So when Mr. Obama agreed this week for the first time to send small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebel forces, he had to be almost dragged into the decision at a time when critics, some advisers and even Bill Clinton were pressing for more action. Coming so late into the conflict, Mr. Obama expressed no confidence it would change the outcome, but privately expressed hope it might buy time to bring about a negotiated settlement.
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Syrian rebel groups briefly took control Thursday of the only crossing between Israel and Syria, bringing the intense violence of that nation’s civil war closer than ever to the Golan Heights, where farmers were told to stay out of their fields, tourists were turned away from cherry-picking and roads were closed.
At the same time, not 70 miles away, scores of Israeli soldiers engaged in an elaborate combat exercise preparing for what is increasingly seen here as an inevitable war with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group that has come to the aid of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
“It’s really a situation that is not clear, and can take a turn at any moment,” warned Aviv Oreg, a major in the military reserves who founded Ceifit, a firm offering research and analysis on global jihad. “As soon as one bomb would leak and hit a kindergarten, that’s a whole new ballgame.”
Six months ago, as rocket fire was falling on Tel Aviv, my six-year-old daughter had to pay her first visit to a bomb shelter. On Monday, she had to pay her second and third visits.
On Sunday night, before she went to bed, we had reminded her that sirens would be going off the next day, and that she shouldn’t be afraid of them. Yes, yes, she said, impatiently brushing us off; she knows it’s a drill.
Along with all Israeli children, and the small part of the adult population willing to play a role, at 12:30 p.m. Monday she was duly marched by a teacher to the shelter. At 7:05 p.m. it was our turn as parents to run through the drill at home.
Such drills are not a novelty to Israelis, but the more a potential war seems imminent, the more sober they become. All day, radio announcers remind us: “In case of real emergency, another siren will be heard.”
Indeed, in recent weeks there was hardly a day without someone discussing the possibility of real war. Israel, as the New York Times reported less than a week ago, is reluctantly being dragged into Syria’s turmoil.
The numbers tell the story: U.S. oil production has reversed its 30-plus year decline; U.S. imports from OPEC producers have fallen more than 20 percent in the past three years; U.S. natural gas reserves and production are up significantly and prices have dropped 75 percent in the past five years. The International Energy Agency forecasts that the United States could become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020 and may be energy self-sufficient by 2035. That’s a game changer.
While this is not a free lunch, it should not be feared. The production process is complicated and expensive, and if the industry is not careful there can be risks to the environment. But the potential is staggering. Significant domestic job growth and economic expansion has begun.
The only problem here is that it could destabilize existing oil and gas exporting countries like Russia and Venezuela. Since both are already unstable, decreasing energy prices could start revolutions. In the case of Russia, that might be very bad news for the rest of us.
Almost every one of the pregnant women I spoke to had suffered a mandatory abortion. One woman told me how, when she was eight months pregnant with an illegal second child and was unable to pay the 20,000 yuan fine (about $3,200), family planning officers dragged her to the local clinic, bound her to a surgical table and injected a lethal drug into her abdomen.
For two days she writhed on the table, her hands and feet still bound with rope, waiting for her body to eject the murdered baby. In the final stage of labor, a male doctor yanked the dead fetus out by the foot, then dropped it into a garbage can. She had no money for a cab. She had to hobble home, blood dripping down her legs and staining her white sandals red.
A senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants, and he warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that his government would face crippling consequences if it retaliated against Israel.
“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”
If the Arab Spring was more or less the start of a forest fire, then its spreading to Israel will be a game-changer. Now it will involve two different civilizations each backed by one or more major powers. This is how great-power wars are started.
I suspect that the next Israeli attack will bring on a major response from Syria and its allies.
Does Iran actually understand the message that Israel is sending? That message is – we will respond if you cross our red lines. Sending game-changing weapons to Hezbollah is invoke an Israeli response.
Strikes in Syria Linked to Israel May Be a Signal to Iran – NYTimes.com
The twin airstrikes in Damascus on Friday and Sunday attributed to Israel appear to be more about Jerusalem’s broad, mostly covert battle with Iran and Hezbollah than about the bloody civil war raging in Syria.
“Israel may be testing Iran,” Professor Maoz said. “Iran is the key. If Hezbollah gets a green light from Iran to retaliate, or if Syria does, Israel won’t be idle. It could lead to a regional war.”
But this message also applies to Iran’s nuclear program. If Iran crosses Israel’s red line with its nuclear program, then Israel will attack. And if Iran cannot stop its nuclear enrichment to 20%, then it is likely to cross Israel’s red line with a few months. It’s not clear if Iran can stop its nuclear enrichment because it is getting direction from the spiritual Mahdi.
If you are Iran and are pretty sure that Israel is going to be forced to attack within a couple of months, then do you sit around and wait for it to happen? Or do you implement a preemptive strike now that Israel has provided an excellent excuse? In the case of preemptive strike, it would be Israel’s neighbors launching an attack so fierce that Israel cannot survive.
Iranian leaders seem to be suggesting that something big is up. They might be bluffing, but we can’t know for sure.
PressTV – Crushing response awaits Israel for aggression against Syria: Iran
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says Israel’s acts of aggression against Syria will not go unanswered and Tel Aviv will receive a “crushing response.”
Mehmanparast on Sunday called for vigilance against Israeli plots to create instability in the region, adding, however, that “oppression and crime in the region will not endure.”
ldquo;The Zionist regime must realize that the atrocities it committed in Syria will not go unanswered and it must await a crushing response.”
If Iran can’t transport more advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and Syria is not exactly getting stronger due to its civil war, then doesn’t that imply that now is the best time for a preemptive strike against Israel? Assuming Iran is seriously considering one. Are the conditions for a preemptive strike going to get better for Iran and its allies as Syria’s civil war continues? What would happen if Assad falls? What happens to Hezbollah if Assad falls?
Does Israel’s message mean this – attack us (Israel) now because soon we (Israel) are going to get you (Iran)?
Festering tensions between Japan and China flared anew on Tuesday as Beijing and Tokyo sent vessels to monitor a flotilla of boats carrying Japanese nationalists that sailed near islands in the East China Sea that both nations claim as their own.
The episode was the latest in a potentially dangerous dance being played out over the islands, which Japan nationalized last September, igniting anti-Japanese protests in China.
Russia’s relations with the West are again plunging. This time the cause is repression in Russia and the Western reaction to it. Last time it was the invasion of Georgia in 2008, and before that NATO expansion to the east. Unless the West develops an enduring and resilient strategy toward Russia, the deterioration in ties may be prolonged.
Putin’s nationalization of certain key industries combined with his anti-American posturing erodes the investment climate. The economy is at risk because of high dependence on oil and gas exports, earnings from which may drop as productivity declines in older West Siberian oil fields and competition for gas export markets sharpens amid rising world production. Western trade and investment is needed.
Russia’s difficulties with the West are spreading. Last week hundreds demonstrated during Putin’s visit to Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel had sharp words on human rights. In the Cyprus banking crisis, the West was unwilling to ease difficulties for Russian depositors, many of whom were suspected of laundering ill-gotten gains.
China published a national defense paper on Tuesday suggesting that the United States was creating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening its military presence and reinforcing its alliances there. The paper, released by the Ministry of Defense, did not declare that the United States was responsible, but the message was clear.