Why Israel bombed Syria

And why Syrians don't care

Smoke and fire fill the the skyline over Damascus, Syria, early Sunday, May 5, 2013 after an Israeli airstrike. Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital Sunday, setting
(Image credit: AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)

Israel was twice able to attack targets inside Syria in the middle of an incredibly dangerous civil war where chemical weapons have been used, and no one seeks to blame them for the conflict. I find that remarkable. Nothing would unite Syria like a common enemy, and yet even when the common enemy invades their country, it makes more international headlines than in Syria itself.

As a geopolitical affair, the Syrian civil war has almost nothing to do with Israel. It's a conflagration whose embers seem to blow by the neighboring country. Depending on the level of abstraction you'd like, it's a conflict between the Sunni majority and the Alawite family leadership that kept power by relying on Shia Iran; it's a popular revolt over the autocracy and ineffective four decades of Ba'ath party plutocracy in Damascus; it's the boiled-over frustrations at the Assad family; it's a proxy conflict between Sunni jihadists and Iran; it's a continuation of the Arab spring; it's actually the first real Arab awakening (where the long-oppressed Sunni religious majorities significantly alter their expectations about how to live their lives).

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is TheWeek.com's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.