The Shadow War Takes a Dangerous Turn in Syria


Iranian aspirations in the region are both, to become a regional power and to counter Israeli influence in the region. Iran formed an alliance while joining hands with Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and created an ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel in Levant. Iranian backed Hezbollah and its presence in the neighboring Syria creates a unified front in the north of Israel. Tel Aviv who is already suspicious of Iranian power prognosis in the region got this opportunity to counter Iran and demonstrate its power in the region. Iran and Syria both have cooperative relations since 1979, but the Iranian support to Bashar ul Assad’s regime further strengthened their bilateral relations and intensified the situation for Israel in its urgent neighboring state. The military involvement of Iran in Syria primarily heightened the concern of Israel regarding Syrian borders with its territories. This intensified the situation and lead towards the proxy conflict in the Syria as the air strikes began since 2013. The shadow war between Israel and Iran is likely to quickly escalate into a hot war that could spread to the region as a whole. In fact, the state of Syria is already at war within its own borders for the past ten years, which has been tending to distract the attention away from Israeli strikes. The civil war opens a way to operate Hezbollah and Iranian military to support Assad’s regime and keep a close eye on Israel through this move. The major concern of Israel is the presence of Iranian troops, missiles and arms in Syria near to its cities and provinces. The Israel responded in the military bases through air strikes which according to Israel helped in slow down Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Iran employs ideological factor through her own “Husseiniat Scouts” for the training of Shia volunteers under the maxim of “Protecting Shia shrines.” Tehran by using multiple tactics, has now become a political and economic sponsor within Syrian society, who is now an important entity to take part in decision making process of Syria. Moreover, Iranian government has managed to imprint its marks on the two major facets of Syrian society one is religion and second is demography. Iran wants its survival in Syria after the continuous air strikes by Israel. Therefore, Iran has shifted its focus from strategic to economic sphere as well. For this purpose, Iran has made an international agreement to counter balance its military presence in Syria. In different provinces of Syria, Iran is spreading its social, political, strategic and economic influence in Syria. Iran’s preferred method of action, employing indirect tactics and waging mid to high intensity warfare via proxies means that for now, Iran will likely avoid a conflict that would play to Israeli strengths. On the other hand, Israel remains the most powerful and well-equipped military force in the region, supported by its strategic ally, the United States. From the Israeli standpoint, Iran’s intensifying network of non-state militia partners and missile capacity pose a serious peril to Israel. “Iran’s past support for terrorist attacks within Israel itself and against Israelis abroad, combined with inflammatory rhetoric expressing the intention to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, further elevates the Iranian menace in the Israeli psyche”. Israel adopted “MABAM” strategy to counter growing Iranian influence in its neighbors. But this strategy is only consisting of the engagement of proxy conflict, air strikes, destroy Iranian bases etc. Being a nuclear power, Israel lacks a long term strategy and a rational policy to counter Iranian influence in Syria. Most of the Tel Aviv strategic policies regarding Tehran are dependent on Washington. “Tehran cannot and will not stop its military build-up in Syria, which Israel will not tolerate”. Though Israel reports that Iranian military engagement has slowed down but the Iranian engagement in Syria is not limited to military only. Increased tit-for-tat escalation could eventually lead to some form of hot conflict. To achieve balance of power in Levant the counter strategy of both against each other in the War-torn state will further create instability in Syria and the entire region. The region is already facing the scars of Iran-Iraq war, now the engagement of Iran with Syria is further increasing the risks of instability and chances of conflicts with Israel. While the region is not in a position to face further devastations and disturbance, Because it is already suffering due to extremism, terrorism, political and economic instability and proxy wars. Nonetheless, the Israeli engagement of belligerency is continuing against Iran, and it is helping them as a reminder to regional rivals and domestic voters that the IDF is extremely “deadly and efficient.” The Iranian policy makers must prepare for the Israeli response before making any policy regarding Israel, because Israel is operating under the maxim of “Si vis pacem, para bellum” that “If you want peace, prepare for war.” To counter each other’s power for the desire of Balance of power and power politics their tactics only lead towards catastrophes rather than peace and development of the region

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