Israel and Saudi Arabia’s priorities in Syria.

Current developments both inside and outside of Syria have shown that the primary sponsors of the extremist-dominated insurgency – namely, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Israel and Turkey – aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

One may be forgiven for thinking the Obama administration had decided to abandon the policy of regime change following the failed attempt to incite intervention, through the chemical weapons casus belli in August. But the harsh reality remains that the above mentioned alliance is indeed continuing its covert military support of the insurgency, in one form or another, in the full knowledge the vast majority of rebels are religious fundamentalists with a sectarian agenda, and vehemently opposed to any form of democracy or political pluralism.

Primarily, the continued support is a product of the American Empires’ overarching strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance over resource-rich and strategically placed regions of the globe, via subversion, economic and military aggression; a policy imposed to varying degrees upon any state unwilling to accept full US subordination. This aggressive US stance is by no means exclusive to periods of heightened tension or crises; it is a permanent one, brought forward to its violent climax purely through Machiavellian opportunism. In Syria’s case, the Arab uprisings provided the United States and its allies the perfect opening to set in motion the subversive plans they had been working on since at least 2006. The possibility of removing an opposing government that refuses to abide by American/Israeli diktat was simply too good a chance to be missed. Accordingly, and from a very early stage, the US made attempts to facilitate and support the violent elements in Syria, while its media arms were busy conflating them with localised legitimate protesters.

Since the US took the typically reckless decision to support, widen and exacerbate the militant elements, the policy has been an abject failure. Clearly, from the tone espoused by Western diplomats and propagandists, and the oft-repeated slogan of “Assads days are numbered”, they expected swift regime change. These desires were largely based on American hubris and the hope that the Libya No Fly Zone scenario would gain traction in the UN security council.

Contrary to such desires, Russia and China’s anger regarding NATO’s destruction of Libya and Gaddafi’s assassination, meant that any similar resolutions put forward on Syria would face immediate veto. In turn this has proven to be a turning point in the modern relationship between the permanent members of the security council, the full ramifications of which are yet to materialise. Moreover, it proved to be a turning point in the Syrian crisis itself; knowing Russia and China would block any attempts to give NATO its second outing as Al Qaeda’s airforce, the US once again chose the policy of further covert militarism, drastically increasing funds and weapons deliveries to the rebels – parallel to the sectarian incitement campaigns espoused by Salafi-Wahhabi clerics across the Gulf – in the hope they could overturn the Syrian army through terrorism and a brutal sectarian war of attrition.

As a consequence of the failure to remove Assad or destroy the Syrian government and its apparatus, the Obama administration, reluctant and politically incapable of engaging in overt acts of aggression, is employing a realpolitik strategy; using primarily covert militarism to appease the desires of NeoConservative hawks in Congress, and its more zealous regional influences emanating from Riyadh and Tel Aviv, while avoiding the possibility of being dragged into another overt military intervention.

In turn, this double-edged strategy feeds the false public perception of the American Empire, which the pseudo-pragmatists and neoliberal propagandists are so eager to uphold and is so fundamental to US Empire-building; that of an inherently altruistic force, acting as global arbiter, grudgingly subverting, invading, bombing, and intervening in sovereign nations affairs for the good of all mankind. As long as this false perception is upheld, the sharp-edge to the grotesque charade of US realpolitik – that of covert militarism and state-sponsored terrorism – continues unabated. Clearly, the US Empire is in no rush to end the bloodshed in Syria, its priorities, as they have been since the start of 2011, are to remove, or at least severely disable and weaken the Syrian government and state, regardless of the consequences to the civilian population.

By using its control of state-funding, the arms flow, and therefore the strength and capabilities of the insurgency as a whole, the Obama administration has employed futile carrot and stick tactics in attempts to pressure the Syrian government during the current negotiations phase into acceding to US demands and giving up its sovereignty – with both the US-led alliance, and Syria and its international allies, primarily Russia and Iran, in the full knowledge the rebels lack both the domestic support, and manpower necessary, to oust Assad or defeat the Syrian army alone. Reports allude to the stick of US Democracy having its most recent outing in the form of “new”  and improved weapons supplies to the rebels, allegedly including MANPADS. This comes immediately off the back of the designed-to-fail Geneva “peace” talks and can be interpreted as a direct result of Washington’s failure to enforce their objectives: the stick is an endless supply of state-sponsored terrorism, the carrot is turning off the tap.

Whether the “new” arms shipments actually increase the rebels ability to inflict damage on the Syrian government remains to be seen, and is highly improbable at this stage as the Syrian army moves into the Qalamoun mountains to liberate the rebel-held town of Yabroud, in turn securing vital transit and logistical routes from Lebanon. The likely outcome of an increased arms flow to the rebels in the south, as evidenced at every interval of US-instigated militarization, will be a repeat of the same devastating results: more civilian displacement, adding to the already critical refugee crisis; more rebel destruction of civilian infrastructure, adding to further food and utility shortages; and many more lives lost.

“Lebanonization” a substitute for regime change?

As is proving to be the case, if the United States and its allies are incapable of removing the Syrian government via proxy forces without an increasingly unpopular Western military intervention, and Assad’s position and domestic support remain steadfast, then a Lebanonization strategy may well be the substitute “optimal scenario” the US and its allies are now working toward.

Encouraging, exacerbating, and inciting division between Arabs has been the long-term strategy for the Zionist establishment since the colonialists first usurped Palestinian land in 1948 – with specific effort made toward fomenting conflict along sectarian lines. The strategy of division is directed toward any Arab state or government that refuses to abide by Zionist demands. Israeli strategist Oded Yinon’s now infamous “A strategy for Israel in the 1980’s” – dubbed the Yinon Plan – provides perhaps the clearest account of Israel’s intentions toward its Arab neighbours:

The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional local governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world … The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel’s main long-range objective on the Eastern front. The present military weakening of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and religious structure … As a result, there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which is hostile to the northern one. The Druze – even those of the Golan – should forma state in Hauran and in northern Jordan … the oil-rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fill Israel’s goals … Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation … will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon.

When viewed in this context, it can be no coincidence that US Secretary of State John Kerry is desperately pursuing a fait accompli with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Contrary to the sickening media portrayal of the US as impartial peacebroker, Kerry’s eagerness to pursue a “deal” at this moment in time is a direct result of the Syrian conflict, and the divisions within the resistance camp it has created. The US and Israel are now attempting to force through an Israeli-oriented “peace deal” with the corrupt PA that will inevitably be both a failure, and against the Palestinians interests. Staunch allies of Palestinian resistance, currently bogged down fighting Al Qaeda ideologues in Syria and defusing car-bombs bound for Dahiyeh, are in no position to support the Palestinians against Israel in their hour of need, the US and Israel fully grasp the importance of isolating genuine Palestinian resistance from the few Arab states and actors it receives support. In his latest speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah reminded his listeners of this very crucial issue:

“the US Administration is seeking, along with the Zionist Administration to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems.”

