Just yesterday the United States opted to aid the rebel fighters in Syria to help prevent Syria from completely destroying itself from within.
Syrian President Bashar Assad refuses to step down from power, even though he’s been pressured by international powers to do so, and continues to use the Syrian army as his weapon to suppress and destroy any opposition to his rule.
President Assad’s enemies are the Syrian rebels who seek to topple his corrupt government. These rebels are mimicking what they saw happen in Egypt and Libya when the Egyptian rebels removed the Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak and the Libyan rebels killed their tyrannical leader Muammar Gaddafi. Unfortunately, Assad refuses to back down or go into hiding, which has caused this to escalate into an ongoing civil war that has claimed the lives of more than 93,000 Syrians according to the U.N.
The United States has just become an active player in the civil war by enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria, protecting the rebels, and supplying weapons and ammunition to those fighting against the Syrian army. Both Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and President Bill Clinton have been outspoken, wishing to see President Barack Obama take more action against the Assad regime by supporting the rebel opposition.
Supporting the rebel opposition sounds very noble and diplomatic when you see the atrocities and corruption unfolding in the Middle East and Syria, but will assisting the “rebels” prove to be beneficial to the U.S., and even more importantly, to Israel?
This question must be asked since the U.S. doesn’t have to deal directly with the consequences of our foreign policies, and Israel does. Northern Israel borders Syria and Lebanon and the only thing that separates these hostile neighbors is a fence.
So let’s go through a few options:
1. If Syria remains under the control of President Assad (which it won’t) then Syria will continue to view Israel as an enemy. Since 1948 Syria has entered into both war and periods of hostility with Israel multiple times. Under Assad regime Syria acts as a highway for weapons transfer between Iran and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is stockpiling these weapons in Beirut, waiting for the prime opportunity to use them against Israel. Hezbollah has recently offered assistance to Assad and the Syrian army, knowing their arms transfer route could be sabotaged with the demise of Assad. If Assad stays in power Israel still has a hostile neighbor to deal with.
2. If Assad falls (and he will) what will happen to Damascus and who will take control of Syria? This scenario is the black hole for both Israeli and U.S. intelligence. Will Syria become a power vacuum creating complete civil unrest in that war torn area, similar to the civil war that broke out after Iraq was dismantled? Who will take control of the loose chemical weapons the Syrian army currently is using against the rebels? Will the civil war become a regional conflict involving Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey? The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls Egypt, recently backed a Sunni cleric that called for jihad (holy war) against Syria. However you spin it, the ambiguity for the future of Syria looks bleak for Syrian/Israeli relationships.
Something we must remember, even though the U.S. is supporting the “rebels,” that doesn’t mean the “rebels” support the U.S. or Israel. To make things confusing the Syrian rebels are not united in their attempts to overthrow Assad. Former Syrian army general Salim Idris leads the Free Syrian Army while several radical Islamists have the similar ambitions. The radical Islamists have played a major role in the Syrian civil war. Many of these rebels the United States is arming have also pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda has already assisted the Syrian rebel efforts by providing them with technical, military, and financial support. Talk about irony: The U.S. is working with the rebels, who are working with al-Qaeda, who attacked America. Syrian officials have warned that the fall of the Assad regime could lead to more Islamist fighters that would most certainly bring more periods of hostility against Israel.