- By Marya Hannun<p> Marya Hannun is a researcher at Foreign Policy. </p>
The regime will seek to exploit the raids to tie the rebels to the Zionist entity, after spending two years painting them as an undifferentiated mass of "terrorist gangs."…
But the propaganda can cut both ways. The rebels can point to the Israeli attacks as yet more evidence that Assad’s army is for attacking Syrians, not defending the country.
So how are the Syrian rebels reacting? "Many Syrian rebels welcomed the attack, even if it was from a most unlikely source — an Israeli airstrike against their common enemy, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime," reports NBC News, which caught up with one Syrian rebel in Damascus over Skype. "Even though the raid was from Israel, Syria’s decades-old foe, it lifted the opposition’s spirits," the fighter observed.
But while some individual rebels may be grateful to Israel, the fractured opposition’s official line has been to denounce Israeli intervention.
The leadership of a group calling itself the Islamic Brigade of Aleppo, for instance, released a video angrily condemning Israel’s assistance. And the Free Syrian Army quickly dismissed the claims of a Syrian rebel who, according to the group, praised the attacks on Israel’s Channel 2. "The leadership of the FSA has traditionally considered Israel an enemy and will continue to do so until the complete liberation of the occupied lands," the mainstream rebel force said in a statement released on its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the Syrian National Coalition, the internationally recognized opposition umbrella group, adopted a somewhat conspiratorial tone in its statement on the alleged Israeli attacks, hinting that the assault may have done more harm than good for the opposition:
The Syrian Coalition is suspicious of the timing of this attack. These strikes have given the regime the necessary time to draw attention away from its crimes and massacres on the Syrian coast. It is not unlikely that as a result of these attacks, and world distraction, more crimes will be committed.
For their part, the Israelis have made it clear that any actions they took were not a show of support for the rebels but rather an effort to prevent Iran from arming Hezbollah. But with Israeli officials hinting that this is not the last military action it will carry out in Syria, it looks like there will be more opportunities to make sense of what exactly Israeli involvement will mean for Syria — and who, if anyone, will benefit.
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |
David Kenner is the Middle East editor for Foreign Policy.| Passport |