In a similar fashion, the US has used the Syrian conflict as a lever against Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Washington’s longstanding attempts to pacify and subordinate an independent Iran has undoubtedly played a major role in US policy on Syria – perhaps the defining role. Consequently, both the Palestinian and Iranian conflicts with Israel and the United States are now, as they have always been intended to some extent in US calculations, inextricably linked to resolving the Syrian crisis.

True to form, Israel’s evident glee at the destruction in Syria and overt preference for the removal of Assad and the Syrian government, with the devastation that would entail, has proven at times hard for them to conceal. Furthering the point, just one of many examples of Israeli-rebel collusion came in a recent report from the National (falsely portraying the rebels Israel is “reaching out” to as ostensibly “moderate”) which relayed that hundreds of rebels have received treatment in Israeli hospitals and been sent back into Syria with up to a $1000 in cash. Israel have made further efforts to consolidate contacts with the rebels in the south, regardless of the level of fundamentalism, and cooperated with rebel factions during the Israeli bombings on Latakia and Damascus.

In a feeble attempt to whitewash this collusion, Israeli propagandists are busily spreading the misinformation that Israel is facilitating the Druze community in the south of Syria; yet the Druze community are firmly allied with the Syrian government. In reality, Israeli attempts to cultivate relations with the communities and rebels in the south should be correctly viewed as attempts to create enforced “safe-zones” around the occupied Golan Heights, in furtherance of the Zionists land-grabbing expansionist aspirations. Accordingly, Israel’s fraudulent neutrality is completely exposed by their collusion with the rebels to meet their own interests, and overt acts of aggression against the Syrian army.

There are many other indications that allude to prominent factions of the US alliance being preferable of, and encouraging an outcome of division, most notably Israel, but simple logic determines that Saudi Arabia, Israel’s most vital strategic partner in the region, and the actor from within the US alliance that possesses the most material influence and political will to support fundamentalists and terrorism, would also approve of the disintegration of the Syrian state, primarily viewing it as a blow to “Shi’a expansion”. The Saudi and Gulf fixation on sectarian themes, to mask what are essentially politically oriented conflicts, is also intentionally built to intensify the strategy of division in multi-ethnic, religiously plural societies – as evidenced in virtually every country fundamentalist Gulf proxies have been unleashed upon, most recently in Libya.

Yet even the Saudi’s have limits to their own capabilities and decisions, ultimately they rely on the military largesse and protection of the United States, and will therefore reign in the terrorist networks if push comes to shove. Hence, the recent Saudi attempts to dissociate from Al Qaeda and the various extremists fighting in Syria can be seen as largely cosmetic and for public consumption. In reality, the Saudi leadership see Al Qaeda and its extremist confrères as malleable proxies of no real threat to themselves, while constituting a critical component of Saudi foreign policy and covert aggression.

Of far higher importance to both Israel and Saudi Arabia’s confluent interests in the region, which in turn play a critical role in US calculations, are the very actors and states the fundamentalist proxies are currently being sponsored to wage war upon; namely, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. The disintegration of the resistance axis is the utmost priority for the states that drive US policy in the Middle East, the supposed “threat” faced by militant fundamentalist ideologues, originally created, and intermittently sponsored by the US and its allies, is merely an afterthought.

The US Empire, in its efforts to contain, and therefore dominate and control such a strategic and resource-rich region, is more than content to allow its reactionary and sectarian clients to incite the conflict necessary to subvert, fracture and divide the inevitable power a unified Middle East could claim: if only their progressive aspirations and unity were not repeatedly “set back” by Zionist occupation and manufactured antagonism.

Martin Chulov and the Guardian: at the forefront of Balkanising Syria.

Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Martin Chulov of the Guardian has continuously been one of the most prominent “journalists” whose coverage, to put kindly, has been skewed beyond any recognition of objective journalism. His narratives have systematically relied on sectarian overtones and cherry picked “activist” quotes from such bastions of objectivity as the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Chulov has gone to great to lengths to portray the conflict in simplistic and sectarian terms: “Assad the Alawite, versus the Sunni majority.”

The large part of Syrian society that ardently support their president has gone largely unmentioned in his coverage. The larger still part of Syrian society that simply want the war to end, and the militants to leave their towns and villages so they can attempt to rebuild their lives have been callously brushed aside by war-profiteers such as Chulov; who willingly ignore the much larger sections of Syrian society that don’t abide his bias narrative. Chulov perniciously attempts to lead the reader to believe the whole Syrian public is fighting against a regime and its security infrastructure. The simple fact that the majority of men fighting the Salafi/Jihadi dominated rebels within the Syrian Army itself are Sunni Syrians belies his whole false sectarian narrative.

Chulov’s latest article is no exception. The sectarian melodrama is set in the title: “Sunnis fear Assad wants to ethnically cleanse Alawhite heartland”, in usual fashion, Chulov plays on manufactured sectarian fear and a growing western narrative that Assad is planning on building an “Alawite enclave” in the western provinces of Syria reaching to the Mediterranean coast, the heartland of Assad’s Alawite sect.

The sub-title, illuminates Chulovs simplistic rendering and the basis for his “Alawite enclave” theory:

“Homs land registry fire and handing out of arms to villagers fuel concerns that an Alawite-Shia enclave is being formed in Syria.”

Chulov lays the foundations of his theory with these basic facts, Assad is arming “farmers and villagers”, ie: Syrian men of military age, that are willing to fight the extremist dominated insurgency Chulov has propagated and promoted for the best part of two years. Yet Chulov is eager to portray these farmers and villagers (Syrians) as “evil Shabiha” intent on sectarian cleansing.

And, lo and behold, the land registry in Homs has burnt down! It seems Chulov has forgotten Homs has been a conflict zone for quite some time, constantly under bombardment from either rebels, or the SAA attempting to remove them. This includes a massive air and artillery campaign on the SAA’s part. Again, it is beyond Chulov’s wildest imaginations that this particular building may well be under government auspices, therefore a prime target for his beloved rebels. Indeed, since the very first week of the crisis in Daraa, militants attacked Government buildings and offices – often setting them ablaze. In Chulovs investigative mind, there is only one explanation: “the “Shabiha” set the land registry ablaze to remove proof of land-ownership, his anonymous source, in an almost Sherlock-Watson moment of journalistic drama confirms Chulovs suspicions: (my emphasis)

“What else could be going on?” asked one resident who refused to be identified. “This is the most secure area of the city and it is the only building that has been burned. A conspiracy is underway.”

