May 9, 2013 (TSR- Xinhua) – While most Syrians expected retaliation against Israel’s recent strike on military facilities in Damascus, the Syrian government only condemned the attack and threatened actions in case of further aggressions.
The soft response, announced by an unnamed official, raised the eye browses of the Syrians, making them wonder whether the government got cold feet or had an agenda in mind.
Syria’s state media quoted the official as saying the government has given the go-ahead to the Palestinians to launch attacks against Israel from its occupied Golan Heights. The report also said the government will send more qualitative weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.
Syrian analysts think the government dealt prudently with the bombing, which Israeli and Western media claim was targeting weapons bound for Hezbollah, otherwise it could have drawn the region into a fully fledged war.
In addition, they think sending more weapons to Hezbollah and opening the Golan front for the Palestinians will cause more damage to Israel than a regular war.
Hamdi al-Abdullah, a political expert, pointed out two reasons behind the government’s moderation.
For one, he said, a war with Israel would overburden the Syrian troops who are already fighting Western-backed armed rebels across the country. “Any war needs to be carefully calculated for the results to be in the favor of the state, not the armed rebels.”
For another, Abdullah said, “Syria has no right to start a regional war without consulting its allies because it is the allies’ right to take part in the decision.”
As for the Syria’s capability to respond, he pointed to the two moves the government has announced — opening the Golan Heights for the Palestinians and further arming Hezbollah.
He thinks the Golan Heights is so crucial and the Palestinians’ operations there could harm Israel and thus sap the resolve of its forces in that area.
Maher Murhej, an opposition figure, agreed with Abdullah on the critical nature of opening a Palestinian front in Golan, saying allowing the Palestinians to fight there would rattle Israel and consume parts of its forces in that area.
The Golan Heights, formerly known as the Syrian Heights, is a highly contested mountainous region striding the borders of Syria and Israel. Two thirds of the area has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
While noting that the circumstances are not in favor for the Syrian administration to start a war, Murhej said the government’s reaction has dampened the hopes of the Syrians who wanted to see their lost territory back.
Meanwhile, Khalid Abd al-Majid, a Palestinian politician and militia leader, told Xinhua in an interview that Syrian official sources have asked his faction “to start resistance actions from the Syrian land toward Golan.” “Syria sees the resistance, including one through the occupied Golan, as a means to confront the Zionist entity,” he said.