Monday, August 26, 2013

War Games in Syria

by Dr. Reuven Berko

The horrific pictures of the children of Ghouta, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus, laying side by side in deathly silence in ditches, are still splashed on screens across the world as evidence of atrocities that refuse to be silenced. Syrian opposition spokespeople continue to blame the Assad regime for using chemical weapons and demand foreign intervention, while the regime is claiming it has found evidence of chemical weapons stored in the rebels' tunnels.

The discussions at the U.N. Security Council this weekend only produced one sterile decision, that a U.N. delegation already in Damascus should be dispatched to the affected chemical zone to examine it before anyone is found guilty. Indeed, Angela Kane, the U.N. high representative for disarmament, accompanied by Swedish chemical weapons expert Professor Ake Sellstrom, arrived in Syria on Saturday.

The barrage of condemnations and accusations continues unabated. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius blames the Syrian regime; U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is asking that inspectors be allowed to investigate what appears to be a crime against humanity. German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly accused China and Russia for their obstinate stance against taking any measure that would objectively try to determine whether chemical weapons were used and by whom.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted his Qatari counterpart in Istanbul. These latter two adamant supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who support the Syrian rebels of course, demanded an immediate U.N. search in Syria to prevent the tampering of evidence. Even Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, described the use of chemical weapons as a crime against humanity, called the victims "shuhada" (martyrs), and self-righteously said these types of weapons should not be used.

As per his custom, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Syrian opposition for preventing the U.N. inspection team from investigating the disaster zone. In a telephone discussion with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, the two decided that the U.N. team would finally be allowed to enter Ghouta, with both sides guaranteeing that the inspectors will be allowed to work unhindered. This agreement signifies progress, as both the Syrian regime and its Russian patron agreed to the investigation despite their claim that the rebels were behind the chemical weapons attack.

Something dramatic, nevertheless, is changing. American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that national security officials and White House advisers would gather later this week to formulate their next steps depending on the outcome of the U.N. inspection. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said he would present President Barack Obama with target options in Syria, despite Russia's muscle-flexing.

Meanwhile, there are signs of heightened alert along Jordan's northern border with Syria, with the deployment of Patriot missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets, and multinational military preparations that include reinforcements and the fortification of the American headquarters in Amman -- all of this outside the framework of the U.N. and the Security Council. The Arab media claims that within this framework army commanders will examine the possibilities for acting in Syria if the order from Washington is given. On the naval front, the Americans ordered four warships stationed in the eastern Mediterranean to be prepared for battle and a fifth battleship is being deployed to the area.

The Americans are unable to help the divided Syrian opposition because most of its fighting force comprises radical Islamic terrorist groups that cannot serve as an alternative to Assad. These groups have recently expanded their activities across the Lebanese border, attacking Hezbollah, and they in turn were hit back in a double mosque bombing in Tripoli on Friday.

The composition of the military force in Jordan, including Western and Muslim nations, resembles the umbrella of legitimacy provided by the coalition prior to the U.S. attack against Iraq in the Second Gulf War. Senior officials in the Syrian regime warned that they would not let the West use the fraudulent chemical "trick" against them, which they claim was used against Saddam Hussein as a justification for invading Iraq.

The tense multinational standoff surrounding Syria is reminiscent of the U.S.-Soviet standoff during the Cuban missile crisis. That crisis, which began on October 14, 1962 and ended 14 days later, could have realistically ignited a war between the two superpowers.

It appears as if the West is willing to act in Syria. The time has come for the Americans and their allies to hit hard at the criminal Syrian regime and a nuclear ambitious Iran. The Russians will get the message.

We're lucky that someone already destroyed Syria's nuclear reactor.

Dr. Reuven Berko


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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