Israel And The Forbidden War In Syria.

Oct 10, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Spotlight, The Diplomat

“… the conflict with the Zionist enemy has never been a border issue, nor an interstate conflict but rather a total confrontation concerning the survival of our [Arab] nationalism . . . against threats posed by the Israeli entity.” – Khayri Hama,Syrian daily Al-Ba’th, July 26, 1994.

Throughout modern history, two factors have added fuel to the propagation of Arab Nationalism.

  1. Occupation of Arab lands by the non-Arab Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.
  2. The foundation of a Jewish State (Israel) on Arab Territory.

While Arab Nationalism successfully caused the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire (with Western help), it also was the main mobilizing force against Israel from the day it came into existence. The combined Arab world under the banner of a unified Arab Army fought 3 bloody wars against Israel and ever since 1948,Arab Nationalism has been the main force behind garnering hatred against Israel.

However, over the years, Arab Nationalism which was purely secular (many Christians and non-Muslim Arabs were against Israel) has now evolved into a quasi-religiously motivated movement whose foundation was laid by Syed Qutb who married Arab Nationalism with religion thereby enhancing its appeal from strictly Arabs only to Muslims in general. Nonetheless, the Arab identity is still at the center of Arab Nationalism and indeed, towards hatred for Israel which still exists in the heart of the common Arab regardless of him being Syrian or Egyptian or Iraqi or Jordanian etc. In short, hatred of Israel has been synonymous with the very identity of an Arab. The self-proclaimed dominant status of the Arab world over the non-Arab world has been the prime reason why most non-Arab yet Muslim nations trace their parentage to Arab ancestors and try to align themselves with the Arab world (primarily with the Sunni super power, “Saudi Arabia”).

The very origins of Arab Nationalism and its evolution over the years, one can safely predict Israel’s response to Syria in the current crisis. The question on everyone’s mind at this point in time is the subsequent response of Israel to Syrian aggression. Would Israel respond with a massive bombing campaign just as it did with Lebanon or tend to preempt the Syrians with a surprise attack to neutralize them.With the known and unknown capacity the Israelis possess, Syria will stand no chance against the Jewish state. However, to date, neglecting all the rhetoric of Bibi, Israel has been quite calm about Syria and has shown no intentions whatsoever to launch a military campaign of its own or at the very least to support one explicitly. The question now is WHY? Syria is a direct threat to the region as has been the regular cry of the Arab world and indeed the West; Syria supports Hezbolllah and is an Iranian puppet in addition to possessing chemical weapons. All these signs beg Israel to take a front seat against a military campaign against Syria and to advocate it actively as common sense dictates. After all, the 1982 Lebanon War is a classic reminder that Israel can and most often does strike when it needs too unilaterally. Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon you name it, Israel has time and again proved that it can strike at the very heart of its enemy when it wills.

Given the current situation in Syria that can quite easily spill into Israel via Lebanon, will Israel strike or will it continue to passively support a Western strike while keeping its military options in its pocket? The answer is NO! Israel will not strike until and unless there is some serious provocation from the Syrian side which by the way does not include some mortar shells crossing into Syria or a burst of bullets fired across border. We are talking about a direct and serious military provocation which is the only way Israel will get involved.

The assertions that Israel will stay passive about this issue without getting involved actively has to do with the psychological aspect of this entire conflict. The entire gist of the Arab world i.e the Gulf nations in addition to the Sunni population around the world actively supports the rebels. From Pakistan to Bosnia to Central Asia to Saudi Arabia, the common man on the street has a common equation in his mind; Rebels  = Sunni Brothers fighting against the evil Assad. This equation has done very well for the rebels to recruit from throughout the Sunni world by simply using the evolved concept of Arab Nationalism which as mentioned earlier is a twisted concept employing religion and ethnicity. The final image that the common man on the street of Baghdad, Peshawar, Riyadh and Amman gets is that Muslims are being oppressed by the hand of a Shia dictatorship against whom, they must wage a holy war (Jihad) patronized by the Sunni priesthood based in Saudi Arabia.

What does it all means for Israel? Israel simply does not want to be on the wrong end of the equation. For starters, an Israeli (Jewish) offensive against Syria (Muslim) will offset the equation. A Jewish + Rebel coalition will be hard to defend for both the Sunni opposition and indeed will only help Assad and in turn Iran to demonize the entire rebel group. The notion “Rebels are Israeli agents” will sell well on the streets of the Muslim world and will ultimately discourage recruits. The Syrian crisis will be renamed to an “Israeli offensive against Syria” which will demonize Israel yet again in the Muslim world and rekindle Arab Nationalism supplemented by a revival of Pan-Islamic thoughts uniting the Muslim world against their symbolic enemy: ISRAEL

In addition, Israel considers the Assad regime as a lesser devil compared to the entity that will occupy the vacuum if Assad is to fall.

“Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos, and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there,” the Israeli Intelligence official said, according to the report published by the Times of London.

To conclude, Israel fears the psychological repercussions it will have to face if it attacks Syria. After all, this is a war of the Arabs who are fighting other Arabs. This is not Israel’s war and there is no sign that Israel will own it in the near future.

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