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On Saturday, Israel bombed a Syrian military installation outside Damascus called Jamraya in Mt Qassioun, about 15 kms (10 miles) east of the border with Lebanon, in the mountains near Damascus. In previous days, reported violations of Lebanese airspace had increased and it’s most likely Israel attacked while its planes were still in Lebanese airspace. The purported reason for the attack was to prevent movement of missiles to Hezbollah.

I find the reasons given by Israel to be purely for propaganda and insufficient to explain what drove the attacks. It’s an open secret in the region that Hezbollah has far more missiles In Lebanon right now that in 2006 and those that are stockpiled in Syria for Hezbollah’s use would not significantly change the situation. Hezbollah controls much of the cargo coming in and out of the airport in Beirut and most of its weapons shipments from Iran have been coming in via that route, particularly since the movement of equipment through Syria has become quite dangerous in the last few years as the conflict in Syria has raged. It is true that Syria stockpiles some rather advanced and accurate missiles for Hezbollah but Hezbollah already has inside Lebanon some of the Scud D missiles that were purportedly destroyed by the Israeli raid on Jamraya. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that Syria was thinking of moving those missiles into Hezbollah’s hands. Therefore, it is necessary to look at why the attacks occurred at this point in time.

The main reason I think Israel attacked Jamraya is that it is showing support to the opposition in Syria by weakening the Syrian Army thus continuing the conflict and trying to avert an Army victory. The opposition have recently been routed in several areas of Syria – Homs, Idlib, Qusayr, Daraa and various part of the Aleppo countryside. They are in the process of being pushed out of the Damascus beltway. (These reports do not often appear in western media who seem to only want to report opposition victories but are readily available in English-language media from the Middle East). Opposition supply lines have been cut from Lebanon and Turkey with the Syrian Army and National Defence Militia (a militia trained in guerrilla tactics that does not rely on orders from the army to carry out its work) reporting regular ambushes along the Orontes River with Turkey and the mountain supply routes from Lebanon near Arsal, Otaiba and Tal-Kalakh. This means that it has become increasingly difficult for supplies of new fighters, arms and food/fuel to the oppositions which is increasingly moving its operations east towards the Iraq border and causing clashes with tribal groups in that area.

Israel could be calculating that the Syrian regime will not respond and that it can even up the playing field for the opposition who are in the process of being pushed out of the western part of the country and thus allow the continued destruction of hated enemy. It seems as though in addition to reverses on the ground, much of the opposition’s propaganda war is failing – all their claims of massacres and chemicals weapons use by the regime have not galvanised sufficient assistance from NATO or the GCC to overthrow the regime and now it appears that Carla del Ponte has found evidence that the rebels themselves have been caught using sarin nerve gas, not the regime. It should come as no surprise that Israel is now siding with the opposition since it appears that WINEP, the pro-Israeli think tank in Washington DC with close ties to Israel is hosting meetings with senior Syrian opposition figures.

 As for the US role, I can’t imagine that the US did not know about this attack beforehand and perhaps greenlighted it. Both countries would assume (correctly in my view) that the Syrian military is not in a position to fight on two fronts and would therefore not retaliate against the attacks. President Obama would also prefer that US assets not get involved for several reasons: no real domestic support for an attack with the US economy and budget still in a parlous state and all those Russian warships in the Mediterranean. President Obama does not seem to have a preference for open attacks by military assets; rather he prefers the indirect, such as drone attacks or the use of proxies such as the Gulf States supplying the Syrian opposition. But by supporting these attacks, the US gets to project to its allies that it is being strong on Syria and that it is “doing something”.

I think that this is a stupid move geopolitically. To be seen on the side of the Syrian opposition will discredit the opposition in the eyes of many Arabs who are not fundamentalist Islamists. The recent Pew Poll  shows that there is no love for Assad among Arabs but there is strong opposition in the Arab world against any foreign intervention. This attack will strengthen that opposition. But that’s not really saying much. While Arab public opinion is strongly against intervention in Syria, Arab monarchs won’t object to the Israeli attack. But the primary reason that I think it’s a stupid move is that it will harden opposition to the rebels in Syria while not causing sufficient damage to the regime to weaken it enough to allow the rebels to gain the upper hand. The Syrians are claiming about 43 deaths and most likely the continuing explosions in the area indicate a loss of ordnance. The loss of ordnance is not that critical and can easily be made up by Iranian and Russian supply. To achieve the fall of Bashar al-Assad it would be necessary to weaken the military, which would require continual aerial forays to hit not just materiel but to also eliminate command structures. Not only is Israel is not equipped to do this (since their resources are strong but really only designed for short, quick wars) but the political fallout from this type of situation upon the region would be horrific. Even moving towards more regular attacks would cause a level of volatility that could have serious consequences in the region, politically, economically and further loss of human life.