Once more Chulov relies on anonymous sources and vague rhetoric to underline that the fire was undoubtedly set by “regime forces”. Chulov tells us “eyewitnesses” (no names of course) and “employees” (employees of who exactly he is not clear) recall seeing flames in the upper floors of the ministry and regime forces in the floors below. The regime forces couldn’t possibly have been stationed there, inside a government building, or maybe even attempting to put the flames out. No, the only plausible explanation is that regime forces set the blaze then dutifully stood around in the floors below waiting for the ceiling to collapse, in public view of everyone, even “employees”!

Chulov takes us on his sectarian fantasy of Homs, he leads us to believe that regime controlled areas are no longer multi-ethnic towns under the auspice of government, (as they have been for decades) these towns have morphed into “Alawite only” areas. Chulov fails to even mention that since the onset of the crisis it has been predominantly the “rebels” that have ethnically cleansed virtually every town or village they have entered, the examples are long and numerous. On the odd occasion rebel “liberated” towns and villages haven’t been completely emptied of civilian residents, the rebels have quickly laid sectarian demands upon Christian and Shi’a communities; engaged in summary executions, torture, imprisonment, and forced displacement, all on the basis of sect.

The oft-referenced town of Qusair is possibly the prime example of the duplicity inherent in reports from western “journalists” such as Chulov. He failed to show an ounce of “concern” back in 2012 when rebels entered Qusair and immediately forcibly removed all Christians living there (the vast majority of residents left at the same time, as has been the case in most rebel “liberated” areas). Indeed, he failed to even report on the rebel cleansing of Qusair. Chulov would find it extremely difficult to find a single town or village “liberated” by the extremist dominated rebels that hasn’t seen some form of ethnic cleansing, but these uncomfortable truths do not fit with his skewed narrative.

In fairness Chulov does attempt to offer some “balance” in his article, one whole sentence alludes to the mass exodus of Alawite’s from rebel held areas in the north of Syria (he doesn’t mention the thousands of Christians and Shi’a that have also been ethnically cleansed, nor the thousands of Sunnis that have left rebel-held areas due to the fundamentalist doctrine of the Salafi/Jihadi rebels forced upon them). Chulov explains this minimal episode of ethnic cleansing as a result of northern Syria being dominated by jihadists, giving the reader the false impression that rebels in other regions are not the jihadi type.

Literally every piece of information Chulov uses to bolster his “Alawite enclave” narrative is a source form a rebel leader/militant, an activist, or an anonymous source. He again tells us that the whole of the north of Homs has been “emptied of Sunni’s” and replaced with Alawites, the empirical evidence he provides? “Local leaders claim”. Leaders of what and whom Chulov fails to reveal. The sectarian narrative Chulov has relied upon bears fruit once more, and again in the form of  an “activist” account: (my emphasis)

“There have been obvious examples of denominational cleansing in different areas in Homs,” said local activist, Abu Rami. “It is denominational cleansing; part of a major Iranian Shia plan, which is obvious through the involvement of Hezbollah and Iranian militias. And it’s also part of Assad’s personal Alawite state project.”

One must seriously take this man for his word, obviously an “activist” (a common euphemism for armed opposition rebel in western media) is in a prime position to understand the workings of “Iranian Shi’a plans” and Assads “personal projects”. Maybe the Syrian Observatory told him, just after Assad and Ayatollah Khamenei relayed their plans to the man in Coventry. Chulov once again offers zero empirical evidence to back these claims and is quite literally engaging in opposition stenography. (a favourite pastime of Chulov’s; going by his work on Syria for the past two years.)

Chulov spends the remainder of the article theorising and speculating on the regimes alleged sectarian motives, all on the basis of his vague and anonymous “sources”. He tells us, quite incredibly and with no shame in the lack of journalistic integrity that “diplomatic sources in the region” – presumably the same “diplomatic sources” that have erroneously declared such falsehood as “Assads days are numbered”, which Chulov has dutifully repeated in his articles ad nauseam – have relayed that Assad is not only planning an “Alawite rump state” in the west of Syria, but the first countries Assad is making overtures toward to secure this “rump state” are his biggest enemies: (my emphasis)

Over the past six months, diplomats in the region have claimed that contingency planning for a rump state to protect Syrian Alawites has involved diplomatic contact being made by senior Syrian officials with enemy states. A mediator – a well-known diplomatic figure – is understood to have been asked by Assad to approach the former Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, late last year with a request that Israel not stand in the way of attempts to form an Alawite state, which could have meant moving some displaced communities into the Golan Heights area.

It seems Chulov is unwilling to acknowledge, or realise, that Israel is the only regional state that has overtly and opportunistically attacked Syria since the crisis erupted. It makes absolutely no sense for Assad to make overtures and relay plans to one of his biggest threats, and a state that actively conspires with the jihadi dominated opposition. Chulov also conveniently omits the fact that the “plan” he so eagerly propagates Assad is intent upon is the exact “optimal scenario” Israeli military leaders have put forward for their ideal outcome of the Syrian crisis.

How very convenient that the “optimal scenario” for Israel (and its allies in their attack on the Syrian state) just happens to be the precise narrative Chulov and others are going to great lengths to propagate. Let me be clear, Western/Israeli media is propagating the idea that Assad is attempting to build an “Alawite enclave”, because that is the exact scenario the west and its allies who are attacking Syria are intent upon. If Assad cannot be removed – which is becoming more and more unlikely without overt western intervention – then the US, Israel and their Gulf allies will attempt to “Balkanise” the Syrian state.

Did Israel just attack Syria? (again)

In a recent report from investigative journalist Richard Silverstein at the Tikun Olam blog, confidential sources within the Israeli military establishment revealed to him that the alleged bombing of a weapons depot in the Syrian town of Latakia – which sits beside the Russian controlled seaport at Tartous – was an Israeli operation, targeting advanced Russian-supplied defensive missile systems (S-300 or Yakhont), an operation that included the direct assistance of opposition militants inside Syria.

Silverstein’s Israeli source specifically states that memebers of the FSA coordinated with the IDF and engaged in a diversionary rocket attack at the time of the Israeli airstrike. The previous Israeli attack in Damascus – when rebels were on hand to film the event – bears similar hallmarks to the attack in Latakia. Yet, contrary to the previous Israeli strike on the Qassioun mountains, there has been no footage to date of the explosion, and Syrian journalists I have contacted have confirmed that there are no Syrian media reports on recent large-scale explosions in Latakia. The anti-Assad activist the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” has reported briefly on the incident and claimed Syrian soldiers were killed, and the blast could be heard kilometres from the alleged strike-zone.

