Bashir al Assad’s speech said the “ultimate goal of the protests is to stop resistance to Israel.” Syria has been a major thorn to the Israelis as Iran’s main Arab ally and as the middleman to Shia’ Muslim Hezbollah in Lebanon. However the consensus in Israel is a greatly weakened Assad with his secular regime is preferable to a Muslim Brotherhood/ Al Qaeda state in Syria that appeals to its 80% Sunni population. The Sunnis despise Assad and his Alawite sect as non-Muslims. The Alawites celebrate Christmas and Easter and believe in human divinity for some of its past leaders. They resemble the lost children of the First Crusade. The Israeli talk of arming the Syrian Kurds is likely a disinformation campaign to rattle Assad’s cage. The Shin Bet, with its brand new leader, Orthodox Jew Joram Cohen and the Mossad want to weaken Syria as much as possible, without reaching the tipping point of regime change.
The other aspect of “conspiracy” that the Syrian government has cited is Al-Jazeera based in Qatar. The Arabic language version features the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood who has called for regime change in Syria. The English language version of Al-Jazeera is vastly different. Al-Jazeera English has featured noted atheists Slavoj Zisek and Riza Khan and has many past employees of the BBC. Suggestions of ties between Al-Jazeera English and British intelligence may be more than a “conspiracy theory.”
Slacker alert- The NYT analysis of the Assad speech was written by their Berlin bureau chief, Michael Slackman, who keeps confusing Shia’ and Alawites. He does not appear to be an area specialist.