WASHINGTON – Leaks from government officials in the US
and Europe stating that Israel
struck a Syrian military facility in
Latakia last week indicate Western
confidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad will not
Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the country’s
red line when it comes to Syria is the transfer of heavy weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon,
operating extensively on behalf of Assad against rebels fighting for his
The US has consistently stated support
for this policy, under the
principle that Israel has a right to defend itself by taking independent action.
Classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the US and now the EU
its acquisition of such weaponry.
But the revelation
that Israel’s targets
were Russian-made missiles is a reminder that, despite the deal brokered
September by Moscow to rid Assad of his chemical weapons, the Syrian
war continues to pose significant strategic tensions for many parties
with a vested interest in its outcome.
military strike will
likely further strain efforts to salvage negotiations in Geneva between
and the opposition. Iran still refuses to endorse the 2012 Geneva Communique, a
UN document calling for a peaceful transition of power in Syria. It also continues efforts to smuggle anti-aircraft weapons through Syria to
territory in Lebanon.
With Assad coming out of
the August chemical weapons crisis
intact – and with Washington, Moscow and Tehran generally satisfied with
resulting deal – no one will want to rock the boat with Israel by making
issue out of the fact that it follows through on its
promises to defend itself.
These Israeli strikes will continue
sporadically, and the results will
be the same: a media blackout, tacit international acceptance, and quiet efforts by Iran to
try, try again.