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Published on 11 February, 2013

Israel, Syria: the risk of regional outburst.

Syria (MNN) — Pre-emptive or not, Israel has entered into the fray surrounding Syria.

It's believed that the Israeli strikes on January 30 targeted anti-aircraft missiles at a military base outside of Damascus. The missiles, according to Israeli intelligence sources, were headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

However, recent remarks by Syria's defense minister signaled that there won't be retaliation over the airstrike. In fact, it's quite the opposite. SAT-7 CEO Terry Ascott explains, "Syria could be galvanized toward unity were it attacked by Israel. In fact, President Assad's status has gone up several points in the wake of the Israeli attack because he was then seen as a victim of Israeli aggression, and this garnered the sympathy of neighboring Arab states as well."

So despite the appearance of escalation, Ascott thinks war is unlikely. The real threat for Israel comes from Hezbollah. There are many who believe war with Hezbollah is inevitable, which is what prompted the pre-emptive strikes to prevent a delivery of weapons. Ascott describes the situation in Syria. "It's a sort of ‘jumping off' place for Iran, in terms of being able to influence certain areas such as Lebanon, Iraq, and certainly to be able to supply Hezbollah with arms in its struggle against Israel."

Ascott goes on to say, "What happens in Syria after the regime falls, or loses control of much of Syria as it already has, is going to impact many of the countries in the region, including Israel. Israel, of course, is concerned about what transpires in Syria." Meanwhile, Israel took preventative measures in the north of the country, and on February 05, they added a third Iron Dome anti-missile battery.

As to the discussion of no clear cut ‘bad guy' in the Syrian uprising, Ascott says the complexity of the situation can't be seen in black and white. Regardless of who winds up running the country, "It is a no-win situation. We cannot see a happy ending, at least for the Christian community, whether the government survives or the government goes. It is of major concern that Christians are vulnerable to attacks from both sides at the present time."

If the rebels win, he says, "It would only progress then toward a civil war between the different factions involved in the fight against the present regime. In all cases, it's not going to be good news for most Syrians and certainly for minorities such as the Kurds, or the Alawites, or the Christians." These scenarios weigh heavily on the region and the hundreds of thousands of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP).

SAT-7, a Christian satellite television outreach to the Middle East and North Africa, is responding. Ascott explains, "These are concerns that we are addressing, for example, through our weekly live call-in show with a Syrian host that's looking at the situation there and also seeking to bring comfort, encouragement, and hope to the Christians in Syria."

Viewers are flocking to SAT-7 as a refuge from the violence tearing their country apart. "What we want to do is bring a perspective: ‘How would Christ react if He were in that situation today?' And, ‘What are the real needs–emotional, spiritual, psychological–of the people that are still watching us in Syria, those that haven't been displaced and have lost their TV sets and lost their satellite dishes?'"

While SAT-7 stays away from the politics of the country, they address the everyday impact of how those issues impact people. Their programming teams walk a fine line, says Ascott. "Pray for wisdom for the team. It really does need the wisdom of Solomon to kind of bring hope and perspective into a situation, so complex, so ugly, and so fast-changing as that in Syria."

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About Syria

  • Primary Language: Arabic, Standard
  • Primary Religion: Islam
  • Evangelical: 0.1%
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Data from the Joshua Project
Phone: 410-770-9804
Fax: 410-770-9807
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Easton, MD
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