Syrian Endgame

«Quick victory» in Middle East or Big Regional Fire?

Many think the events in Syria are nearing the climax. The West and Israel are openly talking about the «endgame» soon to come. Any peace initiatives put forward by Bashar Assad are flatly refused from the start, like the one he came up with at the beginning of 2013. The only thing demanded is his resignation and transfer of power to the opposition that enjoys the Western support. The indications of an imminent foreign intervention are becoming more tangible.

According to Israeli media, the country is to host large-scale multinational exercise with participation of foreign air forces. The drills will feature more than 100 fighter aircraft from different countries. The participants will practice air-to-air combat and dropping ammunition, while also conducting low-altitude flights. The crews and aircraft arrived in Israel a few days ago to get introduced to plausible scenarios of the situation in Syria, including countermeasures against chemical attacks. The Israeli Army Radio says rapid deployment forces are moved to the Jordanian border. The ongoing war in Syria and the possible spill over into Jordan are the reasons. As to Haaretz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held a secret meeting in Jordan with King Abdullah II to discuss possible joint actions.

DEBKA, an Israeli open-source, military intelligence website has reported citing Western sources Israel Defense Forces officials and the Syrian insurgent leaders have held clandestine talks in Jordan before a joint US-Israeli operation to defend the Golan Heights. Actually night combat actions are waged in Syria between government forces and the opposition supported by US, Israeli and Jordanian special operations forces for getting hold of key observation posts at the border to provide guidance against military and civilian targets in case a large-scale battle sparks.

As to the Pentagon, the necessary infrastructure for offensive actions had already existed in the region, including NATO facilities in Turkey and other resources. The USS Eisenhower Strike Group has neared the Syrian shore; there are around 20 ships in the area, including air-capable ones with the crews strength of ten thousand men. The NATO Patriot air defense systems are transported to Turkey. There are battle ready forces deployed in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. According to recent US military estimations around 75000 strong force is required for the mission of taking the Syrian chemical weapons storages (to put it plain – for toppling the Assad government) under control. Now a possibility of a more protracted ground operation is not excluded. The goal is to guarantee peace after the regime’s fall (in other words: the establishment of an administration loyal to Washington).

The intervention scenario has been in the works during the recent months. The mission was to prevent the use of chemical and biological weapons or their getting into the hands of extremists. Now there are other pretexts added, the ones remembered form the days before the intervention in Iraq, like, for instance, the threat of nuclear technologies proliferation and Al-Qaeda striking root in Syria.

All of a sudden US experts started to express concern over the security of up to 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium that is allegedly stored in Syria. David Albright, the head of the US-based Institute for Science and International Security think-tank, and a leading expert on the Iran’s nuclear program, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that «There are real worries about what has happened to the uranium that Syria was planning to put into the Al-Kibar reactor shortly before the reactor was destroyed». He added, «There’s no question that, as Syria gets engulfed in civil war, the whereabouts of this uranium is worrying governments.» There is no special evidence adduced concerning the unenriched uranium. The reactor was never built as a result of Israeli bombing in 2007. Mr. Albright has acquired his own satellite pictures of the Marj al-Sultan site and said these showed that the Syrian authorities have built defensive trenches around the facility. The photographs also appeared to show evidence of damage normally associated with military attacks. «You could draw the conclusion that there may be something at this site that the Syrian authorities are keen to defend from opposition forces,» Mr. Albright said. «It would be interesting to know what it is.» Such arguments make remember the false assertion that Saddam Hussein had bought about the same amount of uranium in Niger. There has never been any confirmation still it was used as a persuasive beyond doubt argument. Not much effort is applied on the part of those who have invent it, though they have criticized Mr. Bush for simplistic approach.

The authority to testify to the Al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria is vested in Israeli Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking at the government meeting on January 6, 2013 he said, “We intend to erect an identical fence, with a few changes based on the actual territory, along the Golan Heights. We know that on other side of our border with Syria today, the Syrian army has moved away, and in its place, global jihad forces have moved in,” he said. “Global jihad” is the term Israel uses for forces influenced by al-Qaida. Syria’s rebels include some al-Qaida-allied groups. “We are coordinating our intelligence and readiness with the United States and others so that we might be prepared for any scenario and possibility that could arise,” Netanyahu said. His office did not say long it would take to complete the project». According to Israeli sources, the largely destroyed and abandoned in 1967 capital of the Quneitra, situated between the Golan Heights and Damascus, has become an Al-Qaeda’s springboard.

