This week Israel began bombing various military targets in Syria. This air assault was a source of hope for some, anger for others and fear for still others. There are complex feelings in the region about Israel’s intervention in Syria, but how would it be more rational to evaluate this intervention for the Syrian people?
The greatest concerns of the international community regarding intervention in Syria were over chemical weapons and the state’s heavy weapons falling into the hands of radical groups within the opposition after Assad. None of us can deny the existence of radical elements within the opposition. But there are two points we need to consider here:
First, nobody can also deny that radical elements are also supporting the regime. Hizbullah is supporting Assad as much as, and maybe more than, al-Qaida is supporting the opposition. Nasrallah’s calls on various Lebanon-based TV channels that “We will not let Assad be defeated” are no secret to any of us.
Second, might we not have failed to fully reflect on the meaning of radical? Who is radical? We call radicals people who act illogically, kill others, refuse to compromise if their own wishes are rejected, who do not believe in democracy and who spurn international law. Why do we not want al-Qaida for Syria? Because we can foresee that they will act as set out above. Yet do the past two years not show us that the Assad regime is also a radical, and possibly psychopathological, one? In that case, is the fear over chemical weapons falling into the hands of radicals not meaningless? I have some news for those who still think that Assad should not be touched. Chemical weapons are already in the hands of radicals.
When, a month ago, I wrote that Israel could stop Assad, many people thought I must be suffering from sleep deprivation. Yet this was as clear as day when romanticism was set aside and all the facts evaluated in an unbiased manner. The reaction from the Muslim world, and particularly Arab states, to Israel’s intervention in Syria was partly inappropriate. If there is a fire somewhere, it does not really matter who is coming to put it out. The priority is for the fire to be put out. No matter what Middle East states may think, Israel is our neighbor in the Middle East and an important country in the region. I said the reaction was partly inappropriate, because it is vitally important for this intervention by Israel to be carried out without loss of life. For example, it could be decided to hit an airfield to prevent aerial attacks, but the tower there should not be hit because there are usually people in such communication towers. But runways can be hit to prevent planes taking off, as there are not usually many people on runways and it is easy to choose a time when there will be none there. Or if a road is being used for the transfer of weapons, that road should be hit. The regime can be forced into a corner by hitting bridges. But it is exceedingly important for all the targets to be struck when there are no people around them. Loss of life in an intervention undertaken to prevent greater loss of life shows the crudeness of the method employed. Since we have sufficient advanced technology and the means to obtain information by land from Syria, loss of life in future interventions can be prevented. We must not forget that two years have gone by since the regime began slaughtering its own people, and 70,000 people have since lost their lives, with 3 million Syrians having to relocate and at least 1 million being forced to flee the country entirely. It is not too late for Israel to act in concert with Turkey with a promise to observe Russian interests in Syria.