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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Olmert trying to save Assad embarrassment

Maybe Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert's ridiculous offer on the Golan Heights this evening is just to try to save Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from embarrassment. At Hot Air, Captain Ed blogs a Los Angeles Times report on expected congressional testimony by the CIA tomorrow. The bottom line: Israel prevented yet another Arab country from acquiring nuclear weapons last fall.

CIA officials will tell Congress on Thursday that North Korea had been helping Syria build a plutonium-based nuclear reactor, a U.S. official said, a disclosure that could touch off new resistance to the administration’s plan to ease sanctions on Pyongyang.

The CIA officials will tell lawmakers that they believe the reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons but was destroyed before it could do so, the U.S. official said, apparently referring to a suspicious installation in Syria that was bombed last year by Israeli warplanes.

The CIA officials also will say that though U.S. officials have had concerns for years about ties between North Korea and Syria, it was not until last year that new intelligence convinced them that the suspicious facility under construction in a remote area of Syria was a nuclear reactor, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing plans for the briefing.


This answers a question that really hadn’t generated much doubt. Israel doesn’t usually risk air strikes into hostile Arab nations unless the stakes are significant. Even more revealing, Syria didn’t register any strenuous public objections after the clearly provocative attack on its nation. That could only mean that Syria had something so important to hide that it didn’t want international attention drawn to the site. That either meant a nuclear-weapons site or Saddam’s missing WMD.

Now we have our answer. It looks like Israel prevented another Osirak from completion, and with it a deadly shift in the balance of power in the Middle East.

The JPost reports that Israel is afraid that the Congressional testimony will 'embarrass' Assad.
Top defense officials expressed concern Wednesday that the details revealed in the congressional hearing would "embarrass" Syrian President Bashar Assad - who has refused to confirm reports on the nature of the site - and might create pressure from within his regime to respond militarily against Israel.

"Syria thinks it owes us for what happened in September," a senior Israeli defense official said, adding that the congressional hearing could also force Assad to reject peace talks with Israel to show leadership in the face of growing internal criticism.

"His public embarrassment will minimize the chances of him responding positively to the idea of peace talks with Israel," another official said.
So Olmert wanted to save Assad from 'embarrassment' and he did it - once again - by playing fast and loose with Israel's security.

I started to write this post as speculation - the title originally had a question mark at the end. But another JPost article confirms my suspicions.
One Israeli diplomatic official said that in a country where the press is very tightly controlled, it was necessary to ask why the Syrians had an interest in letting the story [about Olmert offering to give the Golan to Syria. CiJ] out now.

The official speculated that the reason may be linked to the congressional hearings in Washington scheduled for tomorrow, in which US Intelligence officials are widely expected to testify that North Korea was helping Syria build a plutonium-fueled reactor prior to Israel's strike on Syria on September 6.

According to this official, Syria - by raising expectations of some kind of possible deal with Israel - was trying to divert attention from that testimony, which is likely to harden congressional attitudes even further against Damascus.
Game, set and match.

I'm sure both Israel's and Syria's opposition will be thrilled to hear that Olmert is propping up the Assad regime.


At 1:34 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:35 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

One has to hand it to Ehud Olmert - no one is as skilled as snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory as him. It may well be the one thing his hitherto undistinguished tenure that will be recalled by history.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Robertcw72 said...

Does Israel have Treason laws? What constitutes Treason?


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