The US and the allies go back to the methods they used in Iraq by sheer force of inertia. At that, they try to draw lessons from the negative experience and diversify their tactics. They set a duel mission – to topple Assad as soon as they can and prevent staunch nationalists and Islamic radicals coming to power. They understand time works against them because it’s not West friendly liberals, but extremists, who do most of the fighting on the battlefield, so they won’t delay the operation any longer.

At the time of year change a consensus on gradual solution of the Iranian issue appeared to take shape between the West and the Iran hostile Saudi Arabia and Qatar regimes. The first phase of the plan is devoted to doing away with Iran’s allies, like Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon to diminish the Iran’s capability to influence the Middle East situation. Then the Iranians are to be exhausted by sanctions to avoid a full-scale war with corresponding consequences that would follow in case the country is delivered a straight blow. All of it would allow to significantly weaken the President of Iran Ahmadinejad before the presidential elections in mid-July 2013. The combination of reproaches blaming him for international failures and the aftermath of sanctions would create favorable conditions for using the accumulated experience on Iranian soil. Taking into consideration the realization of the plans requires that power in Syria be consolidated in «the hands of right forces», there is each and every reason to conclude a large-scale operation is to be launched no later than March this year. 

The conjecture is supported by the fact that the largest ever combined US-Israeli exercise was rescheduled from the autumn last year to March 2013 (the expected US participants strength is 20 thousand). According to experts, by and large the events are going to unfold the following way. The pretexts of establishing control over chemical and biological weapons and having it over and done with Al Qaeda are to be used for a 20 thousand strong US force to move to Damascus. A break through the Golan Heights into Syria is hardly possible because of mine fields. So, it’s more likely the US forces will intervene from Israel into Syria through Jordan. 

It’s unlikely the Israelis will openly cross the Syrian border, so, their alleged mission will be the neutralization of Syrian ally – Hezbollah in Lebanon. Remembering the 2006 failure, the Israeli forces will try to fully destroy the enemy’s capability to fight, something that will inevitably lead to significant damage and loss of life among civilian population.

The Libyan experience, and the most recent lessons leant in Syria, prove that two major components will play a key role: air forces delivering missile strikes and special operations. The last one will be employed on a much larger scale than in Libya where the UK SAS acted solo. According to DEBKA, US SEALS (Sea, Air, and Land) and Israeli «mista’aravim» (Hebrew for «disguised as Arabs»), brave guys from Poland and the Czech Republic (what these ones have to do there?). The mission of the units mentioned is to establish passages for friendly opposition forces under the pretext of guarding the chemical and biological weapons storages from terrorists or preventing their use against «population» by Syrian government. The formations of Islamists will be cut off and neutralized to avoid the repetition of what happened in Libya. 

By and large that’s the way the «anti-Assad’ coalition would-be activities look like if one has a look at plans and statements. There is only one thing missing – the assessment of the planned adventure’s consequences for Syria’s civilians and regional stability. At that there are all reasons to conjecture there will be more chaos and human suffering, a new long-time hotbed of ethnic and confessional tension will appear. It’s hard to imagine it being constrained by Syrian borders.

The presence of Russian Naval flotilla in the region is expedient, it has a sobering effect. The ships have Marines on board… The Sunday Times cites a Russian source saying, «Russia should be prepared for any developments, as it believes the situation in Syria might reach its peak before Easter.» Al-Diyar, an Arabic-language daily newspaper in Lebanon, appears to go a bit too far by saying a Russia 71 ship strong armada was nearing the Syrian shore with 62 thousand servicemen on board. Information agencies cite unnamed Russian sea service sources, that say the Navy‘s leadership wants the ships to be close to Syria if need be. The time of arrival will depend upon the situation.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

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