In this Reuters report, titled “Syrian Naval Base Blast Points to Israel”, Qassem Saadeddine, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s “Supreme Military Council”, states: (my emphasis)

“rebel forces’ intelligence network had identified newly supplied Yakhont missiles being stored there. It was not the FSA that targeted this,… It is not an attack that was carried out by rebels.”

Saadeddine goes on to state that the attack on the base  “was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean.”  Why would a “FSA” spokesmen disavow attacks on Syrian military installations? It seems anathema to what the various incarnations of “spokesmen” have been trying to achieve for two years, namely; fabricating attacks on military installations to bolster morale within the ranks of the rebels, and deplete the morale of the Syrian Army.  These accounts seem to tally with Silverstein’s Israeli source – yet the specific weapons that were the target seem to differ. It is hard to believe that Israel would take such a risk for the Yakhonts alone, unless they have developed a superior stand-off missile system that radically reduces the risks involved – which may have been the impotus behind the “rebels” gleefull advertisement of the “success” of Israel’s earlier airstrikes on Damascus. The S-300 system is a clear advantage for Syria, enabling superior mobile air-defense, the Yakhonts are built to target war-ships and while they offer deterrent for Syria’s Mediterranean coast, they are of no use to Assad if a No-Fly Zone is enforced.

Furthermore, it must be noted that it has become widespread knowledge that Israel is, at the very least, liaising directly with “opposition” forces inside Syria. Silverstein also confirmed this to be the case, and in particular referenced the Golan Heights, this cooperation has also been reported in some avenues of mainstream media, although the reportage is usually set to a “humanitarian” tone.

In a Times of Israel report from the 1st July titled: “We Have No Beef With Israel, Syrian Islamist Group Says”, a spokesman for the rebel group “the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade” – a Salafist rebel group based in the Golan Heights/Quneitra/Daraa region with close links to Jabhat al Nusra, and the group responsible for several kidnappings of UN peacekeepers – goes as far as to thank Israel for its assistance along the border saying: “The medical help that the refugees got from Israel is a very good thing,”, and attempted to reassure Israelis that their fight is directed at the Assad regime and not them, not even in “ten years time”.   The report goes on to state: (my emphasis)

To date, Israel has admitted over two dozen Syrians into its hospitals for treatment, and the IDF has set up a field hospital on the border for treating relatively minor cases. During June 6 clashes between Syrian rebels and Assad forces at the Quneitra border crossing, the IDF treated 20 Syrian rebel combatants for injuries suffered during the gunfight, according to a recently published UN secretary-general’s report.

Moreover, Israel has also made overtures to the Druze community in and around the Quneitra/Golan Heights region, in attempts to shore-up its borders. This highlights the moral expediency and great lengths the Israeli military will go to uphold the status quo and its military dominance. The Israeli government has no concern for Syria or its people, it will happily pour fuel on the fire and enable warring factions to shed further needless blood to achieve its desired strategic objectives. As Jonathon Cook noted recently, the “optimal scenario” for the Israel military would be for the Syrian war to totally divide the state, resulting in a de-facto “balkanization”. It makes perfect sense that to achieve this, Israel are in the same position as the United States, they are looking to “level the playing field”.

Red Lines and Ambiguity.

When Reuters questioned Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon regarding the explosions in Latakia, his reply was reminiscent of official ambiguous statements regarding previous Israeli strikes in Syria. (and other various Muslim nations around the world): (my emphasis)

We have set red lines in regards to our own interests, and we keep them. There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions – in any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed for most.”

 This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean
 This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean,” he said.It is difficult to imagine that Putin is willing to take this act of aggression without reply, but as yet both Russia and Syria have been silent on the strike.. To compound this issue, it is doubtful that if the S-300 systems have been destroyed, neither Assad nor Putin would be eager shout from the rooftops that Syria’s deterrrent for a No Fly Zone has been destroyed with such relative ease and so little exposure. Russia’s reaction to the latest overt act of war against an ally Putin seems determined to uphold, along with a high probability of Russian personnel escorting the S-300 systems, could go either of two ways.If, on the one hand, the strike is ignored by both Russia and Syria, it seems the only logical explanation is that Putin has sold out to some extent and provided the Israeli’s with guarantees that Russia will not retaliate, time will tell on this score as Silverstien’s report seems definitive – especially considering the fact that since the report was published, the Israeli government have enforced blanket censorship on Latakia, and all Israeli media regarding Latakia must pass through the IDF censor’s office before publication.On the other hand, Russia could attempt to retaliate against Israeli interest in the same manner: away from the public spotlight. Putin may use the Israeli strike as justification to provide Syria with further S-300 systems, choosing to “up the ante” and covertly install the defensive systems (or better: S-400) before Israel is able to strike. If Russian military advisors were indeed escorting the S-300 and providing training to Syrian personnel, then it is hard to fathom why Putin remains silent. Despite the implications of Israel possibly attacking Russian forces; it also provides Putin – and Assad – a huge propaganda coup, as did the last strike on Damascus. Yet the silence could also be explained by diplomatic hubris; as mentioned above, it is not in Assad’s interest to tell the world his new air defense systems have already been destroyed by Israel. Yet contrary to this, it could also be in Assad’s interest to use the Israeli strike as a furtherence of his narrative of an international conspiracy against Syria; a narrative that to date, becomes more true as tiOne thing is certain, this illegal act of war represents another escalation on Israel’s behalf, and a further foray into the Syrian conflict. One only has to turn the tables to understand how drastic and risky these Israeli provocations are becoming. Imagine if Syria – or Russia – were to retaliate in the same manner and strike Israeli advanced systems on Israeli soil; the results of which would be widespread and far-reaching, and would undoubtedly include the military might of the United States lining-up against Russia. It should also be noted it is not out of character for Israel to take such huge risk in attempts to uphold the strategic status quo in the region, total military hegemony is of utmost importance to the Israeli establishment. And Israel’s prior and long-satnding record is evidence enough that International Law is not high on their agenda.

Following recent statements from Russian diplomats vowing to honour advanced weapons contracts, along with claims from Assad that the shipments had begun to arrive in response to the previous Israeli airstrike upon Syria, – which targeted elite Syrian military divisions stationed in the Qassioun Mountains in Damascus – it appears Israel may have acted upon the threat of attacking Russian weapons that “tip the balance” in the region. In reality, the result of Syria acquiring such advanced systems will diminish Israel’s ability to violate its neighbours sovereign airspace at will, and in turn, commit acts of war unhindered.

