It’s seems counterintuitive, to say the least. Indeed, it seems quite mad. And yet we now have all the evidence we need to point to a de facto Israeli alliance with Al Qaeda. The bombing of Damascus suburbs by Israeli jets – purportedly in order to prevent the Syrians from supplying Hezbollah with long range missiles – at precisely the moment when the Syrian “rebels” aredemanding Western intervention on their behalf highlights one of the most bizarre alliances in history.
Bizarre, yes, but inexplicable? Not at all.
The Syrian government is claiming the Israelis “coordinated” their attack with the rebels, but this seems problematic – and is largely irrelevant. Yes, a rebel spokesman “blessed” the Israeli strike, but I rather doubt there’s ongoing communication between the rebel leadership and Tel Aviv. It’s simply not necessary: after all, their goals in the region are complementary, if not identical. TheSunni extremists who comprise Al Qaeda have been in the front lines in the battle against Bashar al-Assad, and are also bitterly hostile to the mullahs of Tehran, whom they consider heretics: Israel, for its part, has launched its own holy war against Iran for quite different reasons, and is eager to take out Assad: regardless of motives their goals do coincide. Both want chaos in Syria – the Israelis, in order to eliminate a longstanding thorn in their side, and the jihadists because they thrive in failed states, like Lebanon.
Why would the Israelis aid a “rebel” army made up almost exclusively of hardened jihadists who supposedly hate Israel and want to see its non-Arab inhabitants driven into the sea? For the same reason they initially nurtured Hamas – because they believe it serves their long range purposes. The reason the Israelis granted official legal status to the group that eventually morphed into one of the Jewish state’s most implacable enemies was simple: to divide the Palestinian resistance, and therefore weaken it. At the time, Fatah, the largest component of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization, was the most effective opposition to the Israeli occupation. The Israelis thought aiding an Islamist competitor would achieve certain desired ends: the decline of the PLO’s influence, the alienation of Arab governments from the Palestinian cause, and the marginalization of that cause in Western eyes. All three goals have since been achieved.
The Israelis are assisting the Syrian jihadists for similar reasons: because it fits in rather neatly with their long-range goals. For a look at those goals, all you have to do is peruse a 1996 document prepared for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by leading neoconservatives, proposing a radical new Israeli “defense” strategy. Reading “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” is like reading a timeline of events in the Middle East for the past ten years. As I wrote in October of 2003, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – a day when Israel bombed alleged “terrorist camps” in Syria:
“The paper, co-authored by Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg,David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, portrayed Syria as the main enemy of Israel, but maintained the road to Damascus had to first pass through Baghdad:
“‘Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria’s regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq.’”
Well, we didn’t get the Hashemites – but Maliki will do. Or, rather, near complete chaos will suffice, as the religious civil war wracking the Muslim world takes another potential enemy out of contention. Now that Iraq lies bleeding by the wayside, King Bibi is speeding down that “Clean Break” highway, eager to turn two more regional rivals into roadkill.