Syria will become a 'failed state'

2012-05-31 16:01

Tel Aviv - Syria is heading for collapse and will become a "warehouse of weapons" for Islamist militants as it descends into chaos, a senior Israeli army commander said.

"Syria is in civil war, which will lead to a failed state, and terrorism will blossom in it," said Major-General Yair Golan, making a rare public appearance at a conference at Bar Ilan University on Wednesday. "Syria has a big arsenal."

The Arab republic's stock of mainly Russian-made weapons includes surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and marine missiles.

It also possesses chemical weapons which Syria never used in its wars against Israel but which could be attractive weapons for militants, the general said.

"The risk to Israel is taking shape," said Golan, who is commander of Israeli forces on the border with Lebanon and the disengagement line with Syria in the Golan Heights.

"The challenge we are facing is a huge one," he added, according to a translation.

Grip on power

The Israel Defence Forces were "deeply engaged in getting ready, with plans and physical means" along the borders, the Northern Command chief said, without offering specific details.

It was very difficult to forecast how Syria would break up, Golan said. It could be effectively "cantonised" by the conflict that has raged for 14 months since President Bashar al-Assad turned his army on protesters and a rebel force fought back.

Golan said Assad's ally Iran was trying hard to help the president stay in power, and Iran's Lebanese ally Hezbollah was in turn a very determined enemy of Israel which has "no intention of letting us off easily".

Hezbollah "feel obligated to their guardian [Iran] and when needed they are going to do what Iran is interested in", he told an academic audience at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.

Hezbollah is the most potent hostile military force directly on one of Israel's borders, but it has done nothing evident in the past 14 months to exploit the Syrian crisis or start trouble with Israel to divert attention from Assad's bloody crackdown.

The Shi'ite movement was focused on creating a "comprehensive ballistic array", Golan said. At the moment, most of the estimated 60 000 rockets and missiles Hezbollah has in place are short-range, low-payload rockets.

Third Lebanon war

"It's not nice to live under this threat in northern Israel, but this type of threat is not a decisive factor against Israel," he said. "Let's not exaggerate when we talk about it."

Hezbollah also has longer-range and more accurate missiles and hopes to obtain more to threaten all of Israel, he said.

If Hezbollah were to attack, however, it could expect massive retaliation which would not be limited to Israeli air power, Golan said. Reliance on air power alone was "a hallucination". There would also be a war of "manoeuvre", he said, signifying a land offensive.

"We need a combined effort," Golan told the conference.

In the event of a third Lebanon war, he said, the IDF would aim to "set back the next threat for a long time by hitting them [Hezbollah] very hard so they won't feel like engaging us again for many, many years".

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to dislodge Palestinian militants operating in the country. It finally withdrew its forces in 2000, but went back to war in 2006, clashing with Hezbollah guerrillas.

About 1 200 people, mainly civilians, died in Lebanon in the subsequent fighting, along with 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  lebanon  |  syria  |  iran  |  israel  |  middle east peace  |  syria conflict

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.


Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


Treat yourself to something beautiful. You tend to put so much energy in making everything around you work harmoniously, more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.