More than a year ago, Israeli diplomats engaged the Americans in a discussion about the situation in Syria. Obama had already issued his “red line” warning about the use of chemical warfare by the Assad regime. Then Assad when ahead and gassed his own people in the tradition of his neighbor, Iraq. Obama was not only concerned about this act but also concerned that these weapons could end up in the hands of Islamic Terrorist and be used against American targets and allies. Russia, on the other hand, wanted to keep Assad in power as he was one of the few world leaders over which Russia still had influence. Israel, who knew more about what was going on in Syria than any other country including Syria, did not want to see Assad go. He was the devil they knew.
Israel was very concerned that if Assad were overthrown, Syria would be ruled by one or more groups of Islamic Terrorists including ISIS and Hezbollah. Israel shares a border with Syria. Furthermore, the whole mess could extend into Lebanon, which would result in chaos along the entire northern border of Israel. This mess would then extend into Jordan. At this time, Egypt was still being ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, which as very close to Hamas in Gaza. Not only does Israel have a border with Gaza, but it shares a long border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula which was already home to small groups of Muslim Terrorists. And then, of course, there was the West Bank to consider.
So Israel said to America “You are nuts to push out Assad. It would be even stupider than when you forced us to let the Palestinians have elections, and they elected Hamas. How do you think that worked out? Why not make a deal with Assad and the Russian? Get rid of the chemical weapons for a guarantee that you will take no military action against him. Get the Russian to help you with this. If ISIS and the other’s get control of Syria, you will wish that you had not killed Bin Laden.”
Then another potential benefit of this strategy became apparent. Since the USA would not overtly help Assad stay in power, the terrorists would still control some significant territory. And what would they do? They would expand into Iraq. The Americans had lost influence in Iraq after wasting so much money and blood. Iraq was controlled by the Shiites that was to say that it was becoming a satellite state of Iran. The Americans had no ability to effect this. But ISIS could. The only people ISIS hated more than the long list of people they hated, including Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Atheists, was the Shiites. They would form an alliance with the disenfranchised Sunni minority in Iraq. The only way for the Shiites to survive would form a more inclusive government which included the Sunnis, which meant moving away from the orbit of Iran.
The ISIS strategy proved to be inspired. These people could not have played their designated role better even if they had come from Central Casting. Eventually, the Americans and maybe some European Allies will take care of ISIS through a combination of military action and payoffs. They will be able to attack ISIS in Syria, which will further strengthen Assad, bring stability back to Syria. Assad can keep his army engaged by killing Sunni’s. Israeli tourist can relax and visit the Golan Heights where they could watch the fighting below while having a picnic. The USA will end up having influence again in Iraq which they can use in their war of words with Iran. Russia can keep one of the few leaders that like Putin. And while this strategy plays out over the next few years, Russia can slowly take over the Ukraine.