Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is Israel Ready To Take In Syrian Refugees--And The Danger If It Is

The story is that Israel is not only prepared to take in refugees, but Alawis in particular--that would be Assad's Muslim sect.

And according to Michael Totten--Israel is ready to repopulate those Alawi Syrian refugees on the Golan:
The Israeli Army’s Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says Israel is preparing to take in refugees following the downfall of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The interesting part is that Israel is expecting refugees from the Alawite minority and to house them on the Golan Heights.

The Assad family and most of the regime are Alawites at war with the Sunni Muslim majority. The Golan Heights was taken from Syria in the 1967 war when Damascus used it as a platform to shoot at and shell Israeli civilians in the Galilee far below.

When Assad demands the Golan Heights back, he does not have it in mind as a refugee camp under the stewardship of his enemies for his overthrown clan.
Totten suggests that this might be more an issue of psychological warfare with Assad than an actual plan--or even both. Either way, Totten notes there is a certain danger in making the offer:
Many Syrians may read this as Israeli support for the Alawites, and by extension the Assad regime that is murdering them, thus bolstering the ridiculous yet not uncommon notion that Israel and Syria have long had a sinister agreement with each other at the expense of the Sunnis. So if this announcement about refugees is strategic, it might help, but it also might backfire. We’ll see.
At this point, we may have already seen--because now, from Israel, comes the denial:
CoS Benny Gantz clarifies Tuesday evening that he never stated that the IDF was ready to accept Syrian Alawite refugees, only that the IDF was prepared for a possible flooding of the Golan Heights border with them.
Welcome to the Middle East--where not only weapons can disturb the balance, but even an innocent-sounding statement can potentially raise passions that can only have a detrimental effect.

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