Obama Gave the Nod for Israel’s Military Strike against Syria

Tuesday, January 22, two top Israeli officials arrived in Washington and Moscow to deliver prior notice of the Netanyahu government’s resolve to strike out against the military links binding Syria and Hizballah because they had grown into a major threat to its national security and an impediment to regional stability.
In Moscow, National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror met President Vladimir Putin’s aides and was warned off this venture, whereas in Washington, Military Intelligence director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi fared much better.
According to its public statements, the Israeli government is obliged to take action if President Bashar Assad releases sophisticated arms including chemical weapons to Hizballah or any other terrorists.
But that is just a façade. Striking an arms convoy moving across the border from Syria to the Lebanese Hizballah would amount to no more than a sortie, whereas continuous, repeated pounding of the shared military frameworks or structures serving Syrian-Hizballah cooperation could stretch out for months and bring Iran into the fray.
Maj. Gen. Kochavi was questioned closely by US military and intelligence experts, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report, on IDF plans for achieving its objective and what precisely Israeli war planners mean by the destruction of the military interconnections between the Assad regime and Iran’s proxy, Hizballah.
The Israeli intelligence officer listed the prospective targets of attack, how they would be hit and the operation’s estimated timeframe.

Assad gains strategic hinterland in Lebanon – thanks to Hizballah

The plan was put before President Barack Obama for his approval together with five propositions:
1. As long as Iran, Syria and Hizballah are bound by a strong military alliance, the United States has little chance of achieving a breakthrough in diplomatic negotiations with Tehran or curbing its race for a nuclear weapon.
2. A successful Israel operation for severing the Syria-Hizballah military partnership would isolate Iran militarily and so reset the balance of military strength in the Middle East. In those circumstances, the US and Israel would find it easier to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear program if necessary.
3. The tight Hizballah-Syrian interdependence keeps Assad safe from attempts to unseat him. It has deepened to the point that his Shiite ally is abetting the Syrian ruler in his grab for parts of Lebanon as his strategic hinterland, focusing on the Hizballah strongholds in the Beqaa Valley. Already, Syrian command posts, intelligence centers and sophisticated weapons are being installed there and camps for loyal military units. So even if his regime is overthrown in Damascus, Assad will have a fallback headquarters in Lebanon from which to continue fighting.
4. The transfer of Syrian chemical weapons to Hizballah is no longer an issue; Israeli military intelligence has determined that some of those poison substances are already in Hizballah’s possession, and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources recently reported that they had passed into Hizballah’s hands back in January 2012.
Thursday, Jan. 31, Saudi intelligence sources leaked a report that “in early 2012, Assad approved the transfer to Hizballah of mustard gas and missiles able to travel 300 kilometers and carry chemical warheads.”
Saudi sources say the transfer took place over 40 days, from Feb. 17 to the end of March, 2012.

Obama weighs the knock-on effect for Iran and Russia

Therefore, it was decided in Jerusalem that the time had come to cut to the chase and avoid getting sucked into another endless debate on whether or not Hizballah has acquired chemical weapons, like the argument circling interminably around the exact point reached by Iran in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
According to the plan put before Washington, Israel proposed launching an air strike against the Jamraya “research institution” near Damascus, where Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah officers work together on developing the chemical weapons systems supplied to both the Syrian army and Hizballah.
5. For the sake of avoiding all-out war with Syria and Hizballah, Israel’s strategic planners proposed launching a series of controlled strikes, each one pinpointing a specific target common to all three in Syria and Lebanon.
The IDF can carry out this mission on its own with no need for direct US military assistance.
After studying the Israeli plan presented by the Israeli intelligence officer, Obama weighed two more considerations before reaching a decision:
a) US support of the Israeli plan presupposes the revival of the American-Russian Cold War in the Middle East. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Number One strategic commitment is the preservation of the Assad regime, an Israeli offensive with Washington’s blessing would have the weight of an ultimatum to Putin to ditch Assad, a step with knock-on impact on his credibility with Tehran. Obama does not imagine Putin caving in to this extent.
b) Israeli military action on the scale of offensives against Syria and Lebanon would almost inevitably set off hostilities with Iran and the onset of a major Iranian-Israeli war.
Irrespective of these considerations, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Washington report that Tuesday, Jan. 29, a week after military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi departed Washington, the US President’s approval of the Israeli plan was on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s desk in Jerusalem. The next day it was up and running with the Israeli air strike at Jamraya.

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