Middle East war predictions
March 27, 2002 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
posted by Voyageman (14 comments total)
Reactionary and alarmist.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:11 PM on March 27, 2002

Because Israel has had such a hard time of defending itself so far... ?

If anything, such a preemptive strike would free up the US/Israel/Coalition military forces... We wouldn't have the politically messy task of starting anything, just finishing it.
posted by techgnollogic at 5:12 PM on March 27, 2002

C'mon, it's David Wornout.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:51 PM on March 27, 2002

[weapons] passing from Iran, through Iraq...
rapid build-up of facilities for a Kurdish Islamist terrorist army across the Turkish frontier in Iran. This appears to be a co-operative project between the Iraqi and Iranian regimes...

Iran and Iraq collaborating? Hehehehhe...

Oh, Mr. Warren also appears to have forgotten that Isreal has nukes. I don't doubt that Sharon would use them if multiple countries invaded in a coordinated manner. Syria, Iran and Iraq probably don't doubt it either.

Increased, even explicit support of the PA by Iran: arguable. Coordinated external attack: must be bad 'shrooms.
posted by dchase at 5:57 PM on March 27, 2002

The only thing he has not described is how Russia and China will be involved because I do believe, based on my interpretation, that is how Armageddon is described in Revelations :-)
posted by billman at 6:46 PM on March 27, 2002

The Great Satan Conjugating With Eve
also an opinion piece
From IslamOnLine.net

...According to Seymour Hersch of the New Yorker magazine, Khatami’s government agreed to permit INC forces and their military equipment to cross the Iranian border into southern Iraq, and with special U.S. approval, a U.S.-government-financed INC liaison office was opened in Tehran.

Iran feels that the common front against Saddam will help restore relations with the U.S. Of course, such a war set-up comes with CIA operatives, and Iran seems to have forgiven the Agency's hoisting of the hated Shah to the extent that it is ready to work with them.

posted by y2karl at 7:46 PM on March 27, 2002

I have never studied military strategy, but wouldn't unity be a prerequisite of any co-ordinated assault?
posted by tdca at 8:57 PM on March 27, 2002

sounds like propoganda for a pre-preemptive strike against saddam hussein.

LOL .. this guy has too much time on his hands.
posted by adnanbwp at 9:35 PM on March 27, 2002

Death to Islam!
posted by HTuttle at 10:51 PM on March 27, 2002

I see the peanut gallery has been well supplied with empty shells tonight.

tdca: The Arab League has 22 members. The alliance alleged here only involves four of them. Iran has been a supporter of terror groups in the region since the Carter administration. Iraq has been giving precious oil-for-food money to support suicide bombers' families rather than buy medicine for its own people. Syria has never signed a peace treaty with Israel and maintains a military force inside the sovereign nation of Lebanon. The PLO and Hezbollah openly acknowledge they are at war with Israel, though the victory conditions change depending on who they're talking to.

dchase: do not be confused by the word 'war'. This is not a ground invasion modeled on those of 1948, 1967, or 1973. It is a classic Fourth Generation War, managed by that most adroit practitioner of the art, Yasser Arafat, and waged by battle-hardened troops of the Palestinian security services and Hezbollah, fresh off what they saw as a capitulation by Israel, the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon. And Iran and Iraq cooperating on common goals (even while one might betray the other) is not inconsistent with history.

Again, this is not an invasion. It is an escalation of the intifada, one which the Karine-A affair demonstrated as a coordinated military strategy of the PLO at the very highest levels. They do not intend with this to do things that they cannot, such as seize territory. They can, however, increase the terrorism against Israel to such a point where either it capitulates, something they feel is likely, or it is forced into more drastic actions inside Palestinian areas (or even Lebanon) that would put it on the defensive against world opinion. It's a game of baiting and waiting. They think they can win this.

adnan: Isn't genocide enough of a pretext? What else do you require? I'm curious to know of your ethical assumptions.

