Monday, March 26, 2007

Israel And Syria Getting Ready For War, Or Peace?

Biggest War Preparation Drills Held In Israel In Decades

Israel is getting nervous. The war against Lebanon, now called 'The Second Lebanon War', failed to destroy Hezbollah, despite the backing of the United States and emergency weapons shipments into Israel.

A looming confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program no longer looks as easy as it once did, particularly now that the governments of Iraq, Syria, Russia and China have all recently signed multi-billion oil and gas deals with Iran, and Russia and China have both vowed to protect their "national interests" in the region.

Israel is now said to be looking at a more positive relationship with Syria, again with the backing of the United States, despite Syria's support for terrorist groups who've long vowed to destroy the Zionist-controlled state.

But the war-related propaganda continues to flow. Of particular interest is a report on the Syrian 'independent media' site Champress which claims : "European officials have been claiming to Syrian leaders the past few weeks Israel is preparing for a military confrontation with Damascus..." :
European leaders visiting Damascus in recent weeks delivered messages stating Israel was taking measures in advance of a large-scale conflict with Syria, including updating battle plans, training reservist soldiers and preparing the home front for missile attacks.

One senior European Union official told Assad the Israeli government instructed its major hospitals not to allow staff to take vacation time during the summer months for fear a conflict will break out during that period, according to the Baath party source.

According to a report today in the London-based Al-Hayat daily, talks between Israel and France concerning Syria concluded Israel is not interested in weakening Assad, because it does not know whether his replacement would present superior diplomatic alternatives. French officials told the newspaper Israel perceives Assad as weak but is not interested in confronting Syria out of fear that intervention would alter the political situation there.

Assad, who signed a military alliance with Iran, is accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq and funneling money and weapons to Hezbollah. Leaders of major Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, reside openly in Damascus.
Last week, Israel held a massive war-ready drill, its largest since the state was established in 1948. The drill cost more than half a million dollars and involved 25% of Israel's entire police force. It also roped in soldiers, paramedics, government staff and firefights, and covered more than 130 municipalities.

From the Washington Times :
Sirens wailed throughout Israel as thousands of rescue personnel in cities in the country's center and south scrambled to a series of simulated terrorist and missile attacks.

The purpose of the unprecedented two-day exercise....was to test their response to a September 11-like confluence of strikes against Israeli civilian and infrastructure areas.

There were Palestinian rocket barrages from Gaza in the town of Sderot, a chemical bomb at a school in this Tel Aviv suburb, and a conventional missile explosion at a Tel Aviv power plant. Soldiers were drafted as screaming schoolchildren, and others played the parts of hysterical parents and aggressive journalists from abroad.

With widespread concern about looming confrontations in the Gaza Strip; the border with Lebanon and Syria; and Iran, the display was also meant to win back the confidence of a public deeply jaded toward the government and security forces after the bungling of last summer's war with Hezbollah.
Now that's detail, even rehearsing how the military and police will deal with "aggressive journalists from abroad". Not surprisingly, considering the rocket barrages that landed all over Israel during 'The Second Lebanon War' last year, the drill and wailing sirens terrified thousands.

Rumours circulate now in diplomatic circles that Israel is preparing to follow US advice and offer to hand back most of the disputed Golan Heights region, between Israel and Syria, in exchange for Syrian commitment to stop supporting, financing and arming, Hezbollah and providing haven to leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Israel appears to no longer be interesting in undermining or overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, appearing to a take a 'better the devil you know' approach, no doubt fearing that once Assad is gone, a government more fully alligned with the now strengthened Hezbollah might seize control and pose an even greater threat to Israel.

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Israel And EU Split Over How To Deal With Palestinians, US In Middle

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