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21 September 2007

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zanzibar

Israeli leaders pissed at Bibi for confirming Syria attack.

I just don't buy that the North Koreans are helping Syria develop clandestine nuclear reactors. Nuclear technology is complex and not easy to hide. The North Koreans were barely able to detonate a device. The yields were so low when they did it there is certainly some doubt if it was a real nuclear device. On the other hand if it were the Pakistanis involved that could mean something else.

The Israelis are convinced they own their neighborhood so can act as they please and take out targets anywhere their aircraft can fly irrespective if the threats are real or just perceived. At this juncture the Syrians and Lebanese don't have the muscle to retaliate - but maybe that changes sometime. Paybacks can be a bitch.

mt

In Los Angeles the symbolic power of boom boxes and vehicles that drop & pop are legendary. Good times.

Will

the next big story. the indirect election of the President of Lebanon by the Parliamentarians.

128 total members, before deaths. Majority would be 64+1. March 14 forces have 68.

from syriacomment.com

"Al-Safadi: we won’t take part in electing a president with half+1 quorum (Translation thanks to Mideastwire.com)

Tha’ir Abbas of Asharq Al Awsat, an independent Saudi owned newspaper, wrote on September 19: “The Lebanese public works minister Muhammad Al-Safadi, the head of the parliamentary Tripoli Coalition which is part of the March14 bloc, settled the issue of his coalition over the issue of the quorum necessary to elect the next president with his announcement to Asharq Al Awsat in Beirut yesterday that he will not accept to participate in electing a president with the half+1 quorum and that he will not recognize the legitimacy of any president elected solely by the March 14 team of which his coalition, which includes four MPs, is part. Al-Safadi warned strongly against electing the president with a half+1 quorum and considered that doing so “will expose the country to a risk of civil war”.
"
March 14 is Hariri, Jumblatt, Kataeb(Phalange) & C0. March 4 is HA, Amal, Aoun & Co. March 4 contends the Constitution requires a three fifths quorom to hold an initial meeting. They say they will deny a quorom unless a consensus candidate is agreed on beforehand. It all supposedly starts Sep. 25. In cases of deadlock there is the potential for two rival gov'ments.
It looks like the next president would be Not March 14 nor March 4 but outside of either camp. Gen Michel Suleiman- the chief of staff. It would take a constitutional amendment b/c of less than six months b/n time of military and civilian service.

Syria and Saudi are backing different candidates. Some attribute this factor to their recent tiff.

johnf

Does it really need to have been about anything but gestures and PR? Israel got a pretty good drubbing last autumn in the Lebanon and its air power was shown to be pretty useless. Maybe it felt a gesture was neccessary.

I don't think there's going to be a war against Iran. We've had two years now of almost constant hysteria about being on the brink of it. So maybe it was felt a gesture should be made. It could be used to test out Syria's missile defences (new Russian ones have possibly just been installed, though that is murky). You can spin it as a dry run for a nuclear attack on Iran. Then it can further be spun as some sort of nuclear/North Korean for gullible westerners to start worrying about. It keeps the mills of fear a-turning.

jonst

Pl,

I take it then that you conclude there was something 'affected', or 'staged' in Bush's response, or non-response, the other night?

I thought it odd and put on,planned, when I saw it live.

Random thoughts....second odd incident involving a nuclear story in the past few weeks. Recall recent the nuclear tipped cruise missiles on US plane story? Can't be connected. Still, some odd things abound.

William R. Cumming

I know "messages" do get sent as part of the continuum of the diplomatic/military spectrum. But given the current status and delicacy of negotiations or whatever you would call it with the two remaining "Axis of Evil" countries would the Israelies do anything involving them without clearing it by consultation with the US? Of course the reverse also concerns me, does Israel get full consultation from the US before it acts with respect to those countries? Strangely, we know historically that N. Korea has been a very very active supplier of technology and weapons in S. Asia. Could this be more of the same? I never could understand the N.Korean strategy except where they receive cash in hand for technology and technical assistance.

W. Patrick Lang

All

To my own list of possibilities I would add the Israeli fear of a loss of deterrence. pl

Martin K

The N. Korean-ship theory sounds really strange to me. NATO has an almost perfect lockdown on both the Straits and Suez and I can not imagine a North Korean civil vessel going unchecked. If there was a bombing at all, I would guess it was some weaponsystem delivery for Hezbollah coming in over land through Turkey, hence the message of the fueltanks.

Arun

Strangely, we know historically that N. Korea has been a very very active supplier of technology and weapons in S. Asia.

South Asia is India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and sometimes Afghanistan is counted. North Korea has been active only in Pakistan, as far as I know.

Arun

The point being, why say "South Asia" when you mean "Pakistan"?

