Syrian Rebels in Control of Border Area with Israel
The threat keeping defense officials up at night is what might happen to those weapons of mass destruction after Assad's collapse.
Syrian rebels have taken control of the border with Israel, and are consolidating their presence in the area, according to Israeli defense sources.
One source said that the rebels managed to oust the Syrian military from the area after months of battles, which on occasion saw shells and bullets fired over the border into Israel.
The rebels, according to the source, have spent recent weeks consolidating their shaky control of the border.
The development is one of a growing number of signs that the Assad regime is on its last legs.
The IDF has been readying itself for a "changing of the guard" on the Syrian side of the border. As a result, from the IDF's standpoint, no operational changes are currently necessary.
The IDF is not resting on its laurels – quite the opposite. As another IDF source put it this week, "Our finger is on the pulse." In short, the IDF is ready to respond to any incident.
As some of the rebel groups are heavily armed radical Islamists, Israel must now be on high alert for terror attacks on the Golan Heights.
In addition, Israel remains deeply concerned by the danger of Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels trying to seize control of chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, or other strategic weapons.
Israel has adopted a "wait-and-see" policy, but has indicated it will not tolerate any attacks from the jihadi component of the Syrian rebel groups.
The Israeli defense community is not displaying overt concern about the scenario of a chemical attack directed by Assad at Israel as a desperate last-ditch move to ignite the region. The threat that is keeping defense officials up at night is what might happen to those weapons after the Assad regime's collapse.
As the former Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ido Nehushtan said this week, the fact that the largest chemical weapons possessor in the Middle East – if not the world – is falling apart, creates a nightmarish security situation, not just for Israel or the Middle East, but rather, for the whole world.
With radical Sunni and Shi'ite [Hezbollah] forces freely running around in the country, a failure to secure or destroy the weapons could lead to terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction.
Hence, it remains likely that the international community, or Israel, or both will have to activate contingency plans to secure – or destroy -- the chemical weapons upon Assad's collapse.
Israeli intelligence reports note the heavy and ongoing involvement of Hezbollah and Iran in propping up the dying Assad regime.
Iran provides training and arms to the regime's beleaguered forces, while Hezbollah provides highly trained combat forces to assist the Syrian army in its battles against the rebels, as well as its massacre of Syrian Sunni civilians.
Although the wider regional implications of Assad's pending collapse remain unknown, the fall of the Alawite regime will undoubtedly strike a major blow to Iran's strategic standing. Tehran will lose its main regional ally, and its link to its powerful Shi'ite proxy, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah has no choice but to prepare to face a new reality without its key ally in Damascus.
It will also have to face some serious domestic hurdles in the form of a Lebanese Sunni population (and other sectarian groups), emboldened by the success of Syrian Sunnis against Assad.
A growing number of Lebanese are finding the courage to voice their frustration with Hezbollah's monopoly of military power and its shadow state in southern Lebanon.
The growing sectarian tensions in Lebanon and their linkage to events in Syria are like a trail of gasoline between the two countries. Lebanon could easily be set alight by the flames in next-door Syria. Sparks have already been seen in Tripoli, where Sunni gunmen engage in lethal battles with Alawite supporters of Assad.
The Syrian conflict has also seriously dented the alliance between Iran and Hamas, with Tehran diverting resources away from Hamas and towards the Islamic Jihad, its closest proxy in the Gaza Strip, in the wake of Hamas's backing of the Syrian rebels. Relations between the two have not, however, been terminally damaged, and Hamas continues to rely on Iranian rockets and logistical assistance.
If the Syrian civil war has had such a dramatic effect on the region before the collapse of Assad, it is possible to contemplate the enormous effect a headless Syria will have after Assad's fall.
The power vacuum in Syria, and the scramble by various groups to fill it, will send waves of instability and chaos throughout the area.
Syria's neighbors are bracing themselves.
Comment on this item
by Samuel Westrop
In the West, the Arabization of Muslim communities has occurred with government assistance, which, through imposed policies of multiculturalism in the name of diversity, has effected the destruction of South Asian culture.
by Soeren Kern
The problem of Islam in public schools has been allowed to snowball to vast proportions... not hundreds but thousands of British schools have come under the influence of Muslim radicals.
Bains was also instructed to stop teaching citizenship classes because they were deemed to be "un-Islamic," and to introduce Islamic studies into the curriculum, even though Saltley is a non-faith school.
Schools should not be allowed to become "silos of segregation." — Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
by Peter Martino
Europe's biggest failure vis-à-vis Turkey is another example of its unwillingness to face unwelcome truths: that whenever Islamists go into politics, they never turn out to be moderates.
EU leaders are now, belatedly, coming to realize that Erdogan is not their friend.
by Timon Dias
"Both materially, and in essence, sovereignty unconditionally and always belongs to Allah." — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, Turkey.
What is surprising is that so many Western politicians, including EU-minded ones, apparently still ignore what the consequences could be of such an ideology. Do they really assume it could never happen to them?
by Gordon G. Chang
The second thing we get wrong about China is that it is safe to ignore periodic Chinese threats to incinerate our cities and wage war on us. They employ salami-slicing tactics, as with Scarborough Shoal... so that they do not invite retaliation.
If we cannot say these things clearly and publicly, the Chinese will think we are afraid of them. If they think we are afraid of them, they will act accordingly.
Chinese leaders do not distrust us because they have insufficient contact with us. They distrust us because they see themselves as protectors of an ideology threatened by free societies.
- US Government Promoting Islam in Czech Republic
by Soeren Kern
- UK: Probe of Islamic Takeover Plot Widens
by Soeren Kern
- UK: Multiculturalism vs. Islamism
by Samuel Westrop
- China on the Edge
by Gordon G. Chang
- British Woman May Face Execution in Iran for Insulting Islam
by Shadi Paveh