Saturday, July 13, 2013

Did Israel bomb Syria a fourth time? Will Syria react?

There's an article on the Haaretz website today about the mysterious bombing of Latakia, Syria, that happened on July 5.  The target was apparently Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles, which the IDF sees as a threat to Israel. It wasn't clear last week what had happened, but there were reports that "fighter jets" were seen over the city. Yesterday, CNN reported, on the basis of interviews with three US officials who were not named, that Israel had bombed the site. If this report is correct, it will be the fourth time this year that Israel has attacked a Syrian site. After the third one, Assad threatened that if Israel attacked again, he would respond militarily.

The question I have is - why would American officials spill the news to CNN? What possible interest does the US have in provoking fighting between Israel and Syria? If Israel in fact bombed these missiles in Latakia, and subsequently both Syria and Israel studiously avoided saying anything about it in public, what purpose is there in revealing the information? One could say the same about the alleged Israeli destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor a few years ago. Both Israel and Syria kept their mouths shut (what I recall is that the North Koreans protested the bombing at the time, which was curious, but became clear later on when it came out that they had probably built it for the Syrians). It was US officials, again, who revealed that Israel had hit the reactor - but why? Was it in the interest of the US to reveal this information? Why?

And now that this report is out there - what will Syria do? The Haaretz report comments:
If indeed it was Israel that attacked last week, the attack has largely flown under the radar, at least until the CNN report. After the two suspected Israeli attacks in May, Assad clearly stated that he would not ignore another Israeli infraction, and Israel would pay a heavy price for any attack. Assad hinted then that he was considering opening a terror front in the Golan Heights. The fact remains that if CNN is correct regarding the identity of last week’s attacker, Assad must know it as well, and if he chooses to ignore this attack as well, we can learn that he still has no intention of directly confronting Israel, despite his aggressive declarations. Assad’s silence relies upon his ability to comprehensively deny the attack, much like in the past, and totally ignore the violation of Syrian sovereignty.
The CNN report makes comprehensive denial rather difficult – but it comes rather late, more than a week after the incident took place. During the coming days, it remains to be seen if Assad, who is concentrating all his efforts at putting down the fierce rebellion within Syria, will chose to ignore this latest attack, believing that slight humiliation in the media is still preferable to a direct confrontation with Israel.
I hope that Assad decides that it's best to ignore this report and not attack Israel - I have a personal interest in this, since I'm in Jerusalem until early August, and even if I weren't here, I certainly wouldn't want Israel to get involved in the Syrian civil war.

No comments:

Post a Comment