Saturday, June 11, 2011

Syria Under Siege

The situation in Syria is continuing to deteriorate, and it is time to take another look, as the turmoil there could spill over into Israel:

'Tanks and Helicopters' Mow Down Syria Protesters

The minority Alawite regime of Bashar Assad has brought in helicopter gunships and tanks to combat a citizens’ rebellion, according to eyewitness reports. The BBC quoted a Syrian refugee who had crossed the border into Turkey as saying that Assad’s tanks attacked a village near Jisr al-Shughour Saturday.

About 120 members of Syria's security forces were killed at Jisr al-Shughour last week. The government blames local "armed gangs" but residents said the soldiers were shot by other soldiers when they refused to open fire on civilians.

Jisr al-Shughour is described as resembling a ghost town after residents fled in fear of revenge by Assad's forces.

Activists reported that helicopter gunships had been used fire at crowds for the first time on Friday. At least 30 people were reported dead in Friday’s violence, three of them in the capital Damascus.

US accuses Syria of creating humanitarian crisis

Over 4,000 refugees enter Turkey as violence escalates; rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed over 1,100 civilians in efforts to suppress demonstrations.

The White House on Saturday accused the Syrian government of creating a humanitarian crisis and urged it to halt its crackdown on civilians and give the Red Cross immediate, unfettered access to the country's northern region.

Damascus has banned most foreign correspondents from the country, making it difficult to verify accounts of events.

Human rights groups say security forces have killed more than 1,100 Syrian civilians in increasingly bloody efforts to suppress demonstrations calling for Assad's removal, political freedoms and end to corruption and poverty. The protests were inspired by uprisings against other entrenched autocrats in the Arab world .

Could Assad vent his wrath on Israel?

Security and Defense: In event of foreign military intervention in Syria, IDF is concerned Syrian president might decide to attack the Jewish state.

While Assad is already believed to be trying to divert attention from his lethal crackdown on protesters by encouraging Palestinians to raid the Israeli border, as occurred this past Sunday, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Syria can do.

One intelligence assessment speaks of the possibility that, under extreme pressure – caused politically or militarily – Assad might decide to attack Israel with more than just angry Palestinians from the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.

Instead, he would have available the thousands of ballistic missiles Syria has manufactured over the years, as well as an extensive chemical arsenal, bolstered as a replacement for the nuclear reactor Israel destroyed in 2007.

There are more questions than answers at this point, but potential scenarios include this:

For this reason, Jerusalem is quietly warning about the potential consequences of Western military action aimed at toppling Assad. This does not mean, of course, that Israel wants Assad to remain in power; in reality, the opposite is true. But the concern cannot be ignored; what will happen the day after Assad falls, and into whose hands will the ballistic missiles and chemical weapons fall?

Syria’s close allies – Hezbollah and Iran – are also extremely concerned with the ongoing demonstrations in Syria and the potential impact on them.

Western intelligence agencies have raised the possibility that Hezbollah is trying to transfer advanced weaponry it reportedly maintains on Syrian soil to Lebanon due to the ongoing turmoil in the country.

The group is believed to have stored advanced arms in Syria – including longrange Scud missiles- as part of its logistical deployment along Israel’s northern border.

Chemical weapons in Syria. Israel has already stated that they would view the use of chemical weapons exactly as they would any WMD launched upon their nation.

Recall the words of Isaiah 17:

"The cities of Aroer will be deserted (v2)...The fortified city will disappear from Ephriam and royal power from Damascus (v3)...the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites (v3)...In that day the glory of Jacob will fade." (v4)

Here, in addition to a few other verses from Isaiah 17, we see a description of areas including northern Israel, the west bank, northwest Jordan and areas proximal to Damascus as suffering from some kind of destruction rendering these areas desolate. Is this the result of chemical warfare?

And of course the "main" scripture, as seen in verse one: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins."

Is this a description of Syria's use of chemical weapons and an Israeli response?

Quite possibly.

And as usual, Iran is in the thick of things:

In simpler terms, Iran is taking advantage of the current shift in the world’s focus from its illicit nuclear activities to the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East, and is moving forward with enriching uranium. The decision on Tuesday to send submarines to the Red Sea is another indication of Iran’s growing confidence and its belief that it will not pay a price for any of these provocations.

Iran’s confidence also appears to have received a boost from the recent media mayhem in Israel over former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s comments about Jerusalem’s military option vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear issue. Dagan said it was a “stupid idea” to attack Iran, and pointed out the “impossible” regional challenge Israel would face following such an attack.

Judging by its recent decisions, Iran no longer feels threatened. As it continues to provoke the world without paying a price, there is unfortunately no reason it should.

This represents a very dangerous scenario - but it also represents a very prophetic scenario.

First, we see Syria just on the edge of something - what that 'something' is, is anyone's guess. But the situation there is extremely volatile. At the same time, we also see a supremely confident Iran who continues to push the buttons behind the scenes, all while racing towards nuclear weapons and all while calling for the complete destruction of Israel.

We may be seeing yet another tipping point in the Middle East.


Caver said...

Yikers....geepers...and Wheee Doggie

So many kegs of dry powder

So many short fuses, and all burning

If someone lobs a CBR at Israel, from almost any direction, Israel has virtually no choice but to cut loose and assume it was going to be a full fledged assault.

Just Wow!

Dylan said...

I haven't commented very much in the last few days because everything I'd say would be either really obvious or already said. I'm speechless.

Scott said...

"Short fuses" and "all burning" - thats so true Caver.

I have always felt that the Isa 17 scenario would result from the aftermath of chemical weapons.

And even given that (use of chemical weapons) - I also believe that Israel could take out Damascus (certainly leading to Gog-MaGog, as Iran/Russia would then come to the defense of Syria, OR Damascus could be destroyed by some kind of massive accident (nuclear, chemical etc)...