Can the Israeli attacks last week against Syria be seen as an attempt to provoke Iran into retaliation in order to provide Israel with a casus belli to attack Iran directly, an action that would likely draw in the US in an all-out war against Iran? The Washington Post seems to think that the attack could even be seen as a mini-rehearsal for an attack directly against Iran.
The Israeli attack came just a day after Iran warned that it would regard any attack against Syria as an attack against Iran though the Iranian threat was not specific about what they would do.
In recent days the Israelis have said that they would act against Syria if there were any attempts to transfer weapons, especially chemical or biological weapons or other weapons that would pose a serious threat to Israel, from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was this warning that prompted Iran’s warning not to act against Syria.
Since Israel’s attack last Thursday, Iran has not so far taken any measures to retaliate. Hezbollah have also made no moves to upset their status quo with Israel.
Significantly, the White House yesterday also joined Israel in warning Syria not to transfer weapons to Lebanon indicating the beginnings of an apparent thaw in US-Israeli relations in the post-US and Israeli elections period. If the Iran warning of ‘an attack against Syria being seen as an attack against Iran’ is taken as seriously by the US as it is by Israel, then Obama’s renewed rhetoric against Iran generally may well be seen as realigning with Netanyahu’s who has been pushing to attack Iran for years, a push that Obama has so far resisted.
After refusing to back Israel attacking Iran over Iran’s so-called nuclear weapons program, the US may well find it possible to enjoin with Israel in attacking Iran based on Iran’s support of both the Syrian regime and Hezbollah especially if Iran are physically providing both with weapons as well as ideological support. The step-up from ideological support to overt military support may be the tipping point the US needs to go ahead with a direct attack against Iran leaving the Israelis to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas in order to prevent retaliatory strikes against Israel.
One can only hope that neither Iran nor Hezbollah provide Israel or the US with an excuse to start a war that will likely engulf the Middle East. As neocon writer Jonathan Schanzer writes:
Until now, with troubling news coming out of Iran, Syria, Gaza and elsewhere, the Lebanon front has been largely ignored. But beware. A new conflict with Israel and Lebanon may be looming. And this conflict could erupt in a flash.
For Schanzer and his neocon cohorts it’s just what they want, but for the rest of world it’ll be a disaster.