If you believe some Israeli analysts, Tel Aviv is fretting on the sideline of the ongoing multinational effort to bring down the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that is taking a little longer than expected. In a May 11 “analysis” (1) for Reuters apparently based solely on interviews with Israeli experts, Douglas Hamilton claims:
With the Syrian uprising now into its 14th month and Assad still firmly in power, Israel has few options other than to sit the crisis out, unable to influence the outcome of an upheaval that is sure to affect it.
The reality, however, is that the self-described Jewish state has plenty of options available to it to influence the outcome of the “upheaval” destabilizing its northern neighbour. Its most effective option is, of course, the influence it is able to exert over U.S. policy. As Haim Saban, a prominent “influencer,” (2) once told an Israeli conference, there are “three ways to be influential in American politics” — make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.
The think tank part of Saban’s tripartite Israel-protection formula was initiated in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution to establish the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
In 2007, the Saban Center expanded operations with the launch of the Brookings Doha Center. Its Qatar-based project was inaugurated in February 2008 by the founding director of the Saban Center, Martin Indyk. A former research director at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Indyk had previously founded the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
Keeping in mind the origins of the Brookings Doha Center, take a look at this recent “analysis” (3) of the deteriorating situation in Syria:
The latest bombings primarily benefit the Syrian regime, analysts say, which, from the start of the 14-month revolt, has described the uprising as a Western-backed Al-Qaeda plot and its opponents as “terrorists” to justify its crackdown.
“Bashar al-Assad has said: ‘If anybody dares to challenge my rule, there will be chaos.’ What he said is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center.
Shaikh noted there was no clear link between the regime and the bomb attacks, as the opposition has charged, “but at the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the regime because it has pursued only a security approach.”
“It is the regime who created this environment and the international community has allowed the situation to drift,” he added.
Shaikh added that a small group like Al-Nusra Front would not be able to pull off such “sophisticated” attacks without the help of “much more professional forces.”
Indeed. But instead of looking for those “much more professional forces” among the special ops forces of the so-called Friends of Syria, (4) trust an analyst working for an Israel lobby-created think tank to point the finger at the Syrian regime itself.