In any case, Iraq's participation isn't really key here, it's Iran, and the wild card is Syria. Young Bashar keeps threatening to go either way, depending on which way the wind is blowing or his generals are pushing. He's very hard to read, but then, he's not the rock that his father was -- more of a sock puppet. Their support is all the more important now that Bush's "axis of evil" talk has succeeded in turning Saudi Arabia from reluctant silent partner into a front man for a Washington rubber-stamped peace proposal. Egypt and Jordan have already signed peace treaties. The majority of the Arab states support the PLO in spirit, but increasing pressure from America is cramping the flow of money and arms. Ultimately the critical limitation on the success of the strategy Warren lays out is this logistical supply line, much of which is fragile; and since Karine-A, it's in the spotlight. Ultimately Arafat may feel an alliance with Hezbollah gives him domestic leverage against Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

On the night of the second deadliest attack of the intifada, can anyone really honestly say that there is no escalation? I had feared this, but I thought it might wait for the end of the summit.
posted by dhartung at 11:19 PM on March 27, 2002

From the peanut gallery.

dhartung: from where I am sitting I count five countries in this hypothesized alliance. One of those countries, Lebanon, was reportedly involved in the breakdown in the summit. It may very well be that the Palestinians would like to see the Hezbollah drawn into the conflict. By its behaviour at the summit, the government of Lebanon certainly is not giving any sort of sign that it would support such involvment on its southern border, and neither are the Hezbollah for that matter.

Perhaps you can explain why it would be in Syria's interest to go to war with Israel. The article certainly did not.
posted by tdca at 1:22 AM on March 28, 2002

dhartung: It is a classic Fourth Generation War, managed by that most adroit practitioner of the art, Yasser Arafat, and waged by battle-hardened troops of the Palestinian security services and Hezbollah.

Are we reading the same article?: Everything I now know about the deployment of forces in the region points in the same counter-intuitive direction: toward an organized, external attack on Israel, coinciding with a final escalation of the Palestinian intifada. Whether or not a surprise attack is already planned, the equipment is being put in place to launch one.emphasis mine Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it sounds like he's talking about an invasion to me. And do you seriously believe that Iraq and Iran would cooperate to build up Kurdish extremists? Your analysis is definitely arguable. But, the analysis in the posted article that's being discussed here is pretty wacked.
posted by dchase at 5:50 AM on March 28, 2002

Billman: "The only thing he has not described is how Russia and China will be involved because I do believe, based on my interpretation, that is how Armageddon is described in Revelations :-)"

Yeah I think it's in Revelations Chapter 4 verses 19-23, when it talks about how "the Grizzly will rise up against the Panda after the Eagle has landed," based on my interpretation. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 6:29 AM on March 28, 2002

tdca: Sorry, I was actually not aiming that barb at those to whom I was replying.

In any case, as I said, Syria is a wild card; Lebanon would be even wilder. They're not wholly a client of Damascus anymore, but they are deeply beholden to it by virtue of occupation, and they don't truly control most of the southern third of the country. But then, Hezbollah does control parts of that territory. As for Syria's interests, they have never given up their insistence that the Golan Heights must be completely and unconditionally returned, and they trade artillery fire with the IDF intermittently. The calculus has been that they can't afford to equip an invasion army. But they could certainly step up their support of the various terror groups including Hezbollah and parts of the PLO.

And dchase: I would read that as prepared to take advantage of, rather than acting as a trigger for the terror escalation. Certainly he suggests that it would be one way to take advantage of an invasion of Iraq. If the IDF were, for example, forced to re-occupy the PA areas, their strength and attention would be diverted. Particularly if they feared Syrian opportunism, they would have to be careful what they moved where. In that respect, if what this article reports is correct, we might be seeing a feint (just like the Allies did with D-Day, and Patton's Fourteenth Army).

If I were a Syrian general, I would have to consider ways to seize the moment. Whether they would openly do so is another question, and why I labeled them a wild card. But I have little doubt that they will happily assist a widening of the intifada. Syria hasn't felt confident enough for more, but if they considered that Iraq were joining them with Iran it might change their calculus.

I don't agree that the article is wacked. I would say it's overstated, but then he labels the parts that are most extreme as speculative: "looks like"; "I fear". In its particulars it may be problematic, but unfortunately I read the situation little differently -- the reasons for cooperation and escalation are many, especially once you (as, say, my Syrian general example) feel certain that the US is planning to intervene against Iraq. The other parts merely represent increased activity along axes that are very well known, e.g. Iran-Syria-Hezbollah, Iraq-PLO.

One final note. The Kurds are not unitary -- they are split among two large factions, only nominally cooperating under the banner of the Iraqi National Congress (which is itself not simply Kurdish), and many smaller ones some of which are loyal to Baghdad and have its protection. As Goldberg's article makes clear, there are factions among the Kurds who are cooperating with Iraq, Iran, and al-Qaeda to differing and difficult-to-analyze degrees. The Ansar-al-Islam is one such group. If anything, Iraq has an enduring interest in fomenting discord among the Kurds.
posted by dhartung at 8:21 AM on March 28, 2002

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