Syria's allies warn of retaliation for Israeli airstrikes, but threats likely hollow (+video)
Syria and Iran threatened to retaliate against Israel for its strikes on Syrian territory while Hezbollah deemed the attacks 'barbaric aggression,' but escalation is in no one's interests.
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Iran arguably has much more at stake in Syria than Russia, after using the Assad regime for decades as an instrument to spread its own influence and to arm allies like Hezbollah and Hamas as front-line proxies in their fight against Israel.Skip to next paragraph
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Fiery rhetoric against the "Zionist regime" and injustice against Palestinians is a daily ritual in Iran. Yet Fars News merely reported today that Iran's parliament would take up regional issues and Syria on Feb. 3, and that Iranian and European Union ambassadors had recently met in Beirut.
Deterrence likely to hold
Since the month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel in the summer of 2006, the Lebanese-Israeli border has witnessed its longest period of calm since the late 1960s. However, the 2006 war ended inconclusively, and since then both sides have been preparing for the possibility of a fresh encounter.
Israel has reorganized and retrained its forces to better fight a nonconventional foe like Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, with the backing of Iran and Syria, has undergone a massive recruitment program and is believed to have stocked its arsenal with new and improved weapons and invested more heavily in electronic warfare capabilities.
While neither party has shown any willingness to plunge into fresh fighting, the strategic ramifications of the war in Syria on the Middle East in general – and the Hezbollah-Israel dynamic in particular – could yet complicate the mutual deterrence.
In September, Hezbollah said it had flown a reconnaissance drone over southern Israel, which initially went undetected by the Israeli military before being shot down. It was the deepest-ever penetration of a Hezbollah-operated drone into Israeli air space and the first time the group had dispatched a drone into Israel since 2006. Israel, too, has shown unusual assertiveness if it indeed attacked Syrian soil yesterday.
But for now, the threat of massive destruction on both sides of the border in the event of another war suggests that the calculus that has helped maintain calm since 2006 will continue to hold, analysts say.