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Thread: "Well-Informed Sources" Fear War Between Israel And Syria This Summer

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    "Well-Informed Sources" Fear War Between Israel And Syria This Summer

    Analysis: Rumors of Syria-Israel war

    http://www.upi.com/International_Int...rael_war/2584/

    By CLAUDE SALHANI
    UPI International Editor
    Published: July 9, 2007

    WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- Well-informed sources in Washington fear a confrontation between Syria and Israel may happen this summer. The sources say that Syrian intelligence is abuzz with activity reports of an imminent Israeli attack across the Golan Heights, while others believe it is Syria that is gearing up for war.

    Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. Middle East peace negotiator, was quoted by an Israeli newspaper as saying he thinks "there is a risk of war" between Syria and Israel in the summer. Ross told YnetNews, Yedioth Ahronoth's Internet edition, that "no one has made any decisions, but the Syrians are positioning themselves for war."

    According to the former U.S. State Department official, "Syria has rearmed Hezbollah to the teeth -- there should be a price to pay for that." Ross added that the Bush administration should aim to "squeeze the Syrian economy" by using "sticks before carrots" in dealing with Damascus.

    The New York Sun, meanwhile, quotes an unidentified Baath official saying, "If Israel doesn't vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerillas will immediately launch 'resistance operations' against the Golan's Jewish communities." The official said "Damascus is preparing for Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September."

    The official warns that "Syria has the capability to fire 'hundreds' of missiles at Tel Aviv in the opening salvo of any conflict." The official told the New York paper that Damascus has made numerous requests to Washington for the return of the Golan "either through negotiations or through war."

    Some analysts believe Syria took notice of last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah, prompting the leadership in Damascus to rethink its strategy.

    Meanwhile a decision by Syrian authorities to recall its citizens from Lebanon before July 15 has not helped lessen the tension, nor the rumors, lending to speculation that there might be more than just rumors behind the latest tension in the Middle East.

    Beirut's Daily Star newspaper reports that Damascus has ordered its citizens in Lebanon to return home by July 15, citing concerns over the "security situation in Lebanon." And a report in the government controlled Syrian daily al-Thawra said Syrian students studying in the public Lebanese University and the Beirut Arab University were authorized to enroll in public Syrian universities for the upcoming academic year 2007-2008.

    MEMRI -- the Middle East Media Research Institute -- reports that on July 5, the Lebanese daily al-Liwa cited rumors that Syrian workers were leaving Lebanon at the request of the Syrian authorities. Arab and Iranian media reports have backed up the probability that Lebanon's current political impasse may turn violent after July 15. Indeed, a number of sensitive events affecting Lebanon and/or Syria coincide with the fatidic July 15 date.

    The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to discuss the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 on July 16. The discussions will center on the Syria-Lebanon border and the possibility of positioning international observers along the border to prevent weapons finding their way from Syria into Lebanon.

    The London-based al-Hayat newspaper says the United Nations' recommendations will demand the stationing of international experts in the border area to assist Lebanon's security agencies in monitoring the frontier.

    Also between July 15 and 17 the head of the International Investigation Commission into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Serge Brammertz, is to submit his report to the U.N. Security Council.

    The Iranian news agency speculates that the recall of Syrian nationals is due to the ultimatum Lebanese President Emil Lahoud gave the opposition to decide on how to deal with the crisis in Lebanon. Other sources think Syrians are being recalled home as Damascus plans to mobilize reserve units in expectation of an Israeli attack.

    A contributing factor is a declaration by the Lebanese opposition of plans to establish a second government if no solution to the current political deadlock is reached by mid-July. Members of Hezbollah have joined President Lahoud in threatening to establish a second government in Lebanon. They speak of taking "historical" and "strategic" steps. Such a move would likely re-ignite Lebanon's civil war, or possibly cause the country to fracture.

    A second government would have grave implications for UNIFIL, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, based in the south of the country. UNIFIL "would find itself facing a new reality when it discovered that (Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora's government was no longer able to support its activities or ensure its security," MEMRI reported.

    A series of editorials in the Lebanese daily al-Mustaqbal, meanwhile, warns of a planned Syrian-Iranian coup in Lebanon, spearheaded by Hezbollah and backed by Iran and Syria. The paper, which is close to the pro-government March 14 Movement, speaks of Hezbollah's military preparations, including military activity both south and north of the Litani River, in defiance of U.N. Resolution 1701; and the transformation of the Bekaa region into a military zone.

    With tension in the Middle East at an all-time crux, it would not require very much to set the region ablaze. If the Bush administration ever intended to push for peace in the region, now would be the time to do so.

    Ignoring the situation and allowing it to deteriorate may result in a new front becoming active with the forces of UNIFIL finding themselves engulfed in a conflict stretching from Iraq to South Lebanon. The Spanish contingent, which has already suffered half a dozen casualties in South Lebanon, was the first to pay the price of this new war.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Olmert: Israel, Syria don't want war

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...cle%2FShowFull

    By HERB KEINON
    Jul. 12, 2007

    Israel does not want war with Syria, and does not believe Syria wants war either, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday.

    At the same time, he said that the fact that neither side was interested in war did not automatically open the door to immediate negotiations.

    Speaking to EU ambassadors, Olmert said he was not concerned about an imminent war with Syria, but that he was unhappy with the very public discussion about the matter, which itself created a dangerous and unnecessary "momentum."

    Olmert said that Syrian President Bashar Assad wanted to use negotiations with Israel as a way to conduct a dialogue with the US, which is why Assad was insisting the US mediate any talks with Israel.

    Olmert said that when Assad speaks about making peace with Israel, he means making peace with US President George W. Bush, and that Israel was just a tool to make this happen.

    Olmert, according to participants at the meeting, said Israel would be "very interested" if Assad said he was willing to hold "direct, unconditional bilateral talks." The prime minister said that he would be willing to hold negotiations without any preconditions from either side.

    Also on Thursday, the United Nations' special envoy to the Middle East, Michael Williams, told Reuters that Syria had signaled a willingness to change its relationship with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas if progress were made toward a peace deal with Israel.

    "The impression I got from my visit to Damascus was that if there was progress in terms of establishing a peace track, then we would see some changes in Syrian behavior on the three issues, Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas," Williams was quoted as saying.

    Olmert has said in the past that Israel would sit down with Syria if it severed ties with Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah. Senior sources in the Prime Minister's Office would not say whether his call Thursday for talks with Syria without any preconditions from either side meant he would be willing to sit down with Assad even if Syria continued to allow a flow of arms to Hizbullah, was tightly aligned with Iran, and housed the headquarters of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.

    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, said in an interview published on Thursday in the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur that she would not confirm rumors of secret discussions between Israel and Syria. She stressed that Syria supported Hizbullah, was tied closely with Iran, and refused to recognize the independence of Lebanon, and that peace with Syria would necessitate the clarification of those issues as well.

    Regarding the Palestinian track, Olmert - according to a participant in the meeting - spoke extensively about what the PA needed to do to combat terrorism and to grant the Palestinians a higher level of services.

    He said Hamas was clearly "not part of the diplomatic game," and that any recognition of Hamas - even tacitly, as was being discussed by some parties in Europe - would rule out any chance of moving forward with the Palestinians.

    Olmert said that if there was an end to terrorism emanating from the West Bank, and if the PA demonstrated a sincere effort in stopping terrorism, the timetable toward the establishment of Palestinian state would be shortened.

    At the same time, he reiterated Israel's position that it was too early to begin discussing final status negotiations, and that what was needed was to continue taking "one step at a time."

    On Wednesday, Olmert took a secret trip to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II, Channel 2 reported Thursday night.

    The talks took place ahead of Olmert's planned meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, and a few weeks after he met with Abdullah at a summit in Sharm e-Sheikh along with Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    The Prime Minister's Office would not disclose any of the content of the meeting, or even confirm that it took place. The last time Olmert made a secret visit to Jordan was in the fall of 2006, when he reportedly met there with Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan.

    At his meeting with the EU ambassadors, Olmert said the moderate Arab countries needed to "provide an umbrella of support" for the Israeli-Palestinian political process.

    In a related development, the State Department announced that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be postponing a trip to Israel scheduled for next week, the second time she has canceled such plans in the past two months.

    The State Department said the trip was delayed largely due to logistics, since she will now be visiting the region along with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in August.

    Bush announced their trip in speaking to the press about Iraq Thursday morning, explaining that they would be traveling to shore up support for his Iraq strategy.

    "They will meet with our allies, reemphasize our commitment to the International Compact of Sharm e-Sheikh, reassure our friends that the Middle East remains a vital strategic priority for the United States," he said.

    US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack had few details about the new trip, but said that Jerusalem and Ramallah would be included.

    He rejected the suggestion that this indicated a lessening of US attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. "Secretary Rice, on a daily basis, is engaged on this issue," he said. "It would in no way signal a diminution in her focus or the amount of energy that she's going to apply to try to move forward the Israeli-Palestinian track and the Arab-Israeli track."

    Capitol Hill insiders said the White House wanted Rice to focus on the Iraq effort in the coming weeks as Bush tries to stem the flow of Republicans breaking ranks with him over the war.

    Middle East expert David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy questioned how much the Palestinians would be able to progress on the big-picture issues of a "political horizon" during a meeting with Rice. Abbas is seeking to stabilize the government that he created after ousting Hamas following its takeover of Gaza, and Makovsky said of that government, "I don't think it's well-placed right now to... commit to a grand political horizon for a final status peace agreement."

    Until things become clearer, he said, "Nobody wants the secretary of state to waste her time."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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