Daily Israel Report

NYT: Israel a Tool in Syrian Civil War

NYT: Israel has become a weapon in the arsenal of Syrian President Bashar Assad against grassroots protesters trying to topple his regime.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/18/2011, 11:44 AM / Last Update: 5/18/2011, 7:21 PM

A New York Times writer has proposed that heating up the border with Israel has become the latest tool in the arsenal of Syrian President Bashar Assad against those who support the grassroots protesters trying to topple his regime.

Noting that hundreds of Nakba Day demonstrators surged across the country's border with Israel after decades of quiet, Anthony Shadid wrote in the May 15 issue, “the tumult on the Golan Heights could augur a new phase of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad...” 

IDF troops were forced to kill several and others were injured until the mob was brought under control and the Syrians were sent back across the border.

Israeli security officials have pointed out that Syria was fully capable of preventing the breach of the border by the young so-called “refugees” – most of whom had never even set foot in the places they alleged they were “expelled” from 63 years ago.

 “Mr. Assad demonstrated to Israel, the region and the world that in an uprising that has posed the greatest threat to his family's four decades of rule,” wrote Shadid, “he could provoke war to stay in power.”

An Israeli expert interviewed by INN says that Israel has become accustomed to quiet on the border. He said that Jerusalem actually might prefer the Alawi ruler  who kept the border quiet to the unknown variable inherent in the rebel forces, who may be more volatile and also turn out to be just as ruthless to the Syrian population as Assad is.

Syrians who claim to be descendants of those who abandoned their homes in 1948 -- inspired by the promises of Arab leaders who assured them they could soon return to enjoy the spoils of their Jewish neighbors once they were “driven into the sea” –are being used as pawns by their own leaders, these very same rulers, says the NYT writer.

The threat of unrest at the border is the method. As Syrian dissident Radwan Ziadeh, a visiting scholar at George Washington University quoted by Shadid, noted, “It's a message by the Syrian government for Israel and the international community: If you continue the pressure on us, we will ignite the front with Israel.”

And guess who will be used as the mules to shlep the bombs?

Just as they were in 1948, and in every decade since – Assad clearly intends to make cynical use of the Arabs who have for more than half a century made their homes in Syria, whose children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren have since been born there, says the NYT article.

It's an easier way for Assad to divert attention from the chaos at home, explains Shadid – which is a real struggle.  Assad, he writes, would rather endanger his own civilians at the border than risk a military battle against the IDF in the war he is threatening, which he most likely would spectacularly lose.