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  Middle East & Africa
Letters from Tokyo
Israel Violates the Sovereignty of Syria
Departing Hillary Clinton Accuses Iran and Russia
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
Hillary Clinton
International reports about the airstrike by Israel against Syria still remain shrouded in mystery because of misinformation and genuine lack of knowledge in many quarters. The government of Syria is adamant that Israel must be held accountable for violating international law because the attack is unjustifiable and violates all protocol. Despite this, and with many nations seeking answers from Israel, the political elites in Tel Aviv are saying nothing about the real reasons behind this attack.

Hillary Clinton, the departing US Secretary of State, stuck to the pro-Israel line while not indicating fully the reasons behind the attack against Syria. However, other officials at the White House indicated that the airstrike by Israel was aimed at a convoy of vehicles, which were going to supply Hezbollah with powerful weapons. Yet after the Libya debacle whereby senior figures within the Obama administration openly provided misinformation; then clearly many people are skeptical. Indeed, Hillary Clinton appears to be spinning her own comments on the attack by Israel because of ongoing issues related to Libya. Also, the White House issued a comment which contradicts what Hillary Clinton stated.

Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton points the finger at Iran and the Russian Federation for supplying the government of Syria with military weapons and giving technical assistance. She states that Iran wants President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power therefore “We believe they have acted on that by sending in more personnel, not only to help Assad, but to support and advise military security forces.”

Hillary Clinton also stated that Iran was stepping up its support of the government of Syria because “Assad is using up his weaponry.” However, Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser at the White House would appear to contradict this comment by Hillary Clinton. Ben Rhodes comments that “Syria should not further destabilize the region by transferring weaponry to Hezbollah” and this relates to the airstrike by Israel.

Therefore, on the one hand “Assad is using up his weaponry” but on the other hand Syria according to the White House is “destabilizing the region by transferring weaponry to Hezbollah.” Clearly these comments are contradictory to say the least. Also, it is known that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and various Islamist terrorist factions are especially obtaining military arms because of the role of Turkey in the destabilization of Syria. Of course, you have other rat lines in parts of Lebanon and the Libya connection is potent because of the vast quantities of military hardware which is swimming around this failed nation state. Meanwhile, the government of Iraq can’t control the vast border areas with Syria and the same applies to the internal Islamist terrorist threat which remains potent. Likewise, covert operatives have tried to manipulate Jordan in order to thin out the armed forces of Syria. Despite this, Turkey is the main conduit whereby funding from France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other nations in the Gulf, are sending financial and military assistance to the FSA and various Islamist terrorist factions. Alongside this, nations like America and the United Kingdom are involved in murky dealings.

According to the BBC a US official told them “that the target had been a convoy carrying SA-17 surface-to-air missiles bound for the Shia militant movement Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.” This appears to make little sense because Syria’s border area with Israel is not high on the list during the current destabilization of this nation. After all, the shipment of military equipment, covert operatives, terrorists, and anti-Syrian strategists, are mainly entering Syria through Turkey. After Turkey, then many rat lines are entering Syria by utilizing Lebanon in areas outside of the control of Hezbollah and whereby the Libya connection is also instrumental. The Libya connection applies to the supply of military hardware and the flow of terrorists from North African nations like Libya and Tunisia. Therefore, why would Syria be interested in supplying much needed military equipment to another party given the seriousness of the crisis in Syria? In the same vein of thinking, then why would Syria also open another front with a powerful neighbor at this moment in time given the ongoing crisis in this nation?

