The destabilizing processes in the region of the Middle East, as a result of which, with the formation of a power vacuum created favorable conditions for strengthening the positions of terrorist organizations and the intervention of a large number of players in the conflict, were most developed in Syria. The State of Israel is located in the immediate vicinity of the hostilities, which prevents him from ignoring the events. Since the formation of the Jewish state, Syria has repeatedly participated in wars against Israel. According to some experts, the ATS projects the power of Tehran, for which Israel is one of the main enemies in the region. What opportunities and threats does the Syrian crisis create for Israel?
There is a number of external threats to Israel’s security. First, the strengthening of Hezbollah’s positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border with possible advance into the south-western regions of Syria (towards the Syrian-Israeli border) opens a new front against Israel near the Golan Heights, which were occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War .
The strengthening of Hezbollah is made possible by the active supply of weapons from Iran, which Israel systematically tries to suppress, striking at convoys in Syria. The number of Hezbollah fighters participating in the fighting in Syria grew: initially they numbered about 4-5 thousand, and with the beginning of the offensive operation in Aleppo, Syria was sent an additional 5 thousand people. Hezbollah had Syrian T-54 and T-55 tanks, as well as anti-tank missiles and artillery systems. According to the IDF officer’s statement, Hezbollah also has 50 new M113A1 / M113A2 armored personnel carriers and about 40 artillery pieces. Surprisingly, these are american weapons brought from Lebanon.
Secondly, with the expansion of the presence in Syria of the Iranian military, there is a risk of creating a springboard for putting pressure on Israel. It can be provided not directly to Israel, but by weakening the factions dispersed in the south-west of Syria near the Golan Heights, some of whose members are supported by Israel.
Along with the destruction of convoys with weapons, which Iran sends to Hezbollah, the Israeli security forces carry out operations to eliminate the officers of the Shiite movement. In this context, it is worth mentioning the operation, which neutralized Jihad Mughniya, the son of the commander of Hezbollah, Imad Mughniy, who, on behalf of the Iranians, oversaw the creation of military infrastructure in the Golan Heights.
More than a dozen of settlements in Syria in the southern part of the border with the Golan Heights are held by Islamic state militants. In the presence of a security threat, the Israeli Armed Forces conduct operations to destroy these militants.
Syria collapse is acceptable for Israel option.
Firstly, the absence of a single centralized state will not allow Syria to have enough forces and means to conduct military operations against Israel. Preservation of the fragmented state of the territorial structure will not allow to restore the necessary level of economic development. According to the World Bank, as of 2014, the damage from the war in six governorates (Aleppo, Dara, Hama, Homs, Idlib and Latakia) amounted to $ 3.7-4.5 billion. The IMF estimated only direct destruction in Syria, which reached $ 200 billion According to the report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the loss of real GDP of Syria in 2011-2015. amounted to 169.7 billion dollars. According to the forecasts of the UN, it will take at least 30 years to return the economy of Syria to the pre-war level.
The fragmentation of Syria on an ethnoconfessional basis will allow Tel Aviv to strengthen its positions on the Golan Heights, whose annexation was deemed illegal by the UN Security Council.
Secondly, the fragmentation of Syria on an ethnoconfessional basis will allow Tel Aviv to strengthen its positions on the Golan Heights, the annexation of which was recognized illegal by the UN Security Council. In this context, time plays on the side of Israel, and in the short term Tel Aviv can close this issue. In the event of the final dissolution of Syria on the basis of ethnoconfessional principles, the last obstacle to the consolidation of the occupied territories by the Jewish state under its control will disappear.
It seems possible to further strengthen Israeli influence in the south-west of Syria in the province of Dar’a. This will be due to a number of factors. First, Israel, according to some media reports, supports not only some of the fighters of opposition groups, but also individual members of the ISIS near the Golan Heights. For Israel, it is necessary to create a security buffer, which can be voiced by the regions in the southeast, held by opposition groups, whose list of priorities does not occupy the first place with the struggle against Israel.
According to the IDF strategy adopted in 2015, the Armed Forces will conduct fast, time-limited and scale operations if there is a potential security threat. These actions demonstrate the damage to the enemy in the event of a worsening of the situation. In this regard, any activity of Hezbollah on creating infrastructure near the Golan Heights and advancing to the south will be stopped by Israel, as it was done earlier.
Thirdly, the issue of the Druze population, which resides in the Golan Heights, Lebanon and south of Syria. Most of the Druze of the Golan Heights after 1967 refused to obtain Israeli citizenship, waiting for further changes on the Syrian-Israeli front, in particular, the possible return of these territories to Syria. Today, the number of Druzes wishing to obtain Israeli citizenship is increasing. In 2015, the Israeli cabinet approved a new five-year plan to allocate $ 500 million for the development of the Druze and Circassian communities. The position of Israel regarding the conflict in the SAR was expressed by the Minister of Defense M. Yaalon, comparing modern Syria with an omelet that can not be turned back into an egg. Indeed, the necessary prerequisites for the future “return” of Syria to the former education at this stage is not observed. It seems that the scenario of the division of Syria on the basis of an ethnoconfessional principle is fully supported by Israel. Such formations can be Syrian Kurdistan, Alavistan, Drusistan and others. The divided Syria can help solve one of the main tasks of Israel – to weaken Iran’s position. Tehran’s inability to influence all enclaves is obvious. At the same time, Israel continues to develop close contacts with opposition groups that are able to influence the situation on the ground. The divided Syria can help solve one of Israel’s main tasks – to weaken Iran’s position. In this regard, Israel with respect to its neighbors who represented and represented a threat , will pursue a historically proven policy of “divide and rule.” Weakening the influence of Damascus on the periphery will allow Tel Aviv to establish the necessary contacts with the parties of interest, which can become an additional element in ensuring its security. That is why in an interview with the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, Bashar Assad stated that Syria’s main and only enemy is Israel, which supports both opposition and terrorist groups, continuing the occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel also reserves the right to preventive actions, neutralizing at an early stage in Syria potential sources of danger. However, the implementation of these initiatives can be difficult, since it will also depend on the position and tacit consent of Russia, which has a great military potential in the territory of the SAR, including S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, whose coverage radius includes and the Syrian-Israeli border. In an interview with CBS, Binyamin Netanyahu said that there are appropriate agreements between the Russian and Israeli armed forces that would avoid an accidental collision. These agreements are probably related to Israeli operations against Hezbollah and Iranian actions and exclude any activity against the forces loyal to Bashar Assad.