Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre: Tehran – Damascus/Jerusalem – Cairo; Iran – Syria Prepare Next Round – New Militant Group in Syria to Target Golan – Egypt State Media Attacks Syria
Night Watch: DAMASCUS – Debka intelligence sources in Washington and Jerusalem report that Syria – Iran are taking steps to cause the next round of fighting against Israel intended to spread beyond southern Lebanon into the Golan Heights, the area seized by Israel from Syria in June 1967. For the third time in two days Syria President Bashar al-Assad has criticized the positioning of UNFIL forces along the Syrian-Lebanese border to prevent the rearming of Hezbollah. Assad has declared such proposals a hostile act directed at Damascus and has threatened to close the border to foreign forces, preventing their deployment and the UN peace mission. [DEBKA]
Debka also reported that on Wednesday an Iranian official announced the emergence, in Syria, of a new Islamic militant unit, designed to attack the Israel Defence Force (IDF) in Golan, in the same way Hezbollah did in south Lebanon. No timetable was given for the attacks but already Israel has engaged in some artilllery shelling into the Shebaa farms area where Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet. Intelligence reports indicate that, according to the next round scenario, Syria is to engage in border skirmishes with the IDF which is probably why, just before the ceasefire, the news mentioned Syrian tanks already positioned on the Golan border, while Hezbollah is to resume attacks against IDF positions in southern Lebanon.
But I would not be surprised if Jerusalem decides to throw the timetable off by launching a pre-emptive strike against Syrian-Iranian positions in the Golan, in order to avoid the mistake of waiting six years before they finally decided to remove Hezbollah who had made massive preparations and had become an extension of Iran’s military. Israel needs to use the same vigilance she used in 1967 with its successful pre-emptive strike that year which won the war in six days.
Tehran has already stated that they will support any of Syria’s military initiatives but it also implies Damascus will be playing the lead military role. In other words there will be no massive military reinforcements coming from Iran. Perhaps Tehran will send a few units as a symbolic gesture amidst a blaze of holy publicity. The five week military maneuvers Iran is staging does not envision massive troop commitments or missile launchings against Israel. After all Assad did say it will be Syrian hands that will liberate the Golan. Tehran seems to be hinting they will only launch missile attacks against Israel from Iran, if Israel attacks Iran first.
As a parallel development, indicating that Cairo will enter the next round against Damascus-Tehran, Egypt state media has responded angrily to Assad’s public criticism of Arab governments who did not do more to support Hezbollah. AFP reports that the Egyptian government daily, Al-Gumhuriya has just published an editorial addressed to Syria’s Ambassador that states, “…the Egyptian army has done much to save you over the course of history. While your heroic army, protector of the homeland, has a weighty record of Lebanese massacres…and you have killed thousands of your citizens in Hama and Aleppo when they rose up against the regime of father Assad.” [ASHARQALAWSAT]
Al-Gumhuriya is referring to the killing of thousands of Islamic fundamentalists in those two Syrian cities during their demonstrations during the 1980’s against Assad’s father, President Hafez al-Assad. Thousands were indeed killed. It was the demonstrators way of supporting the principles of the Khomeini revolution in Iran 1979. Though Hafez al-Assad agreed with the fundamentalist’s foreign policy of Islamic unity and military cooperation between Muslim states, he did not want them controlling Syria’s national politics and therefore removing him and Syria’s political establishment.
And there you have the fundamental difference between Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and other Islamic governments. They were all confronted, during the 1980’s, by the new wave of Islamic radicalism as a result of Khomeini and were against any of their interference in national politics, but they saw the potential of fundamentalism internationally and the world’s willingness to arm them, Islamic states, with state of the art weaponry. Therefore they embrace the foreign policy of fundamentalism, the Jihad, under Tehran’s direction.
Cairo’s response will cause the next round to eventually be concentrated on removing Mubarak.