The Middle-Eastern limbo through our scope


The recent Israeli strikes against targets on Syrian territory including both Hezbollah and units of the Republican Guard of President Bashar al-Assad poses itself as-if we want to use the terminology of Washington officials-a “Game Changer”! It’s not the Sarin gas or the other weaponized chemicals that the regime allegedly has, which troubles the analysts. It’s Israel’s behavior, which literally a) does not make any sense, b) underscores the spillover effects of the crisis to a much wider zone, c) is against any traditional Israeli doctrine which dictates not to get involved in messes such as civil wars or overthrow heads of enemy states. That said, one may grasp the fundamental reasons why every political analyst is bewildered by Israel’s sudden, unprovoked, unjustifiable and unanticipated series of strikes.

It is already known that Shiite elements-players are already involved in Syria along with terrorists or terrorist affiliated groups which fight alongside the Free Syrian Army (Assad’s opposition). Little is known, though, about the modus operandi of the later groups, which seems to have been gathered from broader geographic regions such as Kosovo, Libya, Chechnya even Somalia. The “contribution” of those groups is said to facilitate the resistance, but that’s not always the case, as there are many factions inside this heterogeneous mixture, which often clash with each other, thus creating something like a civil war within the civil war. The introduction of Hezbollah and the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Basij, who have been trained to fight in urban environments constitutes the reason behind what has given the Israelis the pretext to intervene in something that is meant to pose as a greater blunder than the First Invasion in Lebanon. In January, we saw a series of strikes against convoys carrying ballistic parts allegedly for Hezbollah and against a Syrian Military-Scientific facility, which was meant to be weaponizing chemicals. The later has been re-targeted during the most recent raid.

The case that is being formed, though, is that while Israel is throwing its pre-emptive cards on the tables, its real purpose is to introduce itself as a game changer in favor of the resistance which has seen its forces beaten by Assad and his allies. While Tel-Aviv sticks to the usual rhetoric that weapons such as A/A (Scud-D, Fateh 110 etc.) or WMDs will not be allowed to fall on Hebollah’s hands, yet what was bombed was not Hezbollah, but rather the elite forces of Assad stationed on Mount Qassioun, specifically the 4th division, which spearheads Assad’s defenses and is commanded by his brother Maher Assad. According to Israeli sources the dead rose up to 40, but according to some Arabic Media, they were 300 or more. Not that it matters, meaning that even if 10 Republican Guard troops were killed by an Israeli air raid, this would be a good enough reason for Syria and Iran to move on to a similar attrition warfare carried out in the post 1967 six day war. 

The information is flowing in massive quantities and the scenarios vary. Nevertheless there is a point that we have all missed so far. The fact that Iran chose the battleground of an upcoming military confrontation, and that battleground is not in Lebanon as many of us had thought, it is in Syria and it can stretch from the Golan Heights to the Turkish-Syrian frontiers. The fact that Israel has been debating for months (if not years) a strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities has triggered a militarily sophisticated response by Iran, which is luring Israel into Syria just like Marshal Zhukov lured the Wehrmacht into the Kursk enclave in 1943. Iran has moved a lot since it was mining the Gulf in the ’80s targeting American ships and cutting off free shipping passages and that is not all.

Netanyahu is following Obama’s orders BLINDLY not stopping for one moment to think of the ramifications of the military pathway he chose to walk. This is the third time that he actually does something “wrong” after being pushed by Obama. The first time was during the recent Gaza air strikes when the reserves were ready to move in and Obama kept stalling him until it was too late for an invasion. The second time was when he was pushed to call the Turkish Prime Minister, from the airport when Obama was leaving Israel, and apologize after three years and amidst an anti-Semitic hysteria caused by the ruling party in Turkey. It was allegedly important because Obama had prepped many fronts which were meant to invade in Syria and without an Israeli-Turkish cooperation this would have been rendered impossible. But then, it was proven that “Washington’s red line was a big con” quite similar to the unforgiven pretexts regarding mythical WMDs that the Saddam regime presumably possessed. When the UN found out that the Sarin gas was used by the rebels, the situation stalled further, not to mention that essentially Washington is backing up terrorists who use WMDs like Sarin (even in very small doses just to set Assad up), nevertheless there are no guarantees that since they have laid their hands on Sarin they will not try to orchestrate a terrorist strike in one of the US’s major cities! So, in addition to an international outlaw, the Obama administration has “Treason” written all over the White House. And as if those criminal actions were not enough, the administration encouraged Netanyahu to step up and intervene in a civil war, where even the rebels hardly know their “comrades in arms”.

As the crisis is likely going to develop in a tit for tat status, the Israelis might be tempted even to enter Syria, but that would be the gravest mistake since the blunders of 1973. No matter how many countries of the Arab League or even NATO hit Syria, once they deploy boots on the ground, they will have to stand against the Revolutionary Guard units trained in Urban Warfare and for once more they will have to cope with the asymmetry posed by the opponent. What will it be like then? Mogadishu? Vietnam? Afghanistan? Pre-Petraeus Iraq? And even if they win the conflict, who on earth is going to stop the protracted insurgency after the fall of Assad?

In the meantime Russia is playing its own game. DEBKA reports that it has “teamed up” with Hezbollah. Russia does not have the habit of “teaming up” with terrorist organizations, but what is doing instead is acquiring diplomatic leverage and so far it has the major players fighting on the side of the regime under its wing. That is why President Putin phoned Netanyahu while he was in China and again as DEBKA reports “gave him a dressing down”, why? Because he can! And because Netanyahu must understand that the more he gets involved in the crisis the more perplexed the situation is going to develop. And when he finally realizes that Obama does not want to save Israel, then he is going to play by Moscow’s rules, and that is something we have mentioned before in one of our extensive analysis.