web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


In Shift, Israelis Now Believe Assad Could Prevail In Syrian Civil War

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

There is a “real possibility” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “could survive Syria’s civil war and even prevail in it” against the rebels trying to topple him, Israeli International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz told a group of foreign journalists in Jerusalem on Monday.

Steinitz’s comments reflect the recent turnaround in Assad’s fortunes, with success on the battlefield thanks to immense military aid from Hizbullah, financial aid from Iran, and diplomatic cover by Russia.

The assessment also underscores the changing nature of the Syrian conflict and Israel’s views on it. Israeli security officials were initially convinced that Assad’s demise was only a matter of time. Last July, then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Assad regime was “at the beginning of its end.”

Delivering a veiled threat on Monday, Steinitz said, “It is in Assad’s interest not to provoke Israel into a Syrian intervention.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is affiliated with Hizbullah, quoted a statement made by Assad to a visiting Jordanian politician in which the Syrian leader supposedly said he was “very serious” about his intention to “open a front against Israel on the Golan” should Israel intervene in the Syrian civil war or mount an attack against Syria’s missile systems.

“Establishing a front line against Israel in the Golan [Heights] is a very serious thing and it will entail more than random artillery fire,” Assad was quoted as saying Sunday, in an opinion piece written by a Jordanian politician.

“Syria will have a well-planned response, which will have long-lasting ramifications,” he reportedly said.

The op-ed further quoted Assad as saying that Syria’s retaliation will be “similar to that waged by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.”

The credibility of the Al-Akhbar report is questionable. In late May the newspaper quoted the Syrian president as boasting that his country had already received the first shipment of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles it was expecting. Assad’s office itself rolled back that report, saying he Syrian president never made that remark but spoke generally about existing contracts with the Russians being fulfilled.

The Al-Akhbar report was not verified by any Western source, and though Moscow said it would follow through on the arms sale, which was inked in 2010, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the system has yet to be delivered to Damascus. Moscow’s Interfax news agency reported last week that while Russia is training Syrian military officers on anti-aircraft systems, their training “does not include the advanced S-300 system at this time.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would “retaliate against anyone who threatens to harm Israel or brings it harm.”

The warning followed a tense conflict June 6 on Israel’s border in which Assad’s forces recaptured the lone border crossing after it had briefly fallen into rebel hands. Heavy fighting saw Syrian tanks enter the demilitarized zone between the two countries and prompted Austria to withdraw its 300-soldier contingent from the UN force, shrinking it by one-third.

Israel threatened to strike the tanks, according to a leaked UN document, refraining only when Syria promised to fire solely on rebel troops.

“The crumbling of the UN force on the Golan Heights underscores the fact that Israel cannot depend on international forces for its security,” Netanyahu told his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Israel has assiduously sought to stay out of the Syrian morass, engaging only when its interests were directly threatened. Thrice Israel has attacked Syrian weapons convoys bound for Hizbullah – once in January and twice in May.

Before this week, however, Israel had not threatened to engage Syrian forces directly. Still, last week’s battle probably won’t change Israel’s basic approach to the two-year-old conflict next door. The Syrian border has been largely calm since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel won’t enter the war “as long as fire is not being directed at us.”

That attitude plays well with ordinary Israelis, who clearly don’t want their country dragged into a neighboring conflict. An Israel Democracy Institute poll released Sunday showed that 86 percent of Israeli respondents want to stay out of Syria.

“Israel has an interest that the two sides will keep fighting, and not go in and decide who’s better for Israel,” said Syria expert Ely Karmon of the Interdisciplinary Center. “We need to wait and see who will control Syria.”

Assad’s survival might not be an entirely bad thing, according to Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. Even a limited Assad regime, he said, would help prevent Syria from becoming a power vacuum in which jihadists could attack Israel. And it would give Israel “an address on the other side” with which to negotiate.

