Just when the red line charade was reaching fever pitch – but still buried in the sand – and he had to choose between the US “exercising restraint” or “directly involving itself” in the Syrian war, (see The Syria-Iran red line show, Asia Times Online, May 2, 2013) President Obama was saved by Bibi Netanyahu’s Israeli government.
The temptation was oh so great for Obama to replay Ronald Reagan and gloriously wear the mantle of Obama The Syrian Mujahid, just as Reagan did in the 1980s with his beloved freedom fighters of the Afghan jihad. That will have to wait – perhaps not too long.
Let’s cut to the chase. Israel’s bombing of Syrian army installations at Jamraya near Damascus is a provocation and an act of war. Israel acted as a Washington proxy – which may have even provided the list of targets. And Washington – not to mention those useless puppets in Brussels – won’t condemn the bombing, which for the umpteenth time makes a mockery of international law.
Israel insists the targets were ground-to-ground Iranian Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah. Damascus says the targets were a military technology institute as well as troop training grounds; there are a lot of apartments nearby, whose tenants the CIA always wanted to recruit as assets. There are no chemical weapons at Jamraya. According to Syrian medical sources, 42 soldiers may have been killed.
Israel’s Hezbollah angle is murky. There’s no confirmation anywhere that Hezbollah bought Fateh-110s. Since 2009, Hezbollah has Syrian versions of the Fateh-110 – the M600, with a range of about 250 kilometers and a decent guiding system.
The usual gaggle of anonymous Washington “sources” insists that the Syrian Army itself needs those missiles against the armed mercenary strands of the self-described Free Syrian Army (FSA). So it would make no sense dispatching them to Lebanon.
But for Israel it makes sense smashing a supply of Fateh 110s – or even M600s. Israel thus directly helps the FSA; one of its spokesmen, by the way, real or fake, went on Israeli TV to praise the bombers. And Israel at least for now prevents more missiles from reaching Hezbollah.
Cutting through the fog is the fact that Israel has a bunch of serious motives to once again go rogue.
It craves a weak, chaotic Syria – deprived of advanced military technology. It craves most of all an all-out Somalization of Syria – a sectarian dystopia. What better justification for Israel to be up in arms 24/7 than hardcore Wahhabi terrorism right across its (non-delimitated) borders? On top of it, Israel wants to drag Syria, Hezbollah and ultimately Iran into all out war. It wants the whole package – and the sooner and better.
Damascus for its part can play chess – and not respond. At least for now. Or let Hezbollah respond – in the near future.
It’s not by accident that the bombing happened after 1) Pentagon head Chuck Hagel’s tour of Israel and the Gulf petro-monarchies; 2) the Syrian Army’s advances during the past few weeks in the Homs corridor against the foreign-
sponsored mercenaries/jihadis; 3) Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah’s “secret” trip to Tehran; afterwards Nasrallah, a fine geopolitical mind, stressed that what “they” really want is the destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria – to “destroy Syria as a people, an army, a whole nation”.
If there are further attacks – and there may well be – to deplete the arsenals of the Syrian army, it will be a gift of providence for the mercenaries/jihadis. Nasrallah is absolutely correct that the key objective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council-Israel coalition of the willing is to try to drag Syria into a total war. After an eventual Syrian response, the “solution” would be to carpet-bomb it to Iraqi levels.
Obama the Mujahid’s options
Whether the US/Israeli gambit will be successful is an open question. What it did was to postpone the crowning of Obama The Mujahid.
The netherworlds of US Think Tankland were oh so excited with the prospect of Obama bypassing the UN Security Council (as in Russia and China) a la Bush and unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Syria – so the US could engage in the requisite “suppression of the enemy air defense campaign”.
Nonsense, although the Brits and France have not given up within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in fact even trying to bypass NATO in imposing a no-fly zone.
The no-fly zone was being spun in Washington as a means to secure Syria’s chemical weapons. The problem is that Washington has lousy intel on where these chemical weapons are actually stockpiled. And to top it off, chemical weapons were probably used not by the government but by the “rebels” – according to widely respected UN investigator Carla del Ponte.
The Obama administration was also flirting with “direct lethal aid” to the rebels – as in anti-tank guided missiles and surface-to-air missiles.
Washington believes its own myth that it is “indirectly” involved in vetting and arming opposition groups in Syria. Since 2011, the weaponizing of Syrian mercenary/jihadi gangs has been sourced through the black market, stockpiles in Libya, and in Croatia. The CIA has been up to its neck all along. Many of these weapons are now in the hands of hardcore jihadis of the Jabhat al-Nusra kind.
The notion that the CIA is capable of vetting and weaponizing those gangs/mercenaries/jihadis to Washington’s benefit after the Bashar al-Assad government collapses is THE joke of the early 21st century. Just take a trip down memory lane to Afghanistan.
Or imagine these Syrian McJihadis, or You Tube mujahideen, equipped with some fine shoulder-held heat-seeking missiles wreaking havoc all across Southwest Asia.
So after much huff and puff, Obama ended up with something way more comfortable than a no-fly zone: targeted strikes – with jets and/or missiles, conducted by the Israelis. The blueprint could be Operation Desert Fox (the Bill Clinton-ordered bombing of Iraq in 1998.) The objective, to “send a clear message” to Syria.
The next bombings may target airfields, concentrations of aircraft, more weapons depots, tanks and artillery. Collateral damage, inevitably, will soar, proportionately to the level of provocation.
Former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, very close to the Clinton clan, has already gamed on ABC News that Obama is “leaning towards aerial strikes”. Yes; this is just the beginning. Mini-Shock and Awes await.
Just follow the roadmap
The question is why did it take so long. The destruction of Syria – as conceptualized by Sheikh Nasrallah – with the West once more collaborating with jihadi gangs, has been in the cards for years. See how Seymour Hersh outlined it in 2007. And see how badly the bipartisan Washington establishment craves regime change.
And Damascus, of course, is just a stop towards Tehran. The proverbial anonymous sources have leaked to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times in London that a “Defense Crescent” is becoming a reality.
It’s the same GCC-Israel element in the coalition of the willing in Syria, in this case ganging up to “counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions”. Turkey, the House of Saud, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel merrily partying in joint command-and-control centers to detect evil Iranian ballistic missiles.
Don’t know much about history. But what a wonderful world this would be. Presided by Obama The Mujahid.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column originally appeared on Asia Times.