With the civil war in Syria, civil strife in Egypt and Sunni Moslems opposing Shiite Moslems in Lebanon, the Middle East is looking like a disaster area. The so-called “peace process” was almost out of the headlines, as most of last week’s events were overshadowed and by the use of non-conventional means of warfare in Syria. Pictures of the victims of the chemical weapons filled internet sites around the world and the media replayed the photos several times with each news report. There was almost world-wide outrage over the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians and as of this writing, the talk of international military involvement in Syria, and related maneuvers, is creating a war of nerves between the superpowers. With everyone focused on Syria, the turmoil in Egypt was almost overlooked, with little attention having been given to release from prison of Hosni Mubarak, the deposed President of Egypt, who remains under house arrest pending his retrial on various charges.
Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria – did Assad kill his own people?
The media continue to jump all over the story of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, where Assad is accused of using the same and killing over a thousand civilians. Assad, for his part, has repeatedly said that he would not use such weapons against his own people. As noted in TWTW of last week:
“As expected, Syrian state television denied the reports and officials of Assad’s government said that if they had such chemical weapons, they would never use them against Syrians. This, of course, leads to the question: Against whom would Syria be willing to use deadly nerve gas? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that Israel is within the target range. Syria is not a signatory to the international treaty that bans chemical weapons, and it is widely believed that it has caches of undeclared mustard gas, sarin and VX nerve agents.”
Some question the logic of such use, particularly so close to Damascus, where there is also a heavy concentration of government forces. If Assad did order the use of chemical agents against his own population, he could always blame the rebels, who want to overthrow his regime. On the other hand, if the insurgents managed to get their hands on the gas and used it to blame Assad’s government, the likelihood is that it would be with the goal of getting the international community sufficiently aroused and angered that it would intervene militarily and help the anti-government forces to topple Assad’s regime. Still others claim that the entire “use of chemical weapons” argument is a sham, as the victims, particularly the children, did not display the normal “evidence” of vomit, urine, feces, convulsions and facial contortions, or bloodshot and terrified eyes, all of which would be consistent with exposure to a lethal nerve gas. Indeed, the media’s depiction of mothers placing their children into clean, white sheets, showed them doing so without emotion, no tears and no wailing, which is usually what we see on television screens following the sudden death of family members as a result of armed conflict. Add to this the fact that some of the photos were supposed to have been posted on YouTube on August 20th, when the alleged chemical attack was said to have occurred the following day, and we have a major question mark whether such weapons were used and, if so, by whom?
It appears, however, that chemical agents were, in fact, used. Despite what appear to be staged clips from one of the body-collection areas, other videos from the street indicate that at least the victims depicted there, whose bodies were being carried by others, were suffering from a chemical attack. Whether the use of the gas was authorized by Assad, or a senior member of his regime, or whether it was used by those seeking to overthrow him, the fact is that only a madman with no conscience, and therefore no scruples, was behind its use.
Apparently, the widespread use of the chemical agent was enough for the U.S. to get its engine in gear and start to move. After allowing his “red lines” to be blatantly crossed, President Obama has finally given instructions to four warships stationed in the Mediterranean, as part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, to be prepared for battle, while a fifth battleship is also being sent to this region.
While the U.S. is trying to coordinate with various allies for a potential, joint military endeavor, Syrian President Assad remains confident, particularly with the backing from Russia, who opposes a military strike against Syria and urges the U.S. and its allies to exercise restraint. It is to be remembered that Russia, along with China, has repeatedly prevented the U.N. Security Council from acting against Assad, asserting that the West should not interfere in Syria’s civil war.
