13 November 2018 — Strategic Culture Foundation
During many meetings with senior members of the Syrian opposition in various European cities in 2013-2014, I would remind them that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, amongst others, host and finance the opposition due to their own self-interest and agendas; and not out of love for Syria. I would note that there is no disagreement among us Syrians about the brutality, corruption and exploitation of the Ottoman Empire during its four-century rule of Syria; we don’t want history to repeat itself.
As for Saudi Arabia, I would remind the opposition of the contributions Syrian professionals made in the development of the Kingdom in past decades. We say to the Saudis “Blessed be your Wahhabism for you, but not for Syria”; Syria is a cultural and societal mosaic of ethnic, religious and sectarian components. As for the United States, we all agree that Washington supports Israel and views Syria as an adversarial state. However, Israel is a totally different matter. Since its creation, Israel has pursued aggressive and expansionist policy towards its neighbors in pursuit of two primary objectives: I – Great Israel and II – No Arab Unity And Support Arab Division.
I – Great Israel:
Great Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Since the June 1967 War and the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel has been in control of the land between the River and the Sea. Thus, Great Israel exists in reality, though not legally or officially until it annexes the West Bank and declares the Jewish Great Israel with Jerusalem its capital.
II –Supporting Arab division:
There are numerous documents and publications to that effect for the Arabs to read. Unfortunately, and according to international surveys, Arabs are amongst the least reading people in the world. This reminds me of the late Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister during the June 1967 War. After the war, Dayan published some Israeli military strategies and tactics during the war. His colleagues criticized him for divulging military secrets to the Arabs. His response was not to worry; the Arabs don’t read. This problem is further compounded by the Arabs lack of interest in research or translation. Jointly, these three components form critical foundations for the development of societies and civilizations.
In the 1990’s, I participated in numerous Track II Diplomacy meetings with Israelis regarding the Syrian-Israeli Peace Process. During one of those meetings, attended by some Egyptians and Palestinians in addition to the Israelis, I gave a presentation in which I noted that the Arab region is divided into four sub-regions: The Fertile Crescent, The Arabian Peninsula, The Nile Valley and North Africa. Unlike the other three sub-regions, the Fertile Crescent faces national security threats being surrounded by three powerful and hostile neighbors: Turkey to the North, Israel to the South and Iran to the East. To deal with this multiple and omnipresent security threats, Syria and Iraq must agree to some form of unity; a joint population of 40+ million people, educated and productive endowed with natural resources including substantial oil reserves, and a large army. I emphasized the point that the purpose of such a unity is not aggressive; but defensive. I had hardly finished my presentation when the late Ze’ev Schiff, the military editor of the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz in a loud voice said “Do you think we will let you do that?”; meaning that any Arab initiative for unity must receive a prior Israeli approval which of course is not forthcoming. Mr. Schiff had previously published an article in Haaretz in 6/2/1982 proposing a plan for a future Iraq, in which he wrote that the best thing to serve Israel’s interest would be “the dissolution of Iraq into a Shiite State, a Sunni State and the separation of the Kurdish part.”
There were more comprehensive plans to break up a number of Arab states. In 1982, the Israeli journalist Oded Yinon proposed a more elaborate plan entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, published in the Hebrew Journal Kivunim. The plan called for the dissolution of several Arab states into smaller states. The author starts with “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces…” He continues “Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions…” Furthermore, “ The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as Lebanon…” His solution for the Palestinians is through “The termination of the lengthy rule of King Hussein and the transfer of power to the Palestinians…”
After Yinon, the neoconservatives in 1996 submitted a plan for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s consideration entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. Israel’s Western frontier is secured through the peace treaty with Egypt. The frontier with Syria could be secured “by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria.” As for Iraq, it starts with “removing Saddam Hussein from power…”
In 2007, General Wesley Clark, in an interview and a lecture, said that while visiting the Pentagon just a few days after 9/11, a General explained to him that a decision has been made “to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.”
Iraq, the first on the Pentagon war list was invaded in 2003. The Israeli journalist Ari Shavit, in a Haaretz article on April 3, 2003, notes that “the belief in war against Iraq was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals…” Syria, next on the Pentagon war list, was “a ripe fruit ready for picking” However, the picking of Syria had to wait until the start of the so-called “Arab Spring”.
Had Syrians known what was planned for them by Washington and Tel Aviv, they might have avoided the death and destruction in Syria, for patriotism and wisdom call upon the various factions in the State to put aside their differences and confront the external threats.