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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Israel should not be passive about events in Syria

Caroline Glick writes that Israel has a lot to gain from the current situation in Syria.
For Israel, Assad's overthrow will be clear strategic gain in the short-and medium-term, even if a post-Assad Syrian government exchanges Syria's Iranian overlords with Turkish overlords. Syria's main threats to Israel stem from Assad's support for Palestinian terrorists and Hezbollah, and from his ballistic missile and nuclear programs. While Turkey would perhaps maintain support for Palestinian terrorists and perhaps for Lebanese terrorists, it does not share Syria's attraction to missiles and nuclear weapons as Iran does. Moreover, Ankara would not have a strong commitment to Hezbollah and so the major threat to Israel in Lebanon would be severely weakened.

Moreover, if Assad's potential overthrow leads to increased revolutionary activities in Iran, the regime will have less time to devote to its nuclear program, and its nuclear installations will become more vulnerable to penetration and sabotage. A successor regime in Iran, seeking close ties with the West and be willing to pay for those ties by setting aside Iran's nuclear program.

In the long-term, the reestablishment of a Turkish sphere of influence in the Arab world in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood will be extremely dangerous for Israel. With its jihadist ideology, its powerful conventional military forces, its strong economy and its strategic ties to the US and Europe, Turkey's rise as a regional hegemon would present Israel with a difficult challenge.

Despite the massive dimensions of the anti-regime protests, it is still impossible to know how the situation in Syria will pan out. This uncertainty is heightened by the US's passivity in the face of the uprising against its worst foe in the Arab world.

Given the strategic opportunities and dangers the situation in Syria presents to it, Israel cannot be a bystander in the drama unfolding to its north. True, Israel does not have the power the US has to dictate the outcome. But to the extent it is able to influence events, Israel should actively assist the non-Islamist regime opponents in Syria. This includes first and foremost the Syrian Kurds, but also the non-Islamist Sunni business class, the Druse and the Christians who are all participating the anti-regime protests. Israel should also oppose Turkish military intervention in Syria and openly advocate the establishment of a democratic, federal government in Syria to replace Assad's dictatorship.

It might not work. But if it does, the payoff will be extraordinary.
Read the whole thing.

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