Two Israeli scholars have warned that any Israeli attacks against Syria or Hezbollah would have “disastrous” outcomes on the balance of forces between the Syrian regime and its opponents.
Both scholars were critical of the recent Israeli strikes against Syria, which came in response to an attack near the Israeli border that wounded four Israeli soldiers.
In an article published by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Dr Yaron Friedman noted that Israeli quickly responded to the attack thinking it was Hezbollah that carried out the explosions; however, he believes the explosions were likely carried out by jihadists.
Friedman questioned: “Is it fair to assume that after 40 years of relative calm in the Golan, Syria and Hezbollah have chosen to open a new front against Israel, when Syria is entangled in a civil war and Hezbollah is busy fighting in several different arenas as Assad battles for his very survival?”
He suggested that the last thing Hezbollah would think about right now is launching another war with Israel, as thousands of its soldiers are currently engaged in the battle to preserve Assad’s regime in Syrian. While Hezbollah’s victory in Qalamoun in the west of Syria, along the Lebanese border, has been a strategic success, he said that Assad’s regime “is not winning the battle for the whole of Syria, but rather only managing to achieve relative stability in areas still under its rule”.
Indeed the main reason behind the persistence of the Syrian regime is the disunity among the opposition parties that are fighting the regime. In addition, the jihadists are also fighting each other.
Regarding the recent explosions near Israel’s borders, Friedman explained that the jihadists are eager to start a fight with Israel in order to generate popular support and to get Hezbollah involved in a war with Israel to force the party to withdraw its forces from Syria.
Thus the real problem facing Israel is not Hizbullah or the Syrian regime’s army, but the fact that Assad does not control the borders with the occupied Golan Heights.
Friedman fears that Israel committed a mistake when it attacked the Syrian regime’s bases in the wake of the border explosions because these attacks only serve the interest of the jihadists, insisting that: “the enemy of my enemy in Syria, like in Gaza, is an even more intractable foe.”
Meanwhile, Dr Eyal Zisser also argued that Hezbollah is not interested in starting a war with Israel. In an article published in Israel Today newspaper, he said that while the party still has the support of Iranian and Lebanese Shiites, it has been suffering from external losses in its popularity.
But although Zisser believes that an escalated war is in neither Hezbollah’s nor Israel’s interest, he warns that both sides are always ready and that things could easily move in that direction.