Soon, we may see history repeating itself, and this time, Syria has a much better chance for its strategies to work more effectively and at a much faster pace. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied Beirut, the Syrian Army was unable to stop this attack for many reasons.
The Syrian forces were on a limited mission in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria’s former military partner, had just signed a peace treaty with Israel, the USSR and its influence were waning and in the event of a full-scale war, it was very unlikely for the USSR to give Syria any international back-up. Last but not least, Lebanon did not have a “reliable” popular resistance to count on. If Hafez Assad opted to engage in full-scale war with Israel in Lebanon, he would have faced a military disaster.
Being the genius strategist and the master of tactics that he was, his coalition with the Lebanese Resistance (Hezbollah) eventuated into a great victory in May 2000. Israel was defeated and it left Lebanon with its tails between in legs. Hafez Assad lived long enough to see the fruits of his genius and only died a few weeks later.
The anti-Assad coalition is a huge array of groups that does not only include Israel, NATO, the Arab “Gulfies”, the Jihadists, the Lebanese 14 March coalition, but it also includes Arab cynics; cynics that say that if Assad was truly anti-Israeli, let him open up the Golan front.
Such cynics cannot see further than their noses and do not understand how war strategies can only be based on wisdom, fore-vision, and long-term policies that can at times be hard to swallow.
A lot has changed on the scene since 1982. Syria is already engaged in a decisive full-scale war that has the makings of changing history either way. An Arabic proverb says that a person who is drowning worries least about getting wet. But fortunately for Syria, it is not drowning into a military quagmire at all. The army is scoring victory after victory.
If Israel and Syria get directly engaged in a full-scale war, The Syrian Army will breathe relief for being able to vent out on Israeli targets and the missiles are ready. Further, Syria has been very careful not to reveal its aerial defense systems.
It is holding them close to the chest to offer an element of surprise to the Israelis in a full scale war. Moreover, a full-scale war between Syria and Israel will enable some Arabs who are still blinded by what is going on in Syria to finally see reality and realize the extent of the conspiracy against Syria. Whilst the so-called Arab Spring is not exactly what it was thought to be, the Arab Street is still taken by rage, and a change in heart in some key areas can have major impacts on the nature of support that the rebellion in Syria is receiving from certain Arab countries.
Thirty seven years after the Camp David agreement, Syria has grown accustomed not to count on Egypt for any military and/or logistic support in any confrontation with Israel. The waning USSR has been replaced by an ambitious and determined Russia.
But perhaps the biggest element of change of them all is the popular resistance. Israel knows exactly what Hezbollah has been able to achieve and the threat that it poses on the security of Israel. To add to the list of fortunes that have landed on Syria’s lap are the Iranian factor, the growing US debt and unwillingness of the US to engage in another expensive exercise, and the American Iraqi experience.
The pertinent questions for Israel now begin with what does it exactly mean that the Golan front is now open to popular resistance? Technically, it means that the rules of the armistice are no longer in place. Logistically, the presence of the UN observers in the Golan does not necessarily disable the popular resistance, and the presence of the UNIFIL in South Lebanon is the clear example. Israel will now be asking itself, is it going to face a new war of attrition in the occupied Golan?
And what does it exactly mean to Israel when Nasrallah says in his latest speech that Hezbollah wants to help Syria liberate Golan? Will Hezbollah extend its presence to that area? And what is the new qualitative weapon that Syria is now providing Hezbollah with as proclaimed by Nasrallah?
These, and other questions are thorns in the side of Israel and constitute its most recent nightmare. In striking Syria, Israel was trying to corner the Syrian government and either push it into an all-out war or submission. They least they expected in retaliation was yet another strategic response that may open up a new front and a new popular war. This is a war that Israel cannot prepare itself against, and all the hawks in Israel can do in reality is to sit back and watch. They have to wait and see what their recent gamble in Syria has led them into