Even a token response by the U.S. may be all it takes to ignite the power-keg. Even though the UK may pull out of this completely, the U.S. is giving signals that it will go into this alone. The threats of retaliation against Israel are escalating today even with the U.S. softening its stance:
A possible war in Syria “will result in the imminent destruction of the Zionist regime of Israel,” General Mohammad Ali Jafari said late Wednesday, according to a report Thursday in the state-sponsored Iranian Tasnim News Agency.
The American “proxy war scenario” in Syria has failed, so Washington and the West have resorted to a “direct military threat,” which, if carried out, will have “severe consequences,” he added.
Military intervention in Syria by the US and its allies will “cost them dearly,” the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said Wednesday evening. “If the US attacks, the Zionists will burn,” he said, according to Israel’s Channel 2 news. He added that Israel would be the “sole beneficiary” of military escalation in Syria, which would have “far-reaching, grave consequences.”
Refusing to be drawn into a public screaming match with Syria and Iran, Israel's leaders on Thursday ignored apocalyptic threats and repeated the mantra voiced continually since Sunday: Israel is not involved in the Syrian crisis but will respond fiercely if attacked.
Prior to holding another round of security consultations in Tel Aviv about the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on camera and in his own voice what his office has been saying in his name throughout the week.
"At present there is no need to change daily routines," he said. "Despite the low assessment regarding Israel's involvement in what is going on in Syria, we decided to deploy Iron Dome batteries as well as our other intercept systems. We are not involved in the civil war in Syria. But I would like to reiterate, if anyone tries to harm Israel's citizens, the IDF will respond with great strength."
Netanyahu's remarks came a few hours after Mohammed Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, said a US strike on Syria would lead to the "imminent destruction" of Israel.
The theme of Netanyahu's comments were expanded upon later in remarks IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz made at a ceremony for the fallen sailors of the Israeli navy.
Addressing the growing regional tensions, Gantz said, "The IDF is at the start of challenging days. We have no part in the events taking place nearby to us, but in the event that fire is directed in Israel's direction, it's clear to every leader in our region and in the whole world that the price [for the attacker] will be heavy and the losses of the enemy will be stinging and difficult." "We've analyzed the various implications from every possible development... and we are prepared for every scenario," he said. "Our capabilities to gather [intelligence] and to attack are most advanced, and our defenses - in the air, sea, and land - are ready and staffed by the best of our soldiers and commanders, conscripts and reserves."
The United States would provide its own justification for military intervention in Syria if necessary, but any response would be limited, the White House said on Thursday.
“When the president reaches a determination about the appropriate response … and a legal justification is required to substantiate or to back up that decision, we’ll produce one on our own,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday at a press briefing.
Russia will "over the next few days" be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria, the Interfax news agencysaid on Thursday.
"The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterraneancalled for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces," a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.
"A large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them (the existing naval forces) over the next few days.
"Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet which is now wrapping up its tasks in the northern Atlantic and will soon begin a Transatlantic voyage towards the Strait of Gibraltar."
In addition, a rocket cruiser of the Pacific Fleet, the Varyag, will join the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean this autumn by replacing a large anti-submarine ship.
Moments ago the UK House of Commons, in a razor thin vote, rejected the Cameron proposal for military action in Syria with a vote 285 to 272. Cameron promptly said he would respect the will of the House of Commons and UK Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond confirmed there would be no UK military intervention in Syria. Incidentally, this may have been the best outcome for an already humiliated British premier who will avoid being dragged into an unpopular war having both sided with his greatest ally, the US, and also relented and listened to the voice of the people.
More importantly, the "people" in the UK actually had a voice, which is more than can so far be said about developments in the US. And speaking of the US, theNYT reports that even as the Syrian war "option" is slowly being shut out for staunch US allies (except for France of course), that Obama is "willing to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria even while allies like Britain are debating whether to join the effort [ZH: and have now voted against it]and without an endorsement from the United Nations Security Council" citing senior administration officials.
The ETA for a unilateral move by Obama may be as soon as Saturday:
Although the officials cautioned that Mr. Obama had not made a final decision, all indications suggest that the strike could occur as soon as United Nations inspectors, who are investigating the Aug. 21 attack that killed hundreds of Syrians, leave the country. They are scheduled to depart Damascus, the capital, on Saturday.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will back such a decision, or whether in addition to getting the cold shoulder from his allies, Obama will also be forced to use the War Powers Act to once more stomp out popular dissent for a conflict that as previously reported, only has the support of just 9% of the US population.
The White House is to present its case for military action against Syria to Congressional leaders on Thursday night. Administration officials assert that the intelligence will show that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad carried out the chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus.
The intelligence does not tie Mr. Assad directly to the attack, officials briefed on the presentation said, but the administration believes that it has enough evidence to carry out a limited strike that would deter the Syrian government from using these weapons again.
Either way, the just concluded UK vote is not only a huge blow to David Cameron, and a shocking success for democracy, but leaves Obama in a truly no win position: he will be humiliated if he backs off now after having escalate the war drums to a frenzy, and will be blasted by all sides of the political spectrum if he proceeds to engage in a widely unpopular military conflict.
The top leadership of the Shiite terror group, which is closely aligned with the Bashar Assad government in Syria, was holding intensive discussions about the possible consequences of an attack on Syria and the appropriate response against Israel, Channel 10 reported, citing reports in the Lebanese media.