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Tuesday, July 24

War clouds in Golan Heights and snowballing achievements of Plan B in Iraq.

John Batchelor's first guest during his Sunday stint on Drudge Radio was Aaron Klein, who reported on Israel's military reinforcements in the Golan in response to recent Syrian provocations.(1)

By interesting coincidence the Guardian -- that conduit for MI6 opinion -- today published a commentary that gossips about rumored backchannel talks between Syria and Israel that seem to be going nowhere. The author chides Assad for giving into pressure from Iran:
America has insisted that Israel shouldn't talk to Syria, while Syria has been unable to break away from its own bigger bullyboy, Iran. So it is disappointing, to say the least, to learn that just as Israel has managed to free itself from peer pressure and request direct talks with its northern neighbour, Syria seems to have buckled under Iranian pressure not to talk and has instead accepted $1bn of military aid from Iran along with assistance in nuclear research.

Now Assad might believe that Olmert has neither the power nor the inclination to engage in serious peace talks, but that does not excuse the Syrian leader from not bothering to find out.
I fear the author's lens is too narrow; he analyzes the Syria-Israel situation outside the context of the rapidly changing situation in Iraq. During the past year several commentators have correctly observed that Middle Eastern political and military events are now closely connected. So I don't think it's excessively dotty to note that Iran's poodle is escalating war threats regarding the Golan at just the time that Plan B, or what Charles Krauthammer terms The 20 Percent Solution, is making serious headway in Iraq. The success is bad news for Syria's Baathists and Tehran.

Krauthammer reports that after twiddling our thumbs waiting for Maliki's government to make real overtures to Iraq's Sunni insurgents, the US command and the new US ambassador to Iraq took executive action:
[...] Petraeus and Crocker have found a Plan B: pacify [Iraq] region by region, principally by getting Sunnis to join the fight against al-Qaeda.

This has begun to happen in Anbar and Diyala. [...] al-Qaeda's objectives are not the Sunnis'. [...] That's why so many Sunnis have accepted Petraeus's bargain -- they join our fight against al-Qaeda, and we give them weaponry and military support. With that, they can rid themselves of the al-Qaeda cancer now. And later, when the Americans inevitably leave, they'll be better positioned to defend themselves against the 80 percent Shiite-Kurd majority they are beginning to realize they may have unwisely taken on.

The bargain is certainly working for us. [...] The charge against our previous war strategy was that we were playing whack-a-mole: They escape from here, they reestablish there. Petraeus's plan is to eliminate all al-Qaeda sanctuaries.
Maliki is none too happy about the Coalition deals with Iraq's Sunnis. And I think that even some US military advisors are unhappy about a secondary component of Plan B, which releases vetted Sunni insurgents to the custody of their tribe's chiefs in return for a promise of good behavior and help with fingering al Qaeda in Iraq.

Yet Plan B is rapidly changing the military situation in favor of the Coalition and Iraq's army. See Bill Roggio's July 23 daily report on Iraq (Taji Tribes Turn on Mahdi Army and al Qaeda) for details on progress.

Even Mookie Sadr has complained that Iran is aiding and abetting al Qaeda in Iraq. So Tehran would love to change the subject; a way to do this is to prompt Iraq's Sunni insurgents to another excuse for fighting the Coalition. A reminder that the US supports Israel against Syria's Sunnis would be a long shot, but Iran must be approaching desperation about Plan B.

1) For an overview of Aaron Klein's Sunday discussion with John, see Aaron's Monday report for World Net Daily: Israel, Syria boost military presence along border: Escalating moves from both sides amid war warnings from Damascus' officials.
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