Is Israel Trying to Wrest Control of the Druze from Syria?

With Russia and Iran solidly working together to etablish a new Middle Eastern paradigm, Israel appears to be creating one of its own.  Late Friday, the IDF responded to the Duze village of Hader’s request for help against ISIS by stating that Israel will absolutely lend aid to the embattled village.  There is only one problem, Hader is not within the current boundaries of Israel, but rather just East in Syria.

The village residents felt so threatened by ISIS that many attempted to break into Israel for safety where many of their relatives live.  The Druze are a stateless people who are spread between Syria, Southern Lebanon, and Israel.  In Israel, they are considered loyal, with many serving in the top units.

With Syria and Iran threatening Israeli security, the plight of Hader could well be the key for Israel’s entry into creating a formidable buffer against its enemies.  The Druze are loyal to the country they live in, which means the Syrian regime has benefited from outsized Druze support even during its lowest point during the civil war. Yet, Hader lies far West from the Syrian Druze main area called Jabal Al-Druze or Druze mountain.

Due to Hader’s location, Syria has been unable to apply its control there, which gives Israel the possibility for establishing a forward base in Syria, which can be used to push back Iranian control in the area. It is not clear how serious Hader is about its desires for Israeli help or even the ability for the IDF to enter, but given the fact that the region is under remendous mount of chaos, there is a logic in rethinking the borders and relationships in the area.  With the Druze finding success in Israel in a way they don’t in other areas, a unique opportunity may now exist to reach out to Druze communities in Southern Lebanon and Western Syria by offering a chance to ensure these communities security and prosperity under an expanded Israeli security umbrella.

This would send a message to Iran and even Russia that they are not the only ones that can shape and change assumed regional foundations.  The Syckes-Picot agreement has been buried.  It appears to be time for Israel to take charge and push back against Iranian and Russian machinations. Hader is the first test.

Druze Security Guard Praised for Apprehending Suicide Bomb Attacker and Saving Many Lives

On Sunday morning, a Palestinian carrying a bag with explosives was apprehended by a Druze security guard at a populated Jerusalem light rail station. A security guard spotted the suspicious man, tackled him to the ground and neutralized the threat. A bomb squad arrived and detonated the bag after closing down several blocks from vehicles and pedestrians.

The terrorist, in his 20’s and from Beit Ula near Hebron, was also found carrying several pipe bombs and knives. During questioning he admitted his plan to carry out an attack on the light rail train.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat of publicly thanked the Druze security guard and his team for their heroism. “This morning, thanks to the vigilance of the light rail security guards, a large terror attack was averted,” said Barkat. The Druze people have long been considered indigenous allies of Israel and they are upstanding citizens in Israeli society, volunteering in the army and protecting its citizens.

This attack attempt is just another one in the recent terror wave which started in October 2015 as a result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority to attack Jews.

Masoud Barzani: Kurdistan is ripe for independence

“The strong forces drew the borders, but now they are essentially destroyed and the time has come that this current reality has to be admitted and accepted,” Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said yesterday.  “We should admit that the concept of citizenship did not come forth, and the borders have no meaning anymore. It means Sykes-Picot is over.” The Kurdish leader also added: “Kurdistan is ripe for independence.”

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the Sykes-Picot agreement redrew the borders of the Middle East 100 years ago.   The borders the French and British drew had more to do with their interests than any relevancy to natural tribal boundaries.  Similarly to Africa, the colonial powers often times forced bitter enemies or culturally competitive societies to live together. By doing this, they created conflicts still unresolved today. It also allowed for Arabists to push migration of disenfranchised Arabs into the Mandate of Palestine as well as traditional Kurdish lands.  This artificially created an Arab presence in these areas, where historically it was very small.


With Western strength receding in the region, indigenous peoples, like the Kurds, Jews, and Druze are beginning to push back on the artificial boundaries placed on their traditional lands.  Barzani’s statement is a serious step in truly creating a new Middle Eastern order.

The Kurdish-Russian-Israel Detente is Set to Change the Middle East

“We don’t aspire to create an autonomous zone that is exclusive to the Kurdish nation,” said Rodi Osman, director of the Syrian Kurd’s representative office in Moscow. “We envision to install a federal regime, democratic and secular, in which all parts of Syrian society can live and by which they will feel themselves represented,” he told reporters.

