The world could slip back into a Cold War over Syria and the sprawling Arab country could break up into two or three warring parts, with unforeseeable consequences for the Middle East, a senior Israeli military commander said.
"Support for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad from Russia and China is taking us back to the Cold War," he said this week, on condition of anonymity. "The world is not a one-man show."
|US Secretary of State Clinton and Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov pass each other before bilateral talk at Conference in Munich few weeks ago. REUTERS|
"There can be real chaos. It can take years," he said.
The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.
Hundreds of civilians, rebels and members of Assad's army and security forces have been killed since a ceasefire deal brokered two months ago was meant to halt the bloodshed.
Russia and China backed the United Nations plan to send in military observers to check on adherence to the truce, but have refused to consider Western calls for a U.N. Security mandate that would authorize force, including military intervention.
The West has repeatedly said it has no plan to intervene, but has not ruled it out.
"In Syria, a proxy war is under way with Iran supplying arms to its Alawite client and Turkey actively arming the opposition," says Can Kasapoglu, a Turkish analyst who is currently a visiting fellow at Israel’s Begin-Sadat think tank.
The rebel Free Syrian Army is getting support from Sunni states Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all allies of Washington.
Recent video of spectacularly successful attacks destroying Syrian tanks suggests the rebels may have obtained modern anti-tank weapons more powerful than rocket-propelled grenades.
Washington says Russia may be sending attack helicopters to its ally Syria. Claims by Moscow that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict are "patently untrue," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday defended his country's sale of arms to Syria, an ally for decades where Moscow has Mediterranean port facilities.
Washington said it stood by Secretary Clinton's comments.
The tussle is reminiscent of Cold War diplomacy when proxy wars were frequently in the background. The superpowers, who could not risk a direct nuclear-armed confrontation between each other, battled for hegemony by involvement on warring sides in third countries.
From 1945 to the collapse of Soviet communism in 1989, there were proxy wars in Greece, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
In the post-Cold War world, America was the only superpower, but spheres of influence were heeded.
Moscow did not take on NATO when its former Yugoslav ally Serbia was bombed by the Western alliance in 1999 over the civil war in Kosovo, or when the Western allies led by Washington invaded Iraq in 2003.
In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Russia was able to successfully back its secessionist allies militarily without triggering a war with the United States.
In Libya last year, however, Moscow was stung by NATO's military intervention under a U.N. mandate it believed had been stretched beyond the limits it had agreed to.
Israel sees the Syrian civil war becoming part of the struggle for dominance in the Arab world between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.
"Assad has seen the death of Gaddafi in Libya and the fate of Mubarak in Egypt and he understands he has no choice. He knows his Alawite minority will be slaughtered," the unnamed Israeli officer said. "We all know the end of the story. We just don't know the chapters."
The question is who might grab the lead in "this Sykes-Picot country", he said, referring to Syria's creation by colonial powers Britain and France after the First World War, on what look like arbitrary geographical lines that disregard tribal and ethnic distinctions.
"Who will replace Assad? Will it be all those doctors in Europe (Syrian National Council in exile) or will it be Al-Qaeda?" said the officer, adding U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was very concerned.
"It is not a nation state like Iran and Egypt are. It can become two or three states."
The risks of a regional war were clear, he said, as key U.S. Middle East ally Israel faces the possibility of its sworn enemy Iran becoming a nuclear-armed state and contemplates whether military action will be needed in the end to stop it.
Israel has to be prepared, he said.
"You don't know what will trigger it, but everything is ready for a big, big fire. You don't know who will strike the match."
Report: Syrian rebels aim to use chemical weapons, blame Damascus.
The armed Syrian opposition has gotten their hands on chemical weapons, which they acquired from Libya, a media report claims. They allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The report by DamPress claims the opposition group in possession of the weapons is being trained in its use inside Turkey. No further detail on the alleged conspiracy is given.
The Libyan stockpile of chemical weapons was a matter of great concern during last year’s civil war in the country. There were fears that they may end up in the hands of the terrorists and used elsewhere in the world. However unlike Libya’s portable surface-to-air arsenal, no reports of the weapons going missing was made public. Syria has a greater number of chemical weapons than Libya. Military experts say the agents in the Syrian stockpile are also more modern that what Gaddafi had produced for his military. Syria also didn’t join the Chemical Weapons Convention and is not obliged to declare what chemical weapons it possesses.
The chemical framing plot allegations comes days after British journalist Alex Thomson accused a Syrian opposition group of trying to set him and his crew up to be killed by government forces. He said a western journalist death would give bad publicity for Damascus.
Syria is sliding back into violence after a UN-brokered peace plan failed to bring the rival forces in the country to negotiation table. The worst of the incidents of renewed bloodshed were two massacres of civilians in the villages of Houla and al-Qubair.
Opposition blame the killings on pro-government paramilitary forces, while Damascus says both incidents were provocations carried out by terrorist groups. The UN observer mission currently deployed in Syria failed to establish for certain who committed the atrocities.
The conflict in Syria has been raging for 15 months now, with the exact death toll difficult to establish. UN estimates that about 10,000 people have been killed in the violence.
Israel may use force to secure Syria's alleged chemical weapons
The Israeli army is considering using military force to prevent Syria’s alleged chemical warfare stockpiles from getting into the hands of Hizbullah or Al-Qaeda, RT reported. Tel-Aviv believes that Damascus is no longer capable of securing its arsenal. Syria has never declared it possesses chemical weapons stocks, but the Israeli military does not put its existence under question.
On Monday Israeli Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, the country’s deputy military chief, warned that Syria could pose a threat to Israel with its chemical weapons.
Some Israeli politicians claim the Syrian government is already using chemical weapons against its population. A senior member of the ruling Likud party, Ayoob Kara, told Israel Radio on June 9 that the Syrian government is using“chemical weapons against men, women, and children.”
U.S. accelerates preparations for 'no-fly zone' in Syria
The United States may soon take on a formal role in the Syrian uprising after reports surfaced this week that suggest the White House wants an air offensive targeting the regime of Assad.
After over a year of unrest in Syria, Israel’s Debka news agency reports that U.S. President Barack Obama has asked the U.S. Navy and Air Force to accelerate plans that would aid in the ousting of Assad. According to their sources, President Obama hopes that by initiating a temporary air strike in locales instrumental to the Syrian government, the U.S. may be able to decimate Assad’s control by attacking his regime’s military command centers.
The U.S. would call for a no-fly zone over Syria, reports Debka, then send their own personnel to strike Assad-aligned targets.
Murmurings of the latest plans out of Washington come less than two weeks after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called for the implementation of a no-fly zone. Speaking to reporters last month, Sen. Graham said that ousting Assad from control in Syria is much more crucial for America’s interests than the issue of Libya; last year the U.S. aided in the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from Libyan rule.
Debka’s reports also came days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that, in terms of U.S. involvement in Syria, "military action is always an option,” although he added, "We do not believe that … further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action." Less than two weeks later, however, the White House may have already changed their stance.
According to Debka, Washington’s rumored change of heart may have something to do with reports out of Russia. Sources speaking with the news agency say that U.S. President Obama asked for an accelerated attack on Syria’s leaders after hearing Russian officials allegedly say, “Moscow would support the departure of President Bashar al-Assad if Syrians agreed to it."
Debka adds that, to carry out the plan, the U.S. will equip Syrian rebels with military supplies so that they could out attack Assad’s regime on the ground after an American-led airstrikes. It is believed that Assad’s government is currently using unmanned surveillance air drones to patrol the countryside for rebel forces only to then order strikes targeted them.
-Reuters, TAAN, RT