Crossfire War – DAMASCUS – TEHRAN – BEIRUT WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Damascus – Tehran – Riyadh – Ankara – Baghdad – Tripoli – Khartoum – Beirut/Jerusalem – Cairo – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Syria Claims Israel Air Force Violated Syrian Airspace and Dropped Bombs on Empty Area – Claims Anti-Aircraft Fire “repulsed” Israeli Planes – Israel Denies Violation
Night Watch: RAKKA – Debka reports Israel is under alert and leaves cancelled for the Israel Air Force (IAF) and Air Defense Forces as Damascus claims Israeli warplanes deliberately violated Syrian airspace in the Kamishli area where the borders of Syria-Turkey-Iraq meet then dropped bombs on an empty area. Reuters also reports it was in the area of Tal al-Abiad 100 miles (160 km) north of the Syrian city of Rakka. The timing of this is no coincidence. Less than a week ago crossfirewar.com reported Damascus congratulated Beirut on defeating the suicide unit Fatah al-Islam that had been fighting part of Lebanon’s army at the Palestinian refugee camp – city Nahr al-Bared outside Tripoli in northern Lebanon near the Syria border. Tehran – Damascus caused the fighting which they knew would convince the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora the French and the West could do nothing to secure Lebanon and as the European forces in UNIFIL in south Lebanon made no move to support Siniora and defeat Fatah al-Islam Siniora had no choice but to agree to more of the opposition’s demands for new elections. [DEBKA]
Since Iran-Syria have taken control over Lebanon, through groups they support, Hezbollah and other political militias including Christian nationalists, Tehran-Damascus are now ready to target Israel. So after issuing congratulations Damascus then stated Lebanon could now concentrate on its main enemy Israel. Even the head of Lebanon’s army General Michel Suleiman said Lebanese soldiers should aim their rifles at Israel. Confrontations after this incident will give them their opportunity. It was the military – security axis Iran-Syria formally established last year, after years of preparation, which began last year’s limited regional war (June 2006) to test Israel’s response to a threat from two fronts, Gaza to the south of Israel and Hezbollah north just across the Lebanese border. When Hezbollah emerged from the war with more support throughout Lebanon, including a lot of Lebanon’s army, then Tehran-Damascus knew at least most of Lebanon would support any war with Israel and reduced relations with the West. That is why Syria President Bashar al-Assad was photographed in a military uniform recently and Damascus is now claming this air space violation. AFP quoted the official statement from Syria, “Enemy Israeli planes penetrated Syrian air space from the Mediterranean Sea heading towards the northeast, breaking the sound barrier. Our air defense repulsed them and forced them to leave…after the Israeli planes dropped ammunition without causing human or material loss. The Syrian Arab Republic warns the government of the Israeli enemy against this aggressive action and reserves the right to respond in any way it deems appropriate.” [TURKISHPRESS]
I suspect Damascus and Tehran are planning the next violation, which they will use to justify Syria’s armed response-offensive with Iran immediately stating Tehran’s support and not just diplomatic support but military. Iran will also call on Islamic governments to do what they can in support of Syria and combat Israeli aggression. Reuters mentioned an Israeli military spokesperson responded by saying, “It is not our custom to respond to these kinds of reports.” Jerusalem has imposed a news blackout and a spokesperson for Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced there would be no comments other than the official military response. Israel military officials have expressed concern over Syria’s reinforcements of it positions and arms buildup. After last summer’s war President Assad was beside himself as he spoke in front of Syria’s Parliament and proclaimed Hezbollah had won a great victory, therefore, he concluded, it would be easy for Syria to retake the Golan Heights lost to Israel in the Six-Day war of June 1967. [SWISSINFO]
I would be surprised if Tehran really shares Assad’s obsession with the Golan but they I suspect have encouraged Syria to use the obsession to direct a larger regional war this year and one Tehran will enter amidst spectacular publicity designed to generate more Islamic radicalism throughout West Asia (Middle East) and not for the sake of destroying Israel or retaking the Golan, but to use to remove the last Islamic head of state still with military relations with the West, Egypt President Hosni Mubarak. Tehran may realize, though Egypt’s military operates under divided loyalties, a substantial part of it is still loyal to the President and will have to be defeated. With Damascus’ pre-planned response to these claimed violations the events-war that will set off the regional chain reaction are now taking place. When the smoke clears, though Israel will still be in place and very much intact, Islamic governments will be more cooperative with Tehran than with the West.