The fact though, is that the newly declared autonomous zone is another step along the way towards an independent Kurdish state, not only in Syria, but in Iraq as well.  The Kurds are the largest indigenous group of people still without a sovereign state.  However, that may be changing.

If the Kurds do in fact reach independence, in at least a partial part (Iraq and Syria) of their historic homeland, they will have ISIS to thank. Without ISIS, the Kurds would have at little leverage on the world to back them towards independence.  Interestingly enough, it has been Russia as of late that has come to bat for the YPG (People’s Defense Units) in Northern Syria. While the USA, Turkey and all parties in Syria rejected the Kurdish declaration, Moscow, did not.

Russia’s abrupt pullout of Syria, maybe more to do with a realignment in Putin’s strategic thinking in who he can support to continue boxing in Turkey and bolstering his control in the Middle East.  Remember, the Kurds are primarily secular and they have proven themselves very efficient in rooting out and destroying ISIS.  An independent Kurdish state in Northern Syria and Iraq, backed by Russia would not only put an end to American hegemony in the region(if there is any left). It would however be a death knell to Turkey’s expansionist philosophy.  For Putin, he cannot accomplish this with Iran and Syria’s Assad as they bring far more downside.  

For Israel, A South Sudan Redux?

As the Western world continues its decline, Israel has been carefully continuing its strategic realignment. It is no secret that Israeli officials met with Russian representatives about security issues in the North. This meeting took place just days before the Syrian Kurds declared their autonomy. It is also known that not only does Israel buy Kurdish oil and train the Peshmerga in Iraq, but Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has gone on record supporting Kurdish independence.

Some would point towards South Sudan as a model for Israel to replicate with the Kurds. However similar, there are some very big differences.  The first is that Turkey, the USA, and the rest of NATO is in direct opposition.  The Kurds seem to have the entire world against them, except Russia. Yet, expecting Russia to rush a Kurdish state is to expect them to drop both Syria and Iran. This was very unlikely until now and that’s what makes the situation very interesting.

The Sunnis and Shiities look upon Kurdish independence as a break up of Arab colonialism from the South and Turkish colonialism from the North.  The Kurds, as are the Jews, Druze, and Arameans are the true indigenous people’s of the region. An independent Kurdish state would help no other Middle Eastern country except for Israel and with Putin’s increasing involvement in the region, an independent Kurdistan is becoming more of a reality than ever before. If the switch is on for Russia, Kurdistan would only need Israel’s tacit support, since the Russian Bear could offer it far more. For Israel, it needs to make sure it is on the right side of this geopolitical shift.  If not it could risk becoming further isolated.

Israel’s Indigenous Allies

In the turbulent middle east friends can be hard to find, yet there are some allies Israel can unify behind it under the banner of fellow indigenous people of the region.  Before the Islamic Jihad poured out of the Arabian peninsula, the region looked a lot different. Over the years, the world has gotten used to the idea that the Arab nation has always been here, but as I illustrated in my last post on Yathrib, the truth is a different manner.

What is taking shape in the region spanning from the Eastern Mediterranean to East Iraq, is a rising up of those peoples pushed to the corner by Arab muslims over the past 1300 years. The following is a short list of perhaps the most friendly to Israel and why each one can and should see itself as part of a larger alliance in the region.


So much has been written about the Kurds. They are the largest group still without a sovereign state, unless you consider the Kurdish Autonomous Region one. They are hated by Turkey and have been friendly to Israel.  They are Islamic in culture, but religiously very tolerant.  Related to the ancient Medes who were always welcoming to the Jews, they were the indigenous people of what is now Northern Iraq. Attacked from the South  by various caliphates and the North by the Turks, the Kurds are fierce in the defense of their homeland.

Israel has provided training and weapons to the KRG and behind the scenes has built an oil trade stemming from Mosul.  The fact that both groups find themselves on the same side when it comes to both ISIS and Turkey only cements the quiet partnership.


The Druze are part of the fabric of Israeli society.  They serve in some of the most elite units and are loyal to the state. Israeli Druze consider themselves to be part of a blood pact with the Jewish people and will defend the Land against the Arabs, whom they consider to be invaders. Major population centers of the Druze exist in Southern Lebanon and Jabal Al Druze in Southern Syria. There are 1.5 million Druze in the Levant.

