“The Pieces are in Place for Escalation,” by Sam Gardiner

"The Pieces are in Place for Escalation," by Sam Gardiner [Originally published by "Left Coaster"]

The pieces are moving. They’ll be in place by the end of February. The United States will be able to escalate military operations against Iran.

The second carrier strike group leaves the U.S. west coast on Tuesday. It will be joined by naval mine clearing assets from both the United States and the UK. Patriot missile defense systems have also been ordered to deploy to the Gulf.

Maybe as a guard against North Korea seeing operations focused on Iran as a chance to be aggressive, a squadron of F-117 stealth fighters has just been deployed to Korea.

This has to be called escalation. We have to remind ourselves, just as Iran is supporting groups inside Iraq, the United States is supporting groups inside Iran. Just as Iran has special operations troops operating inside Iraq, we’ve read the United States has special operations troops operating inside Iran.

Just as Iran is supporting Hamas, two weeks ago we found out the United States is supporting arms for Abbas. Just as Iran and Syria are supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon we’re now learning the White House has approved a finding to allow the CIA to support opposition groups inside Lebanon. Just as Iran is supporting Syria, we’ve learned recently that the United States is going to fund Syrian opposition groups.

We learned this week the President authorized an attack on the Iranian liaison office in Irbil.

The White House keeps saying there are no plans to attack Iran. Obviously, the facts suggest otherwise. Equally as clear, the Iranians will read what the Administration is doing not what it is saying.

It is possible the White House strategy is just implementing a strategy to put pressure on Iran on a number of fronts, and this will never amount to anything. On the other hand, if the White House is on a path to strike Iran, we’ll see a few more steps unfold.

First, we know there is a National Security Council staff-led group whose mission is to create outrage in the world against Iran. Just like before Gulf II, this media group will begin to release stories to sell a strike against Iran. Watch for the outrage stuff.

The Patriot missiles going to the GCC states are only part of the missile defense assets. I would expect to see the deployment of some of the European-based missile defense assets to Israel, just as they were before Gulf II.

I would expect deployment of additional USAF fighters into the bases in Iraq, maybe some into Afghanistan.

I think we will read about the deployment of some of the newly arriving Army brigades going into Iraq being deployed to the border with Iran. Their mission will be to guard against any Iranian movements into Iraq.

As one of the last steps before a strike, we’ll see USAF tankers moved to unusual places, like Bulgaria. These will be used to refuel the US-based B-2 bombers on their strike missions into Iran. When that happens, we’ll only be days away from a strike.

The White House could be telling the truth. Maybe there are no plans to take Iran to the next level. The fuel for a fire is in place, however. All we need is a spark. The danger is that we have created conditions that could lead to a Greater Middle East War.

Sam Gardiner is a Retired Air Force Col and described as "an expert in military strategy and an expert on strategic games." [1] At one time Gardiner taught at the National War College. [2] Gardiner estimated that that some 50 media stories backing the push for war in Iraq media orignated from what was to be called the Office of Strategic Influence. FAIR noted that Rumsfeld stated that while the Office of Strategic Influence was killed in name, it's activities were going to be carried out.

Bush's plans for Baghdad have run into Iraqi quicksand.

The NYTimes asks: "will the Maliki government agree to operations aimed at Shiite extremists, or resist them and push for the focus to be laid on Sunni extremists attacking Shiite areas?" The answer it found is this:

American officers say that only time will tell, but that they will be surprised if Mr. Maliki and his top aides change colors, despite the assurances the Iraqi leader is said to have offered President Bush. As described by American commanders, the pattern in the eight months since Mr. Maliki took office has been for the Shiite leaders who dominate the new government to press the Americans to concentrate on Sunni extremists.

The argument is that Shiite death squads, which have accounted for an almost equal number of deaths, are engaged in retaliatory attacks, and that those will cease when the Sunni groups are rooted out.

“We are being played like a pawn," an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan said.  … "American officers say it is far from clear that the Maliki government will permit American troops to operate freely in the enclave."

Comments (25)


1. Alex said:

Is this idea doable? Israelis suggesting giving Syria 80% of the Golan plus some Lebanese or Jordanian lands equal in size to the remaining 20%. Lebanon or Jordan will then be compensated for the amount of lands it gives Syria with an equally sized piece of land along the Lebanese Israeli border or the Jordanian Israeli border.

THe remaining 20% of the Golan is where most of the current settlers are.

يتبين من رسائل تلقاها البروفيسور الإسرائيلي عوزي أراد، رئيس معهد السياسة والاستراتيجية في المركز متعدد المجالات في هرتسيليا، من عناصر سورية أن إسرائيل قادرة على التوصل إلى اتفاق سلام مع سوريا دون الانسحاب من كل هضبة الجولان، على أن تعوض السوريين بأراض بديلة مساوية القيمة في مساحتها.

وحسبما أفادت صحيفة معاريف اليوم فإن أراد يقف على رأس فريق من الباحثين، يبلور في السنوات الأخيرة الماضية مسارات إبداعية لصيغ سلام مع سوريا. وقبل مؤتمر هرتسيليا السابع لمعهد السياسة والاستراتيجية في المركز متعدد المجالات، والذي سيبدأ يوم الأحد القريب القادم، وحسب المصادر الإسرائيلية فقد اعد أراد مع باحثة أخرى في المركز، راحيل مختيغر، وثيقة شاملة تفصل تبادل الأراضي المحتمل مع سوريا.

ويعتقد أراد أن هناك فرصة لاستئناف الاتصالات مع السوريين قريبا، فيما أن كل الصيغ المطروحة في الوثيقة تصف وضعا تسمح فيه سوريا لإسرائيل بمواصلة الاحتفاظ بنحو 20 في المائة من هضبة الجولان، الأراضي التي يسكن فيها نحو ثلثي السكان الإسرائيليين. وبالمقابل، تخلي إسرائيل نحو 6 آلاف من السكان الإسرائيليين من منازلهم، وبمقابل إبقاء كل الباقين – نحو 10 آلاف نسمة – تسلم للسوريين مناطق بديلة بنسبة 1:1.
وقال أراد أمس “أننا لم نعد نحتاج إلى الالتصاق بالصيغ الإقليمية القديمة. ولم يعد مجال للافتراض بان ثمن السلام مع سوريا هو انسحاب كامل من الجولان. فالسوريون يفهمون جيدا بان هناك أمورا لا يمكن لإسرائيل أن تتخلى عنها”.

وأضاف أراد ان يقول: “عند خطوات لدى السوريين، وعندما عرضت على أشخاص معينين هناك أساس الخطة لتبادل الأراضي – فان هذه لم ترفض رفضا باتا. كما أنها لم تقبل بالضرورة كما هي، ولكن التشديد هو على أنهم لم يرفضوها رفضا باتا. هناك نقطة يمكن منها البدء في الحديث معهم”.
وحسب المصادر الإسرائيلية فأن اتفاق مع سوريا، في صيغة خبراء المركز متعدد المجالات، يفترض دورا من دول أخرى. ولما كانت الحدود الوحيدة لإسرائيل مع سوريا هي تلك التي في الجولان، فان الأراضي البديلة سيتعين على السوريين أن يتلقوها من اللبنانيين أو من الأردنيين – الذين ستعوضهم إسرائيل عن ذلك. وفي كل واحدة من عمليات التبادل تبقى إسرائيل على قاطع طولي في غربي الهضبة، بمساحة 250 كم، في ظل إبقاء معظم السكان في منازلهم.

وقالت معاريف في خبرها الرئيس اليوم أنه إطار البديل اللبناني، يسلم لبنان أرضا في حدوده المشتركة مع سوريا، وبالمقابل يحصل من إسرائيل على أراض موازية في حجمها على طول الحدود الشمالية لإسرائيل معها. أما البديل الاردني فيصف وضعا مشابها حيث مقابل أراض في وادي عربا – جنوبي البحر الميت – يحصل عليها من إسرائيل، يسلم الأردن أراضٍ في حدوده مع سوريا.

وحسب أراد، فان “هذا الاقتراح الإسرائيلي، إذا ما طُرح سيتيح للسوريين تلقي كامل مساحة الأراضي. أفضل من هذا لن يكون لهم، وهم يعرفون ذلك”. وأشار أراد إلى أن كل الصيغ تفترض من السوريين الكف عن تأييد الإرهاب الفلسطيني وحزب الله. على حد قوله.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 8:19 pm

 

2. Ford Prefect said:

Thanks Alex! If true, it will be refreshing to know that Israel is now pursuing a role on the Appropriation Committee and it is shedding its role on the Armed Services Committee!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:15 pm

 

3. Alex said:

FP, it is not yet “Israel”. These are academic level ideas for now. And they claimed that Syria did not totally reject them.

Here is another interesting one in elaph today. Is it true or is it a simulation?

نص محضر اجتماع الرئيسين الطالباني والاسد
GMT 16:30:00 2007 الأحد 14 يناير
أسوس جمال قادر

——————————————————————————–

الرئيس بشار: فخامة الرئيس اهلا و سهلا فيك في بلدك الثاني سوريا ونتمنى ان تشکل هذه الزيارة انطلاقة طيبة للعلاقة بين بلدينا وشعبينا على کل الاصعدة.

الرئيس طالباني: اشکرك فخامة الرئيس على هذه الحفاوة البالغة التي استقبلت بها وکل هذا الترحيب الحار الذي لم ولن نستغربه عن سوريا. في الحقيقة کانت سوريا على الدوام بمثابة البلد الاول لي حيث کنت على الدوام وعلى مدى العقود المنصرمة اتلقى انا کجلال الطالباني ومعظم العراقيين کل الدعم من سوريا الشقيقة رئيسا وحکومة وحزبا وشعبا، لقد کان الرئيس الراحل حافظ الاسد رحمه الله الذي جمعتني به ساعات لاتحصى من اللقاءات والاجتماعات خير صديق وحليف لي شخصيا ولکل العراقيين. وانا ايضا کلي امل ان تتوج هذه الزيارة مرحلة جديدة بيننا وان نبدد الغيوم الداکنة التي تتجمعت في سماء هذه العلاقات بعد سقوط صدام.

الرئيس بشار: لکن مع السف هذه الغيوم کانت تاتي دائما من الجانب العراقي حيث کانت تاتي على شکل اتهامات ظالمة ومستمرة منکم انتم والامريکان باننا نقف وراء احداث العنف في العراق.
الرئيس الطالباني: انا شخصيا لم اتهم سوريا يوما بذلك واذا عدتم الى تصريحاتي ترون اني کنت دائم الحرص على الاشادة بسوريا وبالدعم الذي تلقيناه منا قيادة وشعبا، فکيف بنا الاساءة الى تلك العشرة وبعد ان شربنا من مية الفيجة..؟ اما فيما يتعلق باحداث العنف في العراق فاننا لم نتهم سوريا کدولة لکن کانت هناك دائما دلائل على من يستغل سوريا وحسن ضيافتها للانطلاق منها لممارسة العمليات الارهابية في العراق.

الرئيس بشار: فخامة الرئيس خلينا نکون صريحين هناك في العراق اعمال ارهابية تحدث وربما انطلق بعض منها عبر سوريا، وهذا شيء ادناه وندينه دائما، لکن هناك ايضا عمل مقاوم للاحتلال وهذا عمل شريف لايسعنا الا ان ندعمه ونسانده ونبارکه.

الرئيس الطالباني: اذن فخامة الرئيس خلينا ننطلق من هذه النقطة کبند اول لجدول اعمال اجتماعنا هذا، وطالما هناك اقرار منکم بان بانطلاق کلا النوعين من العنف من او عبر سوريا فانه يتوجب علينا ان نتوصل الي تصور مشترك اکيفية التعامل معهما وبالتالي الى قيام الاليات المناسبة لطريقة التعامل تلك. بالنسبة للمقاومة نحن کنا انفسنا مقاومين ونقدر مشروعية العمل المقاوم لاسيما عندما لاتکون هناك وسيلةاخرى للنضال السياسي. نحن في العراق الجديد نفتح الباب امام کل من يريد المشارکة في العملية السياسية وان نعمل معهم على انهاء الاحتلال، وانا ارى على سبيل المثال بان المکان الطبيعي لقيادة قطر العراق لحزب البعث هو ارض العراق والمشارکة في العملية السياسية. اما بالنسبة للارهاب الاتي الينا عبر سوريا والذي اکدنا دائما على عدم تورط سوريا في ذلك فانه يتوجب علينا اقامة اليات مشترکة محکمة لوضع حد له.

الرئيس بشار: انا في الحقيقة سعيد لسماع هذا الکلام ومتفق معه، لاسيما بالنسبة للشق الاول المتعلق بالحوار مع المقاومة العراقية، والذي لابد ان ياخذ مسارا تفاوضيا وتصالحيا ولا مانع لدينا من ان نستضيف مثلا مؤتمرا للمصالحة بينکم وبينهم هنا في دمشق وستلقون کل الدعم مني شخصيا ومن الدولة السورية. اما بالنسبة للعمليات الارهابية التي تقولون انها تنطلق من سوريا ومن دون علمنا فان ذلك يحدث في الحقيقة ليس فقط عبر سوريا، بل عبر کل الدول المجاورة لکم، ومع ذلك فاننا لم يکن يوما لدينا مانع من العمل المشترك لمواجهة ذلك وفي الاتجاهين لاننا ايضا في سوريا نواجه بعض الانشطة الارهابية القادمة الينا عبر الحدود مع العراق.

الرئيس الطالباني: اذن اقترح فخامة الرئيس تشکيل لجنة مشترکة برئاسة وزيري الداخلية للشروع مباشرة في تناول ملف الارهاب والانشطة الارهابية وبحث امکانية الاليات المناسبة لذلك. اما بالنسبة لملف کيفية تناول موضوع دعمکم للمعارضة والمقاومة فانا اود ان استمع الى شروطکم وافکارکم في هذا المجال.

الرئيس بشار: بالنسبة لملف الارهاب لا مانع لدي من تشکيل هذه اللجنة على ان تراعي مخاوف البلدين في هذا المجال کون الامر ليس في اتجاه واحد بل في الاتجاهين. اما بالنسبة لموضوع المقاومة العراقية فلا شروط لنا حول ذلك، فنحن ندعم کل ما من شانه ان يقرب فيما بينکم وان تتفقوا وتتوافقوا معهم على ما هو الخير للعراق ولسيادة العراق و وحدته و خلاصه من الاحتلال.

الرئيس الطالباني: فخامة الرئيس انا في الحقيقة ممنونك حول هذه النقطة وساقوم شخصيا بلقاء وحوار کل عراقي معارض في سوريا يود المساهمة في العملية السياسية الجارية في العراق والعمل معنا على انهاء الاحتلال، وسابدأ مع الاخوة في قيادة قطر العراق، لاسيما وان البعض منهم اصدقاء و رفاق قدامى. في الحقيقة انا متفائل جدا في هذا المجال بعد مبارکتکم لمثل هذا التوجه. اما بالنسبة للشق الامني فان لدى الاخ وزير الداخلية قائمة باسماء بعض المطلوبين من ازلام النظام السابق من الموجودين في سوريا ويستغلون حسن ضيافتکم لهم ومتورطين في اشاعة الارهاب في العراق، ارجو ان تاخذوا مطالبتنا لهم بعين الاعتبار لما يمثلوه من خطر مباشر على امننا في العراق.

الرئيس بشار: ليس لدي فکرى عن الموضوع وعن هذه الاسماء، لنترك الامر لتقدير وعمل اللجنة الامنية المشترکة وندرس الامر بعد ان ترفع تقريرها.

الرئيس الطالباني: حسنا سنبت في الامر في اجتماعنا القادم. ولدينا ايضا فخامة الرئيس طموح في مساهمة سوريا في اعادة بناء العراق من خلال الشرکات السورية واستثماراتها في العراق وکذلك تنشيط الحرکة التجارية والنقل والثروة المائية، واقترح المباشرة في قيام لجان في هذه المجالات.

الرئيس بشار: هذا من واجبنا في سوريا تجاه العراق ومن دواعي سرورنا و ساعطي الضوء الاخضر لکل المسؤلين في الدولة لتسهيل کل ما يتطلب ذلك و يا اهلا و سهلا.

الرئيس الطالباني: شکرا جزيلا فخامة الرئيس وهذا هو ما عهدناه من سوريا دائما. لدي في الحقيقة امر اخر مهم اود بحثه مع فخامتکم وهو ما هو ممکن ان اقوم به لخدمة قضية الحوار بينکم وبين الولايات المتحدة الامريکية والذي هو بلا شك امر تعتبرونه غاية في الاهمية والخطورة بالنسبة لامنکم وامننا وامن المنطقة.

الرئيس بشار: اولا اشکرکم على هذه البادرة، لکن المشکلة يا فخامة الرئيس ليست عندنا بل عندهم، انهم لايريدون الحوار، وان ارادوه فسيريدونه بشروطهم، وهذا مالايمکن ان نقبل به.

الرئيس الطالباني: لقد جاءني في الحقيقة السفير زلماي مودعا في الاسبوع الماضي في مقر اقامتي في کوردستان ونقل لي وبالحرف الواحد رغبة ادارته في الشروع في الحوار معکم حول العراق، وعندما سالته عن شروطهم قال لا شروط لنا فيما اذا اقتصر الحوار على العراق فقط.

الرئيس بشار: وهذا هو شرط بعينه، ونحن في سوريا لا نؤمن بتجزئة الحلول والمشاکل، فامور المنطقة ومشاکلها حسب تصورنا مترابطة متداخلة متشابکة لايمکن تجزئتها، وعلى اية حال لم نوصد نحن يوما باب الحوار واهلا و سهلا فيهم متى ارادوا وجاؤوا فهم يعرفون عنواننا وان ارادوه بلا شروط فاهلا وسهلا وان جاؤوا بشروط فلنا نحن ايضا شروطنا.

الرئيس الطالباني: اذن لا تقبلون بالحوار اذا اقتصر فقط على العراق

الرئيس بشار: لا انا قلت اما بلا شروط او بشروط متبادلة، اي باتفاق مسبق على جدول الاعمال.
حسنا فخامة الرئيس سانقل ردکم هذا مع التاکيد على استعدادي الکامل والدائم لبذل کل ما يطلب مني لخدمة قضية الحوار بينکم وبين الامريکان في اي وقت، فانا قلبي على سوريا کما هو على العراق.

الرئيس بشار: شکرا شکرا فخامة الرئيس و اهلا سهلا فيك في الشام. اتمنى لك وللاخوة اقامة طيبة وانشاالله نبحث بقية المواضيع في الجولة القادمة.

الرئيس الطالباني: شکرا لکم فخامة الرئيس.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:18 pm

 

4. Alex said:

And, Saudi Arabia changed its mind .. it will host the next Arab summit two months from now.

Will Syria go? will Lebanon be represented by Seniora and Lahhoud? will there be prior agreement to re-launch the Arab (Saudi) peace plan in a way that includes SYria, or will this be the all-minus-Syria group that Dr. Rice is trying to assemble?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:27 pm

 

5. Alex said:

And one last one (a third one today) from Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz

Abbas-Meshal Summit / Calls for Brotherhood

By Zvi Bar’el

“Palestinian blood is holier in the eyes of Allah than the holy Kaaba [in Mecca]” declared the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef. He issued this unusual statement last week as part of his call to Fatah and Hamas to close ranks, “respect the institution of the presidency [of Mahmoud Abbas], the parliament and the prime minister [Ismail Haniyeh].” Most of all, Akef is urging the two sides to form a government of national unity to prevent further spilling of blood and to concentrate their efforts on defeating the Zionist enemy.

The importance of Akef’s declaration cannot be overstated, because it includes recognition for the institution of Palestinian presidency, which was created on the basis of the Oslo accords. Furthermore, Hamas is an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, which is considered the source of theological and ideological authority for the Palestinian organization.

What is really interesting is that it is the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and not the Syrian branch of the movement, that is becoming involved in Palestinian politics. The reason for this is that the leadership of the Brotherhood in Syria considers the Assad clan and the Syrian regime its enemy, even though it has made efforts to reach an accommodation – attempts that failed. As such, the Hamas leadership based in Damascus, which considers Assad among its friends, cannot be considered an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Thus, in spite of the shared ideological framework, the political differences, especially the political linkages, are creating divisions between the movements.

It is now expected that following the request of the leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Abbas and Meshal will meet – and the one who benefits politically from the meeting will be Bashar Assad. The Syrian leader considers himself to be a no less interested party than the Brotherhood: He has been hosting the senior leadership of Fatah for the past two weeks in his capital, and they have held talks with Meshal as a preamble to the meeting with Abbas.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:29 pm

 

6. Alex said:

According to Elaph (Which is less than neutral on these issues) the Iranians are asking for Saudi help in convincing the US to not act as their enemy …

طهران تطالب بتدخل سعودي سريع لانقاذها
GMT 21:00:00 2007 الإثنين 15 يناير
إيلاف
————————————————–
الرياض: في الوقت الذي يتزايد فيه التوتر الدولي بشأن التدخل الايراني في العراق وبرنامج ايران النووي ، قال مسؤول سعودي إن ايران طلبت من المملكة العربية السعودية المساعدة في تخفيف حدة التوتر بين الجمهورية الاسلامية والولايات المتحدة . وقد جاء ذلك في رسالة سلمها علي لاريجاني كبير المفاوضين الايرانيين في المحادثات النووية الى العاهل السعودي الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز فيما وصلت وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية كوندوليزا رايس مساء اليوم الى الرياض لاجراء محادثات.

وتأتي الرسالة التي بعث بها الزعيم الاعلى اية الله علي خامنئي والرئيس الايراني محمود أحمدي نجاد بعد تصاعد الانتقادات داخل ايران لنهج أحمدي نجاد المتشدد ضد الغرب والذي يلقي السياسيون الاكثر اعتدالا عليه باللوم في زيادة المخاوف بالخارج. وقال مسؤول سعودي ان ايران تريد من الزعماء السعوديين نقل رسالة حسن نوايا الى واشنطن، واضاف ان ايران تريد من السعودية المساعدة في تقريب وجهات النظر بين ايران والولايات المتحدة لكنه لم يذكر المزيد من التفاصيل.

ويقول محللون ايرانيون انه من المحتمل ان يكتسب المحافظون المعتدلون مثل لاريجاني منافس أحمدي نجاد، دورا أكبر في صنع السياسة الايرانية بعد هزيمة مؤيدي الرئيس الايراني في انتخابات المجالس البلدية ومجلس الخبراء التي أجريت في ديسمبر كانون الاول.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:39 pm

 

7. Alex said:

Akiva Eldar (Haaretz), is not impressed with Condoleezza Rice and her avoiding Syria.

Twenty two partners

By Akiva Eldar

MADRID – On her way to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used a refueling stop in Ireland to let loose the following ground-breaking insight about the Arab-Israeli conflict: “There are too many important stakeholders, and any progress on the Palestinian-Israeli front is going to require all of the parties.”

All of the parties? Every single one of them? Is there something we are missing? Is Ms. Rice planning a trip to Damascus? Washington has decided to talk to the elected Palestinian government? And what about the Israelis? Is the U.S. planning to demand that Jerusalem evacuate a single outpost, as a sampling, as required by the road map, for the sake of Bush’s vision of the Middle East?

It is too bad that on her way to the region Rice could not find the time to stop in Madrid and drop in on the peace conference being held there to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the conference her boss’ father and one of her predecessors, James Baker, convened in 1991. She would have found there a huge array of “parties” dying to be part of the solution to the conflict: Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis, Europeans and Russians. There were also some Israeli MKs, including the representative of Yisrael Beiteinu, and two former Likud “princes.” There were also four Americans, former senior officials at the State Department.

