How Israel Can Best Pursue Its Interests in Syria

Sept. 19 2023

For the past few weeks, there have been protests and riots in the Syrian city of Suwayda—an area that long seemed firmly under the regime’s control—calling for Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power. The unrest suggests that, even as Damascus has crushed the major pockets of resistance, its grip on the war-torn country remains unstable. Meanwhile, the IDF continues its yearslong “war between the wars” against Iran-linked military targets in Syria, having struck as recently as last week. Jonathan Spyer examines Israel’s current strategic position regarding its northern neighbor:

Israel’s primary goal in Syria is the halting of the advance of Iranian influence and [military capabilities] in the country. From an Israeli point of view, the current diplomatic situation in Syria—in which the regime remains isolated by the West, and without major reconstruction efforts underway from Western companies or states—is the ideal background for the continued prosecution of the Israeli military efforts against Iranian entrenchment and consolidation on Syrian soil.

Thus, Israel should use all available diplomatic channels to encourage the West to maintain . . . the continued isolation of the Assad regime. If Assad succeeds in ending his isolation and normalizing relations with the West, it is a near inevitability that at a certain point U.S. pressure on Israel would begin to induce it to cease its military campaign on Syrian soil, on the grounds that the conflict has finished, Syria is now a normal actor on the international stage, etc.

Similarly, the continued de-facto partition of Syria is a clear Israeli interest. The control [of the northeastern third of country] by the U.S. and its Kurdish allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces constitutes an incomplete but significant barrier to Iranian freedom of movement and action between Iraq and Syria.

Even the Sunni Islamist, Turkish-dominated enclave in the northwest of the country offers an advantage to Israel in that its presence keeps the regime weakened, prevents it from focusing on the reconquest of the southeast, and prevents the regime from extending its rule across the country and thus normalizing its situation. Thus, Israel should encourage Turkey in the direction of continued opposition to the Assad regime, and maintenance of its area of control in Syria.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy