A public recruitment drive has started in Iran to send volunteers to Syria.
Volunteers are being asked to contact local telephone number 2617201 0251 or to send an sms to 3000282860 to register.
According to Mohammad Saleh Jokar, member of the Iranian parliament’s Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy, Israel has started a war against the Islamic world.
“We must not abandon the people of Syria at a time when the EU is collecting weapons and bringing it to Syria and constant help from Qatar and Turkey is being given to terrorists. The treacheries are continuing and there is no longer a justification to stand still, those who are volunteers have to go and start helping”.
He then emphasized:
“Today our main war front is against the Zionist entity. This front has to be strengthened and the Zionist entity must be destroyed in the region”.
On the surface, this is quite a serious development. The main page for the recruitment drive is on a site belonging to the supreme leader’s supporters. It also has the logo of the Hezbollah on it.
Whether these people will actually be sent to Syria is not clear, or sure as the Iranian regime has been very careful not to leave its finger prints there.
Furthermore, during the 2009 Israel – Gaza war, hard-line regime supporters who volunteered to help the people of Gaza were never allowed to leave Iran.
However if Khamenei does go ahead, these volunteers will most probably be used to fight the opposition forces. It’s very unlikely that they will be used to attack Israel, unless they belong to the IRGC’s Quds force. Even then it’s not clear that the Iranian regime would want to risk losing its top soldiers in Syria for the sake of Assad. This is a real risk as fighting Israeli soldiers who are much better trained is more dangerous than fighting the Syrian opposition forces.
Assad is under pressure to retaliate against Israel. According to Israel’s Channel 2 Middle East expert Ehud Yaari, for the first time in recent Syrian history, Syrians are coming on Television and are asking their government to attack Israel on the Golan. According to Yaari this is unprecedented as the Assad family tried to suppress such calls for many years as it did not want to embroil itself in a war against Israel. The fact that such calls are being made publicly now could mean that Assad is preparing his retaliation.
What Assad has to take into consideration is that by attacking Israel, he will risk the stability of his regime.
In the event of a Syrian attack against Israel, should the situation escalate, its possible that the Israeli air force will target his air force. All of his air force, including his helicopters.
Should that happen, it will be much easier for the US and its allies to deploy a no fly zone over Syria to prevent the humanitarian disaster there from worsening, and to weaken Assad.
Losing his aerial superiority will bode very badly for Assad and his forced as this has given them much advantage until now. The loss of his air force could embolden the opposition forces to move against him with more motivation and energy thus speeding up his downfall.
This does not mean that Assad will not retaliate. He is under pressure at home. It also seems that he is being encouraged by Iranian officials. The commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jaafari stated after Israel’s attack that “The Zionist regime (of Israel) can only be dealt with through resistance and retaliation”.
Basher Al Assad has to be very careful about his decision to retaliate against Israel. Perhaps more than ever as he risks losing his air force, and this is something that Iran, and quite possibly not even the Russians could help him replace. Without his air force, the number of Assad’s days in power could be halved, at least.