Everyone heard the Arab League’s secretary-general, Amr Moussa, reiterating the organization’s commitment to a League proposal for a solution to the conflict, made in March 2002. He said that the League’s 22 member states are sticking by the well-known formula – land for peace, and a negotiated solution to the refugee problem. They listened to the address of Dr. Marwan Muasher, who as Jordan’s foreign minister was one of the architects of the Arab initiative, who noted that in spite of the wars, the diplomatic impasse and the continued occupation, no Arab state has withdrawn its support for the initiative. Muasher said that the authors of the League’s resolution gave serious attention to the security needs of Israel, “not only vis-a-vis the Palestinians, but also vis-a-vis all the states in the region, including Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.” He said that the Israelis are invited to express their security concerns in talks with the Arab states.

Had Rice found a free moment to drop in on Madrid, she would have heard that were it not for the nearly delusional insistence of Bush to topple President Assad’s regime, it would be possible to extract Syria from the “axis of evil.” The Syrian legal expert Riad Daoudi said, at the conference, that if the United States and Israel would honor Syria with the title “a party to the conflict,” it would be possible to talk about everything – including his country’s links with parties who do not accept the League’s resolution.

On her way here, Rice said that as an academic, she had read a great deal about past efforts to bring about progress on the Palestinian issue. “If you don’t lay the groundwork very well,” Dr. Rice said, “then it’s not going to succeed.” As she was about to depart for a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the visiting secretary of state insisted on the need to stick by the road map, and explained to reporters that preceding the map proposal, thorough preparatory work was carried out. So, what came of it? It will soon be four years since this multi-stage plan was introduced. The last stage – a permanent solution with the Palestinians and a peace agreement with Syria and Lebanon – was supposed to be signed no later than the end of 2005. For now, the conflict is only getting worse.

Before Israel and the Palestinians are two options. One, to go down the path of the Madrid process of Bush, Sr., who recognized that following the victory in the first Gulf War, force should be followed by a political settlement. The other, to follow Bush, Jr., who believes, after the failure of the second Gulf War, that what follows force must be more force. If they choose the first option, the draft – a variation of the Arab League’s resolution and the Clinton proposals – is waiting on the shelf. If they opt for the second path, we will all end up like the rats in the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:46 pm

 

8. John Kilian said:

The fact that Iraq is condemning the intrusion of US troops on the Iranian consulate and talking with Damascus paired with the increase of US military activity could be a carrot and stick approach to Syria. Although the US will not talk to Damascus, Iraq will. The US is showing to Syria and Iran that it is in their best interest to help stabilize Iraq. Otherwise, they may be dealing with the US military. Iraq is the only foreign government that can make the US troops leave, so maybe Iran and Syria should work in earnest to preserve the solvency of the regime in Baghdad.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 9:56 pm

 

9. MSK said:

Dear Alex,

that Golan idea is non-starter. There are always such ideas by Israeli academics & politicians. They keep misunderstanding one of the main tenets of the Israeli-Arab situation: once Egypt got 100% of its territory back there’s no way that Syria can do anything less.

If Assad accepts less than 100% of the Golan he’ll be history.

Now, as I stated before, how that will look in reality, for ex. if Israel gets to “lease” the NE shore of Lake Tiberias and that the Golan will be de-militarized etc. … that’s a different issue. But that’s on the same level as the Palestinian “right of return” (it’s not about all refugees returning to Jaffa/Haifa/Ashqelon/etc. but about justice).

I’m sure we’ll see a lot of those stories and proposals cropping up. But I really don’t think that an international “merry-go-round” swap of territory is going to happen.

Btw, I think we should close watch on Tzipi Livni – she might be the next Israeli PM, and maybe soon.

As for that excellent piece by Sam Gardiner – let’s just all hope that it’ll go down like the Cuba Missile Crisis.

–MSK

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 10:04 pm

 

10. Gibran said:

If ALEX’ news is correct, then the moment Mr. Bush speaks, legs start trembling in Tehran. We wonder what Mr. Bashar is doing right now? Did his legs start to tremble as well? So all this posturing by the Syrians and their ‘superpower’ (super buulshit more like it) patron (Iran) was empty nonsense! It looks like their gambit on Hezbollah and Aoun has failed and now it is time for Iran/Syria plan B.

From the looks of it Mr. Bush’s plan A has excellent chances to work and mind you: none of those 21000 soldiers set foot in Iraq yet!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 10:50 pm

 

11. simohurtta said:

The fact that Iraq is condemning the intrusion of US troops on the Iranian consulate and talking with Damascus paired with the increase of US military activity could be a carrot and stick approach to Syria. Although the US will not talk to Damascus, Iraq will. The US is showing to Syria and Iran that it is in their best interest to help stabilize Iraq. Otherwise, they may be dealing with the US military.

Are you Kilian completely sure that Iraq’s government and USA operate in synchronization? I see more signs that the Iraqi government is not happy with Bush’s newest plan and USA’s role in the new “democracy”.

USA pissed of badly the Kurds (which are the few “loyal” friends USA has in Iraq) with the Irbil attack. Talabini’s Damascus trip might also be a warning to USA that the time is near when Iraq’s government will ask USA to leave. Maybe Iraq’s government is not in the end a puppet government.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 10:55 pm

 

12. Ehsani2 said:

Mr. Kissinger has supposedly sent President Bush a copy of “A savage war of peace” by Alistair Horne.

It is a chronology of of the French-Algerian conflict, from 19th century background to the awarding of independance.

It looks like Mr. Kissinger is starting to see a similarity between that Alegrian conflict and present day Iraq. It is worth remembering that the French had almost 500,000 soldiers in that country at one point.

One wishes that the book was sent to the White House prior to the invasion. May be they would have at least prepared for what was to come after the 2003 invasion.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 15th, 2007, 11:15 pm

 

13. majedkhaldoun said:

talabani visit to Syria is a trick,Bashar is sure to understand it,and it will fail.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 12:07 am

 

14. Alex said:

Dear MSK,

You are probably right. But the Syrians are not rejecting anything “reasonable” in advance. They think if they sit down and talk, they have the best chance to convince Israel and the United States to give Syria back the Golan.

