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Ephraim Halevy


by Rhonda Spivak , February 11, 2012

Efraim Halevy who will be in Winnipeg speaking for the Jewish Heritage Centre in April of this year had a recent op-ed in the New York Times  entitled "To Weaken Iran, Start with Syria," which I wish to bring to the attention of readers.  Efraim Halevy, a former Israeli national security adviser and ambassador, was director of the Mossad from 1998 to 2002.

In  the New York Times article,, Halevy says that more attention ought to be paid to " events in Syria could result in a strategic debacle for the Iranian government. Iran’s foothold in Syria enables the mullahs in Tehran to pursue their reckless and violent regional policies — and its presence there must be ended."

Halevy states that evicting Iran from Damascus would cut off Iran’s access to its proxies (Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza)  and  possibly force " a hemorrhaging regime in Tehran to suspend its nuclear policies. This would be a safer and more rewarding option than the military one."

As he says, "The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace to international security and well-being. And ending Iran’s presence there poses less of a risk to international commerce and security than harsher sanctions or war. "

Halevy opines that  a post-Assad government  "still wedded to Iran with its fingers on the buttons controlling long-range Syrian missiles with chemical warheads that can strike anywhere in Israel"  is a certain prescription for war, and "Israel would have no choice but to prevent it."

According to Halvey,  Iran is intent on assuring its hold over Syria regardless of Bashar al-Assad's fate, and has poured extensive resources  into Syria, and it is up to Israel and the West to use the unrest in Syria as an opportunity to unravel Iran's hold over Syria.

As Halevy writes, "Sadly, the opportunities presented by Syria’s meltdown seem to be eluding Israeli leaders. Last week, Israel’s military intelligence chief spoke of the 200,000 missiles and rockets in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria that could reach all of Israel’s population centers. And there is a growing risk that advanced Syrian weapons might fall into the hands of terrorist groups. Iran’s presence in Damascus is vital to maintaining these threats.

"... For Israel, the crucial question is... whether the Iranian presence in Syria will outlive [Assad's] government. Getting Iran booted out of Syria is essential for Israel’s security. And if Mr. Assad goes, Iranian hegemony over Syria must go with him. Anything less would rob Mr. Assad’s departure of any significance."

Halevy  is of the view that  Israel ought not be the principal actor in pushing Iran out of Syria as the United States, Russia and Arab countries will all have to be involved.  He believes that  America has to offer Russia incentives to stop protecting the Assad regime, which "will likely fall the moment Moscow withdraws its support."  Then he suggest that a force with a mandate from the Arab League ought to ensure stability "until a new Syrian government can take over."

According to Halevy Russia and China , need to understand that  Assad's  downfall and a dislodging of Iranian power could serve their interests.  "... Iranian interventionism could wreak havoc in Muslim-majority areas to Russia’s south and China’s west. And a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a serious potential threat on Russia’s southern border."
Russia has an interest in maintaining its access to Syria’s Mediterranean ports in Tartus and Latakia and to remain a major arms supplier to Damascus. If Washington is willing to allow that... the convergence of American and Russian interests in Iran and Syria could pave the way for Mr. Assad’s downfall," Halevy says.

Then the entire picture would change. As Halevy writes, " Iranian-sponsored terrorism would be visibly contained; Hezbollah would lose its vital Syrian conduit to Iran and Lebanon could revert to long-forgotten normalcy; Hamas fighters in Gaza would have to contemplate a future without Iranian weaponry and training; and the Iranian people might once again rise up against the regime that has brought them such pain and suffering."

As Halevy warns,  if Iranian control over Syria emerges intact, " the world will face a choice between a military strike and even more crippling sanctions, which could cause oil prices to skyrocket and throw the world economy off balance."


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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