Newsletter : 13fx0530.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
Israeli Forebodings over Widening Russian-Hizbullah-Iraqi Intervention in Syria
By DEBKAfile (Analysis)
Forebodings were voiced Wednesday by senior Israeli military officers in the face of
the widening military intervention in the Syria civil war by Russia, Iran, Hizbullah and
latterly Iraq too. They have made Syria's civil war the platform for a Russian contest
against the West and a ladder up which Iran and its proxy Hizbullah are climbing to top
Middle East regional power spot. Russia, Iran and Hizbullah are winning the contest by
default against an unresisting US-led West and a hesitant Israel.
A senior IDF officer acknowledged on Wednesday that Israel's government and military
leaders are at a loss on how to proceed. They have yet to recover from the calamitous
miscalculation that Bashar Assad's days were numbered to which they clung stubbornly for
almost 18 months.
Even today, some spokesmen refer to a "disintegrating Syria," thereby losing sight of
the major strategic and military changes overtaking the country that are entirely to
Israel's detriment as well as eroding its options against a nuclear Iran. At a time that
the US and Israel should be using their heaviest military guns to slow Iran's race for a
nuclear bomb, Tehran with Moscow's backing has brought its military assets up close to
Israel's borders in Syria and Lebanon and openly threatens to use them.
Unlike Syria and Iran, Israel can't count on military intervention against an aggressor
by supportive big powers. According to DEBKAfile's Washington sources, no part of the
Obama administration, including its military and intelligence arms, favors military action
in Syria. Even the direct evidence of chemical warfare already afoot in Syria is
In Addis Ababa, US Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the administration's mantra
Wednesday by denying "concrete evidence" of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The
Secretary and the rest of NATO were deaf to the vivid testimony brought to Le Monde
Wednesday by two reporters, who risked their necks by spending two months concealed in the
Jobar district of Damascus. They discovered Russia or Iran had developed a chemical weapon
that does not explode. The release of its poisonous gases sounds like popping the top off
a can of soda and has "no odor, no smoke, not even a whistle to indicate the release of a
So what does happen? The Le Monde reporters provided a graphic first-hand description.
"The men cough violently. Their eyes burn, their pupils shrink, their vision blurs. Soon
they experience difficulty breathing, sometimes in the extreme; they begin to vomit or
lose consciousness. The fighters worst affected need to be evacuated before they
Wednesday morning, the Israeli Home Front rehearsed an attack on a Jerusalem suburb by
a chemical-tipped missile. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who watched, said the
exercise is designed to protect Israeli civilians "from the threats pilling up around us."
Israel's home front is the best protected in the world but also the most threatened, he
said: "We must make sure that defense is in place before an attack.
Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon voiced his certainty that the Syrian
President would not use chemical weapons against Israel or treat Israelis the way he
treats his own people. There is no indication that anyone in the region intends to
challenge us any time soon with unconventional weapons, said the defense minister.
DEBKAfile's military sources find Ya'alon's comment delusory. They don't see why Assad
would treat Israelis differently from his own people especially since the IDF has
presented him with no real deterrent. After all, none of Israel's three air strikes in
January and May stopped the flow of Hizbullah fighters into Syria. And meanwhile, Syrian
and Hizbullah leaders are declaring loud and clear that a war front against Israel is
already operating from the Syrian Golan and Lebanon.
The question is who in Israel is listening. And what is being done to make sure that Assad
will be prevented from using chemical weapons against Israeli military and civilian
targets at a time of his convenience.
The spate of events in the last 48 hours is troubling - to say the least. Monday,
Senator John McCain was reported to have paid a secret visit to Syria. What did this
"visit" consist of? DEBKAfile reports: The senator entered Syria from Turkey through the
Kilis corridor which is the main supply route for the rebels in Aleppo, one of the few
still under their control. McCain penetrated some 300 meters into Syria, had his picture
taken, and left.
