After an airstrike by Israel on Syrian soil, Assad has taken a chance to make everything he can out of it. And who can blame him?
It was pretty obvious he would, what better way to get the rest of the Middle East off his back than by saying the Syrian rebels were all stoked up by Israel, the great mutual enemy of the Muslim countries. Whatever sect you are and whichever sect you hate you’re all together when it comes to Israel.
Israel has kept relatively quiet since the strike, a few murmurs of ‘we mean what we say’ has been the most of it. It was US officials who said the strike was against a convoy heading for Lebanon, not a research facility, as the Assad regime had said. If the convoy story is true then Syria wants this to spill over into Lebanon, maybe if Hezbollah could join in with Assad more openly the regime fancies its chances better?
…‘Switzerland of the Middle East’…
Lets not forget that Israel has just had an election which will, as ever, lead to a lose-knit coalition government, headed by Mr Netanyahu and involving a few centrists and a few far rightists and everyone needs to be pleased, a harsh sudden attack on Syria trying to take weaponry to Hezbollah (something they had said they would not allow) makes sure Bebe keeps his hard man status and looks no-nonsense to the ones who whisper “…build more settlements…” while he’s asleep.
Poor Lebanon, the Middle East’s only other democracy, a country stagnated by an ultra-complex political system and never ending sectarian feuds. “You know traffic lights don’t mean anything here?” A friend in Beirut once told me. Beirut is where everyone is watching now, not only because every journalist reporting on Syria is based there, but because if the sectarianism of Syria is going to influence anywhere else, it’s Lebanon. Veteran war correspondent, Robert Fisk, who was based in Beirut throughout the civil war and still is today, constantly warns us that there’s a new generation in Lebanon, one which didn’t live through the Civil War, one which can still have their sectarianism romanticised, one which doesn’t know the reality of the 70s and 80s for the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’.
…‘Paris of the Middle East’…
The death rate in Syria is rising, at least 60,000 people have died in under two years of struggles. The idea of letting such a bloody battle widen it’s borders is a terrifying prospect. You can understand Israel’s fear, two countries with whom it has had serious issues with for a long while, it was only 2006 when Israeli tanks last entered Lebanon and Israeli planes were last bombing Beirut. Lebanon needs to be protected but we can be sure that, even with its status as a former colony, it won’t get the same treatment as Mali has. But who could want to see the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ with planes over it again?