Op-Ed: Netanyahu’s return to power with a coalition of racists is appalling. But Israel’s problem runs deeper than a single prime minister.
Bashar Assad’s victory in the Syrian civil war last month was remarkable in ways that are hard to overstate. His victory was historic, as it was the first time that a Sunni Muslim extremist had seized control of an Arab nation in a major war. And it appeared to be a victory for Syria’s secular opposition. It was also, as Assad noted in his triumphant victory speech, a defeat for the Western left.
Assad’s victory was also, in a sense, its own rebuke to the left that cheered for the Syrian opposition and, more important, the Iranian regime throughout the Syrian conflict. Assad’s victory was thus itself a rebuke to the Syrian left.
This should come as no shock to those who remember the rise of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a man whose career was built on his position as a military and political ally of the Iranian regime. Assad is an Arab nationalist who has always worked closely with the Iranians and the Russians in Syria. His father, who died in 1999, was the founding president of the Syrian Baath Party, in which Assad’s role was a key element. While in exile in Syria during the last years of the country’s civil war, Assad was a strong supporter of his father’s Baath Party.
While Assad was considered a pro-Iranian and an ally of Iran throughout the Syrian conflict, his own regime was deeply hostile to the U.S. and Israel. Assad’s relationship with the Iranians in the Syrian civil war was forged during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when Assad’s father came under the influence of the Iranians. After Afghanistan, Assad was trained in Syria by the Iranians. In fact, Assad has had an ongoing relationship with the Iranians since he was a teenager.
Assad has a long history of anti-Zionism. In 2000, at the time of his father’s death, Assad issued a statement saying that �