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BEIRUT, Lebanon – The renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has become a welcome reprieve – if only temporary — from the conflict in Syria, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Gaza crisis, however, could jeopardize help to the Syrian opposition from a number of Gulf Arab countries because of continued bombing of Gaza by Israel, which is viewed as the opponent by all the Middle East players.
The Gaza conflict also takes attention away from Iran’s interest in maintaining its own influence in the Levant. In effect, Hamas’ actions against Israel also can help Iran, even though their relationship over the past year has been somewhat strained.
Both Syria and Iran will encourage any action that continues to keep Hamas in the forefront of military action against Israel, if it has the desired effect of being a continued distraction from Iran’s interests in maintaining the preservation of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Sources here close to Iran and Hezbollah say that Iran is so determined to keep Assad in power that it could send in troops to assist in fighting the Syrian opposition in an effort to maintain its influence to the Mediterranean Sea and, if need be, become involved in taking over the functions of the Syrian government itself.
Sources say Iran also hopes that the focus on the crisis in Gaza will stir world attention away from the growing crisis over its nuclear program, which has been the subject of sanctions by the United Nations and unilateral sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.
The latest attacks also may help Iran reinforce its position not only with Hamas but the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, which also is backed by Iran.
Similarly, Iran is a major backer of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which supports Hamas and will continue to give public support. Sources here, however, say that the resistance group, which the U.S. and Israel regard as a terrorist organization, will not undertake any military action unless Israel attacks Lebanon.
The sources add that Hezbollah will want to keep a low profile and focus more on applying its resources more subtly to preserve Assad’s regime and prevent the Syrian opposition from extending military action into Lebanon due to Hezbollah’s backing of Assad.
Sources say that the Islamic republic was the supplier of many of the rockets and now missiles that Hamas has been using against Israel, particularly the Fajr 3 and the Fajr 5, which can reach the most populated centers in Israel. The rockets used previously cannot.
Sources say that Hamas’ possession of missiles capable of reaching almost all of Israel was the basis for the Jewish state’s initial attacks that led to the assassination of Hamas’ military commander, Ahmad Jabari.
Israeli officials also were aware of the cache of Fajr missiles in Hamas’ possession and sought to eliminate them as a threat. For Iran, Hamas’ use of these missiles now has turned into a distraction from the conflict in Syria.
“It now has done that, at least temporarily,” according to a report by the open intelligence company Stratfor.
“Iran also needed to revise its relationship with Hamas and demonstrate that it retains leverage through militant groups in the Palestinian territories as part of its deterrence strategy against a potential strike on its nuclear program,” the report said.
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