The Middle East: An Israeli perspective
Though I did not have a chance to meet the renowned French political analyst and journalist, Alain Gresh, on the sidelines of this year’s Janadriyah cultural festival, he wrote me a letter introducing himself. He is a very well known thinker and I have been following his writings in Le Monde diplomatique over the last several years. When I was the managing editor of Majallah magazine, one of our sister publications, I interviewed him once.
He sent me a letter saying that my last article on transformation in the region was shocking to him. While it may be shocking, what I wrote in the article was not my ideas but the total sum of known intelligent assessment. What I wrote about the Iranian enmity toward the Arabs is something that is confirmed by thinkers like Yousif Maki and Abdullah Al-Nafesi. Moreover, Dr. Al-Nafesi says that Iran is a strategic partner in the sectarian war in the region. Al-Nafesi sees that there is a kind of compatibility of objectives between Israel and Iran.
As far as the Syrian affairs are concerned, I have seen a number of Russian and Israel reports that see Syria regime reaching the point of no return and a civil war deconstructing the state. Israeli reports also point out that Ankara has interests in Syria and that it may have some colonial ambitions in the city of Aleppo.
Meanwhile some economists argue that Turkey is seeking to destroy the Syrian industry to replace it with a Turkish one. Ankara’s agreement with the Kurds has pulled the rug from under the feet of Damascus and Tehran. On top of that, Turkey has also intensified its relationship with Kurdistan in Iran, a move that weakens the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki who has accused both Qatar and Turkey of supporting the Iraqi popular protest movement.
Tehran knows that intensifying the sectarian environment is the only option it is left with after it became clear that the survival of Bashar Assad’s regime is difficult. To make this materialize, Tehran is supporting Assad by all means possible and by forcing the Al-Maliki government to support Assad financially and politically. Needless to mention that Hezbollah is supporting the Assad regime. Seen in this way, it seems that Tehran is running the risk of making it clear that Hezbollah is carrying out an agenda that fits the Iranian goals. This can expose the axis of resistance and Hezbollah’s image can take a serious beating in the Arab public opinion. Iranians do not only fear the fall of Assad regime but the repercussion of that on Iran itself.
On another level, Iran is trying to set up an Alawite enclave and an army that can meet with Hezbollah and the Shiite parties in Iraq. The fall of Assad should not lead to the fall of Syria. All Iran is looking to realize right now is to maintain its external influence and if this proves to be difficult to materialize then to defend Iran itself from the consequences of Assad’s departure.
Israel fears mayhem although the Israeli-Western scheme is working to disintegrate the key influential countries in the military and security equation of Israel. Here we refer to Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The head of the military intelligence in Israel argues that there are two states in Syria: One for Assad and another one for the fighters. He argues that Syria is getting disintegrated.
We are not in the business of assessing who is to blame but we deal with a reality that rejects the authority of Assad. Some 90 thousands were killed and the economic losses reached $ 80bn. In addition to that, the fighters are control 11 border-crossing points out of total 17. To say that Assad has no vision for Syria but destruction is understatement.
Fragmenting the Syrian society is in the best interest of the Syrian regime and is an Israeli objective as well. Israel is watching the Syrian scene and knows that a post-Assad Syria will not be a unitary state. Interestingly, the Israeli head of military intelligence said that the restoration of Turkish-Israeli bilateral relationship was not an apology or compensation but a strategic partnership. The Israeli minister of defense added that the objective of this partnership is to realize some objectives, chief among them, is to make Israel and Turkey the only key powers in the region to run the rules of game and to marginalize key Arab countries. They also seek to get Iran out of the Middle Eastern equation.
That said, I maintain that there was nothing in my last article that was shocking. Realistic political analysis is not an ideology but should be built on some changing factors. Therefore, alliances, policies and strategies are subject to change. For this reason, some prominent political analysts argue that international politics is the most important variable in the Arab Spring. Now, we can notice that the globe gradually becoming a multipolar system with the rise of Iran and China. Unfortunately, China and Russia are yet to take a realistic position in the Syrian crisis based on the respect of the Syrian citizen. They only support Assad!
It is true that the Syrian opposition is leaning toward religious extremism and closer to Doha and Ankara. But it is equally true that the Syrian society has experienced socio-economic and political resentment for almost 40 years. Assad had a chance to affect change but he missed that chance.
In Moscow in 1990 and after the downfall of Communism, churches are full of citizens. It was as if people were deprived of their faith. In Iran after the Shah it was as if Iranians were going insane but in religious dress. Also, after the fall of Saddam regime in Iraq, the disgruntled Shiites became even bloodier than Saddam. Now, why should Syria be different? Isn’t the right of the Syrian people to restore some of their religious aspects? This is a natural cycle that even Putin cannot change. That said, it is painful to see this as a retreat from a civil state.