Jack Cohen

Who’s next?

Here is a series. Complete the final item: Abidine Ben Ali, Ahmed Saleh, Muammar Qaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, ….If you said Bashar Assad you are right, but you get no prize, because it’s obvious that after all the other Arab military dictators were removed, it’s time for the most ruthless and dangerous of them all to go too. Syria is in crisis because Assad refuses to accept history’s verdict and abdicate, so the opposition is trying to force him out of office with a serious military insurrection. Meanwhile, the cities of Syria are under attack by Assad’s army and are being destroyed with terrible loss of life. But Assad doesn’t care. He is a dictator sent by Allah to rule or destroy his country as he chooses.

The next question is: how far will the civilized international community allow him to go in wreaking death and destruction on his own country?And the answer is, as far as he likes! There is no limit, because the international community is inert, blocked and ineffectual. So now is the time for those who hate dictators to give to the opposition, the Syrian Free Army, what it needs. America has pledged $7 million to help them, but no weapons. Turkey is supplying them with weapons across its border from funds sent by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Although a no-fly zone would seem to be in order because Assad is using his airforce to obliterate opposition and civilians alike, and US Secretary of State Clinton and the Turks are discussing setting one up, no action on this can be expected without Russian support. So it is likely that this will be a long drawn out civil war.

If you had asked Israel’s leaders what they dreamed of, one of their wishes would have been to remove Syria as a threat to Israel, and lo and behold their dream has come true. People say that you should be afraid if what you dream of comes true, because you never know what can happen next. But I disagree. I don’t care if among the FSA there are Muslim Brotherhood or Salafists fighting. The main concern is to destroy Syria’s army and offensive capability as well as wrest Syria from its alliance with Iran. This is happening. Syria is no longer a threat to Israel and its value to Iran has already greatly diminished. Apart from the issue of Syria sending chemical weapons and missiles to Hizbollah, the game is essentially up for Assad.

Look at what has happened in Egypt. Although the elected President Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the attack in Sinai where 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed by Muslim terrorists showed that nationalism trumps religion. President. Sadat of Egypt said that he would not make peace with Israel after the Yom Kippur war of 1973 unless he received back every inch of Sinai, and he got it. Yet, his successors had squandered that legacy, and after Mubarak’s downfall Sinai became a breeding ground for terrorism and much else. Now Morsi and the Egyptian military are busy cleaning it out, they have attacked terrorist centers in northern Sinai and killed ca. 40 of them, they have closed off many tunnels that take goods and arms under the Gaza border and they closed the border post with Gaza, although that has temporarily been opened going into Gaza.

Hamas in Gaza is scrambling to mend ties with Egypt, but the test will be whether they hand over terrorists that Egypt has requested. Meanwhile, the US has agreed to send Egypt special aid to help increase Egyptian control over Sinai, such as satellite intelligence and communications equipment. This has so far worked out well for Israel, but the sacking of General Tantawi as Defense Minister may be an ominous sign. One cannot predict the future, but a Syria without Assad could also be in Israel’s interests.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.