To compound the issues in the Middle East, Israel just recently launched an air strike on Syria. Hezbollah and Syria claim that Israel destroyed a scientific research center. The U.S. reports say that the strike was launched on a stockpile of anti-aircraft missiles destined for Hezbollah. Both sides are biased and we will likely never know which site Israel bombed. However, even if the strike was made against the missiles destined for Hezbollah, this act of aggression, literally an act of war, is completely unjustifiable on Israel’s part. The implications of such a course of action may be even more far-reaching than they at first seem.
By their very nature, SAM turrets and other anti-aircraft weapons are purely defensive; it is impossible to use these weapons in traditional combat or any other military offensive. The question, then, is why Israel has decided to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining this technology.
The obvious conclusion is that Israel is planning to launch an airstrike on either Iran or Syria in the near future (Hezbollah is almost exclusively funded and supported by those two aforementioned nations). It appears most likely that this attack would be on Iran. Israel has been instigating Iran with threats if it continues to enrich uranium at increasingly high levels. Iran’s recent announcement that it is installing new centrifuge technology that enriches uranium two to three times as efficiently could have led Israel to take this action on the Hezbollah shipments from Syria.
The chances of Israel launching such an offensive on Syria should be dismissed. Israel is not an avid supporter of the Arab Springs. It has, in fact, called the revolts that have swept the Arab world a step backwards for the Middle East. Moreover, al-Assad is a non-Sunni non-Shia ruler advocating secular rule in Syria. This form of autocracy in Syria is much more beneficial to Israel than an Islamist faction ruling the nation.
This air strike, it should be noted, is an act of aggression not only to Syria and Hezbollah, but also Lebanon; though many classify Hezbollah as a militant organization, it holds seats in Lebanon’s parliament.
This act was very different from simply arming rebels in Syria’s eyes. In this case, Israel is the agent of action specifically against Syria and its allies. From Syria’s point of view, Hezbollah is an extension of the al-Assad regime and Iran is the strongest ally. As such, the possibility that this attack was simply a precursor to an air strike on its allies exacerbates the issue significantly.
NATO nations should quickly distance themselves from Israel’s actions. They have clearly stated that they are against any type of on the ground military option either in Syria or in Iran (the odds of even the United States launching a war on Iran under Obama is limited to none). Yet, by taking such aggressive action, it appears that is exactly what Israel wants.