Israeli ministers are concerned over new Iranian military bases being installed in Syria. Officials in Tel Aviv have previously been hawkish about Iran and Hezbollah setting up military bases, saying that Israel would intervene if the military ceasefire failed to block its arch-rivals from constructing permanent military bases in Syria.
Yesterday, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Services, Israel Katz, warned that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will permit Iran to build military bases in his country. Speaking at a security conference hosted by IDC Herzliya, a university near Tel Aviv, Katz was reported by Reuters saying: “In these very days, Assad and Iran are nearing the signing of a long-term agreement that would anchor Iran’s military presence in Syria, resembling the agreement that was signed between Assad and the Russians.”
Katz also mentioned the dangers of an Iranian military base in Syria adding that “the significance in terms of the danger and the threat against Israel – and not just against Israel, but also many countries in the region – is of the utmost clarity.”
The Israeli intelligence minister’s admission reflects growing anxieties over the direction of the Syrian conflict. Despite claiming to remain neutral, fears that Iran and Hezbollah will regain a permanent foothold in Syria prompted military strikes in Syrian held territories.
Speaking at the same conference, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told the audience that Al-Assad needed to keep Iran out of Syria if he wanted to survive.
Israel’s unease over Iran is likely to dominate talks in the coming months. Its Minister of Regional Cooperation revealed that Iranian presence in Syria would be discussed during next week’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.