While on the surface it looks like Israel is intent on attacking Iran to prevent it from pursuing its nuclear ambition, the subtle but significant moves by Israel indicate that the next likely target is Syria instead. Why not, since striking Syria at this time, will draw Iran along with its satellites (Hezbollah and Hamas) in and – if the plan works -- deplete their capabilities. If we are to believe the local Hebrew media, there was an Israeli attack on a chemical weapons site near Damascus, at dawn this past Saturday. According to Maariv’s report, “Israeli air jets flew over Assad’s palace and other security facilities” in the capital Damascus “before striking the chemical weapons compound.” No official word from Syria or Israel on this incident. At dawn Monday, residents of southern Israel were asked to seek cover in shelters after Hamas fired a rocket from Gaza that exploded in an open are in Eshkol.
This is not the first time and is not likely to be the last when Israeli air jets enter Syrian airspace and strike targets they deem dangerous. Earlier this year, a convoy was attacked near the Syrian-Lebanese border. Although Israel never admitted carrying out that strike, pundits and spin-doctors explained that it was believed the convoy was carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment and possible chemical weapons across the border to Hezbollah. Syrian National TV claimed a “scientific research center” was the target.
Back in 2009 another Syrian facility was the target of an Israeli air strike. At the time Syrian officials claimed it was only a scientific facility used by its military. What’s interesting about these instances is that Israel acts without warning or apology and then both sides keep quiet after the fact. Life goes on afterwards until the next attack.
What is different now is that a bloody civil war is raging in Syria. Today’s scene would have been unimaginable two years ago. What started out as a peaceful demand for reform as a reaction to an Arab uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, has turned into one of the most dangerous conflicts the region has witnessed since the Iraq war and what has ensued from it.
The lack of action by leading nations during the turmoil’s many opportunities, has led to chaos on the ground and a split opposition leaving the door open for the ruthless Assad regime to run the country and the people down to the ground to safeguard their position in power.
Claims of the irresponsible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime are getting louder and spreading across several platforms and in various tongues. They are likely to continue their escalation until they reach a climax pushing the U.S. and its allies to fulfill their moral obligation and intervene militarily. But, what is the worth of fulfilling one’s moral obligation if it’s done too late? It will be another episode of help and rescue arriving too late for the victims but right on time for the feuding parties to escalate the situation further, secure their positions and.. Blame the U.S. for interfering in another country’s business and perhaps making things worse instead of making them better.
As the U.S. continues to search for proof of chemical weapons’ use that will shame it into acting in Syria, there are plenty of evidence pointing to this fact. Some are obvious through videos circulating on the Internet showing the clear signs of Sarin Gas use against innocent civilians; others are coming from authorities in Turkey who describe the victims’ wounds and injuries as carrying the signs of chemical agents.
As local, regional and international players make it more urgent for the U.S. to intervene in Syria, let us remember the challenges of other similar experiences. History tells us that the military intervention is the easy part. Having a transition and exit plans are even more important than the intervention itself. In Syria, this means finding agreement among giant players such as Russia, Iran, Turkey and Israel. It also means a solution to a refugee crisis of devastating proportions. Not to mention what it means for Syria itself which will emerge as a brand new nation, much more diverse than Assad’s Syria, much harder to tame and much more dangerous!