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  • Published in Stop the war

Lindsey German: With Israel's attack on Syria, a key Iranian ally and the West's growing intervention in North Africa, the geographical reach of war is widening dangerously

Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Photo: Jason Szenes / EPA

Israel launched an air attack on its neighbour Syria on the night of Tuesday and Wednesday this week. When Israel bombs another country then it's big news. And it's rarely coincidental.

So it was surely, as they say, no accident that the intelligence chief of the Israeli army, the IDF, Major-General Aiv Kochavi, landed in Washington on the same day that the attacks happened. Kochavi was there for talks at the Pentagon with the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Martin Dempsey.

The US was told of the attack in advance but has so far made no condemnation or criticism of the action. This has been left to the Russians, allies of the Syrian government, who have said that the attack violates the UN charter.

Its foreign ministry said:

'If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.'

The target of the attack was a plant near Damascus and convoys of weapons heading to the Lebanese border. The narrative put by the Israelis was that these were quantities of anti aircraft weapons being transported to safety from Syria's civil war into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is once again talk of the need to defend against Syria's alleged possession of chemical weapons.

Iran, a close ally of Syria and Hezbollah and itself under constant threat of an Israeli attack, has already said that it considers an attack on Syria as on itself. Both countries are saying there will be retaliation for the air raid, possibly on Tel Aviv.

Escalation

This latest escalation of war in a Middle East country can worsen an already extremely dangerous situation. Israel has long threatened an attack on Iran's nuclear installations, and has talked about this summer as the optimum time to do so. And although Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did much worse in the recent elections than he thought, he must gamble on gaining support through such a move and facing little opposition politically.

The special relationship with the US may be put under some strain by Israel's tactics, but there will be grudging acceptance at least of Israel's actions.

The calculation is that in such an event, Israel will need to deal with Iran's allies in the region. Hence the attacks on Syria. Israel has become increasingly worried at the civil war in Syria and at weapons 'falling into the wrong hands'. Yet the paradox here is that groups have been armed and funded by Middle East and western regimes that want to overthrow Assad in Syria.

Meanwhile in Africa...

Meanwhile in another part of the war zone, David Cameron is doing a tour of North African capitals to drum up support for the latest military adventure in the 'war on terror'. Following his visit to Algeria (to talk about war and terrorism) he then landed in Libya, where we were told "the security situation has deteriorated" since his last intervention there in 2011.

Then the air strikes there killed an estimated 30,000 but solved none of the basic problems and divisions. The country is still war torn and split, and British citizens were told to leave Benghazi last week because of threats to their security.

It takes a millionaire Old Etonian whose previous job was in PR to have the brass neck to sell another intervention - this time in Mali - following so fast from the failed one in Libya. David Cameron is determined to join with France, the other major former colonial power in this part of Africa, in a war supposedly to eradicate Islamic terrorism but which takes its urgency from the need to protect and control the wealth and resources so central to European energy supplies.

The troops now being sent may be symbolic. But that was what the US thought when it intervened in Vietnam over 50 years ago. The geographical reach of the war is widening. And both sides are beginning to join up the dots.

From Stop the War site

Lindsey German

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.

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