Again, I will quote Jihad el-Khazen who had dinner last year in London with his freind Talabani. Jihad said that the Iraqi president since then was saying the same thing (In private): “Syria’s help was priceless and we have to pay Syria back for all it has done to help us when everyone else was afraid of Saddam”

I hope he realized at some point that there will be no independent Kurdistan anytime soon, instead they have to live with their neighbors and to be freinds with them.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 12:19 am

 

15. MSK said:

Dear Alex,

the way I see it (& please correct me if I’m wrong) the Syrian gov’t would be happy to just have talks going – to break the isolation and to be able to say “look, we’re talking”.

And it is also clear – among those actually involved in any talks – that certain ideas (like the one mentioned above) are too silly to even be talked about and only reality-based ones are worthy of discussion.

That’s the main reason why Assad Sr. just walked out of the Geneva meeting: what Clinton (well, actually, Dennis Ross) tried to do was to break the implicit understandings.

And seriously – switching around Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, and Israeli territory? Bilateral switches (like the implemented one [Israel-Jordan] and the proposed one [Israel-Palestine]) are doable, but not multi-lateral ones.

As for Talabani … of course he’d say & think that. And the Kurds are (so far) too smart to overplay their cards. But they don’t feel truly “indebted” to Bashar. They don’t trust the Syrian gov’t any further than the other way around.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 12:45 am

 

16. norman said:

Solving the problem between Israel and Syria about the Golan is simple , The setlers stay under Syrian sovrenty ,Israel gets water for an economic assistance from the US of one bilion dollars a year (les than the expence of three days in Iraq ),The US will have basses on the Golan to keep the peace for another bilion of economic and politecal and education assistance ,like computers and courses Syrians needs to be good mnagers.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 1:33 am

 

17. Alex said:

ok, how about this one. Interesting? true?

Akiva is very serious reporter and he was in Madrid this past week.

Israeli and Syrian leaders briefed on two-year contacts

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

In a series of secret meetings in Europe between September 2004 and July 2006, Syrians and Israelis formulated understandings for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

The main points of the understandings are as follows:

An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.

As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.

At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.

Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.

The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel’s favor.

According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

The document is described as a “non-paper,” a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

The meetings were carried out with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The last meeting took place during last summer’s war in Lebanon.

Government officials received updates on the meetings via the European mediator and also through Dr. Alon Liel, a former director general at the Foreign Ministry, who took part in all the meetings.

The European mediator and the Syrian representative in the discussions held eight separate meetings with senior Syrian officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a Syrian intelligence officer with the rank of “general.”

The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry’s director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi’a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.

Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret.

“This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak’s [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides,” he said.

It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime – the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority – asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi’a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran’s policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

Liel refused to divulge details about the meetings but confirmed that they had taken place. He added that meetings on an unofficial level have been a fairly common phenomenon during the past decade.

“We insisted on making the existence of meetings known to the relevant parties,” Liel said. “Nonetheless, there was no official Israeli connection to the content of the talks and to the ideas that were raised during the meetings.”

Prior to these meetings, Liel was involved in an effort to further secret talks between Syria and Israel with the aid of Turkish mediation – following a request for assistance President Assad had made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

That attempt failed following Israel’s refusal to hold talks on an official level – and a Syrian refusal to restrict the talks to an “academic level,” similar to the framework of the talks that had preceded the Oslo accords.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 1:39 am

 

18. Alex said:

It is a major story. Here are the details:

BACKGROUND: From Turkey, via Europe, to Damascus

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

It began exactly three years ago. In January 2004, Syrian President Bashar Assad came to Turkey for an important visit, some say a historic one. By complete coincidence, Dr. Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director general and former Israeli ambassador to Ankara, was in Istanbul and staying at the same hotel as the Syrian delegation. His friends in the Turkish Foreign Ministry hinted to Liel that Israel had a respectable spot in the conversations between Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A few days after Liel’s return to Israel, he was invited to a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Feridun Sinirlioglu. The Turkish ambassador told Liel that Assad had asked Erdogan to use Turkey’s good relations with Israel to remove the rust from the negotiation channel with Syria. Liel was asked to put out discreet feelers in the bureau of then prime minister Ariel Sharon to find out if there were an Israeli partner for covert talks with Syria, to be mediated by Turkey.

Liel brought Geoffrey Aronson from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace into the picture. Aronson, who is Jewish, had wandered among the capitals of the Middle East, including Damascus, Beirut and Amman, and suggested bringing in Ibrahim (Ayeb) Suleiman, a Syrian-Alawite businessman who had been living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. for many years. Suleiman’s family is from the same village as the Assad family, and senior American officials had used his good mediation skills many times to make contact with Damascus. Suleiman had also been involved in opening the gates of Syria to the Jews remaining there who wanted to move to Israel.

Suleiman left for Damascus. He arrived at the home of the Turkish ambassador to Syria in a vehicle from the president’s bureau to report that the Syrians were prepared to begin negotiations with Israel immediately: formal negotiations, certainly not “academic talks.” The Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem didn’t care whether Liel and his friends sat down with the Syrians to hear what they had to say − but no negotiations. The Israeli reason (or excuse): The Americans are not prepared to hear about contact with Syria.

Covert meetings in a European capital

At the end of the summer of 2004, Sinirlioglu told Liel, with great regret, that the Turkish channel had reached a dead end. But the trio of Liel, Aronson and Suleiman didn’t give up. In September, they met in a European capital that agreed to provide cover and funding for a covert Israeli-Syrian channel via a senior official in that country’s foreign ministry. Since autumn 2004, seven more meetings have been held. (Haaretz was provided the details about the conversations, on condition that the identities of the mediator and two other Israelis who participated in some of the meetings not be published.)

Following each meeting, as soon as he returned to Israel, Liel gave a full report to a senior official Foreign Ministry official. Sharon’s bureau also received a full situation report. Suleiman joined Liel on one of his visits to the Foreign Ministry and personally described Syria’s position to the officials in attendance. The European mediator also shared his impressions with the professional staff in Jerusalem.

To allow the European mediator to form his own impressions regarding the Syrians’ attitude toward the covert channel, Suleiman invited him to join him on his trips to Damascus. Each time they landed there, an official car awaited them near their plane. They were taken to the office of Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara, and occasionally met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and a senior official in Syrian intelligence.