Assad and members of his regime, for their part, continue to increase their threats of immediate retaliation against Israel, in the event that Syria is attacked by the U.S. and other countries. As stated by Kahalf al-Muftah, a senior member of Syria’s Ba’ath party, who until recently served as the country’s deputy information minister: “***[If] the U.S. or any West national launches a military campaign against Syria, then Israel will find itself under an extensive Syrian attack”. He added that Syria has “advanced weapons aimed at several strategic Israeli targets. Israel is standing behind the belligerence against Syria and whoever encourages belligerence should not be surprised when he comes under fire…The Middle East will become engulfed in never-ending flames if Israel and the United States use chemical weapons as a pretext for their aggressions. We won’t sit with our arms crossed while aggression against Syria becomes dangerous, affecting the security of the whole world, not just the Middle East. It’s possible to say unambiguously that a process of war against Syria could lead to an all-out world war. The responsibility for that will rest on the U.S. and the Zionist entity’s shoulders.“ (emphasis, my emphasis)
Although Israel has made every effort to remain out of the fighting in Syria, nevertheless, it is clearly to our advantage if Assad falls, so that the center piece of the unholy triumvirate of Tehran, Damascus and Beirut (Hizb’allah) is removed. Still, as noted, whether we are in or whether we stay out of any military involvement, Assad will seek to hold us accountable and, if he believes that he is going down, he will have nothing to lose by unleashing Syria’s vast missile supply in our direction. The expressed concern is over Syria’s possible missile launch against Israel. But, no one is expressing, at least not openly, the possibility that Syria’s allies, like the Hizb’allah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the mullahs in Tehran, will join Damascus in a missile bombardment against us. Also, we should not rule out the potential involvement of Russia and China in a face-off against the U.S. and its allies, who will cooperate in a joint attack against Syria. Then, of course, the question would be whether a joint military effort against Syria would be with the intention to remove Assad from power, or to strike various locations where the cache of weapons are located. Would it be an air assault only, or would allied forces be foolish enough to send in ground troops, in the middle of a religiously-motivated, civil war? But, the threshold question is whether there is concrete evidence that Assad was the one who is responsible for the use of chemical agents against his own people. Without an affirmative answer, any attack upon Syria, however well-intentioned, could generate more problems than it would solve.
Israel began a pre-arranged, two-day military exercise in the Golan Heights today, Tuesday, and has placed Patriot anti-missile batteries in Haifa on alert. With the threat of military involvement against Syria looming larger each day, there has been a significant increase in the number of Israeli requests for gas masks. It is reported that to date, over 5 millions gas masks have been distributed to Israelis.
Peace negotiations – continuing despite violence by “Palestinians”
This past Monday, elite, undercover Border Police units went into Qalandiya, which is near Jerusalem, to arrest a “Palestinian” terror suspect, who was freed as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit. When the Israeli armored jeeps entered the camp, they were attacked by rocks and firebombs by more than 1,500 “Palestinians”. The undercover unit called for back-up cover and evacuation. At first, the Border Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the mob, but when the situation seriously deteriorated and their lives were endangered, they fired live rounds, resulting in the deaths of 3 rioters and some 15 others who were injured.
As a result of this incident, it was first reported that the “Palestinian” delegation hinted that “peace negotiations” would be suspended, but no official announcement to that effect was made. On the same day that the above incident took place, the 4th round of negotiations took place. No details were released and the veil of secrecy continues over the meetings. I have this gnawing feeling that we are going to wake up one morning to a not-surprising “surprise” announcement that an agreement has been reached to give away the heartland of Israel and that we need to uproot and relocate hundreds of thousands of Israelis. The liberal, mainstream media is the first to jump on a story where the government withholds information which the leftist media thinks the public should have. But, when it comes to dividing the State of Israel and giving Judea and Samaria to our enemies to set up an enemy state in our midst, the media has little or nothing to say about negotiations that are kept secret from the public.
Then, there is the turmoil in Egypt, the threat of Iran becoming nuclear, the struggles of the Hizb’allah in Lebanon and Nasrallah’s continued threats to blanket Israel with missiles “from Dan to Beersheva”. We’ll leave these for next time.
Bomb-proof backpack for children?
The new Israeli school year started today, Tuesday. Tens of thousands of new backpacks were purchased. But, with the various tensions in the region, an Israeli designer has created a “bomb-proof” backpack, which is intended to act as a personal shelter in the event of a terror strike or other emergency. that can also function as a protective vest against explosions.
And THAT Was The Week That Was.
“Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You…” (2 Chronicles 14:11)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. ‘May they prosper who love you’.” (Psalm 122:6)
Be blessed and be a blessing.
Have a simply great week.
p.s.: In case anyone missed prior updates of The Week That Was, copies of updates that were sent out from the end of January, 2013, until now, can be viewed at: http://www.twtw.co.il
נשלח מה-iPad שלי