The media silence surrounding this alleged attack is disconcerting on several levels. Firstly, if indeed Russian supplied advanced weapons, either the Yakhont Surface to Sea, or the S-300 Surface to Air systems (undoubtedly accompanied by Russian military personnel) have been attacked, why is Russia silent on the issue? Have Russia given the Israeli’s guarantees that retaliation will not be forthcoming? Aside from this theory, there is the distinct possibility that an emboldened Israeli military now feels it can strike targets within Syrian territory with impunity, particularly considering the half-hearted response from Russia (and the “International Community”) to Israel’s last act of war upon Syria. Furthermore, if Israel has indeed carried out this strike and knowingly hit targets that Russian troops may be alongside, are Russia even willing or able to retaliate? Lets not forget, a war with Israel is almost a guaranteed war with the United States. Of course, to these powers this is a game of chess, and Israel like to play in the dark. Could Russia and Israel both be engaging in covert strikes against each other? Mysteriously, an Israeli F-16 “crashed during routine training” over the Mediterranean on Sunday, a mere two days after the alleged strike in Latakia; it is no secret Russia has been building a huge Naval presence in the Med.

In summary, if it is true that Israel has targeted Russian advanced systems, and all the implications that follow, Russia and Syria could be remaining silent for three reasons: firstly, out of embarrassment and an unwillingness to appear weak through lack of ability to retaliate; secondly, one of the parties is complicit; thirdly, they plan to retaliate in kind, ie: a covert operation. The only other explanation is that the strike in Latakia simply did not occur.

Why is the UK pushing the EU to designate Hezbollah as a “terrorist” group?

A distinct increase of negative coverage has been forming in Western and Gulf press, specifically regarding Hezbollah’s direct involvement in the battle currently raging to take control of the Syrian town of Qusair, the partys’ overall role in Lebanon and the region, and its ties to both Syria’s President Assad, and the government of Iran.

As the Syrian conflict has gone on, Salafi/Jihaddi fighters from at least 30 different nationalities have poured through Syria’s borders, with the tacit approval of various state sponsors of the Syrian “opposition”. In turn, and for the best part of two years, compliant media have obliged in their attempts to subvert the Salafi/Jihaddi fundamentalist dynamic that has formed the core of the opposition’s fighting force, finally relenting and admitting the fact not a single secular force is fighting against the Syrian Government. Contrary to this wilful ignorance and blatant subversion of facts; Western and Gulf media outlets now deem it their utmost priority to highlight not only Hezbollah’s direct involvement, but indeed, go to great lengths to highlight every single Hezbollah death, injury, movement or sneeze inside Syria.

Several issues need to be addressed in this somewhat disparate state of so-called ‘independent’ media when it comes to coverage of Hezbollah. The first and most glaring point is that demonizing Hezbollah and its supporters falls straight into the propaganda program of Israel and the United States, in their attempts to block resistance to US/Israeli/GCC occupation and expansion. The reasons behind this demonization are clear: the US and Israel are not now, or anywhere in the future willing to allow Hezbollah to operate on Israels’ northern border unimpeded, and both actors wish to see the resistance group annihilated. The news media will dutifully oblige its paymasters with the required public demonization through assumption of guilt and propaganda.

The Burgas Bombing and implicating Hezbollah.

Since the Bulgarian Government announced its findings into the bombing of a tourist bus that killed five Israeli’s, and a Bulgarian bus driver in July 2012, the western press, AIPAC , neo-con associated DC “think tanks”, and western government officials have gone into propaganda overdrive. Using somewhat vague statements from the Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, in a quite liberal manner, these parties with vested interests have determined culpability for the bombing fall’s on Hezbollah. One fundamental issue should be cleared before drawing any conclusion, that is, the Bulgarian Interior Minister’s statement on the issue post-investigation: (my emphasis)

“A reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption, can be made that the two of them were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,”

This is by no means a definitive statement, leaving room for interpretation suggests the Bulgarian minister is not so sure of his convictions. In this New York Times article ,we learn of the supposed damning “evidence” that has led western officials and lackey media alike, to conclude Hezbollah’s’ guilt: (my emphasis)

With help from the United States and Israel, investigators here broke the case — and linked it to Hezbollah — using a tip from a secret source and some old-fashioned detective work, tracing the printer that had produced two forged licenses back to Lebanon….Europol determined that a fake Michigan driver’s license recovered at the scene had come from Lebanon….The identity of the Australian was the second major breakthrough. In September, a European intelligence service tipped off the Bulgarians about an Australian bombmaker of Lebanese descent, the former senior Western official said. The intelligence service said he had moved to Lebanon to join Hezbollah’s military wing. Mr. Tsvetanov said Tuesday that the Australian and the Canadian moved to Lebanon, one in 2006 and one in 2010.

These snippets of anonymous information are quite literally all the evidence that has been provided to date of Hezbollah association in the Burgas bombing. So because the fake ID’s were produced in Lebanon: that proves Hezbollah made them. And because the bombers alleged and, as yet unidentified, accomplices were from Lebanon: that also proves they are “tied to” Hezbollah. Clearly, the evidence provided to date is circumstantial, at best. This lack of clear evidence will not stop either western, nor Israeli government officials, and, again, their lackey media and ‘think-tank’ counterparts in apportioning sole responsibility to Hezbollah, giving the ultimate desired outcome of guilt without trial, or indeed, any public evidence.

As investigative reporter Gareth Porter noted in February, the whole Bulgarian report is based on no more than an “assumption” or, “hypothesis” for Hezbollah complicity, yet this report form’s the basis for calls in the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Porter goes on to state: (my emphasis)

Major revelations about the investigation by the former head of the probe and by a top Bulgarian journalist have further damaged the credibility of the Bulgarian claim to have found links between the suspects and Hezbollah….The chief prosecutor in charge of the Bulgarian investigation revealed in an interview published in early January that the evidence available was too scarce to name any party as responsible, and that investigators had found a key piece of evidence that appeared to contradict it.

Karadzhova revealed how little was known about the two men who investigators believe helped the foreigner killed by the bomb he was carrying, but whom Tsvetanov would later link to Hezbollah. The reason, she explained, is that they had apparently traveled without cell phones or laptops…..Only two kinds of information appear to have linked the two, according to the Karadzhova interview, neither of which provides insight into their political affiliation. One was that both of them had led a “very ordered and simple” lifestyle, which she suggested could mean that they both had similar training.

