(/sites/default/files/uploads/2013/09/oa.jpg)One of the more familiar arguments for bombing Syria is that it will help Israel.
Israel doesn’t need that kind of help. Israelis successfully destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. During the Syrian Civil War, Israel has carried out a number of strikes against Syrian targets. If anything, NATO intervention will stifle Israel’s ability to operate in Syrian airspace as it is kept out of the fight for political reasons to avoid offending Muslims; the same way that it happened during the Gulf War.
Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have all threatened, openly or covertly, to bomb Israel if an attack happens. And there is every reason for them to do it. Drawing Israel into the conflict is the trump card of Muslim countries worried about being bombed by the United States. The one thing that panics NATO more than anything else is having the Muslim world think that it is fighting Israel’s war. And it is likely to counter that by preventing Israel from fighting back.
On the security front, the total collapse of Israel’s border with Syria into armed terrorist camps is far more disastrous than an Assad victory. Combined with the growing unrest in the Sinai, Israel is being confronted with dangerously unstable borders held by terrorist groups on almost all sides.
Assad is a dangerous enemy, but one that can be checkmated through threats of retaliation. The Jihadists taking his place have no country and will hide behind a civilian population of human shields forcing Israel to play the same defeatist humanitarian games to minimize civilian casualties as in Gaza.
The Arab Spring has brought Israel to the brink of facing Hamas’ Muslim Brotherhood parent group in Egypt and in Syria. Considering how much damage Hamas managed to do by using human shields to prevent Israel from striking back, life on the Golan Heights could become very ugly indeed.
Furthermore a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Syria would endanger Jordan. A Muslim Brotherhood Syria would be in an excellent position to bring down the Jordanian monarchy, arm Jordanian Palestinians and take down Israel’s last stable border.
Morsi sowed chaos in the Sinai during his very brief rule. A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria consolidating power completely after a bloody civil war would have even more freedom of action.
Those arguing for intervention often bring up Iran. But the motives for bombing Syria have nothing to do with Iran. The best evidence for that is that Samantha Power, Obama’s ambassador to the UN, actually spent a good deal of time trying to reach out to Iran and convince the regime to cut ties with Syria over its supposed WMD use.
If stopping Syrian WMDs were really a step on the path to stopping Iranian WMDs, Samantha Power would not have followed such an absurd course. Instead Power and Obama want to negotiate with Iran, but want to bomb Syria.
It’s not Iranian WMDs that they are concerned with. It’s helping the Sunni rebels win in Syria. And rebel victories in Syria are far more likely to put WMDs into the hands of terrorists than the status quo.
Likewise the claim that Obama’s credibility on Syria must be preserved to protect his credibility on Iran is without substance. Credibility is only an issue with Iran if we assume that any amount of pressure or sanctions could compel it to give up its nuclear program. No such methods have worked or will work.
The sanctions regime is nothing but a delaying tactic to allow Iran to complete its nuclear program. Discrediting the idea that Iran can be intimidated into giving up its nuclear program is the best way to shortcut to an intervention that might actually stop Iran from going fully nuclear.
Obama has some credibility when it comes to bombing Syria. He has no credibility when it comes to bombing Iran. The sooner that Israel and everyone else understand that, the sooner Israel will be free to take whatever steps it needs to and that will free us from playing along with Iran’s negotiations maze that leads nowhere except toward the inevitability of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Iran knows that Obama wants to bomb Syria as part of a pro-Sunni intervention in a regional religious war on behalf of Saudi Arabia and that this project has little overlap with its nuclear plans for Tel Aviv. Credibility in fighting Saudi Arabia’s war is not the same thing as credibility in standing up for a country that Obama has spent two terms kicking around.
The United States bombed Iran for Kuwait in 1988 and Iraq for Kuwait in 1991. And then we bombed Libya for Saudi Arabia in 2011 and we are now contemplating bombing Syria for Saudi Arabia in 2013. It has been reliably established that if a Muslim country with oil really needs us to bomb someone, we will do it. But Israel is in a different category. It isn’t an oil-rich Muslim country.
Bombing Syria adds no deterrence or credibility to an Iranian nuclear scenario. It only warns Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that he can nuke Israel, but that he had better not touch Saudi Arabia.
Obama wrangled Israel into an awkward Sunni Islamist coalition between Erdogan’s Turkey, the House of Saud and Morsi’s Egypt. And Prime Minister Netanyahu went along with it. But now Egypt is bowing out of the Islamist camp and returning to the way things were before the chaos of the Arab Spring.
It is in Israel’s interest to likewise reset the situation in Syria.
The Hezbollah-Syria-Iran weapons pipeline will remain a threat, but the Shiite axis will be more isolated than ever and the Shiite devil you know may be better than a Muslim Brotherhood axis menacing Israel across multiple borders with the support of Washington D.C. And a more stable region with fewer militias raiding WMD compounds will be good for Israel.
The Middle East of four years ago was not an extraordinarily good place for Israel, but it was a better place than it is today. Israel could do worse than a regional reset. The Arab Spring in North Africa may be irreversible, but in its immediate neighborhood it is already being reversed.
Bombing Syria will not help Israel, which will be in the firing line for a war being fought to benefit Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
And the Muslim Brotherhood.