The Syrian Army is by regional standards a highly-capable military force and its air force is one of the largest in the Middle East.
In addition to that, Western experts believe Syria has a large chemical weapons arsenal including mustard gas, the more modern sarin and even VX - the most toxic of all chemical agents.“Unlike Moammar Gadhafi, who had basically dismantled his chemical weapons,” said John Pike, head of Globalsecurity.com, “the Syrians have a very active poison gas program.” Pike says they have “the medium-range ballistic missiles that would enable them to deliver it to the neighborhood - certainly to Israel and Turkey, but not farther afield, certainly not to western European countries.”Experts say there is little hard data on Syria’s chemical weapons program because the country has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention that outlaws the production, possession and use of such weapons. Most of the estimates come from intelligence agencies and analysts.Experts believe the chemical weapons - known as "the poor man’s nuclear weapon" - are produced in four or five facilities in Syria and stored in dozens of places throughout the country.Charles Blair is skeptical about such an endeavor, saying “the only way that you could envision really securing the Syrian stockpile is with a large force.” He says the Department of Defense estimates that “it would take 75,000 U.S. forces to properly secure it. And there is no large standing Western army anywhere near Syria. “I don’t think there is any way that the West can secure the stockpiles," he said.Analysts also believe it is essential to make sure that those chemical weapons don’t fall into the hands of groups like Hezbollah or al-Qaida. Experts also fear that the rebels fighting the Syrian government might obtain those arms
In the CIA's defense, you use the networks that are in place rather than trying to create your own conduits for arms. It's cheaper, and more reliable to tap into the Muslim Brotherhood's arms smuggling operation than starting from scratch.The civilian opposition - the Syrian National Council - is about 70% Muslim Brotherhood, which is why a lot of secular-oriented Syrians have either refused to join, or resigned in disgust. There's no need to wonder where these arms are going to end up; one way or another, the Brotherhood will probably control any post-Assad Syria and thus, any arms given to rebel forces will likely end up in their hands.
Members of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s inner circle are covertly planing to defect and join the opposition should the Syrian regime become critically threatened by the rebellion, according to unnamed US sources in a report by The
DailyTelegraph on Friday. The report could not be verified.
According to the report, senior Syrian military commanders have outlined “exit strategies” and are making
directcontact with rebel forces to ensure that they will be welcomed and not persecuted.Syrian opposition groups confirmed that they were actively courting American help to encourage more defections. One senior opposition source told the Telegraph that, “I know for sure there are some high-ranking officers who are waiting for the right chance to defect.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin, whose support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is straining his ties with the West, is scheduled to visit Israel on Monday for a short trip one diplomatic official said is designed to send a clear message to the world: Russia is a key player in the region that needs to be taken into account....talks between Putin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will center on Russia’s policy of propping up Assad in Syria and on the talks with Iran. Russia is a member of the P5+1 group – which also includes the US, China, France, Britain and Germany – negotiating with Tehran. Followingthe dedication ceremony, Putin will go to Jerusalem for meetings with Netanyahu. There will be a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders, followed by statements to the press and a working luncheon with staff.
Liberman will attend that meeting, as well as a meeting in the evening between Putin and President Shimon Peres.
Italy’s technocratic leader Mario Monti is warning of dramatic consequences should leaders at next week’s EU summit fail to find concrete solutions to save the euro and prevent contagion.Monti is also calling for a fuller banking union, a European deposit guarantee, and “new market-friendly policy mechanisms” to help struggling countries.
Spain, reports Reuters, may also use the occasion to formally request for a €100 billion following revelations on Thursday that its banking sector needs €62 billion in extra capital.
Over a dozen European banks have also been hit by another downgrade by credit rating agency Moodys. Some 15 banks and financial institutions, including Germany’s Deutsche Bank, had their ratings cut on Thursday.The downgrades come on the heels of a Europe that is progressively sliding into a recession.
Judging from New York Times coverage of the sharp escalation of rocket attacks on Israel by Gaza terrorists, it really wasn't a big deal at all -- and besides Hamas has accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that was bound to end the onslaught ("Hamas Military Wing Accepts a Cease-Fire - Deal Ends 3 Days of Violence With Israel" by Isabel Kershner, June 21, page 11).
Reality is starkly different from Kershner's roseate account. For one thing, the headline is flat wrong -- the so-called cease-fire didn't end. Gaza terrorists kept firing rockets.
Kershner, in her dispatch, bends over backwards to depict the incessant rocket barrages -- well over 100 -- as benign and inconsequential as possible.
Here's how she puts it:
"The confrontation remained relatively contained, with the Gaza groups firing mostly short-range rockets that did not reach southern Israel's major cities."This sentence tells worlds about Kershner's determination to sanitize the terror war unleashed from Gaza. For one thing, why the benchmark that rocket fire from Gaza is OK as long as it spares major cities? What about smaller Israel towns and communities hit by rocket fire? Don't their residents matter?But even by Kershner's dubious criterion that only attacks on major cities matter, she's wrong again. Rocket fire hit the Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon areas. The attack on Be'er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev, came as kids were going to school. Numerous residents showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Kershner overlooks all that.Nor does she report that the mayor of Ashkelon, another big southern Israeli city, at the behest of fearful parents, on Wednesday when Kershner was writing her piece, ordered schools closed the next day. Several rockets took aim at the Ashkelon area. Since Monday, four Israeli border patrol officers were injured by rocket fire.At the same time, Kershner's coverage sets impossibly high standards for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. Never mind that the IDF goes to great lengths to minimize collateral casualties, implicit in her writing is that even a single Palestinian civilian casualty puts Israel in the wrong.
In sum, Kershner is quick to critique Israeli counter-strikes against rocket-firing terrorists, but at the same time sanitizes these terrorists as merely "militants" belonging to the "military wing of Hamas."
Such is her moral compass.