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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Let me tell you how this all plays out in Syria

No, I don't have any special powers of prophecy... nor do I have access to secret intelligence that would give me an inside track as to what will happen in Syria.

What I do have is a voracious appetite for both history and current events.  Anyone with access to both, and the curiosity to occasionally compare the two, will have a pretty good idea of what is about to happen.

Just to allow those returning from summer vacation to catch up, let's review:

On August 21st, somebody launched rockets armed with a nerve agent at a suburb of Damascus, killing upwards of 1400 civilians.

According to US reports, the rockets were fired from areas controlled by the Syrian Army.  And at least to this point, of all the factions currently fighting in Syria, only the Syrian government is known to possess chemical weapons.

Of course, Syrian President Assad claims that it was one of the anti-government rebel factions who fired the chemical weapons, and the Russians and Chinese have blocked US-led efforts to drum up support at the UN for a limited military strike to punish Syria with for breaching one of the few sacrosanct 'norms' of modern warfare.

Flash forward past the dwindling international support for an attack, past by President Obama's decision to seek congressional support for a military strike on Syria... and it was getting pretty hard to decide who was more isolated/embattled by the crisis; the Syrian or US government.

Then, by a mere offhand remark/slip of the tongue, US Secretary of State Kerry served up a potential alternative to a military strike.  When asked if anything could be done to avert a US strike on Syria, he said, "Sure, [Assad] could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week...without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that, but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done, obviously."

Although Kerry's remark was meant to be rhetorical, the Russians immediately latched onto the idea and launched an initiative of their own to convince the Syrian government to do pretty much what Kerry had suggested, albeit without a specific time-frame.

Okay, so now we are at the stage where the powers that be are fine-tuning the language on the newly minted 'Russian Initiative' to give it some teeth in terms of both timing and verification... but the other shoe has yet to fall.  And that other shoe is where the cigar blows up in Israel's face:

I predict that everyone will sign off on the Russian Initiative to have Syria turn over all of it's stockpiles of chemical weapons to International control (and eventual destruction).  The wording of the final agreement will be very stern, and will have a fairly short time-frame for compliance.  The consequences of non-compliance will also be spelled out in equally serious language... and the Syrian government will soberly agree to sign on the dotted line.

But then......... just as the document is about to be signed, and the international inspectors/collectors are en-route to Damascus, President Assad (at Russia's urging, no doubt) will drop the other shoe:  He will demand that Syria's compliance be linked to Israel's compliance to the exact same terms.  

Assad  will state that if the international community is really serious about ridding the region of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and not just giving lip service to the idea, Israel must also be forced to open up its chemical, biological and nuclear facilities to international inspection, and to turn over everything for destruction.

At that point, the success or failure of the Russian Initiative will be laid entirely at Israel's feet.  All of the word's superpowers will align in a rare show of unity and demand that Israel must - for the sake of regional and world peace -  abandon its longtime stance of ambiguity regarding WMDs, and agree to the same terms as are being imposed on Syria.

It won't matter that Israel has never even hinted at the use of such weapons (much less confirmed their existence), and that Syria has actually used them; quite frequently, as it turns out.  Israel will be painted into the same corner as a pariah regime.   And when we refuse to comply (as we surely will), the failure to punish Syria will be blamed not on Russia, China, the UK, US or even the UN Security council... but rather on Israel.

This is one time that I pray I am wrong.

Posted by David Bogner on September 11, 2013 | Permalink


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אל תפתח פה לפוטין

Posted by: Josh | Sep 11, 2013 2:34:21 PM

only the Syrian government is known possess chemical weapons

Posted by: Ron Barak | Sep 11, 2013 3:36:37 PM

Josh... I'm not convinced he isn't the devil.

Ron Barak... I already have a volunteer proof reader, but I'm always happy to have a back-up. As you probably guessed, pretty much everything that appears here is a first (and only) draft. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Sep 11, 2013 4:09:51 PM

as of this day the best prediction I have come across on this topic.

Posted by: Silke | Sep 11, 2013 7:49:46 PM

The scary(-er) part is this. No previous US administration would ever allow that question to be put to the Israelis, much less let Israel twist in the wind as a result. That's because all previous US administrations, both Democratic and Republican, understood Israel's precarious status in the region, and understood how vital Israel's (alleged) super-weaponry is to its very survival.

