A few days ago I mentioned a story, which first broke in the Arab press and was then verified by Israeli intelligence, that Syria was providing the terrorist group Hezbollah with SCUD missiles. Obviously there’s only one use for a SCUD and it isn’t defensive.
Syria, as you probably remember, has a huge stockpile of chemical weapons – weapons easily delivered by SCUD. Hezbollah, financed by Iran, is buying the missiles from Syria and is moving them into south Lebanon. The 15,000 man UN force there to keep such rearming from happening are apparently useless. Of course SCUD missiles fired from southern Lebanon can range all of Israel and present a very real threat to the nation. Syria is also providing advanced anti-aircraft systems to protect the SCUDs and their launchers.
Israel has made it clear that it holds Syria directly responsible for this situation and that any attack by Hezbollah with Syrian weapons will be considered to be an attack by Syria itself. And, of course, it will be met by Israeli attacks on Syria proper:
“We’ll return Syria to the Stone Age by crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us,” said an Israeli minister, who who was speaking off-the-record, last week.
The warning, which was conveyed to Damascus by a third party, was sent to reinforce an earlier signal by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister. “If a war breaks out the Assad dynasty will lose its power and will cease to reign in Syria,” he said earlier this year.
In reality the “Assad dynasty” is much less powerful now than Assad’s father ruled. Syrian President Bashar Assad isn’t the leader his father was and it is feared more radical elements within Syria are pushing for a confrontation with Israel. It appears they hoped to do that by proxy, but Israel has put them on notice that option is closed. In the meantime the article notes that Beirut , whose control was tenuous at best, seems to have totally lost control of Hezbollah now.
It is hard to imagine this sort of a capability not being used by extremists such as those in Hezbollah if they actually posses it. And this situation points out very well why places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria are dangerous to the stability of the world – state sponsors of terrorism can and do provide these extremist groups with the means to arm and train themselves, and – in the case of Syria – access to powerful weapons which have a WMD capability.
“This is the first time that an internationally known terror organisation has been equipped with ballistic missiles,” said the minister.
Israel’s promise to attack Syria should Hezbollah fire SCUDs into Israel is the appropriate way to handle this sort of a situation and is a threat the US should firmly support.
“We are obviously increasingly concerned about the sophisticated weaponry that is allegedly being transferred,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.
And, as Israelis have in the past, I wouldn’t put it past them if they did a little preemptive SCUD hunting in southern Lebanon if their intel turns some up. It would serve to protect their cities as well as verifying the existence of the missiles in southern Lebanon. Obviously the UN isn’t up to the job of ensuring they’re kept out.