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Israel Fuels Syrian Fire, Risking Regional Outburst


line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps saying that Israel is preparing for “dramatic changes” in Syria, but senior Israeli foreign ministry officials accused him of “fear-mongering on Syria” to justify his ordering what the Russians described as the “unprovoked” raid, according to The Times of Israel on January 29. Another official told the Israeli Maariv that no Israeli “red lines” were crossed with regard to the reported chemical weapons in Syria to justify the raid. On January 16 Israel’s line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>More likely Israel is either trying to escalate militarily to embroil an unwilling United States in the Syrian conflict, in a too late attempt to pre-empt a political solution, out of a belief that the fall of the Al – Assad regime will serve Israel’s strategy, according to the former head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, (Major general, reserve) Amos Yaldin, or to establish for itself a seat at any international negotiating table that might be detrimental in shaping a future regime in Syria.

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>This is the message that the Israeli line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>The Israeli military intervention at this particular timing fuels a Syrian fire that has recently started to look for firefighters among the growing number of the advocates of dialogue, negotiations and political solutions both nationally, regionally and internationally.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>With the legitimate Syrian government gaining the upper hand militarily on the ground, the inability of the rebels to “liberate” even one city, town or enough area in the countryside to be declared a “buffer zone” or to host the self-proclaimed leadership of opposition in exile, which failed during the Paris – hosted “Friends of Syria” meeting on January 28 to agree on a “government – in – exile,” more likely because of this very reason, the second option of a political solution is left as the only way forward and as the only way out of the bloodshed and the snowballing humanitarian crisis.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>An Israeli military intervention would undoubtedly revive their morale, but temporarily, because it does not potentially guarantee that it will succeed in improving their chances where failure doomed the collective efforts of all the “Friends of Syria,” whose numbers dwindled over time from more than one hundred nations about two years ago to about fifty in their last meeting in Paris.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>risks a regional outburst if not contained by the world community or if it succeeds in inviting a reciprocal Syrian retaliation. Both Syrians and Israelis were on record in the aftermath of the Israeli raid that the bilateral “rules of engagement” have already changed.

  to enforce it outside the jurisdiction of the United Nations by arming an internal rebellion, publicly on the payroll of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, logistically supported by Turkey and the U.S., British, French and German intelligence services and spearheaded mainly by the al-Qaeda – linked Al-Nusra Front line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>Now, Israel has stepped in the conflict, publicly for the first time, to try its hands to enforce a “buffer zone” of its own in an attempt to succeed where all the “Friends of Syria” have failed.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>Israel in fact have been paving the way materially on the ground for an Israeli – created buffer zone. Earlier, in a much less publicized development, Israel allowed the UN-monitored buffer zone between Syria and the Israeli – occupied Syrian Golan Heights to be overtaken by the “Islamist” Syrian rebels. The European Jewish Press reported on January 1, 2013 that the Israeli premier Netanyahu, during a visit to the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights, was informed the rebels “have taken up positions along the border with Israel, with the exception of the Quneitra enclave.” Earlier on last November 14 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by the AP to confirm that the “Syrian rebels control almost all the villages near the frontier with the Israeli – held Golan Heights.” On December 13 Israeli “The Jerusalem Post” quoted a “senior military source” as saying that “The rebel control of the area does not require changes on our part.”

mso-bidi-font-family:Helvetica;background:white”>France’s ambassador to the UN, Gérard Araud, warned the UN peacekeeping force on the Golan may “collapse,” line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>The 1974 armistice agreement prohibits the Syrian government from engaging in military activity within the buffer zone; if it does it would risk a military confrontation with Israel and, according to line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>However it would be anybody’s guess to know for how long Syria could tolerate turning the UN monitored demilitarized buffer zone, with Israeli closed eyes, into a terrorist safe haven and into a corridor of supply linking the rebels in Lebanon to their “brethren” in southern Syria.   

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-language:AR-JO”>Ironically, Israel cites the presence of those same rebels along the borders of the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights as the pretext to justify “considering creating a buffer zone” inside Syria!

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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