JERUSALEM, Israel -- President Obama announced Thursday the U.S. will increase aid to Syrian rebel forces in response to President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons. But whatever the eventual outcome of Syria's civil war, both Assad and the rebel forces have Israel in the crosshairs.
Assad has promised to open a new front against Israel on the Golan Heights once the civil war is over. Though he's repeated the threat a few times recently, it's not new.
While Israel's northern border with Syria has been relatively quiet since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it has been a cool peace at best, with Assad periodically threatening to retake the "occupied" Golan Heights.
Israel captured the strategic heights in the 1967 Six Day War, ending years of terror for Israeli farmers and their families in the Hula Valley who were subject to daily sniper fire from Syria. Israel developed the Golan, which had been largely neglected, building infrastructure that allowed residents to develop dairy and cattle farms, wineries, hotels and bed and breakfasts enjoyed by vacationing Israelis and tourists alike.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel defeated Syrian forces that temporarily overran the Golan. Following the war, Syria signed a disengagement agreement for the area, and in December 1981, the Knesset voted to annex the small, but strategically important heights.
Today, the rebel forces battling Assad are largely made up of Islamist groups at least as hostile to Israel as Assad's regime. Rebel leaders have also vowed to target Israel once the war's over.
In February 2011, U.S. backing contributed substantially to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, paving the way for the Muslim Brotherhood's takeover. With the election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Israel's 1979 peace treaty with Egypt has been on somewhat shaky ground.
The eventual outcome of Syria's two-year civil war remains to be seen, but either way, the prospect for peaceful coexistence with Israel appears a distant dream.