Game Changers, Red Lines, and a Green Light for War
The U.S. Obama administration is preoccupied with forming a war coalition of Western and Arab Gulf states in preparation for Middle East regional turmoil.
America has committed billions of U.S. dollars to maintaining a qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East, with recent advanced arms sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This, along with a commitment of renewed military aid to Egypt, in spite of the Moslem Brotherhood's clampdown on democratic reforms, signals active U.S. military preparations, despite what looks like weakness and hesitation by President Barack Obama to lead other nations into war.
Israel is working closely with the U.S., improving intelligence and security ties with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and meeting secretly with other Arab nations, such as Jordan. Israeli leaders are helping to strengthen the Middle East alliance that the U.S. needs in order to lead the world against Iran and Syria.
Iran continues to work at a feverish pace to enrich enough uranium to achieve nuclear "breakout" within a few months. The increasing instability in Syria is providing a ripe opportunity for radical Sunni rebels to take control of major parts of the country, while training their forces to fight in Lebanon and Jordan, and also maintain a secure foothold in Egypt's Sinai.
Meanwhile, Western nations are looking to Obama to make good on his promise that Syria's use of chemical weapons would be a "game changer" in the civil war between President Bashar Assad and rebel forces. Western intelligence agencies, along with Israel, have confirmed a limited use of the nerve gas Sarin on the Syrian population by Assad's regime.
So far, however, despite intense pressure, Obama is not acting on his own "red lines". Perhaps this has to do with timing in regard to his desire to form a strong and secure war coalition. Media reports indicate that Western nations may be preparing a limited incursion into Syria in order to secure stocks of chemical weapons from getting into the hands of radical Islamist groups operating there. The U.S. has shown a small public commitment to sending more troops into the region after releasing 200 soldiers into Jordan, with 20,000 troops waiting for deployment, if necessary.
Israel is worried that Al Qaeda and global jihadists, planted within Syrian opposition forces -- especially those posted on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights -- may have their own plans for how they will get their hands on the chemical weapons before any Western military action is taken. While the world has focused on whether Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, this is a secondary issue for Israel.
Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren recently stated that Israel is not pressuring America to get involved in Syria. He also said that Israel would not be opposed to the U.S. aiding certain rebels (signaling approval for military aid to moderate opposition forces). If Western nations decide to get involved in Syria's civil war, Israeli officials can only hope that the mission will not only include toppling the Assad regime, but also securing his chemical weapons. It will take a major military operation to eliminate the many WMD storehouses located throughout the country.
The problem is that any military advance that puts Western forces and arms inside Syria could cause a brutal response from Assad. This unknown element may be contributing to the current impasse on the part of the Obama Administration.
If an American war coalition decided to strike chemical plants in Syria they could attempt to do so in an offshore operation from ships at sea. But, Russia, who has fiercely supported the Assad regime, has its main Middle East naval base on Syria's Mediterranean Coast. The U.S. clearly does not want a confrontation with Russia, which means American forces may be looking for another way to get to the chemical weapons.
Clandestine operations such as commando forces going inside Syrian territory, along with undetected low-flying jet fighters, have reportedly been activated successfully by Israel in the past. Israel has already indicated it will take action in Syria if chemical weapons are moved (either towards the jihadists or Hezbollah). Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz recently admitted that the IDF has been planning such a military operation for over a year. This could be the real "game changer" that Obama is waiting for. It would put Israel in a key role, once again, in regard to Syria's WMD's, with American military forces backing the Jewish State if Israel strikes pre-emptively and Assad retaliates.
As it stands now, Britain and France are behind U.S. efforts to set up a no-fly zone in Syria. Turkey, though discouraged by the lack of international unity in regard to Assad's war against his own people, is also committed behind the scenes to helping America in its attempts to bring down Assad. Now that Turkey has re-established ties with Israel, intelligence sharing on Syria can freely flow between these two countries and the United States. Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf nations, who have been supporting the Sunni rebels in Syria, are behind the fall of Assad. They are quietly hoping the U.S. will also lead a Western and Arab war coalition against Iran and its Shiite proxies.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan recently sent its foreign minister to Israel, hoping for warmer ties, which Israel has gladly established due to the fact that Azerbaijan is on Iran's border and Israel may be able to use that country's military bases in future operations against Iran.
The Americans are preparing a military coalition for a conflict in the Middle East, with the recent evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons something that needs to be addressed in order to prevent a change of the balance of power in the region. Yet, the Obama Administration seems fearful to strike Syria at this time, most likely because it could ignite a confrontation, especially with Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, before the U.S. is ready. This could escalate into a major Middle East war, with the U.S. distracted, and North Korea taking advantage of the situation to strike at U.S. troops in the Asian-Pacific.
This possible scenario may be what is causing such hesitation by the American administration about serious military involvement in the region at this time. Yet, Obama has to make good on his words or look weak to these rogue states who continue to take advantage of U.S. disengagement. In the face of international pressure, Obama's bold statements about "red lines" and "game changers" are his public stand, while privately he is readying a Western/Gulf Arab coalition that is waiting for the Commander in Chief's signal: a Green Light for a Middle East War.