T Nation

Airstrike on Syria

from the September 19, 2007 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0919/p06s02-wome.html

Israel sends Middle East a message with Syrian airstrike
Analysts say Israel may now believe it can attack Iran’s nuclear facilities without reprisal.

By Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Jerusalem
It’s the event that everyone here �?? and no one �?? is talking about.

Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied the target of its Sept. 6 airstrike in Syria. Was it, as some media outlets reported, an attack on the run-of-the-mill munitions being transferred through Syria on their way to Hizbullah, or was it a strike on nuclear components supplied by North Korea?

Either way, Israel’s chief of military intelligence announced that Israel’s deterrence had “been restored.”

But unusually quiet, regional analysts note, are moderate Arab states and international players who would, in the past, have been quick to condemn any act of Israeli aggression against a neighbor.

Amid the state-imposed silence from officialdom here on what exactly Israeli bombs struck and why (Israelis are discussing it only on the basis of leaks in Washington), observers see several key messages.

First, Israel was able to strike at Syria without suffering any consequences, military or diplomatic. Second, Israel might take steps to fulfill one of its ultimate security objectives, which is to prevent other countries in the Middle East from obtaining nuclear capability, especially those overtly hostile to Israel.

Third, if a Syrian nuclear installation can be targeted by Israel without any international outcry �?? and with the tacit backing of allies in the US and Turkey �?? Iran’s nuclear facilities are looking more likely than ever to be next.

“Some analysts think that it’s a message to the Iranian regime that Israel can strike anywhere in the region. And it shows us the extent of cooperation between Israel and Turkey, because Turkey didn’t condemn the attacks until now,” says Emad Gad, an expert in Israeli affairs at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. Israel dropped fuel tanks in Turkey near their border with Syria as part of the operation.

“I think some Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and some other circles felt happy about the Israeli strike. Still, the main message is to the Syrian side,” Dr. Gad says, pointing to Israel’s frustration over Syria’s assistance to Hizbullah, Hamas, and other Palestinian militant factions operating in Syria. Many in Egypt and elsewhere in the region see Israel’s strike, when put in the context of the international community’s standoff with Iran, as a step toward a bigger confrontation.

“We are heading toward what will probably be a European-US strike targeting the Iranian project, and people here are afraid of what the Iranian reaction will be,” he adds. “It will be hard for them to hit America, and so anything that’s seen as an American installation in the region could be a target.”

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born, Tel Aviv-based analyst and author of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran,” says the muted reaction to Israel’s strike has Iran quite concerned.

“What worries Iran most is that the international community hasn’t condemned Israel,” says Mr. Javedanfar. “If they’re not saying anything about Syria, and Syria’s not as much on the outs, what does it say for Iran?”

He says the operation had several goals in mind. “One, get Iran to come back and start negotiating seriously and put better offers on the table. Two, restore Israel’s deterrence to what it was before last year’s war with Lebanon. I think it has done that, in a big way, because Syria has not responded.”

Not so fast, others say. Deterrence, one of the most important concepts in Israeli defense, is also one of its most amorphous. The Haaretz newspaper Tuesday criticized Israel’s Director of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, for having declared Israel’s deterrent capability restored in one fell swoop.

“A successful strike �?? if it did occur �?? could serve as a statement: anyone who places nuclear weapons near Israel’s borders or within striking distances will have to pay a price,” the paper’s editorial read.

But, it continued, “Israel’s deterrence is measured day in and day out in the western Negev as well. Hundreds of Qassam rockets from Gaza strike the region every month, with Israel unable to come up with a deterrent response.”

All of this comes at a time when there seemed to be increased signs of hope for an Israeli-Syrian rapprochement. The possibility of the two countries revisiting the negotiating table, abandoned more than seven years ago, has been in the offing in recent months, though the Bush administration has been encouraging Israel to focus on the Palestinian peace track instead.

Hebrew University professor Moshe Maoz, a supporter of the potential for Israeli-Syrian peace, worries that a strike could further radicalize Syria.

“This could restore deterrence, sure, but it might further undermine the chances of peace with Syria, and push them closer to the Shiite axis,” he says. “Israel is pushing Syria, along with Bush, into the hands of Iran, by refusing to talk to them.” In fact, some other Iran analysts say Israel’s strike was a kind of victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad, who has been able to turn to Syria sanctimoniously and say that his " ‘advice’ about Israel not wanting peace was true all along," Javedanfar explains.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters this week that he was ready to make peace with Syria if the conditions ripen, and that there was no reason to rule out dialogue.

