Israel strikes Syria but Iran is the target

The Trump administration claimed Israel’s attack on Syria was an act of self-defense. (White House Photo)

As the dust begins to settle after a weekend in which Israel “defended” itself over another country’s sovereign territory, a region in dangerous flux is just that little bit more unstable.

Predictably, everyone claimed victory as yet another wave of airstrikes hit Syria. In reality, Israel – yet again – demonstrated its superior firepower, but has been given food for thought by the downing of one of its fighter planes, by Syrian government or Syrian government-allied forces. The Israeli air force will understand that the unchallenged impunity with which it has struck targets in Syria – acknowledged or not – for many years no longer quite holds.

The weekend also suggests Russia is now an essential arbiter in the region where nobody considers Syria’s borders anything other than lines on a map, and preparations for a war on Iran progress.

Here are a few observations from the weekend.

Up is down

It apparently doesn’t matter what Israel does, it’s always self-defense.

In Israel’s telling, the sequence of events began early Saturday, when Israeli forces spotted an Iranian drone entering Israeli airspace. The drone was shot down and eight jets dispatched to wreak revenge, one of which, a US-supplied F-16, was shot down on its way back.

Israeli forces then launched a second wave of attacks. According to reports, those strikes destroyed half of Syria’s air defenses.

Israel has blamed Iran for sending the drone over Israeli airspace and downing its jet. The Iranian foreign ministry called the accusation “ridiculous,” and the alliance fighting on behalf of the Syrian government called it a “lie,” saying it had dispatched the drone to fight Islamic State in eastern Syria and that it never entered Israeli air space.

Nevertheless, Israel immediately received support from the White House for its “right to defend itself.”

Whatever the case, to suggest that the drone, whatever its providence, wherever its final demise, was the spark to conflagration is to ignore the 100 bombings or so Israel has acknowledged carrying out in Syria since 2011, or those that go back long before Syria’s own conflict began.

It is to ignore that Israel has been in illegal military occupation of Syrian territory since 1967, land seized in a war Israel started.

Attack may well be the best form of defense, but it is still an attack. To think otherwise is to believe that war is peace.

Russia matters more

In contrast to Washington’s uncritical support for Israel’s form of “self-defense” that would have had no purchase on the other side, Russia was the player to step in, so far successfully, to end the conflagration and insist on respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.

With Russia’s military deeply enmeshed in Syria, it is in neither Israel’s nor Russia’s interest to clash and both are very aware of the danger of miscalculation. It is, however, in Moscow’s interests not to see its years of costly and deadly efforts on behalf of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and his government and allies, be laid to waste by an overzealous Israeli military posture.

If the downing of a jet will cause Israel to exercise more restraint, Russia will welcome it and the Syrian government will claim it as a victory. That in turn should allow Moscow to dampen any enthusiasm in Syria for more.

Israel has made the point that it has superior firepower. It will be wary that such firepower should directly harm Russian elements on the ground, potentially provoking, for once, a military equal with firepower superior to its own.

Come fight, one and all

Syria is a free-for-all battlefield. Anyone with a weapon appears to be invited to a horrific conflict that has seen Syrians bombed by nearly a dozen different countries – the US military alliance in the east of the country includes Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, France has bombed targets in the country, Russia’s air force is in constant action, Turkey has invaded the north, while Israel bombs at will – as well as their own government.

The UN has yet again proven powerless even as the humanitarian situation only gets worse.

This time it is Russia that keeps casting a Security Council veto, preventing action, just as the US has done (many more times) on behalf of Israel.

International law is entirely absent. Regional order – knocked off balance by the 2003 invasion of Iraq – is being reshaped here (as well as in Yemen) in a series of proxy engagements and mini-conflicts that, aside from Syrians fighting Syrians, take in almost all the region’s players: Turks fight Kurds, Israel bombs Hizballah targets and Arab Gulf proxies take on Iranian-backed forces.

It’s a mess and one that is far from over. And, with an overarching regional narrative of Sunni versus Shia, one very much encouraged by Israel, promoted in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE and with plenty of purchase in Washington, this all seems preparation for more war.

It may get a whole lot worse.

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Comments

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For some odd reason Murder Inc seems dead set on opening up the gates of Hell and running head first into the fiery infernal. Tis a pity.

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It is important to emphasize that even if the Zionist state was not a centre of lawlessness and militancy and even if these people have bestowed “kindness” upon others (rather than missiles), they would still be considered heretics and thieves from point of view of Jewish religion, since they have stolen the Jewish identity and occupy it from 1897.

Ironically, the Zionists have shown again that they are degenerates who act against their own best interests, as provoking Iran and the Russian Federation goes against common sense (other than being extremely dangerous). Needless to say, that any “mistake” by the Zionists in Syria or elsewhere could lead to catastrophic results. By the way, in terms of firepower, Russia’s military is far more powerful than the IDF (if anyone had any delusions about that). Arguably, its more powerful than all NATO countries combined.

Furthermore, Russia is capable to use nuclear weapons from anywhere (as well as supply them to its allies) and President Putin have warned that his country shall not hesitate to do so if threatened.

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"Ironically, the Zionists have shown again that they are degenerates who act against their own best interests, as provoking Iran and the Russian Federation goes against common sense (other than being extremely dangerous)"
They didn't provoke Iran, Iran violated Israeli airspace and sovereignty by sending in a drone. Israel just responded.
They certainly didn't provoke the RF.
And if you say "well Iran just did what Israel had been doing all along to Syria" Then fine, violate away at thier sovereignty. Just know there will be massive consequences for doing so. Massive consequences that Syria and Iran cant mirror against Israel.
Also Israel only attacks material in either physical weapons, construction and development form on its way to Hezbollah. It doesn't randomly attack Syria for any other reason or any reason. If Syria didn't allow for the transport or provide staging for weapons to be used against Israel, Israel would be very happy just circling its fighters in Combat Air Patrol in lazy circles all day.
" By the way, in terms of firepower, Russia’s military is far more powerful than the IDF (if anyone had any delusions about that). " Russia would be out of its god damn mind if they decided to engage Israel. They don't have nearly enough manpower to defend themselves in Syria and/or project. Also Russian doctrine isnt designed around fighting extended wars far from home. They are simply not an expeditionary fighting military. They can barley field a single oil burning air craft carrier that lost 2 of its birds when it as last on patrol. Not to menstion it travels everywhere with a blue water tug to tow it back to port when it breaks down. If Israel was attacked by nuclear weapons by Russia Israel would turn Moscow to glass just as well as Russia could turn Tel Aviv to glass as well. Simply put Israel and Russia are not itching for a fight.

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It is strange that the Western media reporting of of the shooting down of an Israeli fighter plane says
'the the pilot ejected amongst Syrian anti-aircraft fire'

Yet the plane came down near Harduf, which is South East of Haifa, miles from the Syrian border!

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The standard F16 has a top after burning speed of 1350MPH or 2172KPH this means it travels 36.2KmMinute. Harduf is 38.8 Km from the Syrian/Golan Hights Boarder as the crow flies. If the Sufa was on the Golan Hights/ Syria boarder at 40k feet and was under full afterburner heading west/south west as it tried to out run the missle then its very much with in the realm of reason that the plane came down where it did. There is no conspiracy. Just simple math.

Omar Karmi

Omar Karmi is an associate editor for The Electronic Intifada and former Jerusalem and Washington, DC, correspondent for The National newspaper.