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Israel's Syria 'raid' remains a mystery
September 13, 2007 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Israel not talking. Syria says little. US silent. Syria claimed it chased away the Israeli plane. But since then Syria has said nothing. Nor has Israel. And this news item from BBC says that the intrusion into Syrian airspace is a mystery. But why would N. Korea, Syria, Israel and the US be so reticent to comment? Perhaps because Israel took out a nuke site
posted by Postroad (83 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:11 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's actually ok with me if it did.
posted by psmealey at 4:12 PM on September 13, 2007


Pics? you need security clearance and then I will provide them
posted by Postroad at 4:16 PM on September 13, 2007


Well this is all quite a surprise, what with Syria typically being valid in their nuclear claims, North Korea usually being the bastions of rational diplomacy, and Israel being notable for the openness of its military capacity and level-headedness toward international armed conflict.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2007 [10 favorites]


Oh. Jeeze. Again with the mythical Iran-Syria-N. Korea nuclear conspiracy.

All parties are silent because there are no nuclear sites.
posted by tkchrist at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I propose that Metafilter become a declared nuclear power. I'll provide the beer, you guys provide the enriched plutonium.
posted by Justinian at 4:27 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
There are no nuclear sites.
There is nothing to fear.
posted by basicchannel at 4:29 PM on September 13, 2007


"There is a wolf this time!" cried the boy.
posted by Malor at 4:31 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


They're saying on CNN that Israel did that for us, with our bunker busters--to send a message to Iran. They're also lying about North Korean involvement too--to get more of the "Axis of Evil" involved, i guess.
posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on September 13, 2007


If we're going to have a daily nuke post, then I recant my involvement in the last one.
posted by Avenger at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2007


I propose that Metafilter become a declared nuclear power. I'll provide the beer, you guys provide the enriched plutonium.

I've got a few hundred thorium mantles I removed from old Coleman lanterns and a big pile of glow-in-the-dark watch hands. Will that do?
posted by 40 Watt at 4:34 PM on September 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


meanwhile, Bush is announcing our permanent presence in Iraq on tv tonight--based on the Korean model. Totally insane, and i betcha just a dodge--once they start bombing Iran they'll just say we have to stay there now anyway. And with Bush's buddies getting oil contracts already, we're there til there's no more oil.
posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on September 13, 2007


I guess we better invade. Just to make sure. Because you just can't lose enough wars to unemployed Arab teenagers.
posted by tkchrist at 4:35 PM on September 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'll throw in all my leftover glowsticks from Burning Man for that "glowing nuclear ooze" gag.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:36 PM on September 13, 2007


What was hilarious was the Drudge Report headline about this last Thursday: SYRIA FIRES ON ISRAELI PLANES
posted by Flashman at 4:37 PM on September 13, 2007


Yeah, except the Korea model isn't based on a seething populace just outside the wire that hates our guts.

I think all this late-term maneuvering is intended to paint the Democrats into a corner on Iraq. Bush doesn't need to win. He just needs to make it look like he could have won.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:38 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nukes or none, the silence makes sense.

If nukes, then

1) Syria has the capability to get nukes. Thus we should start taking them seriously.
2) Israel has the capability to destroy those nukes. Thus we should continue to take them seriously.

If no nukes, then

1) Syria has no capability to get nukes, thus we don't need to get all invady or anything.
2) Israel did not tresspass into someone else's airspace, so there's no need to slap them on the wrists and say, "bad Israel!"

Everybody wins!!!!

until someone gets nuked.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:47 PM on September 13, 2007


There is nothing to fear.

Clearly you have never tangled with an angry rabbit whilst covered in lettuce.

You want to see fear? I'll show you it's face!
posted by quin at 4:49 PM on September 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


The Syrians were actually transporting that "sixth nuke" through the desert so that they could deliver it to Hezbollah who would then sell it to Iran who unwittingly would provoke a pre-emptive strike from the 350 British troops who never left Basra and are led by a Manchurian Candidate rougue Dominionist Christian former Appalachian State tight end in the employ of...

Hey, I saw some guy train chimpanzees to count to nine and there's a video on YouTubes!
posted by jsavimbi at 4:49 PM on September 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've got a few hundred thorium mantles I removed from old Coleman lanterns and a big pile of glow-in-the-dark watch hands. Will that do?

