“Any Attack on Syria is an Attack on Iran.”
Just Back From The Mideast – And I’m Really Worried
By Eric Margolis
February 03, 2013 "Information
- The Mideast is stumbling into one of its most
dangerous crisis in decades. I’m just back from the region –
and as an old Mideast hand, I am very worried.
This region is always tense, but right now a series of
separate conflicts are rapidly beginning to intersect. We
see the Mideast, North Africa and the Sahara buffeted by
revolutions and counter-revolutions. Old colonial powers
France and Britain, and the US, are trying to reassert their
domination in the region. The jihadist are back.
In a brazen act of war, Israel launched airstrikes on Syria
last Wednesday in a clear attempt to worsen the crisis in
that war-torn nation and challenge Syria’s ally, Iran.
Israel’s forces are on high alert and may invade Syria,
whose strategic Golan Heights were seized and annexed by
Israel. Will more Syrian land follow?
Goaded by Israel, Iran thundered “any attack on Syria is an
attack on Iran.” An Iranian general warned Tel Aviv might
come under attack. Hot air, as they say in Farsi. Separated
from ally Syria by Iraq, Iran’s not very mobile ground
forces would be unable to intervene in Syria in any
substantial way. Israel’s air force would devastate any
Iranian columns advancing in open terrain.
Iran’s feeble air force is barely operational after decades
of crushing embargos by the United States and its allies.
Tehran’s dilapidated warplanes are far more menacing to
their pilots than their enemies. Iran’s passenger airliners
are flying coffins thanks to the US embargo of new aircraft
and spare parts.
The only way Iran could strike at Israel is by firing
medium-ranged Shahab-III missiles and a small number of
Sajjil-2 solid propellant missiles. Both are inaccurate.
Their 750-1,000 kg conventional warheads would only do
limited damage – unless they made a lucky hit on Israel’s
heavily defended Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel estimates that a major Iranian non-nuclear strike
would only cause a few hundred casualties. Israel is fast
deploying a multi-layer anti-missile system: the Arrow-III,
which has shown high hit probability in tests against
missile warheads. The low level Iron Dome system, which had
an 80% hit probability against rockets fired from Gaza, and
the new, highly accurate David’s Sling high altitude system,
and more systems in the pipeline, give Israel’s the world’s
most advanced and accurate anti-missile system that could be
relied on to knock down a majority of incoming missiles from
More important, Israel would quickly counter-attack once its
powerful radars (and a US-manned X-band radar based in
Israel that can scan Iran) spot missile being launched by
Tehran. Israel has its own arsenal of accurate medium-ranged
missiles, armed drones, its powerful air force, and
satellites watching Iran.
How would Israel know that an incoming Iranian missile was
conventionally armed and not carrying a nuclear warhead?
Rather than gamble, Israel would probably hit Iran with its
own nuclear arsenal, including nuclear-tipped cruise
missiles fired by Israeli submarines lurking in the Red Sea
and Indian Ocean.
Iran is not believed to have nuclear warheads – but how can
Israel really be sure since it successfully concealed its
own nuclear program from the United States.
Meanwhile, Egypt threatens to turn into another Syria. The
chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces just warned his
strife-torn nation is on the “brink of collapse.”
Conservative Arab nations, the US and Britain are fuelling a
counter-revolution by Mubarakist forces and Christians.
Egypt’s economy has all but collapsed, igniting violent
social unrest. A coup may be imminent.
Syria is teetering on the brink of national collapse. The
Assad government has no popularity beyond its Alawi base,
but half of Syrians don’t want to live in an Islamic state
and fear what will happen to them if insurgent forces seize
power. Syria’s economy has almost ceased to function. This
bloody civil war threatens to turn Syria into a larger
version of the ghastly 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war that I
Russia is growling in the background. Syria, recall, is as
close to Russia’s southern border as northern Mexico is to
Texas. Washington is underestimating Russia’ growing anger.
Israel is still determined to push the US into war against
Iran. The Turks can’t decide whether to be neutrals or
reborn Ottomans. Caution: danger ahead.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally
syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New
York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles
Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times,
Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia
and other news sites in Asia.
www.ericmargolis.com reaches global readers on a
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013
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