Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
The following story has yet to be picked up by the MSP and perhaps that is for good reason. Nevertheless, what do we know?
(Thanks to Israeliguy)
Dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in an explosion while attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile in Syria on July 23. The blast spread lethal chemicals including the sarin nerve gas as well as VX gas. The Syrians and Iranian kept the incident under wraps, in an attempt to hide from the world their increasing cooperation to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.
Details of the incident that appeared in the Jane's Magazine were reported by Channel 10 on Tuesday night. According to the report, the facility where the explosion occurred had been created specifically to facilitate the altering of ballistic missiles to carry chemical payloads. While reports of the accident were mentioned in Syria, the authorities prevented details from being released.
A new military alliance between Iran and Syria is in the making, such an alliance can be perceived as the first signs that a regional war is in the making….
Regime Change Arab Style
24 September 2007
No Bush policy has been more unpopular with Arab leaders than “regime change”—at least till now. Local potentates may have feared Saddam Hussein, but they feared his fate even more. At an Arab summit last March, Saudi King Abdullah warned fellow despots to “never allow … banners to be raised in Arab lands other than those of Arabism, brothers.”
Appeals for solidarity have been a pillar of Arab relations for many years. So it was striking when a subsequent war of words climaxed in what Arab analysts see as a stealthy Saudi call for regime change in Syria. After Syrian Foreign Minister Farooq Al Shaara suggested last month that they were U.S. lackies, the Saudis blasted Shaara for “discarding the traditions … governing relations between the brotherly Arab nations.” A few days later, Jamal Khashoggi, a newspaper editor and former top Saudi adviser, hinted in a TV interview that the Saudis might be working to depose Syrian President Bashar. “I think we’re moving in the direction of regime change,” said Khashoggi.
Such talk is the latest sign of the growing split between two rival Middle East factions—one allied with Washington, the other with Tehran. …
Syria accuses U.S. of spreading false reports of nuclear activity, bias toward Israel
By ALBERT AJI. AP
18 September 2007
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria and North Korea denied Tuesday they are cooperating on a Syrian nuclear program, and they accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons — either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang.
A front-page editorial in the government newspaper Tishrin also was critical of the United States for failing to condemn a Sept. 6 Israeli incursion, which it called a violation of international law.
Details of the incursion remain unclear. U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target. A senior U.S. nonproliferation official said last week that North Korean personnel were in Syria helping its nuclear program, raising speculation that the Israelis were targeting a nuclear installation.
Syria has said only that warplanes entered its airspace, came under fire from anti-aircraft defenses, and dropped munitions and fuel tanks to lighten their loads while they fled….
Israel has clamped a news blackout on the raid.
North Korea strongly denied it secretly helped Syria develop a nuclear program, maintaining the charge was fabricated by U.S. hard-liners to block progress in the North's relations with the United States.
A Syrian Cabinet minister ridiculed the speculation about any cooperation with North Korea. "All this rubbish is not true. I don't know how their imagination has reached such creativity," Bouthaina Shaaban said.
"Regretfully, the international press is busy justifying an aggression on a sovereign state and the world should be busy condemning it instead of inventing reasons and aims of this aggression," he told Lebanon's Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar.
Syria's nuclear program has long been considered minimal, and the country is known to have only a small research reactor. In Vienna, officials for the International Atomic Energy Agency declined comment. But a diplomat associated with the agency said the IAEA "didn't know anything about any nuclear facility in Syria, and if there is something there, we should know."
Syria was the subject of IAEA investigation in 2004 on suspicions it could have been a customer of the nuclear black market run by the Khan network — the same operation that supplied Iran and Libya with materials for their clandestine atomic projects. But the diplomat, who demanded anonymity for discussing confidential information, said the IAEA found no concrete evidence of such activity.
The issue also was raised Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters he was awaiting clarification on the "intrusion of Israeli air force into Syrian airspace." Ban said he read North Korea's report denying involvement but did not have any independent information.
The editorial in Tishrin, which reflects Syrian government thinking in a country where the media is tightly controlled, said the U.S. accusations show Washington's pro-Israel bias and have no credibility.
It said Washington was "busy on behalf of Israel circulating claims" that the incursion involved "possible nuclear facilities supplied by (North) Korea."
"The strange thing is that the Americans are talking on behalf of Israel and are providing excuses and concocting new false spins such as talking about presumed Syrian nuclear activity and completely turning a blind eye about the Israeli nuclear danger," the Syrian editorial said…..
by Khody Akhavi, IPS, Via Leftlink
"The focus on North Korea comes as the U.S. prepares to implement a deal to end the country's nuclear weapons programme, a diplomatic approach that has drawn the ire of policy hawks like Bolton." …
Neoconservatives appear to be re-igniting a political narrative that fits neatly with the infamous cast of the "axis of evil"…. "They want to torpedo the North Korea deal, they have clung doggedly to making sure that there is no cooperation in Syria, and they're the same people who got us into this mess in the Middle East in the first place," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and senior fellow at the Washington-based New America Foundation.
The focus on North Korea comes as the U.S. prepares to implement a deal to end the country's nuclear weapons programme, a diplomatic approach that has drawn the ire of policy hawks like Bolton.
"Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the U.S. has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement," wrote Syria expert Josh Landis, on his widely-read blog, www.syriacomment.com.
"While doing it, anything they can dredge up 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," he wrote.
Some U.S. analysts have been very dubious of an actual Syrian nuclear threat, describing the speculation surrounding the incident as a manufactured stunt aimed at advancing a neoconservative agenda.
"This story is nonsense. The Washington Post story should have been headlined 'White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection.' This is a political story, not a threat story," said Joseph Cirincione, director for nuclear policy at the Washington-based Centre for American Progress, according to an interview with Foreign Policy….
We can rely on friends like the United States: Our faithful ally has once again come to our assistance. Were it not for the American media, we would know nothing whatsoever about that mysterious night….
There are serious doubts here. At the helm of the decision-making process in Israel today stand the prime minister, who has a proven military failure chalked up to him, and the defense minister, who has an innate tendency toward military adventurism. There is no one we can rely on with our eyes closed – certainly not on Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak. One wants to wipe away the stains of his failure in Lebanon and the other wants to prove he is better than his predecessor. To this must be added a battered army, which is likewise trying to get people to forget its failure. And what about us? We are expected to support them and their actions with our eyes shut…
Iran's state-run news agency made an angry attack on the French government today after the French foreign minister said the world should brace for war against Iran over its nuclear program, although he did not believe war was imminent.
This interesting JP story, The secretive Syrian-N. Korean alliance, gives a good overview of Syria's efforts to purchase and develop scud missile technology. It brings Russia into the picture as well.
ABC News has a good roundup of the Israeli strike:
And don't miss: Olmert: “We respect Assad and Syria’s policies”