A US publication reported Wednesday that President Barack Obama had ordered the
Pentagon to draw up plans to establish no-fly zones over Syria against Syrian warplanes.
The Pentagon thereupon issued a denial: "There are no new American operational plans,"
said the spokesman.
Moscow's response was ready in place even before the report was published. Deputy
Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the S-300 anti-air missiles that Russia was supplying
the Assad regime were a "stabilizing factor" that could dissuade "some hotheads" from
entering the conflict.
In the grades Moscow handed out for foreign interventionists: The US and Israel and
their leaders were "hotheads" while Moscow, the calm, rational stabilizer. In that
capacity, DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources reveal that a huge Russian cargo
plane landed in Latakia airport Wednesday with 60 tons of "humanitarian aid for
The nature of this cargo was not disclosed, but the last thing it must have been was
"humanitarian" given the massive military aid Moscow is extending Assad's army. Moscow
also knocked on the head the timorous decision by European Union foreign ministers Tuesday
to lift the arms embargo for Syrian rebels, which they carefully combined with a decision
not to send them weapons.
In sum, the US is not doing anything to help the rebels, Europe is not sending arms,
the rebels' Persian Gulf patrons have bowed to pressure from Washington and slashed their
weapons aid, while Israel declares it wants no part of the Syrian civil war even
after it assumed the calamitous proportions of a world power contest with Israel's arch
foes gaining the upper hand. So who is feeding the flames of the Syrian conflict with a
generous supply of military hardware? Who but Russia, the self-styled "stabilizing
The Free Syrian Army's Supreme Commander Gen. Salem Idris made a desperate show of
bravado Wednesday, by threatening to strike Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon if Hassan
Nasrallah does not pull his brigades out of Syria within 24 hours.
Hizbullah knows perfectly well that Gen. Salem is starved of weapons, just he knows
that the US, Europe or Israel will not interfere with the stream of fighting strength he
is pumping into Syria.
At worst, a few rockets will hit Hizbullah centers in Beirut and the Beqaa Valley. Early
Tuesday morning, the rebels tried to ambush Hizbullah forces near the eastern town of
Arsal. Their operation went badly wrong and mistakenly killed three Lebanese soldiers
manning an army checkpoint.
The senior Israeli officer interviewed by DEBKAfile put all these forebodings into
words when he said: "A military and strategic catastrophe for the West and Israel is in
full flight in Syria, and no one in Washington or Jerusalem is lifting a finger. Israel's
government and military heads never imagined that the Syrian war would take this turn. But
we had better wake up at this eleventh hour - before it is too late."
`The US or Israel Who Should Strike Iran?'
By The Times of Israel
A position paper weighing US and Israeli military options against Iran, written by
retired US Marine Corps general James Cartwright and Amos Yadlin, former IAF head and
military intelligence chief, posits that a US-led strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities
would be preferable from a military standpoint, while an Israeli strike might not be able
to disable Iran's nuclear capabilities but would have less international fallout.
The brief paper, "Israeli or US Action Against Iran: Who Will Do It If It Must Be
Done?" was released this week by the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It was
"intended solely to stimulate and inform further discussion on the potential repercussions
of different strike options" against the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, while
acknowledging that "military force should only be employed against the program as a last
In their analysis, Cartwright and Yadlin brought the following points: A US attack
would allow a larger window for a non-military solution, since the US strike capacity is
greater than that of Israel. A "unilateral Israeli strike amid Western efforts to find a
diplomatic solution" would be censured internationally, even though Israel faces an
existential threat from the Iranian program, and the US does not. Conversely, a US-led
effort, undertaken as a last resort, would enjoy greater international backing.
A US strike would have a greater chance of disabling the Iranian nuclear
infrastructure, even though Israel has more experience in similar pinpoint attacks on
nuclear facilities. An Israeli attack would have to violate the airspace of a third
country, creating more potential diplomatic issues, while a US attack could be staged
directly from naval vessels stationed in the Persian Gulf.