In the end, it is painful to watch the cruel game being played in Syria and far more painful for Syrians to endure it. After over 2 years of civil war, it is clear to everyone except some western countries and Gulf States that the Syrian regime is not going to be toppled by the armed opposition, yet just enough support continues to flow to ensure that the violence and bloodshed continues. Syrians, long victims of a repressive police state (a regime of which I am firmly opposed) which has had no problems killing and disappearing its own people, are now also victims to those who wish to prolong the conflict which is causing such great loss of life and placed over a million people in refugee status. It seems that that several NATO countries and the Gulf autocrats, awash in oil money, who support the armed opposition forces are indulging in magical geopolitical fantasies, thinking if they throw enough money at Syria, they'll get what they want.  

It’s hard to see a way out of this situation that will end well for the Syrian people.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wouldn't be too sure that (7+ / 0-)

    Netanyahu is asking permission from Obama for these raids, or even giving him advance warning.

    •  Yes, I was thinking that was a rather bold (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      undocumented assertion.

      Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

      by Smoh on Mon May 06, 2013 at 04:56:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm Betting I Have More Emails From Netenyhu (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Quicklund, mrblifil

      than Obama does.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon May 06, 2013 at 05:07:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probably last-moment notification (0+ / 0-)

      But maybe not true advance warning. "By the way you might see an uptick in northern air operations in five minutes or so. Just thought you might like to know."

    •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

      Obama has Netanyahu's number. Do you remember what happened when Obama landed in Israel on his last visit? He basically got Netanyahu to apologise to Erdogan about the Mavi Marmara. Netanyahu was sidewiped by 'Please proceed Governor' Obama. The trip was all smiles between 2 men who obviously loathe each other on a personal level but the politics of the situation made the pretence necessary.  But if you don't think that Obama was determined to assert himself after Netanyahu lectured him in the White House, then you're wrong.

      As for this particular attack, I highly doubt it was a surprise to the Americans. Given what is going on in the Middle East right now, the White House and US military would be strategising daily on this. This is too big for it to not be agreed to beforehand. I think that the nonchalant US response and Hagel moving the conversation towards considering sending lethal weapons is part of that strategy. Israel likes to play that it's some lone wolf but it usually can only play a limited role in the Middle East. For example, look how Israel was kept out of the Gulf Wars.

  •  Looks Like a Disaster in the Making (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, Lepanto, markthshark, Smoh, corvo, poco, PeterHug

    But what do I know.

    The "New Syrian Army" smells a lot like Ahmad Chalabi and his group that Israel and the U.S. supported before the invasion of Iraq and we all know how that turned out.

    Good luck to all.

    I hope Israel enjoys having a destablized neighbor to its north with tens of thousands of foreign Islamic militants on the ground there.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon May 06, 2013 at 04:11:00 AM PDT

    •  or for a blast from the past (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      how about the SLA?  It appears Syria is heading the way that Lebanon did with various factions and militias fighting for control.

      I do have a question about the deployment of Iron Dome units in the north of Israel since they are not helpful against low trajectory weaponry such as mortars.  During WWII, the problem in German cities was not only the Allied bombs but the AA munitions that did not find a target falling back to earth.  Even today in the larger German cities, from time to time unexploded AA ordnance is discovered at building sites.

      Does the Iron Dome system not prevent some sort of risk, no matter how small, from falling debris at least?  

  •  Well (10+ / 2-)

    Israel just joined the side that appears to have used nerve gas.  Hope they enjoy it.

  •  WINEP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, corvo

    is hosting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) this week, meetings with Hagel.  

    They (the FSA)  seem to be the preferred faction of the fracturing opposition for receiving military aid and US backing  

    They don't seem to have much popular support, and have a reputation of brutality against civilians, but they are led by former Syrian military officers.

    Let's be very careful here.

    The strike also hit the barracks and HQ for 2 battalions of Revolutionary Guards, elite units,  Assad's protective force.

    •  Syria has Republican Guards (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, corvo, poco, Brecht

      not Revolutionary Guards. I've been trying to find exact numbers of fatalities but it's proving difficult. The Syrian regime is always reticent about troop fatalities and injuries so I think we'll have to wait until journalists can get in there to determine what's going on.

