Breaking news

Slight heat-up in activity in the Middle East. Apparently Syrian air defenses fired on an Israeli recon flight, forcing it to drop its bombs and fuel in an empty chunk of desert. Story just in from the wires.

Future impact unclear. The latest rumor mill I’ve heard is that Syria wanted to reschedule the war that was supposed to happen this past summer (which was going to be some joint Hamas / Hezbollah / Syria / logistics by Iran effort, but got scotched because Hamas and Fatah decided to have a civil war instead) for mid-November, but that sort of specific rumor has to be taken with a nontrivial grain of salt. Nonetheless, the basic schedule seems likely; all four of those groups still really want a war right about now, and it’s just a matter of when is convenient.

Impact on US domestic politics, when that happens, will be an interesting question as well.

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Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 10:08  Comments (12)  
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12 Comments

  1. Yeah, the BBC World News had this as its top story this morning.
    Military analysts said Israel has conducted reconnaissance flights over Syria to probe its defenses.
    Witnesses said several planes crossed deep into Syrian territory and flew over the oil centre of Deir al Zor on the Euphrates river.

    It seems that Israel is at least as at fault as Syria for the latest “activity”, no? I can’t imagine Israel or the US allowing recon planes to fly over our airspace without consequences.
    Also, do you have any sense for how long this recon activity has been going on? Was it just one sortie–the one that was fired upon, or has Israel been doing this for some time, and Syria chose today to respond? Depending on which is true says a lot about which state chose the timing.

  2. Yeah, the BBC World News had this as its top story this morning.
    Military analysts said Israel has conducted reconnaissance flights over Syria to probe its defenses.
    Witnesses said several planes crossed deep into Syrian territory and flew over the oil centre of Deir al Zor on the Euphrates river.

    It seems that Israel is at least as at fault as Syria for the latest “activity”, no? I can’t imagine Israel or the US allowing recon planes to fly over our airspace without consequences.
    Also, do you have any sense for how long this recon activity has been going on? Was it just one sortie–the one that was fired upon, or has Israel been doing this for some time, and Syria chose today to respond? Depending on which is true says a lot about which state chose the timing.

  3. It is not uncommon for Israel to conduct recce missions into neighbouring territory. These missions give them advance warning of potential military invasions, and to give them insight into the military capabilities and response times of neighbouring states to develop strategies and contingencies in the event of war.
    While some may say that Israel’s actions are provocative, one must remember that the state has been invaded repeatedly by its neighbours (1948 Arab-Israeli War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and one could even include the 1967 Six-Day War) and that it is, perhaps, not unreasonable that the nation take actions to avoid being caught by surprise again.

  4. It is not uncommon for Israel to conduct recce missions into neighbouring territory. These missions give them advance warning of potential military invasions, and to give them insight into the military capabilities and response times of neighbouring states to develop strategies and contingencies in the event of war.
    While some may say that Israel’s actions are provocative, one must remember that the state has been invaded repeatedly by its neighbours (1948 Arab-Israeli War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and one could even include the 1967 Six-Day War) and that it is, perhaps, not unreasonable that the nation take actions to avoid being caught by surprise again.

  5. I certainly don’t disagree, though nothing you say here dissuades me from my original statement. Near as I can tell as an uneducated observer, the Arab countries suffer from not being able to let Palestine go, despite the alternative being unceasing death and bloodshed against an overwhelming military force, and Israel suffers from a self-fulling prophecy, where in the name of self-defense it continually reinforces the aggression of its neighbors by its own actions.
    Obviously this is oversimplistic, which is why I enjoy reading your and zunger’s nuanced insights into the situation over there.

  6. I certainly don’t disagree, though nothing you say here dissuades me from my original statement. Near as I can tell as an uneducated observer, the Arab countries suffer from not being able to let Palestine go, despite the alternative being unceasing death and bloodshed against an overwhelming military force, and Israel suffers from a self-fulling prophecy, where in the name of self-defense it continually reinforces the aggression of its neighbors by its own actions.
    Obviously this is oversimplistic, which is why I enjoy reading your and zunger’s nuanced insights into the situation over there.

  7. On this one, I agree with both of you. After the dress-rehearsal war in Lebanon a few months ago, both sides are prepping for the real one to come. That means Syria is mobilizing (and buying arms like mad, especially from the Soviet bloc) and Israel is doing lots of training, recon, and so on. And this time, a recon mission turned “hot,” which isn’t entirely unexpected given how much of this sort of thing goes on.
    So basically it’s just a slight increase in temperature of an already hot situation. Apart from the usual drum-beating in the press, I don’t think anyone’s really claiming that the other side did something outrageous.

  8. On this one, I agree with both of you. After the dress-rehearsal war in Lebanon a few months ago, both sides are prepping for the real one to come. That means Syria is mobilizing (and buying arms like mad, especially from the Soviet bloc) and Israel is doing lots of training, recon, and so on. And this time, a recon mission turned “hot,” which isn’t entirely unexpected given how much of this sort of thing goes on.
    So basically it’s just a slight increase in temperature of an already hot situation. Apart from the usual drum-beating in the press, I don’t think anyone’s really claiming that the other side did something outrageous.

  9. How are Assad’s approval ratings these days?
    Even more importantly, how are his diplomatic connections to Europe? (I have been inexcusably lax in keeping up on news from the region).
    I find the N. Korea “abandonment” of its nuclear program somewhat alarming too. On the one hand, I wonder if the US will leverage more pressure on Iran now that N. Korea’s temperature is dropping. I worry though if N. Korea’s decision to abandon their nuclear program could be because they worked out a lucrative enough arms deal to no longer need to play the dangerous nuclear leveraging game with the US anymore.
    But yeah, things feel like conflict. And RH and YK are just around the corner too…

  10. How are Assad’s approval ratings these days?
    Even more importantly, how are his diplomatic connections to Europe? (I have been inexcusably lax in keeping up on news from the region).
    I find the N. Korea “abandonment” of its nuclear program somewhat alarming too. On the one hand, I wonder if the US will leverage more pressure on Iran now that N. Korea’s temperature is dropping. I worry though if N. Korea’s decision to abandon their nuclear program could be because they worked out a lucrative enough arms deal to no longer need to play the dangerous nuclear leveraging game with the US anymore.
    But yeah, things feel like conflict. And RH and YK are just around the corner too…

  11. He seems to have pretty much solidified his control over Syria, thanks to some serious muscle help from Iran. So if approval ratings are defined as the invere probability of assassination, I’d say he’s doing pretty well. Diplomatic connections to Europe are… OK. Kind of hard to tell. OT1H a lot of Europe always loves an Arab ally, but OTOH he hasn’t really tried to ingratiate himself to anyone other than Iran.
    With NK… damn, I have no idea what to make of anything that goes on there. tends to have a much better opinion on those.

  12. He seems to have pretty much solidified his control over Syria, thanks to some serious muscle help from Iran. So if approval ratings are defined as the invere probability of assassination, I’d say he’s doing pretty well. Diplomatic connections to Europe are… OK. Kind of hard to tell. OT1H a lot of Europe always loves an Arab ally, but OTOH he hasn’t really tried to ingratiate himself to anyone other than Iran.
    With NK… damn, I have no idea what to make of anything that goes on there. tends to have a much better opinion on those.


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