Assad’s survival also would be a victory for Hizbullah, which openly committed itself last month to fighting for Assad and drove his victory last week in Qusair, a key city between the Lebanese border and the rebel stronghold of Homs.

“It will be a victory for Iran, Hizbullah, the enemies of the West,” said Ephraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center. “He helps Hizbullah to hurt Israel.”

But Hizbullah also could find itself hurt by Assad’s survival. The organization, which has long commanded respect in the region for fighting Israel, may find its reputation damaged by turning its guns against fellow Muslims.

Hizbollah, Brom said, has shown itself as “a foreign body in Lebanon that serves foreign interests.”

— Israel Hayom (via JNS) and JTA

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “In Shift, Israelis Now Believe Assad Could Prevail In Syrian Civil War”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nothing wrong with this option. These people do not understand democracy. They will kill each other.

  2. They will kill each other, good for Israel, but I wonder Syria's army is a farce?, why Syria needs the help from Hezbollah?, increadible!

  3. Also I am wondering, why the suniii Hamas or palestinian doen"t help the suniies in Syria, I think they are cowards terrorists.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Megillat Esther
The Origins of Purim
Latest News Stories
Map of Yitzhar area.

A hitchhiker pulled out a gun and stopped the attack.

Israeli Flags in Germany

Israel was the sixth-highest source for tourists to Germany in 2014.

Eshed said that a smart meter can run for as long as 10 years if it is equipped with this chipset.

U.S. to South Korea Amb. Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul on Wed. March 4.

US Amb to South Korea attacked at event in Seoul, slashed face and hand.

On Saturday, the French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday, citing intelligence sources, that Khamenei would likely live only two more years.

COGAT chief hopes Hamas “would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses.”

Israel’s Channel 2 television network thought Herzog’s remarks constituted elections propaganda.

The house, which is made up of simple mortar and stone walls that was cut into a rocky hillside, was first discovered in the 1880s by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent.

Ron Dermer responds to Netanyahu critics following Netanyahu’s speech.

Secy of State John Kerry updates media on the progress made in talks with Iran in Switzerland before leaving for the US; talks resume on March 15.

Researchers at the University of Haifa find that it is better for customer service employees to express positive emotions rather than show neutrality in their work.

Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas says Israel will never be accepted as a Jewish State, but played coy about security issues.

Ferguson police officer cleared by Justice Department of civil rights charges in shooting of Michael Brown.

When Hamas launches rockets at Tel Aviv, only 100,000 people will need to seek shelter, instead of 400,000.

Two Islamic holidays have officially been added to the New York City public school calendar, closing schools on those days starting next year.

It was probably the first time that the marble relief portrait of Moses hanging in the House Chamber ever received such public acknowledgement.

More Articles from Combined News Services
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner

Boehner criticized President Obama for failing to take the threat of terrorism and the Iranian nuclear threat seriously.

L-R: Generals Omar Bradley, George Patton, and Dwight Eisenhower inspecting art stolen by the Nazis.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder welcomed the museum’s decision to discover which pieces were looted by the Nazis and to work to restitute them.

“We want the residents of Gaza to live in dignity and prosperity, rebuild their homes and return to normal life,” Yaalon said. “But we are very worried. Just yesterday Hamas representatives said they intend to reconstruct the infiltration tunnels, instead of rebuilding the homes of Gaza’s residents.”

“When the Metropolitan Opera incites violence you can’t know what will happen,” Wiesenfeld said at the protest.

Nemmouche became a radical jihadist while serving a sentence in France in 2009 for armed robbery, TF1 reported.

“Never again, Lord, never again,” the pope implored. “Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas must choose between peace with Israel or Hamas.

“We stand at the gate of hell on earth,” MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Beiteinu) said. “The visit by a delegation of the parliament of an independent and strong Jewish state, together with survivors who were here, symbolizes Israel’s total commitment to the protection of the Jewish people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/in-shift-israelis-now-believe-assad-could-prevail-in-syrian-civil-war/2013/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: