Will developments in Syria have an impact on Israel? I will endeavour to answer this question by analyzing the current developments in the region which can be interpreted as a seismic shift of epic proportions.
The Shi’ite forces in the region are emboldened by the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This victory widens the Sunni-Shi’te divide and the growing strength of the Shi’ites serve the regional agenda of Iran perfectly. The Shi’ite orientated and Iranian backed Hizbollah in Lebanon is also emboldened by the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in Egypt. They are also strong supporters of the Al-Assad regime of Syria. President Assad and his family are of the Allawite sect, an offshoot from the Shi’ite minority Islam sect.
The Sunni’s as a majority sect within Islam is understandably on edge by the seemingly victorious forward march of the Shi’ites under the influence of Iran.
A further worrying factor is the role of Russia since Vladimir Putin started his second term as President of Russia. The foreign policy of Putin is very clear – to increase Russia’s influence in the Balkan and the Mediterranean. For that reason he despatched 6 warships and hundreds of navy personnel to Syria. At the same time Iran is supplying Hisbollah with advanced weapons and is eager to receive at least some of Syria’s vast chemical weapons arsenal.
The above developments put Israel on alert. It is well known that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is no friend of Israel and many times uttered the words in public that Israel should be wiped of the map of the earth. Hizbollah in Lebanon is a proxy of Iran and is also a staunch enemy of Israel. The Israeli intelligence is well aware of the grave consequences should Hizbollah receive the command from Iran to fire its missiles, some of them advanced, into Israel.
Another reason for concern is the invitation Iran extended to Pres. Muhammed Morsi, the newly elected President of Egypt. Even before his election, Morsi declared that the Egyptian constitution should be guided by Islamic Sharia Law and that the Peace Treaty with Israel should be abolished. His election also created a safe haven for Hamas, the extremist Islamic rulers of Gaza. Pres. Morsi also made it clear that the Egyptian government will not stand idly by if Israel should attack Gaza. A further concern is that the Intelligence establishment believe that Al Qaida elements infiltrated the Sinai from where a recent attack was launched on an Israeli army bus. The security situation in the Sinai turns for the worse since the takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Jordan will not escape the effects of the so called Arab Spring which turned into a terrible winter. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan will eventually seek alignment with their counterparts in Egypt. If the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds with a regime change in Jordan, the possibility exists that the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan will also be abolished.
Syria is the battleground for the war between Sunni and Shi’ite and between East and West. The outcome of this war could have a detrimental effect on the security of Israel and could significantly reduce the influence of the Western world in the region. The strategy of Western powers thus far, is to stay out of the conflict. The vacuum they left was eagerly filled by the Shi’ites backed by Russia and China.
Reports on the infiltration of Al Qaida elements in Syria are a reason for great concern and could embroil the region in conflict for years to come and could draw Israel into an unwanted war. Such a war will be an existential threat for Israel, keeping in mind the large quantity of chemical weapons that may fall in the hands of Al Qaida. Unfortunately, in such a scenario Israel has to strike with brute force to end the conflict as soon as possible to minimize casualties.
This is the time to heed the Biblical call – to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.