Israel Sides with Syrian Jihadists

Exclusive: Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, has confirmed suspicions that Israel has taken the side of Syrian rebels in their bloody civil war and wants President Assad to fall even if that turns Syria over to al-Qaeda-connected jihadists, a disclosure that may change how recent events are viewed, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Israel’s pronouncement that it wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled even if al-Qaeda-aligned rebels replace him puts into sharper focus the intensifying lobbying and P.R. campaigns underway in the United States to get President Obama to engage militarily against Syria and ultimately against Iran.

Until the declaration by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren on Tuesday, Israel’s precise position on the Syrian civil war was ambiguous, but now it is clear that Israel again is lining up with its new de facto ally, Saudi Arabia, in a regional conflict to undermine Iranian influence.

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. (Official photo, Creative Commons)

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview scheduled for publication on Friday but excerpted by Reuters on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, which is spearheading the military and intelligence assistance for the Syrian rebels, is concerned itself about what is called the “Shiite crescent” extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah enclaves of Lebanon. The Saudis, who follow an ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam, are now viewed in the region as the geopolitical bulwark against the Iran-led Shiite coalition.

Ambassador Oren, who is considered very close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is cited in the Reuters article as saying that while Israel favors the more moderate elements among the Syrian rebels, it still wants Assad’s ouster even if it results in radical Sunni Islamists coming to power in Damascus.

“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” Oren said, adding that this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Reuters said, “Oren, a Netanyahu confidant, did not say in the interview whether or how Israel was promoting Assad’s fall.”

However, Oren’s decision to lift the veil on Israel’s behind-the-scenes role in seeking Assad’s removal is certain to fuel suspicions that some of the recent events in Syria may have been manipulated by the sophisticated intelligence agencies in Riyadh and Tel Aviv. Saudi intelligence is now headed by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the smooth-talking former ambassador to the United States.

Though Saudi Arabia and Israel have historically been enemies, the two countries in recent years have seen their interests align, especially in their hostility toward Iran as well as in their preference for an authoritarian regime in Egypt over the populist Muslim Brotherhood. Now, it appears they also have been on the same page regarding Syria.

In complementary ways, Israel and Saudi Arabia are masters of soft-power geopolitics, both with world-class intelligence services and with the ability to influence the actions of other global players, Israel through its unparalleled propaganda and political skills and Saudi Arabia with its grip on oil supplies and financial markets.

To the degree that the two countries can cooperate, they present a fearsome coalition, rivaling the hard-power nations like the United States and Russia. President Barack Obama would have to worry about the influential Israel Lobby causing him political trouble in Washington while the Saudis could disrupt oil supplies and stock prices.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin could see pro-Israeli propagandists step up the media attacks on him while Saudi intelligence could increase support to Islamist terrorists in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Russian Federation, including against next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. [See’s “The Israeli-Saudi Superpower.”]

Masters of the Dark Arts

Israel and Saudi Arabia are masters of the dark arts of intelligence. Israel’s intelligence services are legendary in their cleverness and ruthlessness, while Saudi intelligence has had deep experience in financing major covert operations, including the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, an effort that gave rise to the scion of a Saudi fortune, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda.

The Saudis also have a history of financing violent jihadists whose actions are directed against the United States and the West. According to the 9/11 Commission report, 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals and the one part of the report blacked out addressed the issue of Saudi financing for al-Qaeda.

The de facto alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia also should be factored in when evaluating evidence of the Syrian chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, just after United Nations inspectors had arrived to examine other CW attacks that the Syrian government was blaming on the rebels.

While the major U.S. newspapers and non-governmental organizations are now nearly unanimous in blaming President Assad’s regime for the attack which killed hundreds of civilians, some of those assumptions especially regarding rebel military capabilities may not hold if the rebels had access to materiel from Saudi Arabia or Israel. [See’s “Murky Clues from UN’s Syria Report.”]

Israel is one of a handful of nations that has balked at ratifying the Convention Against Chemical Weapons, a short list of rogue states that Syria has agreed to leave by accepting international prohibitions and destroying its supplies of CW. Israel is widely believed to have a stockpile of high-quality chemical weapons as well as an undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal.

Saudi Arabia, with its near-bottomless pit of money, also could have arranged for the rebels to get Sarin or other chemical weapons along with rockets to deliver them, if that’s what its intelligence agency decided.

