Do not expect Syria or Hezbollah to join Iran if the Teheran regime decides to retaliate against a potential strike of its nuclear facilities by Israel.
A report from senior Israeli intelligence officers in the foreign ministry suggests that the regime of Iran’s ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has been so weakened by the now nearly two-year civil conflict in his country that Iran’s chances of attacking Israel has been “dramatically” reduced.
"Iran's ability to strike Israel, in response to a strike of ours, has gone down dramatically," the Israeli newspaper Maariv quoted an Israeli official as saying.
"The Iranian response will be far more insignificant than previously anticipated.”
Indeed, with Assad’s forces continuously battling against an ever-strengthening rebel movement within Syria itself, Damascus cannot afford to become entangled in any complex military adventure in a foreign country.
In addition, Hezbollah, the Shia militant movement that dominates southern Lebanon and receives financial backing -- as well as 50,000 rockets and missiles -- from Iran, might be reluctant to participate in any military action against Israel, the report indicates. That is because arms sent to Hezbollah pass through Syrian territory (presumably with Assad’s full compliance). If Syria disintegrates, those supply lines would be severed, making it difficult, if not impossible, for Hezbollah to receive new armaments and equipment from Teheran.
Even the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has admitted that Syria is in danger of falling apart, which would place enormous pressure on his own group.
"We fundamentally and ideologically reject any form of partition or division of any Arab or Islamic country," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph.
In the unlikely event of an attack by Hezbollah on Israel, the Jewish state would retaliate with huge ground forces in an effort to wipe out the threat on its northern front, the report also noted, according to the Times of Israel
Separately, the intelligence report stated that another threat to Israel -- from the south -- from the Palestinian militant organization Hamas would be prevented by Egypt from launching further rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Not everyone in Israel agrees with the intelligence report’s optimistic view.
Meir Javedanfar, a specialist on Iran at the Inter-Disciplinary Centre in Herzliya, told the Telegraph: "Hezbollah will strike back with everything it has because if it doesn't, it will lose Iran's financial support."
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.