What Developments in Syria Mean for Israel

Stand for Israel  |  October 17, 2019

Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria
RAS AL AYN, SYRIA - OCTOBER 17: Members of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continue operations against the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey regards as a terror group, within Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in Ras Al Ayn, Syria on October 17, 2019. (Photo by Behcet Alkan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

As Turkish forces continues its actions against the Kurdish people in Syria, and American troops withdraw from the war-ravaged region, questions abound. Here to answer some of them is the always-intrepid Israeli journalist Yaakov Lappin, who says that while there will be lasting effects, one thing not negatively affected will be the U.S.-Israeli relationship:

Israel has been closely monitoring Turkey’s brutal offensive against the Kurds in northeast Syria in recent days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Turkish invasion on Oct. 10, stating that Israel “warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” and that “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people…”

However, Israel’s concerns with regard to the Turkish operation extend beyond the fate of the Kurds.

Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate’s Research Division and director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, told JNS that the strengthening of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated extremist Sunni forces in northeast Syria “should disturb us.”

He stressed that Turkey had launched its offensive with “problematic, radical forces, who are exploiting the US’s wish to leave this area.”

In addition, said Kuperwasser, who is the director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Iran could exploit the situation with its own, Shiite militias.

“Iran could fill in the vacuum left by the United States in northeast Syria, which would enable them to establish a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon,” he told Yaakov Lappin at JNS. “It could project onto Israel, though not immediately…”

One thing that is clear, said Kuperwasser, is that these events have no direct repercussions as far as US–Israel relations are concerned.

“The depth of the US commitment to Israel is very different…”

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