      •  My error, thanks for clarification (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fire bad tree pretty, corvo, Brecht

        I think you are right, that the publicly stated reason for the attack doesn't hold up.

        The Fateh-110s that were the stated targets of the attack are a more accurate (much more) weapon than predecessors, but Hezbollah has tens of thousands of missiles already.  This really doesn't rise to the urgency of an immediate threat to Israeli territory or soveregnity.  And not a strategic game changer.  

        The SA-17's they took out in January may have restricted Israel's ability to transit or strike in Lebanon, but they are essentially defensive weapons

        My first thought was that Israel was sending a message to the Arab League of total rejection of the revised peace offer engineered by Kerry.  

        The hit on the 104th and 105th Republican Guards was intentional.  They were specifically targeted.  Why?

        •  If Hezbollah has come into possession (0+ / 0-)

          of accurate missiles, this might be a political game changer, in that it would in principle give them the capability of narrowing an attack to purely military targets.

          If they were to do that (and I have to say I'm not holding my breath) they would completely undercut one of the principal arguments the Israelis use against them - that they indiscriminately attack civilian targets.

          Let's hope it doesn't come to the point where we find out if any of this is the case.

      •  Troop fatalities (3+ / 0-)

        First reports are 42 dead, 100 missing.  

  •  More on the new strong man (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, Fire bad tree pretty, corvo, Brecht
    Obama bets big on Syrian rebel leader

    Gen. Salim Idriss, the commander of the rebels’ Supreme Military Council, is the centerpiece of the administration’s new strategy. He repeated in an interview Tuesday the sensible, moderate positions that have made him so attractive to the administration. He’s a solid ally, but a caution is needed: The United States is turning to Idriss late in the game and asking him to create a tight command-and-control structure from a ragged, factionalized force — which may be mission impossible.

    href="">Washpoat 4:12 PM

    Russia hasn't closed the door

    Moscow ready to talk with Free Syrian Army, foreign minister

    Published: May 3, 2013
    Read more:
    •  it appears our more conservative allies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fire bad tree pretty

      in the region may be backing Wahhabist militias who are already battle hardened from conflicts in other areas and who also already have a hierarchy and structure.  for example, the Saudis are still obsessed with preventing a Shia' crescent in the area as seen by their interference in neighboring emirates and sheikdoms against restive Shia' majorities.  

      If memory serves, Russia still has a large naval base in Syria where it would make sense for munitions such as those to be listed and then moved out, perhaps even in Russian trucks and with Russian drivers.  The US stepped into a mess with the mining and bombing of Haiphong, for example, where Chinese and Soviet ships were moored for unloading and were subject to "accidental hits"

      Should Israel pursue an aggressive air campaign, as it did in Lebanon, there is no question its pilots face relatively little danger but the true danger is in Israel's hitting third party assets, which they have shown a willingness to do in the past.

      •  The Russian "naval base" is a refueling dock (0+ / 0-)

        It is not a major base capable of logistical heavy lifting. It is a place where a Russian ship can get some fuel and possibly its paint scraped.

        •  how long before it could be made capable of (0+ / 0-)

          heavy lifting?  For that matter how much capability do you need to offload a cargo of missiles?

          Since it is the only Russian port that is still being maintained outside of the old USSR, I would suspect it could operate as an LZ for all sorts of munitions

          •  It's not a "base" it is a pair of piers (0+ / 0-)

            IIRC it is the home of about 50 Russians who man a small refueling facility. Just going by the Wiki page you linked(boy that page has grown) you can see how tiny this facility is. It consists of two 100m floating piers - when both are actually operational. The "facilities" consist of a naval support ship docked there.

            There are no barracks, warehouses, on/offloading equipment, no command and control HQ, no attached airstrip nothing. It is essentially a couple of leased docks in a corner of what is a Syrian naval base.

            Why would that tiny facility which is not built to handle cargo be used to ship anything? This  oft-called major Russian Naval base is about as large and as well-armed as the Waukegan Yacht Club.

            Syria is a legal country which can legally buy any munitions it wants. It does not have to smuggle materiel into its own borders. I'd expect shipments of any munitions would arrive at cargo ports large enough to dock ocean-going ships and with the infrastructure needed to on/offload same.

