Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh Lion of the Golan!


According to fellow blogger "Nine Months in Syria":

"The billboards changed overnight from campaign to congratulations. This one reads: "Congratulations; Congratulations; Oh, our country; To you, our Asad." Or, "To you, our lion." In Arabic, asad means lion."


What I care about is what our lion has done, is doing, will do, to liberate the Golan from 40 years Israeli occupation.

His father, as defence minister, lost the Golan in the 1967 war through his stupidity and arrogance. He then spent 33 years talking about liberating it to justify his dictatorship and military spending. Where has all the money gone?

Now the lion cub has spent seven years playing with fire everywhere except in the Golan. What is he going to do in the next seven years to liberate the Golan and free our prisoners of war. How will he justify his dictatorship in the next 7 years? What does he and his gang have to offer the country? It is truly amazing how a country can "re-elect" a president who has made no public commitments to doing anything!

The neglect of the Golan issue exposes the hypocracy of the Syrian regime to the core. Not only is it incapable of defending the honour of our country, it has actively weakened the state and regular army through its corruption, incompetence and divisiveness. No wonder that Israeli strategists prefer this regime as a "reliable-do-nothing" to any other "unpredictable" nationalist and democratic alternatives.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am neither Syrian nor Israeli, so consider this just the opinion of a semi-informed outside observer. If I were a Syrian, focusing on the Golan or Israel at all would be an extremely low priority. Syria is a dirt poor country run by a dictator who is dependent on force, terror and intimidation to stay in power and whose country is dependent on foreign aid to keep its head above water economically. Syria/the Assads had some security when they could rely on Soviet support and aid but for a variety of reasons that is gone. Now you and they are dependent on Iran and the other Gulf States.

Perhaps we have different views on what is important in life and to a society, but I would put economic health and stability and the ability for the people to live as they choose (political, social and religious freedom) at the top of the list. Syria does pretty poorly on all of those items and none of the reasons have anything to do with the Golan or Israel. There is zero chance of Israel invading Syria if Syria stayed out of Israel's affairs (and supporting Hezbollah is not staying out of Israeli affairs). Worrying about restoring your honor that was lost when you lost the Golan is just plain stupid if it diverts the country, even for a day, from advancing towards more important goals. And worring about Israel invading you is even sillier. If you are going to be owned by any outside force, it is more likely to be Iran than Israel, though the Iranian invasion will begin (if it hasn't already begun) with a slow creep as Iranian advisers arm and then take over parts of your security apparatus rather than a rush of tanks across the border.

Educate, feed and free your people first. There is no guaranty, but if you were a prosperous free people, Israel would have no reason to fear that you would use the Golan in the same way as you had in the past. Surely you can see that Syria has never given Israel any reason to believe that Syria is content to leave Israel alone. Until Syria changes, it is hard to see why Israel would give you back something to someone who keeps attacking it.

Changing Syria from within is so much more important to Syrians' welfare than anything else. Much more important than the Golan. That it is more likely to bring you the Golan than force is only makes it that much more attractive.

I would wish you look, but what you really need is wisdom, courage and the ability to put aside the Arab fixation with honor.

Speaking of honor, wouldn't the Arabs be better off if they had a Japanese notion of honor, which included some personal responsibility? Nothing would have been better for the Arab world than if Nasser and Assad committed suicide out of a sense of responsibility if not shame for their idiocy and hubris after the 1967 war. (Jordan's King Hussein could probably be forgiven since he claims he was misled by Nasser.)

Philip I said...

Anonymous

Thank you for your interest, comments and honest views.

What you say makes perfect sense but I’m afraid there are aspects of our history and political make up that you are probably not familiar with and need to appreciate, as a non Syrian.

In previous posts, I have expressed your exact views and sentiments, and I continue to believe that the Golan is less of a priority than development and that it can be regained through peaceful means over a 20 year period (providing Syria achieves parity in conventional military power with Israel).

