Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is losing control of the civil war in his country after a three year struggle even with the support of Iran and Russia. His army did everything it could to destroy the rebel groups which are fiercely motivated to take over Syria. His brutal actions and modus operandi in dealing with the rebels and the civil war at large, is undeniably a crime against humanity. Although, the groups fighting the Assad regime are no more interested in respecting Human rights than Assad is, there should be no expectation that they will strive to establish a democracy if and when they win the conflict.
The spread of global jihad in the world alongside the powerlessness of Iraq is another hit to the Syrian Alawite regime which is facing an influx of insurgents entering the country and joining the rebel groups divided into moderates and radicals; such as Al-Nusra, which share the same ideology as Al Qaeda. The Assad regime is brutal, but we must not forget that Syrian-Israeli border was the calmest border part of the Israeli border for 40 years. Syria was a stable country and before the civil war, it was considered a very safe place according to UN crime reports. All in all, like in any decision-making game, Israel’s leaders will have to choose the “less worst” option.
If the Syrian government collapses, the territory will be divided among the different groups fighting today to destroy the government. It will be almost certain that they will fight between themselves further to control more territory and weaponry left over from the late regime. Those groups which include Al Qaeda among others, will control heavy weaponry, and the changes in the status quo are critical to Israel’s strategic policies. On the other hand however, if the Syrian regime survives, the strong pact between Iran-Syria-Hezbollah will continue to exist at our northern border.
What we can foresee in the near future is either the same of the same with Assad and his friends from Iran and Hezbollah, or a totally new scenario with a divided country controlled by dangerous people and even more dangerous weapons left without an owner.
There is no good option; both scenarios seem evil – it’s a fact. However, from the Israeli perspective, strategists and decision-makers in the country are well united with one opinion, which is that it is preferable for Israel’s interests that the Assad government survives and that the status-quo is maintained. On the other hand, the other option is a very dark and unknown scenario, even to the Israeli perspective. Israel must continue to have a strong and long reaching arm against any attack on its sovereignty while at the same time making incredible efforts to build a new long term strategy considering this new scenario that could become the reality sooner than later.