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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

IDF threatens to act to stop Syrian weapons smuggling to Hezbullah

IDF Northern District Commander Yair Golan told a conference at the Begin-Sadat Center on Wednesday that Israel may intervene militarily if it feels that it needs to stop Syria from arming Hezbullah.
Speaking at a conference marking the 30th anniversary of the First Lebanon War at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Golan said that the first challenge for Israel would be to obtain intelligence that such a transfer has taken place, but that once Israel knew it would need to consider action.

"Would it be wise to intercept such a transfer or would this be nonsense," Golan asked, presenting the dilemma Israel would face.

The senior officer said that Syria was a "failed state" and that terrorists were already "flourishing" within the country.

"Terror is already flourishing in Syria and the terror threat towards Israel is forming," he said. "It will not happen tomorrow but we need to be prepared. It is not hard to think of a reality in which al-Qaida elements already in Syria and fighting the regime will start to act against us. It is also possible that without a clear regime, Syria will also become another area of operations for Hezbollah."

Golan said that Iran was deeply concerned with the possibility that Bashar Assad will fall and is providing Syrian security forces with support, directly and via Hezbollah.

"Iran is here and we are fighting a daily war indirectly against Iran from Islamic Jihad in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon," he said. "Iran's influence in Syria is also felt. It is very concerned with the future of its ally Bashar Assad and is trying to help him directly and via Hezbollah."
Meanwhile, a new IDF assessment predicts that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will remain in power through 2013.
The IDF had originally predicted that Assad would fall by within the first year of the uprising in Syria which has already entered its 14th month. The most extreme prediction was voiced by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who repeatedly said over the past year that Assad will fall “within weeks”.

“We were wrong,” a senior IDF officer admitted on Wednesday. “We now understand that he will probably survive 2012 and maybe 2013 as well.”

The officer predicted the possibility that Syria will fall into disarray and that while Assad might lose control over certain parts of the country, he would remain in power in Damascus, protected by the military.

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