After years of loudly cheering al-Qaeda-linked rebels as a great improvement over the Assad government, Israeli officials are now expressing “alarm” at the takeover of the lone border crossing with Syria by al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra.
Israel was cheering this progress only last week, and the military continues to insist they don’t think al-Qaeda has “any intention of attacking Israel,” but that such problems might come about later on.
Indeed, Israel was so fine with the takeover of the border region last week that they launched strikes on Syrian military bases that were in the middle of fighting against that takeover, nominally over a stray artillery shell entering Israeli-occupied territory on the border.
Some officials are now saying that it is “only a matter of time” before al-Qaeda and Israel are at odds, because al-Qaeda has always viewed Israeli military forces as a legitimate target.
Still, if you’re going to blame somebody, you might as well blame Iran, right? That’s the position of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who claimed that al-Qaeda’s gains had “Iran’s fingerprints” on them, even though Iran is already in the Syrian war on the opposite side, backing the Assad government.
It’s incredible, because Israel’s whole argument for preferring al-Qaeda to Assad has always been that the former isn’t allied to Iran, and the later is. Now, they’re trying to present Iran as backing both, so that whoever wins, they can blame it on Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is apparently of this mind too, claiming Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and ISIS are all part of the “same Islamist terror network” that is plotting against Israel. Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, has been fighting alongside the Assad government, and its operations over the last year have been almost exclusively against ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.