Sunday, May 5, 2013

Invitation for a quick escalation

"... We are coming very close to it,” says Timur Goksel, a university lecturer in Beirut who served with the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon from 1979 to 2003. “A severe case of brinkmanship is being played at the moment.”Syria and the Lebanon-based Shiite movement Hezbollah, which has long relied on Syria’s Assad regime to funnel weapons from Iran, appear to have been drawing into a closer alliance as the Syrian civil war intensifies. If Israel continues to launch air strikes into Syria, says Mr. Goksel, “they will have to react.… The Israelis are pushing it to the edge.”
 'SA 8 Gecko'
A series of strikes on a military facility just outside Damascus last night has been widely attributed to Israel, which would make it the second Israeli attack on Syria in less than 48 hours and the third this year. Among the reported targets of the two latest attacks were consignments of Iranian Fateh-110 missiles reportedly intended for Hezbollah, which would allow the Syrian ally to launch precise attacks on Israeli targets such as Ben Gurion Airport or the defense ministry in Tel Aviv from launch pads as far north as central Lebanon.
..., ..., Israel’s concern is not whether Assad is using chemical weapons, but whether Hezbollah is acquiring more advanced missiles and other weapons, ...
“We don’t care if they kill each other,” says Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University. “We are more concerned about Hezbollah.”... 
 'SA 17 Grizzly'
One possible way Hezbollah could retaliate against Israel’s air strikes is by attempting to shoot down an Israeli jet, analysts say. Little is known about Hezbollah’s air defense capabilities, although the group was reportedly trained on Russian mobile SA-8 Gecko anti-aircraft missiles from 2009. The target of the January Israeli air strike in Syria this year was reportedly a consignment of SA-17 Grizzly anti-aircraft missiles destined for Hezbollah. Shooting down an Israeli jet would be an unprecedented step by Hezbollah and risk a further escalation with Israel. On the other hand, Hezbollah would be able to justify such an act as the Israeli jet was illegally breaching Lebanese sovereignty...."

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