An Israeli attack would be swift and surgical, causing less collateral damage, a
"significant advantage" when considering the fallout from such a strike. The US, with its
larger bombs, would be more likely to cause civilian casualties or other damage and would
have to take pains to ensure that the attack is perceived by the Iranian public and the
world as a strike on nuclear capabilities only, not the beginning of another US-led war in
a Muslim country.
In the aftermath of a strike, Israel would have more moral authority because the Jewish
state "could legitimately claim that it was acting in self-defense," whereas a US strike
is more likely to anger countries with ties to Iran, such as Russia and China, and further
diminish the already-weakened American standing as an honest broker in the Muslim
If the Iranian people understood that the strike was targeting nuclear weapons only,
they would be less likely to rally behind the Teheran regime. That outcome is more likely
in the case of an Israeli surgical strike, but less so for a US attack.
A strike by either country is likely to be condemned in public but approved in private
by most governments in the Arab world. An Israeli strike would draw greater condemnation,
especially on the Arab street, while a US strike "might even help America repair its
tarnished image in the Sunni world."
Washington would prefer, due to domestic political concerns, that Israel conduct the
strike, since "the outbreak of another war with a Muslim state would not bode well
politically for any US administration." An Israeli leader, however, would find it
difficult to outsource Israel's defense to another country, but would do so if it was
believed that a US strike would invite less retaliatory terrorist attacks against Israeli
or Jewish targets. If further strikes were determined to be necessary to remove the
Iranian nuclear threat, only the US has the capacity for continued military action against
the Islamic Republic.
In their final analysis, the authors found that an attack by each country would have
pros and cons. A US attack would be preferable in strictly military terms but could have
huge diplomatic consequences, while an Israeli strike would have less chance of ultimate
success but would also generate limited international repercussions.
The leaders of both countries should therefore focus on "(1) delaying the Iranian
nuclear program as much as possible, (2) preserving the international export controls and
sanctions regime, and (3) creating favorable diplomatic conditions for denying Iran a
nuclear weapon," the authors said.
Norwegian Cartoon Depicts Circumcision as a Demonic Ritual
By IsraelNationalNews.com & The Times of Israel
The European Jewish Congress is "carefully considering the possibility of taking legal
action" over a cartoon in Dagbladet], one of Norway's leading papers, which depicted
circumcision in a blood-thirsty-demonic manner, the organization said in a statement.
"This cartoon has crossed all lines of decency and is dripping with hate and
anti-Semitism," said Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress. "We are
now studying the possibility that this legally constitutes incitement and even a
hate-crime and will therefore require legal action. This obviously falls outside the
boundaries of freedom of speech as no one has the freedom to incite hatred against a
The cartoon depicts a child being stabbed in the head by a Jewish religious figure with
a devil's pitchfork while some unseen figure is cutting off a toe with a mother carrying
what appears to be a religious book dripping in blood.
"This cartoon has ticked off one by one all the major historical anti-Semitic motifs,
the type of which incited attacks and even the mass murder of Jews in the past," Kantor
said. "The reason we have laws against hate is because modern society understands the
connection between incitement and violence."
"This is a violent cartoon which is meant to inspire hate and contempt against one
particular people. This type of hate, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, cannot be left
unanswered, and it is exactly this type of incitement which is contributing to a very
troubling period for minorities in Europe at this time, especially with the rise of the
The past year has seen a sharp uptick in anti-circumcision activity in Europe. In March,
38 physicians from the continent wrote a paper alleging that "cultural bias" was behind
the pro-circumcision stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Approximately half of
the physicians were from Scandinavian countries, where several political parties have
stated their view of circumcision as a form of "child abuse."
Last year, a local German court criminalized the rite and started a nationwide and
international controversy about religious ceremonies versus children's rights. Three
months later the German government approved a bill that legalized ritual circumcisions, if
performed by a medical professional.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)