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 Soeren Kern
Hamas would likely resort to violence to thwart any attempts to disarm the group. It is therefore highly unlikely the Europeans would confront Hamas in any meaningful way.
Spanish intelligence agents met secretly with Hezbollah operatives, who agreed to provide "escorts" to protect Spanish UNIFIL patrols. The quid pro quo was that Spanish troops would look the other way while Hezbollah was allowed to rearm for its next war with Israel. Hezbollah's message to Spain was: mind your own business.
If the European experience with Hezbollah in Lebanon is any indication, not only will Hamas not be disarmed, it will be rearmed as European monitors look on and do nothing.
What is clear is that European leaders have never been committed to honoring either the letter or the spirit of UN Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701, all of which were aimed at preventing Hezbollah from rearming.
by Debalina Ghoshal
According to former Bush administration official Stephen Rademaker, for the United States to respond to Russian violations of the treaty by pulling out of it would be "welcome in Moscow," which is "wrestling with the question of how they terminate [the treaty]" and thus, the United States should not make it easier for the Russians to leave.
by Guy Millière
Belgian security services have estimated that the number of European jihadists in Syria may be over 4000.
European leaders have directed their nastiest comments against the Jewish state, none of them has asked why Palestinian organizations in Gaza put their stockpiles of weapons in hospitals, homes, schools and mosques, or their command and control centers at the bottom of large apartment buildings or underneath hospitals. None of them has even said that Hamas is a terrorist organization despite its genocidal charter.
The majority of them are wedded to the idea of redistribution. Their policies are anti-growth, do not afford people any economic opportunity, and are what caused these economic crises in Europe in the first place. The United States seems to be following these thoroughly failed policies as well.
"Europe could not stay the same with a different population in it." — Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.
by Raymond Ibrahim
"I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah... There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell." — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.
Hillary Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization.
In Malaysia -- regularly portrayed in the West as a moderate Muslim nation -- any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.
"The reason they want to kill me is very clear -- it is because of being a convert to Christianity." — Hassan Muwanguzi, Uganda.
by Dexter Van Zile
Rev. Hanna Massad does not mention that perhaps Hamas actually wants the blockade to end so it can bring in more weapons and cement to build attack-tunnels so it can "finish the job."
Hamas does not just admit to using human shields, it brags about using human shields. Why does Massad have to inject an air of uncertainty about Hamas's use of human shields when no such uncertainty exists?
The problem is that any self-respecting journalist would confront Massad with a follow-up question about Hamas's ideology and violence, but not the folks at Christianity Today.