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Friday, March 02, 2007

War with Syria on the horizon? Bet on it (my prediction below)

There are two ominous developments on the Syrian front today. First, Russia has decided to sell thousands of advanced weapons to Syria. Second, Syria has been constructing and moving infrastructure to its border with Israel that can be used in preparation for war.
Jerusalem aimed harsh criticism at Russia on Friday for its decision to supply Syria with advanced missiles, including anti-aircraft missiles and new anti-tank missiles that can penetrate Western-made tanks.

Senior Israeli officials expressed concerns that the arms would be transferred to Hizbullah, warning that missiles that were supplied to Syria in the past got into the hands of the group and were used against IDF tanks during the summer's war in Lebanon. [I suspect that Syria has purchased enough weapons for both itself and Hezbullah. But now that UNIFIL is sitting in Southern Lebanon acting as human shields, Israel cannot even go in and interrupt the arms flow without going over, through or around them. Thank you Foreign Minister Tzippi Feigele Livni for agreeing to the inane Security Council Resolution 1701. CiJ]

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that the supply of arms to Syria "encouraged Damascus to turn to war." [As if they need any encouragement. CiJ]

"Syria is moving between peace overtures and its temptations to go to war to which arms supply is an incentive," added Peres.

The vice premier went on to say that the UN had admitted that the weapons flow from Syria to Hizbullah was continuing, adding that Israel needed to exert pressure on Moscow to stop supplying Damascus with arms. [Like Israel is in a position to pressure the Russians. If the Russians have learned nothing from their own experience in Chechnya, how are we going to put pressure on them? CiJ]
Syria has spent the past few months constructing and moving infrastructure to its southern border that could be used to launch a war against Israel, senior defense officials have told The Jerusalem Post.

According to the officials, the Syrian military - while restricted in the number of troops it is allowed to deploy along the border - has moved military infrastructure, including fuel depots, closer to the frontier. The Syrians have also built structures in the area that could serve as weapons stores and military bases.

"There is no doubt that something out of the ordinary is taking place on the Syrian side of the border," a high-ranking official said.
Of course, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (yes, there's one on that border too) is taking the usual UN attitude:
The commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), deployed in Israel and Syria and responsible for maintaining the cease-fire between the two countries, told the Post in an interview that he had not noticed any military changes on the ground.

"From our point of view the situation is quiet and there is no indication from our side that anything has changed in last weeks or months," Maj.-Gen. Wolfgang Jilke said in a phone interview from Syria. UNDOF conducts weekly inspections of the demilitarized zones on the Israeli and Syrian sides of the Golan Heights.
The Post also notes that the IDF has drastically reduced its overflights of Lebanon. My guess is that this is because it believes that Hezbullah has finished re-arming and the IDF already knows where their weapons are hidden.

Haaretz describes the failed diplomacy that has resulted in Russia supplying arms to the Syrians:
According to various estimates, the deal is worth several hundred million dollars and involves several thousand advanced anti-tank missiles.

Syria secured anti-tank missiles from the Soviet Union for years, and later, from Russia. During the war in Lebanon last summer, Israel said it found proof that Syria had transferred to Hezbollah advanced Russian-made anti-tank missiles from its arsenal.

Evidence of the existence of these advanced missiles, the Kornet AT-14 and Metis AT-13, came in the form of crates discovered in the villages of Ghandurya and Farun, close to the Saluki River. The shipment documents showed that they had been procured by the Syrian army and transferred to Hezbollah.

Until Israel was able to produce such evidence, the authorities in Moscow refused to acknowledge that advanced Russian-made weapons were being transferred to Hezbollah.

But after the war, an Israeli delegation that included members of the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry presented the evidence to senior Russian officials.

The Russians promised to reevaluate some of the planned arms deals with Syria to ensure that advanced weaponry would not make its way to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.

However, there are now concerns in Israel that Russia will not keep its promise and that the deal with Damascus for the anti-tank missiles is near being finalized.

Syria stepped up its efforts to convince Russia to make the sale following the lessons it reached from the war in Lebanon. The fact that Hezbollah succeeded in delaying an Israeli armored column at the battle near the Saluki River with accurate fire from anti-tank missiles was noted favorably in Arab armies.

In retrospect, and following an IDF study, the number of tanks that were actually damaged during fighting in the war did not exceed several dozen, and in some of them the damage suffered was very minimal. But missile types like the Kornet and the Metis proved their destructive abilities and in some cases even penetrated the armor of the Merkava Mark IV, which is considered to be the best protected tank in the world.

The IDF found it difficult to counter this threat, particularly since the weapons could be fired accurately from distances of five kilometers
I've already gone out on a limb and said that I believe that there will be another war in the north by late spring or early summer. I'll go further: May 24. That's the day after the Shavuoth holiday here. I believe war will happen on the northern front no later than May 24. You heard it here first.

Meanwhile, our buffoonish 'defense' minister Amir Comrade Peretz is trying to convince our corrupt 'prime' minister Ehud K. Olmert that now is the time to further divide the country by evacuating 'outposts.' It's good that God watches over this country, because otherwise we wouldn't stand a chance.


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