On Sept. 6, Israel fired up warplanes that flew deep into Syria to a site near the city of Dayr az Zawr where they executed an airstrike. Then all went silent. And by silent, I mean no one in an official capacity mentioned it. Israel went mute. Syria fell quiet.
The airstrike itself raises many questions, such as what was attacked and why? But the “elephant in the room” question is where was Syria’s outrage? Why were both sides in this encounter silent?
Israel imposed a news blackout. Syrian officials went into a series of apoplectic denials when the story leaked out. According to Ynet news, The Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands in Syria claimed that the reports of an attack were “made up” and called them “fabricated lies of the Zionist media.”
Ynet news also quoted Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara at a press conference in Damascus saying, “Everything that has been reported about this attack is erroneous and is part of an Israeli campaign of psychological warfare that will not succeed in misleading Syria.”
But the reports weren’t erroneous, and bombs being bombs, they’re impossible to keep silent. Ynet news reported that reporter Ron Ben-Yishai “took pictures and interviewed eyewitnesses … one of the interviewees claimed to have heard sonic booms.”
On Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad finally admitted to the British Broadcasting Corporation that the Israeli Air Force attacked an “unused military building.” This was the first admission by a Syrian official that the air raid occurred. On Tuesday, Israel relaxed its strict news blackout on the incident, saying they struck an unspecified “military target.”
Speculation is running rampant about what Israel took out. Some believe it might have been a weapons shipment bound for Lebanon and Hezbollah’s guerrillas. Others hypothesize that it was a nuclear facility built with the help of North Korea. All interesting topics, but it’s the resounding silence from Syria that is most intriguing.
It might be that Dr. Jack Wheeler, called by the Wall Street Journal the “creator of the Reagan Doctrine,” which toppled the Soviet Union, has the right answer in an article he wrote for his To The Point News Web site. Wheeler draws our attention to an Aug. 13. story published byAlex Fishman for Ynet news.
Fishman’s Ynet News story quoted a senior Israeli military source confirming that Syria had purchased extensive Russian weapons systems and possessed the “most crowded anti-aircraft system in the world.” Estimates about Syrian systems ranged as high as “200 anti-aircraft batteries of different types.”
The military source in Fishman’s story also confirmed that the Syrians had “purchased the most advanced ground-to-air missiles” from the Russians. Certainly, this buildup is cause for concern, except that when the Israeli air force flew deep into Syrian airspace — apparently nothing happened.
As Wheeler writes, “Nothing. El blanko. Silence. The systems didn’t even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace … the Syrians are scared speechless. They thought they were protected — at enormous expense — only to discover they are defenseless.”
Wheeler states that, “the primary point of the attack was not to destroy that target [in Syria]. It was to shut down Syria’s Russian air defense system during the attack. Doing so made the attack an incredible success.”
So, now we watch and wait. For I suspect that Israel’s attack is just the beginning of things to come in the Middle East concerning both Syria and Iran. And I hope that Wheeler is correct when he states, “Syria is shamed and silent.”
Kathleen Antrim is a columnist for The Examiner newspapers, the author of “Capital Offense”, and a correspondent for NewsMax Magazine. She can be heard regularly on Hot Talk 560 KSFO in San Francisco on “The Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan Show.” For more information go to www.KathleenAntrim.com