For some time now, the predominant narrative about Syria has been that the unrest has been fueled
in order to weaken Iran. This prevalent account is common to neoconservatives
and liberals alike. While The
New York Times trumpeted Israeli-firsters Senators John McCain and Lindsey
Graham message that " rebel fighters deserved to be armed and that helping them take on
the Syrian government would aid Washington's
effort to weaken Iran ", moderate and independent outlets such as Truthout ,
and numerous others echoed this same objective -- but whilst decrying the
plan. Even Iran's state-run media shares this
This is sheer misdirection -- deliberate or otherwise. Undisputedly, Syria and Iran have been
staunch allies since the Iranian Revolution in their joint cause to protect the
Palestinian rights and to stand up Israel and America, and any change in Syria
would adversely affect Iran (as it would Russia). But this is a secondary consideration. The generally accepted narrative takes the focus away from the
primary reason for the current assault on Syria
Since the 1948 war, Syria
have been in a state of war (with brief periods of unsuccessful negotiations). The conflict has been primarily over land
and water (see a previous essay The
Syria Imperative ). Since the 1950's, conflict over water (and
land) has been at the root of hostilities between the two. In the 1950's, Eisenhower commissioned Eric
Johnston to generate a regional water allocation agreement. The failure of the Johnston plan exacerbated the conflict. The
published diaries of Israeli Foreign Minister Sharett helps understand why the Johnston negotiations were
unsuccessful. Sharett maintained:
"[P]olitical decisions concerning the occupation of the rest of Eretz Israel were
taken as early as 1954, although implemented in 1967. [i] "
The 1967 occupation of Syria Golan (Golan Heights) and the Upper
Mount Hermon by Israel enabled
Israel to seize the entire
Upper Jordan River giving Israel
the advantage of placing its riparian position to fully upstream. Consequently, not only was Syria denied access to Upper
Jordan waters, but its territorial and national integrity were
Some years later, Haaretz would reveal the existence of a study
(Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv university) under General Aaron
Yariv, former intelligence services chief, which outlined a "zone of hydraulic
security", which called for placing water resources in Syria and Lebanon under
full Israeli control [ii] .
Disputes continued unabated and the status
quo maintained until 1982 when the military prowess of both sides were tested.
A 1987 book by Col. Emmanuel Wald of the Israeli General Staff entitled
"The Ruse of the Broken Vessels: The Twilight of Israeli Military Might
(1967-1982) reveals the aims of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the month of
pre-planning that had gone into it. Wald
writes that Ariel Sharon's master plan codenamed "Oranim" was to defeat the
Syrian troops deployed in the Bekaa
Valley all the way to the
district of Baalbek in North of Lebanon.
According to Wald, "during the fist days, it was quietly approved by the
With this aim, on June 6, 1982, Israeli advanced into Lebanon. However, the Syrian army halted the Israeli
army advance in the battle of Sultan Yakub and the battle of Ain Zahalta. Sharon's plan
to conquer all of Lebanon
and destroy Syria
as a military power was thwarted. In
reviewing the book and the battles, the famous scholar and activist, Israel
Shahak, opined that "the principal purpose of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon was
destruction of the Syrian Army" [iii] .
Shahak posits that Israel
needs to win its wars quickly or not at all.
In spite of technological and nuclear superiority, another assault on Syria would not predictably bring an easy win to
and defenses could "drag out a war endlessly'.
He further argues that during the
entire history of Israel, Israeli Jews have shown
themselves to be highly sensitive to
their losses, and high losses make Israelis "susceptible to political arguments
against modes of domination and oppression which they otherwise would accept".
Shahak's analysis shed a light on events which pursued the failure
of "Oranim" as outlined in The
Syria Imperative . Israel continues to pursue its grand strategy, using
a different tactic given its awareness of, and its familiarity with the strengths
of the Syrian army - an army which must
be disrupted from within given Israel's
1982 failure to do so. And this is the
primary reason for arming terrorists posing as "opposition".
It is not without irony that Netanyahu
has recently admitted that he does not rule out arming Syrian rebels , given
Israel's age-old tactic of arming minorities or rebels and cultivating dissent and
chaos (such as the Anya Nya in Sudan , later the Sudanese People Liberation
Army (SPLA), and the leader of the Sudanese rebels, John Garang armed by Israel
from neighboring countries). This is a scenario being repeated in Syria.
[Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who are today on a mission to secure
Israel's vision (with a nod from Washington)
by arming rebels and undermining Syria, were all in favor of securing
Syria in 2003 when they told Washington: "We think the threat to Syria
should stop. We don't think Syria
wants a war or to escalate any situation. We reject any infringement of Syria's
security." [iv] There is no end to their duplicity.
Amos Yadlin, the outgoing military intelligence chief warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee in November 2010 that Israel's
next war would take longer and be fought
on more fronts. Yaldin
warned that Syria in particular, posed a
greater military obstacle to Israel than at any time in the past three decades . It would appear that the Syria unrest has allayed his concerns.
The Syrian forces which put up such a
resistance in 1982, are now engaged fighting terrorists, while the world is
being told that they are the violators.
Perhaps Netanyahu's plan will succeed where Sharon's Oranim failed.
Regardless, it is important to change the accepted narrative about
Syrian uprisings. Given the decades
lone demonization of Iran, it may be more palatable to associate the fueling of
unrest in Syria point to a "weaker' Iran, but let there be no mistake - Syria today is in turmoil in order to promote
Israel's grand strategy -- even as the perpetrator -- Israel, plays the victim and warns of chemical weapons use by Assad's
regime, demanding intervention. "Evil
requires the sanction of the victim." Ayn Rand.
[i] Livia Rokach, "Israeli
State Terrorism: An Analysis of the
Sharett Diaries," Journal of Palestine
Studies 9, no. 3 (Spring, 1980), 3-28.
[ii] Zeev Shiff, "The Censored Report
Revealed," Ha'aretz, 8 October 1993
[iii] Sahak, Israel. Israel Considers War With Syria as It Ponders 1982 Invasion of Lebanon,The Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs (September 30,
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