However, history teaches us that peace and stability cannot be built on injustice and when there is a great imbalance of military power between two warring nations. The opportunity for one side to oppress, dominate and exploit the other side will always be present. Israel has happily exploited the economic resources of the Golan for 40 years and will continue to humiliate its Syrian inhabitants for the next 40 years in the absence of a real conventional military threat from Syria. You can still argue that the occupation of the Golan is a small price to pay for the stability and development of the rest of the country and that national honour is just worthless political rhetoric in the bigger scheme of things. Fine, but you are probably assuming that Syrians have had both the opportunity and freedom to develop themselves in the last 40 years.

Here’s a very important little snippet of history that is relevant to the argument. The 40-year old Syrian dictatorship abandoned the idea of achieving parity with Israel in conventional military power in the late 1970s. It opted instead for a policy of non-belligerence in the Golan while building missile systems with chemical and biological warheads to offset, to some extent, Israel's stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The implication here is that Israel can keep the Golan but both sides would be mad to start a real war that led to the use of weapons of mass destruction. This served to relieve the dictatorship of the pressure to build a strong and professional army, navy and air force. Such conventional military force would in any case have threatened its own existence (since the regime is narrowly-based on the previously oppressed Alawite community) and allowed it instead to build elite militia and intelligence networks that protect it against army coups and the wider population.

In the early years, the Alawite dictatorship (understandably) sought social justice for its own community but, with the intimidation and subsequent co-opting of the Sunni and Christian merchant classes, soon grew into an avaricious, corrupt, parasitic and destructive force that has severely weakened the state and stifled its development.

Here’s the rub: the Syrian dictatorship has always justified its existence on the need to liberate the Golan and defend Syria against "imperialist designs". After 40 years of exercising emergency powers (the longest in the world) and many fraudulent referenda, Syrians must take it to task, put it on the spot and expose it for what it is, a corrupt, illegitimate and parasitic power. I ask what it has done to liberate the Golan because I know it cannot possibly liberate the Golan, either through peaceful or military means!

Since the dawn of history, absolute monarchs and tyrants have drawn legitimacy from their capacity to protect the population against external aggression. Assad accused Arab leaders of being half men for not supporting the Lebanese Hezbollah last year. Yet he had acted like a mouse when Israeli fighter jets buzzed his palace in Lattakia and bombed some training sites near Damascus a year earlier. Not a single shot was fired or a single Syrian fighter jet scrambled at the time of the attacks. Where have all the defence budgets gone?

This dictatorship will neither "defend the country’s honour” nor develop its economy and institutions, nor allow anyone else to try.

I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the response. It was very interesting. I have two things to say in response. First, I appreciate your laying out the strategy Assad has pursued vis-a-vis missiles and chemical and biological warheads. I was not aware of that detail and it is interesting. It also explains why Israel has not been as aggressive with Syria as it should have been in this summer's war with Hezbollah. It was obvious that Syria was supplying Hezbollah with weapons and its leaders with shelter and I was surprised Israel didn't follow the normal doctrine of striking at the supply chain. If your explanation is correct, Israel probably would have needed to launch a full attack on Syria rather than just inflict enough pain on Assad to make him cut off Hezbollah. Second, I think your focusing on the Golan, even from the perspective you take, is counterproductive. Why not simply take away Assad's argument. If you stop talking about the Golan, Assad will no longer be able to use it as an excuse.

You are the only Syrian I have ever had the opportunity to communicate with, so pardon me for making you speak for your country and countrymen and I will be grateful for your response. How do you see Syria's role in the 1967 war? Do you think Israel is wrong for taking something from you? After all, you attacked it at least three times and your rhetoric has always been to call for the destruction of Israel. From their perspective, you are a belligerent country that only wants to do them harm and and if not for your fear of failure, you would attack them again tomorrow.

Second. What is your view of the Palestinian issue? Why is it important to you what happens to them? And if you care about them, why don't you (and the Lebanese and the Jordanians and the Saudis) actually treat them better instead of confining them in refugee camps with no rights? If you tell me you care about them because they are your Arab brothers, why don't you treat them like brothers?

Again, as an outsider, it seems like Arabs, generally, hate Israel more than they care about the Palestinians. Put another way, if the Portugese (to pick an absurd example) exterminated every Palestinian in every refugee camp and around the world, meaning no more refugee problem, you would still hate Israel. This is just odd to me and tells me you are more foreign to me than I can imagine.