“The Israeli deterrent track has always been kind of divorced from the political track, and they’re always willing to put one ahead of the other if they think it’s something urgent,” says Kenneth Pollack at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “They obviously knew about this site for a long time; they didn’t discover it last week. It underlines a point that everyone knew: Israel doesn’t want other countries to acquire nuclear weapons and it will do whatever it thinks is necessary to stop it,” he adds.

“But no one knows what the Syrians were up to,” he says. “People are wondering if it was a very nascent nuclear program and no one wants to see that.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0919/p06s02-wome.html

Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

I suspect the Middle East may be a tad bit unstable.

It wouldn’t be the first time Israel takes out Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I hope they do it. I certainly wouldn’t want a country whose publicly calling for my destruction, to obtain the ability to carry out thier bidding. Fuck em, go Israel, Ra Ra Ra!

Following Pat’s observation:

http://opinionjournal.com/columnists/bstephens/?id=110010619

Osirak II?
Israel’s silence on Syria speaks volumes.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In the late spring of 2002 the American press reported that Israel had armed its German-made submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. In Israel, this was old news. It was also headline news.

“Washington Post: Israeli subs have nuclear cruise missiles,” was how the Jerusalem Post, of which I was then the editor, titled its story of June 16. It wasn’t as if we didn’t previously know that Israel had purchased and modified the German subs for purposes of strategic deterrence. Nor did we delight in circumlocutions. We simply needed the imprimatur of a foreign source to publish items that Israel’s military censors (who operate as if the Internet doesn’t exist) forbade us from reporting forthrightly.

So it’s more than a little telling that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz chose, in the wake of an Israeli Air Force raid on Syria on Sept. 6 dubbed “Operation Orchard,” to give front-page billing to an op-ed by John Bolton that appeared in this newspaper Aug. 31.

While the article dealt mainly with the six-party talks with North Korea, Mr. Bolton also noted that “both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched.” He went on to wonder whether Pyongyang was using its Middle Eastern allies as safe havens for its nuclear goods while it went through a U.N. inspections process.

How plausible is this scenario? The usual suspects in the nonproliferation crowd reject it as some kind of trumped-up neocon plot. Yet based on conversations with Israeli and U.S. sources, along with evidence both positive and negative (that is, what people aren’t saying), it seems the likeliest suggested so far. That isn’t to say, however, that plenty of gaps and question marks about the operation don’t remain.

What’s beyond question is that something big went down on Sept. 6. Israeli sources had been telling me for months that their air force was intensively war-gaming attack scenarios against Syria; I assumed this was in anticipation of a second round of fighting with Hezbollah.

On the morning of the raid, Israeli combat brigades in the northern Golan Heights went on high alert, reinforced by elite Maglan commando units. Most telling has been Israel’s blanket censorship of the story–unprecedented in the experience of even the most veteran Israeli reporters–which has also been extended to its ordinarily hypertalkative politicians. In a country of open secrets, this is, for once, a closed one.

The censorship helps dispose of at least one theory of the case. According to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Israel’s target was a cache of Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. But if that were the case, Israel would have every reason to advertise Damascus’s ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty, particularly on the eve of Lebanon’s crucial presidential election.

Following the January 2002 Karine-A incident–in which Israeli frogmen intercepted an Iranian weapons shipment bound for Gaza–the government of Ariel Sharon wasted no time inviting reporters to inspect the captured merchandise. Had Orchard had a similar target, with similar results, it’s doubtful the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert–which badly needs to erase the blot of last year’s failed war–could have resisted turning it into a propaganda coup.

Something similar goes for another theory, this one from British journalist Peter Beaumont of the Observer, that the raid was in fact “a dry run for attack on Iran.” Mr. Beaumont is much taken by a report that at least one of the Israeli bombers involved in the raid dropped its fuel tanks in a Turkish field near the Syrian border.

Why Israel apparently chose to route its attack through Turkey is a nice question, given that it means a detour of more than 1,000 miles. Damascus claims the fuel tank was discarded after the planes came under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which could be true. But if Israel is contemplating an attack on Tehran’s nuclear installations–and it is–it makes no sense to advertise the “Turkish corridor” as its likely avenue of attack.