Surely, it is in the interest of Syria to reduce the rat lines by dealing directly with nations which are willing to listen. For example, apparently Jordan will take greater measures to stem certain channels from destabilizing Syria. Similarly, the government of Iraq is equally worried about Islamist terrorists using both Iraq and Syria respectively, in order to destabilize both nations. After all, it is clear that Sunni Islamist terrorists hate both the governments of Iraq and Syria because they are killing and slaughtering based on their sectarianism and Islamist agenda. This reality means that it makes no sense for Syria to trigger Israel into the internal crisis of this nation.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) the attack was directed towards the scientific researches in Jimraya in the Damascus countryside. Sana reports that the

“Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense Fahd al-Freij, briefed the Cabinet on the nature of the terrorist attack by the warplanes of the Israeli enemy on Wednesday, saying that this heinous attack caused damages to the center and claimed the lives of two martyrs and the wounding of five persons.”

“The Minister linked between this attack and the aggressions of the armed groups, denying allegations of the Israeli foe that the reason of its raid was striking equipment and weapons prepared to be transformed to another place.”

It is known that FSA Islamist factions had targeted this facility in the past and video footage of Israelis moving freely with terrorist factions in Syria have also been witnessed. Of course, the motives still remain sketchy and with so much disinformation in all directions then it is complex to see beyond “the fog.” Yet the version reported by SANA is much more in line with the reality on the ground. After all, the government of Syria is already overstretched because of the array of enemies against this nation. Therefore, adding Israel to the list at this moment in time makes no sense. Similarly, why would the government of Syria want to dispose of powerful military hardware given the drastic situation it is faced with? This applies to both the internal FSA Islamist threat and the reality that Turkey had hoped to drag NATO into the conflict against independent Syria.

Major General Amir Eshel, the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, stated that “[t]he weakening governance in neighboring countries heralds greater exposure to hostile activity – Syria is the best example of that. We must deal with a wider array of enemies and adversaries than ever.” This comment is puzzling by itself because is he pointing the finger at other nations for destabilizing many nations throughout the Middle East and North Africa?

Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary General, stated that “The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation … and to strictly abide by international law, in particular in respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region.” Given the fact that Israel violated the territorial integrity of Syria then clearly this comment must be aimed at Israel.

The Russian Federation issued a statement by the Foreign Ministry which stated that “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.”

Hillary Clinton, however, proportioned the blame on the Russian Federation just like she did against Iran. She stated that “We have reason to believe that the Russians continue to supply financial and military assistance in the form of equipment” to Syria. Thereby, indicating that Iran and the Russian Federation are behind the instability of the Levant. This appears somewhat ironic – after all, the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and now Syria, is because of major NATO powers aligning themselves with nations in the Gulf.

These destabilization policies have also created major problems for Mali and Pakistan respectively – and clearly terrorism always follows in the footsteps. Likewise, the recent terrorist hostage crisis in Algeria had a major Libya component and this applies to obtaining military hardware, terrorist camps in Libya and abusing the border area between Algeria and Libya. Therefore, leading NATO powers and nations in the Gulf need a reality check because it is these nations which are creating instability.

Despite the provocation of Israel, just like Turkey before; it is essential that the government of Syria isn’t distracted from defeating the FSA and various Islamist terrorist factions. After all, the government of Syria already faces many enemies and clearly some nations want to drag Syria into a protracted regional war. The government of Erdogan clearly tried to entrap Syria because he knows that NATO would take sides with a fellow NATO member. Yet Syria wisely did not respond to the many provocations of Turkey. Therefore, it is incumbent on nations which are friendly towards Syria and others which are neutral, that they do everything in their power to condemn the airstrike by Israel and to rebuke all nations involved in the destabilization of this country. At the same time, the friends of Syria need to provide more economic and political assistance to this nation in order for genuine political dialogue to take place, whereby Syrians decide the future of their nation.

Currently, the “real reason” behind the airstrike by Israel remains shrouded in mystery. Irrespective of this, the Russian Foreign Ministry is correct by stating that “…we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.” Therefore, the recent airstrike by Israel, just like the countless Islamist terrorist attacks in Syria which are being aided by outside nations, is further evidence that international law is “being thrown out of the window.”

The above article was written by Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker.
leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

The above story is from Modern Tokyo Times.
http://moderntokyotimes.com



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. His website is at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com

 

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