Israel's Interests in Syria

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Efraim Inbar - Syria under Assad has been the most stable ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East. Iran is the greatest strategic challenge to Israel's national security, particularly because of its quest for nuclear weapons. Iran is Israel's arch-enemy and therefore weakening it should be Israel's first priority in its foreign policy. The fall of Assad would be a great blow to Iran's ambitions for Mideast dominance. It is in Israel's interests that Iranian influence in the region be rolled back. Ascribing moderation to the Assad family because it has kept the Golan Heights border quiet is somewhat misleading. During all those years, Syria did not hesitate to bleed Israel via its proxies in Lebanon, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups. Moreover, the "moderate" Assad tried to develop a nuclear option with the aid of North Korea and Iran. The most significant result of the Arab upheavals in recent years is the weakening of the Arab state, which has increased the power differential between Israel and its neighbors. Jerusalem cannot choose its neighbors and their regimes; it can only minimize their abilities to harm Israel. Therefore, Israel's interests are very clear: stay out of the domestic struggles in Syria, and destroy any enemy military capabilities there that have a significant potential for harming Israelis. The writer, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

2013-05-23 00:00:00

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