Look who's accusing Israel of piracy

Syria has taken a strategic decision to create a media incident in order to justify future provocations.

By DAVID ALTMAN, JOSEPH GINAT & ELIE FRIEDMAN
September 10, 2007 21:15
2 minute read.
Look who's accusing Israel of piracy

Assad 88. (photo credit: )

Following the unconfirmed report of an IAF fly-over over Syrian airspace during the early hours of Thursday morning, most Arab leaders have refrained from comment. However, the Syrian military issued a statement warning "the Israeli enemy government against this flagrant aggressive act," saying it retained "the right to respond in an appropriate way." And Syria's government newspaper, Tishrin, termed the alleged penetration "an act of new piracy." Syria has clearly taken a strategic decision to create a media incident in order to justify future provocative and aggressive actions. Interestingly, Iran and Russia were the first to condemn Jerusalem. The Russian Foreign Ministry said: "Violation of air space and territorial integrity of a sovereign state is unacceptable under international law. Reports about that caused an extreme concern in Moscow." Iran added its usual scathing condemnation of Israel. IF A fly-over constitutes "piracy," is "unacceptable under international law" and causes "extreme concern" - then how are we to describe Syria's relentless efforts to undermine regional stability and international law? Was not funneling missiles from Iran to Hizbullah, enabling 20,000 missiles to terrorize the civilian population of northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War a flagrant, aggressive act? Should not the rearming of Hizbullah with missiles aimed at our civilian population, particularly following UN resolution 1701, which demands the disarmament of Hizbullah, elicit "extreme concern?" Is not Syria's role as the headquarters for the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad "an act of piracy?" It is absurd for Syria to accuse Israel of destabilizing the region, given Syria's direct role in inflaming the area just over a year ago and its continued support of terrorist organizations today. THE "MODERATE" Arab states seem to understand the absurdity of Syria's claims. While Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa labeled the fly-over "unacceptable maneuvers" and Qatar and Yemen expressed condemnation of Israel, Egypt stopped short of condemnation, merely stating that "these violations only add to tension in the region." Significantly, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, most of the Gulf states and North African Arab states, as well as the international community at large, have responded with deafening silence. This fact is causing much anger in Syria. Perhaps these countries grasp what Russia and Iran have failed to understand: Given the crimes and outrages that Syria has continually committed against Israel (among them arming Hizbullah and hosting Hamas and Islamic Jihad) without eliciting a serious Israeli response directly against Damascus - the notion of condemning Jerusalem for supposedly flying its jets over Syrian territory is risible. Dr. Altman is senior vice president, Prof. Ginat is VP for international relations and Mr. Friedman is assistant to the director - at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue of the Netanya Academic College.


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