Should Israel Intervene in the Syrian Civil War?

Bashar al-Assad’s forces have lost control of Syria’s border with Israel, which is now held jointly by the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and non-Islamist Sunni rebels. Israel has been quietly providing assistance to the latter. But with the growing threat of Nusra Front dominance, and the possibility of an Islamic State takeover, a more active approach is called for, contends Ehud Yaari:

So far, most Israeli support for moderate, local, non-Islamist rebel battalions along the border has been limited to humanitarian aid, such as treating 1,400 sick and wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals, supplying medication, food, and heaters to villagers, and so forth. Some rebel groups maintain constant contact with the IDF, including frequent secret meetings reportedly held in Tiberias. But only a modest amount of weapons has been provided to them, mainly rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Within the next few months, however, a wider scope of military aid may prove necessary as these non-Islamist battalions—composed mainly of local youths—fight to defend their supremacy in the south against the Nusra Front and Islamic State. An upgraded support program could also help draw many fighters away from Nusra, particularly those who hail from local towns and do not necessarily share al-Qaeda’s ideology.

Read more at Washington Institute

More about: Golan Heights, Nusra Front, Syrian civil war

The Diplomatic Goals of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in the U.S., and he plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, but it remains uncertain whether he will meet with President Biden. Nonetheless, Amit Yagur urges Benjamin Netanyahu to use the trip for ordinary as well as public diplomacy—“assuming,” Yagur writes, “there is someone to talk to in the politically turbulent U.S.” He argues that the first priority should be discussing how to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But there are other issues to tackle as well:

From the American perspective, as long as Hamas is not the official ruler in the Gaza Strip, any solution agreed upon is good. For Israel, however, it is quite clear that if Hamas remains a legitimate power factor, even if it does not head the leadership in Gaza, sooner or later, Gaza will reach the Hizballah model in Lebanon. To clarify, this means that Hamas is the actual ruler of the Strip, and sooner or later, we will see a [return] of its military capabilities as well as its actual control over the population. . . .

The UN aid organization UNRWA . . . served as a platform for Hamas terrorist elements to establish, disguise, and use UN infrastructure for terrorism. This is beside the fact that UNRWA essentially perpetuates the conflict rather than helps resolve it. How do we remove the UN and UNRWA from the “day after” equation? Can the American aid organization USAID step into UNRWA’s shoes, and what assistance can the U.S. provide to Israel in re-freezing donor-country contributions to UNRWA?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship