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In fact, since becoming president in 2000, Bashar has continued his father Hafez Assad’s policy of making Damascus a headquarters for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other anti-Israeli terror groups. It was in Damascus that—in a move many attribute to Israel—Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in February 2008. Under Bashar, Syria has continued its role as weapons-conduit from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
It’s only recently that Hamas—with Bashar’s largely-Alawite forces killing many of Hamas’s Syrian Sunni compatriots—appears to have left Syria. But Palestinian Islamic Jihad remains based in Damascus, and with Iranian and Syrian encouragement and assistance played the major role in last week’s bombardment of southern Israel from Gaza.
Seemingly, then, Bashar’s credentials on “resistance to Israel” aren’t bad.
And yet Mogahed may have a point. Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Assad dynasty—while a hub of anti-Israeli terror—has kept Syria’s border with Israel quiet and avoided war. Even if the reason is deterrence, that leads many in Israel to think Assad could be a lesser evil than forces—especially if Islamist-dominated—that might ultimately topple him.
In other words, if one sees Bashar Assad as unable to “deliver” on “resistance to Israel,” it can only mean one favors an “upgrade” from mere terrorism to war. And that appears to be the stance of Dalia Mogahed, one of President Obama’s advisers on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
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