The Arab world silently celebrates

Source: The Arab world silently celebrates – Israel Hayom

Prof. Eyal Zisser

n response to headlines in the Israeli media Wednesday acknowledging the 2007 airstrike that destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, after having kept quiet for over a decade, the Arab world, including Syria, was deafeningly silent.

Although the general consensus from day one has been that Israel carried out the aerial assault that knocked out Syria’s clandestine nuclear reactor, developed with North Korean assistance, Israel waited until Wednesday to confirm the strike.

Damascus’ silence, at least, is completely understandable. Syrian President Bashar Assad has much more pressing matters on his agenda than media hype in Israel over something everyone already knew – he is a little too busy waging a war of survival, rather successfully, against his countrymen who have rebelled against him. In addition, the nuclear reactor episode is no source of pride for the Syrian regime, specifically not the way Assad’s nuclear adventure ended and his decision to refrain from leveling any kind of response to the Israeli airstrike.

Moreover, the Israeli confirmation included no new information, aside from petty squabbling over credit – namely between then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the heads of Military Intelligence and the Mossad. Other than that, the information was widely reported over a decade ago and attributed to reliable American sources. At most, the information that Israel made public on Wednesday will be used by Syrian intelligence agents or by Iran, who will pore over the previously classified material in search of details to help them prepare for the next clash.

The few Arab networks that did inform their viewers about the Israeli media frenzy, were noticeably overjoyed at Assad’s misfortune. They gloated at the humiliation of the Syrian leader who used chemical weapons on his own people but was too intimidated to face Israel.

Alongside the gloating, there was also palatable relief in the region’s capitals at the thought that Assad was kept from developing nuclear weapons. Is there any doubt regarding his willingness to use nuclear weapons on his own people or against his opponents in the region?

But the silence in Damascus and the Arab networks low profile regarding the Israeli news in no way suggests that the Arab world isn’t closely monitoring Israel’s every move. Today, thanks to social media, this task is easier than ever before.

Even the Arabs who believe in far-fetched conspiracy theories interpreted the timing of Israel’s publication as a clear and simple message to Iran: that Jerusalem is determined, just as it was in the past, to nip any security threat in the bud. This message is also addressed to the many other hostile Arab states.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

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One Comment on “The Arab world silently celebrates”

  1. DMD Says:

    Talk little–but do much !!! A lesson that Israel seems to have forgotten !!! דמד

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