I have three smoke detectors in my apartment and I figure I could make do with only one.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:50 PM on September 13, 2007


I have some oklo reactor scrapings in the fridge and a couple triple A batteries.
posted by hojoki at 4:55 PM on September 13, 2007



(lights up) What will be will be. (exhale)
posted by bukharin at 5:02 PM on September 13, 2007


Big, pointy teeth!
posted by asok at 5:03 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who knew about the axis of evil back when everyone was saying he was a nut?
Who knew the 20% surge would work when the Iraqi Study Group recommended anything but?
Who could look at invading Iraq and deciding to send less troops, just to be on the safe side.
Only one man - The Decider. Together with his sidekick, the Pet Goat, he fights for truthiness, justiness, and the United States of Americans.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:03 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is only one question: Is their nuckular sites burning?
posted by dirigibleman at 5:28 PM on September 13, 2007


nuke it from orbit its the only way to be sure
posted by wuwei at 5:32 PM on September 13, 2007


WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
posted by limon at 5:37 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since it's relevant, here's my opinion of what it looks like from a left/sane Israeli perspective, posted to some mailing list:
Looks like the Israeli leadership echelon is playing dice with Middle East again. The BBC and other news media are quoting an unnamed official in the US Department of Defense as saying Israel carried out a bombing raid in Syria. Whether or not this is true, the incursion of the IAF into Syrian territory is an unprovoked attack, and as such is in grave violation of international law. The fact that this comes after a series of Syrian calls for a peace process, and an explicit Syrian assent to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was re-launched this year, makes this aggression all the more odious.

Beside the grave consequences of this act on peace and stability in the region, this reflects the lack of a genuinely democratic culture in Israel. In a functional democracy, an action with such severe implications for the safety of its citizens would provoke a public outcry and (at the very, very least!) a demand for an explanation. Instead, the government has taken for granted its right to operate in total secrecy and keep mum about its goals and justifications. So far the Israeli public has accepted this with docility. There is no longer even a need for the government to give excuses for this secrecy -- it is understood that the government can undertake major political and military decisions without bothering to notify the public or opening the process of deliberation for public scrutiny. If the public gets too curious, there is a sophisticated mechanism of "leaks" to the press which will tell the public what the government thinks it needs to know. The right of the government to operate above international law and without public scrutiny is apparently universally accepted in Israel.

If ever there was a reason to assemble in Rabin Square in demand the resignation of the government, this is it. No people should sit quietly as their government drags them toward the abyss.
posted by limon at 5:39 PM on September 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


What would the DPRK have to gain from giving Syria the bomb? I don't see it.
posted by WPW at 5:40 PM on September 13, 2007


When the threat is phony - talk it up big to justify an ill conceived invasion.

When the threat is real - keep your mouth shut and take targeted minimalist action.
posted by caddis at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Deniability maybe? That they could have Syria do some dirty-work for them without taking direct blame?

I got nothin'.
posted by quin at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2007


But since then Syria has said nothing.

Actually, they complained to the UN.
posted by mek at 5:54 PM on September 13, 2007


I've got uranium ore and a Vita-Mix blender!
posted by stet at 5:57 PM on September 13, 2007


What would the DPRK have to gain from giving Syria the bomb? I don't see it.

Aren't they just eBaying it? As in, they don't need their old nuclear material anymore, so they're pawning it to Syria at a discount?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:06 PM on September 13, 2007


We haveIsrael has to fight them over there (and there and there and there) so we don't have to fight them over here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:16 PM on September 13, 2007


Our insane, lying, murdering president is speaking--he needs to be put in Bellevue. He's going on and on about a "free Iraq" yet it's us who are occupying it.
posted by amberglow at 6:17 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I live right down the road from the Diablo Canyon Nuke Plant here in Central Coast California... after a year and a half of weekly dumpster diving there, I'm almost ready to declare myself a nuclear power... (but damn, my glowing privates keep me awake at night).
posted by wendell at 6:18 PM on September 13, 2007


what kind of stuff is in a nuke plant's dumpsters?
posted by amberglow at 6:20 PM on September 13, 2007


wendell writes "my glowing privates"

Neuk away, my friend, neuk away.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:23 PM on September 13, 2007


"what kind of stuff is in a nuke plant's dumpsters?"

