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.