Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Gaza and the unraveling of the Assad regime

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike that has been going on for more than 4 weeks in Gaza; Credit: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency

Israel can no longer rely on the Assad regime to maintain a stable front on the Golan Heights in exchange for its continued survival. Despite the havoc and turmoil Assad has caused within his own country, Israel now faces a looming threat it cannot afford to ignore.

The present situation compels us to recognize that Israel’s geopolitical landscape has evolved due to the Iranian project and its various proxies, making Palestine a central concern and the reclamation of Al-Aqsa a paramount goal, even if it’s for strategic posturing. This realization has led Israel and its supporters to believe that the wavering of the Assad regime’s grip on power has shaken the foundations of their security, as evident in recent confrontations when Gaza breached its borders. No amount of concessions from the Assad regime can now ensure the quiet of a single front.

“The current state of affairs reaffirms that everything the Assad regime had historically offered to Israel has vanished in the blink of an eye”

The startling truth lies in the fact that Israel has suddenly lost all the benefits it once enjoyed from its longstanding relationship with the Assad regime when the recent attacks from Gaza caught them off guard. The current state of affairs reaffirms that everything the Assad regime had historically offered to Israel has vanished in the blink of an eye. Despite its past role in pushing Palestinian resistance out of Lebanon, Hamas has now ventured into the heart of the Zionist establishment, posing a substantial threat that Israel had never anticipated.

The Assad regime’s past influence on ending Iraqi resistance has been overshadowed by Iran’s expanding presence in Iraq and its evident readiness to leverage various regional assets, even if only as a bargaining tool, to pose a substantial threat to Israel.

The Assad regime now finds itself at its weakest strategic juncture in history, brought down by a series of cumulative and fatal strategic blunders that Syrians had been waiting for, albeit surprisingly.

“Israel will not grant the Assad regime time to regain its footing unless it severs its connections with Iran and Hezbollah, a proxy under its influence”

The current state of affairs is catastrophic for Assad and his regime. International courts are awaiting the investigations of crimes committed, and the process of accountability will be unprecedented. The issue of chemical weapons will further erode his regime’s stability, and its economy and popular support will continue to deteriorate rapidly. Israel will no longer place its trust in the Assad regime, as neither its services nor its people stand behind it.

The Assad regime is currently deeply concerned about the intentions of the Russians, the dynamics in Sweida, Israel, and even Iran in the not-so-distant future – the very Iran that has withdrawn its external support. On the other hand, Israel will not grant the Assad regime time to regain its footing unless it severs its connections with Iran and Hezbollah, a proxy under its influence.

Iran will remain the regime’s last sanctuary, counting on the support of the Russians, not only in military and financial terms but also the diplomatic leverage of the Russian veto.

Simultaneously, Iran fears the possibility that the Russians might eventually cut a deal, and that day may be rapidly approaching. Hence, Iran remains the regime’s last line of defense if the Russians were to abandon it.

At this pivotal moment, Iran’s time for settling scores arrives, as it finds itself backed into a corner. If we delve into the core of Israeli strategic thinking, beyond the pursuit of any interests, a question arises: Which regime (Assad or Iranian) offers more advantages and poses fewer threats? And which of them holds greater regional value; which can be rehabilitated under specific conditions?

The dual-pronged question underscores that in this decisive moment, Israel will force a choice between the two options.

If the answer points toward “the Assad regime,” another question emerges: Is there a popular basis to ensure a lasting peace with the Assad regime? In this context, we recall the strategic timing of the Sweida uprising, which transformed it into a beacon of freedom for all of Syria, rejecting the Assad regime.

“the Assad regime, teetering on the brink of collapse, should not expect any concessions, no matter how extensive they may be”

If the choice leans towards Iran, the ensuing question becomes: Will Iran be willing to abandon its project that aims to unite numerous allies, including Shia communities in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and potentially even Pakistan, in the pursuit of injustice?

The likelihood is that the entire regime will unravel, starting from its weakest link and moving upwards, or its vital head will be incapacitated, causing all parties to scatter. Therefore, the Assad regime, teetering on the brink of collapse, should not expect any concessions, no matter how extensive they may be.

The Assad regime is now confronting the complexities of history, and it will bear the consequences of the actions of its professional killers.

Yahya Alaridi
Yahya Alaridi
PhD in Media and Linguistics, George Town University, USA; Former Dean of the College of Media, Damascus University; Former Director of Channel Two (broadcasting in English), Syrian TV.

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