Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Israel’s target in Syria was Hezbollah, not Assad

IDF aircraft in flight
Iran and Hezbollah may fear that the collapse of the Assad regime would close an important arms conduit into Lebanon 

At first glance, the two series of Israeli air strikes inside Syria on Friday and Sunday may suggest that Israel is no longer reluctant to take sides in Syria’s two-year-old civil war. But the likelihood that Jerusalem would seek to precipitate the by-now almost inevitable toppling of the Bashar al-Assad regime by cooperating with the rebels is low. Based on what is known, the target of the air strikes, which reportedly killed as many as 42 Syrian soldiers, were Iranian arms bound for Lebanese Hezbollah. 

The reason is simple. For all its other faults the Assad regime has ensured a relatively stable border with Israel, and whatever comes after its downfall — likely, a mixture of Islamist rebels, some of whom have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda — would likely be more threatening to the Jewish state. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

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