Syria has become an anchor tied to the American ship of state. The USA cannot cut it loose, but we cannot go any place else with the drag pulling on the political process. Like the proverbial “tar-baby,” the Syrian civil war sticks to whoever gets close and once they’ve latched on, they can’t get away. Politicians and career state department personnel who say it is not an American problem simply don’t understand how tenaciously anchors hold and tar babies don’t let go.
A week ago, the leader of Lebanon’s based Hezbollah militant organization made a pronouncement that the Syrian rebels would not be able to defeat the Assad regime. However, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah left the strong hint that the Hezbollah terrorists group might need to intervene in Syria. Of course, Hezbollah is strongly backed by Iran. They are also Shi’ites and the Syrian rebels are mostly Sunnis. Hezbollah makes no secret of the fact that they are allies with Assad. In recent months both Hezbollah and Iran have been accused of sending fighters into the civil conflict.
The next piece in the quandary came this week as Israeli jets struck twice at targets inside Syria. The most recent reports indicate their target was Fateh-110 missiles that Iran had sent in for use by Hezbollah. Because these are highly accurate missiles, an attack on Israel would immediately become much more serious. Fateh-110s had been stored at an airport in Damascus when they were hit. The latest reports indicate that Israeli airplanes were not actually in Syria, but fired from outside the country.
In the past, it was believed that the Syrian air force had such missiles. Currently, there has not been any clarification as to whether Iran intended the missiles for Syrian or Hezbollah. However, the Israelis were taking no chances. Netanyahu has maintained an absolutely iron clad policy that “Never Again” means that Israel takes no chances and never retreats on these issues. Ehud Barak referred to the tense situation saying, “we mean what we say.”
However, Israel’s definite statements on Syrian use of chemical weapons and attacks left no wiggle-room for Washington. This week’s Sunday edition of The New York Times reported off-the-cuff remark’s by President Obama surprised his advisers and have inadvertently put the squeeze on America. His remarks about the use of chemicals being a “game changing” and crossing “the red line” have now been challenged by the facts Israel has presented about Syria using chemical gas on their own people.
Obama does not want boots on the group or being dragged into the civil war, but he can’t run from the anchor that keeps America locked down. The current state department position is that we can not be sure gas was actually used. When the story hit the media, Secretary of State John Kerry immediately called Netanyahu and did a bit of arm twisting. The Prime Minister of Israel agreed they couldn’t completely confirm these reports. Politics trumped Intelligence … but not for long.
Tar-baby is not letting go. Obama keeps back-peddling and the Israelis are coming on in a full court press. Hezbollah and Assad keep on screaming. The anchor rope remains tight, but its not moving.
If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to pay attention to Syria.