ON-Lion Letter

In December, "the Israeli Air Force (IAF) allegedly bombed targets at the Damascus International Airport and in a base in Dimas near the border with Lebanon," begins a December column by Tony Badran for Now Lebanon.  "This latest strike, like all those before it, targeted regime and Iranian-Hezbollah assets, the exact nature of which is not yet clear.

"Yet, despite the fact that all Israeli incursions in Syria since the outbreak of the uprising have been directed solely against the Iranian camp, Arab commentators, to say nothing of Syria opposition figures, continue to proclaim that Israel and the Assad regime are in league with each other," continues Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C.  "To this day, some even remain convinced that Israel’s supposed preference for the Assad regime stands behind Washington’s de facto pro-Assad policy.  This old, stale line needs to be put to rest once and for all.  Not only does it betray silliness, it also grossly misreads the geostrategic map.  The reality is that while the Sunni regional states back the Syrian opposition forces, Israel alone has taken direct action against Assad and his Iranian allies -- something that the Obama administration has strenuously opposed.

"The target of the latest strike is a case in point," FDD's Badran writes.  "In a way, it was a standard raid in that it destroyed what was likely an Iranian shipment of advanced weapons meant for Hezbollah, which is in keeping with established Israeli red lines.  But the fact that the IAF struck inside the Damascus airport -- for the second time now -- is no small matter.  As reported last year, the Iranians have been supplying arms to their Syrian ally through weekly flights to the Damascus International Airport.  These flights are organized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and are controlled by Iranian officers in Damascus.  By striking that critical resupply hub, Israel signaled that it cares little about the impact its strikes could have on the regime's logistics and its ability to prosecute the war.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports FDD, including Badran's work in particular.

"In sharp contrast to Washington," he concludes, "Israel has maintained strategic clarity in Syria and has not strayed from its focus of confronting Iran and its assets.

"Those commentators who speak of Israeli support for Assad fail to see this plain reality.  The simple fact is that it is Israel -- and certainly not the U.S. -- that is going after their shared enemy:  Iran and its assets."

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