Assad tanks in the Golan
A couple of days ago, three Syrian tanks dared to enter the buffer zone between Israel and Syria for the first time since the cease-fire agreement after the 1973 war. Israel did not bomb them, and did not invoke the breach of the agreement either. These were tanks that were pursuing members of the Syrian revolution, and therefore the Israelis considered the incident an internal matter.
Coincidently, I had heard about a new dispute within the Israeli establishment. Israeli security warned the Israeli leadership about the potential for tens of thousands Syrian asylum seekers, escaping bombing and murder, fleeing to the Golan Heights and entering the Israeli border to escape. It is said that for the first time, the Israelis are worried about the consequences of the revolution. That the regime of Assad may involve them in the conflict, whether intentionally or as a result of unexpected fighting that could spread to their territories.
The three tanks and fleeing refugees, and even fighters who are forced to look for shelter near the Golan, is a reality that Israel must accept and deal with.
Ten years ago, I visited the Golan for a half day, and the journey did not take more than half an hour. My official escort admitted to me that the paved highway from the capital to Quneitra also means that Israeli forces are able to easily descend toward Damascus should ground forces defenses fail. Of course, we know that Syria, which has failed to respect all the agreements in Lebanon and others, quite meticulously respected the cease-fire agreement, more than Jordan and Egypt did in the years following the signed agreements.
The Assad regime, father Hafez and later son Bashar, uses Lebanon in the face of the Israelis, to build relationships with them and to deal with the Arabs, but the Golan is a completely closed subject. Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and factions such as the Public Popular Front — otherwise known as Ahmed Jibril and Hamas were all using and trading with the Palestinian issue for their own purposes.
Now the situation is very complex because the Syrian people revolted against the Assad regime. They did not target others, including Israel, but for their freedom and dignity and to get rid of the criminal police regime that chocked them for 40 years.
The delay during this current protracted revolution is due to the fact that major countries failed to support it as well as the involvement of suspicious and jihadist parties, which may want to expand the fight beyond the borders of Syria by clashing with Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Syrian minorities, such as the Christian, Alawite or the Shiite in Lebanon, and with Israel too.
This could ruin the revolution and lure the regional and major international powers to sabotage the aspirations of the Syrian people of a unified state with a stable regime agreeable to almost everyone.
Indeed, the Syrian regime might deliberately fight the Syrians and push tens of thousands of people toward the Golan and into entering Israel, as Israeli security leaders had warned.
The result is a triple clash that complicates the issue. No one wants Israel to intervene neither on behalf of refugees nor against them, but the flames of war could push thousands of Syrians toward all border crossings, for fear of being killed or to seek necessary amenities, if water and electricity are cut off especially in winter.
The Assad regime would not mind if Israel bombed those three tanks, so that it could claim it is fighting a US Zionist plot, which aims to overthrow Assad’s regime, the regime with the alleged reluctance.
However, in the end, this play in the Golan will not stop the trapping of the regime in the capital, Damascus.
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