Inanimate carbon rods and half-eaten donuts.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:38 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


wendell, that's awesome -- what sort of stuff have you found?
posted by limon at 6:39 PM on September 13, 2007


Let's grow some tomacco!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 PM on September 13, 2007


He's going on and on about a "free Iraq" yet it's us who are occupying it.

the sooner we occupy the entire middle east the better. who else would you want owning the planets oil supply?
posted by quonsar at 7:21 PM on September 13, 2007


You fly your right plane in,
You fly your right plane out,
You fly your right plane in,
And shake it all about.
You violate some airspace then you turn yourself around
And that's what it's all about!
posted by ZachsMind at 7:21 PM on September 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm confused. The BBC articles from last week say the Syrians drove the Israelis away and that the jets jettisoned their weapons. But then on Tuesday CNN calls it an airstrike. Where did Amanpour get that information? John Bolton?

One thing is clear to me however. Whichever anonymous US officials sourced this NY Times article don't have a fucking clue what they're talking about. Mr. Mazzetti and Ms. Cooper should be ashamed of themselves. Buy a clue guys! Your sources are making that shit up!
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 7:34 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Inanimate carbon rods and half-eaten donuts. : >

on Tuesday CNN calls it an airstrike. Where did Amanpour get that information? John Bolton?

CNN actually has gone farther than that, Galaxie--tonight on air they explicitly said it was our bunker busters and that it was done to send a message to Iran (that ugly Pentagon reporter they have reported it). They also said nothing was hit and no one was hurt.
posted by amberglow at 8:04 PM on September 13, 2007


L'shanah tovah!
posted by matteo at 8:10 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


what kind of stuff is in a nuke plant's dumpsters?

Homer's empty donut box.
posted by caddis at 8:23 PM on September 13, 2007


L'shanah tovah!

Translation: Hope you like wearing sunscreen!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What would the DPRK have to gain from giving Syria the bomb? I don't see it.

Hard currency?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What would the DPRK have to gain from giving Syria the bomb?

money

do they need anything else?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 PM on September 13, 2007


damn you, blazecock, damn you
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 PM on September 13, 2007


do they need anything else?

iPhones.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let's just transpose the subject and operative for a moment.

Let's just say that...oh...Israel has nukes.

Syria, in order to protect itself, flies jets deep into Israel and bombs...something....

Is Syria justified?
posted by rougy at 9:56 PM on September 13, 2007


rougy: Let's just transpose the subject and operative for a moment.

Let's just say that...oh...Israel has nukes.

Syria, in order to protect itself, flies jets deep into Israel and bombs...something....

Is Syria justified?


The problem with that comparison:

Can Israel be trusted not to first strike Syria for no reason? Yes.

Can Syria be trusted not to first strike Israel for no reason? No.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:16 PM on September 13, 2007


What mitrovarr said.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:43 PM on September 13, 2007


Can Israel be trusted not to strike Syria for no reason? Yes.

Happy new year and all that. But re: above, I'm not so sure.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:41 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, PIINM, that happened DURING the 6 Day War - ie, while Israel was under attack by ALL of its neighbors. Simultaneously. Was it controversial? Certainly. Justified? I don't know - it's obviously VERY complicated. But it's not a good example of how Israel will behave under normal circumstances - 'cuz, you know, have the entire Egyptian army massed on its borders is NOT a normal state of affairs for Israel.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:05 AM on September 14, 2007


"Can Syria be trusted not to first strike Israel for no reason? No."

Sorry, but can you remind me why not?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:59 AM on September 14, 2007


Can Israel be trusted not to strike Syria for no reason? Yes.

Aren't Israel the ones that just violated another country's air space and dropped bombs there?
posted by couch at 1:06 AM on September 14, 2007


Seriously Israel is just stupid, How long the USA can back-up Israel without questioning it's actions? 20 years? 50 years? Then Israel is over.

Israel is the one who will get the most of peace in the region and the one who ultimately will get erased from the map if terror keeps on rising.
posted by zouhair at 1:32 AM on September 14, 2007


Hard currency?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 PM on September 13


They need aid from the West to survive, little Syria can't prop them up. The nuke programme is a way to get that aid. Autocratic pariahs like the DPRK have one overriding priority that rescinds all others: survival. Giving Syria nuke materials does not help the DPRK survive. What they have to gain from Syria is peanuts to what they can get from the West.

This is just armchair geopolitics from me, I just can't see any real motive for the DPRK here.
posted by WPW at 2:13 AM on September 14, 2007


I think Mitrovarr might have just written it backwards accidentally — fingers_of_fire on the other hand repeatedly trolls threads like this from a Likudnik perspective. Don't bite, it's not worth the trouble.
posted by blasdelf at 2:17 AM on September 14, 2007


BBC: The strike targeted a shipment of Iranian weapons which was either entering Syria or being transferred through it to Hezbollah in Lebanon, CNN said.

