The alleged attacks by Israel against Syria, supposedly targeting an arms
facility and advanced Iranian surface-to-surface missiles believed to be headed
for Hezbollah, raises pressure on the Syrian regime and the Lebanese terrorist
organization to make a concrete attack against Israel.
With what could be
reportedly ongoing Israeli bombardments of Syrian territory for the entire world
to see, it is now hard to fathom that Syria and Hezbollah would allow for much
more loss of face before responding.
In what is reported to be the third
attack by Israel on Syria this year, and with more strikes possibly coming, the
pressure is increasing for some sort of response. While it is possible that
Hezbollah could resort to attacking soft Jewish or Israeli targets abroad, as it
has done before, it also may respond directly against Israel.
axis of Hezbollah and Iran have suffered tremendously in the eyes of the Sunni
world for its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It seems shared
animosity has, for now, trumped Israel’s alleged actions against Assad’s regime,
which is viciously defending itself against a Sunni-led
Perhaps quietly, many of the Sunnis were cheering the attack,
but publicly, the Arabs fell into line.
Assad and Hezbollah are now
desperate for a new public relations program.
According to an article by
Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a
speech last week by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah shifted the group’s
rhetoric to focus on its protection of Shi’ite shrines in Syria and its role in
the resistance against Israel.
In this light, stated Badran, Nasrallah’s
second trip to Iran in the past two weeks was perhaps a chance for Iran to offer
its partner strategic guidance on refocusing on a winning slogan – resistance
“Hezbollah’s effort to link its role in Syria with the
struggle against [the Jewish state] explains [its] decision to send [a] drone
over Israel last week,” Badran said.
This was also confirmed on Sunday by
a report in the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, which stated that the Islamic Jihad,
which is closely allied with Iran, said it would respond for the attacks on
“Syria has its hands full, but I’m surprised the regime hasn’t
attacked Israel already as a way of deflecting attention to the common Israeli
enemy,” Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute
for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, and
the former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US
Department of the Treasury, told The Jerusalem Post.
“As for Iran and
Hezbollah, they’re already at full tilt in a shadow war against Israel and the
West,” he said.
A move to deflect the focus from the Syrian battle to the
Israeli front could provide relief for the constant media and international
attention that has been focused on the Syrian conflict.
At the same time,
Hezbollah and Syria know they would pay severely for any direct attack on
Israel, but how much longer can they absorb Israeli attacks without responding?