(Photos courtesy Israel Defense Force)
Israel (MNN) ― Syria filed a formal protest with the United Nations against Israel, over last week's airstrike.
In it, Syria also declared its right to self-defense, a move backed by Israel's enemies, which include Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. That's bad news when it comes to staying away from more aggressive action. Spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA Todd Nettleton explains, "What we see now is the rest of the world and the rest of the region almost taking sides in this discussion of whether or not Israel had the right to do this. Is this an act of war? It's hard to know what's going to happen from here."
Was it an act of war? Nettleton says, "It's an act that reflects Israel's desire to keep significant weaponry out of the hands of Hezbollah, particularly in the case of the possibility that this was chemical weapons, to make sure that the chemical weapons in Syria do not get into the hands of the sworn enemies of Israel."
Although there were conflicting reports on how many targets there were, and what Israel was trying to hit, Nettleton says, "It does seem that there was something on the move toward Lebanon, and the Israelis decided not to let it be delivered."
Another underlying concern is that the strike also revealed a weakening Assad government. If the arms shipment that Israel took out was heading for Lebanon, some experts think Syria saw their arms stockpile as more secure outside of the country. The military in Syria has its hands full with intense rebel attacks on major weapons installations.
Meanwhile, Tom Doyle, an e3 Partners expert on the Middle East, suggests that if Assad's regime does fall, it's likely that it will be replaced by a Sunni-led government. Should that occur, analysts think Hezbollah wants to be able to fend off challenges to its control in Lebanon.
Doyle adds that an Islamist government change could also affect opposition groups in Jordan. There are concerns that Islamists would embolden Syrian insurgents, too. Should the boundaries fall apart, the repercussions in the region could be volatile.
Already, Syrian refugees are spilling over the borders by the thousands every day. Nettleton observes, "That flood will continue until there is some stability and some order and people feel like they can be protected and can be safe in the country. As far as Christians, they're part of that because the instability and the violence affect them as well, with the added caveat that sometimes they are targeted specifically because of their faith."
Many Christians fled to Syria to escape persecution and violence in Iraq. There aren't many options should there be an outbreak of war. However, Nettleton goes on to say, "The biggest thing we can do is pray. Sometimes we say that almost as if that's sort of our fallback position. The reality is: what they need more than anything else is for God to move in this situation. They need protection, they need peace, and they need encouragement."