The other was that both had fake Michigan driver’s licenses that had come from the same country. It was reported subsequently that the printer used to make the fake Michigan driver’s licenses had been traced to Beirut.

But Karadzhova’s biggest revelation was that investigators had found a SIM card at the scene of the bombing and had hoped it would provide data on the suspect’s contacts before they had arrived at the scene of the bombing. But the telecom company in question was Maroc Telecom, and the Moroccan firm had not responded to requests for that information.

That provenance of the SIM Card is damaging to the Hezbollah “hypothesis”, because Maroc Telecom sells its cards throughout North Africa – a region in which Hezbollah is not known to have any operational bases but where Al-Qaeda has a number of large organisations.

Morocco is also considered a “staunch ally” of the United States, so it is unlikely that the Moroccan government would have refused a request from the United States to get the necessary cooperation from Moroccan Telecom.

Clearly, anyone claiming Hezbollah as responsible for the Burgas bombing is pushing a somewhat skewed and misinformed agenda. Not only is the evidence both flimsy and circumstantial, the chief prosecutor laid doubt on any possible Hezbollah role on live television. Why would Israel, or the US choose not to follow the SIM card? Or even bother to request the Moroccan telecoms company release the information?

Britain launches campaign in the EU.

This brings us to recent reports of the British governments renewed attempts to persuade the EU to designate Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organisation. The UK is now pushing the EU for this designation to enable possible sanctions, and the Burgas bombing is a key component in the case against the organisation; the bombing is mentioned in virtually every article on the issue, and has been cited as a reason for Germany’s apparent sway in the UK’s direction.

For Israel, the United States and their GCC partners, the timing could not be better. Again, the hypocrisy is blatant. None of the NATO states that are pushing for terrorist designations against Hezbollah have a single negative word to say regarding the plethora of militant Salafi/Jihaddi groups they have abetted into Syria; (*other than Jabhat al Nusra*) these groups have not only attacked Syria’s security infrastructure and Government personnel, they have also openly committed massacres, hundreds of car bombings in built-up civilian areas, extra-judicial killings, rape, torture, and looting. But these are the good guys the west are supporting in their valiant fight for democracy in Syria, or perhaps strict Sharia?

As these western/GCC proxies start to lose more and more ground against the Syrian Army, (and Hezbollah have been a key factor in that) Israel pursues illegal military airstrikes against supposed “game changing” weapons, and the NATO states dutifully push their “diplomatic” pressure in the UN and the EU against Hezbollah under dubious allegations. These dynamics are inextricably linked to the Western/Israeli/GCC efforts to block the “Shiite crescent”.

In Lebanon itself, the US/UK et al accuse Hezbollah of being responsible for the current conflagration on the Syrian border, which is also flaring up in northern Tripoli, without mentioning the fact Lebanon has been a key route for opposition militants to enter Syria. Since the very start of the Syrian crisis, northern Lebanon and the town of Qusair have been a rebel transit point and stronghold; allowing the free flow of heavily armed militant Salafi/Jihaddi fighters. But this seems to be what western leaders promote, and are indeed making great efforts to support. William Hague talks of “conflict spread” and propagates the falsehood that Hezbollah pose a threat to Lebanese internal security, while the UK and its allies arm, fund, promote, and provide diplomatic cover to the very Salafists Hezbollah is busy defending Shiite villages and Syrian civilians from. The West is supporting the very same democracy spreading Salafi/Jihaddi proxies that completely expelled all Christians from Qusair upon their arrival. Are the west and its allies, in their determination to overthrow the Assad government, and by extension destroy any resistance Hezbollah can muster against Israeli aggression, now supporting ethnic cleansing?

If Hezbollah, who up until the Syrian crisis peacefully co-existed in a country belonging of 18 different sects no less, whilst being an active member of Lebanese government and its security infrastructure, are supposed terrorists, then one has to ask: what are the extremist, sectarian militants the west is supporting supposed to represent? Freedom Fighters? Furthermore, and, considering the insurmountable volumes of evidence of western state-sponsored terror, one must also ask: what purpose, other than further “legal” UN-endorsed western-led military aggression, does the designation of Hezbollah as “Terrorist” ultimately serve?

Buying time in Syria.

The US government and its “Re-directional” middle east policy planners are buying time in Syria. The current softening of US rhetoric is merely a smokescreen to enable the US Government and its autocratic GCC (Gulf Co-Operation Council) allies to shift strategies and proxy allegiances, in their aggressive regime change objectives in Syria and Iran. Currently, US and Gulf proxies are losing ground to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) nationwide.

In the last month to six weeks the SAA has been on a concerted nationwide offensive, targeting Salafi/Jihaddi inspired militia that have encamped in cities, towns and villages all over the country. These efforts have concentrated on two key objectives: firstly, to enable the Syrian Government and its army to fight on indefinitely, continue receiving supplies, materiel and in some instances personnel from its international allies: Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. Furthermore, the army has also concentrated on starving, and cutting off “rebel” supply routes and arms corridors, which predominantly run through Northern Lebanon,  Turkey, and Jordan.

Initially, the US was hoping for a “slam dunk” of  regime change in Syria, a la Libya no fly zone (NFZ). Russia and China put an immediate stop to these pernicious attempts of aggression in the UNSC: a major blow to short-term US imperial designs in the region. This left the US with the option of carrying its plan forward covertly, with its regional allies and their proxies, or, attempting a “humanitarian intervention” with its own, or its regional allies conventional forces. For many an obvious reason, the US administration chose to continue in its pursuit of the former covert strategy, primarily for domestic political appeal, (no boots on the ground!) whilst also subverting the UN to continue its illegal policy unimpeded. The Syrian Army’s success on the ground; alongside its allies unwillingness to bow to US demands in the UN, has meant this covert proxy strategy has come to an almost standstill. The US is unable to overtly arm the current disparate melee of militants: predominantly Islamic extremist’s fighting on the ground in Syria, or gain its coveted no-fly zone. This is where the strategy has become entangled, and why the US State Department is currently changing its public rhetoric and paying lip service to Russia’s defiant stance based on the 2012 Geneva Communique in the UN, calling on all sides to partake in peaceful transition. The last thing the US wants in Syria, is to allow Assad to stand in elections.