Now, with the emerging U.S. consensus that Assad’s forces were to blame for the Aug. 21 attack and Oren’s pronouncement that Israel would rather have al-Qaeda extremists governing in Damascus than the pro-Iranian Assad, the pressure is likely to build on Obama to take ever stronger action against Syria.

The other option that Obama may have is to opt for further collaboration with Putin, seeking progress in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program (as the new Iranian government signals an eagerness to compromise) and pressing to get the Syrian rebels to join peace talks in Geneva (so that the killing and disorder finally can be stopped).

Assad’s regime has agreed to participate in the talks but the fractious rebels have refused, first demanding more sophisticated U.S. weapons to give them the upper hand and insisting that Assad step down as a precondition to negotiations. [See’s “Who Blocked Syrian Peace Talks?”]

Realizing they now have the backing of Israel as well as Saudi Arabia, the Syrian rebels are likely to resist any U.S. pressure for a cease-fire or peace talks. It’s less clear whether Obama can withstand the political and propaganda pressure that Israel and Saudi Arabia can be expected to direct against him.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

23 comments for “Israel Sides with Syrian Jihadists

  1. Joe Lauria
    September 20, 2013 at 02:07

    Excellent piece. Israel is apparently banking on a guarantee by Bandar that the extremists he controls will not attack Israel if they come to power in Damascus. He gave that assurance to Putin in his four-hour meeting last month regarding Chechen extremists he said he controls regarding the Sochi Olympics. In exchange he wanted Putin to back off support for Assad. Putin refused. Then the Aug. 21 attack occurred.

  2. dan
    September 19, 2013 at 13:34

    “The Israeli Lobby owns the Congress, media, Hollywood, Wall Street, both political parties, and the White House. This kind of talk will get people fired by this lobby, as we have seen recently with White House correspondent Helen Thomas and CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. However, many Americans are growing tired of the arrogance of the Israel Lobby and their bigoted attitudes toward anyone who challenges their influence-peddling and their ridiculous insistence that Israel must be supported because of some ancient fairy tales involving some tribes who wandered the deserts of the Middle East and saw and heard non-existent things because of sun stroke, drinking bad water, and smoking local hallucinogenic plants.” – Anonymous

  3. i hate isreali terrorists
    September 19, 2013 at 11:03

    ha ha, USA & Isreal are the real terrorists, and NOT IRAN OR SYRIA, the new axis of EVIL, Isreal, USA, Saudi Arabia

  4. gregorylkruse
    September 19, 2013 at 08:52

    If Obama wanted to send a few hundred cruise missiles to the Middle East for the purpose of overthrowing a murderous government, he would send half of them to Riyadh and the other half to Tel Aviv.

  5. Ario Barzan
    September 19, 2013 at 00:43

    Hey, thanks to the support that the West and Arab/Israeli fascist governments have given to terrorists, terrorists will soon set the entire Middle East on fire.

  6. Regina Schulte
    September 18, 2013 at 20:38

    I fail to understand why U.S. presidents remain in thrall to the government of Israel. If Israel wants Assad deposed, then let Israel do the job–after all, the two nations border on each other. The U.S. is halfway around the world from them. And, yet…and yet, our presidents continue to let Israel swing the U.S. around by the tail, and we continue to do their bidding. As the “King of Siam” would say, “It’s a puzzlement!”

    • Bandolero
      September 18, 2013 at 21:19

      Regina Schulte

      It’s easy to explain. The US is pretty much an informal colony of Israel, just like the Latin American banana republics were – and some still are – informal colonies of the US.

      Israel and a tiny Israeli-backed minority in the US control in the US pretty much of:

      – mass media (cable news, major papers, movie & music bizz)
      – banking and finances (starting with the FED, GS & trickling down)
      – congress (by AIPAC)
      – military and intelligence (probably a bit less since Chuck Hagel came in)

      The last US president who really was up against Israel was JFK, but it didn’t end well for him. In modern times, a simple impeachment by an AIPAC dominated congress might be preferred.

