A very nice article from the Tower about Israel’s strategy in Syria. The Tower is a very good Israeli geopolitical magazine.
According to the Tower, when the Arab Spring broke out in Syria, there was a debate in Israel about whether it would be better for Israel that the Sunnis won Assad, which would break the connection between Iran and Bashar al Assad, or whether these radical Sunni Islamists would be for Israel a rival even worse than Iran, since they would be supported by Turkey and Qatar. These Sunni Islamists would form a corridor from Turkey to the Golan Heights and Israel.
Before the Arab Spring broke out, Assad, a bitter rival of Israel, did not attack Israel from the Golan Heights, because he was afraid of the Israeli retaliations. However, Assad allowed Iran to arm Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon through Syria.
The Israelis were divided about what would be better for Israel, and in the end it was decided that Israel should not support any side. Instead Israel would follow its own strategy in Syria. I must also say that by dong so the Israelis were trying to avoid angering either the Turks or the Russians.
However at the other side of the Golan Heights the Israelis decided that it would be better to have the Sunni Islamists than to have Iran, and they started supporting some Sunni gangs against Iran and Hezbollah, in order to help them keep their positions at the other side of the Golan Heights. The Israelis even provided their wounded with medical care, and in return the Sunni gangs agreed not to attack Israel from the Golan Heights. According to the Tower the Israelis were also very closely monitoring whether these Sunni gangs had any connections with ISIS. I guess what the Tower wants to say is that Israel preferred to support at the other side of the Golan Heights some Sunni gangs who were supported by Saudi Arabia and not by Turkey.
The Israelis did not count only on the Sunni gangs at the other side of Golan to keep the Iranians and Hezbollah away, but they themselves targeted them on several occasions. The Tower mentions the event of January 2015, when the Israelis killed several officers of Iran and Hezbollah who were examining the other side of the Golan Heights.
The article also mentions that in several occasions the Israelis attacked in Syria Iranian shipments heading towards Hezbollah in South Lebanon. These operations became more complicated when the Russians brought to Syria their radars and their S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. But the Israelis and the Russians managed to reach an agreement, according to which the Iranians would not be allowed to provide Hezbollah with high-tech weapons, and if they did so, the Israelis would be allowed by the Russians to attack such shipments in Syria.
For the article see
“How Israel Navigated through the Hurricane of the Syrian Civil War”, March 2016