As the Syrian civil war enters its 9th year, with up to 500,000 dead and 11 million displaced, Haaretz’s Military Correspondent Amos Harel explains how Bashar Assad came out on top and what his victory means for Israel and the wider Middle East.
How did Assad win the war?
"Assad has already declared victory in the civil war. The United Arab Emirates have decided that they're going to send their ambassador back to Damascus and the fact that Russia and in some ways even Turkey now recognize him as the winner in this war is a great victory."
What does Assad's survival mean for Israel, Iran and Hezbollah?
"Israel never said it publicly, but secretly Israel actually wished success for both sides. The Syrian Civil War was not a bad development for Israel. The fact that two sides were fighting each other and both camps deeply hated Israel. The fact that they were so busy fighting each other meant that Israel had more space to do what it needed to do."
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Will Assad seek a military conflict with Israel to stop the airstrikes?
"Assad right now is mostly concerned with regaining his hold over Syria. He's not interested in a direct confrontation with Israel. He would only lose if something like this happens. If it does, if things escalate on the Israeli-Lebanese border, I would assume that both Iran and Hezbollah would expect Assad to help but this is not something that Assad is interested in happening and he would rather avoid any kind of direct confrontation with Israel whether on the Syrian border or on the Lebanese border."
Read more: Assad Won Syria's Civil War. Can he Now Survive an Israeli Attack? | Doctor, 'Butcher,' President: The Journey of Syria's Infamous Leader | How Assad defied the odds, won in Syria and pushed the U.S. out