Syria, which has turned itself into a weapons entrepot for “game-changing” weapons, was taken by surprise by the Israeli air strike on its weapons warehouse.
Syria realized it could happen, but hoped that Israel would continue to warn and warn, and in the end do nothing.
Advanced Iranian war material that reached the airport in Damascus were dispersed to various destinations; nevertheless someone had obtained accurate intelligence concerning their whereabouts, enabling a simultaneous, multiple-targeted attack on the scattered storage sites.
First and foremost to be hit, the warehouses containing the Iranian-made Fateh 110 missiles, with a range of 300 kilometers and carrying a warhead of up to half a ton of explosives.
The Israeli intelligence estimate is that the Syrians will not retaliate, and that Hizbullah also lacks the appetite for a confrontation at this juncture. But since the exact calculations of the Syrians and Hizbullah are impossible to know, anything is possible.
The question is, will Syrian President Bashar Assad see it in his interest to enter into a confrontation with Israel, in the middle of a war to save his regime and his life?
The Israeli strike would appear to have been in coordination with the Americans, or it would not have taken place (assuming that Israel was, in fact, responsible).
The objective of the operation is not as narrow as it might at first seem. Behind the strike stands a complex weighing of factors: Syrian, Iran, chemical weapons, Hizbullah and perhaps the entire process of the “Arab Spring.”
The players liable to retaliate are Iran and Hizbullah, through acts of terror. But while Hizbullah will think twice before taking action, the Iranians are more likely to act. Still, on the eve of elections there, and with the uncomfortable position in which they find themselves regarding Syria and Lebanon, even they will consider well whether it’s worth their while to retaliate or not.
It’s possible that the Americans chose Israel as sub-contractors for themselves and the Europeans, perhaps hinting, “You take care of Syria now, and leave the Iranians to us later in the year.”
The coming days will tell if the assessments of the Israelis and Americans were well-founded. Everything is possible. But in the final analysis, governments and heads of organizations will not act with haste.