As Iranian Influence Grows in Syria, Little Is Quiet on Israel’s Northern Front

As Iranian Influence Grows in Syria, Little Is Quiet on Israel’s Northern Front
Iran’s army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, looks into binoculars as he visits other senior officers from the Iranian military in the Syrian province of Aleppo, Oct. 20, 2017 (Syrian Central Military Media via AP).

After a few years in which the threats to Israel’s security had eased somewhat, recent events have taken a turn for the worse. To its north, Israel faces a joint Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that is growing more powerful and confident, as President Bashar al-Assad re-establishes control in Syria backed by a strong Russian presence.

Assad, whose regime has waged a brutal six-year civil war that has killed half a million Syrians and displaced some two-thirds of the country’s population, has successfully withstood all internal and external pressures, including American demands that he step down, and is now securely ensconced in power in Damascus. The deployment of just a limited number of Russian aircraft to Syria three years ago, at virtually no cost in Russian lives—coming on top of efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to prop up the regime—effectively turned the tide of battle and saved Assad from defeat. In so doing, Russia exposed the Obama administration’s specious warnings of a Syrian “quagmire” that no military intervention—even a limited one, such as establishing no-fly zones—could resolve. Syria, in effect, has become a highly unusual hybrid, both a Russian client state and Iranian forward outpost.

Iran is reportedly now seeking to establish air and naval bases in Syria, and possibly even to deploy significant ground forces to the country. At the same time, Iran has continued to build up Hezbollah’s vast arsenal of rockets, estimated to total between 100,000 and 130,000. Whenever the next round of fighting comes with Israel, Hezbollah could cause unprecedented devastation to Israel’s home front. Moreover, Hezbollah is now increasingly armed with precision-guided rockets from Iran, which would be capable of hitting not just Israeli population centers, as in the past, but specific, critical targets. Essential infrastructure, such as power plants and communications systems, and strategic sites, such as airbases and even the prime minister’s office, could be at risk.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review