Syrian Spring, Israel’s Easy War

April 4, 2012

[Note: Also see “Challenge of Syria – 2012,” a SUSRIS Special Section]

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim | Arab News

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Syria is a country that gained independence from France on April 17, 1946. Two years later the Syrians were engaged in a war with Israel. And 19 years later a very strategic part of Syria, the Golan Heights, was overtaken by Israel during a five day battle in June of 1967. Syria only won a pride war in 1973 with the Israelis. The Syrians never regained the Golan Heights. In the early 1980s the Syrian Air Force took a very big blow by the Israeli Air Force. Final score was 79 planes lost by Syria and Israel lost only one plane. And it wasn’t the Syrians who shot down the Israeli plane. It was a Palestinian who was carrying a shoulder held missile. In all the wars that Israel had with Syria, Israel used every weapon in its arsenal. In 2011, Israel had the easiest war with Syria, but in this war, Israel didn’t fire one single bullet. The Syrian Army did the job for the Israelis. It is called the Syrian Spring war. It is Damascus versus Damascus. It is a war where even the winner is a loser.

There are two kinds of armed conflicts. First, there is a war with an outside enemy and the other is an internal conflict between the same people from the same country. In the United States the bloodiest conflict of all its wars was the American Civil War. In internal conflicts, you don’t know who the enemy is. He could be sleeping in your house. And during internal conflicts in any country, you don’t need an outside enemy. Your real foreign enemy will end up watching you destroy your own home. Yes, there will be interferences from outside for many reasons, political, military and bounty hunters with financial reasons. But, in internal conflicts, it is you who decide when to end it and how to end it. If you don’t build unity among your people, you become like an eggshell.

It always surprises me to hear the word Israel in any conflict in the Arab World. But, is Israel really involved in the Arab (Syrian) Spring and in what happened in Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen? Some people in the Arab world think it is an Israeli and Western conspiracy. And others think it is Aljazeera and Al-Arabiya Satellite TV Channels. But, the Syrians still don’t know what really started their spring uprising. It is not America, Israel, Europe or any TV channels. What started the Syrian Spring uprising are very simple basic rights, which many of the Syrian masses didn’t have. All the Syrian masses demand good education, good health care, good roads, justice and free space to breathe –democracy. And if we insist that the West and Israel is our enemy, then why is the amount of destruction and deaths we see in Syria surpassing the destruction which was inflicted by Israel’s 1948, 1967 and 1973 wars combined? And why are we surprised to see the Israelis taking advantage of all the wrongdoing of the Syrians? Isn’t Israel Syria’s sworn enemy? And are outsiders the real threat to Syria? Or is it poverty, bad education, injustice, early morning political arrests and unemployment?

In the past, the Arabs used to call Syria, the front-line of the battle against Israel. But, Syria did more damage to its infrastructure than what Israel might have been able to get away with without being harassed at the United Nations. We saw live coverage of Syrian soldiers killing men, women and children. We saw live coverage of mosques being blown up by the mighty Syrian  war machine. And to add a flavor to the Syrian Spring, Hamas decided to take part of the pressure from Syria. And wanted to drag Israel into the conflict the way Saddam Hussein did during the Gulf War in 1991. But, this time when Hamas fired some missiles — fire crackers — the Israeli war machine was in full throttle. And now where would Hamas go? We saw them in Tehran. And they know, the Iranians will not cross a red line with Israel. Iran will not put itself in harm’s way for few irresponsible Hamas adventurers. And Damascus will be a hostile place for them.

In the Syrian Spring, Israel for the first time won a war without mobilizing one single soldier, tank or plane. The Syrians lost even the media war of the Syrian Spring. And Israel, without paying any public relations money, showed the world how the Syrians used their war machine against their own people. Isn’t ironic to hear the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offer to help the Syrian people?

For the Arab Spring, there are no outside forces that started the revolt. We saw billions of dollars in Hosni Mubarak’s accounts. But, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula is lacking basic developments. Muammar Qaddafi had billions stored in various places in Libya, but Libya has no modern infrastructures. We heard of the billions of dollars Syria spent on buying outdated Russian weapons, but we see many areas that are still underdeveloped. Syria is a country that took advantage of the Palestinian suffering to suppress its own people. Syria had many opportunities to get back the Golan Heights peacefully. But, they fooled themselves about their war machine. And now, Syria is more fractured than what a lot of analysts think.

Syria was in constant hostilities with Israel. But, the atrocities that were committed in Syria by the Syrians surpassed any damage that was inflicted by the Israelis against Syria in full-scale wars. But, at the end of the day, the Arab world realized that the Arab Spring turned out to be the easiest war Israel ever had. Syria is destroyed and Israel didn’t have to fire one single bullet. And I think the worst is not over yet. The atrocities among Syrians will continue, even after the fall of Bashar Assad.

— Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a Commodore (Retired), Royal Saudi Navy. He is a frequent contributor to the SUSRISblog.  He can be contacted at:

Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally published in Arab News.


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