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Monday, 18 June 2012

Israel's position: Anyone but Assad.

http://www.debka.com/article/22088/US-military-intervention-in-Syria-–-“Not-if-but-when”
US military intervention in Syria – “Not if but when”

DEBKAfile Special Report
June 16, 2012

As the violence in Syria continued to go from bad to worse in scope and intensity, US official sources had this to say Saturday, June 16,  about planned US military operations in the war-torn country:

“The intervention will happen. It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’”

A Syrian Free Army rebel delegation is now in Washington to talk about their requests for heavy weapons from the Obama administration. In their meetings with US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and the State Department’s expert on Syria Fred Hof, the rebel leaders handed in two lists for approval: types of heavy weapons capable of challenging Bashar Assad’s armed forces and selected targets of attack to destabilize his regime.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources disclose that the administration is very near a decision on the types of weapons to be shipped to the Syrian rebels and when. Most of the items Washington is ready to send have been purchased by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and are ready for shipment.

The White House is also close to deciding on the format of its military operation in Syria. Some sources are defining it as “Libya lite” – that is, a reduced-scale version of the no-fly zone imposed on Libya two years ago and the direct air and other strikes which toppled the Qaddafi regime.

Following reports of approaching US military intervention in Syria and a Russian marine contingent heading for Tartus port, the UN observer mission in Syria has suspended operations and patrols. Its commander Maj. Gen. Robert Mood said, “Violence has been intensifying over the past 10 days by both parties with losses and significant risks to our observers.”

He said the risk is approaching an unacceptable level and could prompt the 300 observers to pull out of the country.

Friday, June 15, DEBKAfile reported:

A contingent of Russian special forces is on its way to Syria to guard the Russian navy’s deep-water port at the Syria’s Mediterranean coastal town of Tartus, Pentagon officials informed US NBC TV Friday, June 15. They are coming by ship. According to DEBKAfile’s sources, the contingent is made up of naval marines and is due to land in Syria in the coming hours.

In a separate and earlier announcement, US Defense Department sources in Washington reported that the US military had completed its own planning for a variety of US operations against Syria, or for assisting neighboring countries in the event action was ordered – a reference, according to our sources, to Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

The Syrian civil war is now moving into a new phase of major power military intervention, say DEBKAfile’s military sources. Moscow, by sending troops to Syria without UN Security Council approval, has set a precedent for the United States, the European Union and Arab governments to follow. They all held back from sending troops to Syria because all motions to apply force for halting the bloodshed in Syria were blocked in the UN body by Russia and China.

According to US military sources, in recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed and how many troops. The military planning includes a scenario for a no-fly zone as well as protecting chemical and biological sites. The U.S. Navy is maintaining a presence of three surface combatants and a submarine in the eastern Mediterranean to conduct electronic surveillance and reconnaissance on the Syrian regime, a senior Pentagon official said.

On Sat, Jun 16, 2012 at 10:28 PM, Ali Mallah <alimallah@hotmail.com> wrote:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303734204577465990770998890.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Wall Street Journal                                                                                    June 14, 2012

Israel Bets Big on the Syrian Uprising

The Jewish state has made itself clear: Anyone but Assad.

By DANIEL NISMAN

Tel Aviv


This past week has witnessed a remarkable shift in the Israeli government's approach to the Syrian conflict. Politicians and defense officials alike have taken turns slamming Bashar al-Assad's regime, bringing an end to Israel's year-long policy of disciplined ambiguity on the Syrian unrest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the charge, adding his voice to the chorus of national leaders who condemned Mr. Assad for the latest massacre near Hama last week. Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that "the axis [of evil] is rearing its ugly head"—a reference to Iran and Hezbollah. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, declared that "on behalf of the Israeli people and the Jewish people, I say directly to the Syrian people: we hear your cries. We are horrified by the crimes of the Assad regime. We extend our hand to you." Kadima Party Chairman and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has now called for international intervention in Syria, and denounced Russia for deadlocking such efforts at the U.N.

Until very recently though, Israeli's leaders had been hesitant to speak out against the atrocities, leading Western pundits to suggest that Israel actually preferred the rule of the House of Assad to the chaos that might engulf Syria in its stead. Mr. Assad is, after all, the devil Israelis know—a ruthless dictator and staunch enemy, who nonetheless kept the peace on the Golan Heights. In the Arab world, Israel is commonly portrayed as Mr. Assad's partner in genocide. Cartoons depicting Israeli and Syrian tanks side-by-side, flattening Sunni Arabs, have become common in Arab media (conveniently ignoring the decades-long, bitter rivalry between the two nations).

The fact is that Israel, perhaps more than any other nation in the region, stands to benefit from Mr. Assad's downfall. Despite the 40-year stability along their shared border, the [conflict] between the two states has long been boiling beneath the surface. The Syrian military is the focus of a high number of the Israeli Defense Forces' large-scale training exercises. In 2007, an Israeli air strike against a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor sent both militaries careening toward the border for a confrontation that was only narrowly averted. Most importantly, Mr. Assad remains the key link to Iranian influence in the eastern Mediterranean—hosting and funding Iranian-backed militant groups that have clashed with Israel in Gaza and Lebanon over the past decade.

The silence from Jerusalem over the past 15 months of Syrian conflict was not due to Israeli fears over a destabilized Syria, nor of the rise of a more radical, Sunni-dominated regime. It was rather part of Israel's closely adhered-to government policy aimed at preventing the Assad regime from delegitimizing its opponents by portraying their struggle as a foreign conspiracy. The decision to break that silence over the weekend was also carefully strategized—both in timing and in nature.

In condemning Assad's regime, the Israelis appealed directly to the hearts and minds of the Sunni-Arab world at a time when both find themselves pitted against a common enemy: Mr. Assad. Accusations of Iranian involvement in Syria are meant to remind Mr. Assad's opponents in the Gulf that Israel stands on their side in the struggle against Shia regional domination.

The recent appointment of Syran-Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida to head the main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Council, now presents Jerusalem with an opportunity to express tacit support for a possible successor to Mr. Assad. The Kurds have traditionally maintained positive views of Israel, a relationship that grew from their peaceful coexistence with Jews in northern Iraq prior to their expulsion after World War II.

Furthermore, the Syrian conflict has emerged as an issue of broad-based concern in Israeli society. Both the majority Jewish population and minority Arabs have staged protests and expressed their outrage over the killings taking place across the border. For Jewish Israelis, the world's refusal to intervene in Syria has evoked memories of the Holocaust and other pogroms, fueling demands for the government to take a stand against the killings.

Ultimately, the Israelis are convinced that the hourglass of Mr. Assad's tenure has been flipped on its head, and have begun making preparations for the day after his ousting. Israel's defense establishment has kept a close eye on Syria's massive stockpile of chemical weapons and is developing military options to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands—namely Hezbollah. The Israeli military has already begun planning for the eventual absence of Mr. Assad's forces on their shared border and is preparing for a wave of infiltrations and refugees.

While few in Jerusalem expect a peace agreement to follow Mr. Assad's downfall, Israeli leaders have made their position clear to the region and world: When it comes to Syria, they'll take anyone but Mr. Assad.

Mr. Nisman is an intelligence manager at Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical-risk consulting firm based in Tel Aviv. He can be reached via his Twitter account, @dannynis.