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05 May 2013

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b

While the strike on Friday was on (alleged) Hizbullah missiles the multiple strikes today hit directly at the Syrian army. It was an attempt to "level the playing field" and to keep the fight going until Syria is destroyed.

But there is problem. The insurgency is taking significant casualties and the Israeli strike will make new recruitment of insurgents very difficult. Meanwhile more patriots will join the Syrian army. The numbers of boots on the ground is the decisive factor in this struggle.

While Israel unlikely intended this, its strikes may help the Syrian army to, in the end, win this fight.

Babak Makkinejad

A deliberate set of provocations intended to cause Syrian government to retaliate against Israel, therefore furnishing Israel with the excuse of destroying major military assets of Syria. So the task has been subcontracted to Israel from US.

I venture to guess that Syrian Government will not respond to this provocation.

Margaret Steinfels

Is the rumored reason for the attack, Iranian weapons intended for Hezbollah, true or false? If false, what else was there?

Is this an effort to goad the U.S., Britain, and France into action? John McCain is on the case!

turcopolier

All

This may well be a Bibi directed piece of chicanery intended to force the US into Syria. McCain was on FNS this morning snarling, sneering and heaping scorn on Dempsey for not wanting war with Syria. The man is certifiable. Bibi's decision to force this action on a reluctant IDF may have been caused by the recent deterioration in the position of the rebels. so far as I know the rebels don't have much in the way of body armor. pl

Harper

Col. Lang, as usual, has posed a crucial question. Here are some added factors I am aware of that may help answer this time sensitive question. First, I understand that there was no real evidence that the missiles were to be imminently shipped to Lebanon. What happened last week is that the Syrian Army retook control over a crucial corridor from Damascus to the Lebanese border, that had been held by rebels for a number of months. Israel has been fully in on the series of consultations by the Obama Administration in the past several weeks, that also involved Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and Jordan (in fact a story in the Sunday Times of London claims that the US is organizing a "MEATO" Middle East Alliance Treaty Organization directed at "containing" Iran. Israeli leaders have been told that the US response to the CW claims is to begin providing lethal aid to the rebels, in spite of the strong JCS concerns about the Salafists growing clout in the opposition, fully backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In anticipation of the lethal aid, Israel decided to launch preventive strikes against known sites where Hezbollah missiles are stored for safe keeping inside Syria, expecting that the "game changing" missiles could be sent to Lebanon at any time given the advances that were made on the strategic corridors. Times of Israel reported last week that Assad could win the war. Obama cannot let that happen, and he has told national security aides that Assad must be brought down before the end of the year. The Iranian presidential elections in June will put the Iran nuclear issue back front burner, regardless of who wins the election and what level of popular protest emerges. After pushback from the JCS against further military involvement in Syria (Dempsey gave a luncheon with defense reporters at the Christian Science Monitor and said bluntly that there were no military options in Syria), Netanyahu got cabinet authorization to launch the preemptive strikes on Syria on Thursday night. The second round of attacks on Sunday, referenced by Col. Lang, truly do up the ante significantly, but I do not believe that this is an Israel-only initiative. If forces the hand of the US potentially, but will be applauded in Riyad, Ankara, London and Paris. The safe bet is that Obama is no Eisenhower, and he will not do a replay of Ike's demand that the British, French and Israelis leave the Sinai in 1956. The Israel play is to force the issue with all the allies and reverse the gains made by Assad's forces in the past few weeks. Israel was late coming into the dump Assad alliance for obvious and sound reasons. But I am told that Bibi is convinced that Assad will be ousted this year, and is accommodating to that reality and positioning Israel to get the most out of a deteriorating situation. He has already declared war on the Al Nusra Front and other Al Qaeda elements of the opposition, and the US is training vetted units of the Free Syrian Army in Jordan, including to capture and control chemical weapons. If the phase of the Syria campaign to oust Assad was a bloody mess, wait for the next phase.

toto

Do we know what, exactly, was destroyed during the Sunday raids?

kao_hsien-chih

If anything else, it would help undermine the cause of the anti-government factions even more. It will only further the appearance that they are in cahoots with the Israelis, I suspect.

mbrenner

First, do you suspect that Washington knew or had an inkling that this was coming? did it give tacit approval?

As to motives: based on nothing more than situational logic, there may be another line of reasoning. Among bad outcomes, the least bad is a relatively quick and complete overthrow of the Assad regime in the hope of forestalling Islamist supremacy. Yes, I have put this on the table before - but this is not advocacy just a conjecture that has gotten little attention.

P.S. Broke a vow and looked at Zakaria to hear Haass, Joe Klein and (everyone's favorite) Ann-Marie Slaughter. Conclusion: Kojak reruns are still more rewarding

walrus

To me, the wild cards in this mess are the reactions of Russia and China. What are they likely to do?

