Wednesday, January 12, 2005
US Set to Strike Syria?
In this regard, DEBKAfile’s military sources note four important points:
1. It will not take place before President Bush is sworn in for his second term on January 20 or Iraq’s general election ten days later.
2. The Americans will not start out with a large-scale, orderly military offensive, but rather short in-and-out forays; small US and Iraqi special forces units will cross the border and raid bases housing Iraqi guerrillas or buses carrying them to the border. If these brief raids are ineffective, the Americans will upscale the action.
3. The Allawi government will formally request the United States to consign joint Iraqi-US forces for action against Syrian targets, so placing the US operation under the Baghdad government’s aegis. In other words, Iraq will be at war with Syria without issuing a formal declaration.
4. It is fully appreciated in Washington, Baghdad and Jerusalem that intense American military warfare against Syria could provoke a Hizballah backlash against Israel. Damascus may well activate the Lebanese Shiite group to open a second front on Israel’s northern border. The Syrian ruler is expected will tolerate a certain level of American low-intensity, low-profile action. But, because of his reluctance to strike back directly at American or Iraqi targets, he will field the Hizballah – and not just for cross-border attacks but to galvanize the terrorist cells it controls and funds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a stepped-up offensive against Israeli targets. These Palestinian cells have proliferated over the years, particularly in the Fatah and its branches, encouraged by Yasser Arafat’s cooperative pact with the Hizballah which remains in force after his death.
Therefore, the key Middle East happening in the coming weeks will be US military strikes against Syria. The election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority chairman, his invitation to the White House, the formation of the Sharon-Peres government coalition - albeit on very shaky legs, and the talk of imminent Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations, will prove to be no more than sideshows of the main event.
If the WMD's were moved to Syria, this action will be designed to root them out. It also will be designed to cut the supply lines from Syria into Iraq supplying men and material to the insurgents or terrorists. I believe this war will involve the US against all the members of the Axis of Evil.