The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Head of Israeli Begin-Sadat Center: Time has come to pressure for fall of Assad as way to weaken Iran-Hizbullah

Whether true or not – I would argue that the perception here in Lebanon is growing about the Israeli-Rebel-Nusra alliance as a major strategic threat (along with the threat represented by Israel’s evident impunity to interdict and destroy the buildup of Hizbullah military power in Syria and Lebanon). These two factors will likely be at the center of a growing, open conflict involving Hizbullah and Israel, especially in southern Syria/Golan.. a conflict that has all the necessary ingredients for a Fourth Lebanon War (much more so if the Iran-US track breaks down of course).

The article today by Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies here, is but one public indication of many concerning the – perhaps – “change” or direction of dominant Israeli thinking. [Of course nothing conclusive here, and, as someone who is NOT an expert on internal Israeli matters, great caution is needed (as in reverse)]

Inbar writes:

“…The attempts to change the security equation in the north call for a reassessment of Israel’s policies toward Assad. If he is no longer able to resist the desire of Iran and Hezbollah‎ to perpetrate terrorist acts against Israel from beyond the Golan Heights, his usefulness for Israel becomes limited. It is true that the civil war in Syria, where bad guys fight bad guys, is a convenient strategic development. Moreover, Israel (among other actors) has very limited influence on the outcome of the bloody struggle, but the survival of the Assad regime should no longer be a factor in Israel’s strategic calculations.

“…Actually, the fall of the Assad regime is nowadays an Israeli interest. The demise of this regime would be a terrible blow to its regional allies — Iran and Hezbollah‎. Damascus, an old ally of Tehran, is the linchpin of the Shiite crescent. And Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Israel and the main source for regional instability. The fall of Assad would also weaken Hezbollah‎ considerably. It would reduce Hezbollah‎-Iranian influence in Lebanon and make the Hezbollah‎ military build-up a more complicated enterprise. A Hezbollah‎ without Iranian control of Damascus might spare Israel the need to intervene militarily in Lebanon in order to deal with the missile threat.

“…If Assad falls, it is not clear what will happen in Syria, but it is certain that Sunni radical groups will be more influential and the struggle over controlling parts of the country will continue. Yet, substate groups are generally less of a security threat than states…

“…An Israeli predisposition to discard Assad is also useful in Jerusalem’s relations with Saudi Arabia, which loathes the Assad regime and understands that its fall will curtail the growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. It is the Iranian threat that constitutes the strategic glue between the two states…”

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— Here we have two major legs of an evolving Israeli approach [will this view gain the upper hand in the coming months one wonders?]:

1) Violent sunni extremists are not really a problem for Israel comparatively… they can be effectively walled off and dealt with if they turn against Israel later (too bad for Europe and the rest of the world who are not as “good” at dealing with these folks).

2) Accelerating the collapse of Assad and the “linchpin” of the Resistance Axis is a great way to create more problems and challenges for the main perceived enemies of Iran and Hizbullah…. and in light of recent developments, such blows are increasingly needed by Israel for the larger strategic interests of the country.

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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