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Israel, US invoke 'Islamist terrorism' fears as a pretext for retaining Assad: Palestinian analysts


January 15, 2014 -Palestinian analysts have dismissed a new study by Israeli academics which cites growing concern among Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv over the Syrian revolution, especially the influence of 'jihadi' groups and the implications of the increasing strength of Al Qaeda, along with claims of a heightened risk to the occupied Golan, stating that the Israeli government and Washington are falsely invoking 'Islamist terrorism' in support of the Assad regime to ensure Israel's own continued security.The study, prepared by the researchers Aviv Oreg and Yoram Schweitzer of Tel Aviv University's 'Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) states that "the footprint of jihadist movements could be seen in Islamist military operations against Israeli targets if Al Qaeda succeeds in gaining control and enhancing its strength in the Golan Heights area of Syria."...

[104180]



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Israel, US invoke 'Islamist terrorism' fears as a pretext for retaining Assad: Palestinian analysts

Aljazeera

January 15, 2014

Palestinian analysts have dismissed a new study by Israeli academics which cites growing concern among Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv over the Syrian revolution, especially the influence of 'jihadi' groups and the implications of the increasing strength of Al Qaeda, along with claims of a heightened risk to the occupied Golan, stating that the Israeli government and Washington are falsely invoking 'Islamist terrorism' in support of the Assad regime to ensure Israel's own continued security.

The study, prepared by the researchers Aviv Oreg and Yoram Schweitzer of Tel Aviv University's 'Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) states that "the footprint of jihadist movements could be seen in Islamist military operations against Israeli targets if Al Qaeda succeeds in gaining control and enhancing its strength in the Golan Heights area of Syria."

The study, entitled 'The Global Jihad Movement: An Ideology of Religious and Historical Developments and of Threats to Israel and the Jews,' which was reviewed by Israel paper Haaretz amongst other media, envisions a "decade of terror" following the introduction of a new military strategy by Al Qaeda which the report claims would enable the group to restructure its ranks and strengthen its forces, despite the killing of many of its senior officials and its leader, Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda is taking advantage of the changes in Arab nations following the Arab Spring, and "has succeeded in transferring its activities to the countries of the Middle East, especially Syria and Egypt," the report stated.

Israel depends on smearing Syrian revolution

Dr. Mohannad Mustafa, an Assistant Professor in Political Sciences at Ramallah University and senior researcher from the Palestinian Centre for Israel Studies, was sceptical of the report, saying, "Israel depends on smearing the revolutions, especially in Syria, by dressing its security worries in concerns about Al Qaeda and alleged jihadist and Islamist movements in an effort to avert political damage that might ensue from the revolutions."

The senior researcher said that the report is consistent with the Israeli government's own misrepresentation of events in the countries affected by the Arab Spring and its misrepresentation of the Syrian revolution as "terrorism," explaining that this has been a consistent feature of the prevailing public discourse among the international community, which uses this assertion to justify its claims that both parties (the regime and the opposition) are evil. Dr, Mustafa pointed out that the timing of the report's release coincides with the preparations for the 'Geneva II' conference, where the world leaders are seeking a political settlement by drawing parallels between the tyrannical regime of Bashar al Assad and his opponents and victims in the opposition forces."

Dr. Mustafa told Al Jazeera that Israel deals with the transformations taking place in the Arab world "from the narrow perspective of its own security, without considering the strategic dimensions and dynamic events in the Arab Spring nations and the possibility of establishing democratic systems, a strong national identity and a sense of nationhood."

Due to these perceptions, the academic explained, Israel relies on a misrepresentation of the revolutions - especially the one in Syria - as being primarily about fears for its own security from Al Qaeda and nominally jihadist and Islamist movements "in an effort to avert the political damage that the revolutions could cause for it."

Israel exploiting public fears to oppose Arab Spring

The researcher said that Israel is exploiting the temporary presence of Al Qaeda in Syria to highlight "what it considers the drawbacks of the changes taking place in the Arab Spring nations and the unimaginable strategic dangers of promoting international solidarity with the Arab Spring, which acts against Israel's interests lead to further international isolation since whoever takes over from Assad "will take over the reins of power to destroy Israel's strategic influence in Syria," reducing its regional impact.

Eyal Zissar, Senior Research Fellow and former Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said that while the presence of Al Qaeda and 'Jihadist' parties in Syria is "a headache and a constant concern for Israel," the Islamist groups involved in fighting in Syria don't constitute any strategic threat to Tel Aviv. He dismissed the claims in the new INSS report which stated that the aforementioned organisations are "ready and able to carry out military operations against Israel."

Zissar told Al Jazeera that since the beginning of the Syrian revolution the leadership in Tel Aviv has favored the survival of the Assad regime, which has ensured decades of calm and stability on the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan, so it is actively seeking ways to avoid any involvement in battles taking place in Syria. He added that the activities of 'Jihadist' and Islamist groups in Syria and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt do not pose any serious threat to Israel, with these groups' attacks limited to launching mortars and rockets.

US-Israeli consensus on supporting Assad

Another senior academic, Salman Fakhr al-Din, the director of Al-Marsad Arab Centre for Human Rights , called the INSS report an indication of "the American-Israeli consensus to support the Assad regime as being a comfortable and mutually beneficial arrangement."

The promotion of the idea that Al Qaeda and Islamists are a strategic risk is a "false flag, a propaganda manoeuvre by those who didn't hesitate to support the victory of the Islamic State Iraq and the Levant and Al Nusra Front over the opposition forces and the Free Syrian Army," said the prominent Palestinian academic.

Fakhr al-Din dismissed the INSS report's warnings of the supposed dangers posed by Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in the occupied Golan, telling Al Jazeera that this is consistent with Israel's "misdirection of public perceptions to suggest that anyone who opposes the Assad regime is supportive of the Islamist groups, a falsehood fabricated by the Assad regime with the objective of gaining support from the international community and the United States to maintain his rule and prevent the regime's collapse."

Original Arabic article: Al Jazeera Arabichttp://preview.aljazeera.net/news/pages/5bb2ba38-6bcc-42a4-9
8de-68be8673e497







:: Article nr. 104180 sent on 17-jan-2014 02:26 ECT

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