The Syrian Situation: Four Hour Updates


8 am Israel time, Thursday, August 29 2013

Because of the fast developing events concerning Syria, today’s blog will consist of ongoing “breaking news” updated every four hours.

The mood in Israel this morning is both tense and not–perhaps epitomized by two lines from the 6 pm radiocast on Col Israel news late yesterday afternoon. First, the newscaster announced that the government says that “there is nothing to worry about.” Then, the very next line was “The IDF is calling up selected parts of the miluim (reserves) effective immediately.”   

As of this 7:30 am this morning–30 minutes ago–there were more than 1000 Israelis standing in line at the Tel Aviv gas mask distribution center for their gas masks and atropine.

Nevertheless, it appears to your humble servant, based on information available at the moment, that an attack on Syria seems less likely for three reasons: first, Britain has declared that it still wants to see “proof” that Assad used chemical weapons; second, unnamed U.S. officials have let it be known that “there is no smoking gun” connecting Assad to the use of the chemical weapons in the gas attack last week; third, there are reports this morning that the U.S. and Russia are looking for “a compromise” that will make an attack unnecessary.

All of this may change five minutes from now . . .

Some interesting developments from overnight that show a less than united alliance:

*After threatening to do so, Egypt has apparently closed the Suez Canal–especially to American “warships.”

*After hosting a number of “war games” over the last year with the U.S. and other Arab countries, Jordan has again declared today that no attack on Syria will come from Jordanian soil or airspace. Apparently the American forces now on the Syrian-Jordanian border are there merely to protect Jordan.

Back again at 12 pm Israel time unless events warrant.

12 pm Israel time Thursday

There is little new to report. As foreigners and Syrians clamor to leave Syria, the diplomatic push continues to try to avoid an attack.  

4 pm Israel time Thursday

What seemed imminent for the last few days seems less so at this moment. The U.S., Britain, and France have all seemingly backed down from military action. The British are presenting legal justification in Parliament, the U.S. House of Representatives is demanding that it take a vote before action, and the French are now talking about a “political solution.”

The thought has crossed your humble servant’s mind that this Western “dithering” could be part of a military stratagem of surprise, but that seems farfetched.

The oddity is that all sides now say that they are waiting for the results of the U.N. investigating team–yet that investigating is only determining if chemical weapons were used–not who used them. As of this hour, that investigating team has arrived in rebel-held territory to continue its investigation.

One must believe that there is a certain “timeliness” to a military strike. The further the chemical event recedes in time, the less likely a military strike becomes. In this particular case, it can only be imagined what the effect of non-action against Assad will be. Aside from showing devastating weakness against the Syrians, Assad (and his Iranian and Hezbollah cohorts) will undoubtedly be emboldened beyond all measure.

Unless further developments intervene, this will be the last israelstreet update for today.

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