The European mediator had the impression that the Syrian leadership was treating the matter very seriously and was not wasting his time or the taxpayer’s money on “futile academic talks.” He recalled that the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians began with talks among academics, with the assistance of a European country.

“I was convinced that the Syrians want a peace agreement with you,” the European mediator reported directly to official Israeli sources even before the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 and the investigation that began afterward. His impression was that the Syrian motive for the murder went far deeper than fear of revenge from the United States or France, which points to Assad as the one responsible for Hariri’s death.

“Farouk Shara told me radical Islam constitutes a threat to Syria and that peace is the only way to halt it,” the mediator said. He said the Syrians told him that in a few years, they would lose their oil sources and need significant amounts of foreign currency to purchase energy from external sources. The Alawite regime realizes, the European mediator said, that in order to survive, it has to bring foreign currency into Syria, and that no sane businessman would invest his fortune in a country that is not at peace with its neighbors.

While in Damascus, the European mediator heard about Syria’s readiness to include its ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas in its agenda for peace negotiations with Israel. He even reported identical comments he heard from the the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Riad Daoudi, at the ‘Madrid+15 Conference’ on Friday.

Daoudi’s refusal to befriend the Israeli delegation at the Madrid conference is in line with the Syrians’ approach in the European channel regarding proposals for Syrian gestures toward Israel, such as the digging up the bones of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, information on missing Israeli soldiers or a visit to the grave of Rabbi Haim Vital.

“Israel has held onto our land for 40 years now and rejects are request to open negotiations, and after all that, they expect confidence-building steps from us,” the Syrians argue.

Wartime meetings

The discussions dealt with all the matters that occupied the official negotiation teams: borders, water, security and normalization. Suleiman, representing the Syrian position, made it clear from the first moment that it would be a shame to waste time on futile attempts to move Syria from its position regarding the June 4, 1967, borders. Feelers regarding the possibility of territorial exchange were dismissed out of hand.

Nonetheless, the Syrians showed surprising flexibility regarding everything connected to a timetable for evacuating Israeli communities in the Golan Heights, water use and primarily the concept of building a “peace park” in the buffer zone that would be open to Israeli visitors.

The final document was formulated in August 2005, and has since been changed slightly. The final meeting took place a year later, in the midst of the second Lebanon war, on a day in which eight Israelis were killed by Hezbollah-fired Katyusha rockets in the Galilee. Suleiman announced that the Syrians had done all they could with the covert channel and were suggesting a meeting between a Syrian representative at the rank of deputy minister and an Israeli official at the rank of director general. They asked that C. David Welch, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, also participate in the meeting.

That was the end of the story

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 1:44 am

 

19. Alex said:

And the Full document:

EXCLUSIVE: The full text of the draft document

By Akiva Eldar

Nonpaper
Draft 4
August 29, 2004

Preamble

The objective of this effort is to establish normal, peaceful relations between the governments and peoples of Israel and Syria, and to sign a treaty of peace attesting to this achievement. The treaty will resolve the four “pillars” at the core of negotiations: security, water, normalization, and borders. There is be no agreement on any single one of these issues unless and until all of these issues are resolved.

I. Sovereignty
1. Syrian sovereignty, based upon the June 4, 1967 line in the Golan Heights, is acknowledged by Israel. The mutually agreed upon border will be determined by both parties (and guaranteed by the U.S. and the UN)

II. Framework Agreement, Implementation, and the End to the State of Belligerency
A “Framework Agreement” will address the issues of security (including early warning), water, normalization, and borders. Negotiations to reach such an agreement should proceed as expeditiously.

1. The state of belligerency between the parties will cease upon signature of a framework agreement between the parties, and will include the cessation of hostile actions by each party against the other.

2. Application of Syrian sovereignty in the Golan Heights, the establishment of normal, bilateral diplomatic relations, and the implementation of relevant provisions related to water and security will commence as soon as possible after the conclusion of a Framework Agreement but no later than the signing of a treaty of peace.

3. Implementation of the Israeli withdrawal to the mutually agreed border will occur during a period (the exact time frame to be mutually agreed) from signature of the Framework Agreement.

III. Peace Treaty
1. Satisfactory implementation of provisions and obligations established in the Framework Agreement will result in the signing of a peace treaty between the parties.

IV. Security
1. Demilitarized zones will be established in the areas of the Golan Heights that Israeli forces will vacate.

2. No military forces, armaments, weapons systems, or military infrastructure will be introduced into the demilitarized zones. Only a limited civil police presence will be deployed in the areas.

3. Both parties agree not to fly over demilitarized zones without a special arrangement.

4. The establishment of an early warning system includes a ground station on Mt. Hermon/Jabal as-Sheikh operated by the United States.

5. A monitoring and inspection and verification mechanism will be established to monitor and supervise the security agreements.

6. Direct liaison between the parties will be established in order to: Create a direct, real time communication capability on security issues in order to minimize friction along the international border; Help to prevent errors and misunderstandings between the parties.

7. Zones of reduced military forces will be established in Israel west of the international border with Syria and in Syria east of the Golan Heights. The respective depth of these zones (as measured in kilometers) between Israel and Syria will be according to a ratio of 1:4.

8. The Parties will cooperate in fighting local and international terrorism of all kinds.

9. The Parties will work together for a stable and safe Middle East, including the solution of regional problems related to the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iran.

V. Water
1. Israel will control the use and disposition of the water in the Upper Jordan River and Lake Tiberias.

2. Syria will not interrupt or obstruct natural flow of water in either quality or quantity in the Upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias.

3. Syrian use of the waters of the upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias for residential and fishing purposes is recognized and guaranteed.

VI. Park

1. In order to safeguard the water resources of the Jordan River basin, Syrian territory east of the mutually agreed border will be designated as a Park open to all and administered by Syria. The Park is to be established in the Golan Heights upon completion of the Israeli withdrawal and application of Syrian sovereignty in accordance with the treaty of peace. The park will extend from the agreed upon border eastward to a line to be determined by mutual agreement.

2. Park characteristics:
* Park is open for tourism.
* Park will be policed by Syrian park service personnel.
* The park will be free of permanent residents except for conservation and law enforcement personnel.
* No visa will be required for entry into park [from Israeli territory].
* Syrians will issue onsite official entry permit for a nominal fee.
* Visitors wishing to enter other Syrian territory east of the Park must have a proper visa and transit Syrian controls on park’s eastern perimeter.
* Entry to park is valid for one day during daylight hours.

