US commentator Jeff Nyquist doesn’t mince words.
Here is an abridged version of his take on the looming war in the Middle East.
The Syrian army has been mobilized and is digging defensive positions. Syrian military leaders have been meeting with Iranian military leaders to coordinate war preparations. The Russians and Chinese have been sending significant arms shipments to Syria, including advanced MiG-31 fighters, Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship missiles, Metis-M and Kornet anti-tank missiles (used to stop the Israeli offensive in Lebanon last year), and sophisticated anti-air missiles. A new generation of Russian weapons, fielded after the “collapse” of the Soviet Union, have strengthened Syria’s overall military position. It is not that Syria can defeat Israel in a ground war. It is a question of improved attrition capabilities. The Israeli military has a low tolerance for attrition.
The Syrians seem to expect an attack on their country. The Syrian government is allegedly moving sensitive state archives out of Damascus. Rockets are being sent to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. What is going on? Is a major terrorist strike being contemplated against Israel? Will this strike involve chemical, biological or nuclear weapons? Will this strike implicate Syria? Without a simultaneous Egyptian attack on Israel from the south, Syria cannot successfully make war on Israel from the north. And yet, Syria feels that war is coming. It’s as if the Syrians know something is going to happen.
Iran and Syria may be militarily weak compared to Israel and the United States, but political cracks have appeared on the U.S. side. Washington may prove helpless. The Middle East is a powder keg, ready to explode. The Israelis and the Americans want peace. But every olive branch has proved a snare. The Syrians and their Iranian allies want blood. And blood they shall have. The Bush administration says the Syrians are “fueling the war in Iraq.” The Iranians are doing the same.
These regional powers seek to benefit from America’s Iraq invasion, and they expect to expand their power when America inevitably retreats. . Two high-ranking Iranian military delegations visited Damascus recently to coordinate plans for a future Middle East war. The Syrians and Iranians intend to “intensify their terrorist operations against U.S. and British troops.”
Iran and Syria have a mutual defense pact. Both are being supplied with Russian and Chinese weapons, and both are expecting a war by the end of summer. How will the war start? Perhaps it will begin with an American preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Perhaps the troop surge has convinced them of Bush’s aggressive intentions. But the troop surge has proved disappointing. More likely, the Syrians and Iranians think that Bush is politically crippled and incapable of a major offensive. If the Bush administration were consistent and logical, and completely contemptuous of public opinion, then an attack on Syria and Iraq could occur. Some have argued that President Bush is actively preparing for a wider war in the Middle East. But this is doubtful.
The strategy of Iran and Syria, like the strategy of Muslim terrorists, is manipulated by Moscow and Beijing. It is Moscow’s timetable that carries the most weight. Moscow supplies the needed weapons, and the intelligence assessments.
According to the late Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer assassinated by Russian operatives last November, Moscow wants America to be bogged down in a Middle East war. Top leaders in al Qaeda are Russian agents. The Russians trained many terrorist leaders in Gaza and the West Bank. And Russia is well served by growing violence in Lebanon. Middle East conflict keeps oil prices high, and that makes money for oil-rich Russia. The American economy is thereby weakened.
War is a good thing for powers that seek to exploit trouble.