ISL

At first I thought this was a test of the Syrian air defense system, but Israeli Jets stayed out of Syrian airspace. Strange. I would have assumed that Israel would have wanted to test them. I dont see how these bombings in any way can force Obama's hand or change the situation on the ground. Perhaps I am missing something....

fatsamurai

Experts on Syrian and Lebanese media are saying that the 4th Brigade was targeted by the strikes and that casualities are in the hundreds .

The 4th was inflicting the harshest casualities on the rebels according to local media.

Al Arabist

The Col. is right and Harper too. But what about Hezbollah, pushed into the corner? Won't they strike back? And Iran has already been threatening via Nasrallah who made clear statements that he would fight back. These are factors too.

oth

Bibi enjoys the chaos and showing Obama who the real man is. The JCS needs some culling to know their proper place in this special relationship.

Expect some more DoD scandals soon.

turcopolier

mbrenner

Probably not but it does not matter. they did this for their reasons with their own assets and will continue doing so. don't over-think it. pl

Fred

Harper,

A question on these two points:
"... in spite of the strong JCS concerns about the Salafists growing clout in the opposition, fully backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE."

"Times of Israel reported last week that Assad could win the war."

If true that Assad could win the war insn't that actually in our interest as the Salafists are certainly our enemy? Even though Assad might win wouldn't he be so severely weakened in the conflict so as to pose no real threat to US interests for some time to come?

Tyler

Walrus made a good point. How are Russia and China to react to this?

bth

Could you elaborate a little more on the 4th Brigade?

Jane

The long range battle is for the Islamic masses world wide. So, one calculation for DC and for Israel is whether allowing Assad to continue to slaughter the rebels in his country will lead to greater or lesser appeal of Salafists world wide.

Is Israel penalizing the crossing of red lines for Obama, and if not, which I believe to be the case, is there any one in the Arab world who will believe that this is not the case?

Elad R

1. The real achievement here - the suppression of the Syrian SA-10 Grumble anti aircraft system while blinding it's Radar to the point the IAF airplanes attacked 9 different targets around Damascus - sends a loud signal to the Iranians and to the Obama Administration that the red line defined by Israel's PM while standing at the UN podium does exist and Israel has the capability to enforce it.
2. Number of casualties, Latest verifiable reports - 4 dead 70 wounded.
3. Targets : Israel did not publish it's intention and did not disclose the list of targets to prevent an embarrassment to the Assad administration, and to prevent further escalation. So far, it worked.
4. Syria's response - Assad Regime will not escalate the situation, and most likely we will see some terror activity in the Golan or against Israeli targets overseas.

The beaver

Looks like sarin was used by the rebels and not by the Syrian government:

U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
"U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday."

Tigershark

I wonder what McCain would say about this report; "U.N. has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas: investigator"

http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-voices-grave-concern-reports-israel-strikes-175615206.html

My guess is he would give the same answer he always seems to give: "Bombs Away"

William R. Cumming

What were the weapons Israeli forces used to destroy the targets since according to ISL they were outside Syrian airspace?

Margaret Steinfels

Re chemical attacks, Monday's NYTimes. "In an interview over the weekend with Swiss-Italian television, Carla Del Ponte, one of the leading figures in a Geneva-based United Nations investigation, said there were strong suspicions that the rebels seeking Mr. Assad’s overthrow had themselves used sarin, a nerve agent, but there was no “incontrovertible proof” that they had." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/world/middleeast/syria.html?ref=world

Clifford Kiracofe

The three Israeli strikes are acts of war irrespective of targets thus Israel IS AT WAR with Syria.

The US, UK, and France via proxies and covert aid with Saudi and the Gulfies are AT WAR with Syria and have been for two years.

We are IN war, just as in the early war phase run up to the Bush-Blair Iraq War. Secret planning and operations for that war started in the spring a year before the full on US war. We have been in this phase in Syria for two years.

POTUS, Commander in Chief, stated two years ago Assad must be overthrown and just restated that this week. It is reasonable to assume POTUS visit to Israel touched on further coordination of the war against Syria and that green lights were given. Israel will naturally continue to do what it wants with or without a US green light.

McCain, wild eyed and foaming at the mouth as usual, chimes in against Gen. Dempsey to cut against JCS resistance to a regional war. Meanwhile Kerry is off to Moscow where he will try to talk the Russians out of support for Assad.

Why is Bibi in China???

So, regional war this summer?

Clifford Kiracofe

"Testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests rebels have used the nerve gas agent, sarin, according to a leading United Nations investigator.

Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that there were "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof".

Ms Del Ponte did not rule out the possibility that government forces might also have used chemical weapons, but said she had not seen evidence..."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22424188

So, was this the opposition trained by the US? Or was it the AQ types? Or???

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