With the end of Syria's civil war, the IDF has identified a new threat brought about by the demographic change and significant growth of the Alawite and Shiite population in Syria.
According to Israel Hayom, the concern is that Iran and Hezbollah will utilize the current situation to enlist supporters and activists from among the Shiite population, similar to what they have done in Lebanon.
In the past one-and-a-half years, Assad seems to have been "born again": He controls over 60% of the original territory he had prior to 2011, with the rest of the area split between the Turks, Kurds (with US support), and rebels, who still have a significant stronghold in Idlib.
In addition to the territorial change, the war brought with it a significant demographic change. In 2011, prior to the Syrian civil war, Syria numbered 21.3 million citizens, 59% of whom were Sunni, 11% of whom were Alawite, and just 4% of whom were Shiite. Today, Syria's population numbers around 10 million, with Shiites representing 10% and Alawites 30%.
In other words, if ten years ago the Shiites and Alawites comprised 15% of Syria's population, today they represent 40% of the population, and their representation is only expected to increase.
Meanwhile, young people are leaving Syria and poverty is increasing, Israel Hayom noted. Past experience shows that terrorists know well to use civilian hardships in order to spread various myths, as well as to provide food and heating, carving a place for themselves in the civilians' hearts. This is what happened with Hezbollah in Lebanon and with Hamas in Gaza - and Iran is attempting to do the same in Syria, and not necessarily with the knowledge and consent of Assad.
The Shiite population represents enormous potential for enlistment by terrorists headed by Iran, and Israel estimates that there are already a few hundred of have been enlisted by Hezbollah or Iran's other agents.
It is not clear that top Israeli defense officials are fully aware of the demographic change, which with time may become more significant and create a security problem threatening northern Israel. Potentially, northern Israel could be completely surrounded by Hezbollah on the Lebanese border and the Shiites on the Syrian border.