End

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 1:49 am

 

20. norman said:

this seems interesting an could indicate that Syria is seeking peace but prparing for war at the same time which seems to be smart in this dangerous Midleast.

Syrian Armed Forces Revamped

From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 185, Jan 5, 2007

January 15, 2007, 4:40 PM (GMT+02:00)

To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE .

15 January: The Syrian army has begun striking out in new directions for the first time since Bashar Asad succeeded his father as president seven years ago, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reveal.

Two new mechanized divisions are under construction. When they are completed in the coming spring, the Syrian armed forces will consist of 12 divisions – five deployed opposite Israel on the Golan, of which 3 are in forward positions facing Israeli troops and tanks and 2 further back on call as reinforcements should war erupt.

Two armored divisions are stationed outside the Syrian towns of Homs and Der’a; the Republican Guard division 569 is permanently assigned to securing the ruling Asad family in Damascus; an infantry division is posted on the Syrian-Turkish border and another on the Syria-Iraq frontier.

Hafez Asad’s military doctrine was based on Syria being too poor in money and technology to maintain modern air and naval forces; it must therefore rely on a very strong anti-air defense system based on large quantities of medium range missiles, mostly Soviet Scuds-B, -C and –D, equipped with chemical and biological warheads. These missiles are capable of reaching every densely-populated corner of Israel.

Asad senior also bought a huge fleet of tanks from Moscow.

Today, the Syrian army is one of the few in the world, outside Africa and the Third World, to maintain in active service the anachronistic T-54 and T-55 tanks. The later model, T-72, is obsolete too, and most would be destroyed in combat with up-to-date tanks.

When Asad the younger assumed power in June 2000, he more or less adhered to his father’s military concept with two important exceptions:

He signed a mutual defense pact with Iran binding each country to come to the aid of the other against an external aggressor. The pact covered a merger between the Syrian and Iranian military industries, including Syria’s missile factories (the biggest is an underground facility near the northern town of Homs). Syria thus procured advanced missile technology from Iran.

Asad’s second project was to develop commando units for penetrating Israel’s home front in the even of a war with the Jewish state. Ten of these battalions have been created.

But the Israel-Hizballah war of summer 2006 was the Syrian ruler’s real eye-opener.

He saw the legendary IDF fail to subdue the enemy; Hizballah pounding northern Israel’s towns and villages day after day and forcing one million Israelis to abandon their homes. And he saw Hizballah using anti-tank rockets with devastating effect against advancing Israeli armored forces regardless of steady Israeli air bombardment.

The Syrian army has consequently undergone fundamental changes in weaponry and self-perception:

1. Its high command has been freed of its long sense of military inferiority to the IDF, despite Israel’s considerable strength.

2. There will therefore be far less inhibitions in the way of retaliating for Israeli military attacks, big or small, against Syrian territory. This freedom from restraint could also apply to Israeli spy planes penetrating Syrian air space.

3. Syria is preparing its army, especially the commando battalions, for such reprisals to take the form of cross-border operations.

4. Since the second half of November, 2006, small special units of 10-12 men are in training as terrorist teams for strikes inside Israel, starting with the Israeli Golan.

5. Anti-tank rockets have been introduced as standard equipment in all units down to company level.

6. In Moscow last month, the Syrian president signed a big arms deal with Russia.

7. He was taken round a base near Moscow for a display of the latest Russian anti-air missiles. In particular, he examined the S-300PMU2 FAVORIT system, which is designed to defend strategic facilities and armed forces against attack by modern aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in heavy ECM environments.

This air defense system is equipped with 30N6E2 fire-control radar, a 96L6E target acquisition and designation radar, eight 5P85SE launchers and 48N6E2 missiles with a range of 200km against aircraft and 40 km against ballistic missiles.

The system can engage six targets simultaneously with 12 missiles.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military experts describe this as a highly sophisticated, extremely expensive piece of hardware. Each battery costs $600 million.

Our sources report that before he left, Asad clinched a deal with Moscow to purchase this system on credit from Iran as part of Tehran’s arms transactions with the Russians. This is worrisome news indeed. It will place in the radical Asad regime’s hands a strategic weapon capable not only of downing Israeli planes while still in Israeli air space, but also US and European aircraft taking off from carriers in the eastern Mediterranean.

At least 16 US F-16 fighter craft arrive in S. Turkish Incirlink base for the first time in three years

EBKAfile Reports: Bush’s military shakeup ahead of Iraqi policy shift places US command in fighting stance for possible confrontation with Iran and Syria

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reveals: Al Qaeda command is ready with a detailed riposte for the new Bush strategy for Iraq

Search Articles

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 1:59 am

 

21. norman said:

Alex , I can live with this agreement as long as lifting all sanctions and boycut against Syria is encluded.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 2:08 am

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Alex –

It just seems to me the Syrians should give up trying to make peace with the Zionists and instead, focus on improving the plight of the Palestinians.

This strategy is working well for the Iranians and so I think Syria should follow suit.

Don’t you agree?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 2:18 am

 

23. Habib said:

Akbar says: something fanatical and meaningless

Israeli public opinion says: we want peace

Syrian public opinion says: we want peace and justice

Habib says: I hope Akbar allows the mediation to continue. I’m terribly scared of his incisive arguments, and unbounded wit. You must be pissed that your brethren are closer to us politically than to your own zealotry. sucker.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 2:37 am

 

24. Dubai Jazz said:

Ehsani2 said:
One wishes that the book was sent to the White House prior to the invasion. May be they would have at least prepared for what was to come after the 2003 invasion.

Ehsani2, I think what you really wanted to say is:

One wishes that the book was sent to the White House before the invasion took place. May be they would not have invaded iraq from the first place.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 16th, 2007, 4:55 am

 

25. All In One Boat » Blog Archive » Iran: US Escalation said:

[…] From the Left Coaster and SyriaComment […]

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

January 17th, 2007, 6:12 am

 

Post a comment