The Syrian Arab Republic has been listed on the US Department of State List of State Sponsors of Terror since 1979 and continues today as one of the world’s worst sponsors of terror, funding and providing safe haven for Hezbollah, HAMAS and other terrorist organizations.
Support takes the form of money, passage through and across roads and airports, safe houses and providing safe haven for the training of terrorist organizations and their operatives.
Syria’s relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran has had Syria serving as a conduit for Iranian terrorist sponsorship, as well as the feeding of materials, men, munitions, training and activities in both Syria and Lebanon. Particular focus has been in Lebanon’s Bakaa valley where Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations have trained and operated for decades. Syria hosted the infamous Abu Nidal and his terrorist organization in Damascus and its military-style training camps which operated under Syria’s intelligence and from which the Abu Nidal Organization launched attacks on sites in Europe. Included in these terror assaults were the Rome and Vienna Airport Attacks in 1985 and the EgyptAir Flight 648 Hijacking, also in 1985.
Syria has chemical weapons which have not only been used on the Syrian people, but have been transported across Syria into Lebanon for the intended destination into the hands of Hezbollah, which operates not only south of the Litani River above Israel’s northern border, but also into Beirut itself. Israel has reportedly destroyed Syrian transport convoys moving chemical weapons and other munitions into Lebanon in an attempt to keep them from becoming an imminent threat to Israel. Hezbollah, the terrorist organization which is listed by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, is based in Lebanon, is a part of the Lebanese government, and holds seats in the Parliament; at the same it also operates terrorist activities both inside and outside Lebanon. This is clearly evidenced by the Iranian- supported Hezbollah attack on the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the Iranian-supported attacks in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the Embassy of Israel in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish Center in 1994. Killing and maiming is the mantra of Hezbollah, which knows no boundaries, as most recently was evidenced by the Hezbollah attack in Bulgaria on a busload of Israeli tourists on vacation. This attack resulted in the European Union placing Hezbollah’s “military wing” on its terrorist list. How the European Union can distinguish between Hezbollah’s military operations and claimed charitable activities is beyond comprehension, but the perpetuation of the fiction belies the reality that a terrorist murderer is a terrorist murderer.
As Syria was its decades-long patron, Hezbollah most recently sent fighters from Lebanon into Syria in order to help prop up the Assad regime in its ongoing civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels seeking the overthrow of Assad. Hezbollah’s fighters, along with al-Qaeda, are intent on keeping Assad in power.
Although there is no existing peace agreement but in fact a state of war between Syria and the State of Israel, the border between Syria and Israel has been mostly quiet since the 1967 war when Israel captured the Golan Heights which overlooks Israel’s Sea of Galilee area, including farms, villages, fisheries, religious sites and tourism industry, all of which have flourished since 1967.
During the recent Syrian civil war, some incursions from Syria have been attempted into Israel, which has strongly rebuffed the fighters and responded with force intending to keep the northern border quiet. Israel has strengthened its fence line between Syria and Israel in a further attempt to keep infiltrators and terrorists from Syria, and also from Lebanon, out of Israel.
Iranian and Syrian weapons have long been used by Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch attacks over Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, killing and maiming innocent Israelis in their homes, communities, farms and kibbutzim. In 2006 during what has become referred to as the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets into Israel, attacking and murdering innocent people.
Assad’s forces, according to United Nations Human Rights reports, have now killed more than 100,000 people in Syria. How the United Nations, and law-respecting countries of the world, have failed to intervene and stop the onslaught in Syria is a question that history will be forced to answer, but I find it unconscionable that the greatest nations in the world have not put an absolute stop to the murder of innocent people in Syria.
The future of Syria is uncertain: will the Assad regime remain in power or be overthrown by the rebels now being trained and supported by American and other country experts? That is a key question. One possible result is that Syria may break up into tribal areas, with Assad relocating from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, home to approximately 2.5 million Alawites loyal to Assad.
The support for Syria by Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council has been a significant roadblock to achieving a resolution to the ongoing massacre in Syria. Russia, wanting a Mediterranean base of power, has moved warships into the region and China with its global agenda has been playing their own power game by propping up Assad.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has much to gain and much to lose in this situation. Without the ability to not only move transports across Syria into Lebanon and have a direct link to Hezbollah in order to resupply munitions and missiles pointed at Israel, Iran’s goal of domination and direct threats to Israel are at risk. This makes the danger of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and her threats to annihilate Israel even more damning.
Some thinkers whitewash the Syria problem by asking who are the rebels; and aren’t the rebels in Syria worse than the Assad regime itself. This argument is designed to weaken support for the rebels with the further advancement of the assertion that it is better to have what we know than to face the unknown. This analysis, however, ignores the historical conduct of Syria’s President, Bashar Assad and his deceased father, both of whom have been sponsors of terror and tyrants with no respect for democracy, the rule of law or human rights.
Israel has largely stayed out of the Syria situation, except to respond to attacks when needed to protect her northern border and to destroy transport of threatening chemical weapons, munitions and missiles heading for Hezbollah.
The scenario in Syria and Lebanon, the real threat from Iran, the difficulties in reestablishing a stable relationship with Turkey and the ongoing situation in Egypt – including the recent terrorist attacks from the Sinai – demonstrate the realities of the dangerous neighborhood surrounding Israel.
In tomorrow’s blog, we’ll address more about the past, present and future threats of terrorism against the State of Israel.
*Editorial original published in The Louis D. Brandeis Center • August 22, 2013
Copyright © 2013 · Richard D. Heideman. All Rights Reserved.