The American decision to remove its troops from Syria benefits Iran to Israel’s detriment, writes Yaakov Amidror, but there is also a potential upside for the Jewish state:
Israel must operate on the . . . assumption that has always been the foundation of [its] defense doctrine: that Israel will defend itself. This is the country’s raison d’être as well as the outcome of geopolitical realities. . . .
With respect to [Israel’s] battles against Iran, there will be no change after the withdrawal of American forces, for the simple reason that the American forces have not taken part in these battles. The U.S. did not even once act against the Iranian war machine that is emerging in Syria. All U.S. forces and efforts were invested in the elimination of Islamic State (IS). . . . [Nevertheless], the withdrawal of American forces will immediately open up new maneuvering possibilities for the Iranians, which were previously denied them due to the presence of the important American base in the region on the main transportation route connecting Iraq and Syria, close to the Jordanian border.
The Iranian dream of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean which will serve their logistic needs will quickly be realized after the American withdrawal. Such a move will make it much easier for Iran to transport equipment and forces by land, and therein lies its importance both to Hizballah and to the project of building an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. . . . There is no doubt that this will pose a greater challenge to Israel. . . .
From Israel’s point of view, [however], there are [also] two possible benefits arising from the president’s decision. Once the U.S. has left the region, there will be one fewer player that Israel must consider when planning its operations in Syria. In general, an equation with fewer variables is easier to understand and deal with. . . . The withdrawal of the U.S. leaves Israel as the strongest and most stable country in the region and the only serious player with which the main Arab countries can cooperate in the confrontation with Iran and IS. The extent to which Israel’s position is strengthened as a result of the vacuum left by the Americans is difficult to assess, but the potential benefits are significant.