Eastern Syria pretty much exclusively belongs to ISIS at this point, while the area around Damascus is still under control of the Assad government. The Golan Heights, however, has become securely the domain of al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra.
That’s a bit of a problem for Assad, but it might be a bigger problem for Israel, which now has to face the fact that they have a common border with al-Qaeda, a group which has spent decades talking up war with them.
Israel had presented the Syrian Civil War as a zero sum game, with anything that hurts the Assad government necessarily good for them. Officials had even suggested al-Qaeda and ISIS were preferable since they aren’t allied with Iran.
That made good soundbites back in May, but now they’re facing an extremely unstable situation on the Golan frontier, with Israeli analysts warning that it is only a matter of time before al-Qaeda tires of being second-best to ISIS in the Syrian Civil War and turns its attention toward Israel.
For decades, the Golan frontier has been monitored by the UNDOF, which is increasingly withdrawing from the region as al-Qaeda moves in, and has shown a willingness to attack UN forces where convenient.