Philip I said...

anonymous

"Why not simply take away Assad's argument. If you stop talking about the Golan, Assad will no longer be able to use it as an excuse."

As the media is totally controlled in Syria, the Golan is hardly mentioned. The regime generally prefers to focus on other "imperialist conspiracies", the Palestinian issue and Lebanon.

The Golan issue is invoked when it suits the regime's propaganda purposes, i.e. when it has run out of other execuses to legitimise its existence as a defender of the nation. My focusing on the Golan makes not the slightest bit of difference except to expose the regime's hypocracy.

In answer to your two questions:
How do you see Syria's role in the 1967 war? Do you think Israel is wrong for taking something from you?

For a full answer I invite you to read these previous posts when you have the time:
http://viarecta.blogspot.com/2006/07/love-your-enemy.html
http://viarecta.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-sour-grapes-over-golan.html
http://viarecta.blogspot.com/2007/01/history-lesson-six-day-war-film-clip.html
http://viarecta.blogspot.com/2006/09/how-to-make-peace-why-america-loves.html

My views are not representative of those of the majority of Syrians. Syrians have been brainwashed and taught to hate rather than understand the enemy and deal with it intelligently. Of course Israel won the Golan in battle. My attitude is, instead of whining about it Syrians should either go to war to win it back or persuade Israel to give it back without compensation on either side or destruction of existing structures. This requires building trust and normal diplomatic relations and active economic cooperation with Isreal over 20 years, ensuring in particular security of water supply to northern Israel (at a reasonable price) while achieving balance in conventional military power. The regime has made peace overtures based on even bigger concessions than these but the Israelis have not taken them seriously, and why should they? Syria is in no position to win a conventional war or normalise relations without re-educating two generations of brainwashed people. This requires democratic change that this regime cannot deliver.

What is your view of the Palestinian issue? Why is it important to you what happens to them? And if you care about them, why don't you (and the Lebanese and the Jordanians and the Saudis) actually treat them better instead of confining them in refugee camps with no rights?

The Palestinians relate to Syrians and other people in the Levant through close family ties and shared history, culture and social values. In addition, Arabs (just like the Israelis) can be unkind to each other but still abhor injustice, domination and humiliation. Syrians identify with the Palestinian cause at both the emotional and intellectual levels. I and other Syrians do not think it possible to build a lasting peace in our region without solving the Palestinian problem in an equitable manner (meaning return to the 1967 borders and compensation for Palestinians who lost land and homes). Take Egypt's case: as soon as American aid flows dry up, relations with Isreal will worsen. So that kind of peace, even in the absence of a land dispute, is not sustainable. We can argue about this point but a complicating factor is the radicalisation of certain Palestinian groups by the Syrian and Iranian regimes for their own ends rather than out of geniune concern for the plight of the Palestinian people.

As to the treatment of of our Palestinian "brothers" in refugee camps, I, and any other decent human being, could not agree with you more. Arab governments have provided financial support but not enough of it and have discouraged full integration of Palestinians into their countries for fear of compromising their right of return to their homes in Palestine. A convenient excuse for doing nothing which makes the camps fertile grounds for the radicalisation and recruitment of young suicide bombers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your response. It was a pleasure to read it and get your perspective. I have a lot to say in reply, but I need time to compose my thoughts into at least a semblance of the clarity with which you transmit yours. I also need to read what is in the links you provided to make sure I understand your views fully.

I do want to provide you with at least this short reply: I wonder why you are not dead and I wish you were in charge. I have no doubt that no matter what disagreements you and the Israelis ultimately have, if Syria were lead by someone with your perspective and goals, there would be peace and prosperity for the Syrian people and ultimately peace between Syria and Israel. I certainly wish that. I also recognize that your kind don't always live so long in your neighborhood. That is saddening.

On the assumption that today is your holy day (and even if it is not), I wish you the best and offer you my regards.

Philip I said...

anonymous

Thank you very much for your generous spirit and kind words.

I look forward to talking with you further.

Lirun said...

so how representative are you?

Philip I said...

