Assad refuses Iranian demand for more military bases in Syria

Israeli security experts say that for now, Assad is refusing the Iranian demand to establish more military bases in his country.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s Security cabinet met Sunday for a comprehensive discussion on the threats posed to the country on its northern front. They also discussed the necessary diplomatic activity vis-a-vis Russia and the United States in order to prevent Syria from becoming an Iranian base.

Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri suggested to Damascus that Iran be allowed to make permanent its already-extensive military presence in the country. He reportedly wants to set up air, naval, intelligence and surface-to-surface missile bases, place Iranian anti-aircraft batteries there, and even establish a local military industry.

However, the current thinking appears to be that for the time being, Syrian President Bashar Assad is refusing the Iranian demand because he does not want to give Israel cause to attack in Syria and endanger what he achieved by re-taking control of his country with the help of the Russians.

In an interview with Ynet’s Hebrew-language site, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz, following a cabinet meeting, would not relate to specifics discussed, but reiterated Israel’s public position that it will not allow such a threat to become a fait accompli.

Asked how Israel is preparing for the “day after,” Steinitz simply said, “Israel is preparing for the day before.”

“Under [the prime minister’s] leadership we are carrying out diplomatic and intelligence-security activities in order to prevent Syria from becoming an Iranian military base. It’s a process that will several years, if it happens,” he reminded the interviewer, “but we are determined to prevent it.”