Photo: Reuters

Syria fiasco, Iran disaster?

Op-ed: Israeli intelligence failure on Syrian front raises concerns about our plans to strike Iran

The Syrian people’s tragedy continues. It will continue for many months and years to come. The brutality is horrifying and a solution is not on the horizon. Both rulers and rebels are murderous and corrupt.


Obama and Clinton will not move Bashar al-Assad from his path or post. Neither will the Arab League or the UN. Neither will the whole world’s fury and the rivers of blood. The only person who can convince Assad to hand over power to regime supporters and embark on a quiet life far away from Homs and Damascus is his wife, Asma, the mother of his children.


A historical change in Syria will only take place should Asma take Bashar’s hand and say “let’s go, darling; we’re leaving.” That’s why I was so happy to hear that finally such inquiry was made with the London-born Asma, an educated, opinionated woman and a mother.


Yet the likelihood of her doing it isn’t high. She realizes that capitulating to the vengeful rebels would mean mass slaughter of the Alawites and their allies that would make the current slaughter pale in comparison. Assad already told her that he understands the issues faced by Syria’s weaker strata and has started to improve their condition, but that caving in to the avengers in Hama and Homs would mean mass suicide.


Assad may only vacate his place in favor of those who would continue his regime; a secular regime combining various religions and sects as established by the Baath party. A regime that radical Muslims, who aspire to impose Sharia Law in Syria, started to rebel against some 30 years ago.


Assad Senior butchered some 10,000 of them and this kept them down for a generation. The descendents of these rebels have yet another reason to rise up: Revenge. Some elements out of Syria also have a clear interest in toppling Assad and his regime, especially after he turned his back to the West and joined forces with Iran, temporarily in my estimate.


Beware Iran war 

Had most Syrians – Alawites, secular Sunnis, Christians, Druze, Armenians and Kurds – failed to stand by the regime, we would have seen it fall a year ago already, as Ehud Barak predicted with the confidence of a defense minister. Yet Barak’s sources got it wrong and erred as result of wishful thinking and deep hatred.


I was happy to see that Israel’s intelligence establishment already admitted openly that its assessments regarding Assad’s survival were wrong. Russian intelligence always understood Syrian society’s complexity and uniqueness better. This is a multifaceted religious and ethnic society, free of Shiite influence.


The Shiite Iran could be a political partner, yet will forever remain a religious foe - mostly to the Alawites, but also to secular Sunnis, the regime’s second pillar. Hence, our defense minister’s arrogance, rashness and contempt for the enemy concern me, especially as a testament to inaccurate intelligence and puzzling judgment, combined with exaggerated confidence in the face of things to come.


An “Iran strike” is not just another strike in Gaza or in Syria. We should call this monster by name. This would not be a strike, but rather, the initiation of war against a well-armed, dangerous regional power, even without nuclear weapons.


The world and history will not forgive us should we embark on war that could turn into a regional war and possibly a third world war. The unstable economic and political situation will mobilize all 200 states, including leading states, against those who initiated the war.


To the new Israelis who will soon embark on rallies nationwide, I say: Continue with your “the people demand social justice” chants,” but also add “the people say no to war.” These two things are interdependent, because this is the same money and the priorities are either more jets and bombs or more apartments, education and healthcare.


Israel’s intelligence establishment should be lauded for admitting that its assessments on Syria were off. Yet who can guarantee that its assessments regarding a war (strike) in the distant Iran and its outcome aren’t even more flawed and much more dangerous?



פרסום ראשון: 05.31.12, 00:44
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