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Cyprus has been under the broader Greek world for almost 2.5 thousand years.  Lying just to the West of Israel, it is one of the largest islands of the Mediterranean and shares many of the same gas fields as  Israel does.  It also suffers from occupation, with the Northern half of the Island under occupation from Turkey. This makes Cyprus a perfect partner in both defense and energy.


One of the most confusing things about Christians in Israel has been their connection to the Arab narrative.  Of course this has always been partly due to the fact that the Arab conquest forced many of these Christians to adopt Arab culture.  Despite this, many Christians in Israel and Syria have clawed back into their roots and have rebuilt their stolen identity once known as Aramean.  These Arameans are under threat in Syria, but have found Israel to be an excellent and natural ally against their common enemy, radical Islam.


Copts are the indigenous people of Egypt, that is before the Arabs invaded. They remained the majority population there until the 10th century and to this day are a large minority within Egypt. Since their roots can be traced to the beginning of Christianity and according to many Copts to the ancient Egyptians, the Arabs have made sure to oppress them in order to substantiate their hold.  Copts probably suffer the worst persecution across Egypt, Sudan, and Libya. Their plight is well known. Recently El Sisi, president of Egypt has gone out of his way to protect them.  


Armenians are an ancient people and although in the Southern Caucasus region, their proximity to Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, put them into the Middle East’s strategic envelope. They suffered heavily under the Turks and were decimated by the Ottomans in the early 20th century. One of the four quarters in Jerusalem’s Old City is heavily populated by Armenians and because of their suffering at the hands of the Turks they feel a sense of friendship with Israel and the Jewish people.

Armenians are also becoming a key geo-location in the growing friction between Russia and Turkey.  Russia has recently positioned attack helicopters there as part of their growing encirclement of Turkey. With all eyes on Turkey and ISIS, Armenia provides a great strategic ally in Caucasus region for Israel. It is another indigenous people that have suffered at the hands of Turkey, which has become one of the main backers of ISIS and radical Islam.

The above groups can serve as something more than a security envelope for Israel.  They can serve as a foundation for a liberated Middle East.


Iran and the Jabal Al Druze Fiasco

The political and military echelon in Israel have often stated that Israel is staying neutral in the Syrian civil war.  Any attacks on Syrian targets were meant to prevent game changing weaponry from falling into the hands of Hezbollah. After all, they insisted, our enemies are killing each other. No one seemed to be able to foresee direct Russian involvement and with it Iranian ground troops moving closer to Israel.

When the dust settles between Russia and Turkey their ISIS allies, Iranian, Syrian, and Hezbollah forces will in fact attack Israel. Despite what the leadership will tell us, their “neutrality” during this war enabled Iranian troops to fill the void left open on the Syrian side of the Golan. This tactical blunder on Israel’s part could have been thwarted as late as this past June. Jabal Al Druze or otherwise known as Druze Mountain is a district and home to a large portion of the Syrian Druze population situated East of the Golan Heights on the border of Jordan.  It is a mountainous region and until the civil war the population remained 100% loyal to Assad.  

Jabal Al Druze


With chaos reigning, ISIS forces began closing in on Jabal Al Druze in June and since the Druze are considered apostates by the Jihadists, many experts believed they would be killed on mass. Israel’s own Druze population wanted more to be done and yet nothing overt was undertaken.  

All of this was before Russian involvement, when Assad looked as if he was finished. Israel’s opportunity to push their security line far to the East was missed and now a resurgent Assad can once again count on the loyalty of the Druze there.

One of the reasons why Israel did not go into Jabal Al Druze was because the Israeli elite abhor the appearance of seeming like the aggressor.  The problem with this approach and especially in this situation, was that the Druze really looked under threat and given Israel’s own loyal Druze populace and the blood bond many of them feel with the people of Israel, extending the IDF’s control over this area would have been wholly explainable to the international community.

By the way, it should be noted that Jabal Al Druze was actually an autonomous region from 1921 to 1936 when Syria was under French control.

Timing is Everything

Five months later, and the Middle East has changed into something unrecognizable. Timing is everything in war and staying neutral is never an option within a fluid situation.  Bibi Netanyahu’s strategy has always been to wait this out, but opportunities are lost when you don’t move in time. The loss of moving Israel’s security line East, by harnessing a thankful Druze population in Southern Syria, now means Iran is at Israel’s border.

