The Changing Middle East: Revolt Against Artificial Borders - Part III

Thursday, August 16, 2012 |  Elizabeth Blade

This is Part III of a three-part story on the Middle East's changing borders. If you have not done so already, we suggest first reading The Changing Middle East: Revolt Against Artificial Borders - Part I and The Changing Middle East: Revolt Against Artificial Borders - Part II

What should Israel expect in this constantly changing environment? Here opinions differ.

“Up until now many in the Israeli establishment believed Assad was a guarantee of stability, as he was the person who kept our northern border quiet for the past forty years,” said Paz. “Now the situation is changing with many officials preferring to see him toppled. In any case, chaos is not good for Israel because it’s not manageable, you can never know what the outcome will be,” he continued.

Talking about the possible repercussions for the entire area, Paz also stressed that the fall of Assad could lead to further destabilization, prompting revolts in Jordan and Palestine, two areas that have thus far remained relatively stable. “The Jewish state might be drawn into a conflict if the regime [in Jordan] is threatened,” he said. The expert referred to the events of 1970 when Israel was prepared to send troops to Jordan in a bid to oust Palestinian Liberation Organization, a terrorist movement that aimed to depose the late King Hussein.

Perlov voiced a different view. “No matter what happens, we shouldn’t panic. The division of Syria is not fatal for Israel. I am sure we will be able to come to terms with Kurdistan and any other new state that might emerge. Any scenario is better than Assad,” she reasoned, while acknowledging that the ouster of the current regime might create power vacuums, easily filled by hostile elements that could promote violent cross-border tensions and crime. “There are dangers but with the right management of the crisis, Israel can only benefit from a new regime in Syria,” she concluded.

There are historical precedents for bloody conflicts that were resolved by partition. The dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1990's -- a region with a history of ethnic conflicts -- brought the creation of several independent countries that mostly live in peace with each other. Will Syria share the same fate? Experts agree that it is too early to tell.

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