Samira Quraishy (Source: Middle East Monitor)

As Russia prepares to deliver fuel for Iran’s nuclear reactors, it is worth casting a reviewer’s eye over the potential for further conflict in the Middle East. In one corner we have the Zionist state of Israel and its somewhat reluctant – although faithful-ally, the United States. In the other corner we have Iran, Lebanon and Syria and their various proxies.

In a memorandum sent to the US President, Barack Obama, former intelligence specialists warned him of Israel’s likely pre-emptive strike on Iran, not for the commonly stated “threat”‘ of it developing nuclear weapons but to initiate regime change to remove one of Israel’s most prolific critics, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. This memo was released after skirmishes broke out between the Israeli Defence Forces and the Lebanese army on the border between the two states; political analysts suggest that it is not a question of if a strike will happen but a matter of when, unless Obama steps in and pulls Israel back into line.

Looked at from the Israeli side, it can make a strike on Iran more effective by removing Syria from the equation. Not, of course, through conventional military means or the use of Israel’s own nuclear arsenal; the Israelis are far more sophisticated than that. Israel would simply neutralise Syria by appeasement, completing the peace talks brokered by its once close friend in the region, Turkey, before Israel doomed the relationship with its invasion of Gaza and the assault on the Freedom Flotilla.

At the moment, if Israel was to strike Iran today Syria would have no choice but to come to Tehran’s aid and support its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah in the ensuing conflict. However, commentators in Israel regard with optimism recent talks in Lebanon between Syria’s President Bashar Assad, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and the host Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in which Syria’s political hegemony over the region was established, pushing Iran aside and, in the process, probably weakening Hezbollah’s political base in Israel’s northern neighbour.

One commentator in the Jerusalem Post suggested that if Israel were to take advantage of the momentum arising from this meeting and initiate talks with Assad   who has in the past claimed to want peace talks with Israel   Syria could be out of the strike-on-Iran equation. A peace deal between Syria and Israel would see Syria turning its back on Tehran, which will in turn neutralise or weaken any potential retaliation from Lebanon and Hezbollah.

There is, of course, a price to pay for such a deal; Israel would have to relinquish any claim to the strategically important Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Peace with Syria would remove the justification for the occupation, namely “legitimate security concerns”. A deal with Israel would also lead to Syria normalising its relations with the US, a step Damascus would be only too happy to take for the benefit of its own strategic interests. A pact with Syria creating a new Israel-Syria-US axis would thus clear the field for the Jewish state to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear reactors, as it did against Iraq in 1981, without overt US support. If Russia is waiting to offer more than material support for Iran, this could provoke a stand-off between the old Cold War foes, Washington and Moscow. The stakes are high and Israel’s actions have the potential for far-reaching consequences.

One thing stands in Israel’s way, though, and that is its founding ideology’s greed for more territory. Zionism is an expansionist creed and Israel’s leaders have always been reluctant to give up land for peace; even after the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 Israel maintained the occupation by controlling Gaza’s land, air and sea borders. Analysts suggest that this may be Israel’s weak point which will make it impossible to do any deal with Syria. In turn, this may be what the government in Tehran is relying on to keep the Israeli wolves at bay. If so, it’s a slender hope. Israel doesn’t always do things the logical way. When it feels threatened, it has a tendency to hit out; woe betide anyone standing in the way, friend or foe. For that reason alone, it is not only Iran which must be vigilant, but also any state in the region considering peace deals with the Zionist state. So how do you solve a problem like Syria?


Samira Quraishy: Samira is a researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission.


  1. Syrian Person on the 17. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Nice to know my family back home in Syria is a “problem”. To be honest, with such a caustic title, you shouldn’t be surprised if many people simply skim your article.

  2. Debbie on the 17. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Good point. It could work the other way. The idea is not to attract the already converted.

  3. Michael mazur on the 17. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    So, Syria without a single nuke is a problem, but Israel with 500 is not ?

    Clearly Samira Quraishy needs to come up with `How do you solve a problem like Israel?` for the title of his next article or else he clearly is owned by the Jews; but as he won’t do that it’s safe to pigeon hole him already.

    That Gordon thought we couldn’t see that right away, though he could, shows he is Israel’s man.

    He does, after all, believe in the fantasy called The Holocaust.

    You’re doing great hasbara, Gordon.

  4. Rexw on the 17. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Yes, Syria is a ‘problem’, nukes or no nukes in the context of this article.

    What we do not know is the strength of the desire to recover the Golan Heights. Naturally, it belongs to Syria, we all know that. But then Palestine belongs to the Palestinians as well. So what Syria is thinking in relation to the long-winded Israeli inspired so-called “peace talks” is critical. Whenever things are favoured by Israel, they require a very long hard look by the other party. So it is in this case. Most of the time, if I can inject an air of cynicism into my comment, anything Israel supports warrants a sharp 180 degree turn at full speed in the opposite direction.

    At this point in time everyone could make serious plans and objectives just based on the need to know Syria’s thinking. What is more important to them. The Golan Heights, peace with Israel or a long term relationship with Iran, a country that if allowed to progress and is able to make just a few changes internally, could be the major power for good in the region. They have that capability. I think everyone knows that. Israel certainly does and hence it’s preoccupation with destroying Iran’s way of life, at almost any cost. But even they must be skeptical about the real objectives of the US, a country not known for a rational decision-making processes and even less so in 2010 with a weak President, a cabal who wear the star of David with pride, openly yet on the surface appear to be Americans and finally, a bunch of elected politicians who rely on the largesse of the Israeli fifth column for their comfortable seats in government.

    Any bookmaker would pale if he had to lay odds on this one.

    I do not think it is fair to take as gospel the verbage day and night from the Jewish owned press in the US either. They must keep beating the drum as it has become standard fare and is expected for publications like the New York Times to do this. As a matter of history, such an excess in the promotion of such a war may just be the trigger that makes the apathethic US people wake up to this distinct possibility, tired as they must be with such military dalliances, particularly when their President is so timid in his responses to aggression, which all the readers of these columns knows is happening daily in Palestine.

    Respectfully, Michael, I do not see the relevance to comments invoking Gordon and the holocaust. Gordon is his own man from Veterans Today, contributes to the best of my knowledge to the articles in My Catbird Seat, with distinction, I would say. His attitudes to the Holocaust are not known to me but seems to have little bearing on the Syrian question as you have detailed.

    However, I do apologize if you are referring to something other than this article by Samira which I found made me aware of some nuances of which I was not cognizant or had even considered.

  5. Cold Wind on the 17. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Such an arrangement between Syria and Israel, in my view, would be temporary, since Israel is known to break every agreement it makes. Once Iran is delt with, Israel and its satrapy, the US, will turn against Syria to effect a permanent solution. If Syria wishes to maintain its national integrity, it will keep its agreements with Iran.

  6. Tim on the 18. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Does a peace deal with Israel negate any deals with Iran if Israel attacks?
    Does NATO not have to defend any NATO country that has been attacked, even if by someone the various countries have a peace deal with?

Leave a Comment