Ambassador Mark Johnson of Montana World Affairs Council on Israel – Syria Conflict [AUDIO]
"Someone once said if hell had a theme park, it would be in today's Syria." Those are the words of former ambassador Mark Johnson, now affiliated with the Montana World Affairs Council in Missoula.
"This is just an awful situation," Johnson said on Monday. "70, 000 to 80,000 people have been killed on both sides of this civil war with over a million refugees. It is a truly heartbreaking situation," Johnson said.
And now, Israel has become involved in the conflict.
"Over the weekend, we had two instances where Israeli fighters with their defense force fired into Syria from perhaps nearby Lebanon to take out shipments of lethal missiles that have been supplied by Iran," Johnson said. Then, on Sunday, a second attack came with witnesses reporting these huge fireball explosions. This causes this who Syrian situation has become ever so much more dangerous and will possibly cause distress for the U.S. and other countries," Johnson said.
Now that Israel has become involved, Johnson said the situation has become much more complicated.
"Israel in that part of the world has become the licensed legitimate grievance," Johnson continued. "You can't criticize your own government, but you can always criticize the Israelis. People will have to take sides now, and the Arabs in the Middle East will always take sides against Israel, even though, in their heart of hearts, the Saudi's, for example, would like to see the Assad regime go, but they dare not be seen fighting on the side of the Israelis," Johnson said.
Now, Johnson says Iran has put in at least $10 billion dollars into the Syrian regime.
"You have to understand that there are today in Syria, Iranian revolutionary guard forces fighting," Johnson said. "Iranian and Iraqi Shia are fighting on the side of the Assad government. so, if you say Syria is involved, in the same sentence you have to say Lebanon is involved, then Iran, and now we can say that Israel is involved. So, if there's any good news here, its very hard to find."
Former Ambassador Mark Johnson