The US objective of swift regime change has drastically failed thus far in Syria, the GCC fomented extremist militia acting as shock troops have taken on the leading role in the insurgency, gaining the most in recruits, arms and funding: and ultimately success on the ground. In the long-term, and the more this dynamic is allowed to overtly foment and expand, and gains public exposure, the more counter-productive it becomes for the US. Several other reasons must be taken into consideration with regard to the US changing its overt rhetoric and short-term objectives. First, the administration cannot be seen to be overtly arming and funding militia, whose core leadership comprises of Al Qaeda ideologues and sympathisers. In addition the Syrian Army and its allies within the “axis of resistance”, have proven a far more capable and determined fighting force than anticipated; Syria’s international allies appear unwilling to roll over and allow the US to steamroll into forming their own revamped Sykes-Picot agreement. In addition, another crucial obstruction is the western public’s refusal to be hoodwinked into another act of aggression under false pretences. As a result of this public dissatisfaction, the US Government itself, is in a state of conflict within the foreign policy and intelligence establishment on how best to implement its imperial designs.

In recent statements US Secretary of State John Kerry, has attempted to give the impression he is leaning towards Russia’s way of thinking, with many added caveats of course: this is simply diplomatic bluster. Much speculation has been afforded to the theory that Russia, still overtly supportive of the Syrian Government, has supplied the SAA with renewed and sophisticated air-defense missile batteries. Russia vaguely deny and claim they are only fulfilling previous contracts (of which the S-300 was included), “anonymous sources” confirm or speculate further, the US harps on about Israeli “security” (post Israeli aggression on Damascus) and no clear picture of Russian military objective is obtained. Regardless, something has definitely changed in both the US’ overt rhetoric, and the media vehicles that propagate it. Much more attention is being paid to the actual ideologies of the militants fighting the SAA, and the repercussions on the whole region if the Syrian Government and its security infrastructure is overthrown. A recent report suggested the CIA is already looking to target Jahbat al Nusra: the strongest, and indeed, most overtly extreme of the “rebel” militia; the CIA is also looking to use so-called “moderate” rebels to undertake this targeting for them. It beggars belief that the US is seriously considering splitting the “opposition” insurgency against its most effective fighting force, to try to “stabilise” an already critical situation. To some extent, this is exactly what the administrations plans appear to be: the US is attempting to reinvigorate the extremist infested, and corrupt insurgency, to reshape and rebrand those it is supporting and funding to overthrow the Syrian Government.

One fact remains, and is an overall positive one for the US and its allies long-term objectives in the region. Syria is in a total state of crisis and in no position to afford Iran any defense against attack; its whole social fabric is being ripped apart by sectarian hatred, revenge, and outright brutality. This societal division, is the overarching desired outcome for the Neo-Cons and apartheid apologists that hold sway within the US foreign policy elite. Israel’s recent airstrikes are another key indicator as to the long-term western-establishment goal of constant destabilization. In this war, Israel will, as always, act as a conduit for western foreign Policy, whilst furthering its own genocidal agenda. The US, and by extension Israel, are more than happy to abandon the Gulf fomented extremists that the US, and its Gulf allies so eagerly propagated into war. A “desirable” Henry Kissinger-esque outcome for these parties would be total annihilation of both sides, followed by quick installation of compliant strongman-puppet, and, preferably: some ethnic division, secession, and further weakening of a unified bloc of resistance to western resource/land theft, and imperialism. The only thing stopping this outcome and its inevitable human suffering and destruction, is resistance. But resistance of US imperialism comes at a heavy price for such out-gunned nations, and the US, Israel and their entirely undemocratic GCC allies will persist unabated in their long-term objective to overturn the Syrian Government; wipe out Hezbollah; suppress the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, and dominate Iran.

Moral expediency. The US, Israel and Al Qaeda in Syria.

Recent Israeli airstrikes on Damascus have once again shed light on a defining western-led policy when it comes to the Middle East: strategic moral expediency. Once again, the counterproductive, and age-old policy of: “the enemy of my enemy: is my friend,” crops up in the realm of western foreign policy in the Middle East.

What is so counterintuitive for most, or, what most of the western “news” media are subverting or pretending not to recognise: is the recent Israeli strikes prove outright that Israel, acting on behalf of the US, is fighting on the same side as Al Qaeda in Syria. Western efforts to bolster supposed ‘moderate rebels’ have clearly only bolstered what has always been the main demographic of the militant ‘opposition’: Salafi/Jihaddi inspired and fomented militias, that do not espouse anything close to democracy. Apart from the obvious clash of religious ideology, strategically speaking, actually ousting Assad is where the radical Islamic militants and Bibi may differ. Bibi and Co. would no doubt be more than happy to see a much weakened Assad Government stay in some sort of power, and allow the Syrian conflict to rumble on for twenty years. Ideally, for Israel and the US the aim is a ‘Balkanized’ array of weak statelets. What Israel and the US do not want, is a strong and stable Syria, or Levant, or Greater Middle East for that matter; unless those ‘strong’ states fall under the auspices of the USA. (eg: KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Turkey et al)

This is another blatant example of western Government’s moral expediency when it comes to strategic objectives. Let’s not forget, it was the CIA that enabled the creation of Al Qaeda: in US attempt’s to “give Russia its Vietnam” during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In this instance it has also been proven that the CIA, through mainly Saudi Arabia and the ISI, (Pakistani intelligence service) fomented, exploited and manipulated young, unemployed conservative Sunni muslim men from across the globe, to go and wage a holy war against the US’ number one enemy. This was not to enable any form of democracy or self-determination in Afghanistan, it was simply a war game: to bog down the Soviet Forces and ultimately bring about the end of the Soviet Union. Inevitably, the US and its clients enabling such radical anti-western ideologues to play as pawns in its geopolitical strategies, is where blowback comes into play, but is this ultimately a desired outcome? To create the perpetual enemy? One that is no real threat to ‘the homeland’, (or the elites that comfortably reside within) but can be exploited and manipulated to both leverage and attack US enemies. Or be used as a tool to suppress domestic populations and civil liberties, under the false guise of “National Security” and “the War on Terror”.

Long ago, the Bush administration made a concerted effort to consolidate, and expand on its economic and military ties with its predominantly autocratic Sunni leaders in the region. These are portrayed as attempts to curb the “Shiite crescent” or, realistically: pressure Iran into submission. This is not a new phenomenon, Since its UK-led inception, the West has enjoyed a “special relationship” with the brutal monarchy of Saudi Arabia. As empire crossed the Atlantic post WWII, so did these key relationships. (Though the UK still likes to pretend it is more than a Special Forces sub-contractor for the Pentagon.) This is both an economic necessity, and a strategic one for western powers. One crucial element we learn in Seymour Hersh’s enlightening piece “The Redirection”, is the Bush administrations willingness to use its Sunni allies in the region to fund, foment and propagate radical Islamic militants to subvert/leverage the Assad Government in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran’s resistance to US/Israeli/GCC hegemony. The sectarian division of Syria has been long-planned by these allies, one would be an utter fool to deny its now evident outcome.

