Syria is increasingly becoming a foreign policy thorn in America’s side. Uninformed and out-of-touch politicians, such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), are urging the administration to authorize a more direct U.S. involvement in the war in Syria; he believes that America should aid the rebels against the Assad regime. The U.S. has no true allies in the Middle East. The one nation we could rely on, Israel, does not care for President Obama and the feeling is obviously mutual. Despite this fact, the two nations share certain interests in the region, so could we see Israel act as an US proxy in Syria?
Often, it has not turned out well, when the U.S. decides to back an opposition group, in the name of bringing down a brutal dictator. Iraq, Libya and Egypt are obvious examples. In Iraq, the U.S. took it upon itself to dethrone Saddam Hussein. That country has been in chaos ever since and appears to be heading towards an all-out civil war. In Libya, President Obama took it upon himself to order the bombing of then Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. Currently, Libya is ruled by an interim government – the General National Council – which includes representatives from dozens of parties. Libya awaits its new Constitution but, at some point, it is almost inevitable that Islamists will make a move to gain total power. In Egypt, America backed the wrong horse because the Progressives who control the White House are politically aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood – an organization which is far more Marxist than it is Islamist.
Additionally, it should not be forgotten that the U.S. armed and trained the Afghan Mujahideen against their Russian occupiers; opening the door for al-Qaeda and the Taliban to consolidate their power and, eventually, turn on us.
Contrary to what John McCain thinks, it is clearly not going to be possible for the U.S. to pick out “the good guys” from among the various factions that make up the opposition to Bashar-al-Assad. Even if such a thing could be done, those “good guys” are not going to prevail in a post-Assad Syria. With Assad gone, Syria will find itself at war with Hezbollah. This, of course, would be a good thing for Israel; it’s two most implacable foes tearing each other to pieces.
In early May of this year, Israel twice carried out airstrikes against targets in Syria. One of the strikes was apparently aimed at missiles that were being transported from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The other was an attack on a Syrian military installation close to the capital, Damascus. With Hezbollah in Syria, Israel is concerned that the terrorist group will acquire advanced weaponry from the Assad regime, which will then be used against Israel.
In the meantime, the United States appears to be searching for a way to get involved, without actually getting involved. Were Israel to act as an US proxy in Syria, both countries would achieve a goal, although not necessarily for the same reasons: While Israel has no love for the Syrian dictator, it fears that those who replace him could prove worse. An ongoing conflict between a new Syrian government and Assad’s Hezbollah allies might be the only thing that prevents Syrian Islamists from attacking Israel.
The U.S. knows that the Syrian regime has stockpiles of chemical weapons. Recently, it has come to light that such weapons have allegedly been used in the civil war, although it has yet to be confirmed who used them and against whom they were used. America certainly cannot afford to see those weapons fall into the wrong hands, so backing Israel’s airstrikes in Syria is highly expedient; not only is damage inflicted upon Assad’s forces, but Hezbollah is also thwarted in its attempts to obtain advanced weapons; weapons that might one day be used in terrorist attacks against U.S. assets.
There is no good way for the United States to intervene in the war in Syria. Israel will continue to intervene in order to protect its own interests and maintain its security. Were Israel to act as an US proxy in Syria, neither it, nor the United States, would win any friends – either in the region or elsewhere. That should matter little to either country, however; Islamists are bent on the destruction of both nations and will continue to be, no matter what.
Written by Graham J Noble