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Confronting the Syrian threat

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted October 13, 2003

Although Iran and its emerging nuclear capacity are generating the big media headlines, Syria is proving to be a significant threat to the security of the Middle East as well. Bashar Assad's regime could very well trigger a flashpoint in the region by its escalating aggression, particularly those acts aimed at Israel. The heart of the matter is that Syria is a rogue nation that aids and abets terrorism with alacrity. According to Sky News, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry noted that "Israel views every state which is harboring terrorist organizations, and the leaders of those terrorist organizations who are attacking innocent citizens of the state of Israel, as legitimate targets out of self-defense."

In light of the most recent suicide bombing that killed 20 people in Haifa, Israel engaged in a well-warranted military response that rained Israeli air strikes upon a reputed terrorist training camp just outside of Damascus last week. The Islamic Jihad organization, which claimed responsibility for the Haifa attack, is being harbored and trained in Syria along with other terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. (And make no mistake, Hezbollah does have a salient terrorist component, even if it incorporates political and social-welfare branches within its larger organization). Israel rejected the subsequent ire and carping of the Syrians, citing Syria's collusion with terrorist groups that continue to target Israeli civilians.

But the truth be told, Syria got just what it deserved. In fact, the Israelis have demonstrated considerable restraint in response to Syria's history of bellicose actions. Strikes and counterstrikes are all part of the ongoing battle being waged between the two nations for more than fifty-five years. Three major conflicts (1948, 1967, and 1973) have been initiated by Syria since Israel's inception, and Syria continues to perpetrate low-intensity warfare against Israel by-way-of terror assaults staged from Syrian-occupied Southern Lebanon. There are palpable indications that another major conflict is brewing between Syria and Israel, of that there is no dispute.

Syrian-based terrorists have now threatened to "escalate" attacks upon Israel from their pivotal perch in Lebanon. As noted in the UK Telegraph, these terrorists view the Israeli assault near Damascus as the "first round in a new Middle East war". Apparently, the Syrian pro-terror contingent believes that the Israelis have no right to protect themselves. It's unfortunate, but this is the type of perverse thinking that the Israelis have had to contend with over the years. And the logic of the UN and the European Union is not much better. They are miffed that last week's Israeli air strikes could possibly derail future negotiations between the two embattled nations. Does anyone with wisdom really think that the long-standing enmity between Israel and Syria will be resolved through diplomatic "peace talks"?

Syria, and other Mid-East nations for that matter, want Israel utterly annihilated, expunged as a nation. No effective negotiations can be conducted with terrorists or governments that work in tandem with terrorist cohorts. Certainly, Israel's experience with Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat is proof-positive of that truism. Ultimately, the Israeli-Syrian situation will have to be resolved militarily, with Israel imposing peace after it subdues Syrian forces and their terrorist allies, and any other Middle East forces that enter the fray.

The terrible reality is that an Israeli-Syrian war could ignite a larger conflagration within the Middle East. Tremendous efforts to bring about peace in the region by the US and the world community have heretofore failed. I'm not optimistic. The downward trajectory appears to be set, barring some propitious change such as the Iranian freedom fighters overthrowing mullah rule. "Regime change" in Iran (in conjunction with the improving prospects of Iraq and Afghanistan) could be the "tipping point", which creates a new synergy in the region. The Middle East needs to move toward freedom rather than embracing rage, warfare and terror activity. The young population of Iran understands what this is all about.

The US is also fed up with Syria's aggression and pro-terror ways, noting that the nation is "on the wrong side of the terror war". Therefore, the House International Relations Committee has crafted and approved legislation seeking sanctions against Syria in response to its possessing WMD's arsenals, occupying Lebanon, financing of terrorism, and permitting Jihadis to cross the border into Iraq for the purpose of waging combat against US troops and other American led-forces. Reportedly, types of sanctions are under consideration for the "Syrian Accountability Act", which is still being fine-tuned. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that an unscrupulous outlaw state such as Syria is going to mend its ways due to sanctions.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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