Between America's and Israel's leaders, they might just manage the impossible - uniting all the regions Muslim neighbours by giving them common cause to take remedial steps in preventing an explosion of unrest in the region. The problem is, much of the blame for such unrest will be laid at the doors of the U.S. and Israel.
New Zaman reports that Syrian President Assad is about to visit Turkey at their express invite, to discuss events fuelled by the U.S. and Israel.
Assad's visit comes at a time when Ankara has been dealing with a looming crisis with its NATO ally, the United States, due to Turkey's intention to launch a military incursion into northern Iraq to tackle the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based there, as well as Turkey's anger over a resolution approved by a US congressional committee branding the 1915 killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide.A decade ago, Syria and Turkey were almost at war - now the Turks are acting as Syria's intermediaries. Well done, Israel and the U.S.
...Last week, [Turkish Foreign Minister] Babacan paid an official visit to Damascus as part of a regional tour of Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel, and voiced Ankara's desire to see its neighbor Syria in the coming period as part of regional resolutions, not as part of regional problems. Ahead of his visit to Damascus he had visited Israel, where he raised eyebrows when he said he wanted details of an Israeli air raid last month on a Syrian target near the border with Turkey.
Also last week, Assad was quoted in a Tunisian daily as saying that Turkey is mediating between Damascus and Jerusalem in preparation for negotiations. During the past six months, Turkey had renewed its mediation efforts through frequent visits by officials from Ankara to Damascus, he said, noting that Turkish officials are playing a role in preparing the groundwork for negotiations with Syria.
America's invasion of Iraq and subsequent hypocrisy over fighting Kurdish seperatist terrorists who mount attacks in both Turkey and Iran may yet manage to usher in an unprecedented co-operation between Teheran and Ankara too, while Israel's loose-cannon actions will cause other Arab states to unite to defend their plans for nuclear power. After all, if Israel will bomb a Syrian building and blame it on a mythical nuclear fingerprint while the U.S. insists it will keep its options open about an Iranian nuclear weapon program for which evidence of any such program is likewise bereft, then nations like Egypt, the UAE and Jordan who have announced they will pursue nuclear power programs must be more than just a little nervous about protecting such multi-billion dollar investments.
And by the way, the Turks aren't the only ones that want answers about Israel's recent bombing run. The IAEA is definitely peeved that no-one in Israel or America thought to make use of the international nuke watchdog - another manifestation of their contempt for international consensus and the rule of law.
"The International Atomic Energy Agency has no information about any undeclared nuclear facility in Syria and no information about recent reports," spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a statement issued from the IAEA's Vienna headquarters.Kudos go to Reuters for bothering to talk to the man at the top of any list of interviewees for a report on nuclear matters - someone Sanger and Mazzetti at the NYT obviously overlooked in their rush to get David Addington's copy to print:
"The IAEA is in contact with the Syrian authorities to verify the authenticity of these reports," she said.
"We would obviously investigate any relevant information coming our way. The IAEA Secretariat expects any country having information about nuclear-related activities in another country to provide that information to the IAEA."
A Vienna diplomat close to the IAEA said it had initiated contacts with Damascus shortly after the air raid but the Syrians had provided no clarification yet.
U.S. officials have linked the raid to apparent Israeli suspicions of covert nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Syria. They said the site in question was identified earlier this year in satellite photographs.
Syria has denied hiding any nuclear activity from the IAEA or having anything other than energy goals with nuclear work.
The Vienna diplomat said that if Syria was indeed building a new reactor, it would have been required to inform the agency, and provide design data, as soon as it decided to construct one.
No country had provided satellite or other intelligence about the alleged plant to the IAEA although such help would be crucial to detecting such a site, added the diplomat, who asked not to be named due to the topic's political sensitivity.
"With the (low) level of IAEA funding, inspectors can't go around a country checking every building. The IAEA is not a go-it-alone investigative agency," said the diplomat.
The New York Times said the targeted Syrian facility appeared to have been much further from completion than an Iraqi reactor the Israeli air force flattened in 1981.Albright's point is a valid one - and Israel's other neighbours will be reaching the conclusion that if Israel, with US hawk complicity, can decide on such an outrageous act of unwarranted aggression against Syria then they could just as easily decide to do it again with Jordan or Egypt or any other neighbour.
"A very real question is whether Syria is technically and financially able to build such a reactor. It would be hard to justify an air strike on a facility so early on in construction and, if supplied by North Korea, unlikely ever to be finished," U.S. analyst David Albright, alluding to North Korea's nuclear disarmament agreement earlier this year, told Reuters.
"Israel may have wanted to send a signal to Iran. The U.S. wants to scare Iran (off nuclear work) and this air strike might have been a way to do it, and explain some of Israel's secrecy."
Update One of our regular commenters, Charles, has a post of his own which compellingly argues the "Syrian nukes" story is prime BS.
He also points to a Juan Cole interview with Retired CIA analyst of Arab affairs Ray Close:
"Personally, I believe that the most persuasive reason for studied silence on this subject, on the part of both Republicans and Democrats, is the reluctance (call it fear) of individual politicians that they might be put in a position of appearing to criticize Israel for poor judgment (or even deliberate deception), and thereby appearing to oppose intimate collaboration with Israel (yes, even in acts of illegitimate preemptive military action) against "supporters of terrorism."And to an interview with Philip Giraldi, former DIA and CIA officer, partner at Cannistraro Associates, Francis Walsingham Fellow for the American Conservative Defense Alliance and Antiwar.com columnist, who says both DIA and CIA have discounted the nuke story and that his information that the target was an air defense system.