Israel’s recent airstrikes against Syria – or as a matter of fact against Iran in Syria – have found condemnation and rejection in the Arab collective conscience but have been politically received with disinterestedness, silence and definitely not rejoice, maybe even schadenfreude.
For considerations of Arab sovereignty, pan-Arab nationalism and Islamism, Israeli air raids on Syria – more likely on Iran-backed Hezbollah’s weaponry in Damascus – have been denounced, though not explicitly enough, by most Arabs who are still ideologically, politically and morally unable to condone Israel.
Israel struck Syria, or Iranian arsenal in Damascus, because it has not been given the green light from the U.S. to go to IranRaed Omari
But is Syria (the official Syria) a sovereign and a pan-Arab state or has it ever been? History says no.
Israel was fully aware of the almost-zero level of popularity of the so-called “resistance camp” and the spirit of antagonism around Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the entire Arab world – except maybe in southern Lebanon. Israel was thus eager to send its jet fighters to bomb Syria being certain of the impossibility of a retaliatory attack by Damascus or any angry Arabs.
Arabs, and certainly Syrians, were definitely unhappy to see the sovereignty of Syria – not al-Assad’s regime – violated by Israel inasmuch as they are weary of Damascus being exploited by Ayatollah’s regime of Iran.
But highly startled by the Syrian regime’s unsurpassed brutality and its large-scale massacres, Arabs of the anti-Assad camp preferred to remain silent and cautiously happy with the Israeli pre-dawn airstrikes, showing no trace of a “coward[ly] attitude” as described in the pro-Assad camp’s rhetoric but fully convinced of the attacks’ irrelevance to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Facts more than opinions
In addition to the scary massacres – indeed genocides – committed in Syria, what is related to most Arabs’ disinterest in the Israeli air raids and their zero solidarity with al-Assad’s regime is their weariness of the more than 40 years of modern Syria being hijacked by Iran.
Syria, during al-Assad’s family rule – both the father and the son – has been taken away from the Arab world, entirely placed within and literally hijacked by Iran to serve its interests in the region.
During the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iranian war, all Arab countries supported Baghdad – the eastern gate of the Arab world – in the face of what was termed at the time as “the Shiite expansion.” This was except for Syria which declared itself the champion of Tehran. Even the Baathist-governed Baghdad was hit by missiles from Baathist Syria.
Syria – the claimed resisting country – has not shot even a bullet at Israel since 1973 despite the Jewish state’s occupation of its Golan Heights and its frequent attacks on Syrian military locations.
The presence of the Syrian troops in Lebanon – which was okayed by the U.S – was not for pan-Arab nationalistic purposes as long vowed by the Syrians (again officials not people), but to control the prevalence of resistance groups in Lebanon. The Israelis knew that already.
The number of Syrians killed by forces loyal to al-Assad since 2011 is certainly more than the number of Arabs and Palestinians killed by the Israelis over 65 years with no need even to go to records to check that. Plus, Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israel are counted, tried and allowed visits by their parents. Syrian and Arab prisoners in Syria are disconnected from their families, ignorant about their fate.
It is the regime that transformed Syria’s peaceful uprising into an armed struggle when they responded to protests with gunfire, compelling Syrians to carry arms to defend themselves.
The airstrikes targeted Iran not Syria
Israel’s aim behind the recent airstrikes was definitely not to destroy the military capabilities of the “resisting Syria,” as it has been boasted in Damascus’s official rhetoric, or in any means to support the Syrian opposition, as helplessly claimed by Syrian officials.
Israel bombed Syria to defend its security and to deliver a message to Iran, taking advantage of the world’s shock at al-Assad’s, and his allies’, brutality.
Some observers miscalculated Israel’s airstrikes on Syria when they linked their timing to al-Assad’s inability to open up a second front against Israel as he is already engaged with an internal front against the opposition.
But Israel has attacked Syria many times before when al-Assad was not at war and no
Israel did so in 1990 when, with diplomatic caution and unexpected restraint, it remained silent and did not hit back against Iraq’s Scud missiles attacks in complete understanding of the dangers of any retaliation, it attacked Syria fully aware of the circumstances and risks of such an act.
Late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wanted to gain the support of Arab countries when he attacked Israel with 39 long-range Scud missiles, thinking that the Jewish state would hit back. But that did not happen as Israel refrained from striking back.
Israel struck Syria, or Iranian arsenal in Damascus, because it has not been given the green light from the U.S. to go to Iran. But Syria is a short-cut to Iran anyway.
All in all, the airstrikes had nothing to do with the civil war happening in Syria but with the tension and escalation happening between Iran and Israel in Syria. Israel’s postponed war against Iran has begun in Syria as it had begun before in Lebanon.
Let there be no more talk about the “resistance axis” for it proved to be nothing but a big lie. Let there be no more talk about the “global conspiracy” against Syria for it has been proved that the Syrian people are fighting for their freedom and for the re-placement of their country within the Arab world after decades of Iranian domination.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2