War/Security

Next step for Assad – exile to a rump state?

Syria has become the weak leg of its tripod with Iran and Hezbollah.

“A Syrian official called an attack Sunday on the nation’s military research facility a ‘declaration of war’ by Israel,'” reports CNN.

In an interview with CNN, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad said the attack represented an alliance between Islamic terrorists and Israel.

He added that Syria would retaliate against Israel in its own time and way. [Emphasis added.]

Yeah, like it did when Israel bombed its alleged nuclear reactor. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but after a certain point it’s just frostbitten. Needless to say, Syria is in no position to wage war on another front besides the domestic against rebels.

This latest attack came on the heels of, an airstrike, reports the New York Times:

… that Israeli warplanes carried out in Syria overnight on Thursday … directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, American officials said Saturday

Meanwhile, reports the Times:

Iran and Hezbollah have both backed President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war [but] they also have a powerful interest in expediting the delivery of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in case Mr. Assad loses his grip on power.

On the other hand

… some analysts said they believed that a strong Hezbollah could also emerge as a powerful ally for Mr. Assad if he is forced to abandon Damascus, the Syrian capital, and take refuge in a rump Iranian-backed state on the Syrian coast, a region that abuts the Hezbollah-controlled northern Bekaa Valley.

“The relationship between Hezbollah and the Assad regime is stronger now,” said Talal Atrissi, a professor at Lebanese University in Beirut who has good relations with Hezbollah. If Mr. Assad falls, Hezbollah knows the axis of Syria, Hezbollah and Iran will be greatly weakened, he said.

But what use is Assad to Iran, not to mention Hezbollah, if he’s exiled to a “rump state”?

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

Categories: War/Security, World

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