            •  maybe for shipments to Hizbullah (0+ / 0-)

              that might be in danger of falling into rebel hands if it went through the regular ports?  While Iran still has land routes to supply Hizbullah and air routes in theory,  land routes are becoming increasingly dicey with shifting fortunes of war and air supply would assume none of our Sunni allies have supplied their fave militia with surface to air AA.

              Having a "neutral" port might be a handy thing to have should the Iranians and their colleagues have a re-supply problem.  Look that the logistics nightmare the US has in re-supplying Kabul  

        •  Russia is upgrading Tartous (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, poco, Quicklund

          I've seen reports that there is dredging going on so that aircraft carriers can dock and some of the Russian warships that are currently in the Mediterranean are apparently docking there and offloading cargo. Link here. However, I'm not sure just what kind of cargo we are talking about here but I would say that the Russians will probably want to ensure that they can do some heavy lifting ASAP.

          •  I read about some upgrades (0+ / 0-)

            Those take quite some time and at any rate no amount of dredging will allow the single Russian aircraft carrier type ship in the Russian Navy is never going to dock at a 100m pier ... being as she is over 300m long.

            Heavy lifting ASAP: No going to happen. In the best of conditions, such a massive overhaul would take years not weeks. If there was the large amount of land available to build all these facilities on. Which there is not.

            •  I've been reading about upgrades (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              to Tartous since 2009 but I'm finding it difficult to find exact info on just what those upgrades are and what stage they're at right now. But it seems clear though that they are landing cargo of some kind. I'd love to know what it is.

              •  Per the Wiki article supplied above (0+ / 0-)
                Video reporting by Russian TV in late June 2012 provided a tour of the Russian Navy's modest foothold in Tartus. The officer-in-charge conducting the tour said that only four(4) personnel now man the facility and that one of its two floating piers is inoperative because a storm had severely damaged its moorings. The shore facilities comprise a barracks, office space, two medium sized corrugated metal storage buildings, and a covered parking shed for about 5-6 service vehicles. A brief tour of the naval repair vessel then in port and tied to the sole operational pier also showed that it was minimally manned — about 10-12 personnel, including the master and chief engineer. There was no mention of potential repairs or facility expansion.[16]
                Look at this map from the Wiki article. The floating piers labled "5" are the Russian Naval Base along with a few sheds and a garage. It's a smaller tack-on to a small Syrian Navy base. Most of the port is the civilian area.

                You can see the whole thing on Google Earth. Just enter "Tartus" and scroll to the north ofthe port. Compare it to the map above and you can't miss it. Take a look and see how pathetic this place is. It's a couple of wooden piers floating on pontoons hanging off the breakwater. With a few tin sheds ashore.

  •  In a couple of years (7+ / 0-)

    after we've aided the Syrian "freedom fighters" to seize Syria we'll relabel them "terrorists" and drone the crap out of them

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Mon May 06, 2013 at 05:10:48 AM PDT

  •  Consider (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since, as you say, the attack has done little to bolster the armed opposition. Consider that this buttresses the notion that Israel attacked for reasons of her own. Sometimes life gives you a two-fer. If the attack hindered Assad's forces n fighting the civil war, so much the better. But the best rule of thumb is to assume Israel acts out of a sense of what is best for Israel.

    •  I think those reasons (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, corvo, poco, Brecht

      as I hoped were clear in the diary, was that Israel and the US wish to continue the conflict in Syria at a time when it appears that the Syrian regime has the upper hand. Israel was initially hesitant to take sides in the Syria conflict since Assad has kept the borders quiet for years. But I think Israel has thrown its lot in with the opposition in Syria alongside the US and other NATO allies as has been shown by the two recent attacks on Syria by Israel. I believe that Israelis may think that prolonging the conflict in Syria may be in Israel's best interest.

      •  Maybe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA

        Or maybe they saw a chance to destroy some missiles.

         Since this attack does little in practical terms to aid the revels, why do you think it was conducted to aid the rebels? Israel and Syria are legally in a state of war. Such clashes have occurred many times over the years when no civil war was brewing.

        More info will come out. I'll not be hardening my conclusions prematurely.

        •  The strike also (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, Quicklund

          seperately targeted a barracks of elite pro Assad forces.  

          •  Thanks for that info (0+ / 0-)

            If it was in the diary I missed it.

            I still don't see one bombing mission changing the tide of battle though. I doubt Israel is eager to get bogged down in a hot war with Syria. It could also be argued that the one thing which might rally more Syrian and/or regional  support to Assad would be if Israel openly took sides in the Syrian civil war. But I sure don't know anything for sure.

