On July 21, 2012, in its editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan, a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime that is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to fight Israel, with Tehran’s backing, on the grounds that Israel was responsible for the July 18, 2012 suicide bombing in Damascus in which several of Syria’s top security officials were killed. The daily went on to state that Israel’s military deployment along the Syrian border prior to the bombing was further evidence of its responsibility for it, and that Israel was also behind the July 18 attack in Bulgaria against what it referred to as Israeli “diplomats,” with the aim of implicating Iran.

Fall_of_Assad_Part_II_MemriKayhan presented two options for a Syrian war against Israel: a “limited war” waged by Syria “to liberate part of the occupied Syrian territories,” or a “comprehensive war of no set duration” to be waged by the entire resistance axis. The paper urged the Assad regime to make open military moves against the uprising at home and also against Israel, which he said was currently unprepared for war. Such a Syrian initiative would, it said, serve both Syria and the resistance axis, as well as harm the Zionist-American front and its allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Tehran, which is currently under steadily increasing political and economic pressure, is unable to launch a direct military confrontation with the West or Western allies Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and is therefore urging its proxies to take military action against Israel. This modus operandi is typical for it, and serves to draw world attention away from its nuclear crisis, as well as to indirectly retaliate against the West for its harsh sanctions against it. (See also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 859, “The Collapse Of The Assad Regime – Regional Repercussions: Part I – Iranian Threats To Wage War On Israel,” July 19, 2012).

The following are excerpts from the Kayhan editorial:[1]

Kayhan Urges Assad To Launch Regional War

“A few days prior to the [July 18 bombing in Damascus], the Zionist regime deployed militarily in the occupied territories in the Golan Heights and on Mount Hermon, and went on maximum alert. On Thursday [July 19], it was even claimed that Israel’s opponents were firing on these areas. These measures in themselves indicate advance planning of the Damascus bombing by the oppressive [Israeli] regime, and by the same token, it can be assessed that [Israel] itself [staged the attack] against the Israeli diplomats in Bulgaria, blaming it on Iran on the very day of the bombing…

“An important point regarding the changes [occurring] in Syria is that [the regime’s] atmosphere of preserving security is gradually changing to a military atmosphere. The recent developments in Damascus – namely the bombing at the [National] Security Council [building] and the elimination of terrorist forces in the Al-Midan neighborhood – underscore the role of the military in [conflict] resolution. By purging the [Al-Midan] neighborhood in a single day, the Syrian army showed that although it has been embroiled in this crisis for 16 months, it is absolutely capable of [taking on this role]. The shift from a security atmosphere to a military atmosphere is undoubtedly dangerous for the Zionist regime as well as for Turkey, because it means the beginning of a war between Syria and Israel. On a larger scale, it undoubtedly means a joint war by Syria, Iran, Hizbullah and others against the Zionist regime. Such a confrontation can take the form of a comprehensive war of no set duration, or a limited war to liberate part of the occupied Syrian territories.”

Turkey And Israel Will Be Forced “To Pay Dearly For Every Action Against Syria”

“In any case, Syria’s entrance into military confrontation, whether comprehensive or limited, would definitely change the atmosphere [in the region]. It is patently clear that Israel is currently totally unprepared for military confrontation – on the contrary, the worst possible scenario for it right now would be a confrontation with Syria. Such a confrontation would turn the atmosphere in the region against the Zionist regime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and against the entire American-Zionist front – thus unifying the resistance front and making it operational.

“Syria’s shift from a security atmosphere to a military one will free it to deal resolutely with the armed elements operating on behalf of other parties, as in the past few days. There are at most 5,000 armed terrorists in Syria, who operate in one place, disappear, and move to another. When Syria was operating in a security atmosphere, it was difficult for it to act against this number [of terrorists] – but in a military atmosphere, the task will be simple; Syria has more experience in this area. Shifting to a military atmosphere will [also] force Turkey and Israel to pay dearly for every action against Syria, and for their part in [creating] an atmosphere of instability in Syria…

“[Syria’s] entrance into the military realm means entrance into a realm of unforeseeable consequences… In a military atmosphere, the defending country [i.e. Syria] has the advantage, whereas the attacking countries are very vulnerable. The creation of security [instability] in Syria warrants the transfer of this [instability] to the countries that fomented it – which will make it easier for Syria to manage the arena [of the conflict].”

* A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

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[1] Kayhan (Iran), July 21, 2012.