Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The Guns of October?

I'm sure that by now all of you have heard about Israel's strike against the Islamic Jihad base near Damascus, as well as the sudden outbreak of Hezbollah violence on the Northern Border, which most everyone seems to think is an act of retaliation. Obviously, its too early to reach serious conclusions about what's about to happen, and I think something is about to happen, but a few preliminery impressions might be in order.

Firstly, Syria is not going to let this go without a military response. Basher Assad is too weak and too new on the job to let himself be seen as a weak-willed beaurocrat being pushed around by the Israelis. His government, already seriously unstable, may very well collapse under the weight of his various competing ministers, who are basically running the country already. The internal schisms within Syria's antiquated one-party government (it is the closest thing to Stalinism still existing this side of North Korea) may not be able to survive a serious military confrontation with Israel.

Of course, Syria's been playing with fire for years, supporting Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and a host of other groups, as well as facilitating Iranian financial and military support for them. Assad has showed himself astonishingly oblivious to the inevitable consequences of this kind of reckless brinksmanship (as his father often did before him), and seems to fancy himself a leader in the great Arab struggle against Israel and the Imperialist West, an attitude which, needless to say, has been a recipie for disaster in this part of the world. He nearly got in hot water with the United States after the Iraq War for his various belligerancies, and we may be seeing the beginning of a comuppance which everyone has seen coming except, apparently, him.

Secondly, we are seeing a major change in strategy on the part of the Sharon government. Sharon has, thus far, refrained from attacking terrorist bases outside of the territories. Unfortunately, the confrontation with Syria and its support of terror against Israel was bound to happen. There was only so long Israel could allow Syria's double game to go one before taking action. Sharon appears to be pursuing the same strategy as he did with the Palestinians in the first two years of the intifada, a patient push-pull leading to a widening of the political maneuvering room of the IDF. In simple terms: the first time the IDF entered Palestinian cities, there was an enormous political outcry, the second time the response was much more muted, now the IDF operates freely in Palestinian territory largely without comment from the international community and, most importantly, with the tacit consent of the United States. Sharon may be banking on the same phenomenon here. The next time he attacks Palestinian terror bases in Syria - and there will be a next time - the criticism will likely be far more muted, as the world's attention span is, after all, a short one. Sharon is also sending a very serious signal to the Arab neighbors. He is sending them the same message he sent back in the '50s, when he led the commando Unit 101 under David Ben-Gurion's command: we will not be moved, if you threaten us, the price exacted will be prohibitively high. I think he is in earnest and I think the strikes will continue.

The big question is: will this lead to a regional war? The only way that could happen, taking the slovenly state of Syria's military into consideration, is if Egypt abrogates its peace treaty with Israel and enters in a war with us. I think this possibility, if remote, is not entirely unthinkable. Previously a taboo subject, it has already begun to be spoken of in serious terms by the Egyptian intelligensia, and if, as I think is likely, fundamentalist movements in Egypt rise exponentially in political power and influence over the next decade, the threat becomes more and more real. However, the real threat is a reckless retaliatory attack by Syria on Israel soil. This would probably lead to a full-scale confrontation with the IDF, one that Assad simply cannot win given the present state of his forces. This could lead to major upheavels both in Syria and Egypt with a possible fundamentalist takeover in the latter (an event which is, I believe, ultimately inevitable anyways). It may be that regional war is an unavoidable event given present circumstances, but, at the moment, the question is in the hands of Bashar Assad. Ironically enough, the man least likely to make the right decision. Fate is rarely kind in the Middle East, lets hope this is one of the exceptions.

3 Comments:

Blogger oakleyses said...

lululemon, sac guess, nike huarache, air max, hollister, sac burberry, sac louis vuitton, new balance pas cher, hollister, vanessa bruno, longchamp, sac louis vuitton, barbour, north face, mac cosmetics, hogan outlet, polo ralph lauren, vans pas cher, louboutin, ray ban sunglasses, nike tn, sac hermes, nike free pas cher, oakley pas cher, timberland, nike roshe run, north face, louis vuitton, longchamp, ralph lauren, michael kors, air force, nike roshe, nike air max, nike blazer, hollister, nike free, michael kors, sac longchamp, polo lacoste, ray ban pas cher, nike trainers, michael kors pas cher, converse pas cher, louis vuitton uk, vans shoes, air jordan, mulberry, nike roshe run, abercrombie and fitch

6:27 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

nfl jerseys, giuseppe zanotti, wedding dresses, iphone 6 cases, instyler, jimmy choo outlet, bottega veneta, baseball bats, canada goose, new balance shoes, uggs outlet, marc jacobs, ugg, babyliss pro, canada goose uk, abercrombie and fitch, insanity workout, chi flat iron, ugg australia, air max, moncler, p90x, mcm handbags, moncler outlet, north face jackets, soccer jerseys, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, ugg pas cher, moncler, hollister clothing store, ghd, soccer shoes, north face outlet, celine handbags, mont blanc, asics running shoes, reebok outlet, canada goose, rolex watches, beats by dre, herve leger, canada goose, ugg boots, ferragamo shoes, valentino shoes, moncler, birkin bag, canada goose jackets, ugg boots

6:28 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

coach factory outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet, prada handbags, longchamp handbags, michael kors outlet, tiffany and co, true religion jeans, air max, jordan shoes, louboutin shoes, oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, nike shoes, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, louboutin outlet, tory burch outlet, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton handbags, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store online, coach purses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade handbags, tiffany and co, gucci outlet, longchamp handbags, louboutin, burberry outlet, coach outlet, christian louboutin shoes, air max, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, louis vuitton outlet stores, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet, longchamp outlet

6:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home