Although the Israeli airstrike in Syria was billed as a strike against “chemical weapons” the details of the attack now emerging suggest it was aimed at key components of either the warheads or the delivery systems. Haaretz, quoting sources in Syria, describes attacks on 5 locations in the Damascus airport area: “aircraft fuel tanks, Syrian army ammunition storerooms, the army’s runway and a civilian cargo plane that had arrived from Iran to Damascus were destroyed”.
the attack was carried out on five sites in the airport area. Some were close to each other, while the civilian aircraft was a kilometer away from the other targets. The source explained that the number of targets and the distance between them refutes the Syrian government’s claim that Syrian Free Army forces attacked the fuel tanks, as these factors mean that they must have been attacked from the air rather than by mortars. The website also reports that nearby “noises were heard of aircraft breaking the sound barrier.”
As an element of conflict it has more characteristics of a beginning rather than an end. The Israeli strike is far too small to ‘end’ the Syrian chemical threat. However, Haaretz notes that a number of consequences are now likely to arise from the Israeli attack.
First, Assad may use it to unite Arabs against Israel. “The Syrian opposition is publically distancing itself from all contact with Israel, as it will be seen as relying on the national enemy in order to defeat the government”.
Second, the the response will likely take the form of a “second front” in Lebanon. And Haaretz continues, “such Israeli involvement is likely to provide legitimization for Iran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting in Syria, as well as to the opening-up of another front in Lebanon.”
Nor will it be a Ghost Front. The Telegraph describes the forces now arrayed against each other:
While the border has been largely quiet since, the struggle has taken other forms. Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top commander, and Israel blamed Hezbollah and Iran for a July 2012 attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. In October, Hezbollah launched an Iranian-made reconnaissance drone over Israel, using the incident to brag about its expanding capabilities.
Israeli officials believe that Hezbollah’s arsenal has markedly improved since 2006, and now boasts tens of thousands of rockets and missiles and the ability to hit trike almost anywhere inside Israel.
The other thing the Israeli strike did is emphasize the limits of the current arrangements. For it seems obvious that Israel is picking up the actual tab for Barack Obama’s vaunting offer to keep Assad from crossing his “Red Line”. against the use of chemical weapons. For the White House the raid is an example of ‘I left my wallet at home, could you spot me a fifty?’ In Haaretz’s words:
In light of the alleged Israeli attack in Damascus and the refusal of Western countries to intervene in the Syrian campaign, the question arises whether Israel will be able, or will be required to expand its activities in Syrian airspace, under the guise of preventing weapons from reaching Hezbollah or other organizations and also as an aerial umbrella to protect rebel forces. Such a solution is likely to be comfortable for the U.S., other Arab countries and Turkey, who are not prepared for military intervention on their part without extensive international agreement.
Obama however, has no problem supporting the rebels almost everywhere some of whom may be good liberal democrats, though others may be as pro-American as the Tsarnaev brothers. In fact the assistance program to the Syrian opposition if it were a TV show might easily be titled Bonanza.
At this stage, the U.S. is providing the rebels with non-lethal assistance. This week, a large shipment of night-vision equipment, uniforms, radios and other logistical equipment arrived. But these are not sufficient for the rebels, who also demand heavy weaponry, anti-aircraft missiles and tanks. The U.S. is also training the rebels in Jordan and simultaneously supporting the training of Syrian Kurdish rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to reports in the Arab press, Israel is in close contact with the administration in Iraqi Kurdistan, and is apparently also involved in training the Kurdish rebels.
Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel. Is there anything the Obama administration can’t do in the Middle East? Well, yes. Enforce its own Red Lines. Now about that Iranian nuke … and about that Egyptian implosion … and yes, let’s not forget North Africa. What to do? What to do? Aren’t you glad Benghazi was “a long time ago”?
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference where you are
Any boast your heart desires
Will come to you
The IDF is kind
She brings to those to above
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the Blue
Fate draws the Red Line for you
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true