by Khaled Abu Toameh
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is now trying to direct the heat toward Israel.
Like most of the Arab dictators, Assad wants Israel to be held responsible for instability and violence.
Facing growing protests in his country, Assad has decided to send Palestinians living in Syria to march on the border with Israel, even if that means that some of them could get killed or wounded by land mines or gunfire from Israeli troops.
Assad, of course, has never cared about the Palestinians. He is not sending them to the border with Israel because he supports their "right of return to Palestine."
Nor is the tyrant in Damascus sending young men, women and children to confront and provoke Israeli soldiers because he wants to help Palestinians or alleviate their suffering.
He is dispatching them to the border because he wants to divert attention from his serious problems at home. Assad wants the international community and media to focus their attention on the Israel-Syria border and not on the daily massacres that his regime has been perpetrating against Syrians in the past few weeks.
The Assad regime has banned Arab and Western media representatives from covering the massacres that his soldiers are committing. Journalists from different parts of the world have been denied entry to Syria out of fear that they would report on the brutal crackdown on innocent civilians and anti-government demonstrators.
While Syria TV has refrained from carrying live coverage of the daily anti-Assad demonstrations in the country, the station this week reported extensively and live from the clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who were trying to infiltrate the border into the Golan Heights.
State-controlled Syria TV has been reporting about the events inside Syria as if they are "isolated and sporadic cases of violence instigated by armed gangs and thugs who receive support from external forces." Assad's TV station is continuing to pretend as if everything is fine and calm in Syria and that the only problem is with a tiny minority of armed gangsters and thugs who are shooting and torturing civilians and members of the Syrian security forces.
When Syrians began demonstrating against his regime a few weeks ago, Assad also tried to blame Israel, the US and some Arab countries and TV stations. Clearly, many Syrians have not bought that claim and are continuing to demand regime change in defiance of Assad's tanks and ruthless measures.
Now Assad is hoping to use the Palestinians in his country as cannon-fodder to save his regime. That is why he has allowed Palestinians and some Syrians to march on the border with Israel.
For the past four decades, Assad's army stopped everyone from coming close to Israeli soldiers and the Israel-Syria border was the calmest and most peaceful front. The events along the Israel-Syria border in recent weeks are a sign that Assad has decided to change the rules of the game to salvage his regime.
Khaled Abu Toameh
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.