Former IDF officer: Withdrawal from Syria means Iran wins

Thursday, December 20, 2018
 | 
J.M. Phelps (OneNewsNow.com)

Syria combatWednesday's announcement for the U.S. to withdraw all its military forces from Syria marks an abrupt end to America's strategy in the region – and sparks major concern from Israel, one of America's greatest allies.

OneNewsNow spoke with Lt. Col. (Res.) Sarit Zehavi about the announcement. Zehavi, a former intelligence officer with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) within the IDF Northern Command, contends the move to extract a few thousand forces from Syria "will give Iran the ability to gain a massive stronghold in the region."

As founder of the ALMA Research and Development Center in Israel, she attests that "a ground corridor to transfer weapons and soldiers from Tehran to Damascus and Beirut" will finally be established.

Zehavi says the efforts of Iran "to build a ground corridor – consisting of highways, roads and railways – began upon the regime change" in Iraq in 2003. However, the Syrian civil war put Iran's efforts on hold.

ground corridor dec 2018 smallAlthough ISIS was vastly incapacitated in Iraq and the greater majority of its territories were captured in Syria, Zehavi explains "[these] circumstances actually allowed Iranians to develop a ground corridor from Tehran to Damascus, through Iraq." It is through this corridor, she says, that the Iranians will be "enabled to transfer weapons beyond Damascus" and all the way "to Israel's northern border – into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon." The former IDF officer identifies three potential routes that would provide a "continuous road-link" connecting Iran with Syria and Lebanon. (Click image for a larger version)

Maginnis: Time now to focus on Russia, China

Chad Groening (OneNewsNow.com)

Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.), senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, agrees with President Trump's intention to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

Maginnis

"The president, since the very beginning, has said the mission in Syria was to defeat ISIS. The conclusion of the combatants is that ISIS is all but destroyed in Syria," the national defense analyst and Pentagon advisor emphasizes. "Now that doesn't mean they haven't morphed and gone elsewhere, but in Syria they are no longer there.

"So I'm not surprised by this," he adds. "I think it is a campaign promise: he defeated ISIS and he wants to get out now."

Maginnis contends this move also fits in with the new U.S. geopolitical strategy.

"His new defense strategy is very clear. Our adversaries are mostly Russia and China. We have major problems with regard to both of those adversaries," he tells OneNewsNow. "We basically have to keep our powder dry [and] don't waste our resources in places we don't need to."

Zehavi

According to Zehavi, these routes potentially include a northern route (Tehran-Mosel-Aleppo-Latakia), a middle route (Tehran-Baghdad-Al-Bukamal-Damascus-Beirut), and a southern route (Tehran-Baghdad-Tanf-Damascus-Beirut). In addition, she says there are "multiple reports which disclose an Iraqi-Syrian-Iranian agreement to construct a highway between Tehran and Damascus." Railway infrastructure "between Iran and Syria via Iraq could be completed within the next two years, further enabling Iran's nefarious activity."

Zehavi argues that U.S. military forces in the region provide stability and a deterrence for Iran to build strongholds. However, she says the free access to any of these described land routes "would allow Iranian forces and supporters of the Shiite axis, like Hezbollah, to move freely in the region, enabling the transfer of weapons and manpower to accomplished – for the first time in history – via an accessible ground route."

"The presence of the United States in the region provided control over routes between Syria and Iraq, keeping the path from falling into the hands of the Iranians," she tells OneNewsNow – adding that "the southern route is considered the shortest and fastest route between Tehran and Damascus and has been closed to Iranian traffic because of U.S presence at the border crossing in Tanf."

As long as the U.S. remained in control of these routes and their access points, Iran was unable to use them to their advantage. Without an American presence, however, "the efforts to stop Iran from supporting terror against Israel – and the Middle East – has been seriously hampered," she laments.

In conclusion, Zehavi expresses her disappointment, describing U.S. withdrawal from Syria at this time as "a bad decision" by the Trump administration. She emphasizes that America's presence in Syria is "the only thing that has stopped the Iranians from having access to the ground corridor that will only serve to strengthen Iran ...."

A withdrawal, she argues, means Iran wins – and Israel braces for another long-term struggle.


Image courtesy of the ALMA Research and Development Center.

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