Assad’s Israel Strategy

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


The official position of the Muslim world is that the “Zionist Entity” is a gang of murderers and thieves determined to carve out a Greater Israel consisting of everything from Syria, Egypt and Lebanon all the way to Saudi Arabia. The best proof that even they don’t really believe it is Assad’s willingness to pull back Syrian troops from his border with Israel giving it the ability to move in and take as much land as it wants with no one to contend with except the Sunni militias.

Assad obviously know that Israel won’t do it. More than that, he’s gambling that given the proximity of the Al Qaeda linked Al Nusra Front to a whole bunch of Jews, they won’t be able to resist the target.

And the kidnappings and attacks by Sunni Islamist militias against UN Peacekeeping forces have already demonstrated the worthlessness of the United Nations and the trouble ahead for anyone who thinks that the UN can offer any kind of solution.

Western diplomats said the Syrian redeployments near the Golan ceasefire line were the most significant in 40 years, with at least several thousand soldiers thought to have been moved in recent weeks to battle fronts closer to Damascus.

Rebel groups have moved into the vacuum, and Israel fears that jihadists will use the area as a staging ground for attacks on territory it controls.

Meanwhile, the United Nations observer force on the Golan Heights, Undof, finds itself in an ever more vulnerable position, with states whose peacekeepers comprise the mission known to be reconsidering their commitment.

“They [the Syrian government] have moved some of their best battalions away from the Golan,” said a western diplomatic source of the Syrian changes. “They have replaced some of them with poorer-quality battalions, which have involved reducing manpower. The moves are very significant.”

Separate media reports in Israel suggest the Syrian redeployments could amount to as many as two divisions – up to 20,000 soldiers.

Israel used to be Syria’s greatest enemy and the one that required the best troops. Now Syria’s greatest enemies are the Qatari and Turkish backed Sunni militias of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda that Assad needs to keep as far away from Damascus as possible.

The withdrawals can be seen as an act of desperation, but they are a pragmatic and cunning move. Assad is warning the West that the region will become more unstable without him and relying on the Sunni militias to provide the West with more evidence of that by attacking UN Peacekeepers and Israeli soldiers.

If the Jihadists succeed in drawing Israel into the conflict, Assad can rub his hands in glee while watching two of his enemies fight each other. Even if they don’t, the collapse of UN Peacekeeping forces warns the West that a Sunni victory will create even more instability than the Libyan War did.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    There is no doubt, with Assad staying where he is, Israel has less of an unknown to deal with than with jihadi offshoots of the Brotherhood Mafia taking his place. The fact of the matter is that Assad, even though he is Israel's mortal enemy, as well as Iran's cat paw, was restrained enough (ever since Syria lost the Golan, during the Yom Kippur War) to keep their mutual border quiet. As such, Israel dealt with each proxy as it arose. However, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra et al have no such "reservations". There fore, the border will become hotter than hot, even as they plot via surrogates too.
    In any case, let us place the onus where it belongs, as to the sudden Mid East conflagrations – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/04/07/the-potuss-mi

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • gee59

    If the terrorists decide to use this period to mount attacks then the IDF can move the border northward until there is no more terrorist territory

  • JacksonPearson

    Israel would be smart to not get drawn into the Syrian conflict. They should protect their borders, stand back, and watch the Islamists batter themselves to death.

  • jkortfearing

    The thing about Assad that no one wants to admit is that he is a rational, prudent man. One of the reasons he is so popular in Syria is that under his leadership the people were getting a glimpse of a civilized future: The tolerance and indeed the honoring of many other religions and minority groups; equal rights for women; openess to trade and tourism; hugh investments in education and health care; growing freedoms with new technology; steady political and economic reforms to name a few. What Assad understands and the US does not is that it will take a generation to make the changes necessary for stable democracies to take root. We go in, wipe out a country, leave total chaos and hope that in a few decades it will all get sorted out. He was taking a better road to the same outcome. And BTW – isn't it odd that the ones funding and arming the rebels are none other than Qatar and Saudi Arabia? Those pillars of human rights, freedom, and democracy? All they want is to eliminate the competition for pipelines and to establish Wahhabi Islam throughout the region. Why are we helping them? Because we believe their lies while securing huge oil and gas deals for our petrol businesses. This keeps our military busy so we can justify our defense spending – and I'm for a strong defense – just not at the cost of shredding nations for no worthy reason. We need to understand some things. 1) is that NO Mideast government wants Israel on the map – Iran isn't the only one – and Syria is one of the few that talks of normal relations with Israel and 2) that the Muslim Brotherhood's goals and democracy are completely at odds – they cannot coexist.