How fast the next stage of the conflict progresses is anyone’s guess, but if the last 2 months are an indication, staying out of Syria is no longer an option.

The Israel Kurdistan Connection


When Bibi Netanyahu stated in June of 2014 that the Kurds “are a fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence,” it surprised very few observers.  Israeli Kurdish relations have been the quiet success story of the ever growing chaotic and war-torn middle east.  The Kurds have enjoyed defacto sovereignty over Northern Iraq ever since the days of George W. Bush’s misguided adventures in state building, but nevertheless, one of the brightest points that came out of that foray is the burgeoning autonomous region of Kurdistan. Of course this is to the chagrin of Turkey and Syria (whatever is left of it), but nevertheless the Kurds are prospering despite the challenges of being a non-state actor pressed by all sides (Turkey in the North, ISIS to the South and West, and Iran to the East).

For Israel’s part, it has become clear that a stable Middle East, if there is a chance for one, revolves around the Kurds finding their long elusive independence.  Besides a civic society, independence requires economic and military capabilities to ensure survival.  This is where Israel has provided covert but necessary help.

Oil Revenues Driving Kurdish Economy

It is no secret that Northern Iraq is flush with crude oil.  This would make the autonomous Kurdish region a potentially wealthy area.  The challenge for the Kurds has been to get their oil out to the market outside of the framework of the Iraqi federal government.  An agreement was reached between the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) and the Iraqi Federal government in December of last year, which would have seen 17% of the national oil revenues go to the KRG in return for a ban on selling their oil outside the national framework. The agreement fell through shortly after that and the Kurdish Regional Government once again began to sell their oil on the black market.

The flow of Kurdish oil to the world takes an interesting direction and with it some unusual partners. The Times of Israel quotes a report in FT this past August that Israel uses a Maltese shipping company to transfer Kurdish oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan.  The total amount purchased was 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil, worth roughly $1 billion, between May and August of this year. This would support 77% of Israel’s total energy needs. Of course the oil seems to go from Israel to markets around the World.

Given the fact that the Turks and Kurds are mortal enemies this appears to be strange.  The Kurds deny this, but the evidence from the shipping routes is clear.  Israel has become the middleman for Kurdish oil.  Of course one reason that the Turks might be looking the other way is that their newly uncovered ISIS allies are also using the avenue to get their oil out to market. Despite fierce battles between the Kurdish Peshmerga and ISIS, when it comes to oil and money, the guns are put away.

The Kurds, with Israeli help, have built a thriving oil economy.

Peshmerga is an IDF Trained Army

It is known that in the 1960’s and 1970’s the IDF worked covertly to train the Kurdish Peshmerga to fight the Iraqi government. As recently as 2010, it seems that the Israeli government had sent officials to the KRG to help train their fighters. Since 2003 the Israeli government has been exporting weapons and other military supplies to the Kurdish region and, although no official recognition of this relationship exists, it is a known fact to both governments as well the Europeans and the USA.

Why Kurdistan?

The Israeli Kurdish relationship is complex and yet should be seen in a broader regional context.  Outside the Arabs, four other immediate indigenous players exist in the Middle East: Israelis (Jews), Arameans (Marionite Christians), Druze, and the Kurds.  Before the Arab expansionism after the Mohammed’s death, these four groups made up the indigenous groups outside the Arabian peninsula (Jews actually had independent kingdoms in Yemen and Arabia).

Traditionally for Israel, there is a natural affinity, almost brotherly between these four groups. Israel’s increased strength means that there is a potential to reset the balance to what it was before the Islamic push occurred. An independent Kurdistan would go a long way to not only restoring a sense of justice to the region, but it would bring a much needed stable player in a chaotic area of the world.

Russia on the Move

Ever since Turkey shot down the Russian SU-24 fighter jet last week, Russia has increased its push into controlling Syria. It has become apparent to most analysts that the Russians have laid off the Syrian Kurdish army and have focused on decimating the rebel allies of the Turkish government.  It is not a huge stretch to figure out who Putin would most likely want to befriend next.  Let me just say Turkey will not be so amused.