        September 19, 2013 at 03:24

        Israel is also responsible for the Tsunami that occurred in Asia a few years ago. They also created the Tsunami in Japan that created food contamination all over the world. They were behind the fact that Herbert Hoover, a homosexual was perverting our FBI as he had close ties with Jews. They have inoculated many people with AIDS in Africa and thus created the AIDS crisis in America and you know what they have so much money that I believe Bill Gates the richest man in the world is not a Christian but hidden Jew and Carlos Slim a Mexican of Christian Arab origin is not a Christian but a Jew hidden as such otherwise why would he have so much money and the poor people in Brooklyn with 10 children by household that claim to be ultra-orthodox are not poor they hide billions in secret bank accounts and live like poor people and the media magnate Ruppert Murdock is not a Christian but a hidden Jew and all of you adherents of the Elders of the Protocol of Sion are hidden Jews as you are trying to make believe it’s a real document and the Jews are out to drink blood only to claim more anti-Semitism etc etc

        • Roger Thomas
          September 19, 2013 at 04:49

          There is no evidence on this site that anyone is anti-semitic nor do they include all Jewish people in their hostility to that evil cult of Zionism which has turned Israel into a barbaric, murderous, and apartheid state, oppressor and land thief.

        • Bandolero
          September 19, 2013 at 05:00

          I think denying the power that the Israeli government and a tiny Israeli backed minority hold in the US by bad jokes is not credible when there is hard evidence to the opposite.

          One such fact is for example that any US president is bound by US law to monitor and guarantee Israel’s “Qualitative Military Edge” (QME) which means nothing else than the US government is bound by law to guarantee Israel’s regional military hegemony.

          This broad US-obligation is clear evidence of the power of the Israeli government and it’s backers in the US and it’s one-sidedness is quite comparable to the powers of hegemons in the area colonialism. You can find this US-obligation for example in the “Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008.” Google a bit about the US obligation to guarantee Israel’s QME if you don’t know about it.

          So, how does it come that the US congress make such one-sided laws which are not in the interest of the US, but only in the interest of the foreign power Israel?

          How does it come that US mass media didn’t give this grave, obvoius and outrageous deviation of congress from following US people’s interests a lot of airtime and front page coverage in major papers?

          How does it come that the US military and intelligence – who all should know that maintaining one side’s total security means the other sides are totally insecure which likely leads to conflicts – doesn’t go up against the one-sided US obligation to guarantee Israel’s QME instead of simply following more sensible US objectives like maintaining peace and stability in Western Asia?

          How does it come that US banking and finances institutions don’t mount large campains against a US obligation to use US money to maintain Israel’s regional hegemony while this harms their business prospects in the region?

          There is only one credible answer to this: it’s because Israel and a tiny Israeli backed minority hold vast power over all these segments in the US – so much, that US policy decisions don’t follow much of US interests in regarding Western Asia but the interests of Israel.

          • Hillary
            September 20, 2013 at 08:51

            Very excellent comment Bandolero thank you.
            Perhaps its all about money and using a belief in Gospel prophesy.
            Huge amounts of money in aid may to Israel returns as financial support to AIPAC candidates who maintain the status quo.

        • Masud Awan
          September 19, 2013 at 05:37

          Irrelevant rant

        • Otto Schiff
          September 27, 2013 at 00:35

          I am a former German Jew and survivor of the Holocaust.
          I am very happy to find out the enormous power I posses
          just by being a Jew according to some of the contributors to Consortium news.

      • sharonsj
        September 22, 2013 at 11:02

        Oh, yeah, the Indonesian tsunami was created by a Jewish death ray…NOT.

        The massacres in Mumbai were done by Zionist Hindus…NOT.

        And now you claim Christians are really Jews, which I find interesting since at the same time you conspiracy theorists usually claim Jews aren’t really Jews. You people are insane.

    • Joe Lauria
      September 20, 2013 at 02:12

      Only the US has the firepower to finish the Syrian army. That’s why Israel and Bandar Arabia want to involve the US in this conflict.

  7. incontinent reader
    September 18, 2013 at 18:52

    Based on the numerous articles written by Sibel Edmonds-and the information to which she had access- as well as the many bits and pieces from other sources, I have a strong sense that Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Al Qaeda were allied with us even at such time when they were supposedly our mortal enemies, and that, as the independent non-official 9/11 inquiry proceeds more and more information will be revealed, and to such a point that the dam will break.

  8. bobzz
    September 18, 2013 at 18:31

    If al-Qaeda did take over Syria, it might become a “state”. If they so much as let a toe nail get out of line it would be that much easier for Israel to manipulate the US once again to attack Syria in the future.

  9. Frances in California
    September 18, 2013 at 15:40

    Doesn’t this sort of make it obvious this is a rogue Mossad misadventure? I pity the Israeli people that they are dominated by such villains.

