Many readers of this blog are likely focused on Mideast events, and another key event recently occurred there. As many readers know, the Israelis have conducted a number of strikes against high-value targets in Syria in recent months to ensure high-tech weaponry doesn’t get into the hands of Hezbollah.
The Israelis have done it again. This time the Israeli military destroyed a shipment of Russian anti-ship missiles that were “docked” at a Syrian port (see first link and second link). These anti-ship missiles could easily have been destined for transshipment to Hezbollah, Syria’s co-ally with Iran. The missiles could have been intended for future use against Israeli warships in a future war. It was just a few years ago that Hezbollah fired a missile that damaged an Israeli warship so the Israelis had every reason to consider these Russian anti-ship missiles to be a threat (see third link).
There is confusion about how the Israelis destroyed the missiles. The Syrians denied it happened until Israeli satellite photos showing the damage were aired on Israeli TV stations. One report states the Israeli Air Force attacked the Russian missiles with bombs while another asserts the Russian missiles were taken out by missiles fired from an Israeli submarine. A third report (which I find highly dubious) said that Israeli planes did the job after they were launched from Turkish airfields. Given the frosty relationships between the Israelis and the Islamist leader of Turkey, that option seems the most unlikely to be true.
What is clear is that the Israelis are on a very high state of alert about any high-tech weaponry that could be used against Israeli targets. Given the chaos in the Mideast at the moment, the Israelis have every reason to knock out any high-tech weaponry anywhere in Syria that could potentially be used against the Israelis. One never knows who will be in charge of such weaponry in Syria once the Syrian civil war runs its course. As proof of this, the second link reports that the Syrian rebels have begun fighting among themselves even as Iran has announced that it is sending 2000 more Iranian soldiers to fight for the Shiite side (the Assad regime) in the Syrian civil war. Iran and Russia seem very determined to make sure Assad does not fall. The increasing deployments of Iranian soldiers to fight in Syria also means that Iran is gradually deploying more thousands of its troops to locations along the Israeli northern border. One could interpret this fact as Iran pre-positioning its forces near the Israeli border for a future Mideast war.
What this attack on the Russian missiles also demonstrates is the excellence of on-going Israeli intelligence operations. The Israelis seem to be “reading the mail” of the Syrians in terms of identifying the location and purpose of high-tech weaponry shipped to Syria. The Israeli intelligence services have demonstrated an uncanny ability to locate and destroy one high-value target after another in Syria to make sure that weaponry is not used against the Israelis. The Israelis may also be obtaining some help from other unnamed sources who also don’t want a large-scale Mideast war to occur. If so, it may surprise some people to know which nation could have helped the Israelis. The Mideast has a history of very strange bedfellows and shifting and temporary alliances.