Why is it that we are so obsessed with the slight possibility of an indefinite
movement in some obscure Syrian weapons storage facilities, but could not care
less about the 300 Syrians that were killed today, or about how this is firmly
connected to the pan-Islamic war afoot in the Middle East?
Over the course of
the past few days two articles were published about Syrian chemical weapons, in
The New York Times and in The Atlantic. On the basis of intelligence
information, these articles indicated that some movement was detected recently
in Syrian chemical weapons facilities, and that Israel asked twice for Jordanian
consent to attack these facilities over the past month.
It has been
mentioned in the past by specialists that in order for chemical weapons to be
used, there are several steps that need to be taken first, such as transferring
the different chemical agents, which are never stored together, and mounting
them on a weaponized carrier. The same experts stressed that Syria’s chemical
weapons could not be deployed instantly, and that such movement as has
apparently been detected would serve as an early warning sign.
unstable situation in Syria makes these weapons of mass destruction a potential
hazard to Syrians, but also to the surrounding nations.
While the global
community fears Assad’s loyalists would use them against the Syrian people as
means of last resort, there are also other concerns in the region. Turkey
suspects that Assad would bomb areas close to its border, allowing for
collateral damage to spill over and leaving Turkey to deal with the
Israel fears that these weapons might be passed on by Assad
to his allies, Hezbollah, equipping this extremist Shi’ite organization on its
border with a game-changing weapon.
Further concern can be attributed to
the fact that global jihadists, of the al- Qaida variety, are part of the
opposition fighting Assad’s troops. These kind of weapons falling into those
kind of hands could find their way to being used in a variety of scenarios such
as in Iraq against the Shi’ite population, in Egypt against the Morsi
administration, in Saudi Arabia against American targets, or against any of the
numerous enemies the Salafi-oriented jihadist groups have vowed to
To corroborate these suspicions, one has merely to examine the
aftermath of the Libyan “Arab Spring,” and follow the trail of the missiles,
anti-aircraft/marine vessel guided weapons, and other munitions that left
storage rooms in Libya and surfaced in Sinai desert, on trucks in Sudan, and in
other parts of the Middle East.
Such weapons were used against Morsi’s
army by jihadist groups in the latest round a couple of months ago. These are
the same type of weapons that were used against the IDF by jihadists crossing
over from Sinai into Israel. These are the same Salafi-oriented groups that were
responsible for the death of the American ambassador to Benghazi, and the al-
Qaida cells responsible for the incredible death toll in Iraq that reached 365
last September as a result of the attacks on Shia civilian targets.
the macro scale, the chemical weapons situation marks concerns about post- Assad
Syria. It is obvious to the actors in the region that Assad’s days as the ruler
of Syria are numbered, but it is still very unclear what Syria’s future will
look like. Currently, the struggle of the last relic of the Ba’ath socialist
regime in the Middle East for the most part has turned into a pan-Islamic war
between Sunnis and Alawiterepresented- Shi’ites.
In the minds of the
ayatollah regime in Iran, this is a battle for the geographical integrity of
what the King of Jordan, King Abdullah, referred to as “The Shi’ite Crescent,”
the connection between the various Shi’ite communities in the the Middle East.
This battle is already underway in Iraq, and does not seem to be coming to its
final resolution in the near future.
Concerned parties are wondering
whether driving Assad out will actually bring a halt to aggression, or whether
it will in fact turn Syria into an extension of the battle waging next door in
Iraq. It is yet uncertain whether the Shi’ite hegemony of the region, Iran, will
give up its ally along with a convenient land bridge to its proxy army,
Hezbollah in Lebanon, or whether it will continue to send in the Revolutionary
Guards in order to maintain some sort of a supply route across Syria.
the other hand, there are also concerns that the strife will continue to spill
over to the other Shia-Sunni mixed countries in the region, as it has in Lebanon
and Bahrain over the past few months. It seems that not only the Syrian people
are fighting for their future, but also the Islamic jihadists and the Shi’ite
The writer, founder of the Middle East Learning Academy,
delivers seminars on a variety of Middle East-related topics in Israel and in
the United States.
He received his master’s degree from the Department of
Contemporary Middle East of Tel Aviv University, focusing on Syrian and Lebanese