Most Syria analysts with an ounce of honesty now fully admit the vast majority of supposed “rebels” are Salafi/Jihaddi inspired militants, or at least under the leadership and funding of such ideologues. Indeed, the US terrorist designated-militant jiahddi group linked directly to Al Qaeda: Jahbat al Nusra, have long been the prominent fighting force in Syria. This is no coincidence. While the US and its Gulf allies feign innocence, and claim the millions of dollars and thousands of tons of military aid they have provided has been allocated to ‘moderate rebels’: it is in fact the Salafi/Jihaddi groups that have risen and gained in quality and size of arsenal, recruitment, and success on the ground.

The military tide has most definitely changed in the SAA’s favour in recent weeks, the Syrian Army has routed the Salafi/Jihaddi militants in several key areas; this is the reasoning behind Israels recent raids on Damascus. It beggars belief that Assad, currently fighting for his life and his Governments stake in Syria, would move substantial quantities of sophisticated weapons out of Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The US and its allies (clients) are panicking, the “Redirection” has not gone precisely according to plan, (does US strategy ever go to plan?) and is currently reeling out of control. The extremist proxies Gulf autocrats have fomented and armed are a law unto themselves, and the ‘opposition in exile’ is as incoherent and incapable today, as it was on the day of its US/Qatari/Saudi creation. Whether the US has finally reneged on its proxies in Syria, and pulled the plug on its clients attempts to supply heavy weaponry remains to be seen. It is virtually impossible for the US to step up its overt military aid to jihaddi militants, so it must fall back on Israel. There are two key reasons for this. First, the Israel military is already an international pariah, with no credibility to lose in the middle east, the US is trying to hold on to what little credibility it has. Second, US jets using an Arab client’s airfield to launch strikes on a fellow Arab nation, would provide far too much domestic political backlash for the KSA, or any other client to allow it. Time and US perseverance may force someone into this role. But using Israel makes it irrelevant. The Jordanian Monarchy has already allowed Israeli drones to use its airspace, and as we know has been staging a huge multinational special forces base on Syria’s border, for quite some time.

One cannot honesty look at the current situation in Syria; the plethora of available evidence of Salafi/Jihaddist militants since the start of the conflict; the main donors and funders of supposed “freedom fighters”, and still deem it as anything other than a regional war. Instigated by the Bush administration and its GCC clients, and dutifully carried out by the Obama administration and the Neo-Con hawks that sway foreign policy in Washington. The ultimate goal was the swift overthrow of the Syrian Government, and leaving behind another failed state; incapable of resistance to US/Israeli/GCC hegemony in the region. That ship has sailed, the false democratic ‘revolution’ is long over. The SAA has regained in confidence and is winning its offensive, the media war on the Syrian Government seems also to be coming to a grinding standstill. Apart from the “massacre” and “chemical weapons” agitprop from Western and Gulf outlets, there is not much more they can throw at them. Much to the Wests chagrin, the Syrian government is still standing; it still has a strong and well equipped army that is winning its chosen battles; it still has popular support within its borders, and crucially, it still has the backing of international allies.

One cannot imagine if this were still being purported as a “grassroots democratic uprising,” that the US would be eager to use Israel and give the Assad regime such a propaganda coup. It is too late for falsehoods now, and desperate times call for desperate measures. What remains to be seen is whether the recent Israeli strikes were a precedent of more to come, an attempt to prolong the internal conflict and “level the playing field”, or simply, a provocation toward Iran.

Israel, Syria, airstrikes and “game changers”.

Israeli military officials today confirmed IAF warplanes targeted a supposed shipment of “game changing” weapons inside Syria, allegedly destined for Hezbollah. These “game changing advanced missiles”, (if they exist) have been reported to have been “advanced ground to ground missiles”

Whats interesting, is the similar modus operandi of another recent IAF airstrike on Syria in January, which was also claimed to be targeting a “weapons convoy”. Indeed, the convoy that was targeted may well have been carrying weapons/Manpad’s, but that was not Israel’s primary target. In this case the target, and result of the strike was the death of Iranian IRCG General Hassan Shateri: a major coup for Israel’s continuing aggression and shadow war against Iran. The Times of London reported in February that an Israeli military source revealed Israeli assets spotted Shateri in Damascus, trailed him as he boarded the “convoy” headed for Lebanon, after which the airstrike option was “utilized”. This shows that Israel’s military planners are willing to take huge risk in their opportunistic “targeted killings” of IRGC and Hezbollah commanders, and fully exploit the current conflict in Syria as a means to eradicate and weaken its enemies.

In the run-up to the Shateri assassination, there was also a heavy and blatant increase in IAF airspace violations over Lebanon, these were ultimately recon flights and strike simulations. This strategy appears to be the case in the recent strike on Syrian soil, at the moment of typing, it appears Israeli missiles were fired from jets in Lebanese airspace across the border into Syria.

With the Syrian Government and armed forces facing a full on insurgency; it is hard to believe they would choose to ship large consignments of sophisticated weapons out of the country, during a period it is facing an increased threat of western/GCC military action against it. Further still, Hezbollah is currently engaged in the war against western/GCC proxies in Syria, it poses no offensive threat to Israel at this moment in time. Another major issue going against this “game changing missiles” narrative is the fact that similar range missiles will already be in the arsenal of both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and, to some extent Hezbollah.

Although more of these weapons would prove a major obstacle to any future Israeli aggression on Lebanon, it’s certainly not a “game changing” dynamic. Israel’s huge military apparatus and air supremacy bare no comparison to the small arsenal’s inside Lebanon. Indeed, after the Shateri strike an IDF official was quoted in the Times article as saying: “a weapons convoy to Lebanon is not on its own a good enough reason for Israel to risk its pilots in an attack through a heavily protected air defense zone.” Although striking from the oft-violated Lebanese airspace puts paid to these Israeli concerns, it still seems an awfully risky manouvre for the sake of a few missiles.

Speaking on Friday Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman accused Israel of:  “trying to destabilise the country” and, called continuing IAF airspace violations: ” Israel’s policy of intimidation”. So who or what was the real target? On the face of it, Israeli airstrikes against Syrian Army/Hezbollah are only going to bolster radical Sunni militia affiliated with Al Qaeda? Oh sorry i forgot, they’re on the same side in this proxy-war. The west’s (ergo Israel’s) strategic moral expediency in plain sight.