However, the Obama administration a) is totally clueless about foreign affairs in general; b) is particularly obtuse regarding the Middle East, and Israel in particular; c) has a Chief Executive who thinks he's smarter than everyone else, so he doesn't listen to his advisors; d) has a dog in the race because President Obama set down his "red line" last year, so he needs to maintain his supposed "credibility"; e) has a Secretary of State who is even more clueless than his boss, and who also has a dog in the race, since it was his dumb comment that set this whole thing in motion.

So yes, if it comes to it, I think this President will sit on his hands and let Israel take its lumps over this. Which is something that I don't even think Jimmy Carter would have done in a similar situation.

I hope it never comes to that. And like you, I hope I'm wrong. But we know that if the world can drudge up a way to blame this whole mess on the Jews - oops, sorry, I meant "on Israel", wink wink - they surely will.

Let us pray.

Posted by: psachya | Sep 11, 2013 10:01:32 PM

Your conclusion is one I hadn't thought of- and sadly you may be right. Now even though you know me as a "liberal" (no longer a Democrat, by the way, I'm now registered in NJ as "Unaffiliated"- read "Independent") I must say that I don't trust either Putin or Assad. Not one bit.

Which is why I feel that Congress now more than ever needs to at least give Obama a form of "ace-up-the-sleeve-insurance" by immediately voting in support of a strike option.

Now- Psachya- I think- and hope- that you may be underestimating Obama here. But at the very least there will be this if what you and Trep think may happen actually happens. You will find out just who Israel's true friends are in Congress. IF Assad makes that "quid pro quo", will the GOP right wing support an Obama-proposed strike plan? Or will their proud "whatever it is, I'm against it (because it comes from Obama)" that they've evidenced over the last 5-plus years cause them to suddenly after years of sweet-talk just rhetorically- albeit perhaps silently- "throw Israel under the bus?"

Posted by: Mike Spengler | Sep 12, 2013 12:55:11 AM

I think the Russians now realize, for many reasons,that the Syrian chemical stockpile is now a potential disaster in the making for them. Does anyone think Russia was pleased with Assad`s use of nerve gas? So Russian self interest is involved in securing and making sure chemicals are not used again.Any move to involve Israel won`t fly with the Russians or the US.

Posted by: Ed | Sep 12, 2013 6:55:56 PM

As long as we're pondering depressing scenarios, how about this one: Iran also jumps into the fray at the 11th hour, and joins with Syria in pledging transparency when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, and asks Israel to do the same.

Posted by: Ari | Sep 13, 2013 2:28:28 AM

Mike - I have no doubt that there are those in the Republican Party - I'm thinking particularly of the Rand Paul wing - who would be more than happy to, as you put it, throw Israel under the bus. And I join you in hoping I'm wrong about the President. But I don't think so. Let's hope we never have to find out.

Posted by: psachya | Sep 13, 2013 3:00:48 AM

Ari... As my post today makes clear, even in the most optimistic scenario, Israel is going to be forced to jump off the cliff first.  And then those left standing on the precipice will start to hem and haw about whether or not they will ever jump.

Posted by: David Bogner | Sep 13, 2013 2:21:32 PM

posit this: Obama is actually a sunni Ikhwan (MB) Manchurian - using the office of POTUS to effect a fundamental transformation in the world: a Sunni Ikhwan Caliphate, using/setting forces into motion between Israel and Iran (the Shia) to destroy each other. The Ikhwan then walk in. America is too shell shocked and probably destroyed a bit as well - the muslims takeover.

Movie script? nope. The pattern fits. It's all about destroying Israel - forever - changing the world scene. POTUS golfs when he is not plotting. He's laughing.

Get past your "Noooo, that can't POSSIBLY be true!!!" - it is. Open your eyes.


Posted by: DanS. | Sep 18, 2013 12:40:28 PM

Dans... I'm all for a good conspiracy theory, but seriously dude, take off the tin foil hat and relax.

Posted by: David Bogner | Sep 20, 2013 3:50:32 PM

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