  10. Bandolero
    September 18, 2013 at 14:39

    It’s not the first time Michael Oren voices such opinion. Read Bloomberg 12/12/2012: Israeli Envoy Sees Radicals Risk Preferable to Assad

    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be a boon to Israel and the Mideast, even if radical Islamists try to fill the vacuum left by his departure.

    “There’s the possibility that you’ll have Sunni extremist elements who will try to come to the fore,” Oren said yesterday in Washington. “Our opinion is that any situation would be better than the current situation” in which the Syrian regime has a strategic alliance with Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, he said.

    And, I find it striking, that Efraim Halevy, director of the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, made a very similar point in his February 7, 2012 op-ed in the New York Times: Iran’s Achilles’ Heel:

    … 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. … Iran is intent on assuring its hold over the country regardless of what happens to Mr. Assad — and Israel and the West must prevent this at all costs. …

    When browsing back the statements of WINEP people on Syria, assuming that WINEP acts in close coordination with AIPAC and Israel, reveals, while disguised as humanitarian efforts, a lot more of this thinking.

  11. rosemerry
    September 18, 2013 at 14:24

    Why why why must we always follow the rogue “State” of Israel, whch cares not at all about anyone else but its chosen ones, about peace, about justice, about fairness and normal humans, about the environment? Why cannot “we” all, ie the rest of the globe, not the “international community” of the USI and its puppets, make an effort to negotiate, to understand others, to try to give peace a chance?

    • Nelson Dalton
      September 19, 2013 at 04:10

      Oh so true . . .

      Imagine there’s no countries
      It isn’t hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people
      Living life in peace . . . Imagine there`s no Israel !

  12. Sam
    September 18, 2013 at 13:25

    Were we ALMOST tricked into another Mid-East War?

    From a Populist and Independent source–Not Republican or Democrat:

    by Michael Collins Piper , American Free Press September 9, 2013

    One of America’s most respected military figures charged publicly that long-standing allegations about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons may have been, in his words,“an Israeli false flag operation” calculated to stir up opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,long perceived by Israel as a threat to its geopolitical agenda.
    And now that the United States seems poised to attack Syria on the basis of new claims about the use of such weapons, what former Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told Current TV on May 3 bears noting.
    Along time military intimate of Gen.Colin Powell, and later his chief of staff when Powell was secretary of state under “W” Bush, Wilkerson said his intelligence sources dismissed claims at that time that Assad’s military had used chemical weapons against terrorist forces.
    Having loomed over Assad for months, that charge has been reinvigorated and the media revels in the possibility the U.S.will now attack Syria.
    However, The Los Angeles Times reported Aug.27 that Germany’s Focus magazine—citing a former Israeli intelligence official—said Israel was the primary source for current charges about Syria’s alleged use of chemical warfare.

    Noting “U.S. intelligence sources long have relied on Israel to help provide intelligence about Syria”the Times didn’t mention it was also Israel
    that previously supplied the Bush administration much of the false data about supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which provided the pretext for the invasion of that Arab republic.
    The media carefully suppresses the fact that—as demanded by the Israeli lobby in Washington—U.S. tax dollars (underwriting Israeli covert
    expertise) instigated the rebellion against Assad that led to the civil war that U.S. blood and treasure are now expected to resolve in a manner satisfactory to Israel.
    Although the media suggests the Pentagon is eager for war on Syria, the fact is that—just as before the Iraq war when multiple military leaders
    were warning of the dangers of such a venture—top brass are likewise urging restraint vis-à-vis Syria.
    Even Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey recently told Congress that U.S.intervention in Syria would not be in America’s interests.
    Yet, despite widespread public opposition to war, many Republicans and Democrats alike—bankrolled by pro-Israel campaign contributors—
    are clamoring for action. ★

    For Truth to be Revealed,
    Samuel Butler

  13. Kevin Schmidt
    September 18, 2013 at 12:47

    “Now, with the emerging U.S. consensus that Assad’s forces were to blame for the Aug. 21 attack and Oren’s pronouncement that Israel would rather have al-Qaeda extremists governing in Damascus than the pro-Iranian Assad, the pressure is likely to build on Obama to take ever stronger action against Syria.”

    Nothing like stenographing and parroting the official US Government propaganda!

    Citizens on both the left and the right have reached there own consensus. They do not want another expensive genocidal war for oil in the Middle East. Therefore, there will be no US Military action against Syria, except of course, the illegal CIA covert operation that has been working to destabilize the Syrian government since Dubya was pResident.

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