Why Israel Supports Rebels in Syria

Why Israel Supports Rebels in Syria

[Image via Fox News, All Rights Reserved Fox News 2013 (C)] By Joshua Tartakovsky, April 15, 2017 I have written in the past on Israel’s support for rebels in Syria. In light of the recent intensification in Syria, perhaps it is time to explain why. It is not a pleasant sight to see Israel aiding bearded fanatics who seek to topple the secular and brutal regime of Assad, especially when Israel battles the same Islamic radicals in Gaza or the West Bank. But for Israel support for rebels is a matter of survival and is qualitatively different from the interests of the United States, Russia or Turkey. Syrian President Assad has been the main supplier of weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite guerrilla organization in South Lebanon, which has been battling ISIS in Syria. Hezbollah was founded after Israel’s invasion of South Lebanon which was itself proceeded by PLO’s firing of missiles into northern Israel. In an attempt to establish security for the residents in northern Israel, it engaged in an 18 years long occupation of a buffer zone in South Lebanon, and thereby sought to push off terrorists who were launching missiles into civilian populations further away. But while Israeli soldiers in 1982 were initially greeted as saviors by Lebanese Shiites, over time Hezbollah, an organization supported by Iran and led by Shiite clerics, developed as a response to Israel’s occupation of the region and engaged in very effective guerrilla operations against the Israeli army that eventually forced the latter’s withdrawal in 24 May 2000. Now Hezbollah contains a vast missile arsenal which has a potential to hit as far as southern...
WILL THE CEASEFIRE HOLD? KERRY’S PLAN B FOR SYRIA

WILL THE CEASEFIRE HOLD? KERRY’S PLAN B FOR SYRIA

Photo: Reuters By Joshua Tartakovsky, 28 February 2016 US Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced his Plan B this week as he attempted to flex his muscles following the two-week long ceasefire agreed to by the US and Russia: if the ceasefire in Syria fails, then Syria must be divided.  In this way, Kerry attempted to cover the US concession for allowing two weeks of a respite, by taking a tough stance, and patronizingly suggesting the violation of Syria’s sovereignty. Kerry should forgive others for not taking his ideas too seriously. After all, only two months ago Kerry visited Moscow where he said that US has in effect given up on its intentions for a regime change in Syria, only for the US to switch its version, as Obama said a mere three days later that “Assad must go.” The disappointment with Obama’s statement did not prevent the First Lady of Syria, Asma al Assad, from visiting the Basilica of Our Lady in Damascus, along with Bashar, the President of Syria. She posted on Facebook pictures from the event.  The First Lady, Asma al Assadsaid that Syria remains a sovereign country regardless of US attempts at regime change. Then, one month ago, Vice President Joe Biden announced in Istanbul, before the peace negotiations between the Syrian government and terrorist groups even began in Geneva, that if talks fail, US will support Erdogan’s Turkey in fighting against ISIS, although Turkey is obviously supporting ISIS.   This meant that Biden encouraged the collapse of the talks in advance, and was hoping that US and Turkey would bring about a regime change in Syria by force, against the democratic wishes of the people there.  Indeed, the Geneva talks...

How Russia Should Respond to Erdoğan’s Hate-Mongering?

Joshua Tartakovsky, 5 December 2015 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is one who thrives from exploiting ethnic and religious tensions. For him, the more commotion and incitement, the better. Following the brutal bombing of Kurdish and Turkish protesters in Ankara, a bombing that took place with the police absent from the area and with many indications of the Deep State’s involvement, Erdoğan blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is a Kurdish militant group in Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, with an anti-centralized state ideology that has been fighting for independence since 1984.  Why would a Kurdish militant group blow up fellow Kurds who share the same desire for independence? But the Turkish masses seemed to believe him. Erdoğan sees enemies everywhere, while the pro- Erdoğan media incites the impoverished public who see in him a hero, a resister and one of their own, wrongly persecuted and always innocent. Erdoğan’s Justice and development Party (AKP) gained power in 2002 after decades of neglect of the Muslim working class by the Turkish elite.  It is a popular, Islamist, pro-US party that seeks to overturn decades of secularism instilled since the founding of the secular republic. Turkey’s professed secularism ran contrary to the wishes of many of the poor living in villages and cities who could not find in the government or army a non-condescending official.  The military, the protector of Turkey’s secularism, did not intervene after AKP won. Erdoğan could finally pursue a process of Islamization of the country and a revival of neo- Ottomanism. Erdoğan’s Turkey feels that it has been oppressed for decades if not centuries. Now it is breaking free....
Israeli Strikes in Syria: An End to the Russian-Israeli Agreement?

Israeli Strikes in Syria: An End to the Russian-Israeli Agreement?

By Joshua Tartakovsky 3 November 2015 The recent Israeli air strikes in violation of Syria’s sovereignty raise the question of whether Russian-Israeli collaboration is coming to an end or whether it was part of a mutually accepted agreement.  On October 31, Israeli planes attacked two military facilities, which Haaretz claimed belonged to the Syrian Arab Army and to Hezbollah, in the two separate areas of Ras al-Ein and al-Qatifa in the Al-Qalamoun mountains. This was the first Israeli airstrike in Syria following the launching of Russia’s military operations against Western-backed terrorists in the country. In September 21, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rushed to meet with Russian President Putin, with three senior defense figures after he realized that Russia will intervene in Syria. Initially, Netanyahu may have tried to dissuade Putin, but the latter explained that Syria does not pose a danger to Israel as it is currently fighting for its survival.  Some have argued that in the meeting Israel agreed to share intelligence with Russia on jihadist groups in Syria and that in return Russia agreed to turn the other way when Israel bombs arms which were may be transferred to Hezbollah.  And yet, several days ago, Israel struck bases of the Syrian Arab Army. Does this mean that the Israeli-Russian agreement collapsed or is Israel operating within the agreed parameters? The Middle East Monitor reported that Netanyahu and Putin agreed to “allow the Israeli air force to carry out operations freely in Syria, even in areas where the Russian army is stationed on the Syrian coast”.  But the problem is that in this case Israel attacked arms...