In Public Shift, Israel Calls for Assad’s Fall

Envoy: Israel Has Wanted Assad Gone Since Civil War Began

by Jason Ditz, September 17, 2013

Israeli ambassador Michael Oren has revealed that the Israeli government has privately been seeking regime change in neighboring Syria for the past two years, since the ongoing civil war began.

That’s a stark shift from their public position, in which they’d claimed not to be taking sides in the war, though it does reflect Israel’s multiple military strikes on Syrian territory during that conflict.

Oren reasoned that the policy was part of their hostility toward Iran, and that the ouster of Assad as an Iranian ally would be a significant blow to them, adding that the rebels are predominantly Sunni and averse to the Shi’ite Iran.

Which is true of the rebels, but also ignores that al-Qaeda commands the loyalty of a significant chunk of the rebellion, with recent reports suggesting that around half of the fighters are jihadists either directly under al-Qaeda’s control or in sympathetic factions.

Israel’s foreign policy at present appears Iran-centric, but their government was uncomfortable with a relatively moderate Islamist government in neighboring Egypt, and it’s hard to imagine that an al-Qaeda-run emirate on their disputed northern border is really an improved situation for them.

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