Israeli Attack on Syria Poses Dilemma to Old Guard in Damascus
I heard the Israeli ambassador to the UN allege on Sunday that Israel’s attack on Syria on Sunday resembled the US attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. This analogy is incorrect. The US was not sending US citizens to grab land and settle any place in the Middle East, which Israel is doing on the West Bank. And, the US war on the Taliban was explicitly authorized by the UN Security Council and by NATO. The Israeli attack on Syria was not authorized by any international body and would be difficult to support in international law.
Moreover, it is not helpful to the US for it to look to the Arab world as though the main outcome of the US war on Saddam Hussein’s Baath government was to give the Israelis a free hand to colonize the West Bank, forestall permanently a viable Palestinian state, and attack its Arab neighbors at will. If this is the conclusion drawn by the young Muhammad Attas and Ziad Jarrahs of the contemporary Middle East, that they have again been utterly humiliated and reduced to being helpless fools, the US is likely to suffer the most from Israel’s action when they join al-Qaeda in frustration.
My heart goes out to the Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, who were killed by a suicide bomber on Saturday in Haifa, where I have many friends. But Ariel Sharon’s policies have not only failed to stop such incidents, they have exacerbated them, and he bears part of the blame for the current crisis. His flailing about bombing Syria is not going to stop the suicide attacks, just as his brutal assualts on Jenin and elsewhere have not. The Iron Fist sounds nice as a prospect, but if you use it for two years over and over again, and you are still getting bombed, isn’t it time to consider some other policy?
Among the more insightful analysts of the Middle East for decades has been David Hirst. His piece for the Guardian lays out the international and domestic implications for Syria of the current juncture, in which it is surrounded by the US in Iraq, by Turkey, and by Israel. Reference below.