Cross posted at The Progressive Zionist
Though it is not talked about much, what is turning into a Civil War in Syria is now threatening to become a regional conflict.
Today.. Bashar Assad the brutal Syrian Dictator that threatened Israel and the United States were it to be attacked by anyone (not necessarily Israel or the U.S.) seeking to end the slaughter and repression that the dictatorship is currently engaged in regarding it's citizens.
According to the Israeli Daily Haaretz Online, Assad: Syria will shower Tel Aviv with rockets if attacked by foreign powers
During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Assad was quoted by the Iranian semi-official news agency Fars as saying that Syria would not hesitate to strike major Israeli cities if it was attacked.
"If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than 6 hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv," Assad said.
In addition, Fars reported indicated that the Syrian president told the Turkish FM that he would also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a rocket attack on Israel, adding: "All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. and European interests will be targeted simultaneously."
Now as Haaretz indicated this comes on the heels of comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan regarding sanctions against the Assad regime, and at a time when Turkish troops are mobilized for an "exercise" in South Eastern Turkey. The manuvers in Hatay involve the 39th mechanized infantry brigade and 730 reserve soldiers. The 39th is part of the Turkish Second Army VI Corps
Anyhow, there are also many Syrian refugees (approx. 7000 in Hatay one of whom is the Highest ranking Syrian Military Defector; Colonel Riad Asaad:
Colonel Riad al-Asaad told Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency he had been the target of a Syrian military crackdown in the Rastan region near the city of Homs, but had escaped.
"We live in a safe place in Turkey," he said, thanking the Turkish government for giving him refuge. Anatolian's report was datelined Hatay in southern Turkey, where 7,000 Syrians have fled to escape Assad's crackdown on protesters.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has predicted the Syrian people will "sooner or later" overthrow Assad, his former friend, said he would unveil plans for sanctions against Syria after he visits Syrian refugees in Hatay in the next few days.
Turkey also announced a nine-day military exercise in Hatay, a territory long claimed by Syria, starting on Wednesday.
So given Turkey's commentary (which is making Syria nervous), rather than go after the people threatening him, Assad wants to attack a civilian target Tel Aviv (which he says his forces and Hizbollah forces can do within six hours of an attack on him) AND with his allies Hizbollah and Iran want to attack not only American shipping but other Israeli civilian targets as well. Great (/snark).
One question one might also ask is what role Hamas would play here? It's political leadership is headquartered in Damascus and despite reported difficulties between Khalid Meshaal and the Assad regime Hamas is still ensconsed in Damascus. Just today Gaza militants attacked an IDF convoy but there were no casualties.
I think the main question then becomes, if Syria and it's allies (Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran) try to ignite a regional war with the U.S. and Israel what do other countries do? I mean attacking Tel Aviv would not be an unpopular move in the MENA region BUT, would it be welcome enough to save the brutal Assad regime? Israel, off course would then fight back. At this point would Assad be able to position himself as a great defender of regional pride, or would people see through this obvious ruse and do the right thing (condemning Syria for this and standing against Iran's regional ambitions)?
Please feel free to join in the conversation and let's try to do as Markos suggested and make this a flame free diary.