Sunday, October 08, 2006

Iran and Syria up the ante on Israel's northern front. Is a pre-emptive strike on Israel in the works?

Syria's Basher Assad

Syria Basher Assad had some provocative things to say in an interview yesterday with the Kuwaiti paper al-Anba.

Syria's dictator first said that he expected an `Israeli attack' and that Israel could attack Syria "at any moment."

"We must remain ready at all times," said Assad. "We have begun preparations within the framework of our options."

Assad also said that during the Lebanon war, he was `under pressure from the Syrian people' to go to war against Israel and liberate the Golan, but that he might not be able to do so again.

He also made the point that Iran and Turkey support Syria more than most Arab states.(Some of you will remember what I wrote about Turkey aligning with Iran's Islamist bloc against the West)Asked about the reason for giving priority to Iran and Turkey rather than Arab countries, he noted, "We ask the same question, and believe that the problem lies in the political stance of certain Arab states."

Even more interesting Assad referred to Iran as a nuclear power, said that the Arabs should engage and ally themselves with Iran, and most pointedly, referred to Shiite-Sunni conflicts as `a blunder'.

Assad is, in essence, calling for united action against the Jews and the West by Shiites and Sunnis under Shiite leadership. Syria's ruling Islamic sect, the Alawites, are a Shia offshoot, a fact that's not so well known here in the West.

In a seperate statement, Mohsen Bilal, Syria's Goebbels information minister, said his country had taken into account the possibility of an Israeli military attack. "Syria has considered the possibility of Israeli military action," Bilal told Aljazeera on Sunday.

He said Syria "is ready for all options and for Israel's hostile plans following the failure of its aggression in Lebanon".

Bilal also described the government of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, as "in crisis after its defeat in Lebanon and the victory of the Lebanese resistance".

Since Assad would never make war threats without clearing it and getting guarantees from Iran, this could well be a lead in to a preemptive strike against Israel.

From an Iranian standpoint, this could make sense. A Syrian attack on the Golan which escalated into a full-blown Syrian-Israeli war and a second Hezbollah/Lebanon assault from Lebanon could have a number of benefits for the Iranian/Shiite bloc.

It would force a wedge between the US and what remains of our Sunni allies if we chose to support Israel and the Jews.

A pre-emptive strike would also stretch our military assets between aiding Israel and defending and supplying US allies in the Persian Gulf, as well as making any possible strike against Iran's nuclear facilities difficult if not impossible. That might suit the Mullahs better than simply waiting passively and watching the US build up forces in the Persian Gulf for a possible strike on Iran.

Iran and Syria are also aware of the malaise afflicting Israel government and its military since the Lebanon war. They may think that the time is right to start a war now, rather than waiting until the IDF pulls itself together and Israel has the new leadership it so badly needs.

Aside from a potential strike on Iran, another factor that may turn up the heat in the region is the way Iraq the model is coming apart at the seams.

The Bush administration is apparently coming to the end of its rope in Iraq and preparing for a major review of its position there. The influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner(r-VA), said Friday that Iraq's government had 60 to 90 days to control the violence that threatens civil war or the United States would have to `reconsider its options'. This gives the Maliki government in Baghdad up to December or January to halt the sectarian war engulfing the country...something that hardly likely to happen given the importance to Maliki's party and the other Shiites of Iran's proxy Shia militias like Moqata al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Badr force.

One of the `options' being discussed, of course, is something your friend FF said he would have done from Day One, allowing Iraq to split into three, and putting our bases and devoting our main efforts to an independent,oil rich US friendly Kurdistan. Of course, that would not suit our `ally' Turkey or President Bush's `eternal friends' the Saudis..but better late than never.

If the US does in fact look to redeploy in Kurdistan, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah might not have a problem in pushing things over the cliff by attacking Israel and putting the Bush administration at war on three fronts at the same time.


Anonymous said...

i like the way ff, separate from other bloggers, gives the conditions then says, "this is what i would do."

alas, for all of ff logic it all comes down to what the saudi royal family tells their puppet boy in the oval office to do.

Anonymous said...

This Basher Assad has an uncanny resemblance to a guy I used to work with who was a complete and utter asshole. I guess assholes look alike.