As for the North Korean theory, evidence for it starts with Pyongyang. The raid, said one North Korean foreign ministry official quoted by China’s Xinhua news agency, was “little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security.” But who asked him, anyway? In August, the North Korean trade minister signed an agreement with Syria on “cooperation in trade and science and technology.”

Last week, Andrew Semmel, the acting counterproliferation chief at the State Department, confirmed that North Korean technicians of some kind were known to be in Syria, and that Syria was “on the U.S. nuclear watch list.” And then there is yesterday’s curious news that North Korea has abruptly suspended its participation in the six-party talks, for reasons undeclared.

That still leaves the question of just what kind of transfers could have taken place. There has been some speculation regarding a Syrian plant in the city of Homs, built 20 years ago to extract uranium from phosphate (of which Syria has an ample supply). Yet Homs is 200 miles west of Dayr az Zawr, the city on the Euphrates reportedly closest to the site of the attack.

More to the point, uranium extraction from phosphates is a commonplace activity (without it, phosphate is hazardous as fertilizer) and there is a vast gulf separating this kind of extraction from the enrichment process needed to turn uranium into something genuinely threatening.

There is also a rumor–sourced to an unnamed expert in the Washington Post–that on Sept. 3 a North Korean ship delivered some kind of nuclear cargo to the Syrian port of Tartus, forcing the Israelis to act. That may well be accurate, though it squares awkwardly with the evidence that plans for Orchard were laid months ago.

More questions will no doubt be raised about the operational details of the raid (some sources claim there were actually two raids, one of them diversionary), as well as fresh theories about what the Israelis were after and whether they got it. The only people that can provide real answers are in Jerusalem and Damascus, and for the most part they are preserving an abnormal silence.

In the Middle East, that only happens when the interests of prudence and the demands of shame happen to coincide. Could we have just lived through a partial reprise of the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor? On current evidence, it is the least unlikely possibility.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

Idiots. And just who is going to finish Israel’s war of aggression? So tough talk equals pre-emptive military strikes?

This is a perfect example of who is actually the aggressor in the Middle East but you STILL don’t get it. There is a reason its not big news here – it was an attack based on more bullshit lies that can’t be substantiated by anyone but Israel of course. Its hard for the US media to widely report on stories like this because they have to maintain the false image that Israel is a poor victim who just wants to live in peace with the rest of the world

“The Washington Post reported this week a US official as saying that recent satellite imagery, mainly provided by Israel, suggested that Syria may be building some form of nuclear facility with the help of material unloaded by North Korea.”
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2964474.ece

If these Arab countries really wanted to destroy Israel and all the Jews, they would have banded together and done it long ago.

Anyway you guys should go to Israel and join the cuckoo celebrity love fest…

Madonna tells Peres she is ‘in love with Israel’
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3449701,00.html

As if we needed anymore proof you guys are crackpots, lol

Note how Syria obeyed international law and filed a complaint at the UN instead of escalating.

Syria complains to UN over Israel
Map

[i]Syria has formally complained to the United Nations about an alleged raid by Israeli aircraft over its territory.

The Syrian ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, said Israeli fighter planes had dropped munitions after crossing Syria’s frontier last Thursday.[/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6989961.stm

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, same old tired bullshit, blah, blah, blah, blah[/quote]

Damn JTF, you’re a one trick pony. Give it a rest.

[quote]lixy wrote:
Note how Syria obeyed international law and filed a complaint at the UN instead of escalating.

Syria complains to UN over Israel
Map

[i]Syria has formally complained to the United Nations about an alleged raid by Israeli aircraft over its territory.

The Syrian ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, said Israeli fighter planes had dropped munitions after crossing Syria’s frontier last Thursday.[/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6989961.stm[/quote]

Yea, cuz the UN is an ultra capable, highly efficient orchestrator of world peace. Good grief.

BTW, didn’t GWB appeal to the UN at least twice prior to the Iraq invasion? How’d that work out?

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Why isn’t anyone talking about this?
[/quote]

There’s a good reason. It’s just business as usual for Israel. They have been violating the airspace of every neighboring country in all impunity because the US is backing them unconditionally.

