Israel: Assad must go

posted at 8:41 am on September 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

A significant change from Israel’s earlier diplomatic diffidence on the fate of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and perhaps about three weeks late.  Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Oren tells the Jerusalem Post that the Assad regime and its ties to Tehran are more dangerous than a takeover by the al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria battling the Assad army and its militias:

“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said.

This was the case, he said, even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaida.

“We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” he said, adding that this designation did not apply to everyone in the Syrian opposition. “Still, the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.”

The Netanyahu government had expressed hope that Assad and his alliance to Iran would exit soon, but had remained quiet in the debate over chemical weapons.  When US politicians tried to use Israel as an argument for all sides of the question of the response to the August 21st chemical-weapons attack, Israel would only publicly state that it could handle its own defense regardless of what the Obama administration decided to do about Syria.  If Israel had publicly spoken about their desire to see Assad fall even with AQ-affiliated terrorist networks taking control, would that have boosted Barack Obama’s chances of getting Congressional authorization for military strikes?  Possibly; it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

Oren also issued a red-line warning on behalf of Israel:

Amid reports that Assad may be moving some of his chemical weapons arsenal out of the country, Oren reiterated Israel’s position that it will not tolerate attempts to transfer these arms – or game changing weapons – to Hezbollah.

“The chemical weapons were an American red line, it wasn’t an Israel red line,” Oren said. “Our red line was that if Iran and Syria try to convey chemical weapons or game changing weaponry to Hezbollah or other terrorist organizations, that Israel would not remain passive. We were prepared to stand by the red line, and still are.”

Israel has already launched a strike against Hezbollah during the conflict that was intended to halt such a transfer.  Reports over the last couple of weeks have Assad moving the chemical weapons, but Oren tells the Post that he isn’t shifting them to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups.  Presumably, Assad will now leave them in place for the inspection and disarmament process, but only if he’s serious about it — and no one really believes he will be.

That apparently includes the Russians, who insisted today that the deal for inspections will not include an option for military intervention if Assad fails to comply:

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Think this through. The fall of the Assad regime and the breaking of the Shia arc will not benefit us in the long term. It will benefit the Sunni nations in the MENA and Asia. Once rid of the “pesky” Shia powers without having to do the dirty work themselves, they can all unite (remember that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and both Pakistan and Turkey have large well-trained armies, not to speak of the jihadi groups etc.) to finally annihilate Israel-their goal all along. There will be no reason for them not to. Will Europe step in – I don’t think so (see Michael Gerstenberg’s latest book). That will leave the US, and certainly Russia and China won’t get involved unless they feel they have to and it won’t be as our allies. Can Israel, and the US win such a war?

integrity now on September 17, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Pakistan is the only muslim state that has nuclear weapons and if they wanted to started a war against Israel they would have done it long time ago… I doubt that they will be that foolish to start this war… In fact Israel supplied arms to Pakistan in the past… I do not think that there is this hostility from Pakistan toward Israel…

mnjg on September 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Oh, so he was talking to Assad.

Akzed on September 17, 2013 at 3:01 PM

He’s talking to a Jerusalem Post reporter.

He’s not listening, you America-hating fabulist.

Stop standing on street corners, clown.

Shy Guy on September 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Shy Guy on September 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM

I was just joining in the baseless accusation game. Enjoy spending our money over there, hear?

Akzed on September 17, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I was just joining in the baseless accusation game. Enjoy spending our money over there, hear?

Akzed on September 17, 2013 at 4:07 PM

By all means, cut it off.

Shy Guy on September 17, 2013 at 4:09 PM

By all means, cut it off. Shy Guy on September 17, 2013 at 4:09 PM

That would be best for all concerned.

Akzed on September 17, 2013 at 4:15 PM

mnjg on September 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM

You need to familiarize yourself with the Pakistani press etc.:

But here is some food for thought:

regarding Pakistan as a threat to Israel

regarding the supplying of weapons to Pakistan by Israel

Don’t kid yourself. Pakistan has never, and does not now recognize Israel as a state, let alone a partner in the ME. They have no diplomatic entities in each other’s country.

Pakistan has not yet had a reason to engage in war with Israel, but it has clearly stated that it would if its neighbors or interests were attacked and those neighbors include Syria and Iran.

integrity now on September 17, 2013 at 4:57 PM

That would be best for all concerned.

Akzed on September 17, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Not really.

It will be great for Israel.

It will suck for America.

But go ahead. Pull the plug. Seriously.

Shy Guy on September 17, 2013 at 11:18 PM

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