Iran: The Syrian Highway in the Fight Against Israel Is Still Open

Iran: The Syrian Highway in the Fight Against Israel Is Still Open
Michael Segall
  • The wave of protest in Syria has put to the test the strategic alliance between Iran (and Hizbullah) and Bashar Assad’s regime. Syria is the main state component of the „resistance camp” and serves as a logistical hinterland for Hizbullah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran sees its unequivocal backing for Syria as a demonstration of its ability to stay loyal to its allies despite the regional turmoil.
  • Iran believes that ultimately the „Islamic mantle” will supplant the region’s pro-Western regimes as part of the Islamic awakening. This would offset the possible loss of Syria and reconsolidate the resistance camp on a broad basis of Islamic religion and ideological hatred of Israel and the United States.
  • Ali Akbar Velayati, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s adviser for international affairs, speaks of the resistance camp as incorporating „the new Iraqi government.” If Bashar falls, Iran will make sure its western border with Iraq is also an advantageous border with the Middle East, enabling it to exploit instability in Syria so as to keep operating within and from its territory.
  • The fall of the Assad regime would affect Iran’s ability to help Hizbullah in „real time” in the event of another round of hostilities with Israel, and the freedom of action of the Hamas headquarters in Damascus. Yet, at the same time, opportunities will open for Iran in view of the electoral victories of the Islamic forces in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.
  • For as long as it lasts, the crisis in Syria will manifest the inter-Arab fault line of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states vs. Syria, and deepen the Persian-Arab, Sunni-Shiite, and historical Persian-Turkish (Ottoman) fault lines.


IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.