To pre-emptively attack or not?

First, some definitions:


Then Ian’s debkafile text:


The air raid over the Jamraya military complex near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, attributed to Israel by Western sources was Israeli’s first assault on the Syrian-Hizballah military compact forged between Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah.

That was the real strategic import of the operation, which took place with the approval of US President Barack Obama, debkafile’s military sources report.

In every other respect, it was a surgical strike on a well-defined target, comparable to Israel’s attack in September 2007 on the nuclear reactor North Korea was building at El Kabir in northern Syria.

The object then was to sever the Syrian-Iranian-North Korean nuclear link before it took physical shape and began turning out plutonium for Iran’s nuclear program.

After its destruction, Tehran and Pyongyang decided to cut Syria out of their nuclear plans because its proximity to Israel made any nuclear site an easy mark.

The overriding importance of the attack on the Syrian military compound therefore lies in its three objectives:

1. The Jamraya complex was selected because it serves the shared military agendas of Syria, Hizballah and Iran.

The bombers struck three targets: a Syrian chemical weapons store and laboratories; a depot holding the sophisticated weapons Iran had sent Hizballah in the last two years – some of which, like the SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, are termed “game changers” in a potential clash with Israel; and a large fleet of trucks standing by to ferry the munitions across the border into Lebanon.

Israeli threats to destroy the weapons had so far prevented their transfer.

In a separate building at Jamraya, Hizballah forces learned how to use the new Iranian hardware and maintained a team of drivers ready to move the arsenal over to Lebanon. This building was not attacked.

2. The air strike was a move toward disrupting the cooperative military efforts of all three allies in Syria and Lebanon;

3. Israel took its first step into the Syrian conflict.

As we first reported in the latest DEBKA-Net-Weekly out Friday, the operation went forward with a green light from President Obama, after he was briefed on the plan by AMAN (Israeli Military Intelligence) commander, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi at the White House on Jan. 22.

Our sources also reported that another Israeli emissary, National Security Adviser Yakov Amidror, visited Moscow at the same time to warn Russian leaders of the coming attack in Syria.

While Russian officials voiced objections to Israeli attacking Syria, they also apparently omitted to forewarn President Assad of what was coming and he was taken by surprise. After the raid, President Vladimir Putin advised the Syrian ruler to refrain from exacerbating the military situation with Israel.

The reported Israeli strike on Jamraya had two key consequences of future relevance:

a) President Obama’s consent for Israel and its armed forces IDF to be the first pro-Western power to intervene in the Syrian war, after keeping them out of involvement in the Arab Revolt raging around its borders for two years:

b) Officials in Tehran publicly warned last week that an attack on Syria would be deemed an attack on Iran, a message no doubt underlined through diplomatic channels to Washington.

Nonetheless, after holding the Israeli government back for years from striking Iran’s nuclear sites, Obama approved an attack with the potential for widening into a major Israeli-Iranian military clash.

While the importance of keeping sophisticated missiles and poison gas out of Hizballah hands cannot be overrated, debkafile’s sources in Washington and Tehran reveal that what really pushed the US president into his change of face was Iran’s withdrawal from the secret talks he set much store by for a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Three further changes of major strategic importance occurred this week.

Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that new, high-speed IR2m centrifuges were being installed in Natanz to expand the 20-percent uranium enrichment taking place at the Fordo underground facility.

The Iranian letter was posted to the IAEA the day after the two Israeli emissaries visited Washington and Moscow.

The diplomatic channel to Tehran was symbolically shut down in Washington last week by the resignation of Gary Samore, President Obama’s Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control.

debkafile discloses that Samore was lead negotiator in the failed nuclear talks with Iran. His exit means that he sees no way of curbing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon. He has taken up an appointment as Executive Director of Research in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.

US Vice President Joe Biden provided the third key development. Asked Saturday, Feb. 2, in Munich when Washington might hold direct talks with Tehran, he replied dismissively: “When the Iranian leadership, the supreme leader, is serious.”

Biden spoke for the Obama administration when he suggested that Khamenei has not been serious to date.

All three events contributed to the US president’s decision to let Israel have a go at the Syrian military complex, thereby broadcasting a signal to Tehran that, in the absence of serious negotiations, Washington is ready to expand its efforts for breaking up the Iran-Syrian Hizballah axis, using the IDF as its hammer.


And finally my comments:

Israel is clearly identifying targets and hitting them before they become a problem. Prior to WW2, Chamberlain and others allowed Germany’s military build-up, outside of the admittedly heavily skewed accords of 1919. The rhetoric and actions of Hitler were clear for all to see and there were allegations of collusion in high places in this country.

The result was bloodshed on a scale not seen before, let alone the decimation of populations, deep human cruelty and unconcern for life.

Churchill and others were for getting in quick and hitting hard. He was called a warmonger.

This is the fiercely contested issue – the Arab nations who would have liked those facilities built cry Israeli terrorism. Israel says it’s getting in early to prevent it. What should Israel do? Wait for UN permission to finally mount some sort of defence once the Arabs are ready for their next holocaust?

