Syrian regime Propaganda coup as Israel Downs Syrian Plane over Golan

By Juan Cole

Israel shot down a Syrian MiG fighter jet on Tuesday, saying it had penetrated into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took little time to imply that the Israelis were thus protecting the al-Nusra Front, instead of joining in the fight against al-Qaeda offshoots. The regime wrote that the attack came “in the framework of [Israel’s] support for the terrorist [ISIL] and the Nusra Front”.

The Golan Heights is a Syrian territory that overlooks Israel, most of which was occupied by Israel in 1967. A bit of the plateau is still under Syrian Government influence. The boundary between Syria and Israel on the heights is patrolled by a United Nations force of Irish, Filipinos and Fijians. The al-Qaeda affiliate, the Succor Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), took the Syrian Golan this summer and took the Fijian troops hostage. They were finally released. The Succor Front demanded that the Filipino troops surrender, but they deployed their arms to defend themselves and ultimately escaped back to Manila; there are no plans for them to return to the Golan. The Irish have just decided to return to the Golan, but are hinting that they will only do so if the soldiers can freely defend themselves from al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda’s control of a territory directly abutting Israel is unprecedented, and some Israeli officials are uneasy about it.

The US bombed Succor Front sites Tuesday in its effort to roll up extremists in northeast Syria

I can only guess, but I presume that the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus was flying surveillance over the Golan, keeping an eye on the al-Qaeda affiliate, when the pilot strayed into Israeli territory and paid the ultimate price.

Bashar may have thought the Israelis would not mind him finishing off the extremists. But by shooting down the plane, Israeli much strengthened Bashar. His claim that Israel behind the scenes supports the Muslim extremists is wild and implausible (or maybe reflection theory– he is accused of the same thing) to most people, but one-party Syria is a fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

Now among many Syrians the hated Bashar, who has committed many atrocities, is suddenly a hero ranged against Israel and the latter’s alleged allies, al-Qaeda. The more the West intervenes in Syria, the more the regime can depict itself as innocent victim of foreign plots.


related video:

Euronews: “Israeli PM defends shooting down of Syrian jet over Golan Heights”

14 Responses

  1. Juan it wasn’t a “MiG fighter” that was shot down by IDF. It was a SyAAF Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer” attack aircraft.

    • Said to be Assad’s most formidable attack aircraft–I doubt the plane was flying a surveillance mission . YouTube video of one attacking rebel positions in Syria one year ago is here: link to
      I have no idea of the context of this video as I do not read Arabic but it seemed genuinely distressing to the person filming this as the plane dropped ordinance that landed close enough.

  2. The more the West intervenes in Syria, the more the regime can depict itself as innocent victim of foreign plots.

    Ah, a glimmer of truth at last. Assad was never before atrocious in a random manner. It was his political opponents who suffered his retribution, and even there he was a degree less dramatic than his father who was known to suspend them from lampposts in Damascus. The simplest solution was to take up something useful like dentistry, get on with your life and avoid political dissension; one cannot, after all, expect the fire brigade to respect the furnishings.

  3. Could you be a little more specific about why suggestions Israel may be providing support for Muslim extremists are “conspiracy theory”? What better way to keep the United States tied up in complex, no-win situations than to have it engaged in military campaigns against Muslims? Israel has worked very hard to untrack any American overtures to Iran despite strong arguments that it is in our interest to improve relations there. Pushing the US further into the embrace of the same conservative dictatorships that accommodate Israel reduces the political maneuver space of the US vis-a-vis Palestine. Indeed as long as Israel is able to assure extremists do not turn toward Hezbollah it has a plausible case for using Muslim extremists as cannon fodder in its desire to keep the US confronting a hostile Arab world.

    • Those who have a passion for domination regard everything else as nothing in comparison with obtaining what they desire: they often give up their dearest friends and closest kin in exchange for their bitterest foes. Cassius Dio. (AD 155–235) plus ça change…

  4. Thanks for this important background information, missing from all the news items I saw about this in the mainstream U.S. media.

  5. Ayesha de Queiroz

    I’m passing this along from my husband, who is not on your friends list.

    Chip Molter says, “You said “His[Assad’s] claim that Israel behind the scenes supports the Muslim extremists is wild and implausible … to most people, but one-party Syria is a fertile ground for conspiracy theories.”

    I believe it’s been established that Sharon and LIkud were instrumental in kickstarting Hamas.
    link to

    Are you suggesting that the belief that Likud could once again be supporting a violent Islamist group is bizarre and outlandish? Do you mean to imply that this train of thought should be rejected out of hand by sensible people from outside of “one-party Syria”?

    • I suspect the Israelis would find a radical group controlling its border with Syria an even more convenient target for ramping up jingoism in its population than Hamas. More lawns to mow – plus, it would be easier to keep the Golan if there’s no Syrian government seeking its return.

  6. So we’ve got mostly US-made jets whizzing through the airspace of the area formerly known as the nation states of Syria, Iraq, etc., and our Imperial President is all about how this is such a fine example of how the Arabs and the United Nations are tackling that pesky world-threatening ISIS thingie. Some have asked what part the GCC people are actually playing in the bombardment-after-notice of formerly sovereign Syrian, etc. territory. Here’s a Saudi princeling and the PR release and photos of his supposed sortie-flying:

    ABU DHABI // The son of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was among the pilots who carried out attacks against ISIL militants in northern Syria this week.

    Photographs released by the official Saudi Press Agency yesterday showed eight Saudi air force pilots at an undisclosed location after returning from the mission.

    The pilots included Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

    Dressed in flight suits, the beaming pilots posed for a group photo in front of a fighter jet parked in an airplane hanger. Two of the pilots were also seen sitting in a two-man fighter jet, and there were additional shots of the pilots examining helmets and other equipment in a dressing room.

    The fighter jet was marked with the crossed swords ensign of the Royal Saudi Air Force.

    “My sons, the pilots, fulfilled their obligation toward their religion, their homeland and their king,” SPA quoted Crown Prince Salman as saying.

    He was “proud of the professionalism and bravery” of the Saudi air force men, he said. link to

    But wait! There’s more! “UAE joins airstrikes on ISIL bases in Syria”! link to

    See? PROOF of the great alliance! against the New ISIS of Evil! Please to carefully follow the Narrative on your handouts…

  7. OH….and catch this little tidbit:

    From Foreign Policy News no less:

    Exclusive: Israel Is Tending to Wounded Syrian Rebels
    link to

    BY Colum Lynch
    JUNE 11, 2014 – 10:06 AM

    “Israel is quietly cultivating ties with moderate Syrian rebel groups operating along the country’s U.N.-monitored cease-fire line with Syria, providing medical care and other unidentified supplies to the insurgents while potentially extracting a valuable vein of intelligence on the activities of President Bashar al-Assad’s army as well as extremist opposition forces within Syria.”

    Doesn’t all this smell a bit like state sponsored terrorism??

  8. The plane was reported downed near Kanaker – well inside Syrian territory. There are reports that the US is creating a zone for Syrian rebels to move into from Jordan to attack Damascus. Israel is providing cover and has used artillery to attack Syrian government forces to protect rebels.

    Not that Informed Comment would inform readers!

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