The Ba’ath Party media in Syria are experts in lying and propaganda for the benefit of the regime. Over the years, it has succeeded in planting the seeds of many myths in the minds of millions of Syrians.
The regime has, for example, portrayed itself to Syrians and the Arab world alike as a key player in the struggle against the “Zionist entity”. It has also pushed the slogan that “nothing is more important than the battle”, thus ruling under emergency law and repressing any opposition under the pretext that the country is in a state of war with what it calls “the Zionist enemy”. The people of Syria have lived for four decades unable to gather in the street in groups of five or more, because the emergency law prevents such a gathering, as it would constitute “a threat to national security” and the process of facing up to Israel. That is what the fascist intelligence agencies would have us believe, even though for most of those forty years the regime has not fired a single shot towards the alleged “enemy”, despite ruling with the mentality and laws developed for wartime.
What’s worse is that the regime have had Syrians believing that it is the spearhead of the Arab nation against the Zionist project of the state of Israel. Any Syrian suspected of having a connection, even remotely, with Israel could end up in prison for years. Thousands of Syrians have died in Syria’s prisons on suspicion that they communicated, even indirectly, with the Zionist state. I know someone who spent years in prison on charges of sending greetings electronically to his relatives in Palestine. Another person met a relative of his who lives in Palestine while he was in Jordan, and ended up spending half his life in prison. The Syrians believed that the regime was Israel’s worst enemy in the region, and thus they took a position of enmity towards their neighbour, in line with the regime.
The Syrian army learned to hate Israel since the Assad family took power in 1970, so its war doctrine has always been to face up to the Zionists. It is strange, though, that this army has only fought one war against Israel during the Assad era; for forty years it has used seventy per cent of Syria’s national budget while sitting in its barracks. Israel, meanwhile, has attacked Syria dozens of times, destroying nuclear and strategic locations; Israeli jet fighters have flown over Assad’s palaces on the coast and in Damascus as a provocation, but the regime did not allow the army to fire even one anti-aircraft missile towards them.
In other words, the Syrian army’s doctrine was one thing, but its reality was entirely different. It is clear that Israel understood the game clearly, and knew that the regime’s anti-Zionist rhetoric was for consumption by a domestic audience only; that the Syrian army was not there to face Israel, but to control the Syrian people.
Consider the fact that the Republican Palace and Republican Guards with strategic weapons are found at the foot of Mount Qassioun, within sight of Mount Hermon, which is occupied by Israel and from which Israeli troops can see cars moving in the streets of Damascus. If the Assad regime truly feared Israel, it wouldn’t base the Republican Guard and its weapons in full view of the enemy. It has become clear since the start of the revolution that the heavy weapons sited on Mount Qassioun, which overlooks Damascus, are there to terrorise the capital in case its people move against the government. This has, in fact, happened; the shells fired at Damascus and the surrounding countryside during the revolution have all come from Mount Qassioun.
The Syrian revolution has exposed the fact that the army’s main role is to protect the regime and, indeed, Israel from the Syrian people. When it turned its guns on the regime’s opponents it did so with Israel’s blessings. Assad confessed as much at the beginning of the revolution when he said that Israel will not allow his regime to fall and that it has given him the green light to crush his opponents.
With all of the lies exposed, Syrians are now wondering why the Israelis haven’t taken advantage of the weakness of the Syrian army, which the regime alleges is the biggest threat to Israel. Why not take advantage of this weakness, and crush it once and for all? Instead, Israel, along with the US, insists on maintaining the Syrian army and security services.
It is ironic that Israel has always demanded the protection of the Syrian military institution, which has drained Syria’s national wealth over the past half century under the pretext of facing up to Israel. If you are still unconvinced, read what American journalist Seymour Hersh – a friend of the Syrian president – had to say: “The US Joint Chiefs of Staff were providing over the years intelligence information to the Syrian army about opposition groups. It was Israel specifically that sent the US information directly to the Syrian army, the alleged enemy of Israel.”
Translated from Alkhaleejonline, 7 February, 2016
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.