Even if that Iranian ambition is checked, it is quite possible that with no preventive measures taken Israel may find itself facing two Hezbollah fronts, one in Lebanon and one in Syria, though not necessarily right on the Golan Heights border. The post-Syria conflict Hezbollah will be a different foe – experienced in much more than guerrilla warfare.
Turkey has been known to have an interest in the situation along its Syrian and Iraqi borders but as the internal conflict widened and deepened so did the military and political Turkish involvement. Turkey, alongside Russia and Iran, will no doubt have a major stake in Syria’s future. Turkey’s interest in Syria may not necessarily create a conflict with Israel but the problem is that notwithstanding the restoration of diplomatic relations, the two countries lost the mutual confidence and intimacy which existed prior to 2009-10.
The future political configuration of Syria is just one of several strategic issues that require review and determination. Another is the whole Syrian refugee impact on the host countries Jordan and Lebanon. Each hosts between 1 million and 1.5 million and it is very doubtful whether they return to their homeland anytime soon. Very difficult political, economic, legal and security problems have already arisen and they will become tougher, especially if short-term solutions are applied. It is not too early for Israel to begin studying the long-term implications for example on Jordanian domestic politics and security, economics and relations with Israel. Adding to the quantity of water Israel is already supplying to Jordan may become just one of measure Israel has to take to help the Jordanian regime maintain stability.
The thousands of European volunteers that will have survived the fighting in Syria and Iraq may, in the post-ISIS chapter of their lives, direct their zeal and experience against Israeli targets. Dealing with the problem may require an upgraded cooperation and understanding with certain European and other governments and their relevant authorities. It may also require the creation of new task forces.
We have highlighted only some of the issues which call for a new Israeli approach to Syria and the long-term questions the war in that country has generated. Looking at Syria solely through the Golan Heights lens has long been unsatisfactory, and we for a call for broadening the scope of the Israeli analysis of developments in Syria, drawing Israel’s map of interests in post-conflict Syria and acting accordingly.