NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Israel’s success story

Israeli air strike did not hit nuclear facility, intelligence officials say

Israel did not strike a nuclear weapons facility in Syria on Sept. 6, instead striking a cache of North Korean missiles, current and former intelligence officials say.

American intelligence sources familiar with key events leading up to the Israeli air raid tell RAW STORY that what the Syrians actually had were North Korean No-Dong missiles, possibly located at a site in either the city of Musalmiya in the northern part of Syria or further south around the city of Hama.

While reports have alleged the US provided intelligence to Israel or that Israel shared their intelligence with the US, sources interviewed for this article believe that neither is accurate. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — If an explanation for the purpose of the Israeli attack could be derived from understanding the nature of the target, by this point I think that the veil of secrecy would have been lifted. The fact that it hasn’t may have more to do with how little rather than how much the veil conceals. Indeed, it suggests that the physical target in Syria may well have had much less to do with Israel’s political objectives than has been assumed.

As former Clinton administration Middle-East envoy, Dennis Ross notes:

Statecraft involves using all the tools of the state to affect the behavior of friends and foes alike. Israel’s raid against the Syrian plant reflects the use of a military instrument applied quite selectively to affect the psychologies of many different actors on the world stage. Whether it will have the affect [sic] the Israelis desire remains to be seen. But for now, the Israelis have made a statement without triggering a wider conflict in the process.

The statement seems to be: Israel can conduct a regional military operation at a time and place of its choosing and suffer no adverse consequences. As if to underline this sense of impunity, Israel announced today that it welcomes the US’s oblique invitation for Syria to join the upcoming Mideast peace conference. (How comforted Bashar al-Assad must feel, knowing that Olmert harbors no lingering hostility!)

As Ross points out, “had Israel taken credit for the raid, Arab states would have felt duty-bound to condemn it, Israel’s resort to force, and its unilateral effort to impose its will once again.” Not only that, but skepticism about the conference might then likely have led to non-cooperation.

But the message of Israel’s success — success deriving from what didn’t happen — also resonated clearly in Washington where:

…administration hawks had closely studied the international fallout from Israel’s clandestine raid on Syria… as a guide to how military action against Iran would be received.

“Their attitude is: where was the fuss? Some of them think they would get away with it in Iran,” the source said.

As for what conclusions Syria and Iran draw from this episode, neither the Israelis nor Americans seem to care — for as long, that is, that they can continue to spin their success story.

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