Israel, Syria and Assad’s useful idiots

One of the most frequently recurring myths about Syria is that Israel does not regard Bashar Assad as being in its interest and that it is trying to hasten his fall by supporting the armed opposition that is trying to unseat him.

The myth is perpetuated largely by ignorant self-styled “leftists” and “anti-imperialists” whose understanding of the Arab world is confined to repeating jaded cliches that have no relationship to reality.

For example, after we published an article calling on freedom-loving people to declare publicly their support for the Syrian people and to participate in the Global Day of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution on 31 May, one of Assad’s useful idiots rebuked us, saying: “Besides calling on everyone to ‘support the Syrian revolution’, are you also waving blue and white pom-poms to salute the Israeli air force bombing of Damascus?” The implication of this stupid remark is that the Israeli bombing of Damascus was intended to help the armed opposition or to weaken Assad.

So, let’s see what the Israelis themselves are saying about Assad.

In an article published in Foreign Affairs on 10 May, Efraim Halevi, former director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and former head of the Israeli National Security Council, does not mince his words: Assad is “Israel’s man in Damascus”. He argues that Israel has more confidence in Bashar Assad than in any foreseeable successor because Bashar – and his father Hafez – has consistently maintained peace along the two countries’ border.

Needless to say, for peace read “peace and quiet for Israel” and for “border” read the occupied Golan Heights, which Assad has given to Israel in return for persuading the Zionist lobby in the United States that his regime is good for Israel.

According to Halevi, “Jerusalem, ultimately, has little interest in actively hastening the fall of Bashar al-Assad” because:

Israel knows one important thing about the Assads: for the past 40 years, they have managed to preserve some form of calm along the border. Technically, the two countries have always been at war – Syria has yet to officially recognize Israel – but Israel has been able to count on the governments of Hafez and Bashar Assad to enforce the Separation of Forces Agreement from 1974, in which both sides agreed to a cease-fire in the Golan Heights, the disputed vantage point along their shared border. Indeed, even when Israeli and Syrian forces were briefly locked in fierce fighting in 1982 during Lebanon’s civil war, the border remained quiet.

Halevi says that even while Israel was attacking Damascus to destroy what it claims were weapons earmarked for the Lebanese Shi’i militia Hezbollah, it reassured Assad that his regime was not the target, and that the reassurance was gratefully acknowledged.

…Israel… made overt and covert efforts to communicate to Assad that Jerusalem was determined to remain neutral in Syria’s civil war. The fact that those messages were received in Damascus was reflected in the relatively restrained response from the Assad regime: a mid-level Foreign Ministry official offered a public denouncement of Israel – and even then the Syrian government offered only a vague promise of reprisal, vowing to respond at a time and in a manner of its choosing.

Doubtless, all this will go over the heads of Assad’s useful idiots, who will continue to hail him and his criminal outfit as bastions of resistance to Zionist aggression.

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