Over the past few days Israel has conducted multiple unprovoked airstrikes against Syria, including on the capital of Damascus. Though both the Israeli and U.S. governments have refused to officially acknowledge the attacks, the purported pretext has been widely reported. As CNN observes:
The Israelis have long said they would strike at any targets that prove to be the transfer of any kinds of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, as well as at any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.
Such fear-mongering — raised with the inflated ruse of “chemical weapons” — was used to justify a previous Israeli attack on Syrian territory this year, through which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) remained silent as well.
The United Nations has now concluded that the Israeli-backed rebels, not the Assad regime, are behind the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Israel’s claims remarkably echo the situation in 2003, when Iraqi defectors have reflected “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy,”and their “lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq.” Importantly, the IDF has a well-documented history of using chemical weapons such as white phosphorus against Palestinians, undermining its credibility on the issue. Further troubling was the recent allegation by a former senior Bush official that Israel itself may be behind Syrian chemical weapons in a “false flag operation” to cover for such aggression as this weekend’s.
The “other terrorist groups” about which Israeli officials have expressed concern have also been demonstrably linked to Western arms supply chains since at least early 2012.
Instead, Israel’s ratcheting aggression seems to reflect an increasing desperation on the part of the U.S. and its allies in the region. The violent Syrian opposition, led by al-Qaida front Jabhat al-Nusra, is floundering in the face of the Syrian state army. This has frustrated the Western effort to destabilize Syria via proxy, part of a long-term strategy to remold the region toward Western energy interests and eventually topple the Iranian regime.
This path has long been outlined by prominent warhawks in Washington. The corporate-funded Brookings Institution developed this idea as early as 2009 in their report “Which Path to Persia?” (emphasis added):
… it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difIficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it… Israel appears to have done extensive planning and practice for such a strike already… Moreover, since Israel would have much less of a need (or even interest) in securing regional support for the operation, Jerusalem probably would feel less motivated to wait for an Iranian provocation before attacking.
Israel’s recent attacks on Syria are a thinly veiled attempt to set this strategy in motion, goading the Tehran-Damascus axis into a retaliation that could justify direct Western/Israeli intervention.
Responding neither to a Syrian attack nor credible threats to the Israeli population, the weekend’s airstrikes constitute a Chapter VII breach of the United Nations Charter. But the Israeli regime is no stranger to flagrant violations of international law and is here willfully complicit in a criminal ploy to foster a broad, conventional war where Israel and its allies hold the tactical advantage.
Throughout it all, specious disassociation on the U.S.’s part and silent complicity from the United Nations is allowing the escalation of an already catastrophic conflict. The only option for Syria, meanwhile, is to remain passive as its capital is bombed by its neighbor desperate for a regional war.