(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The destruction of Syria is proceeding according to schedule and at a steady pace. The "international community" chorus recently included a BBC report about children in Syria being used as human shields by Bashar Assad's forces.
Several months ago, the international media were busy reporting about Libya and the horrific crimes Qadhafi's forces were perpetrating against the Libyan people: women, children, the aged.
What happened in the past few months that changed Syria - then a strategic ally of Turkey with open borders for easy movement of people and trade, whose president and wife were hosted in Paris by the French president - into what it is made to stand for today? How and why did the ground shift so suddenly?
I am not sure that the Arab Spring is the answer. A deeper examination is needed to see beyond the obvious rhetoric in an attempt to understand what is really happening.
In the case of Libya, the absolutism of the tyrannical regime and its convoluted one-man rule, its erratic behaviour were a worry to Israel and the West especially, since much of Europe was, to a large extent, dependent on Libya's soft oil.
No one understood Muammar Qadhafi either at home or abroad and his unpredictability was surely a source of worry to Western as well as Arab capitals. Syrian oil is not the only concern; Syria has other assets that are of major concern, to Israel in particular.
Syria's intentions and behaviour were well understood and predictable to all. Even its connection to Iran, on the one hand, and Hizbollah, on the other, were within the range of comprehension. Syria's borders with Israel were most peaceful since the occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967; one cannot cite even one serious incident along that frontier during all that time. Hizbollah was behaving within the parameters of the stagnant, intractable Arab-Israeli conflict and the Lebanese quagmire. A sort of uncomfortable modus vivendi existed where it was understood that no one was a threat to anyone. And while Iran occasionally issued some loud, threatening noises against Israel, that too was within the realm of the stable/ unstable politics of the region. Iran talked but was never a serious threat to Israel. As a matter of fact, it was always Israel that kept the tension high in the area and was the source of threats.
Since 1967 and Israel's success in neutralising Egypt, the Arab world, including Syria, never for a moment posed a military threat to Israel. In fact, the Arabs seem to have been removed from the equation, with Turkey, Iran, Israel and the United States sometimes consulting and negotiating with each other over issues of the region as if the Arabs did not exist.
While we, Arabs, seem to be still in the process of deciding which century, indeed even which millennium we belong to, Israel has been creating facts not only in Palestine but in the entire region and at international level too. The moment appears most propitious to annex the Golan Heights.
The dismemberment of Syria into several weak statelets, in accordance with Israeli strategic thinking, will create the right atmosphere for another annexation. With Syria dismembered, who is going to demand the return of the Golan Heights to Arab sovereignty?
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position consolidated in Israel now that Kadima joined his coalition, with the Americans busy with their presidential elections and both candidates vying for the favours of the Zionist lobby and with Europe suffering severe financial and identity crises, the stage is set and the time is right for Israel to once again redraw the map of the region.
The Golan Heights are of monumental importance to Israel. Their military advantage over the entire Fertile Crescent and even beyond is too obvious, to say nothing of its vast water resources!
The "Syria crisis" is actually much larger than Syria itself; its implications are of international dimensions. Russia's presence in Tartous and Latakia backed by the Chinese at the United Nations Security Council promises what appears to be a historical international political realignment along an East-West axis.
The writer is director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.