Israeli raids against Syria: redefining resistance

Published: Updated:

Israeli warplanes struck Syrian army targets twice in 24 hours in early May. Instead of responding to the aggressor, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad attacked the Syrian town of Azaz near the border with Turkey, bombing civilians and affirming that its own people are its only enemy.

The regime reserved the right to retaliate to the Israeli raids, but this right was never used before the revolution, and is unlikely to be. While it threatens to burn the region and countries that support the revolution, the regime avoids accusing Israel, and its ally Iran calls on all parties in the region to deal wisely with this issue.

Key regime figure Rami Makhlouf said in May 2011 that Assad is a guarantor of Israel’s security, and that the stability of Israel is related to Syria’s, warning of Salafist hardliners gaining power.

This highlights the need to revisit the concept of resistance. Many regimes boast about opposition to Israel, and depend on this stance to preserve their legitimacy, but they have neither attacked Israel nor retaliated to any attack. Many observers believe that the latest Israeli raids were beneficial to the Syrian regime, as it distracted the world’s attention from ongoing atrocities.

Israeli observers view the strikes in terms of the following strategic goals:

1. Blocking the supply of advanced weapons to terrorist organizations, as stated by Israel’s tourism minister after the strikes

2. Sending a message to Iran and Hezbollah about Israel’s ability to accurately reach fortified targets

3. Displaying Israel’s ability to strike without fear of retaliation, as the Assad regime and its ally Hezbollah are busy oppressing the Syrian people

Israel is confident that Assad will not risk engaging in a war against it, as this would be fatal to his air force and put an end to his regime.

That is why Assad prefers talking about a conspiracy without taking any action, and why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not cancel his trip to China, even though he struck Syria prior to visiting one of its main allies.