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Building case for a war
By Dr Musa Keilani April 27, 2010
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Observers cannot but agree with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s rejection of speculations that Syria has supplied Scud missiles to Hizbollah and his description of the charge as a fallacy similar to Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction that helped build the argument for the invasion of that country in 2003.

It was Israeli President Shimon Peres who first alleged that Hizbollah had received Scud missiles from Syria. And, as if a switch was thrown, the Western corporate media picked it and implicitly presented the charge as accurate and truthful.

Now, the administration of US President Barack Obama has taken a position that it does not really know the truth, but Syria could be subject to “all options” if it had supplied Scuds to Hizbollah.

Damascus has rejected the charge and accused Israel of building a case for military action against Syria and Lebanon. The implication of the allegation is that the alleged delivery of missiles to Iran-and Syria-backed Hizbollah is part of preparations for action against Israel in retaliation for a potential Israeli military strike aimed at wrecking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

For months now, Israel has been engaged in a war of words with Hizbollah saying the Lebanese group has stockpiled more than 40,000 military projectiles with various ranges for use against Israeli targets across the northern border from Lebanon.

Hizbollah leaders, including Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, have only fuelled the charges by their hard-line declarations designed to keep the nerves of ordinary Israelis jittering.

Formally, the Obama administration acknowledged that it has not ascertained that Syria has indeed supplied Scud missiles to Hizbollah. What it actually means is that it has no evidence to support the contention.

It should not be difficult at all for the US to determine whether there was any suspicious movement of weapons from Syria to Lebanon, what with the sophisticated satellite eyes in the sky and technical and human intelligence gathering operations on the ground.

We knew all along —  and we said so too —  that the contention that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was a blatant lie to help build a case for war against Iraq.

The reason was simple: satellite and electronic as well as human intelligence would have pinpointed the locations/movements of such weapons if they had existed. And Washington would not have hesitated to destroy them. It would not have waited for a full-scale invasion to do so.

There could be several reasons for the campaign against Syria. These include a drive by Israel and its friends in Washington to throw a spanner in the works of the ongoing process of US-Syria rapprochement.

US legislators and politicians are raising a big hue and cry over Obama’s outreach to Syrian President Bashar Assad based on realisation that Syria has to play a central role in regional affairs, including the elusive quest for peace in the Middle East.

Furthermore, Washington needs Syria to help bring about stability to neighbouring Iraq as the US military prepares to start a phased withdrawal in August. A US-Syrian rapprochement is not in the interests of Israel, which depends on a perpetual state of regional tension in order to keep the US bound to its pledge to protect and defend its “security.” The potential return of an American ambassador to Damascus after a five-year hiatus should indeed be most disturbing to Israel, particularly since the Syrian leadership is responding positively to Obama’s overtures.

Beyond that, Syria has clearly reaffirmed that it is willing to co-operate with the US in any effort to work out a fair and just peace agreement with Israel on the basis of the return of the Golan Heights to Syrian sovereignty. Israel is determined not to return the Golan to Syria, not because the strategic area is key to its “security” but because it is the source for more than two-thirds of its water.

It wants to preempt an atmosphere where the US could seek to resume its sponsorship of Israeli-Syrian peace talks, and hence the drive to cast a negative light on Damascus. And the pro-Israeli lobby has undertaken the job.

That approach should also be seen in the light of the certainty that Israel will launch military action against Iran. It could be safely assumed that Israel will launch simultaneous strikes at Hizbollah targets —  and possibly Syrian too —  when it hits at Iran. And the contention that Hizbollah is in possession of missiles capable of hitting anywhere in Israel sets the justifying ground for “pre-emptive” Israeli action against the Lebanese group and indeed the intensity of the strike.

Well, one thing is clear: All hell will break loose as and when Israel launches military action against Iran. An unpredictable sequence of events could unfold in the region and it is a foregone conclusion that Hizbollah would spring into action with whatever arsenal in its possession.

The Obama administration is indeed concerned. It is aware of the Israeli game plan and is trying to restrain the Jewish state from launching military strikes against Iran. But Washington also knows that Israel is waiting for the right opportunity to have a go at Iran —  with or without US endorsement —  and the US would find itself holding the baby in the aftermath of such an action.

Iran is closely watching the crisis on the US-Syria front. It knows that the US is trying to turn Damascus away from its close alliance with Tehran and that is why Washington insists on keeping the Syrians engaged in diplomacy.

Trust both the Israelis and the Iranians to undermine all chances of a US-Syria reconciliation. We might not know exactly what is going on, but we could bet a lot is happening behind the scenes.

There is little doubt that Syria, despite its tough talk, is not interested in any flare-up with Israel, but Damascus is also aware that it would be dragged into a conflict as and when Israel finds it fit to launch action against Iran. In the meantime, Israel and its friends are continuing to build the case against Syria and Hizbollah.

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