Will

facts of the Israeli-Syrian strike

Name: Operation Orchard

Aircraft: "Raam F15I - the newest generation of Israeli long-range
bomber, which has a combat range of over 2,000km when equipped with the drop
tanks. eight aircraft,
including Israel's most ultra-modern F-15s and F-16s equipped with Maverick
missiles and 500lb bombs. Flying among the Israeli fighters at great height,
The Observer can reveal, was an ELINT - an electronic intelligence gathering
aircraft."

Sunday, September 16, 2007
The Observer (UK): accessed thru IMRA.org

Sidney O. Smith III

The attack on Syria was intended to be an act of symbolic foreshadowing.

When information remains lacking, I offer for consideration the following “methodology’: relying upon techniques from the art of dramatic writing, e.g. constructing a dramatic structure. If the end game -- the next act -- is the IDF attacking with US approval Iranian nuclear facilities, then this event most definitely is symbolic foreshadowing.

There is evidence that supports this view. It is a quote from Bolton in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (hat tip: Gordon Prather at awc). Bolton -- in the same vein as Wursmer:

"We're talking about a clear message to Iran – Israel has the right to self-defense – and that includes offensive operations against WMD facilities that pose a threat to Israel. The United States would justify such attacks."

This message wasn’t intended for Western consumption. The audience is Iran.

Of course, if this is correct, then this foreshadowing is evidence that the USG will act in manner that will put US ground troops at risk in Iraq. It is further evidence that the USG has a greater loyalty to Wurmser’s Weltanschuaang than to the protection of US ground troops in the Iraq. It supports the idea that the Baghdad-Basra supply line should be protected by whatever means necessary.

Seems to me that the Israel’s fear of a loss of deterence increases odds of attack.

Caveat: Subsequent information may throw this analysis out of the template of a coherent dramatic structure. It just is a way to reach rebuttable presumptions as to intent. Also, it relies on the assumption that the end game is an attack on Iran.

Also Porter article re: attack may be worth a gander.

http://www.antiwar.com/prather/?articleid=11655

Dana Jone

There has been much speculation about the Israeli violation of Syrian airspace on Sept. 6, with the Syrians claiming that the IDF planes were detected and forced to turn back and dump thier bombs in the desert. Israel has been unusually quiet about he whole thing, allowing speculation about bombing a suspected Syrian nuclear or missile site. Now usually the IDF would be bragging to the whole world about an attack if it was successful.
I suspect however that they were actually on the way to IRAN when detected and forced to abort the mission. The only proof lays in the Syrian desert, IF they dumped "bunker busters" when forced to turn back. Only the Syrians (and I presume the Iranians by now) know for sure (and of course the IDF and US). There are only three routes the IDF can take to Iran, the southern one goes through Saudi airspace, but is the most direct to the nuke plant at Bushehr, but if the Saudis say no, that leaves the middle route over Jordan and through Iraq. Of course how do the Iranians tell the difference between US F-16's and IDF F-16's coming out of Iraqi airspace and decide who to retaliate against? We'd sure hate to loose a carrier or two if the IDF forgot to leave a calling card. The last and longest route is the northern one over Syria and northern Iraq, but they could be detected by the Syrians and would have to abort the mission. Also, they would not need external fuel tanks to strike a target in Syria, only if they were going to Iran. This is why I feel it was a failed attempt at hitting Iran and the IDF is just happy to let everyone speculate about nukes in Syria.

Cold War Zoomie

" Flying among the Israeli fighters at great height, The Observer can reveal, was an ELINT..."

This doesn't seem out of the ordinary. I would suspect that you always want to see what "lights up" once the guys on the ground detect you.

Rivet Joint is an example.

My only question would be, whose aircraft was it?

(If The Observer is right.)

As a note, I've only been on one of these things once for a 15-minute briefing and that was 20 years ago. So I'm kind of talking outta my a$$.

dan

Dana

Per the terms of the UNSC mandate which authorises US military presence in Iraq, the US is formally obliged to prevent the violation of Iraqi airspace by unauthorised third parties.

Given that the current Iraqi government refuses to recognise Israel, it's unlikely that Maliki would even take the phonecall from Olmert; then again, it's inconceivable that the IAF could "punch" through Iraqi airspace without the active complicity of the US military - and Iranian military retaliation against the US would be perfectly lawful. I don't imagine the subsequent political wreckage would be much fun either.

Obviously, getting the IFF codes for "operations" in Syria that bring one's planes close to US controlled Iraqi airspace might be useful if you're trying to use the Kurdish corridor to get into Iran, but it's still an awful long flight from there to either Isfahan or Natanz.

At any rate, I've always thought these putative Israeli bombing plans a touch silly: getting to the targets is hard enough, getting one's pilots and one's planes back would require miracles - fancy flying to dodge SAM's and/or enemy aircraft consumes a lot of fuel.

The Israeli "plan" has always been to persuade the US to do the dirty work.