No later than yesterday…

‘Israeli warplanes raid’ Lebanon

[i]Israeli warplanes have flown at low altitude over southern Lebanon in defiance of a United Nations resolution, reports from Beirut say.

The fighter jets allegedly caused sonic booms as they flew over the cities of Sidon and Tyre, as well as the towns of Bint Jbeil and Marjayoun.

Israel has so far made no comment on the Lebanese claims.

Israel has been criticised by the UN for making a number of overflights in Lebanon in recent weeks.[/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7001006.stm

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
Idiots. And just who is going to finish Israel’s war of aggression? So tough talk equals pre-emptive military strikes?

This is a perfect example of who is actually the aggressor in the Middle East but you STILL don’t get it. There is a reason its not big news here – it was an attack based on more bullshit lies that can’t be substantiated by anyone but Israel of course. Its hard for the US media to widely report on stories like this because they have to maintain the false image that Israel is a poor victim who just wants to live in peace with the rest of the world

“The Washington Post reported this week a US official as saying that recent satellite imagery, mainly provided by Israel, suggested that Syria may be building some form of nuclear facility with the help of material unloaded by North Korea.”
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2964474.ece

If these Arab countries really wanted to destroy Israel and all the Jews, they would have banded together and done it long ago.

Anyway you guys should go to Israel and join the cuckoo celebrity love fest…

Madonna tells Peres she is ‘in love with Israel’
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3449701,00.html

As if we needed anymore proof you guys are crackpots, lol[/quote]

You really should lay off the sauce so early in the day…

Firstly, note the lack of reaction by the moderate Arab countries in the region, who are normally quick to condemn any such action by the Israelis.

Secondly, the Syrians don’t seem to be very interested in letting anyone in to see the bombed site and confirm it was an unwarranted aggression.

Lastly, I wouldn’t doubt this was meant as a message to the Iranians – and neither would they: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411419433&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ; http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_israel_7

BTW, I think you’ll recall that those Arab countries did band together back in the 60s and 70s to attack the Israelis and got their heads handed to them on a platter. Or was that all staged, part of the grand Jewish conspiracy?

I think Syria’s low key handling of this indicates they had something to hide. Otherwise we would be plastered with photos of the “innocent” target.

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
Idiots. And just who is going to finish Israel’s war of aggression? So tough talk equals pre-emptive military strikes?

This is a perfect example of who is actually the aggressor in the Middle East but you STILL don’t get it. There is a reason its not big news here – it was an attack based on more bullshit lies that can’t be substantiated by anyone but Israel of course. Its hard for the US media to widely report on stories like this because they have to maintain the false image that Israel is a poor victim who just wants to live in peace with the rest of the world

“The Washington Post reported this week a US official as saying that recent satellite imagery, mainly provided by Israel, suggested that Syria may be building some form of nuclear facility with the help of material unloaded by North Korea.”
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2964474.ece

If these Arab countries really wanted to destroy Israel and all the Jews, they would have banded together and done it long ago.

Anyway you guys should go to Israel and join the cuckoo celebrity love fest…

Madonna tells Peres she is ‘in love with Israel’
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/1,7340,L-3449701,00.html

As if we needed anymore proof you guys are crackpots, lol[/quote]

Translation:
Wah! It’s the damn Jews! Wah! Wah! Hitler should have finished the job! Wah! Wah! They’re coming to get me, Ahhhhhhhh!

[quote]bigflamer wrote:
BTW, didn’t GWB appeal to the UN at least twice prior to the Iraq invasion? How’d that work out? [/quote]

What the fuck is the matter with you? Are you retarted?

Israel attacked Syria. Saddam couldn’t have attacked America in a million years, and you have the audacity to compare both events?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
You really should lay off the sauce so early in the day…

Firstly, note the lack of reaction by the moderate Arab countries in the region, who are normally quick to condemn any such action by the Israelis.

Secondly, the Syrians don’t seem to be very interested in letting anyone in to see the bombed site and confirm it was an unwarranted aggression.[/quote]

It WAS an unwarranted aggression – if thats an excuse, then Syria, Iran or Egypt would be rightfully able to “pre-emptively” bomb Israel under this logic.

