Is Iran Trying to Start Another War?
The next questions should be "who is pulling Israel into the quagmire that Lebanon and Syria have become, and why?"
Israeli jets struck something Tuesday night; Wednesday's guessing game has been, "what was it?"
First reports from Western news services said the Israeli Air Force hit a convoy of weapons moving west from Syria toward, or even in Lebanon. A Lebanese army source said nothing was hit there and a sometimes-but-not-always-reliable source said it wasn't a convoy at all, but an arms depot near the Jamaraya institute, which some people think works on non-conventional weapons. A Syrian military statement said Israel had hit Jamaraya. U.S. officials said it was a convoy. At least one Western report said there was uranium involved.
In any event, Israel quickly dispatched high-level government and military officials to Russia and the United States to provide additional information and, perhaps, to alert those governments to additional threats.
The next questions should be, "who is pulling Israel into the quagmire that Syria and Lebanon have become, and why?"
It is unlikely that Bashar Assad is interested in acquiring another military adversary at the moment. The myriad rebel factions plus Turkey are making life hard enough for the regime. So the instigator might well have been Iran -- the only other party with the authority to undertake such a move. Why? One possibility is that Iran wants Hezbollah to tie down the Israelis and prevent a Western intervention to help the rebels. Another is that Iran really believes Assad won't survive and wants to move his assets to a "safer location," Lebanon.
If either is the Iranian strategy, it is a huge blunder. Israel has been known to cross borders when a security situation becomes untenable – Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 for example. If this security situation rises to that level, the next movement that the IDF finds intolerable would likely produce a similar or stronger response. The Iranians must be worried.
Iran and its client, Hezbollah, have both been supporting Assad's military and its assorted thug groups -- Hezbollah by lending Assad fighters, and Iran by supplying weapons, troops and officers. Atrocities inside Syria continue to mount, including the discovery of more than 100 bodies -- mostly executed with a bullet to the head -- in a canal in Aleppo this week. The rebels and the government exchanged accusations, but no one appears sure who did it. The final outcome of the war is far from certain.
Meanwhile Syria's periphery continues to roil, with reports that Turkey is fighting the Kurds through proxies, sending tanks and other equipment across the border and encouraging Syrian jihadist rebels to fight Kurds as well as the regime. Since the United States has been backing Turkey strongly, it is seen to be aligned with Turkey's attacks on the Kurds.
The risk in Syria is that in the increasing chaos and shifting alliances, the government will either use chemical weapons against its enemies; or lose control of the stockpiles. In some areas, rebel forces are reported to be a stone's throw away from taking control of some of these weapons. By threatening action if the rebels succeed, Israel appears to have announced its preference for Assad's control, rather than control by Hezbollah or the rebels.
If Israel believed the convoy was carrying poison gas (and perhaps missiles) to Hezbollah, or that the chemicals at the Jamaraya Institute were about to be moved or acquired by the rebels, it would consider those moves to be highly provocative. If, in fact, Israel's "red lines" have been crossed, we may be seeing the start of a rapidly developing "Ho Chi Minh trail" problem -- the complex corridor by which North Vietnam supplied its forces operating against South Vietnam and the United States. The U.S. spent years, thousands of man-hours, and millions of bombs trying stop the supply. When it finally became clear that no amount of bombing, defoliation, and counter-attacks could do it, the U.S. began bombing the source of supply: North Vietnam.
The same is true for Syria -- but Israel does not have years to spend on the problem. The location of Syria's chemical weapons depots, manufacturing facilities, missile bases and supply depots is well known. It is not unreasonable to assume that Israel can take them all out, and liquidate the Syrian Air Force as well. If the Iranian strategy is to move its assets to Lebanon and the control of Hezbollah, it is inviting Israel to eliminate Syria's war-fighting capability and hasten the demise of both Assad and Hezbollah.
It appears that Israel responded to a rapidly evolving threat in a measured way. But will Iran stop?
Stephen Bryen is President of SDB Partners, LLC. Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.
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|Anti-Iranian speculation [34 words]||Matthew Slater||Jan 31, 2013 16:29|
|Another Consideration [177 words]||Ethan P.||Jan 31, 2013 15:10|
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
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"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
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by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
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On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?