What’s A Tank Brigade Worth?
Vol: 10 Issue: 24 Wednesday, July 24, 2002
That is the question Syrian President Bashar al Assad is mulling over this week following a series of high-level communiques shuffled between Damascus and Jerusalem via American and Egyptian backchannels.
Israel has now delivered three warnings to the Syrian government concerning Hezbollah’s operations. Two were transmitted through the United States, the other through Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The last warning was the most ominous. The Israeli government reportedly told the Syrians that if Hezbollah again attacks a target inside Israel, retaliation will be taken against military targets in Syria.
Specifically, Israel would attack an armored brigade in southern Syria from the air, followed by artillery fire and perhaps an air-mobile assault. The goal would be the complete destruction of a Syrian brigade containing up to 100 tanks.
Syria’s tank corps consists mostly of old Soviet T-54s and spare parts are hard to come by. New tanks are even harder to come by.
Presumably, Assad knows that the loss of a Syrian armored brigade would constitute a serious blow to the country’s military capability. And that is assuming Israel would stop with the destruction of a single tank brigade.
But it appears that Assad doesn’t really understand the risks he’s facing. Assad the younger spent his life in practice as an eye doctor. He wasn’t ready for the job, and still isn’t. He came to power reluctantly, assuming the mantle as sole dictator of Syria — but without the steel his father brought to the job.
Israel wants Syria to stop Hezbollah’s attacks in order to avoid being drawn back into the endless and costly game it tried to give up when it withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.
The implicit understanding between Israel and Syria regarding the Jewish state’s withdrawal was that Damascus, via the Lebanese government, would take responsibility for controlling Hezbollah.
While Israel has its own reasons for extending the threat, the warnings also serve US interests as Washington continues to prepare for war with Iraq. Washington wants Damascus to stand down so it can focus on pummelling Iraq — if they won’t do it out of love, its ok if they stand down out of fear.
The hope is that Assad will recognize the absolute certainty of military disaster staring him in the face. Israel hopes it will cause him to rein in Hezbollah. Washington hopes it will keep him out of the war against Iraq.
But for whatever reason, Syria must first be neutralized to protect our flank before the US moves against Saddam.
An Israeli attack on Syria would mean some serious political problems for the US among the Arab states. But a US attack on Baghdad will accomplish pretty much the same thing. There’s not much left to lose.
In fact, unless Assad rolls over — and soon — an Israeli operation against Damascus will become a necessary element in the overall US-Iraqi war strategy.
Israel’s threat is real, in particular because it so perfectly dovetails with US strategic interests.
From Washington’s point of view, whether Damascus is removed as a threat because it changes policies or loses tanks is irrelevant. This is war.
Damascus has an as-yet-unfulfilled role to play in Bible prophecy. The destruction of Damascus was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. ” [Isaiah 17:1]
Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. In its long history, the city has never been destroyed.
The city of Babylon is located about thirty miles outside of Baghdad. It has a population of about thirty thousand. Saddam has largely rebuilt the city, including several of Nebuchanezzar’s palaces.
Jeremiah prophesied of Babylon, “And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.” [Jeremiah 51:37]
Of the kingdom of Babylon, [modern day Iraq] Jeremiah says, “Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby.” [Jeremiah 51:43]
The Bible claims 100% accuracy, 100% of the time, past, present and future. None other among the world’s sacred writings make similar claims. Only the Bible.
It remains an open challenge to the world system. Over the centuries, every generation has had its great thinkers and philosophers who dedicated their lives and considerable intellects to disproving the Scripture.
“Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” [Isaiah 46:8-10]