What Does Israel Want for Syria?

Article Summary
Some say that a victory for the Syrian regime over the opposition benefits Israel, while others argue the opposite is true. Israel, however, seems more preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear issue than with what is going on across its northern frontier, writes Fateh Abdelsalam.

The Syrian regime's defenders and opponents have been assessing where Israeli interests lie with regard to the Syrian conflict, the likes of which the country has not seen in a century. The regime’s defenders see that a weak Syrian government serves Israeli interests, and therefore the protests should stop and there should be dialogue and agreement to prevent its collapse, which seems near. On the other hand, the regime's opponents say that its weapons have not been used against Israel and are now being used to suppress the protests which have been sweeping across Syria and paralyzing most major cities for over a year.

But any observer can see that Israel is more interested in the Iranian nuclear issue than in the dangerous events in Syria, even with revolt at Israel's borders. These differing stances have perhaps convinced some observers that Israel prefers that the situation in Damascus stay as it is.

However, developments on the ground and in international forums may validate what the regime’s supporters are saying, whereby the Syrian events will end up serving Israeli interests. If the demands for a democratic, genuine and internationally recognized transfer of power are not met, then the Syrian situation will turn to Israel's favor with the military option becoming more prominent and direct. This will cause the Syrian military machine to be taken out from the strategic map of the balance of powers around Israel ,as has happened to the Iraqi army when it was destroyed by the American invasion and replaced by a police force that does indiscriminate raids and political and sectarian liquidations in military uniform.

But others think that if a militant regime comes to power in Damascus and activates the Golan front and what is known as the eastern front, it will upset the stable political game of failed Arab-Israeli peace talks and will mark the start of a new phase in the conflict, a phase that may force states that have been verbally hostile to Israel to either intervene in the conflict or see the end of political projects that were based on mere slogans, as happened with Iran.

Those who say that are implicitly acknowledging that the existence of the Syrian regime is indirectly serving Israeli interests. Israel continues to voice disapproval over the suppression of the Syrian protests because they are contrary to the values of democracy, for which Israel is an oasis in the region; this is how Israel portrays itself to America.

In the end, Israel never thought that the Syrian front would stay quiet forever without a peace treaty, which was never reached in spite of indirect talks between Damascus and Tel Aviv for two years under the auspices of Turkey.

Found in: syrian conflict, syrian, israeli interests, golan heights, arab israeli conflict, arab

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