Without doubt, Bashar al-Assad was always aware that moving on the Syrian-Israeli front would be a last resort if he failed to crush the Syrian popular revolution. He knew that igniting the Israeli front would not be seen as merely another maneuver, but that it would change the rules of the game as a whole in the region, and would have widespread results. So why is al-Assad undertaking a skirmish against Israel now?
It is clear that the al-Assad regime has tried all the cards in its hand in order to escape. It has tried to ignite Lebanon, flood Jordan with refugees, and likewise reshuffle the cards in Turkey, whether at the border or internally. Al-Assad tried all of that but he has not succeeded. He has not succeeded in breaking the Syrian revolution; rather the Free Syrian Army is now moving and behaving as if it is preparing for the “zero hour”. It is obvious that the Syrian rebels are cooking up something, and the al-Assad regime senses this, especially as the political coma inside the country is about to come to an end following the US elections. Here we should note the tireless political moves over the past three days whether from Doha, Amman or Ankara, and even the trips and meetings conducted by the Russian Foreign Minister. The al-Assad regime now feels that matters are moving in a different direction; a direction that is certainly not in its interests.
All this has prompted al-Assad to undertake a desperate maneuver, namely mobilizing on the Syrian Israeli border, and this shows that the regime has become frustrated and has entered the stage of gambling and adventurism. Al-Assad began by sending three tanks, and yesterday there was a shooting incident at the border. What al-Assad wants, as some have stated before, is to ignite the Syrian-Israeli front that has remained quiet for four decades, in order to prevent the Syrian revolution from taking a different path. Al-Assad is certainly aware that this move against Israel will completely change the rules of the game regarding the Syrian issue, for the Americans, the Russians and even for the Israelis who were not previously concerned with what was happening in Syria or even with al-Assad remaining in power. This has been clear throughout the Syrian revolution, even after Bashar al-Assad’s cousin said at the beginning that Israel was under threat, prompting the al-Assad regime to reassure Tel Aviv that these words were designed for internal media consumption only.
Today, after al-Assad’s forces’ military action on the Syrian-Israeli border, and the shooting incident, it is certain that we are dealing with a regime that is desperate and afraid of what is coming. The regime feels that it has done all it could to eliminate a revolution that still stands resilient and alone amid shameful international inactivity, but al-Assad has been unable to break it, or to extinguish its fuse. Even when al-Assad decided to use the game of the Eid al-Adha truce for a few hours, he was surprised when violent demonstrations erupted against him in all parts of Syria. So al-Assad today is embarking on a game of suicide by targeting Israel, especially as the international political scene today is completely different, and calculations have changed for the US, Russia and Israel. Al-Assad’s skirmish against the Israelis is nothing more than an act of suicide, or a political game of [Russian] roulette, and it tells us that al-Assad is desperate and afraid of what is to come.