      •  Logically (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, Brecht

        Israel wants an endstate where weapons supply to Hezbollah and support of Hamas are cut off, and continuing acceptance of Israel's occupation of the Golan heights.

        Russia wants continued access and influence.

        Saudi and the Gulf states want to diminish Iranian influence.

        US just wants to interrupt the the next domino of  Al Quaedaism.

        An international consensus could form around support of the FSA.  The FSA could cut a deal to address the major players concerns, except Iran.

        Not sure what the Syrian people want, other than stopping the killing.

        But the risk of a long, protracted civil war like Lebanon's is the worst and most probable outcome.

        •  Just tweaking your list: (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, whizdom, poco, Brecht, MrJayTee, Pluto

          Russians don't just want continued access and influence. They face their own Islamic problem in Chechnya and other places and don't want to encourage any more of it. They see a secular Syrian regime as a bulwark against that. They also don't want to be boxed in by a US/Gulf axis that comes closer to their borders. Also, Russia and China, after Libya, don't want to go along with US/western policy on regime change, something they have made clear many times at the UN.

          Saudis and the Gulf states want not just to diminish Iranian influence, they want to get rid of both secular and Shia forces in the Levant and Iraq. That's why they're supporting Sunni-Salafi-jihadi-takfiri groups in Syria.

          Given the Russian position, I don't think that there will be a consensus formed around support for the FSA, particularly when we have the recent acknowledgement that there are likely to be no secular forces in Syria and Russia is opposed to Islamic sectarianism.

          But I agree that the risks of a long and protracted war a high, particularly if we get more external involvement in Syrian affairs.

          •  Kerry is in Russia today (0+ / 0-)

            Netanyahu in China.  Might be a UNSC consensus forming.

            We (the US and UK) have been supplying the FSA and Idriss for months, on the condition he renounces Al Nusra.  

            If not the FSA, a negotiated transition with Assad forces, some cosmetic reforms and business as usual after that.

        •  Not sure I agree with this part: (5+ / 0-)
          US just wants to interrupt the the next domino of  Al Quaedaism
          The MIC needs a supply of enemies in order to ensure continued profits.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Mon May 06, 2013 at 06:36:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The one thing that will probably (12+ / 0-)

    determine what happens in Syria now is public opinion which I am hearing more and more is turning against the opposition and rebels.

    I was able to talk to three more very recent deserters from the rebel forces this weekend and they also said that rebel numbers are decreasing to a critical level.


    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Mon May 06, 2013 at 05:44:43 AM PDT

    •  I'm hearing the same things (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whizdom, InAntalya, corvo, poco, Brecht, MrJayTee, Pluto

      from friends and relatives in Syria. This news certainly cast a shadow over our Easter lunch yesterday, in addition to the abductions of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Antioch Orthodox Church and Metropolitan John Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church outside Aleppo the week before. One of our lunch guests was a Syrian from the Damascus countryside not too far from Jamraya so you can imagine his state of mind.

  •  Israel would much rather have Assad in power... (0+ / 0-)

    ...than the opposition.  There's no reason to doubt that Israel bombed whatever they bombed to keep supplies from going to Hezbollah.  

    It is, by the way, meaningless to say you oppose the Assad regime if you disagree with armed opposition to it.  But that's for another day.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon May 06, 2013 at 06:27:41 AM PDT

    •  That was true in the past (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Brecht

      I think that 2 bombing runs on Syria's military assets, taking in opposition fighters for medical treatment and refuge in the Golan and WINEP meeting with FSA leaders in Washington (who also show a hostile attitude to Hezbollah) shows that Israel is moving beyond that posture. Put that together with the closer relationship with Qatar (the Emir is visiting Israel in November) and the acceptance of the MB by Israel then things are definitely changing.

      Your last point is ridiculous. Before the uprising began and for years I have been supportive of several dissidents and groups within Syria. There is no reason for me to give up supporting them to support a group of people whose behavior and values are so contrary to mine.

  •  Daniel Pipes spells it out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lepanto, Brecht
    PIPES: The argument for Assad

    If the Syrian regime falls now, worse rogues will win

    Analysts agree that "the erosion of the Syrian regime's capabilities is accelerating,"
    Western governments should support the malign dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

    Here is my logic for this reluctant suggestion: Evil forces pose less danger to us when they make war on each other. This (1) keeps them focused locally and it (2) prevents either one from emerging victorious (and thereby posing a yet-greater danger). Western powers should guide enemies to stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.

