Friday, September 21, 2007

America Supported Israeli Raid in Syria

The Syrian incident continues to play out day by day. After Netanyahu's recent admission that Israel did indeed admit that the Israeli airforce were involved in a raid on Syria, it has now emerged that the US did in fact play a key role in the events of two weeks ago. The Guardian website reports:

Israel's decision to launch an air strike against a suspected nuclear site in Syria allegedly set up with the help of North Korea came after Israel shared intelligence with the US, it was reported today.

The attack on September 6 has been shrouded in mystery, although the Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, yesterday confirmed in a TV interview that such an attack did take place. His admission came despite a news blackout over the incident.

The Washington Post today shed more light on the raid, which has sparked widespread speculation that it was a dry run for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The paper said the Bush administration was initially circumspect about Israel's claim that North Korea was helping Syria, and decided against an immediate response because of negotiations aimed at persuading Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear programme.

However, the US is believed to have provided Israel with some corroboration of the original intelligence before Israel went ahead with the raid, the Post said.

What once appeared to be a case of Israeli jets straying into Syrian territory, has now emerged to be a targeted strike on Syria. Issam Makhoul , a former member of the Knesset, has written an interesting piece on this incident at ynet:

The real question isn't about the details of the provocative attack staged by Israeli jets in Syria about two weeks ago, according to foreign sources. The question is this: Into what kind of mess is the Olmert-Barak government leading Israelis and regional nations this time? The heavy veil of ambiguity on the part of the government makes matters worse, by hiding the adventure from the Israeli public of all people.

There is agreement among Israel's defense, political and media establishments that Syria has no interest in initiating a military confrontation with Israel. In fact, in recent months Syria reiterated its call for negotiations aimed at ending the occupation of the Golan Heights in peaceful ways. These proposals disrupted America's regional war plans, which see the Olmert-Barak government playing a major role.

No doubt more details will emerge over time.

It has also emerged that Iran and Israel have been attacking each other at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. According to Haaretz:

Israel accused Iran of lying, while Tehran challenged the international community to send inspectors to probe of its arch-rival's nuclear capabilities, in an unusually bitter and rare direct confrontation on Friday.

United Nations officials at a 148-nation meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said they had no memory of the two rival nations ever engaging each other directly at previous meetings, and noted that development - and the unusually harsh tone of their statements - in part reflected Middle East tensions.

The exchange came after chief Iranian delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh - like Arab delegates before him - said that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had acknowledged earlier this year that his country possessed nuclear weapons - something that Israel says Olmert never did.

What are the chances of the UN ever being able to inspect Israel's nuclear capability when it has such a close relationship with one of the veto holders? Just another example of the double standard at the heart of the current international climate.