I’d wager that if any one of you had your family with you and you saw a gang of armed people slaughtering another family and then they see you, you wouldn’t wait for some final resolution in a court of law somewhere down the track with reparation for the slaughter of your family given to someone in the extended family who wasn’t there that day.

You would strike before they were ready.

Why shouldn’t Israel, when the intention of the Arabs is perfectly clear and has been given in speeches over the decades? Even if the first intended targets were other Arab nations, then Israel is doing those nations a favour.

8 comments for “To pre-emptively attack or not?

  1. james wilson
    February 3, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Israel has the unspoken blessing of several middle eastern states to wipe out Iran and it’s clients. If and when that should happen, they will then join in the general Jew condemnation, but that too is understood.

    • amfortas
      February 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

      We really need to distinguish between the Iranian Government and the Iranian people. I would not like to see the people ‘wiped out’. Most of the Iranians I have met were pleasant, kind and intellectually fine folk. Syrians too, I guess although I have not met many. Granted, like any nation there are nutters and power-mad buggers (I think they are called Mullahs rather than buggers but you get my drift) and they are a worry, especially when they are in charge. But I am sick of the talk of ‘wiping out’ old men and small children who just want a regular cup of milk and a buscuit.

      • james wilson
        February 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        I don’t really need to distinguish what people are well capable of distinguishing. I’ve never met an Iranian I didn’t think well of. Iranians, by nationality, are the only forward thinking population in the middle-east. I wish them well. The Syrians? Whatever excellent individual qualities the people or tribes of Syria have will prove futil. Israel is no cause of that.

        Israel has finally reached the point where it can be seen that there are no more miricles to be had against enemies so numerous against a territory so indefensible and against weapons of a chemical or biological nature.

        After sixty years, I want one thing–the U.S. out of it. Unlike most, I do not think such a policy will weaken Israel, to the contrary. But whatever happens, let Israelis now abandon that ground, or defend it. They are the most capable people on earth, and will have the advantage of the concentrated mind.

        I read that England and Australia both have remarkably welcoming immigration policies. Maybe you could take in five million Jews in exchange for your Muslims, and two problems solved. With Israel off the map there will be the additional benefit of Arabs having nothing to do but what they have always done, beasting on each other.

  2. john in cheshire
    February 3, 2013 at 9:15 am

    James, hear, hear. I believe that until the muslim world has its Hiroshima moment, they will not change their behaviour by persuasion. We don’t need them to like us in the West, we just need them to fear us such that they behave themselves.

  3. Greg Tingey
    February 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Difficult, very difficult.
    NOT helped by Benny Netanyahu & his pro-settler policies, one little bit. Let’s face it, he’s a shit.
    OTOH, you are perfectly correct. Not so much the a-a missiles – losses might have to be accepted, until enough air-force wipes them off the map.
    But … poison gasses in the hands of Hizbollah? Euuuwww – no, not at any price, never.
    And, of course the sunni/shi’a tensions within the “islamic world” and the national rivalries make for very interesting temporary alliances & enmities, don’t they?

  4. amfortas
    February 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

    This is clear when put in black and white but the question put in the comment at the end omits distinguishing between States and their people.

    Most of the peoples of all the countries in the region would prefer to simply live without threat and attack. Their Governments in the main do not represent their people but are impositions, regardless of the lip-service given to elections.

    I have yet to see a concerted effort by the western countries to appeal directly to the people of the arab world. The ‘intelligence’ warfare folk seem more bent on formenting emnities than curing them.

    It also omits the significant fact that Israel has nuclear facilities and weapons.

    The situation is very complex and surgical strikes, albeit well planned and with ‘sound’ reasoning behind them, are an act of war. If in the Churchill/Germany context Britain had effected a ‘surgical strike’ or three, WW2 might have been delayed or brought on sooner. We just do not know and cannot know what would have happened. And the same now with this action.

    The rationale offered is ’emotional’. I do not think that even with all the heads and calculators working overtime it can yet be foretold what the effect will be or even likely to be.

    Lets put the ‘gang of people slaughtering others’ argument around the other way and add in the ‘armament’ factor. If you had an arsenal in your house and a history of shooting at your loud and shoddy neighbours, and your neighbours decided to do a surgical strike through your back bedroom window, would you consider it justified?

    Or let’s say the neighbours are a bikey gang, armed to the teeth, and they saw you shipping in a few shotguns and glocks of your own, would they be justified in kicking your windows in and giving you some spent ammunition just because you were getting a bit of parity?

    Doesn’t look to fine now, does it.

    Not that I am trying to ‘defend’ the Syrians or the Iranians. Both are nuts, to my mind, and I can understand Israel being very nervous. A war has not been declared, officially, and maybe that is a big part of the problem.

    As for the mention of the USA and Russia, yes they are involved, heavily. To what extent is this entire problem of their making?

  5. simon
    February 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Next holocaust? When pray was the last Arab holocaust?

    Oh and incidentally Iran is not an Arab state- indeed the war in Syria is a proxy war between Iran on the one side backing Assad and the Arab states on the other backing the rebels.

    • Greg Tingey
      February 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      When Tamerlane sacked Damascus, 1399.

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