Israel’s recent aggression was against Syria but the target was Hezbollah, so Syria and Iran both vowed a “surprising retaliation.” Saeed Jalili, Iran’s Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Khamenei’s envoy, went to Damascus to confirm “the Islamic Republic’s full support to the resisting Syrian people in confronting Israel.”
As for Bashar al-Assad, he accused Israel of attempting “to shake Syria’s stability.” It was not completely known which “resisting people” Jalili was referring to since Iran is only concerned safekeeping the regime. It was also not completely known which “stability” Assad meant since his jets still shell Syrian cities and towns daily.
Syria position on Israel not grave
After a week of Israeli threats, it was not acceptable that Hezbollah did not realize that the flying of warplanes for long hours in Lebanese airspace called for vigilance and caution. If it turns out to be true that a cargo of arms was prepared to be transferred overnight to Lebanon, this should have augmented suspicion and caution.
But the Syrian regime and its allies are busier planning to kill the Syrians, the real resisting people.
The strangest statements were made by Syrian Defense Minister Fahed Jassem al-Freij. He was asked why Syria did not respond to the airstrike. He replied: “The Israeli enemy was [the one] who retaliated.” How? He explained that the research center in Jamraya in Rif Dimashq (north-west of Damascus) was attacked by “armed gangs” (he means opposing forces) tens of times in order to “destroy it and seize it” and when they failed “Israel itself [interfered] and targeted it with its warplanes.”
Imagine how other defense ministers will view their Syrian counterpart’s statements on coordination between Israel and the Syrian opposition, or “[Israel’s] tools” as Freij described the opposition. He forgets that one of Israel’s goals was to prevent the opposition or “extremists” as he calls them from controlling the research center. Freij’s response was really “surprising.”
Hezbollah has said the Israeli airstrike revealed “the background of what has been happening in Syria for two years.” Assad’s and Jalili’s smiles could not make up for the loss that happened in Syria. The airstrike also proved that Syria’s position with regards to the Israeli enemy has never been this grave. Not because the popular revolution weakened the regime but because the regime, apparently in a close to a truce with Israel, has turned the resistance weapons to face inwards, confirming that it has always been hostile toward Syria and its people.
This article was published in Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper on Feb. 6, 2013.
Abdul Wahab Badrakhan is a Lebanese journalist, who writes weekly in London's Al-Hayat newspaper among other Arab publications. Badrakhan was a journalist in 'Annahar' (Beirut) until 1979, in 'Annahar Arabic & international' magazine (Paris) up to 1989, in 'Al-Hayat' (London) as managing editor then deputy editor in chief until 2006. At present, Badrakhan is working on two books. The first book is on the roots of the experiences that have motivated young Arab men to go to Afghanistan. The second is devoted to Arab policies to counterterrorism, starting with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and covering the ensuing wars.