assad speech 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Damascus was almost certainly behind Sunday’s mass breaching of the Golan
Heights security fence, according to two prominent Washington- based scholars
with extensive experience on Syria.
Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he has no doubt the Bashar Assad
regime orchestrated the infiltration, which left one Syrian dead and dozens
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“There’s no question. You can’t get anywhere near that fence
without the Syrian army’s permission,” he said by phone from the US
“It’s almost a cliché – this is what he always does. He’s under
pressure at home, so he deflects attention,” Tabler said. During the 2006 Second
Lebanon War, “it was by rallying the people around resistance to Israel, and
this time it’s with the Palestinian cause. This is not going to
“It’s going to be hard from him to put the genie back in the
bottle,” Tabler continued, echoing the phrase used by Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) chief Yuval Diskin last week.
“The problem is, the bottle he’s
trying to put it back into is leaking, and the stopper he has isn’t big enough,”
said Tabler, who spent several years working in Syria as a journalist and met
the country’s now-embattled president on several occasions.
Tony Badran –
an expert on Syria, Lebanon and Hezbollah at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies – recalled an interview Assad cousin and crony Rami Makhlouf gave
The New York Times
last week warning that the ongoing Syrian unrest would have
dire consequences for Israeli security.
Just a few days later, Badran
said, “you see the Syrians opening the floodgates, essentially busing in
Palestinians from refugee camps that have significant penetration by Syrian
intelligence. They brought them all to the border with Israel to show Israel,
‘This is what you can look forward to if something happens to the Syrian
regime.’” In a media conference call organized by the Council on Foreign
Relations, Badran said the march on the Lebanese border the same day was also
most likely coordinated by Damascus.
He said Palestinians living in towns
entirely controlled by Hezbollah “were bused in and put on the border to send
the same message...
The consensus that’s emerging is that this was a
plain security message to the Israelis and to the world at large: ‘If you push
us against the wall, this is what you can look forward to – we’re going to light
up all the fronts.’ “We’re seeing a decades-old tactic by the Arab regimes which
is the use of Palestinians – and in the case of Syria, the use of Lebanon as a
territory – as proxies to maintain either the continuity of the regime’s own
survival or the projection of power by Arab and non-Arab regimes, like the
Iranians today,” Badran said.