Iran's Involvement and Fuelling of the Syrian Conflict
Feb 14 2018 by Lorena Waters
It demonstrated that it could demolish all Syrian forces if necessary to establish complete air superiority, but by not doing so gave Damascus an incentive to avoid future conflict. It has become a hotbed of overlaying regional rivalries and global power struggles.
Hence the Iranian determination to follow through with this strategy despite their clear understanding of Israel's red lines.
The weekend's events began with Iran launching an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), more commonly known as a drone, from Syria and into Israel on the morning of February 10. Both pilots survived, though one was seriously wounded. In addition, by raising the cost of Iran's presence in Syria, the USA could exacerbate internal tensions for Iran's leaders, who are already beset by protests against its foreign involvements.
The IAF estimates that the Syrians were successful in downing the F-16 jet as a result of a technical issue in which the proper defense systems in the warplane were not activated.
Far from winding down, Syria's civil war is threatening to trigger direct conflicts between the United States and Turkey, Israel and Iran, and even the United States and Russian Federation.
Syrian government officials claim 6 Syrian troops and allied militiamen were killed in the airstrikes, Times of Israel reported.
"We need to prepare ourselves operationally and intelligence-wise for the mounting threat", IDF chief Amit Fisher told Israeli forces. Katz also stated that his country would not tolerate an Iranian military foothold on its doorstep. Israel fears that Iran could create a direct land corridor to link up with Hezbollah, which has sworn to destroy Israel. Hezbollah may be arming itself with advanced weaponry, but it is not interested in fighting another devastating conflict with Israel that could spread to Lebanon.
With Russia's military deeply enmeshed in Syria, it is in neither Israel's nor Russia's interest to clash and both are very aware of the danger of miscalculation. A group in Syria showing their support were arrested and tortured by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, sparking huge protests. An Israel jet crashed after being shot at by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Previously, Syrian responses to numerous provocations by Israel were limited to empty warnings and vows of retaliation. The Israelis are completely changing their policy, taking much greater risks in order to halt this dynamic. It will be wary that such firepower should directly harm Russian elements on the ground, potentially provoking, for once, a military equal with firepower superior to its own. This way Iran can control Damascus and use Syria as a forward base to put pressure on Israel but pay "wholesale", not "retail". Everyone is picking a side, while Turkey and the Assad regime, the regime and the U.S., the U.S. and Turkey, Russia and the U.S., Turkey and Iran, Israel and Iran are pointing their guns at one and other.
The Syrian state news agency, SANA, described the action as "an aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" that were fighting the Islamic State group and the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Kremlin asked all parties in Saturday's events not to take further action that could trigger a "dangerous escalation".
In the prevailing environment of mistrust and tension, even an unremarkable incident can spiral into a major showdown. Jonathan Conricus said Saturday's incident marked the most "blatant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty" yet. Israel responded with a "large scale attack" on 12 bases in Syria. The point is, involved players seem to be ready to engage in an inter-state war, rather than pursuing their goals through local proxies.
However, what would be the implications of Iranian capitulation to Israel's military strikes in Syria that seek to deter Tehran's resolve in the region? The Russians have nothing more to gain in Syria, for them it is just about losses.