Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How Much Longer Until War?

A general Middle-East war appears increasingly likely as the Assad regime moves closer to falling in Syria. Michael Ledeen reminds us of the big picture--the Syrian conflict is more than just pro- and anti-Assad forces; and Israel's attacks on targets in Syria is part of larger maneuvers. Ledeen writes:
As information about the apparent Israeli strikes on targets inside Syria continues to pour in, it’s easy to lose sight of the central fact: the two reported Israeli attacks are part of an ongoing war, the big war against the West. While the attacks were in Syria, the mission was primarily a major strike against Iran and Russia, two key components of the global alliance arrayed against us. Both are desperately trying to shore up the Assad regime in Damascus.
The fall of Assad would be a devastating blow to Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei’s tyranny in Tehran, would gravely weaken Russia’s strategic position in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and would threaten the strength (and even the survival) of Hezbollah, the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization and the creation of Iran’s founding tyrant, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The attacks apparently did great damage to Iranian missiles, and the vaunted Russian antiaircraft system provided to both Syria and Iran was unable to do anything to prevent them. Both have been humiliated.
The primary Israeli targets seem to have been Iranian missiles shipped from Iran to Syria, reportedly pending transfer to Hezbollah. They are capable of carrying chemical warheads, which may explain President Obama’s quick support for Israel.
Ledeen notes the recent flurry of high level diplomatic activity, suggesting that it may have to do with the "big picture":
I cannot imagine the Israelis not sharing their view of Iran’s regional strategy, which they believe includes a contingency plan (named after Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani) for the occupation of Syria if Assad were to lose control.
Ledeen also warns that Jordan is also one of Iran's primary strategic targets, and we should watch for more developments there.

David P. Goldman (aka "Spengler") likewise takes up the theme that we must eventually deal with Iran. He writes:

Israel’s reported strike on a stockpile of Iranian missiles near Damascus overnight highlights the extent of Iran’s military presence in Syria. We do not (and will not) know the details, but the series of fireballs that “turned day into night” around the Syrian capital, as one observer told news media, make clear that an enormous amount of ordnance was in place. It was no secret that the Assad regime now depends on Iran and its cat’s paw Hezbollah. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared April 30 that Syria’s civil war had become a regional conflict: “Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri (extreme jihadi) groups,” Nasrallah said in a broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel. “How will this happen? Details will come later. I say this based on information … rather than wishful thinking.”
Israel’s head of military intelligence, Gen. Aviv Kochavi, warned in March that Iran and Hezbollah already had built an army of 50,000 in Syria and planned to double its size. Syria had an estimated 220,000 regular soldiers in 2010, but probably can field less than half that number today; at a prospective strength of 100,000, the Iranian-Hezbollah force would become the dominant military power in Syria, in effect an army of occupation.
The events of the past eighteen hours make clear that Iran intends to use Syria as a base for missile attacks on Israel. The Iranian Fateh-110 missiles can deliver a 1,500 lb. warhead accurately at a distance of 300 km (Tel Aviv is 214 km from Damascus). Iranian Revolutionary Guards launching missiles at Israeli cities from Syria represents a much greater threat to Israel than Hezbollah in southern Lebanon does. Hezbollah is vulnerable to Israeli retaliation; the Iranians don’t care how much Israel might retaliate against their Syrian hosts. ...
 He takes a more positive note of the ongoing Shiite-Sunni conflict, because it preoccupies our enemies. However, he warns: "Everything changes, though, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons. Instead of a containable war of attrition, we will have an Iranian reign of terror under a nuclear umbrella."

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