A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
September 16 , 2007 A Fuller Picture of the Attack on Syria
Slowly but surely, the full story of the Israeli attack on Syria has been unfolding. It's taken nearly a week for the world’s media to uncover and report the news that was posted in this column last Sunday. A few more details have emerged. Reading between the lines of the Israelis who reported on what foreign media have reported in the US, here is what I think we now know:
For many months Israeli intelligence has been concerned that Syria had entered into a partnership with North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. At first, the Americans did not share those concerns, but slowly mounting proof– including clear photographic evidence made the case.
For the last few months we have all heard the concerns of war this summer with Syria. Much of it made little sense. The talk of Miscalculations-- the idea that Israel would launch an attack--even the idea that Assad had learned the lessons of Lebanon and was ready to launch a war of Attrition, I reported, as well, but with great skepticism. It has now become clear that the concern all centered on the events of this past week. Israel, it would seem, has known that a red line would be crossed sometime this summer in the Syrian program–– and that when that red line was crossed, Israel would be forced to attack. Israel feared a Syrian response, and thus prepared for a possible war. That red line seems to have been the arrival of a ship carrying some elements of the program from North Korea three days before the attack. What was on the ship? Whether nuclear fuel or something else is still not clear-- but its arrival was clearly the event that triggered the attack. Israel braced for a Syrian response and still does. However, it is my opinion that a response was more likely if the attack had not been as successful as it was. The complete success of the attack-- it seems Israel totally wiped out whatever facility it attacked, making any conventional Syrian response very unlikely.
On Sunday, Military Intelligence Chief, Amos Yadlin, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees that Israel has restored its deterrence capabilities, since the Second Lebanon War last summer. What was implied, though not said was that the success of the mission has made it clear to both Syria and Iran that Israel can attack anywhere in the region with relative impunity. Both the Syrian and Iranian investment in anti-aircraft systems has proven to be ineffectual, thus, while the Syrians and Iranians can use rockets as terror weapons, it is clear that every strategic target in both states can be successfully attacked by Israel in response.
I must say the success of this mission, and more remarkably the ability of the government to keep a secret, both before and after the mission, has certainly restored a certain modicum of respect to the Olmert government. Keeping secrets before missions has not been a problem, but getting the entire cabinet to keep their mouths sealed in circumstances like this is a small miracle.