by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
August 27, 2013
At the time of this writing, the United States appears to be making final preparations for a military strike on Syria in response to a chemical massacre perpetrated by the Assad regime against hundreds of civilians living in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.
U.S.-led military action in Syria would represent a shift in the willingness by the Washington-led bloc of the international community to confront Bashar al-Assad’s regime, though the planned strikes are highly unlikely to topple it.
Instead, it is reasonable to expect a painful slap to the regime, to serve as a punishment and a deterrent against future use of weapons of mass destruction.
A failure by the international community to respond to last week’s atrocities would be interpreted by the Iran-led Shi’ite axis – of which Syria is a central part – as a green light for further WMD attacks.
That would be a highly dangerous development, due to the increasingly radical and erratic actions of Syria, and its willingness to use unconventional weapons.
Furthermore, Iran, which sees Syria as a strategic forward province, is helping to orchestrate Assad’s war, and would be encouraged by Western inaction to continue sponsoring and arming terrorists all over the Middle East, while developing its nuclear program.
Military action will send an important message of deterrence to Assad’s backers in Tehran, as well as to Hizballah in Lebanon, whose fighters have helped keep the Syrian regime alive.
In recent days, Syrian and Iranian officials have issued a series of threats designed to deter a punitive strike, asserting, for example, a U.S. attack will create “a ball of fire that would burn not only Syria but the whole Middle East.” One Syrian spokesman claimed Israel would be the “first victim” of a U.S. attack on Syria, and that Israel will “come under fire” in the event of a strike. Such statements have been routinely issued by Iran and Syria in the past.
Although they can’t be entirely dismissed, these threats stand little chance of materializing. Any direct Syrian retribution attack on Israel will jeopardize the Assad regime’s very existence.
In light of the fact that Assad is likely to survive an American military move, it would make no sense for him to take a step that will all but ensure his demise by provoking an Israeli response.
Nevertheless, in the Middle East, irrational steps can never be ruled out.
- Iranian Official: Israel to Be ‘First Victim’ of U.S. Attack on Syria (freebeacon.com)
- Attack on Syria could trigger terrorists acts against U.S., Israel (washingtontimes.com)
- Assad may hit back at Israel for US strike, trusting Obama to tie Israel’s hands against major reprisal (debka.com)
America’s Impending Defeat in Syria (pjmedia.com)
- Stephens: Target Assad (wsj.com)
Obama’s Bluff (stratfor.com)