There are some 15 million Syrian expatriates around the world. Each thinks they know how to solve the world's problems, can prescribe what's best for Syria and Israel and wants to be leader!

The people in Syria don't have time to think.

But since you asked, and you're a lawyer, amuse yourself with some of these representations.

عشتار said...

Dear Philip
Thanks for putting more focus on the Golan , this cause is not only neglected by the regime but also by the media and i think you Syrian bloggers should write more about it , at least for the sake of the Golan people who feel abandoned
Maybe as anonymous said Syrians have more essential battles
and other priorities , however there are things that we take for granted , the Golan people are deprived from the very basic right to live among their people , for them breaking the borders which separate them from their families is on the top of the list...
B.regards

Roman Kalik said...

Your posts are very interesting, Philip. This particular Israeli thanks you. I would like to comment on two issues, though.

Firstly, I don't believe we hold chemical or biological weaponry. We never used such weapons, and don't require it as a deterrent with our nuclear arms, a project that bore fruit decades ago.

Secondly, on the matter of military parity as a requirement for a settlement. You forget (or are unaware of) the Israeli pro-peace camp.

Philip I said...

roman kalik

Please see these documents for a discussion of Israel's biological and chemical weapons scientific and technological capacity:

http://www.bsos.umd.edu/pgsd/people/staffpubs/Avner-CBWart.pdf

http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/israel.htm

No one outside the top echelons of government and intelligence services knows for sure that either Israel or Syria has stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. To outsiders the evidence can only be anecdotal.

I take your point regarding Israel's pro-peace camp. While I believe it is always possible to persuade people to settle their differences through peaceful negotiations, the great imbalance in military strength among the parties to the conflict cannot be ignored because it materially affects their negotiating positions and outcomes. Furthermore, while this generation may sign a peace deal the next one may perceive the deal to be unfair and seek to overturn it. In the case of the Golan, if Israel is prepared to return it in its entirety to Syria (over a period of say 20 years) with nothing more in return than the promise of everlasting peace and economic cooperation then the whole world would welcome that. Somehow I do not see this happening even though deep down I would dearly wish it would.

Roman Kalik said...

I'll be sure to read up on those links tomorrow.

As for peace merely for peace's sake, that requires trust. Trust is an extremely lacking commodity in the case of our two countries.

Personally, I'm not likely to support a peace deal with Syria unless I see an actual leader there, with actual support, along with total demilitarization of the Golan and iron-clad assurances regarding both water and not using Lebanon as a quasi-front. And the Golan remaining under joint management for several decades.

Philip I said...

"leader with actual support"..the majority of Syrians have been praying for that for 40 years.

As to the other conditions, on the face of it I personally cannot see a problem with any of them. I agree, it is either trust or war. Anything in between is a recipe for a simmering conflict that reinforces occupation in the Golan and dictatorship in Syria.

Philip I said...

roman kalik

Sorry the first of the two links I gave you was incomplete. here it is again:

Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control

Roman Kalik said...

Conflicts have to end, one way or another. Otherwise they turn into hand-me-downs.

As for the Golan, be advised that the even those Syrian citizens who refused Israeli citizenship dread to return to Syria as it is today for anything other than a visit. From economic, social, and personal freedom perspectives their lives are good here, or at least much better than in Syria. And that the older generation still remembers a time when the Golan was little more than a perpetual war front.

Roman Kalik said...

To be blunt, if you truly want them back, first make sure that they have a country to rejoin...

Philip I said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roman Kalik said...

*shrug* I'm not deciding for anyone. I can visit the Golan and speak to people quite freely.

Philip I said...

Roman Kalik

I appreciate your thoughts and comments but on this last point I am not sure that either you or I can speak for the Syrian inhabitants of the Golan. Why don't we ask them, and those who lost their homes and are now living elsewhere in Syria, what they want? If they say they'd rather live under Israeli occupation, I'd say good luck to them and you can keep the Golan.

By the way, have you heard of a place called Majd Al Shams?

Roman Kalik said...

Nor am I saying that the Golan Druze (the chief population in the Golan) don't want to become part of Syria again. The vast majority do. It's just not Assad's Syria that they want to be a part of.

Philip I said...

