Saturday October 10, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Barak: Syria strike proof we mean what we say
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Dr. Reuven Berko

Syria is Iran's weakest link

The reality that currently characterizes the Syria-Lebanon border is insane. Weapons and fighters are constantly being smuggled all along the border. Iran and Hezbollah are sending weapons and men to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Lebanese opposition factions are smuggling weapons, and Saudi, Qatari and Turkish funding is streaming to the Syrian rebels.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Syrian-initiated assassinations and terror attacks are being carried out against Lebanese targets and activists supporting the rebels. Over the weekend, men in civilian clothing identifying themselves as Lebanese intelligence operatives assassinated Khaled Hamid, a Lebanese Salafi who was a known supporter of the Syrian rebels.

Efforts by the Syrian regime to transfer anti-aircraft batteries to Hezbollah, especially these days, despite having agreed with the Russians not to do so, could be interpreted as a sign of Assad's impending collapse. It is likely that this approach led to the desire to store the batteries in a secure place to prevent the rebels from gaining control of the weapons. It is possible that Assad wanted Hezbollah to be in possession of the anti-aircraft batteries, while he held onto his chemical arsenal as an insurance policy for when he is forced to withdraw into a mini-Alawite state on Syria's western coast.

It is also possible that the instructions to transfer the batteries came from Tehran, which is currently wrapped up in its nuclear project and preparations for the possibility of an attack as the failure of sanctions becomes clear. In this way, Iran may have sought to enhance Hezbollah's power to attack Israel under a defensive umbrella of advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

Indeed, Iran has reason for concern: Russian support for Assad is beginning to wane, and the Turks, making preparations along their shared border with Syria, are cooperating with the West. It appears that former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's warnings with respect to Russia and Iran, and the high possibility that the war might spread over Syria's borders, is worrying Iran.

The recent attack in Syria, despite Iran's guarantees, is another blow to the Syrian link in the Iranian strategic chain. It is possible that Friday's bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara was the activation of a contingency attack plan, part of a shared response by Iran and Hezbollah to the green light the U.S. is thought to have given Israel for the attack in Syria last week (as reported by The New York Times).

Charges are coming in Syria thick and fast. The rebels claim that the regime, which hasn't fired a single shot against Israel since 1973, has been suspiciously calm in the face of Israeli attacks as well as the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah, but oddly shot down a Turkish plane and is using its arsenal against its own people. According to the rebels, the government ordered the Israeli attack to cover up its own atrocities. Regime spokespeople, however, claim that the Israeli attacks were carried out in cooperation with the rebels. The common denominator of all these accusations is hatred and suspicion of Israel.

Preliminary deployment of Iron Dome batteries across northern Israel and the destruction of anti-aircraft batteries in Syria showcased Israel's impressive operational intelligence capabilities on a regional level. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Syria's collapse in the Sunni revolutionary sphere, U.S. warnings and actions by its closest allies are critically damaging the survivability of the Iranian Shiite axis of evil.

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