debkafile’s security sources say Israeli intelligence chiefs’ overlook key factors when they rule out a Syrian-Israeli war this year

This optimistic determination appears in the annual report Military Intelligence-AMAN, the Shin Bet and the Mossad submits to the government Sunday, Feb. 25. debkafile‘s security sources say it is hasty and fails to take vital considerations into account, such as the possible effect of the Syrian ruler’s extreme isolation.
The report additionally risks being clouded by two disturbing manifestations.
One is the latest tendency of national security spokesmen and the new chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi to reflect the official line as dictated by prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and other ministers, rather than voicing their professional opinions.
The second is the government’s slavish submission to US-Saudi Middle East policies, regardless of Israel’s interests.
In so doing, they ignore the possible backlash from the Syrian president Bashar Assad who is blacklisted by the Arab community. He may well launch limited attacks on Israeli locations on the divided Golan, Mt. Hermon or even Galilee. If such incidents boiled over into a broader military conflict, Assad would stand out as the only Arab ruler willing to fight the Zionist enemy; fellow Arab governments would be forced by their own peoples to rally around him.
The Syrian ruler was not reassured by his talks in Tehran on Feb. 16 and 17 with Iran’s leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or by their promises of close cooperation on Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians. They even offered to transfer to Syria the Iranian surface Zelzal missile assembly lines. For some weeks, he has suspected Tehran was double-crossing him in Lebanon. This was the only explanation for the sudden cessation of Hizballah demonstrations against the Siniora government, which has left the rest of the pro-Syrian bloc in Lebanon high and dry and on the point of breaking up.
Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has not answered Assad’s requests for an explanation or his demands to heat up the border with Israel as a handy diversion – a snub he would not have dared to administer without orders from Tehran. The Syrian ruler must infer that his allies in Tehran are ditching him in Lebanon.
So he faces the collapse of his military and intelligence policy objectives which were to maintain his grip on Lebanon Hizballah within the Syrian sphere of influence.
This fiasco, the deadliest in his seven years as president, comes at the worst possible time. It leaves him in the lurch with two swords hanging over his head. The UN is racing to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Some of those suspects are pillars of his regime and close family.
Then too, debkafile reveals an Arab summit in Riyadh is scheduled for the end of March. There, Saudi King Abdullah and the Bush administration, as represented by US Secretary Condoleezza Rice, will twist the knife by showing the Syrian ruler up as segregated by his Arab brethren and the international community at large. Israel must reckon on the possibility of his lashing out against the nearest target to break out of his glass box.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email