Strategy Page reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is being hammered by Israel in Syria, is now threatening to unleash terrorist movements Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel.
Iranian allies Hezbollah and Hamas are both threatening “war with Israel.” Such threats are not made without Iranian permission. That has long been the main Israeli fear, that Iran would support a simultaneous attack by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Israel believed Iran would wait until it had built a significant force of fighters and rockets in Syria before trying such an attack. Iran, however, is more calculating than most Islamic terror groups and knows that such an attack would, at best, cause a lot of damage but would not destroy Israel.
The repercussions for Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza would be considerable. Iranian hard liners (mainly the IRGC or Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) have the most to lose by backing such an attack and then having to face the blowback in Iran for failure. Then there is the “use it or lose it” angle. For over a year anti-government (and anti-IRGC) demonstrations in Iran have persisted and grown. Iranians are angry over all the money being spent to support Hezbollah, Hamas and military operations in Syria. Over 2,000 Iranians have died in Syria, most of them IRGC personnel and five to ten times as many Iranian mercenaries (mainly Afghans), Iran pays death benefits to the families of the mercenaries killed and the Iranians are finding out how much these wars really cost and how that prevents the Iranian economy from improving. Many of the senior clerics who control the religious dictatorship that runs Iran would like to curb the power of the IRGC and the current crises is beginning to look like a good opportunity. Thus many IRGC leaders would see an all-out attack on Israel as something to be attempted sooner rather than later when it is no longer possible.
When it comes to Syria the Russians recently admitted via mass media that they were not really a major Iranian ally and that Russia was more concerned with helping Israel maintain its security. This lukewarm Russian support for Iran has been assumed for some time but now it is openly admitted. Turkey is another Iranian ally that is more frenemy than staunch supporter of Iran. That means the Syrian support for Iran becomes questionable and there is growing evidence of that. In general Iran has few real friends when it comes to their Syrian operations. Iraq refuses to turn against the Americans and is getting cozier with the Gulf Arabs. Most Lebanese hate Hezbollah, which increasingly does whatever it wants no matter what harm it exposes Lebanon to. Egypt and most Palestinians (mainly Fatah in the West Bank) oppose Iran. Thus the growing risk of Iran losing Syria, Gaza and even Hezbollah. Something must be done and while many Iranians would prefer just declaring victory and going home the IRGC knows that means a defeat for them. Cutting support for Hezbollah and Hamas would not destroy those two but would encourage them to negotiate peace deals of their own.
There’s more at the link.
The Revolutionary Guard is essentially between a rock and a hard place right now. They’ve bragged openly about their intentions to “destroy” Israel, and hoist the Iranian flag over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem: but they’re getting hammered in Syria every day by the Israeli Air Force, and their boasts are increasingly being revealed as so much hot air. Support for them from the Iranian people is drying up fast: many have begun to openly criticize them for their failures, and for wasting billions of dollars in Syria when it’s desperately needed to improve conditions at home.
This has the look and feel of a “Hail Mary pass” by the Revolutionary Guard: a desperation move to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I don’t think it can succeed, but it can certainly force Israel to go onto a full war footing, which would cost it an immense amount of money. It would also devastate the southern half of Lebanon, much of Syria (which is already pretty devastated from almost a decade of civil war), and Gaza (and possibly the West Bank as well). Millions of people’s lives would be jeopardized, and stability in the region would be set back for decades. What’s more, if the threat is serious enough, Israel is quite capable of attacking Iran itself – and who knows where that might lead?
This is potentially a very serious situation. Keep your eyes on it. Its repercussions could affect the USA and Europe as well.