Nasrallah Assad Ahmadinejad 311.
(photo credit: courtesy)
In February, President Barack Obama announced the appointment of career diplomat
Robert Ford as the new US ambassador to Damascus, as part of a new strategy of
rapprochement with Syria.
While six months has passed since then, Ford’s
appointment has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Some reports have indicated
that Israel is behind the delays due to opposition to the US decision to restore
full diplomatic ties with Syria.
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While this may have been the case in the
past, based on conversations with top IDF officers and Defense Ministry
officials this week, the defense establishment actually appears to support
Obama’s decision to appoint a new ambassador to Syria.
Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Military
Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin and OC Planning Branch Maj.-Gen. Amir
Eshel have all voiced support in meetings with the political echelon for Israel
to negotiate peace with Syria.
The thinking within the defense
establishment is that Israel, alone, does not have enough leverage to get Syria
to sit down at the negotiating table, and for that it needs America’s
While the price for peace is largely believed to include a full
withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Ashkenazi, for example, has said
that due to Syria’s deteriorating economy, billions of dollars in aid
United States could be instrumental in pushing President Bashar Assad
The IDF’s objective in supporting peace with Syria has changed over
the past 20 to 30 years and is not just about preventing war with
neighbor to the North but is more about breaking the radical axis that
Syria with Iran and Hizbullah.
“Israel cannot on its own put Assad on the
horns of a dilemma and needs America’s help to do that,” one senior
defense official said this week.
“At the moment, Assad sees that he is
not paying a price for not making peace. Renewed ties between the US and
Syria can put him in that dilemma.”