the time for the Israeli Government to threaten to conquer Quneitra, again!  (Quneitra was conquered by Israel during the “Six Day War” in 1967 and foolishly returned to Syria after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.)

Quneitra and the surrounding area
Quneitra and the surrounding area

By threatening to conquer Quneitra, again, Israel will be sending a clear and real message to Assad that a permanent Hezbollah/Iranian presence there is out of the question. While the current situation of various radical jihadist forces in Quneitra is also wholly unacceptable, until now, its has been manageable. Its possible that when the dust settles, Assad will emerge victorious and strengthened. And its possible he will turn to his historic allies, Alawites, the Druze and others to rebuild his country. And maybe there is a possibility that he will look to abandon Iran/Hezbollah and forge peace with his neighbors. But for now, that’s wishful thinking – Shimon Peres style. And we’ve unfortunately seen where that can lead.

An Israeli conquest of Quneitra may become a strategic necessity and it might happen pretty soon. In the meantime, Assad should clearly understand that Hezbollah will not be opening a new front against Israel in the Golan Heights. And if he can’t understand that, then the State of Israel needs grow in size a bit and registration should be opened for the new Jewish residents of Quneitra. 


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