Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Israel’s Plan for Syria



Israel retains its ability to control the Syrian ‘Islamist’ rebels. Netanyahu is not worried about Syria’s possible disintegration. Despite the received wisdom claiming that Israelis prefer a stable and familiar Assad to the great unknown of Islamic guerrillas, the new and sensational information we received points out to the opposite, namely: Israelis prefer the Somalisation of Syria, its break-up and the elimination of its army, as this will allow them to tackle Iran unopposed.

This is implied in a secret file recently leaked by a person(s) apparently close to the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman. It contains a record of conversations between Bibi Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the latter’s recent visit to Israel. Israelis seem to have no doubts about its authenticity. Counterpunch received the original file, and here are the highlights of this conversation (in our translation from Hebrew):

  • Netanyahu asked Putin to facilitate Bashar Assad’s departure. “You can appoint his successor, and we shall not object , said the Israeli Prime Minister. “There is one condition – the successor must break with Iran».
  • Putin responded: we have no candidate for Bashar’s successor. Do you?
  • No, we don’t, replied Netanyahu, but we shall tell you our preference soon.

Apparently, Israel can influence the rebels, inasmuch as it can bear on them to accept a successor acceptable to Tel Aviv. This means that the rebels’ chain of command goes beyond unruly field commanders, beyond Qatar and Saudi Arabia, beyond Paris and Washington, all the way to Israel. It is well known that the rebels seekfriendship with Israel, but nobody thought that Israel was able to control them to such an extent.

It stands to reason that Netanyahu had received a green light from Washington to make such an offer. This means that the US and Israel do not mind that Syria will remain in the Russian sphere of influence, so long as it cuts its ties with Iran. And this points to Israel as being the moving force behind the rebels, for otherwise, such an arrangement would be unacceptable for the Americans.

However, it is possible that Netanyahu’s offer was just a ploy to discover Russian intentions. Anyway Putin thought so, and answered in a similar vein:

  • “We are not beholden to Assad,” said Putin. “Before the rebellion, he was a frequent visitor in Paris rather than in Moscow. We have no secret agenda regarding Syria. I asked President Obama, what are the US intentions in Syria; why do Americans reject Assad. Is it because of his inability to come to terms with Israel? Or because of his ties with Iran? Because of his position on Lebanon? I received no serious answer. Our reason, said Obama, is Assad’s violent repression of the Syrian people. I replied that violence is caused by Qatar and Saudi interference.”

One understands that Putin is befogged: if he has been offered keeping Syria in the Russian sphere, why does the US goes out against Syrian government? Perhaps, the US is doing Israel’s bidding? And what are Israel’s intentions?

  • “Israel’s goal is the Somalisation of Syria, following the Somalisation of Iraq,” said Putin, and Netanyahu did not deny his interpretation.

These hard words of Putin answer the question of the US and Israeli intentions. This was the position of Israeli strategist Yinon and of the Neocons – Somalisation of the region. Israeli leaders still follow their high-risk short-term strategy of unleashing civil war in Syria, removing Assad and turning Syria into a mess of armed groups that would not interfere with Israeli jets reaching Iran. It is certainly risky, as it was risky to attack Lebanon in 2006, but Israel has such a powerful militarist complex that it needs to take otherwise unneeded risks.

The record of the Putin-Netanyahu conversation contains two important Russian concessions to Israel: Putin promised to break their contract about supply of S-300 anti-aircraft missile complexes to Damascus (and so he did) and to stop missile information leakage to Hezbollah.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman used the meeting to complain about the audacious RT channel:

  • “The Israeli office of the RT outpours anti-Israeli propaganda. They broadcast talks with Hasan Nasrallah [probably a reference to Julian Assange’s interview]. We spoke to the RT reporters privately, but they won’t budge, citing instructions from Moscow. Vladimir Vladimirovitch [Putin], please lean on the editorial policy of the RT so it will become objective towards Israel.”

This complaint fits well with Israeli practice of pressuring foreign media. Recently the Israeli ambassador to Washington attempted to interfere with CBS and censor Bob Simon’s report on Palestinian Christians, causing much resentment in the US. Israelis still can’t get used to the existence of a relatively free press.

The main conclusion of the leaked protocols is that Israeli leaders retained their love to live dangerously. While some other countries, notably Russia, are seeking stability, Israelis love play, and power play. Nothing risked, nothing gained, they say. They are ready to accept short term risks for long term gains. And elimination of the Syrian army is certainly a long term gain for Israel.

Israel Shamir has been sending dispatches to CounterPunch from Moscow.

Israel Shamir can be reached on adam@israelshamir

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future