News / Middle East

    Israel Wary of Expanding Syrian Chaos

    Sign showing distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental, Golan Heights, July 24, 2012.
    Sign showing distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental, Golan Heights, July 24, 2012.
    Scott Bobb
    The conflict in Syria has intensified in recent months to the point where it could threaten peace across the region. Israel is the latest of Syria's neighbors to see the conflict spill across borders.
     
    The Israeli military says mortar shells fired by Syrian government troops against rebels in southern Syria fell accidentally Tuesday onto Israeli communities in the occupied Golan Heights. A statement said any firing into Israel from the Syrian conflict would not be accepted.
     
    It was the second incident in two months, and the Israeli reaction raised fears of retaliation and a widening of the Syrian conflict.
     
    More than 20,000 people have died during the 18-month struggle by Syrian rebels to end the 42-year rule of the Assad family — President Bashar al-Assad and his late father, Hafez al-Assad.
     
    Israel has been watching the conflict with concern. Senior officials have said repeatedly that they believe Assad's days in power are numbered. But political analyst Danny Rubinstein says they also worry about what kind of leadership will replace their old enemy.
     
    “We have a problem in Syria. If there is chaos in Syria it's a danger to Israel," he said. "It's a danger because up to now the Syrian border with Israel is the most quiet one.”
     
    Israel has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and considers it to be a part of Israel. The Syrian government fiercely denounces the occupation but has not made a military move to re-take the territory since the 1973 war.
     
    But Israeli concerns about security in the Golan have risen as the Syrian uprising has evolved from mostly peaceful anti-government demonstrations into an increasingly brutal civil war.
     
    Israeli soldiers participate in a military exercise in the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, Sept. 19, 2012.Israeli soldiers participate in a military exercise in the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, Sept. 19, 2012.
    x
    Israeli soldiers participate in a military exercise in the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, Sept. 19, 2012.
    Israeli soldiers participate in a military exercise in the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, Sept. 19, 2012.
    Israeli troops last week were ordered to the border area in a surprise drill aimed at preparing them for any sudden deterioration of the situation there.
     
    An added concern is the increasingly sectarian dimension of the conflict, pitting the Sunni-dominated rebels against a government dominated by the Alawite offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
     
    And positions have hardened on both sides, causing minorities in Syria such as the Christians, Kurds and Druze to feel increasingly vulnerable. Members of these communities also live in Israel.
     
    Rubinstein says the polarization is causing fear that Syria could fragment into sectarian-based fiefdoms.
     
    "In Syria, the one [thing] that makes Syria one nation, one state, is the [Assad] dictatorship," he said.
     
    Israeli political columnist Ativa Eldar notes that the Syrian opposition is deeply divided.
     
    "It doesn't seem that there is any clear political force that is ready to take over," said Eldar. "And if Assad goes [and there is] a massacre between Alawites and the Sunnis and the Druze and the Shi'ites, things may even get worse. It may turn into a kind of 'Somalia-zation' of Syria."

    Fears of broadly regionalized conflict
     
    Some analysts also fear the conflict is becoming regionalized. It has already spilled into northern Lebanon where dozens of people have been killed in clashes between Lebanese Sunnis, who support the Syrian rebels, and Lebanese Alawites who support the Assad government.
     
    The lengthy conflict between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels has intensified recently. Some blame this on the growing autonomy of Kurds in Syria and northern Iraq, and on anger by Syria's main ally, Iran, at Ankara's support for the Syrian rebels.
     
    As the United Nations again debates the Syria crisis this week at its annual General Assembly session, there is no momentum toward achieving consensus among members over how to respond to the situation.

    Diplomatic pessimism
     
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Syria is his top priority, but the U.N. and Arab League special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, says he is pessimistic about diplomatic efforts to end the violence.
     
    Hebrew University Professor Shlomo Avineri says the Syrian crisis is showing again the ineffectiveness of the world body.
     
    "The United Nations on paper has a lofty idea, but in reality, just as it failed in Kosovo or before that in Rwanda, it's failing again in Syria, not carrying out what has been in the last few years its own idea that a country has a responsibility to protect its own citizens from violence and if it is not doing it then the international community can come in," he said. "But it doesn't precisely because of the structure of the U.N."
     
