Mideast expert Elleman says Iran won't respond if the West makes airstrikes on Syria. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Technical Sergeant Kevin Wallace/Handout

Iran will not retaliate against the U.S. or Western forces if the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad is attacked, according to a Mideast expert.

Michael Elleman, a Bahrain-based senior fellow for Regional Security Cooperation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Wednesday that Iran does not want to get involved because Tehran is primarily focused on ridding itself of sanctions that have been affecting the economy for several years.

“Iran has no interest, especially with the new president being elected. Iran’s main objective right now is to get the sanctions lifted and not protecting Assad,” Elleman said.

He cited this recent tweet from the newly elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani:

“As long as the West doesn’t go overboard,” the Iranians are willing to look the other way, Elleman said.

Israel has launched several attacks on Syria and there has not been any response, which Elleman sees as an indicator that Syria, Iran or its proxy Hezbollah will not retaliate.

“Israel launched at least three attacks that I know of on different targets within Syria in the last three months and there has been no response from any side, from Syria, Hezbollah and Iran,” Elleman said. “In fact they kind of downplay it, so I think that is probably a good guide for understanding what may or may not happen.”

Elleman said that the airstrikes will last from 48 to 72 hours.