Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Jerusalem Post
The Israeli government's decision to deploy Iron Dome (a mobile short-range missile defense system) in Haifa for the first time may or may not be tied to concerns about a chemical weapon attack emanating from Syria.
But the dispatching of National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror to Moscow definitely was.
According to The New York Times, our military commanders, as early as November, discussed with the Pentagon troubling intelligence showing up on satellite imagery. Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites -- most likely the colorless, odorless deadly nerve agent sarin -- and filling dozens of 500-pounds bombs that could be dropped from airplanes.
Now, as the situation continues to deteriorate in Syria, and rebels gain ground outside President Bashar Assad's strongholds near Damascus and Aleppo -- including, reportedly, near two chemical weapons installations -- fears have grown that either Assad will use these out of desperation, or that jihadists or extremist organizations such as Hezbollah will get their hands on them.
Conceivably, chemical weapons could be loaded in missile heads and launched at Israel.
Critics of the Obama administration have claimed that the White House is not doing enough to stop the fighting in Syria, which has claimed the lives of more than 60,000 and caused hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee to Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere.
Some have pointed to President Barack Obama's appointment of John Kerry as secretary of state, Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and John Brennan as CIA director as proof that the U.S. administration is unlikely to intervene aggressively in Syria.
Thankfully, there is a broad consensus -- which includes Russia, one of Assad's few backers -- that resorting to chemical weapons is a red line that must not be crossed, and that the Syrian regime must be stopped before it does.
Less clear are the means that need to be taken to achieve that end in the most expedient way possible.
-- The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28