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.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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 !

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs