Israeli-Syrian tensions - is war imminent?

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Tojiah's picture
Tojiah
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Sep 10 2007 10:29
Israeli-Syrian tensions - is war imminent?

According to Syrian sources, this Thursday, Israeli fighter planes flew over Syrian territory and bombed some targets before being forced to retreat by anti-aircraft systems.

Israeli officials refuse to comment about it, but Turkish officials claimed Saturday that Turkish forces found fuel tanks dropped by Israeli forces on its territory near the Syrian border, at a proximity to where the Syrians claim Israeli fighters to have entered.

The Israeli media is very ambiguous about this, so I'm guessing various censorship clauses have been enacted to make sure nobody talks about the details. Anyone outside of Israel willing to add information or analysis? This definitely runs counter to my analysis from a previous thread.

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Devrim
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Sep 10 2007 11:19

No, I don't think so. There are periods of these sort of tensions. It doesn't mean war is coming.

Turkey has them with the Greeks intermittently with possibly the worst one being the one over Kardak:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imia/Kardak

Wiki wrote:
The military crisis

While several other aspects of sovereignty rights in the Aegean had been a hotly disputed topic between the two countries for decades, conflicts over the possession of actual territory in the area were unknown until the end of 1995. The dispute over Imia/Kardak arose on the occasion of a naval accident on 25 December, 1995, when the Turkish cargo ship "Figen Akat" ran ashore on the islets and had to be salvaged.

It turned out that current maps were showing conflicting attributions of the islets to either Greece and Turkey. This at first resulted in a conflict between the Turkish captain and the Greek authorities over who was responsible for the salvage operation. On 27 December, the Turkish Foreign Ministry first notified the Greek authorities that there it believed there was a sovereignty issue, and on 29 December it officially declared it considered the islets Turkish territory. The whole event was hardly reported by the media and it was not widely known to either the Greek or the Turkish public until a month later, on 20 January 1996, when the Greek magazine GRAMMA ran a story, one day after Costas Simitis was appointed to form the new Greek government as prime minister. The article brought a severe reaction from the Greek press, which was followed by the mayor of Kalymnos and a priest hoisting a Greek flag on the rocks on 26 January. To oppose this, some Turkish TV journalists flew to the islet in a helicopter and raised a Turkish flag, bringing down the Greek one, the whole event being broadcast live on Turkish television. Within 24 hours, the Greek Navy changed the flag (on 30 January), resulting in an exchange of fierce statements by the Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Çiller and the new Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis. Turkish and Greek naval forces were alerted and warships of both countries, both NATO members, sailed to the islets. During the crisis, at the night of 28th of January, Greek special forces landed on the east islet without being spotted by the nearby Turkish ships. On 31 of January, at 01:40 Turkish special forces landed on the west islet escalating the tensions, and a Greek helicopter took off at 05:30 from the Greek frigate "Navarino" for reconnaissance. During the mission it crashed over the islets (some speculating due to Turkish fire), but this was concealed by both states[2] to prevent further escalation.Three Greek Officers on the helicopter died.

The immediate military threat was defused primarily by American officials - in particular, US envoy Richard Holbrooke, working by telephone with officials of both sides during the final hours of the crisis. The Greeks and Turks did not speak directly to one another, but were responsive to Washington's assistance as an informal intermediary. Greek and Turkish officials provided assurances to the United States that their military forces on and arrayed around the islets would be removed, with the U.S. monitoring the withdrawal.[3] However, the issue has remained unresolved since that time.

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Khawaga
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Sep 10 2007 11:28

Well, my wife came back from Syria a couple of days back and said that the Syrian government was strangely silent on the case as well. This is surprising since both Israel and Syria will use incidents like this to score some political points. Something is up, but what? Newspapers here in Cairo haven't written much about it either, apart from printing/referring to wire stories.

From what the news stories say the Israeli planes did not actually bomb anything, just dropped munitions and fuel and headed back home. However, my wife spoke to a few people and they told her that in fact they had bombed some semi-settled areas. What I am wondering about is what the fuck the planes were doing there. Were they trying to figure out a way to Iran, recon, an actual bombing raid on some installation/site/whatever in those vicinities? Also, what route did the planes take? Did they go from the Med and then through Syrian territory (they were pretty far inland, so if this was the case then maybe I can understand why the Syrians do not want to talk too loundly about it), or did they go through Turkish territory

I just find the whole incident really really weird, what with the lack of info about it. Though I do not think (well I certainly hope) that this is some omen of yet another fucking war in the region.

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R.R. Berkman
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Sep 10 2007 19:35

There has been very little written about this in the media, which is very, very weird.
We're talking about a nuclear power, which potentially (we're not sure) bombed its neighbor, and certainly violated their airspace. It is also important to remember that these two are still technically at war. (Oh, and Fighter aircraft dump munitions and fuel when under duress as to improve speed and maneuverability.)
When I was in Syria, I used to read The Syrian Times for shits and giggles. Lots of pictures of Sharon giving the old zeig heil while driving a bulldozer over women and children (and the like), basically anything to shore up internal support and hide their incompetence and political impotence on the Palestinian question. I thought Syria would be exacting a tremendous amount of political capital from this; but they aren't.
Maybe they're secretly talking with Israel and using this incident as a hammer. Who knows.