    Analysts in Israel say the United Nations must forge a compromise between Assad and the rebels. Or, they say, U.N. members must overcome their rivalries and find a way to allow the U.N. Security Council to take military steps to end a crisis that is heightening tensions across the region.

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    Comments
         
    by: musaw melake from: .
    September 30, 2012 1:39 PM
    It would be wise for Mr. Assad, if he sees thinks are out of controll to fire into Israel to ignite another Aeab-Israeli or this time around a muslim Jewish war to finish off what had been the thorn in the throat. If Israel chooses to be silent if and when fired from Syria, it may be a wise move, otherwise, the whole muslim world, which is stronger now than in the past would at least determinate the Jewish state. Then world peace would blossom.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 29, 2012 11:27 AM
    'Assad is the galvanizing force of Syria. No Assad no Syria'. These statements must be taken seriously. The opposition has a question of identity which no one presently can answer. Countless number of militias, some of whom are flints of Iran's Republican Guard, al qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas, cannot constitute regional peace or hold the country together. The aim of the Arab Spring now launching Syria into civil war is to completely islamize the entire region and form a common front to confront Israel. Minority tribes have been crying out and mostly lending their support to Assad as they have been guaranteed security under his regime. But what they're going to get when Assad goes is in doubt. Do they have the clout to maintain autonomy if Assad loses and an extremist regime seeks to forcefully convert all of them to islam? Who is going to fight for these many minorities if this saga goes in favor of the Arab Spring?

    by: LeRoy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
    September 27, 2012 3:05 AM
    By the virtue of truth from Biblical and Historical standpoint Israel has the right to posses that Land.Before May 15,1947 who need that land Israel,Haifa,Jaffa ,Tiberias.Nazareth,Hebron,,Bethlehem,Jericho and( Ramah where Rachel give birth to Benjamin)when the Arab came into Israel they change the name Ramah to Ramallah,Very Important issue right now(PLEASE READ) the Emperor Hidrain in 132 CE renamed JERUSALEM TO ALELA CAPITOLINA AFTER THE DEITY OF HIS ANCESTOR GOD.AND HE ALSO RENAMED THAT LAND FROM JUDEA TO PALESTINE.This brought about the revolt by Shimon Bar-Kokba who recaptured the land in 132 CE.so the Arabs had never own that Land.that is a lie that the world need to know.

    Now the Arab claim to that Land is they in Sura 17 Mohammed took a night to the far Mosque,and they claim that Mosque was where the temple mount is.this is a lie,cause when Mohammed was alive there were no mosque in Jerusalem.and at that time the Byzantine and the Roman was still in control of Jerusalem,so it was not possible for Mohammed to visit Jerusalem .When Mohammed was alive the only Mosque that was there was in Medina.now Yassar Arafat was born in Egypt in the year August 24,1929.not in so call Palestine as they say.Now the conclusion to this whole matter is how can a Arab man who hate the Jews with a passion name his LAND A HEBREW NAME BEFORE 1947?THIS TELL US THE PRESENCE OF THE JEWS WERE THERE BEFORE 1947.GOD BLESS ISRAEL.

    by: zf from: fere
    September 26, 2012 3:32 PM
    'Occupied Golan Heights" ??
    You got to be kidding me...

    In 1947 the UN suggested to partition the land to two and give one part to Jews and the other to the Arabs. The Jews agreed (even though they claim that the land historically belongs to the Jews) and the Arabs refused and chose to start a war.

    Years later, in 1967 , in another war - Israel had to fight against all its neighbors and the Golan was taken . Indeed, wars suck but you cannot force a war and when you lose and for a prize.

    Now, we see another tyrant that is trying to destroy Israel . history repeats itself , isn't it ?

    by: moshepipic
    September 26, 2012 1:27 PM
    I don't care if "they" can't aim, simply a bad shot, or in-fact deliberate. Let the morons be reminded of the consequences of their actions. Israel must respond "in kind" & accurately !

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