Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Israel's attack on Syria

There is a lot of mystification about what really was going on in Israel's attack on Syria. Bret Stephens, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, finds the news blackout that both Israel and Syria have placed on the story to be very telling. After examining several of the possible explanations, he reaches this conclusion.
More questions will no doubt be raised about the operational details of the raid (some sources claim there were actually two raids, one of them diversionary), as well as fresh theories about what the Israelis were after and whether they got it. The only people that can provide real answers are in Jerusalem and Damascus, and for the most part they are preserving an abnormal silence. In the Middle East, that only happens when the interests of prudence and the demands of shame happen to coincide. Could we have just lived through a partial reprise of the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor? On current evidence, it is the least unlikely possibility.
Stephens' former paper reminds us that we must throw out previous misconceptions of how Shiites would never work with Baathists or that there is no such thing as an Axis of Evil.
After years of experts dismissing the possibility of radical Shi'ite and Sunni cooperation, it is now indisputable that Shi'ite Iran aids Sunni Hamas, that both work closely with Shi'ite Hizbullah, and that Sunni al-Qaida is somehow woven, probably tightly, into this jihadi mix.

It also seems not to matter that there is no ideological connection between North Korea and Islamist jihadis. It is enough that both are sworn enemies of the West, and that the former has technology that the latter needs.

The lesson here is that the West must stop looking at the global landscape without connecting the dots - as if Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, North Korea and the Arab-Israel conflict have nothing to do with each other.
While the world has been focused on Iran's nuclear ambitions, it seems that Assad's Syria has also been working with North Korea to jumpstart its own nuclear program. Syria is going to have retaliate in order to protect his image. Israel is on high alert.

It's so scary to imagine that we could now be on the verge of another Yom Kippur War. As the Jerusalem Post writes, those who have long assumed that the source of problems in the Mideast all stem from the Israel-Palestinian conflict have been shortsighted. And I would like to see what those from the Baker-Hamilton commission and Nancy Pelosi now believe about the path to peace going through Syria.
Further, it should be obvious that the Israeli-Palestinian arena is not the most critical one. Rather, it is whether rogue regimes like Iran and Syria will continue to get away with their race to obtain more devastating non-conventional weapons and their rampant support for international terrorism. It is the latter that will determine the viability of the former, not vice versa.

As our columnist Barry Rubin suggests today, a significant message from General David Petraeus's testimony in Washington is that the Baker-Hamilton report had it exactly backward. Teheran and Damascus do not, as the bipartisan report claimed, share an interest in a stable Iraq, nor can any development in Israeli-Palestinian relations make more them more cooperative. Rather, as Rubin puts it, "Petraeus tells the tough truth: Iranian imperialism is at war with America and has no interest in any compromise solution."