That sounds a lot more likely than a nuke strike.

blasdelf: Jeez, all fingers_of_fire did was agree with Mitrovarr. That's trolling?
posted by WPW at 3:54 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, people *trust* Israel not to attack first with their nukes? Are you f**ing kidding?

Who attacked first in this case, if there was an attack at all? Israel reserves and uses the right to "pre-emptive" strikes all the damn time if they don't like what a neighboring country is doing. I don't trust them not to act provocatively or aggressively at fucking all.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:22 AM on September 14, 2007


Wait, people *trust* Israel not to attack first with their nukes?

they won't, because they know that no matter the damage they create, they'd be wiped out. don't insult their intelligence.
posted by matteo at 7:08 AM on September 14, 2007


We (and the Western media) are getting way ahead of ourselves here. The Israelis haven't said anything. The Syrians haven't said much more and what they have said doesn't jive with these reports on CNN.

John Bolton seems to have been the first one to suggest the North Korean connection. This Washington Post article talks about "dramatic satellite imagery" but also says "The new information...has been restricted to a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley".

The new articles coming out now don't include new information. They're based on these reports from CNN, the NY Times, and the Washington Post. As far as I can tell, those reports are based on the idle speculation of John Bolton and anonymous Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Whatever looking to rattle some sabres.

CNN actually has gone farther than that, Galaxie--tonight on air they explicitly said it was our bunker busters and that it was done to send a message to Iran (that ugly Pentagon reporter they have reported it).

That seals it for me. I don't believe a word of it. The sources for this information don't have any better idea than you or I do what happened over Syria last week. They're just capitalizing on another opportunity to stir up shit with Iran.

We don't even know if the Israelis fired any weapons and yet here are these American officials, off the record of course, claiming that there are secret North Korean bases in Syria or that the target was actually Iran and Hezbollah. Bullshit.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 7:22 AM on September 14, 2007


Israel holds Syrian land and Syrian prisoners.
Israel's leaders later called the 6 day war "a war of choice"
Syria is led by secular leaders who come from a strange and tiny religious sect and have no popular support
Syria is a tiny country with little in the way of resources
Israel is a nuclear power with protection guaranteed by the world's only superpower

the situation, and this conversation, is absurd.
posted by cell divide at 7:23 AM on September 14, 2007


they won't, because they know that no matter the damage they create, they'd be wiped out. don't insult their intelligence.

Quite. The region is also very small, something that tends to get forgotten because of its importance and global news profile. Israel is a very narrow strip of land, and depends on fragile watersheds. A nuclear strike on Syria would have terrible consequences for Israel, poisoning its air and water.

Another thing is that although Israel is depressingly prone to conventional military interventionism, it does have a 40-year record of not using nuclear weapons. It might have had warheads during the Six Days War, and didn't use them; it was certainly armed during the 1973 war, and didn't press the button; it sat on its hands during the scud attacks in the first Gulf War. Of course using nukes in those situations would never have been justifiably (it's hard to think when it IS justifiable to use nukes), but it does indicate that Israel has been able to maintain an arsenal without succumbing to the temptation to use it.

Maybe Syria would act with the same restraint. But that's a big maybe.
posted by WPW at 7:32 AM on September 14, 2007


Okay, I admit this is off-topic, but all these "I got a leftover glow-in-the-dark whatever" jokes keep reminding me of a funny story:

You know how (understandably) paranoid the Japanese can be about nuclear weps, radioactivity etc.?

Once upon a time US Navy carrier (Constellation? Can't remember) is anchored at Yokosuka. Well, there's this glow-in-the-dark marker dye that's used for man-overboard or aviator-in-the-water IDing during search-and-rescue evolutions at sea; it glows a bright yellow-green for a while before it dissipates, and it's fairly visible on a dark sea at night. Well, a couple of bored-@$$ sailors liberated, like, pounds and pounds of this stuff from the aviation-stores locker and tossed it into a Dempster-dumpster pierside which they then started filling with a convenient nearby water hose. It's dark-thirty and absolute shards of garish, sickly light are beaming out of the openings in the dumpster by the time they've got it half-filled. Said sailors secure the hose and withdraw to a nearby convenient location to watch the fun.

