Hezbollah’s recent electoral success could prompt Iran to take a more aggressive approach toward Israel in the ongoing Syrian war, according to one political strategist.

Although official results have not been announced, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies were seen as the biggest winners in Lebanon’s first parliamentary vote since 2009. The militant Shia group and its political partners claimed “victory” on Monday, after preliminary results showed the allied groups were on track to secure 67 seats in Beirut’s 128-seat parliament.

Nonetheless, Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Western-backed Future Movement remained the likely frontrunners to form a new unity government.

“With Lebanon’s elections now out of the way, Tehran may no longer feel constrained over a limited military response to Israel’s recent attacks on its forces in Syria,” Michael Every, senior Asia-Pacific strategist at Rabobank, said in a research note published Tuesday.

“Yet, Hezbollah might not want to rock a boat that is suddenly sailing in its preferred direction,” he added.
Iran vs. Israel

Denounced as a terrorist group by the U.S., Hezbollah’s political mandate has grown since joining the war in Syria to support President Bashar Assad in 2012. The group’s powerful presence in Beirut is seen by some external observers as a mark of Iran’s regional ascendancy.

Syria has long been engulfed in a chaotic and internecine war involving numerous parties fighting for their own calculated interests. And one major geopolitical concern coming into focus in recent weeks is the escalation of clashes between Iran and Israel.

Last month, Iran warned Israel that it would be “punished” for allegedly carrying out an attack on a drone base of Tehran’s in Syria. Israel’s government neither confirmed nor denied the strike, which killed seven Iranian military advisors from the country’s elite Quds Force in the Syrian city of Homs.

Since 2013, Israel is estimated to have carried out more than 100 airstrikes in Syria, primarily targeting the Iranian-funded Lebanese militia group Hezbollah and military convoys. But the first months of 2018 have seen Israel broaden its intervention to increasingly target its longtime nemesis, Iran, directly.

So far the conflict has not devolved into all-out war, something experts say both countries want to avoid.

But, Israel sees Iranian activity in Syria near its border as an existential threat, and aims to prevent Iranian military installations from becoming permanent bases from which Hezbollah can launch attacks into its territory. Israeli defense sources reportedly told U.S. officials in late April that any such attack would trigger a response targeting Iranian soil.

Source » cnbc