Israel: Assad’s Not So Secret Ally
Just yesterday, according to the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency, a court in central Israel sentenced an Israeli Arab to 30 months in prison for joining the anti-Assad rebels in Syria. The defendant crossed over to Syria from Turkey and spent six days training with the Islamist rebels, who asked him to carry out a suicide bombing in either Syria or Israel.
Compare this with the situation in Russia, Assad's closest ally after Hezbollah. As the hard right, pro-Russian Israeli political commentator Avigdor Eskin pointed out, not a single Russian Muslim who went to fight with the Islamists in Syria (and there were dozens, if not hundreds of them) has been held accountable. The Israeli court's sentence speaks volumes about where Israel's sympathies lie, Shimon Peres' past mumblings of sympathy for the rebels notwithstanding.
In other recent news, the Christian Science Monitor reported that almost 100 Syrians have been treated at Israeli hospitals since the start of the conflict, some of the wounded being delivered across the border by Syrian army ambulances. According to Russian sources, Israeli medics have treated not only civilians, but members of Assad's armed forces.
Finally, ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy called Assad "Israel's Man in Damascus" in his Foreign Affairs article and explained that Bashar, like his father Hafez, for all their support for Hezbollah and Hamas and anti-Israel rhetoric, allowed Israel to have a stable and quiet border with Syria. Halevy voices the fears of Israel's military/security establishment about the destabilization of the region that would result from the fall of the Assad regime.
All this shows that Netanyahu's government seems to be fairly pragmatic in its approach towards the civil war in Syria. If only it would be as pragmatic toward the Iranian nuclear program, instead of goading the United States into armed conflict with the Khamenei regime.