Israel and Syria brace for regional war between mid-Dec. 2100 and mid-Jan 2012
The actions and words of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Syrian ruler Bashar Assad in the last 72 hours indicate they are poised for a regional war, including an attack on Iran, for some time between December 2011 and January 2012.
In their different ways, both have posted road signs to the fast-approaching conflict
1. Saturday, Dec. 3, Syria staged a large-scale military exercise in the eastern town of Palmyra, which was interpreted by Western and Israeli pundits as notice to its neighbors, primarily Turkey and Israel, that the uprising against the Assad regime had not fractured its sophisticated missile capabilities.
The Syrian army has staged a live-fire drill in the eastern part of the country under war-like circumstances with the aim of testing its missile weaponry
2. Israel made its rejoinder to the Syrian war message 24 hours later.
Netanyahu recalled how 63 years ago, Ben-Gurion declared the foundation of the State of Israel in defiance of pressures from most of Western leaders and a majority of his own party.
They warned him that he would trigger a combined Arab attack to destroy the fledgling state just three years after the end of World War II.
But fortunately for us, said the prime minister, Ben-Gurion stood up to the pressure and went through with his decision, otherwise Israel would not be here today.
"There are times," said Netanyahu, "when a decision may carry a heavy price, but the price for not deciding would be heavier."
Although he did not mention Iran, it was not hard to infer that the prime minister was referring to a decision to exercise Israel's military option against Iran's nuclear program in the face of crushing pressure from Washington and insistent advice of certain Israeli security veterans.
Defense minister Ehud Barak, who was standing behind the prime minister's shoulder, was as tense as a coiled spring.
4. The unusually powerful US and Russian naval buildups in the waters around Syria and Iran.
Neither the United States nor Russia would have concentrated two powerful fleets in the proximity of Syria and Iran unless they were certain a military conflagration was imminent. While any of the prime movers, Washington, Moscow, Tehran, Israel or Bashar Assad, may at the last moment step back from the brink of a regional war, at the moment, there is no sign of this happening.
Maybe, maybe not. We obviously won't know until something happens but the rhetoric is at an all time high recently and there is a lot of smoke coming from the region and the "fire" may manifest soon. If there are no tangible plans for war, the rhetoric alone puts the region in a very precarious position.