By Alireza Rezakhah
Israel attacked military goals inside Syria for the second time on Saturday, May 4, 2013. The military research facility is located in Jamraya area of Jebel Qasyoun district and had been first attacked by the Israeli warplanes in late January. According to Syrian officials, the center is used to “improve defense capabilities” of the country. The attack by Israeli warplanes came one week after the US President Barack Obama warned in a meeting with the Jordanian King Abdullah II that using chemical weapons during the ongoing civil war in Syria will “change” the United States’ policy toward the crisis in Syria. The threat had been taken by the analysts to reflect a new turn in the United States strategy toward developments in Syria.
Following the failure of a coalition of the Western states, regional Arab countries and Turkey against Syria, and after reports circulated about extensive defeats suffered by the Syrian opposition in the battlefield, the United States, which was previously trying to avoid playing a direct role in regional issues by leaving its regional allies in charge of the affairs, has decided to take its intervention to a higher level. Of course, it should be noted that the foreign policy approach followed by the United States President Barack Obama, as an institutionalist idealist, is much different from the policies adopted by his predecessor, the neoconservative George W. Bush, in terms of ways he chooses to implement his policy. This means that unlike what his predecessor, Bush, did in the case of Iraq, Obama is by no means willing to forge an international coalition led by the United States in order to conquer Syria. In the meantime, the US diplomatic apparatus aims to guide those political forces in the region which are aligned with the US goals to adopt strategies which would be beneficial to the United States interests. Of course, this goal is mostly pursued behind the scenes.
The new puzzle that the United States has been arranging in Syria includes changes in battlefield tactics, providing ground for the transition of power, and making sure about the security of Israel. As for the battlefield tactics, the main effort is focused on controlling borders and laying siege to the Syrian government, instead of making a move in the depth of Syria in order to take over the capital city, Damascus. To this end, the most important measures which have been so far taken by Washington include putting an end to the conflict between Kurds and the Turkish government in order to bring stability to the Syrian regions bordering Turkey; encouraging engagement of Jordan in order to open a new front along Jordan’s border with Syria; fomenting new crisis in Iraq while bolstering Al-Qaeda and radical Salafi forces along that country’s borders (the result of which has been the ongoing conflict in Iraq between Shias and Sunnis, especially in areas dominated by the Sunni population); and bringing security to the common border between the occupied Palestine and Lebanon. This plan has been faced with serious resistance along the Iraqi and Lebanese borders. According to this plan, all communications between the central government in Syria and the outside world will be cut. At the same time, the Syrian rebels will be armed with advanced weaponry while a no-fly zone will be enforced over Syria. In the long run, a collection of these measures will increase pressures on the Syrian government and make it submit to the West. On the other hand, providing grounds for the transition of power will need the opposition to secure a strong foothold inside the country in parallel with the strengthening of the secular currents in order to unite the opposition. However, in practice, this plan has been facing many stumbling blocks and is very unlikely to be plausible.
The third side of this puzzle is to guarantee the security of Israel with the final goal of allowing it to attack Syria’s military and civilian facilities if deemed necessary by officials in Tel Aviv. In this way, while performing as the United States military arm in Syria crisis and also meeting its interest by weakening its neighbor, Israel will also avail of a safe international environment. The crisis in Syria has apparently provided Tel Aviv with a good opportunity to weaken one of the most powerful of Arab armies, which Israel always considered a potential threat to its security, by launching repeated and purposive attacks on the power centers of the Syrian army. Perhaps, Israel had been waiting for years to find an opportunity to reduce the efficiency of the Syrian army and the foreign-backed terrorists operating in Syria have apparently provided it with such an opportunity. In addition, during their latest meeting, the foreign ministers of the Arab League took a submissive measure in the face of Israel when they indicated their readiness to overlook another part of the Palestinian land by offering it to the Israeli regime. The latest attacks by Israel’s air force against the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian army – which is commanded by Maher Assad, the brother of the Syrian President Bashar Assad, and is considered one of the most powerful elite units of the Syrian army – can be considered an act of commendation by Israelis to thank the Arab League member states for their recent generosity toward Tel Aviv. The prolonged silence of the Arab states in the face of Israel’s air raids against Syria further supports this hypothesis.
Despite the above facts, the US authorities should take good advantage of the past experiences of such people as Zbignew Brzezinski – the national security adviser to former President Jimmy Carter – who had been personally involved in arming the Taliban and the Haqqani group in Afghanistan. Taking part in a recent interview with Bloomberg news network, Brzezinski opined that Obama’s claims about Syria using chemical weapons against the rebels has been a mistake while noting that President Barack Obama’s setting of a red line if Syria’s government used chemical weapons was made “without too much thought.” The world-famous expert on the United States foreign policy also noted that the current borders in the region have been made by France and the UK following the World War I and allow for ethnic and religious overlaps. As a result, he noted that, in case of direct intervention in Syria by the US, the entire Middle East region will be involved in the ensuing conflict and this would be a catastrophe for the United States. Brzezinski, however, emphasized that enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria would greatly benefit Salafi groups, including Al-Qaeda.
Military attack against any member of the anti-Israel resistance axis is an experience whose results have been already clarified for the regional and transregional opponents of that axis during the 33-day war in Lebanon and the 22-day war in the Gaza Strip. Although military assault on Syria by Israel and arming Takfiri and Salafi terrorists with more lethal weapons may change the rules of the game in Syria, it will not be able to change the final result as well.
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