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Friday, April 16, 2010

Scud transfer from Syria to Hezbullah just the latest chapter

This week's transfer of long-range Scud missiles from Syria to Hezbullah is just the latest installment in a long list of weapons transfers from Syria to the terror organization. Here are some other recent transfers.

Weapons have been flowing from Syria to Lebanon for decades. However, in recent months, reports have indicated that the sophistication of the weapons systems provided to Hezbollah has grown. In October 2009, the British military magazine Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Syria had supplied Hezbollah with M-600 rockets, a Syrian variant of the Iranian Fatah 110, whose rudimentary guidance system can carry a 500-kilogram payload to a target 250 kilometers away.

In early March, the head of the research division of the Israel Defense Forces' Military Intelligence, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that Syria had recently provided Hezbollah with the Igla-S man-portable air defense systems. The shoulder-fired weapon can bring down the Israeli drones, helicopter gunships, and low-flying fighter aircraft that routinely fly over Lebanon to gather intelligence.

Reports of increased weapons transfers surfaced again following Ford's nomination hearing on March 16. Rumors circulated around Capitol Hill that Syria had delivered Scud-D missiles to Lebanon. These reports did not specify whether the missiles were Russian Scud-Ds or Syrian varieties of Scud-Ds, which are upgraded versions of older Scud models that Syria reportedly began producing in mass quantities during the last year. Both missiles have a range of up to 700 kilometers, which means they could hit most, if not all, Israeli cities even if fired from northern Lebanon. Both can carry chemical or biological warheads.

Less than a week after a Feb. 17 visit by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns -- the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Damascus in more than five years -- Assad hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah at a banquet in Damascus. During the visit, Assad openly mocked U.S. efforts to distance Syria from Iran and stated that his government is "preparing ourselves for any Israeli aggression."

These weapons transfers appear to mark a continuation of Assad's belligerent stance. While Lebanon has long been the battlefield between Syria and Israel, the transfer of these weapons may indicate that the Syrian president is calculating that the next war with Israel could involve strikes on Syrian territory. Conversely, others have postulated that the transfers could also be designed to put pressure on the United States to get Israel back to the negotiating table -- a bizarre tactic that is clearly not working.

'Engagement' with Syria has really put a stop to all those arms transfers, hasn't it?


At 3:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe I should move the Israel and run for PM. I would tell Syria that if one scud is fired from Lebanon into Israel, Israel will destroy Syria's military, most of its infrastructure and eliminate Assad and his family and their buildings.

As for Gaza, I'd tell Hamas that the next time a rocket is fired into Israel, off goes the electricity; and the next time, water, too.

At 2:09 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Benny Morris has written an important article about what the Iranian nuclear threat means to Israel. I think this is the essence of what it means for the Jewish people today:

"Obama is, no doubt, well aware of this asymmetric timetable. Which makes his prohibition against an Israeli preemptive strike all the more immoral. He knows that any sanctions he manages to orchestrate will not stop the Iranians. (Indeed, Ahmadinejad last week said sanctions would only fortify Iran's resolve and consolidate its technological prowess.) Obama is effectively denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America's, life that is on the line."

"Perhaps Obama has privately resigned himself to Iran's nuclear ambitions and believes, or hopes, that deterrence will prevent Tehran from unleashing its nuclear arsenal. But what if deterrence won't do the trick? What if the mullahs, believing they are carrying out Allah's will and enjoy divine protection, are undeterred?"

"The American veto may ultimately consign millions of Israelis, including me and my family, to a premature death and Israel to politicide. It would then be comparable to Britain and France's veto in the fall of 1938 of the Czechs defending their territorial integrity against their rapacious Nazi neighbors. Within six months, Czechoslovakia was gobbled up by Germany."

I don't see Israel allowing itself to be pushed into the same position the Czechs were pushed into in 1938. Israel will not allow the world's indifference to be translated into another Holocaust upon the Jewish people.

Morris has more to say here. Read it now and read it all.

I'm convinced Prime Minister Netanyahu knows exactly what is stake. While Israel can live with American anger, the Jewish State cannot live with an Iranian nuclear bomb. I leave to Morris to sum up in his own words what lies ahead: "But, from the Israeli perspective, these are necessarily marginal considerations when compared with the mortal hurt Israel and Israelis would suffer from an Iranian nuclear attack. Netanyahu's calculations will, in the end, be governed by his perception of Israel's existential imperatives. And the clock is ticking."

"The clock is ticking." Indeed.


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