Of course no one believes that Israeli settlers in the Golan would turn the land over to the Syrian side if Assad was replaced by a democratic and fully representative government.

All that would happen is that the Druze and others would demand that their voices be heard, and most likely would want the Golan to be under Syrian sovereignty.

Truly democratic societies can build trust, patch up their differences and compromise. If two democratic neighbours can turn the Golan into an economic success story FOR ALL its inhabitants, the issue of sovereignty and land ownership becomes one of "who pays rent to whom".

Roman Kalik said...

Re: Majd al Shams- No, I did not know about the place, though the megaphone communication is vaguely familiar for some reason.

And as the diplomatic relationship between our two countries relies on the occasional businessman or academic, I'm not surprised over this. I suspect we never received any requests regarding family visits or reunification from Syria, nor do they make much sense yet in our state of dormant war.

As i said, in the end it's all a matter of trust. And Assad being an asshole.

Roman Kalik said...

Re: Golan settlers.

People can be relocated, and compensated. Though I'd much prefer a solution that doesn't include that.

Roman Kalik said...

Interesting links. I especially like Avner Cohen's article, though the Biological Weaponry argument seems to be built largely on hearsay and Dr. Uri Milstein's sensationalism. He's known for that kind of historical analysis, really. I refer to the active usage of biological weaponry rather than the existence of the program itself at some point (and I would raise further questions on what the full goals, and results, of the program were).

I'm also not too certain how accurate Benny Morris' works are.


Regardless, as the article itself states, such programs were not in any way anomalous in that time period (1950-1970). They were fairly common across the world, and most were eventually scrapped (at least as far as we know). I don't see the Israeli program as special in this context.

The only difference, as the article states, is that Israel did not officially admit to such a program and did not call it "defensive", as other Western countries did. This I consider, in the middle-eastern context, to be part of the general Israeli policy of deterrence while trying to prevent a wide-range arms race. I also personally believe that Israel's nuclear capabilities have been largely blown out of proportion, due to Israel's purposeful leaks on the matter. We have nuclear weapons, that much is true, but I believe the extent of them was purposely shown to be larger than it truly was after the issue was no longer secret. This, again, to make it serve as a better deterrent.

Nor is the IIBR anomalous, in that there are numerous similar institutes across the world, many of which handle materials just as hazardous. Had it not been located in the middle-east, I suspect it would not raise any cries regarding its supposed malevolent activities.


In the end, the biological option was most likely abandoned early on, and the chemical option (spurred by reports from Egypt's "tests" in Yemen) survived until the nuclear option bore fruit.


With regards to the first Gulf War, I find that Cohen misses several key issues. Israel was not simply deterred by Iraq, but received a US demand to refrain from interfering in the war to prevent further escalation. This demand was balanced out by a US attempt to add to Israel's anti-missile defense capabilities, and assurances that any active threat against Israel will be dealt with.

I do agree with Cohen on the issue that making the chemical-biological field in Israel secret in appearance is a strategic mistake, and this issue can be better handled. Then again, Israel isn't very good at public relations and appearances. I can count the number of truly capable diplomats we have had on one hand.




When it comes to Syria though, there's fairly reliable intel on the country's current-day CW capabilities. Including just where the launch sites (or these days, launch bunkers) are located.

In the end, my point stands. We would best focus on what can be shown true in a concrete manner. Israel has nuclear weaponry. Syria has chemical weaponry. Everything else is pure speculation, hearsay, possible deliberate games of appearances, and the occasional conspiracy theory.

Philip I said...

roman kalik

Thank you. Points well argued and well taken.

Let's just hope, and also work hard to ensure, such weapons are never used and that they are eventually consigned to the dustbin of history.

Roman Kalik said...


Let's just hope, and also work hard to ensure, such weapons are never used and that they are eventually consigned to the dustbin of history.


Agreed. Mankind is too prone to attempt self-destruction as it is, without any special devices to accelerate the process in so extreme a manner.

Today though, my worst fear is not a full-fledged war with such weapons being used. Today my fear is of some Bin-Laden wannabe getting his hands on an active large-scale WMD. Some Iraqi groups are already experimenting with crude chlorine bombs, and I can only see the trend becoming worse.

