In the Arena

The Israel-Syria Thing

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This is uninformed speculation, BUT…I wouldn’t be surprised if the Israeli strike on Syria two weeks ago had nothing at all to do with nuclear material. What we know is this: the North Koreans were supplying missiles and missile technology to the Syrians. Hezbollah unleashed a surprising array of missiles in its war with Israel during the summer of 2006. The missiles were assumed to be of Iranian origin, but it’s not impossible that they were being produced by the Syrian missile-building facility near the Turkish border.

Thus, the Israeli attack may have had a pragmatic purpose–interrupting Hezbollah’s missile supply line–and a symbolic purpose, sending a message to Iran that Israel is still willing and able to launch a pre-emptive strike. Remember, the strike was accomplished without any casualties on the ground.

Finally, the question must be asked: What on earth would the Syrians do with a nuclear weapon? Damascus and Tel Aviv are practically neighbors. If the Syrians nuked Tel Aviv, Damascus would be irradiated (as well as Jerusalem, site of the al-Aksa mosque and southern Lebanon, home to Hezbollah). To say nothing of the inevitable Israeli nuclear response. The Assad family is too busy making money and trying to hold onto power in a predominantly Sunni country to start getting all aggressive.

The political impact here has been fodder for the neocons here hoping to foment World War IV. But I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, in the end, this strike had nothing at all to do with nukes.