It's only a matter of time before somebody sees the glowing dumpster and thinks, "OMFG, WTF, radiation from a nearby US Navy aircraft carrier! They must've dumped nuclear waste in there!" and phones begin to ring. JMSDF and USN security are first to respond, and civilian J law enforcement, and G*d knows how many various people in suits, a HAZMAT truck, a US Marine SECDET making a brief appearance (or so the story got enhanced in the telling) while these two guys were absoutely dying trying not to laugh out loud & give the game away.
posted by pax digita at 7:39 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


matteo: they won't, because they know that no matter the damage they create, they'd be wiped out.

You're joking, right? By who? like...China? Even in the midst of a major incursion into Iraq that is occupying nearly the entirety of our armed forces, over half of our foreign spending is committed to the security of Israel. (This figure includes aid given to Egypt and Jordan to prevent them from militarizing against Israel). They are not getting "wiped out" anytime soon. Israel is a military juggernaut, eager to provoke its neighbors into conflict. Where were you last year, when they mined Lebanon?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:02 AM on September 14, 2007


Hugs to you too, blasdelf - having witnessed one Israeli election first hand I can happily affirm my support of Labor. I'll also note that you classicly refused to respond to my comment, opting instead to simply call me names. Fortunately, WPW is making my point rather nicely.

Too bad you can't discuss these things on Metafilter without it descending into name calling.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:24 AM on September 14, 2007


That seals it for me. I don't believe a word of it. The sources for this information don't have any better idea than you or I do what happened over Syria last week. They're just capitalizing on another opportunity to stir up shit with Iran.

Of course they are--that was the whole point of having Israel do it and then telling reporters that so they'd air it. They didn't want the message to be misread. It makes it more believable, because there's been nothing that Syria has done to deserve any attacks.
posted by amberglow at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2007


So, pax digita, where might one procure pounds of this stuff if you don't happen to live on a capital warship?
posted by Mitheral at 10:15 AM on September 14, 2007


...the whole point of having Israel do it and then telling reporters that so they'd air it.

One minor quibble amberglow. I haven't read anything that suggests this was a coordinated act between Israel and whoever is leaking the "details" of this "airstrike" to the US press. That's not to say I would be surprised to find out that there was some level of coordination between Israel and elements of the US government but even that doesn't mean that the sources for these initial reports of an airstrike have any special information that the rest of us don't have.

That's what I find so egregious about the NY Times article I linked to in my first comment. In my view, where it says "American officials confirmed Tuesday..." it should read "Some Defense Department bureaucrat I know took a wild ass guess on Tuesday...".

I see three distinct waves of news reports here. The first wave said simply 'Something happened over Syria. Nobody's talking.' The second wave is where the anonymous US officials speculate that what happened was, in fact, an airstrike as well as a message to Iran. The third wave of articles coming out now don't actually contain any new information but are instead about the second wave of news reports, e.g., "CNN reports...".

Now the incident is an "airstrike" and it's still not clear if any weapons were fired.

Anyone know what you do with an ellipsis at the end of a sentence? Where's the period go?
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 1:39 PM on September 14, 2007


Anyone know what you do with an ellipsis at the end of a sentence? Where's the period go?

You quoted logically, which I find acceptable but some Americans don't. If there were no quote marks, I'm betting it's like when you end a sentence just before an ellipsis: Four dots, baby!

posted by eritain at 2:17 PM on September 14, 2007


fingers_of_fire: I remember you being pretty aggressive about defending Israel in threads about the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. Apologies if I was a little hasty…
posted by blasdelf at 3:09 AM on September 15, 2007


Aggressively defending something you believe does not a troll make, my friend. Honest, sincere, intellectual disagreements are allowed - as is passion. And apologies. Yours is graciously accepted.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:50 AM on September 15, 2007


(I should say, agressively but respectfully defending...)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:58 AM on September 15, 2007


I think these maps speak volumes.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 AM on September 15, 2007


Whoops... that should have been for another thread. I lost track of the discussion.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2007


rougy: Let's just say that...oh...Israel has nukes.

Well, I'm assuming we both know that Israel does in fact have nukes. Obviously, the world knows we have nukes. Obviously, the world knows where we keep our nukes (Dimona). Obviously, no one is complaining about it. If we have the right to own nuclear weapons, why shouldn't they?
posted by alona at 1:19 AM on September 16, 2007


The Guardian this morning seems to support the Israel-hit-nuke-facility story.

There goes my career as a geopolitician.
posted by WPW at 1:46 AM on September 17, 2007


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