An analyst says the Israeli regime has established ties with militants in Syria’s Golan Heights as Tel Aviv is laying down the ground work for a forthcoming intervention in the Arab country.
The Israeli regime and Turkey have admitted that the unrest in Syria was the main reason that pushed them to end their bitter rift and restore relations. Both Tel Aviv and Ankara support militant groups operating in Syria and want the Damascus government toppled. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the renewal of ties with Tel Aviv may hasten the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
An interview with journalist and political commentator, Ala’a Ibrahim, in Damascus to further discuss the issue.
Q: Mr. Ibrahim, do you think that they (Turkey, Israel) are now sharing an agenda and what do you think that could be?
Ibrahim: First I think up to a certain extent I do agree with your guest from London.
I think the general feeling here remains to a great extent anti-Israel and the people here in general view Israel, the majority of the Syrians view Israel as an enemy of this strategic fight between Syria and Israel who is still occupying Syrian territories since 1967.
But I think it’s very likely that the Israelis and the Turkish would join forces against Syria. Let’s bear in mind the bad relations between Turkey and Israel is not the exception they are the general rule actually throughout the history of the relation between the two countries. Turkey was one of the first Islamic countries to recognize Israel after it was founded in 1948.
And let’s bear in mind that they had excellent relations. They had military cooperation all the way till the Marmara Flotilla incident.
Afterwards we had this PR thing between Erdogan and the Israeli officials especially [Shimon] Peres at Davos Summit but all in all the relationship between Turkey and Israel remains a good relationship and if we think back on 1998 when Turkey was threatening to invade Syria at that time many reports spoke about close cooperation between the Turks and the Israelis in terms of collecting intelligence regarding the …
Q: Mr. Ibrahim when Turkey says that we want to hasten Assad’s fall through this restoration of ties with Israel and when Netanyahu says that Israel wants to tackle this threat of chemical weapons how do you think they intend to do that? Are they going to do this together? What kind of cooperation do you think they are now planning?
Ibrahim: First of all let me point out again I agree with your guest in London; Erdogan has enjoyed a newly found popularity because of his anti-Israel policies and the stance he took against Israel.
But let’s bear in mind also that when the events of Libya took place and rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi in that country happened Erdogan stood at first with the Gaddafi regime and then later on changed his position when it was obvious that NATO was about to bomb the country and help the rebels win that war.
So I think Erdogan is not very worried about his popularity. I think he puts his party’s interest and his political interest before and this is the case with the position he took in Syria. I think he risked a large part of his popularity inside the Syrian community because of the stance he took on the Syrian issue.
That being said I think a lot can be done by both sides to according to them hasten the fall of President Assad’s government. First of all let’s bear in mind in recent events when Free Syrian Army fighters were wounded inside the Golan area Israel took some of them in and treated them.
Of course this is not a mass scale thing. It doesn’t happen every day. But it indicates that there are some kind of logistics coordination between at least some of the factions of the rebels existing in that area and at least the Israeli field officers in that place.
Also let’s bear in mind that we have seen that the rebels in general in some of their factions not all of them to be very fair about this they view the president and they view the president’s government as their main enemy and they put it before Israel so they will receive aid from Israel if they get the chance and again I stress this not all the insurgents; this is not all the fighting opposition forces these are certain factions and I can safely say they are not the majority.
Q: Speaking about how far Israel will go one person we were speaking to earlier was saying that the fact that Israel has launched a strike recently on Syrian territory is sending a message to the insurgents that we are on your side and we are going to give you help. Now do you agree however with our guest in London that none of the insurgents are willing to go inside with Israel because it’s not going to benefit them?
Ibrahim: Well, I don’t agree with your guest in London on that topic. First of all let’s bear in mind it wasn’t the Assad opponents who came up with the argument that those who oppose President Assad’s regime or President Assad’s government are necessarily Israel’s friends.
It was Moshe Yaalon the current Israeli Minister of Defense who said that if Assad falls it would be a good thing for Israel and the Middle East would be a better place for Israel to exist. I do agree with him on one point that not all the opposition and not the majority of the opposition is with Israel nor would it ever shake hands with Israel.
We remain in Syria a nation that is very proud of our history and even our opposition knows that Israel remains the enemy. But let’s all bear in mind the reports that we have seen on Israeli television.
We have seen the infamous report of channel 2 on Israel television where a reporter comes from Israel; crosses in; goes into rebel controlled areas and he interviews a local commander who says he would hold hands with [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon if he comes to fight President Assad with him and I think he is no credible faction of the opposition.
And here I would agree with him who are we to categorize the opposition fighting forces or fighting factions. There are millions of battalions, hundreds of brigades fighting in the name of the rebel forces and I think some of them are willing to cooperate with Israel. After all they all are more than happy to receive aid from the Americans and we all know that the Americans and the Israelis are in the same bed and they are more than one case that we’ve seen Israeli weapons in the hands of rebels in Syria.
And again I remind you of the example when Free Syrian Army fighters were wounded they were taken for treatment to Israel. We cannot neglect that there are some factions, that there are some elements; that there are some individuals to be very fair and to be very diplomatic actually inside the Syrian opposition that not only would like to deal with Israel but they would like to facilitate Israel entrance into the Middle East and into Syria.
Q: We know that John Kerry has been in Iraq and has been talking about the Syrian situation in Iraq as well. Our guest there in London is saying he doesn’t believe that regional agenda so to speak is at work here. What would you say about that and your reasons – if you think there is an agenda?
Ibrahim: I think your guest is a bit contradicting himself in this statement because he says they have interests and he says they don’t have an agenda. I think their interests in Syria is an agenda in its kind. Actually it was very interesting to read Kerry’s statement in Iraq.
He asked Iraq to stop the flow of arms into Syria and I can’t imagine how he did that with a straight face. How could the foreign minister of the United States of America ask the Iraqi government to stop the flow of arms into Syria while the Americans are subsidizing plans to send arms to Syria from Turkey, from Lebanon and from Jordan and from every other country on the face of earth, from Croatia even.
So I think there is a very big regional agenda in this. I think Turkey would not invest so much if they didn’t have a strong interest in the outcome of the Syrian conflict. I don’t think Jordan would take such a stand that contradicts immediate interests because of the refugee situation. I think everyone has an interest. I think there is a planned regional agenda and it’s acting and unfortunately Syria is being destroyed.
Let’s bear in mind one of the early targets for insurgents in Syria when they gained momentum it was aerial defense bases…
Q: Mr. Ibrahim would say then that Israel is going to intervene militarily more extensively from this stage on and they are going to be backed and in coordination with Turkey and the other regional allies?
Ibrahim: Well, they are preparing the ground obviously with the ties they have established with the rebels in the Golan area; with the fact that rebels have managed to take hostage of the Filipino peacekeepers earlier this month and with what happened today I think Israel is laying down the ground work for an upcoming intervention inside the Syrian territories.