Israel Prepares for a Partitioned and Chemical Syria

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The newly built Israeli border with Syria is seen on the Israeli side of the annexed Golan Heights near Quneitra on 24 April 2013. (Photo: AFP - Menahem Kahana)

By: Yahya Dbouk

Published Thursday, April 25, 2013

Amid allegations from Tel Aviv on the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, Israel has reiterated its readiness to confront a variety of scenarios in Syria.

On Monday, April 22, Israeli army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz condemned the Russian stance on the Syrian regime, Iran, and Hezbollah. Speaking at the annual conference of the International Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, he said the Russians were “involved up to their neck and higher” in protecting the axis led by Tehran and Assad’s regime.

Gantz went on to say that the Israeli army was preparing for the possibility of a partitioned Syria, with areas he dubbed “Alawitestan” and “Afghaniskan” for the Alawis and jihadi Salafis respectively.

Gantz stressed that the situation in Syria was extraordinarily dangerous, as it might suddenly deteriorate into a large-scale conflagration. He said that Israel must prepare for the coming battles and seek to settle them quickly. In the event of war with Hezbollah, he declared he had no intention to fight for more than one month in Lebanon.

For his part, Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s military intelligence and current chairman of the INSS, said that those who do not view Assad’s downfall as a positive development for Israel are not assessing the situation correctly. Yadlin stressed the need to dismantle the “axis of evil” by weakening Assad.

Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, commander of the research division in the intelligence directorate of the Israeli army, alleged that the Syrian regime “used lethal chemical weapons against the militants in a series of incidents over the past months, including the…incident of March 19.”

Brun claimed there were indications that toxic gas had been deployed in Syria, probably sarin, which is a lethal nerve agent.

US Secretary of State John Kerry downplayed the Israeli allegations. In a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Kerry said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not been able to confirm the conclusions reached by the Israeli military intelligence that Syrian regime forces had used chemical weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the delay in dispatching a UN mission to Syria to investigate chemical weapons use was unacceptable. “Under continued pressure from certain Western members of the Security Council, the [UN] general secretary has not dispatched the experts [to investigate chemical weapons use], and I consider this absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

Lavrov said this was an attempt to politicize the issue, and likened it to the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq more than a decade ago.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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