Apr 20 2010

Israel to Syria: Don’t tread on me, and don’t let your clients do it either

Category: Hizbullah,Israel,middle east,Obama,Syriaharmonicminer @ 8:38 pm

‘Hizbullah a division of Syrian army’

Israel has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that any missile attack against Israel by Hizbullah would result in retaliation against Syria, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

According to the UK paper, Israel’s missive – sent earlier in April – defined Hizbullah as a “division of the Syrian army,” a military branch of Damascus in Lebanon.

The warning was reportedly delivered to Damascus by a third party.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Al-Hayat reported that Hizbullah minister Nawaf al-Moussawi had said Israel’s accusations against Syria were only a ploy meant to divert attention from its failure to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians.

Last week, the Kuwait-based Al-Rai reported that Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Hizbullah. According to the report, the missiles were recently transferred to Lebanon, prompting a stern Israeli warning that it would consider attacking both Syrian and Lebanese targets in response.

Scud ballistic missiles have a longer range than the rockets previously used by Hizbullah against Israel, and can carry chemical warheads.

On Thursday, the Kuwaiti paper reported that Hizbullah had confirmed receiving a shipment of Scud missiles from Syria. “It’s only natural for Lebanon to have the means to defend itself against an Israeli attack,” Hizbullah official Hussein Haj Hassan told Al-Manar TV on Friday.

The Syrian leadership has consistently denied the charge.

On Saturday, Reuters quoted US officials as saying that while the “intent” to transfer ballistic missiles to Hizbullah existed, it was doubtful such a transfer had actually taken place.

Obama may be about to find out what happens when Israel senses, correctly, that Obama is abandoning it. When Israel no longer feels a significant pressure from the USA to restrain Israel’s enemies, we should expect Israel to take matters into its own hands.

If Obama is smart, he will make it clear to Syria that the USA will also consider a Hizbullah attack on Israel as a Syrian attack, and take steps accordingly.  He doesn’t have to do it publicly.  But he should do it diplomatically, even via “back-channels.”  And if he’s smart, he’ll find a way to let Israel know that he has done so.

But he may be blinded by his presuppositions.

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