[quote]
Lastly, I wouldn’t doubt this was meant as a message to the Iranians – and neither would they: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411419433&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ; http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_israel_7[/quote]

Yes, beware the pre-emptive strike by the nation of peace…

[quote]
BTW, I think you’ll recall that those Arab countries did band together back in the 60s and 70s to attack the Israelis and got their heads handed to them on a platter. Or was that all staged, part of the grand Jewish conspiracy?[/quote]

You probably shouldn’t learn your history from the Weekly Standard…

1967: Israel launches attack on Egypt
Israeli forces have launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and destroyed nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/5/newsid_2654000/2654251.stm

“The USS Liberty Memorial Web Site honors the memory of thirty four Americans who were brutally killed aboard a United States Ship in international waters on June 8, 1967, by the air and naval forces of the state of Israel.”
http://www.ussliberty.org/

And when Israel uses nuclear weapons in their next “pre-emptive” strike to pre-emptively stop other countries from producing nuclear weapons, you still won’t get it.

Growing Dissent among American Jews

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
I think Syria’s low key handling of this indicates they had something to hide. Otherwise we would be plastered with photos of the “innocent” target.[/quote]

Plastered by who? Murdoch?

[quote]bigflamer wrote:
JustTheFacts wrote:
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, same old tired bullshit, blah, blah, blah, blah

Damn JTF, you’re a one trick pony. Give it a rest.
[/quote]

ISRAEL attacked Syria – what do you expect? Talk about a “one trick pony”

[quote]lixy wrote:
Note how Syria obeyed international law and filed a complaint at the UN instead of escalating.

Syria complains to UN over Israel
Map

[i]Syria has formally complained to the United Nations about an alleged raid by Israeli aircraft over its territory.

The Syrian ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, said Israeli fighter planes had dropped munitions after crossing Syria’s frontier last Thursday.[/i]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6989961.stm [/quote]

Note how Syria assassinated an anti-Syria lawmaker in Lebanon? I guess they could not get the UN to sanction that. By the way Lixy, isn’t Lebanon a touble spot that could use one of your famous site visits?

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-09-19-lebanon-explosion_N.htm

[quote]lixy wrote:
bigflamer wrote:
BTW, didn’t GWB appeal to the UN at least twice prior to the Iraq invasion? How’d that work out?

What the fuck is the matter with you? Are you retarted?

Israel attacked Syria. Saddam couldn’t have attacked America in a million years, and you have the audacity to compare both events?[/quote]

Let’s see, Syria is home to both Hamas and Hezbolah both of whom attacked Israel recently…Hmmm…sound like they deserved it to me. Fuck Syria.

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:
You really should lay off the sauce so early in the day…

Firstly, note the lack of reaction by the moderate Arab countries in the region, who are normally quick to condemn any such action by the Israelis.

Secondly, the Syrians don’t seem to be very interested in letting anyone in to see the bombed site and confirm it was an unwarranted aggression.

It WAS an unwarranted aggression – if thats an excuse, then Syria, Iran or Egypt would be rightfully able to “pre-emptively” bomb Israel under this logic.

Lastly, I wouldn’t doubt this was meant as a message to the Iranians – and neither would they: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411419433&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ; http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070919/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_israel_7

Yes, beware the pre-emptive strike by the nation of peace…

BTW, I think you’ll recall that those Arab countries did band together back in the 60s and 70s to attack the Israelis and got their heads handed to them on a platter. Or was that all staged, part of the grand Jewish conspiracy?

You probably shouldn’t learn your history from the Weekly Standard…

1967: Israel launches attack on Egypt
Israeli forces have launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and destroyed nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/5/newsid_2654000/2654251.stm

“The USS Liberty Memorial Web Site honors the memory of thirty four Americans who were brutally killed aboard a United States Ship in international waters on June 8, 1967, by the air and naval forces of the state of Israel.”
http://www.ussliberty.org/

And when Israel uses nuclear weapons in their next “pre-emptive” strike to pre-emptively stop other countries from producing nuclear weapons, you still won’t get it.

Growing Dissent among American Jews
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174836 [/quote]

What color bur qua do you squat in?

[quote]lixy wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
I think Syria’s low key handling of this indicates they had something to hide. Otherwise we would be plastered with photos of the “innocent” target.

Plastered by who? Murdoch?[/quote]

He doesn’t control all the media. Show me where al Jazeera is covering the story with real detail on the target.