Arab League Ventures into Syrian Siege

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Experts disagree on the demographic makeup of Syria, but their assessments substantiate Barak’s and Yaalon’s analyses. Sami Moubayed writes that 15% are Kurds, 15% are Allawites and Shiites, 10% are Christians, 10% are Beduins and tribal members, 3% are Druze and another 2% are from other minorities. These minorities live in fear of Islamists, and make up 55% of the population. Moubayed believes that at least 25% of the Sunnis are secularist. Syrian opposition activists generally estimate the level of Islamist support to be around 20%. Dr. Barry Rubin puts Islamist support at around 15%.

The leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), an umbrella of opposition groups, is a secularist named Burhan Ghalioun. He promises that the SNC will end its “strategic, military alliance” with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. He dismissed the possibility of an Islamist takeover, saying they don’t represent more than 10% of the population.

Not all Israeli officials agree. Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said, “Although the Islamist forces are not the majority in the opposition, they are better organized and politically competent.” He addressed Israel’s desire to break Syria away from Iran’s orbit by saying that an Islamist-controlled Syria would remain close to Iran.

The Free Syria Army that is battling Assad and the SNC are closely tied to Turkey and Qatar. SNC officials have met with Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is a part of the coalition. The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Libya are meeting with the Free Syria Army and according to some reports, providing fighters.

Former Mossad director Efraim Halevy warns of the instability that could follow regime change. “If the result is that not only Assad is removed but the Syrian military structure disintegrates, then there’s no telling who will control what.”

This is a legitimate concern. The loss of up to 20,000 anti-aircraft missiles in Libya as well as other armaments is a serious worry for the West. In Syria, there are at least five chemical weapons sites. Assad is believed to have tons of mustard gas, sarin gas and VX, as well as Scud missiles and many conventional weapons that can fall into the hands of terrorists. The U.N. has discovered a nuclear site in Syria that appears to be for uranium enrichment.

Bashar Assad is a major enemy of Israel and the West as a whole, and it is tempting to embrace his removal. The opposition includes the secularists that we’d like to see come to power and the Islamists who we don’t want to come to power. The West should not embrace Assad, but it must be keenly aware of the dangers that lie ahead if he falls.

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  • StephenD

    What is needed is for her true friends to follow Israel’s lead on this. If we had a problem in this hemisphere and needed Israeli help, would we expect them to take the lead? Of course not. In like manner, if Israel needs a hand, lets give them a hand, but not by taking over but by joining their team. Letting the world know in no uncertain terms that we are on Israel’s side may actually save lives. The sidelines are for cowards and silent enemies.

    • Nakba1948

      "Letting the world know in no uncertain terms that we are on Israel’s side may actually save lives." Believe me, buddy, I don't think anyone in the world doubts that "we" are on "Israel's side." A more accurate characterization would be that the United States is led around on a short leash by Tel Aviv. If Israel says "hop," the corrupt politicians in Washington, regardless of party, ask, "how high?"

      • UCSPanther

        I'd rather be on Israel's side than on the Arab world's side, chump.

      • ziontruth

        "A more accurate characterization would be that the United States is led around on a short leash by Tel Aviv."

        The Zionist-Occupied Government smear, an old favorite of, among others, the Stormfront crowd. But no, anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred have nothing to do with each other, nothing at all.

        And the capital of the Jewish State is Jerusalem. Jerusalem period, undivided, and hopefully soon emptied of all the Arab colonists coveting it.

  • ziontruth

    It is advisable to ignore Ehud Barak's opinion. He not only has a track record of being factually wrong about those things (like the way he thought Hezbollah would never attack Israel after leaving Lebanon in 2000, but six years later that's exactly what happened), he's also a craven appeaser to boot, one of Israel's terminally stupid politicos who still dare to talk of land concessions on part of the Jewish State even after the expulsion of all Jews in the Gaza region in August 2005 was followed by intensified Islamic aggression on the neighboring pre-1967 Israeli Jewish towns.

    Barak represents nothing but the clueless Israeli Left.

    • alan g

      Zion, 6 years is a long time and crap happens. There must be something more current and applicable for you to bash Barak with.

      • ziontruth

        "There must be something more current and applicable for you to bash Barak with."

        Alright. How about his recent suggestion that Israel apologize to Turkey over the terrorist flotilla, as per Erdoggydroppings' demands? If that dhimmi hadn't been overridden by the office of the Foreign Minister, Israel would have made itself the perfect doormat of the world.

    • UCSPanther

      Barak's inept handling of the second Intifadeh is a good demonstration of the last point.

      It took Sharon, an old warhawk with decades of experience and willingness to do what was needed to both defeat the second Intifadeh and consign Arafat to the trash heap of history.

  • mrbean

    ahhhh,,, err he says… "there are moderate Sunni elements” in Syria that are not like the Muslim Brotherhood." Yeh… sure!

  • UCSPanther

    Syria has become a microcosm of the ancient feud between the Shia and Sunni Doctrines, and possibly the new site of a confrontation against the Neo-Ottomans of Turkey and Iran's Theocrats.

  • CrossofMalta

    Nothing will change if Ass-ad is deposed. His clan which is a minority might be persecuted. He will end up like Gaddafi – as Falafel meat. Arab and Moslem culture are the problems. Assad will go and another despotic, fascist, corrupt, pagan, anti-Jewish and Western cult or clique will take over….and still take their orders from the Monkeys in Tehran. Plus ca change. Islam and Arab cultures are failures and the 'root cause' of Islam and Arab poverty, terrorism, violence and stupidity. Assad is merely a pimple of this elephant's ass.

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  • crackerjack

    And what will become the occupied Golan when the "Free Syrian Army" marches its way?

    • ziontruth

      "And what will become the occupied Golan…"

      The Golan is not currently occupied. It was until 1967, but the Jewish State liberated it. It is not for you to shrink the borders of the Jewish state, anti-Zionist scum!!!!!

      "…when the 'Free Syrian Army' marches its way?"

      It will be treated the way invasion armies have been throughout all of history: With extreme prejudice.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Funny how people forget what happened to the grand Syrian Army that
        invaded Israel with the Israel Army taken out to fight the Egyptians. A
        handfull of retired men (oldtimers) took to the field and cooked the Syrian
        goose. When the Israeli soldiers returned they climed the Golan Heights
        and returned a portion of what was promised to Abraham and his heirs
        for all time. Israel needs to expand it's borders to the Biblical boundaries.