Nobody said...

What I care about is what our lion has done, is doing, will do, to liberate the Golan from 40 years Israeli occupation.

His father, as defence minister, lost the Golan in the 1967 war through his stupidity and arrogance. He then spent 33 years talking about liberating it to justify his dictatorship and military spending. Where has all the money gone?

Now the lion cub has spent seven years playing with fire everywhere except in the Golan.


i should say that i completely share your frustration ... in fact i am advocating for war with syria .. honestly ..

let's the war for liberation of golan start ... come on, lion .. where are you ??

PS

to make you feel better .... i think you should be glad to know that the long anticipated war is expected by some analysts this summer

Philip I said...

nobody

I know you like to make provocative statements from time to time, but who's going to start the war and why? Why this summer?

Please don't tell me Iran is behind it this time because the Americans are moving more of their battle ships to the Gulf.

Nobody said...

about the reasons i am not sure ... but i am reading here and there stuff like this

Nobody said...

so give some credit to your dictator ... the guy invested huge sums of money recently to upgrade your military capabilities ... inshallah there ll be a war ... then of course i would expect you to eat your hat and come up with a post: asad, the lion. you proved that you are worth your name ...

PS

sorry for cynicism ... i am still impressed by your post ...

Philip I said...

I liked some of the comments on the Haaretz article, in particular #29 Swiss (Dino):

????????????????????????????????????????????????

Chances that the Vatican army will attack the Penatagon this summer are probably higher than a Syrian assault on Israel.

Nobody said...

witty ... but no more than this ...

asad has changed tone recently and it was noticed in israel ... he talked a few times in the sense that if not negotiations then the military option is open ... and he is taken seriously .. the possibility that syria may try a military option in case israel would refuse to negotiate is discussed in this country

Roman Kalik said...

Assad right now reminds Israelis of Sadat before Yom Kippur War. Sadat looked like a weakling idiot dictator too. At first.

Roman Kalik said...

When I say Assad reminds Israelis of Sadat, its more that his declarations at the moment are very similar to Sadat's pre-war declarations in his time.

Nobody said...

I agree with RK for a change .. so, your imperial majesty, i would advise you to start writing in advance your 'Asad, you are the man' post ...

Roman Kalik said...

Philip, while I agree that a Syrian attack simply doesn't make any sense, take into consideration that Junior isn't known for his common sense, that he may feel that his seat is getting wobbly what with a certain tribunal being set up and the new Bestest Friend being a tad too bossy, and that the man probably has all the self confidence of a wet paper towel. Dangreous are men of low self-esteem who gain power, especially with a father like Assad senior. He may simply end up trying to overcompensate.

Philip I said...

roman kalik

These are all plausible arguments that increase the risk of war. However, the dictatorship is Syria consists of several power centres within the military and intelligence services which are ultimately controlled by the Alawite elders, including in particular the Assad clan.

While Assad is at the apex, he still does not command the kind of power and control that his father once enjoyed as a military man and brilliant tactician. The father had learnt his political and military lessons in Moscow, where he trained as a fighter pilot, and in the 1967 and 1973 wars before being able to hijack the Baath party and build his militia and intelligence networks.

Just as well the son does not enjoy total control.

In his first 7 years, he got rid of some ageing army and intelligence officers and people interpreted this as a smart move to consolidate his power. the limited purge may have served that purpose but he only managed to get rid of them because the Alawite elders did not approve of them as they had opposed the closer military alliance with Iran.

The Syrian regime, as a result of its closer alliance with Iran, is a more dangerous and more confident regional player but far less reckless than people think.

An attack on Israel could not possibly be contemplated without the prior knowledge and full backing of Iran. I will stop at that.

Nobody said...

the impression in israel is that asad decided that israel is a paper tiger after the war in lebanon ... he basically said this in almost these very words ... since then it was reported in the media here that syria started massively recruiting and training new special units modeled after hezbollah anti tank teams and armed with similar russian missiles ... the syrians also purchased new russian ballistic missiles ... then there was a strange announcement by a previously uknown group for liberation of golan or something ... there was also certain movements and relocations of the syrian forces around the border and golan ... and of course asad repeated his point so often that even most dumb people here have got what he is saying and it is - if golan cannot be liberated by peaceful means, then syria does not mind to have a military confrontation ...

much of your analysis of the situation proceeds from top down ... i would suggest to reverse the direction and pick the clues from the ground ....

