Posted by Joshua on Friday, September 7th, 2007
Why would Israel risk war by flying deep into Syria?
I am going to speculate, based on the following evidence.
Israeli planes were on a "'reconnaissance mission when they got caught by Syrian defenses and were forced to drop their bombs and extra fuel tanks,' said a Western diplomat in Syria's capital Damascus. He declined to be named. Military analysts said Israel has conducted reconnaissance flights over Syria to probe its defenses. Witnesses said several planes crossed deep into Syrian territory and flew over the oil centre of Deir al Zor on the Euphrates river."
John Bolton wrote this in the WSJ on Aug. 31 under the title, "Axis of Evil: Pyongyang's Upper Hand." Here are the last paragraphs, which speculate that Syria is providing "safe havens for North Korea's nuclear weapons development."
President Bush has stressed that we must also deal with Pyongyang's biological, chemical and ballistic missile programs. We must address these programs, especially the missiles, soon. Failure to make explicit the important connection between weapons and delivery systems will certainly come back to haunt us, and we are on the verge of allowing this point to slip away entirely.
Finally, we need to learn the details of North Korean nuclear cooperation with other countries. We know 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. Whether and to what extent Iran, Syria or others might be "safe havens" for North Korea's nuclear weapons development, or may have already participated with or benefited from it, must be made clear.
For our own safety's sake, and that of allies like Japan and South Korea, there can be no compromises on these points.
My hunch is that Israel is taking a closer look at industrial sites outside of Deir al-Zur to see if they can see if anything looks Korea-like and what is going on with missile and weapons development.
This is speculation, but Western intelligence agencies have been suspicious for some time that Korean technology is working its way to Syria. September 2006, Interpol had Cypriot authorities search a ship coming from Korea to Latakia only to find ballistic missile components and not weapons. Here is the report.
Cyprus finds air defense systems on Syria-bound ship: Washington Post. Interpol told Cypriot authorities the ship, the Gregorio I, which had been loaded in China and North Korea and was destined for Latakia, was carrying ballistic missile components. Cyprus searched the ship only to discover that it contained air defense systems and not weapons. They are trying to figure out what to do with it now. This is the first indication of the power of UN resolution 1701.
In 2004, there were some weird reports that Syrian officials had visited North Korean weapons facilities, where they had been involved in a train crash. See: Syrians With Secret CBW Material On Korean Train That Exploded? This report came as Bolton was trying to make the case that Syria had reactivated its nuclear program. See my post on this, here. The intelligence community in the US was divided over Bolton's claims.
Bolton is not making all this stuff up. Right wingers in the agencies are feeding him with this stuff because they know he is rash enough to go out on a limb to make noise about it and push the issue. He has been pushing the issue for years. My hunch is that some new bit of intelligence has come in to reanimate Bolton and the debate over Syria's weapons capabilities. The Israelis went on their 'reconnaissance mission' to see if they could get to the bottom of it. The neocons do not want the "Axis of Evil" concept to go cold. Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the US has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement. While doing it, anything they can drag into to boost the notion of weapons transfers between Korea and Syria and Iran will be icing on the cake. Israeli planes were trying to get the goods.
Addendum: (next day) Kaan from Turkey writes:
Dear Dr. Landis,After the news about that Israil airplanes accused of air raid on Syria, a new news has flashed in Turkish news channels. This time, according to the local people of the Gindiralik ares of the Koroglu Mt, Hatay (Antioch), the midnight of September 5, a Syrian airplane dropped its fuel tank on the Turkish side of the Turco-Syrian border. (http://www.gazeteport.com.tr/NEWS1/GP_067112) . The web site that oublished this news put a dropped fule tank's picture shows the tank in the rural area. A military expert of air forces may identify which air force uses this kind of fuel tank.What can be said that a certain incedent happened on the Turco-Syrian air space border on the September 5.
There are a google earth picture as far as I've tried to locate the area mentioned in the news and a picture of the airplane fuel tank.Regards, Kaan Kutlu ATAC, HAcettepe University.
“In the first reaction from an Israeli official to Wednesday night’s alleged IAF foray over Syria, Science, Culture and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle said Friday that IAF planes enter Syrian airspace on a daily basis, adding that he did not believe the latest alleged incident would spark off a war.” LINK
"Israel’s policy of provocation only increases the threat of war," By The Daily Star, Friday, September 07, 2007
The precise details of what happened over northeastern Syria in the early hours of Thursday morning may never be known, but the incident served up yet another warning about the inherent perils created by Israel’s policy of provocation. The Jewish state routinely violates Lebanon’s airspace, and while its intrusions into Syria’s are less numerous and less ostentatious, they are also more dangerous. All of this is the result of the impunity with which Israel violates the norms of international law, and this impunity is the product of double standards imposed at the United Nations by the United States and some of its allies. The daily effect of this lopsidedness is to increase tensions, especially in those countries that share borders with Israel.