The U.S. May Be Poised to Give Iran the Missing Link in Its “Land Bridge”

Aug. 15 2018

For several years, Western analysts have warned that the Islamic Republic plans to use its intervention in the Syrian civil war, together with its fight against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, to establish an overland route connecting its own territory to Lebanon and the Golan. If the plan succeeds, Tehran would have the unrestricted ability to send troops and materiel to Israel’s borders, magnifying the threat currently posed by Hizballah. Alexandra Gutowski fears that a current American campaign against an IS stronghold in eastern Syria might be abetting this strategy:

[The U.S.-led coalition’s] airstrikes indicate that Islamic State maintains a robust presence in Abu Kamal, a critical position along the Syria-Iraq border that Iran seeks to control. . . . Curiously, despite these concentrated strikes, U.S.-backed forces will not be conducting a follow-on ground offensive there. The coalition has limited its ground offensives to areas north of the Euphrates River, in order to preserve the deconfliction [agreement] between the coalition and the [pro-Assad] axis: the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias. Thus, the coalition is . . . effectively ceding Abu Kamal to Iran.

Iran is eager to capture Abu Kamal to secure a land route over Iraq and Syria toward Lebanon. Although Iran has a robust air bridge to supply its foreign wars, an overland route is more reliable and less expensive. Iran has worse odds at the other two crossings: Tanf, where the United States has positioned its special forces, and a northern crossing under Kurdish control.

Whereas those two crossings would be difficult to conquer, the only thing standing between Iran and a secure overland route at Abu Kamal is Islamic State. . . . Iranian forces are already present in Abu Kamal and are using it to facilitate weapons flows. On June 17, an Israeli airstrike killed members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who were training militias on how to transfer weapons in the area. Additional Iranian forces—those leaving Syria’s southwest—could also be redeployed there.

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Read more at RealClear Defense

More about: Iran, ISIS, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran Is Back on Israel’s Doorstep

Feb. 15 2019

On Monday, the IDF shelled Iranian-linked targets—most likely held by Hizballah—in the Quneitra province, which lies in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. There can thus be little doubt that the Islamic Republic has positioned its proxies in deadly proximity to Israel’s borders. Yossi Yehoshua comments:

Hizballah is trying to entrench itself in Syria now that Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did in 2014 and 2015, [before Syrian rebels retook the area]. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and of planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Mughniyeh was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. . . .

In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria . . . meant to signal to the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it [previously] attempted to entrench itself in [this part of] Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.

Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran now has a real presence along the Syrian border, while Hizballah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. And since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and thus cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria