by Dr. Reuven Berko

The latest reports out of Syria on the successes of Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime in their push to regain control of the country, with Russian backing, are creating the false impression that the opposition's time is up.

The truth, however, is that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is fighting for his life in Syria, far afield from his home in the Dahiya neighborhood of south Beirut. As the Syrian regime goes, so goes Nasrallah. If Syrian President Bashar Assad loses, Nasrallah and the remnants of his organization, exhausted from the fighting, will be targeted by the powers in Lebanon. In an act of desperation, Nasrallah is enlisting children, while evacuating his wounded and dead from the Syrian front.

Shiites, along with Nasrallah's rivals, are wondering how much longer he can continue fighting in Syria at the behest of the Iranians. This question is also being asked about the small Alawite minority in Syria (and about other small minorities as well), fighting for its survival while sacrificing its best sons and officers. It appears that resilience and the ability to endure hardships will be the basic determining factors inside Syria.

The Islamists in Syria are armed, primarily with patience. They are cognizant of these considerations and explain their manifest to all those who feel that Assad's fall is "a journey from the known to the unknown." The Islamist leadership has a clear doctrine.

The leader of the rebel group Soqour Al Sham Brigades, Hassan Aboud, recently gave an interview. Heavily armed and dressed in khaki fatigues, Aboud spoke with chilling tranquility, declaring that his first order of business was against Iran (until its ultimate expulsion from Syria) and the destruction of Hezbollah, "who will return from the battlefield to Lebanon, where they came from, dead." The bearded sheikh isn't impressed by the regime's recent gains. His demeanor exudes patience and a confidence that Islam (the Sunni version) will prevail.

Aboud's agenda is the foundation of an Islamic caliphate, with its center in Greater Syria. According to Aboud, the artificial states created by the West in the Middle East, within the framework of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, have disintegrated, ushering in the current return of the great Islamic state. Iraq, in Aboud's view, will be part of the future Islamic Syria, after the Shiites there are defeated. Along with the Iranians, the Russians will also be driven out of Syria and its ports.

Aboud's declarations point to the alienation between the other Islamist movements fighting in Syria, as well as between the secular elements in the Free Syrian Army. Indeed, Aboud rejects the participation of former Syrian military commanders, those who have defected, in the country's future leadership and denies them any piece of the future government pie — because they are "outsiders."

He does not conceal his Islamist agenda, which stipulates that Syria is only the beginning. The destruction of Israel, the enemy of the Islamic nation, is the next objective. After this the Islamic mission will focus on the rest of the world.

It is now easier to understand why the Syrian opposition is divided over sitting down at the negotiating table for any future talks with the regime over the country's fate, and why the superpowers are concerned about supporting it. It appears the sides will continue to fight over who will lead the country in the future, all the while laying waste to that very country.

From an Israeli and global perspective, Assad is bad and the Islamist revolutionaries are no better, and it doesn't truly make a difference who survives. What is strange about the current situation, in which the artificially created Arab states are crumbling, is that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants to grant the terrorist Hamas movement the ability to create yet another Islamist state, which is predicated on the stated goal of destroying Israel.

Reuven Berko is a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer. This article appeared June 13, 2013 as a Newletter in the English edition of Israel Hayom. It is archived at

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