Tehran and DamascusDEBKAfile’s sources: Tehran and Damascus are gearing up for a pre-emptive Syrian attack on Israel to ward off a US strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.
October 7, 2006
Our military and Washington sources read as preparatory justification the Syrian ruler Bashar Asad’s statement Saturday, Oct. 7, that he expects an Israeli attack.
He was speaking in an interview to Kuwaiti paper al-Anba.
Asad’s Iranian-backed war plan would serve the purpose of forcing the Americans to divide their military assets between a strike against Iran and the defense of their allies in the Persia Gulf, Israel and US forces in Iraq. Both are seriously looking at a Syrian attack on the Golan which would escalate into a full-blown Syrian-Israeli war and a second Hizballah assault from Lebanon.
Asad’s remark that during the Lebanon hostilities, he was under pressure from the Syrian population to go to war against Israel and liberate the Golan is the most direct threat of belligerency of all his four Golan statements in the last month. He is implying that he stood up to the pressure once but may not do so again. And for the benefit of the Americans, the Europeans, the Saudis and the Egyptians - all of whom are pretty fed up with him – Asad is posing as the picture of self-restraint; anyone else in his place, he implies, would have taken advantage of the Lebanon war and made a grab for the Golan. Therefore, he is saying, he deserves to be treated with the respect due to a strategic asset by Western and moderate Arab powers instead of being targeted for an ouster.
The Syrian ruler would not threaten war without guarantees from Iran. According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Asad and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are prompted by the following motives:
1. Tehran is not prepared to wait passively for the Americans to build up their assault force in the Gulf and strike its nuclear facilities. A pre-emptive attack would suit them better.
2. Tehran and Damascus have not missed the debilitating crisis in which Israel’s political and military leadership are sunk since the Lebanon war. They do not propose to wait until the IDF pulls itself together enough to handle fresh aggression.
3. Both accept Israel’s deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ assessment that Israel’s cities are not prepared for missile attack. Iran and Syria take it for granted that Israeli leaders understand they cannot afford to launch missiles against either one of them for fear of reprisal in kind.
4. Syria believes that if Hizballah could stand up to the Israeli army in Lebanon, its commandoes can capture sections of the Golan and walk off with an easy victory.
5. Tehran figures that the Bush administration is coming to the end of its patience in Iraq and preparing for a major review of its position there. The influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner, said Friday that Iraq's government had 60 to 90 days to control the violence that threatens civil war or the United States would have to reconsider its options. This gives the Maliki government in Baghdad up to December or January to de-escalate if not halt the sectarian war engulfing the country.
Iran, Syria and Hizballah would not be averse to disrupting the American Iraq timeline by attacking Israel and putting the Bush administration on the spot, forced to address three warfronts simultaneously.