The idea that toppling Syrian Prsesident Bashar Assad’s regime means weakening of Iran and Hezbollah, is desirable for Israel. Unfortunately, Israeli authorities contend that the al-Qaida-affiliated organizations in Syria pose a growing threat, but that it is still significantly smaller in scope than the threat posed by Iran. Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program poses a critical threat, and therefore Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, like Hamas in Gaza, could attack Israel while enjoying the protection of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. Iranian-sponsored terrorist networks might attack Western facilities while they are emboldened by Iran. That is why this axis is Israel's Number 1 threat.
However, this view is dubious and mainly uncorroborated and unsubstantiated. Is it really the objective reality? Does Iran really constitute the main danger in the region, and by that is to be defined the uppermost enemy? It is agreed that Iran has all of the capabilities and the facilities it needs for a nuclear weapon. What is left is only the day of the decision of operationalization. This decision has nothing to do with the existence or the collapse of Assad’s regime or even the existence of Israel. It has all to do with Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and the Shi'ite apocalypse policy of controlling and leading Islam religiously.
Middle East politics have been transformed into religious issues, mainly the Sunnah-Shi`ah cleavages. For Iran, the days of the Shi`ah have come; and it is its highest duty to restore pristine splendor and to overcome the Sunnah. If this is the situation, Israel is not the enemy, but Saudi-Arabia. Israel serves as a cloak for Iran that finds it more convenient to assert that its nuclear program is intended to deter Israeli aggression than to admit it is a backup weapon to achieve its regional hegemony. Moreover, Iran already has deep influence in Iraqi politics, which could be an alternative to Syria; and if Israel is the enemy, it is much convenient and effective to threaten Israel and to act against it from the Jordanian front.
If we understand this, does a nuclear Iran mean targeting Israel, or perhaps Saudi Arabia, being the center of Sunni Islam? Does Israel really prefer to deal with transnational actors, a non intimidated anarchic and pariah groups on the legitimate institutionalized states that understand deterrence and sanctify the balance of power and cost and benefit policies? Even if Iran is at the center of the threat, and its axis be considered the most dangerous one, Israel has still made a grave mistake of not assisting Assad from the beginning. He is Israel’s best enemy, and the alternative is nothing but al-Qaida. We must give Assad all he needs and employ all means so that his regime is stabilized again. Compared to others, he is the one Israel can come to terms with.
Now, after two years of fighting, when Syria is demolished and its society scattered, it is not only too late, but the situation may be worsening for Israel’s interests. Even if Assad survives, Syria has been demolished as a state, and he is highly dependent on Iran and Hezbollah’s military assistance that keeps him above the water. He must be grateful to them, and give his loyalty to them. It is an unfortunate situation for Israel, but if he survives, his dependency means a harsher and less flexible policy towards Israel.
Leadership is the highest essential ingredient in almost every sphere of life. It is the essence of politics and the important characteristic that makes history and politics of good and bad. However, what we have seen from Obama's administration is an embarrassing perplexing reaction: uncoordinated decisions rather than strategic logical responsible politics. If one uses flick flak policies, it must follow with solid reasons and sober deliberations. Decisions, And lack of decisions, make politics, if only they are logical and contribute to the national interest. Obama's (non)policies have reached the highest pick in the Middle East. Not only there is no logic in his own decisions, but unlike King Midas with the gold, every step Obama takes, seems to be the opposite of the US' national interest, and increasingly deteriorates its world prestige and standing.
A world without hegemony creates power-vacuum that bears two negative results: first, a sheer anarchy that leads to wars; and second, the emergence of evil pariah states and ideologies which cause chaos and again lead to wars. The Middle East Dark Anarchic Islamic Winter actually creates a power vacuum exploited by Iran in the Eastern parts of the Middle East, and by al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, on the West's part. Both share a goal of bringing the Trigon under Islamic rule: the Shiite Imam and the Sunni Caliphate. With this background, the US has betrayed all its allies while associating with Western harsh enemies and coddling enemy regimes.
What we can understand from all this? The traditional American policy in the Middle East has always been the stabilizing power of the balance of power that holds the nuclear umbrella which guarantees regional peace based on trust and commitment. Unfortunately this policy has been totally shattered due to the Obama Administration’s betrayal of mainly Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf states. When trust is lost, the Middle East is in deep trouble. A realistic policy means the end of the march of folly of the mirror image. The Free World must tell itself: ‘we are the just side of the situation;’ ‘we are not responsible for the savage crimes of Islam against humanity;’ ‘our responsibility is to defend our civilization from the forces of evil.’
The US under the Obama Administration could have stopped the entire process mistakenly called the ‘Arab Spring’ from its beginning, but has shown no leadership, no commitment, and no responsibility. The Dark Anarchic Islamic Winter is above all, the responsibility of the US. It has become more and more evident that the Obama Administration is committed to the enemy of Western culture and human progress, to the Islamic fanatic groups with their agenda to ruin everything we cherish, and now he dances with wolves: Iran and Hezbollah.
We must acknowledge that the old Middle East of inter-Arab relations, with Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria, fighting for hegemony, is gone. All these states are weakened; their regimes are threatened; and they are in defensive formation, and mainly in a swift course of being failed states. The US' irresponsible treatment has directly caused the advent of al-Qaida to prime stage in the Middle East. The Obama Administration has also weakened its hegemonic status in the international relations system, and now Vladimir Putin’s Russia is more reliable and trustworthy. Putin has proven to have much more political realism and understanding of Islam.
It is always important to bear in mind the two Jewish traditions: first, “Noah built the Ark before the deluge.” It is crucially important to learn and comprehend and prepare before the incident. Second: “Think first before you act” (literally: “the end of an act begins with a thought”). The conclusion for the US is clear: one can choose his friends, but no one chooses his enemies. However, if one can choose his enemy, it is obvious to select Assad. It is highly urgent and crucially important to declare: save Bashar Assad. It is not because he is good, democratic, compassionate or pro-Western, but because the alternative is horrible and disastrous to regional peace and stability, perhaps to the entire world.
If this conclusion internalized, then the preferred regimes are military ones (this also includes the traditional monarchical regimes, in which the military is its backbone and supporter). With military men the free world can talk political business, in words that are understood and appreciated on both sides: deterrence, balance of power, interests, coalitions, and cost and benefit. The alternative to military regimes is the Islamic regimes, with the forefront of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida affiliated groups. The current Middle East situation gives us a clear perspective how horrible and unbearable to our civilizations the alternative is.
If we continue with this line of though, it means that executing Saddam Hussein, butchering Muamar Gaddafi; and ousting Hosni Mubarak and Abdallah al-Salih were a grave mistake. Again, not because they were liberal, democratic or compassionate -- they were not -- but because the alternative is much worse in every way. Whether one calls them Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Taliban, or Mujahiddin, military regimes are still better. They are preferable to Muslim regimes, not only from the Free World interests and perspectives; not only because of the situation of the minorities in the Muslim states that are heading toward extinction; but also because of the Muslim people itself under the yoke of the Shari`ah. Whoever needs proof, just take a look at the situation in Iran under the Ayatollahs (the Shiite version of Islam), and in Egypt after one year of Morsi regime (the Sunni version of Islam).
David Bukay (Ph.D.) teaches at the University of Haifa in School of Political Sciences.