Iran Launches “Hizbullah Syria” to Open a New Front Against Israel on the Golan Heights – Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
(from dailyalert.org, Jun. 3, 2014)
In the wake of the announcement of the establishment of “Hizbullah Syria,” the Iranian Jomhouri Eslami newspaper stated: “The establishment of Syria’s Hizbullah…will also be a strong arm of the resistance that will cause nightmares for the Zionists. The Zionist regime that was concerned about threats from the Lebanese borders, now should prepare itself for a new situation (on the Golan Heights front).”
Iran views Syria (with or without Assad) as its principal arena of conflict with the West and with “heretic Sunni Islam” (under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and al-Qaeda).
Assistance to Syria and an active presence in its territory are seen as additional manifestations of Iran’s defense posture. In part this is designed to distance the Iranian homeland from any threat, to conduct the campaign against Israel and the West in areas distant from Iran, and to use Syrian and Lebanese territory to deter Israel or retaliate if its nuclear installations are attacked.
Iran is already en route to implementing Plan B, preparing for the eventuality that even if Assad does not prevail, Iran will still maintain its presence in Syria and its ability to act against Israel from Syrian territory with the assistance of various committed proxies modeled after “Hizbullah Lebanon.”
In May 2014, Mohammad Eskandari, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, stated that the Guards had trained 42 battalions and 138 brigades to fight in Syria. He underlined that “the current war in Syria is our war against the USA raging on Syrian soil.” Another senior member of the Revolutionary Guards, Hussein Hamadani, said that “some 130,000 Basij (paramilitary) volunteers have been trained and are waiting to enter Syria.”
Iran prefers that Assad remain in power, but even if he were to ultimately topple, Iran is striving to maintain its own grip on Syria, alongside Lebanon (and to a great extent the Gaza Strip) as its frontline against Israel and the West. In the buds of “Hizbullah Syria” lay the infrastructure for enhanced Iranian subversion in the Golan Heights, which is perceived by Iran as a new and extended confrontation line with Israel in light of the changing regional landscape.