Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Stoking Sectarianism in Syria

Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Stoking Sectarianism in Syria

Thursday, 14 June, 2018 - 10:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iranian-backed militias in Syria of fueling sectarian tensions and divisions in the war-torn country.

Netanyahu accused Iran of bringing in 80,000 Shiite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and “convert” Syria’s Sunni majority.

“That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war - I should say a theological war, a religious war - and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on ... And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries,” Netanyahu told an international security forum.

“Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We’ll fight them. By preventing that - and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shiite militias - by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world.” he stated without elaborating.

About half Syria’s pre-war 22 million population has been displaced by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.

Syria’s population is mostly Sunni Muslim. Regime leader Bashar Assad is from the Alawite religious minority, often considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Under recent deals between Assad’s regime and mainly Sunni rebels, insurgents have left long-besieged areas sometimes in exchange for Shiite residents moving from villages surrounded by insurgents.

The political opposition to Assad says the deals amount to forced demographic change and deliberate displacement of his enemies away from the main cities of western Syria. The regime says the deals allow it to take back control and to restore services in the wrecked towns.

Last week, Netanyahu warned that Iran’s meddling in the Middle East could lead to a new massive wave of refugees headed to Europe.

Netanyahu charged that Tehran has been able to bankroll a growing military presence in countries such as Syria and Yemen because sanctions had been lifted in exchange for its halt in nuclear enrichment activities.

Iran wants to "basically conduct a religious campaign in largely Sunni Syria but try to convert Sunnis," he said after holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Editor Picks