Israel’s bombing of “missiles destined for Hezbollah” raises fears of deepening conflict and concern the region could be on the brink of starting a nuclear World War 3.
Yesterday the Syrian government released a statement threatening retaliation against what was perceived as Israel’s “declaration of war” after Israeli air strikes hit military targets around Damascus. According to The Guardian, “Israel made no official comment on the strikes early on Sunday, which were the second in two days and the third and heaviest this year. Security sources said they were aimed at preventing the transfer of advanced Iranian-made missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon for possible use against Israel.”
Hezbollah, formed by Lebanese Shi’ite clerics with the goal of driving Israel from Lebanon and establishing an Islamic state, acquires “substantial logistical support” from Iran. Chris Hughes wrote, “Syria’s President Assad has a close bond with Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, which is arming and financing Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other groups in Gaza and even the West Bank.”
Israel Against Syria? No, Not Really
The Damascus regime’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, told CNN the Israeli air strikes over the weekend represented “a declaration of war” and smacked of an alliance between Islamist terrorists and Israel. He said Syria would retaliate in its own time and in its own way. ”When they attack, this is a declaration of war. This is not something that is (new),” al Mekdad told CNN. “We dealt with this on several occasions, and we retaliated the way we wanted, and the retaliation was always painful to Israel, and they will suffer again.”
Omran Zoabi, the information minister, said: “Syria is a country that does not accept insults and it doesn’t accept humiliation.”
Israeli military analysts said the missiles had been fired from outside Syrian airspace to avoid engaging Syria’s reportedly strong air defenses.
After an emergency meeting of Syria’s Cabinet on Sunday, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said on state television that the attack “opens the door wide open for all possibilities” but did not specify what those possibilities would be.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby condemned what he called Israeli strikes on Syrian territories and called for the United Nations Security Council to “move immediately in order to stop and prevent Israeli attacks on Syria.” Foreign ministers in Egypt and Iran also condemned the reported Israeli attack.
Ban’s spokesman said the U.N. secretary-general “calls on all sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict.“
Two U.S. officials told CNN on Friday that Israel apparently launched an airstrike into Syria on Thursday or Friday. The Israeli military did not comment on the U.S. claim, stating “We do not comment on these reports at all.”
Israel Using Self-Protective Measures, As Historically Promised
Israel has historically said it would target any transfer of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups as well as derail any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.”We are watching everything when it comes to the movement of these types of weapons. We have the means to do that,” a senior Israeli defense official told CNN’s Sara Sidner on Sunday. The official is not authorized to speak to the media.
Shaul Mofaz, a lawmaker in Israel’s Knesset, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday that Israel isn’t meddling with Syria’s civil war, but that Israel must protect itself from Lebanese militants. ”For Israel, it is very important that the front group for Iran, which is in Lebanon, needs to be stopped,” Mofaz said.
“Everything that goes into the hands of Hezbollah is not directly related to the rebels. Israel never interfered in the past or today in their actions. Nevertheless, I need to say that Hezbollah is deeply involved up to its neck in what is happening in Syria. Hezbollah helps the Iranians navigate against the rebels.”
Interviewed on Israel Radio, Tzachi Hanegbi (an Israeli politician close to the prime minister, according to The Guardian) said the aim of the military action was “to keep advanced weapons from Hezbollah as soon as intentions are exposed, and refrain from tension with Syria”.
Syria “Most Likely Won’t Respond”
The Guardian reported:
Former Mossad director Danny Yatom said Assad “most likely won’t respond at this time. The Syrian army and the regime, which are almost completely preoccupied with survival, have no interest in opening a new front against Israel … On the other hand it could very well be that [Syria or Hezbollah or Iran] will carry out a secret operation and try to commit terror attacks against an Israeli or Jewish target somewhere in the world,” he told Israel Radio.
However, further Israeli air strikes could force Assad – or Hezbollah or Iran – to respond, which in turn could draw not just Israel, but the US and Europe, into a confrontation. The US gave Israel wholehearted backing for the weekend bombings, but was not given prior warning of Israel’s actions, according to an unnamed intelligence official.
In other words, Israel may be trying to refrain from escalating tension with Syria, but Syria may not be interested in similar restraint. And the United States appears to have made a tacit, if not explicit, agreement to support Israel’s efforts to protect itself.
China: Show Some Restraint
In the meantime, China has made a public call for restraint in the area. “We oppose the use of military force and believe any country’s sovereignty should be respected,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “China also calls on all relevant parties to begin from the basis of protecting regional peace and stability, maintain restraint and avoid taking any actions that would escalate tensions and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.”
China has preached restraint countless times in the past 60 days. China has asked North Korea, South Korea, and the United States to use restraint and to contain the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Many of the neighboring countries have heightened concerns that any attacks between the nations could disrupt their stability as well. It is difficult to say if China is preaching stability in order to maintain the global status quo that is helping to grow its economy, or is hoping to avoid finding itself in the middle of a nuclear World War 3 while the country is still dependent on foreign income that may stop flowing if resources for war efforts must be diverted.
A Bit Of Good News From North Korea
In mildly reassuring news, North Korea has stood down the two Musudan intermediate-range missiles that were moved to a launch site on the east coast of North Korea in early April, CBS News reported only moments ago. The movement of the missiles away from the launch site coincides with the end of U.S.-South Korea military exercises that seemed to cause soaring tensions in the region. CBS News reported, “The North has somewhat eased that warlike rhetoric of late and shown tentative signs of willingness to talk.”
A Bit Of Bad News From Iran
Frighteningly, Iran has moved military forces into Syria in what appears to be a back-up plan for President Assad’s wearied forces. A Western intelligence source told The Daily Mirror Iran now has more than 1,500 military personnel in Syria.
The source said: “The scale of Iran’s military input has suddenly increased. The deployment is a notable expansion of Iran’s willingness and ability to project military force beyond its borders.”
The source added: “If the West continues to support the uprising it might find it is involved in a proxy war with Iran in Syria. Tehran is keen to keep Assad in power, especially as it needs a foothold against Israel and America.”
“It has long supported the Assad regime and will continue to do so, but pouring this many troops and with this military structure is a new development,” the source said.
Israel’s air attacks followed much heated debate in the United States over whether Assad’s use of chemical weapons might push President Barack Obama to send in military aid to back the rebels. If tensions continue to escalate, the United States’ tacit support of Israel may leave the President no choice in the matter, because the region is clearly on the brink of a nuclear World War 3. As Chris Hughes of The Mirror reported:
Assad is desperate, with both Free Syrian Army rebels and Islamist factions trying to overthrow his hated regime. He needs to offer arms to his Hezbollah supporters or possibly make a move against Israel to bolster support.
Israel had already warned Assad that the movement of deadly missiles would be a game-changer – a warning he clearly ignored. Israel has finally declared “enough is enough” to Assad and his Tehran backers and there are fears of war breaking out.
If Syria opens fire in return, or Iran’s allies in Lebanon and Gaza decide to fire large numbers of rockets into Israel, war will be declared. And there is every chance of this happening.
On The Brink Of Nuclear World War 3.