The unstable situation in southern Syria requires an intervention by Israel, a recent report by the Israeli National Security Institute (INSS) concluded.
The report, which was published on December 16, was written by researcher Carmit Valensi and INSS Director Udi Dekel.
The report urges Israel to intervene in southern Syria, claiming that the region is far from stable and that the Iranian-Russian struggle for influence is taking place there.
“The prevailing dynamic in southern Syria in recent months and the frequent clashes between groups under Iranian influence and those affiliated with Russia indicate growing competition for influence between Russia and Iran and reflect those actors’ conflicting interests in the region, despite their partnership in the pro-Assad coalition,” the report reads.
The Tel Aviv-based think tanks said Iran is anchoring its presence in the southern Syrian provinces close to the Israeli border in order to create an additional front of friction and conflict with Israel through its proxies.
Valensi and Dekel said Israel should take advantage of the weakness of the Iranian-Shiite axis, including Damascus, in order to stop Iranian influence in southern Syria.
“It [Israel] can use its mechanism for coordination and deconfliction with Russia to adopt a proactive policy in southern Syria and attack the Iranian proxies there, including Hezbollah forces,” the report reads. “At the same time, Israel should strengthen local forces, both Sunni and Druze, and forge connections by means of humanitarian aid – food, fuel, and health services – with elements in the local population that oppose the regime.”
The report argued that an Israel intervention will create an “island of Israeli influence,” thereby disrupting Iranian influence in southern Syria.
While the INSS report suggests a limited Israeli intervention in southern Syria, sources in the Syrian opposition told the North Press Agency that Tel Aviv is actually planning a full-on invasion of the region.
“Israel, along with an Arab NATO, is approaching to storm southern Syria,” an unnamed activist told the outlet. “The incursion will be under the pretext of protecting the people of al-Suwayda and Daraa from Iran and Hezbollah, who are seeking systematic demographic change in the southern region.”
Israel followed a similar logic when it invaded Lebanon in 1976 and in 1982 to end the Palestinian resistance. However, the move backfired. A far more capable and determined local Lebanese resistance movement replaced the Palestinians.
The situation in southern Syria is indeed unstable. However, an Israeli intervention could only further destabilize the region. Such an intervention may also backfire at Tel Aviv.
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