    Here's a RealNews report:

    More at The Real News

  •  If Israel wanted to show its support for the (0+ / 0-)

    rebels in Syria it would do much more than a couple of airstrikes.

    In my opinion your assertion on their motivation is inaccurate for that very reason.

    •  Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your point doesn't actually refute my argument. If you logic is to be followed, then the US does not support the rebels in Syria either since they'll only supply non-lethal weapons and training. Or neither do the British or the French since they'll only supply weapons and intelligence assistance. Anyway, you can make what you will of senior FSA officials at the WINEP conference in DC, Israel treating injured rebel fighters (but not Syrian army soldiers). I think Israel is showing now whose side it's on in Syria.

      I don't find Israel's Hezbollah excuse persuasive and see that as propaganda. Jamraya is so exposed and vulnerable (as was shown in the January attack) that Syria would be stupid to keep such advanced weaponry there even if those weapons were there in January. We also know that this is not a way Syria transfers weapons to Hezbollah because it is so exposed and vulnerable. There has to be another reason for the attack besides the one stated.

      •  I believe it does indeed refute your argument. (0+ / 0-)

        Your assertion of Israeli motive for the airstrikes is in support of the rebels as opposed to the stated Israeli motive of preventing the terror group Hezbollah from obtaining advanced missiles.

        The USA has not engaged in any armed strikes or even supply of arms to the rebels.  

        The logic is that once a country moves to armed attacks against another country for the purpose of aiding insurgents in that country it would be militarily unsound to make two small attacks and then stop your 'offensive'.

        If the purpose were as you stated, the attacks would be continuing on now.

        And the logic does not follow for the USA.  Under your assertion Israel has crossed a threshold to declare armed support of the rebels on the battlefield and has launched attacks as a result.  The USA does not hold that position. Our support for the rebels has not gone to the extent of battle nor even to the extent of arms for battle.

        If either the USA or Israel were truly to support the rebels on the battlefield it would not be with 2 limited airstrikes.  The violence unleashed by either military in full support of rebels would be much more great that those attacks.

  •  It seems the winds are shifting (0+ / 0-)

    Israel might be supporting a preference for continuation of the Assad regime, because the only preferable alternatives are unlikely and disappearing, and the undesirable alternatives are just that bad.  

  •  UN distances itself from claim that Syrian rebels (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    used nerve gas

    U.N. war crimes investigators have reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday, playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces had done so.
    •  The article states: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Brecht, Fire bad tree pretty
      U.N. war crimes investigators have reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday, playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces had done so.
      But the commission's press release states:
      Geneva, 6 May 2013 -- The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict. As a result, the Commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time.

      While Carla Del Ponte was talking about the commission's investigators' report.

      "Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated," Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.

      "This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," she added, speaking in Italian.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:51:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for posting information showing (0+ / 0-)

        the person that made the accusation of the rebels having used gas is stating so from a report she claims to have seen.

        I would assume the entire commission has or will see the same report and thus their rationale for making the statement they did:

        U.N. war crimes investigators have reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday, playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces had done so.
        •  The third paragraph of the press release (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, Fire bad tree pretty

          addresses this:

          In line with its mandate, the Commission is currently investigating all allegations of violations of international law in the Syrian Arab Republic and will issue its findings to the Human Rights Council on 3 June 2013 ....
          The commission did not make the statement you quote.
          U.N. war crimes investigators have reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday, playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces had done so.
          This was written by a journalist who wrote 'U.N. war crimes investigators ...' instead of 'The U.N. war crimes commission ...' when writing the text.  

          The commission has only issued a press release and in it state that "the Commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time."

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Mon May 06, 2013 at 02:04:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh. Ok. The UN Commission investigating (0+ / 0-)

            the use of chemical weapons has reached no conclusions.  That is wholly separate from the individual investigators investigating the use of chemical weapons and reporting said investigation to the commissioners.

            Perfectly clear that the UN Commission investigating the use of chemical weapons has stated it has reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons and not the UN Commission investigators investigating and reporting to the UN Commission.

            The difference is truly extant.

  •  Very interesting and timely piece, thank you, (5+ / 0-)

    Fire bad tree pretty.

    You have a lot of facts and some opinions here. I knew a bit more than half of what you wrote, above the line. But after you brought that to the table, you also opened up some very informed (and refreshingly civil, so far) conversation in the comments. We even get InAntalya and yourself talking to people who have been in the thick of it.

    I'll drop in again later, to see how the conversation develops.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:49:51 AM PDT

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