TEL AVIV – A former Syrian brigadier general who defected from the Syrian regime wrote a letter to the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein saying that Israel should open a dialogue with the Syrian people and support the opposition in its fight against the regime, Ynet news reported.
The letter marks the first time a former official in Bashar al-Assad’s regime has reached out to Israel. So far, Israel has maintained a policy of non-intervention and has not given official support to either side in Syria’s civil war.
“When I was a part of the regime, I was convinced that former President Hafez al-Assad missed an opportunity to make peace like former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. But when you serve the regime, you need to say what it wants [you to say] and not what you really think,” Nabil al-Dandal, who served as director of the Immigration and Passports Directorate in Deir al-Zour and later as director of the Political-Security Directorate of Syrian Intelligence in Latakia, said in a phone call with Ynet.
“Israel has an opportunity to make peace with the Syrian people, who now, since the revolution against al-Assad, have made sense of many things including the lie that the regime is selling regarding its resistance to Israel,” he continued.
Al-Dandal blasted “outrageous” statements made by Israeli officials who believe that al-Assad remaining in power would be more beneficial to Israel.
“Syrians expected Israel to send a message of peace, emphasize they stand with them against dictatorship and tyranny, and support and create peace among the two nations and not just among self-interested, tyrannical leaders. Syrians were hugely let down when they heard the statements of a number of leaders in Israel and senior security officials, who said that they want to stick with al-Assad.
“We must understand that the Syrian people are not ISIS [Islamic State] or Jabhat Al-Nusra. These [groups] are made up of people from outside Syria and they are products of the Syrian regime,” he stressed.
The former general called on Israel to stand beside the people and not tyrants.
“History has taught that he who stands with dictators loses and he who stands with [the] people wins.”
He expressed his wholehearted belief that his opinion represents most Syrians, even if at times the opposition, which includes jihadists, has expressed anti-Israel positions.
“The Syrian people want peace with Israel. But Israel needs to say that it stands beside it and not the regime.”
He also warned of the danger posed by the Iranian presence in Syria.
“Today there is a Persian plan that is no longer secret. The Iranians control a number of capitals in the Middle East. Does Israel not fear that [Iran] will reach its borders? That’s what it must ask itself.”
The Syrian dissident did not rule out the option of visiting Israel himself.
“We need to end wars. Have we not had enough of them for the [past] few dozen years? We need to sit down and talk. I am ready to do that anywhere,” he said.
“The Syrian people want to emphasize to the Israeli people that it wants to separate itself from wars and that it is ready to take the necessary steps to build the infrastructure for religious coexistence in the homeland of Moses and Jesus,” he added, noting that Jerusalem was “a city of peace” and all believers should have the right to pray there.