|A man looks at banners of captured Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, left, Gilad Shalit, center, and Eldad Regev, right, placed in protest outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. Recent Israeli military reports say Syria is seriously considering war with Israel. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Associated Press.|
Jerusalem – A new IDF Intelligence Branch report about the probability of war with Syria has been issued, in which senior IDF Intelligence officials assess that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his top political echelon have begin to seriously examine the viability of either going to war with Israel or launching a limited military operation against it.
According to a senior Israeli intelligence source, this constitutes an abrupt departure from past Syrian behavioral patterns and has resulted in a revision of Israeli military intelligence’s official assessment about the probability of war erupting with Syria, which is no longer defined as “low.”
For many years, Israeli military intelligence thought that Syria did not have a genuine military option against Israel.
According to this generally accepted view, the possibility of embarking on a war against Israel or launching a surprise attack for the purpose of limited gains was not taken seriously by the Syrian military leadership and was not within the range of its relevant options.
Now, a substantive change has taken place in that position. Officials in IDF intelligence now believe that military action has been raised as a realistic option and the Syrian leadership is seriously examining it.
Sources in Israeli military intelligence stress that at present the Syrians are only thinking about the possibility and have not proceeded to the operative stage of action. On the other hand there are those in Israeli military intelligence who warn that such thoughts generally lead to action.
Appearing on a radio interview with the Voice Of Israel newsreel on Thursday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that “there is no basis for conducting peace negotiations with Syria because Syria is the main supporter of the Palestinian terrorist organizations”.
Olmert said that he did not rule out the possibility that Iran and Syria would continue trying to reactivate Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, reports from Lebanon are increasing of a massive infiltration of Syrian soldiers back into the country about a year and a half after the Syrian army was forced to leave Lebanon.
After about 30 years of Syria effectively acting as a conquering power in Lebanon, Lebanese intelligence agencies warn that hundreds of Syrian soldiers and intelligence officers are infiltrating back disguised as construction workers seeking jobs on the projects to rebuild the villages of southern Lebanon and the Dahiya neighborhood. The Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon in April 2005 as a result of heavy international pressure following the assassination of former prime minister Rafik el-Hariri about two years ago and the democratic “cedar revolution,” which brought Fouad Siniora to power.
Lebanese intelligence sources are worried about this phenomenon due to their concern that Syria will again interfere in Lebanese internal affairs – once more, by means of terror attacks and violence.
©The Bulletin 2006