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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Will Israel change its position on Assad after Oct. 7?

The Israeli decision-makers are currently in a competition for power. That is why Israel has not yet started reviewing and evaluating the big geopolitical variables surrounding it in the wake of the events of October 7, 2023, which took the entire country by surprise.

Israel can no longer continue Ben Gurion’s strategy of weakening its Arab neighbors by supporting authoritarian and repressive corrupt regimes

Despite the division in Israeli society and among the political elite, the deep state in Israel was able to quickly develop programs and plans to address the crisis, starting with the war on Gaza and Hamas as well as a limited war on Lebanon and Hezbollah, to eliminate the new security threats and demand that Iran contain its other agents in the region. This will certainly include Syria as Iran uses it as a channel for reaching Israel with its proxies.

Israel can no longer continue Ben Gurion’s strategy of weakening its Arab neighbors by supporting authoritarian and repressive corrupt regimes that are destroying their own countries (such as the Assad regime), while at the same time strengthening distant opponents (such as Iran) at their own expense. These distant opponents have now become the danger that threatens Israel directly through their arms which can be found in these failed Arab countries surrounding Israel, which revolve in the orbit of Iran and its extremist militias allied with it under the slogan of resistance (the model of the Hamas-Hezbollah alliance).

Assad fell under Iranian tutelage and has become part of the threat surrounding Israel, facilitating the need to launch continuous raids on territory under his control

Assad is no longer the one who protects Israel’s security and keeps the Golan front calm, as he has become very weak. Assad fell under Iranian tutelage and has become part of the threat surrounding Israel, facilitating the need to launch continuous raids on territory under his control, which is likely to escalate into a war with Lebanon. The decision taken by Israel and the West is to eliminate the new security threat, and this inevitably includes abandoning Assad, but in whose favor? This is the question that Israel is unable to find a suitable answer to, due to the state of chaos and disintegration that afflicts Syria after it has been left to become a place of conflict and attrition for more than 13 years.

For now, Israel does not seem to be in a hurry to topple Assad, or target him, unless his army were to target Israel in defense of Hezbollah

Israel is serious about keeping Iran away from countries surrounding it, but it cannot impose a new regime on Syria instead of Iran’s puppet, Bashar Assad. The intervening countries in Syria are more influential than Israel and America in this matter, so Israel is reduced to trying, by all means, to ensure that no existing Syrian regime can threaten Israel’s security. It has sought, and continues to seek, to secure international approval to occupy an additional part of southern Syria under defensive pretexts, or under the title of dividing Syria into federal entities, which seems difficult to obtain in the current international climate of conflict over Syria. Eventually, Israel will be forced to support the path of regime change by the people according to UNSC Resolution 2254 in order to ensure that it results in an authority that accepts peace with Israel. This is the most Israel can hope to achieve, both practically and realistically, particularly in light of the need to resolve the Golan issue in the end.

For now, Israel does not seem to be in a hurry to topple Assad, or target him, unless his army were to target Israel in defense of Hezbollah. At the same time, Israel no longer desires for him to remain in power due to his failure and inability as a leader, and his being a symbol of the Iranian occupation’s survival. In addition, the US is unwilling to see him remain as he has also become a symbol of Russian hegemony. 

Thus, returning to what was before October 7 seems impossible, despite the efforts of many countries to draw Assad away from Iran and restore legitimacy to him (which is certainly in Russia’s interest) as their efforts collide with the huge number of crimes that he has committed. Therefore, we saw instead the activation of the anti-normalization resolution move quickly in the US Congress.

Kamal Al Labwani
Kamal Al Labwani
Syrian writer and political opposition figure

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