WILL

folks there's a wikipedia article on operation orchard that even gives the squadron involved. Go figure.

of course you'd have to know the name of the operation to access it. the previous article name had been 2007 syrian air strike or such.

William R. Cumming

Agree with note that South Asia only Pakistan has demonstrated N. Korean interest but they also have had activity reported in South Asia.

Walrus

I was going to say something about something but that could literally lead to a knock on the door so I won't.

Instead I'm content to say the following. Neither Israel or Syria is saying much about this at all. That tells me something.

What if Israel wanted to give a Iran and Syria a warning and test their air defences at the same time?

What if they decided to do this by attacking a Syrian secret facility that the Syrians are not too proud of.....like a CBW storage compound? Perhaps the story about the Scud/Chemical warhead accident is cover?

That would explain the reticence by both parties.

JohnS

Via Joshua Landis: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=371

"Trish Schuh is the only Western journalist to actually go to Deir al-Zur, the area where Israeli plans are said to have attacked a missile depot." 

What did Trish Schuh find?

"Several days ago, after the attack on Syria's 'nuclear program', I spoke to western oil company officials in Deir Ez Zor.  One technician told me they routinely monitor radiation as part of the refining process. They registered no heightened levels of nuclear residue in the area as there would have been if the Israelis had hit a North Korean atomic stockpile. Operations and technical foremen put it this way: 'The nuclear claims against Syria are pure bullsh*t.'  
.
The Syrian smoking gun is the complete lack of any mushroom cloud."

John Shreffler

It was chemical warheads on NORK Scud-C's, according to Larisa Alexandrovna:

http://rawstory.com//news/2007/Intelligence_officials_say_Israel_received_flawed_0924.html/

dana jone

What if the Israeli claims about nuclear materials are just a smoke screen to hide the fact they dumped Depleted Uranium 'bunker busters' in the middle of the desert when they were detected by the Syrians on the way to Iran and forced to abort the mission?
What if the Israeli commandos didn't "seize" NK nuke materials, but planted it instead? How the hell would anybody know if the stuff came from NK anyway? Are we to take the Israelis word alone for it? Who else could verify it?
The IDF would love to have another Osirak moment when they bombed the Iraqi reactor in '81 and didn't lose a single plane. Ain't gonna happen again, not in Iran. Too many people both over and under estimate Iranian capabilities, but the ones that underestimate are the ones that scare me, like the Admiral that stated that we can "take out" the Iranian military "no problem". It would only take one Iranian missile hitting the hanger deck of a flat-top full of planes fueled and armed for bombing runs to erase that illusion, and cost us thousands of lives all at once. They arn't called "The Crazies" for nothing.

Clifford Kiracofe

Alistair Crooke's take:

..."The Syrians saw on their radars the four fighters that penetrated into Northern Syria from the Mediterranean; but they also saw the much larger numbers of Israeli aircraft that were flying in a holding position close to Cyprus. The Syrians were not about to disclose their anti-aircraft missile capacities to Israel; and the intruders dropped the munitions and their long-range fuel tanks without pressing any attack, but returned to join the larger group still flying a holding pattern off Cyprus before all returned to Israel as a single formation.

The Israeli objective remains a matter of speculation, but the general conclusion is that Israel was only ready to run such a risk against unknown air defenses either as a proving run or, given the size of the numbers of aircraft off Cyprus, to destroy some target that for whatever reason they were unable to engage. Either way, the mission seems related to future conflict……"
in Syria Comment at
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=418

Cold War Zoomie

"The Syrians were not about to disclose their anti-aircraft missile capacities to Israel;..."

Maybe that's where the Rivet Joint-like aircraft reported earlier comes in. If true, the Syrians may have suspected this was a probe to get them to light up their spectrum for all to see.

This is what happens when someone can capture all that info:

Constant Source

We had one of these terminals where I worked. A budy of mine said he was watching threats disappear from the screen during our bombing raid on Libya in 1986, or it was the predecesor to Constant Source he was watching - I can't remember.

I'll add my usual caveat: I'm just throwing out ideas here.

Will

from breitbart.com

" Clients of Yes, Israel's sole satellite television provider, have had to put up with frozen and fuzzy images and sound disturbances for weeks, with the company unable to pin down the source of the problem.

The company, which provides services to nearly one million clients, warned that it risked bankruptcy because customers were abandoning it in droves, so the government stepped in to look for the cause.

Israel now suspects that the source of the disturbances, which began following an Israeli air strike in Syria on September 6, originate from Dutch and German ships of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. "

how about that?
it's the UN ships messing up the sattelite TV, but they were not messing it up prior to Sep 6.

So, the Israelis on Sep 6th either
1) fried the UN ships electronics or
2) fried some satellite TV ground receivers

Cold War Zoomie

The latest:

NY Times Article

Possibility number 1 wins.

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