IDF Takes Control (Tacitly) of Syrian Golan
Earlier in my reporting on the Syrian civil war, I sketched out what I thought was Israel’s strategy in containing or managing the conflict there. In the past, Israel had learned to live with a Syria governed by a strongman-authoritarian system (the Assad family). It enjoyed the same relationship with Egypt’s Mubarak and Jordan’s Hussein-Abdullah dynasty. It even has excellent, though covert relations with the House of Saud. Israel likes it Arabs (leaders, that is) to be docile, corrupt, and brutal.
With the war and dissolution of central power, Israel now moved to a preferred model of a weak, dysfunctional Syrian state. Either one with warring rebel factions killing each other; or, if Assad could not be felled, a state divided up into ethnic cantons. One of those cantons would be the Golan. Israel, I maintained, intended to carve out a buffer zone much as it did in southern Lebanon after its 1982 invasion. At the time I wrote this, there wasn’t nearly as much evidence to support this plan as there is now. I pointed then to a FoxNews report showing Israeli special forces returning from liaison with what a confidential Israeli source told me was local Syrian Druze rebels.
In past months, evidence to support Israel’s intensive intervention on behalf of the Syrian Islamist rebels has grown exponentially. The latest is a report by Yediot Achronot’s military correspondent, Alex Fishman. He writes today in Israel is up to its neck in Syria:
…Ever since most of the Syrian Army was driven back from the border area and its positions were taken by radical Islamic organization such as Jabhat al-Nusra, there has not been a single incident of a Jihadi group attacking Israel. This seems to indicate that Israel has total control – intelligence and operational – over both sides of the border.
Contrary to Israeli claims (including by Fishman himself) that this doesn’t constitute “taking sides” or intervening in the civil war, of course it does. When you flick a match into an oil drum it doesn’t matter that the match is very small and the drum very big. All it takes is a small spark. Therefore, any significant interference in Syria’s internal affairs is an intervention and taking sides against Assad and for the Islamists. Further, as my last post indicated, Israel has both acted affirmatively on behalf of the al Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra and refused to punish ISIS for mortar fire that struck Israeli-occupied territory. Thus, Fishman’s title: Israel is up to its neck with Islamist rebels.
The Israeli journalist offers further proof of Israeli control of the Syrian battleground by noting in the original Hebrew version of his article (which curiously was omitted in the English translation) that there are five Syrian Druze villages in the northern Golan. Despite the fact that they are strong supporters of the Assad regime, Syrian rebels have not attacked them. In fact, their lands are among the last that have remained untouched in the region of those which do support the government.
They are protected, according to a report in a Lebanese media outlet, by an agreement between the IDF and Druze leaders in Israeli-occupied Golan. A few months before outgoing chief of staff Benny Gantz left his post, he visited with the elders of the Druze community. There he promised them that their relatives in Syria’s Druze villages would not be harmed.
Fishman notes that whether or not the report is true, in practice this is what is happening. He continues:
Such a pledge could only be made by someone in a position to control the [battle]field.
This makes Israel an aggressive, interventionist state. We’ve known this for decades based on Israel’s willingness to pre-emptively attack enemies in war and carve up their territory and place it under control of vassals like the South Lebanon Army. But Syria offers further proof that Israel is a rogue state which refuses to acknowledge its behavior for what it is.
Despite Fishman’s claims that Israel’s intervention is relatively benign, Israel has long passed that point. Though he is “late to the party,” I think this warning worth considering:
The more time that passes, the more the operational arm and the decision-makers in Jerusalem tend to fall in love with the results, increase the stakes and take more risks.
The selection of targets will become less and less strict; relying on the weakness of the enemy will up the ante, and Israel could find itself becoming an integral part of the conflict in Syria.
Yes, Hezbollah may end up with fewer advanced and accurate missiles in Lebanon, but the Golan Heights will become a battle zone.
It already is. But better a late warning than none at all.
