SYRIA/ Herzog (Haaretz): the Syrian crisis as seen by Israel
Aleppo, Syria (Infophoto)
“Israelis would like to see the end of the story in Syria without Bashar al-Assad because, if Assad goes, it will be a serious blow to Iran and to the radical axis of Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah.” This is the opinion of Michael Herzog, columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, as expressed in an interview with ilsussidiario.net. The journalist and retired Brigadier General continues by illustrating all of the scenarios for which Israel is currently preparing, from Assad’s chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands, to which Herzog responds that “Israel will not remain indifferent and may take action” to the possibility of a last minute attack by Assad on Israel. He also discusses the current visit by US defense secretary Leon Panetta and the recent visit by Republican candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney, how the US is pressuring Israel to postpone military action against Iran, while Israelis are afraid that “the clock is ticking while Iran continues to enrich uranium, so Israel will have to make a decision very soon”.
What is the situation like in Syria as seen from the perspective of Israel?
Israel is watching the events in Syria closely because Syria is an important actor in the region and also an immediate neighbor of Israel. I would say that, initially, when the revolt started in Syria, Israel was unsure because they did not know what to expect if Assad were to fall, or who would replace him. Today the Israeli position is that they would like to see the end of the story in Syria without Bashar al-Assad. On that they are quite clear because, if Assad goes, it will be a serious blow to Iran, and it would be a serious blow to the radical axis composed of Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah. The assumption is that any regime replacing Assad in Syria, unless it is an Alawite regime, would hold a grudge against Iran and the Hezbollah because they supported Assad in butchering his own people. However, there are still some Israeli concerns about the situation in Syria and the possible scenarios that could have an impact on them.
What are these possible scenarios?
The first scenario is that of chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands. Also, aside from chemical and biological weapons, there are ground to ground missiles, long range rockets and ground to air rockets. Israel is not the only country concerned about this. These are capabilities that the Syrian military possesses and that, if they fall into the hands of Hezbollah and are moved into Lebanon, could change the strategic equation in Lebanon. Some people in the Israeli leadership have already announced that, if these weapons fall into the hands of Hezbollah, Israel will not remain indifferent and may take action.