Nobody said...

this is for example from yesterday's post ... it's a view very common here among political analysts.

Analysis: A decision needed on Syria

Nobody said...

so allah willing we may soon cross our ways on golan or somewhere around ... paint something on your tank and tell us what it is, so we can know that it's you ... it' always a great joy to meet old friends, even under such distressing circumstances ...

Philip I said...

nobody
As you know, nations at war prod and provoke reactions from each others' political and military leaders to test their technical capabilities and domestic political support.

In my view Assad has been emboldened by the alliance with Iran to do just that. Such maneuvers also demonstrate to Iran and the US that he could be mobilised to cause considerable harm in a regional conflict involving Iran.

This serves Iran's interests more than it does Syria's. The US and hawkish pro-Israel lobby must now think twice before attacking Iran.

As I said, earlier, Syria could not start a war to liberate the Golan without full Iranian backing and approval, in the same way Israel would not attack Syria without the approval and full backing of the US. So, relax this summer.

Nobody said...

i think you miss the point ... asad was not so much emboldened by iran as by the dismal IDF performance during the war in lebanon ... i think you can take literally much of what he said on this matter... the same goes about his iranian friend ... you get things too much complicated by your analysis ... people who are doing politics are not necessarily political scientists who were persuaded to behave according to marxist ideas about vested interests .. needless to mention the fact that asad is not a military person ... neither his friend ahmalalah is a great military strategist

Philip I said...

Fighting a tank war, with air cover, on exposed flat land in the Golan is not the same as fighting a guerilla war in the mountains of Lebanon. Even an Opthalmologist would understand that.

Granted, both Assad and Ahmadinajad were also emboldened by the outcome of the lebanese war but I just hope you're wrong about the naivity of people who pull their strings.

Nobody said...

Even an Opthalmologist would understand that.

it's here, i think, that you get it wrong

Philip I said...

A missile war is a real possibility now but with very unpredictable outcomes. I don't know if either side would be brave enough to start it. But if such a war does start, I suspect Israel would want to escalate it very quickly.

Nobody said...

another one ...

A member of the Syrian parliament, Muhammad Habash, confirmed on Tuesday that his country was actively preparing for war with Israel, expected to break out in the summer, Israel Radio reported.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Habash said it was no secret that the Syrian military was arming itself for the upcoming confrontation with the IDF.

He also claimed that the Israeli government was the one that wanted the war so that it could survive politically.

Source

Roman Kalik said...

A missile war is a real possibility now but with very unpredictable outcomes. I don't know if either side would be brave enough to start it. But if such a war does start, I suspect Israel would want to escalate it very quickly.

But of course. This would be a clear case of a sovereign state attacking another, rather than deniable free acting groups. From Israel's point of view, a conventional war would be the only way to go in such a case. I mean, what are we supposed to do in a missile war exactly? Retaliate in kind, living in a semi-active war for several months? Or years? A mutually assured population grinding, with only the Israeli population being able to end it by calling for a surrender, as the Syrian population is irrelevant for the Syrian regime?

Nobody said...

asad may actually score huge propaganda gains if he strikes at tel aviv and haifa ... and apparently he can with the latest russian ballistic missiles he purchased .. he may even be able to hit the jewish part of jerusalem as these missiles have the accuracy, i think, of 500 meters or something

Philip I said...

This may sound somewhat shallow and naive, but the more half-leaders talk about war, the less likely they are to launch it.

The rumblings and hidden threats are meant to convey the message that Syria's regime is capable of inflicting harm in the region and take a lot of pain without risking its own survival. It is all to do with the Hariri Tribunal and bringing the Israeli government to the negotiating table.

Roman Kalik said...

Well, I guess the Israeli political analists in Sadat's time thought along similar lines, Philip. Which is why Israelis learned to think outside that box and take any kind of saber-rattling seriously.

We had to learn that one the hard way.

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