19 thoughts on “IDF Takes Control (Tacitly) of Syrian Golan – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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○ Walid Jumblatt tells Druze in Syria to ‘return to Islam’ – March 2015
○ Israel’s Growing Role in Southern Syria – January 2014
Oui – doesn’t look like you read the article you posted. They directly contradict Richard’s ‘assistance to radical Islamic organization conspiracy theory’.
@ Tankist: My, my an official IDF publication & Times of Israel contradict me. How shocking & surprising & dispiriting because they, of course, represent the height of journalistic integrity & accuracy!
[comment deleted: do not repeat comments you’ve already published.]
“Let them bleed” – that’s the official policy Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has dictated to the security establishment in light of the events in Syria.
What’s wrong with this policy?
” taking sides against Assad ”
Israel hasn’t taken sides against Assad. Israel HAS taken a stance against Assad’s shipping threatening missiles to Hezbollah, which is a direct Iranian proxy.
@ Famous Flame: I think that Assad, when he sees Israeli jets attacking targets in his country and destroying Syrian facilities & killing his fellow Syrians might tend to disagree with you. There is another flaw in your logic. When a country attacks another country, no matter what the motivation, it’s “taken sides against” the victim nation. Elementary concepts of international law, my friend.
You’ve activated my hasbara comment rule: make sure you post no more than three comments in any 24 hour period.
“Israel likes it Arabs (leaders, that is) to be docile, corrupt, and brutal. ”
King Abdullah II of Jordan is none of these things.
@ Famous Flame: I pointedly referred to the Hussein-Abdullah dynasty. Hussein butchered tens of thousands of Palestinians during 1970’s Black September. As far as ‘docile’ goes, Jordanian intelligence collaborates closely with Israeli intelligence. In fact, Jordan arrested a Jordanian citizen on behalf of Israeli intelligence (Dirar Abusisi). As far as “corrupt” goes, if you think Jordan’s monarchy isn’t corrupt, I’ve got a few bridges to sell you. I can get you a nice price for the one of your choice.
Hezbollah ready to dislodge Al-Nusra Front (AFN) and ISIL from mountain range on Lebanese/Syrian border
○ Strategic battle for Qalamoun …
Richard. You’ve repeatedly told us that Israel is giving aid and talking strategy with Islamic extremists.
You’ve repeated ‘al Nusra’ as if it was some sort of mantra, and now, lo and behold, you let slip that Israel had had liaison with local Syrian Druze rebels. Local Syrian Druze rebels are not Islamic extremists.
@ Famous Flame: Logic not your strong suit? In order to control the Syrian border Israel co-opts all Syrian groups in the region no matter their affiliation or religion. There’s no contradiction here other than in your own hasbaramind.
Great respond, only one problem – it justifies Israel actions.
If Assad was still there he would get the same treatment (minus the small amount of aid since he won’t need it). But he lost in that battle so Israel moved on.
The picture is not of Benny Gantz talking to Druze leaders. It’s of Admiral Ram Rotenberg, the Israeli Navy’s top officer. Not quite sure how you claim to know how Israel plans it’s strategy vis-a-vis the Syrians, rebels, Hizbullah but can’t identify the IDF’s senior leadership.
Food for thought indeed.
November 2011 – IDF’s Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visited the Bedouin and Druze communities which are celebrating now the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.
“Israel continues to treat the Druze as a herd to this day. This herd has a sheikh and a leader which [Israel] speaks to …” PM Netanyahu meets with the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif
@ Harry: Thanks for noting my error, which I’ve corrected.
I had a different picture when I first published the post (it’s still featured here if you’d like to see it), then changed the pic but forgot to change the caption. I love know-it-alls who’ve never made mistakes basking in their Gotcha moment. They won’t come often, but Enjoy them while you can!
Camels, horses, riot gear and police tactics … made in Israel. Why do US police learn crowd control in Israel?
Tahrir Square of Cairo, Taksim Square of Istanbul and Rabin Square of Tel Aviv … one common denominator.
Damas Pakada, an Ethiopian-born IDF soldier was assaulted by police in Holon on Sunday, April 27, 2015. A video of the incident went viral on social media. The Tel Aviv riots as a result … PM Netanyahu to meet with leaders of Ethiopian community and IDF soldier Pakada tomorrow.