The new Aviation Week reports: “Evidence is mounting that the US defense community and the Obama administration view 2013 as the likely window for a bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear and missile facilities. It could be earlier, timed to use the chaos of the Syrian government’s fall to disguise such an attack…”
According to the journal, “Iran’s intransigence over shutting down its
uranium-enrichment program will not buy it much more time… The tools for
such an attack are all operational” and the US is coming around to
suspect that Iran has already conducted its first nuclear test in North
Aviation Week’s report appeared after a
failed attempt Friday, June 29, to bridge US-Russian differences on
Syria was made by US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg. Moscow refuses to accept any solution
that would entail Bashar Assad’s removal or foreign intervention in
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is to present a proposal for a
transitional unity government to the new Action Group on Syria meeting
in Geneva Saturday. According to his plan, the government would include
opposition representation but (without mentioning Assad) exclude figures
complicit in the 15-month bloody suppression of dissent.
He had hoped that the presence at the meeting of all five UN Security
Council veto-wielders, Arab League members and Turkey would make it
possible to gain international endorsement of an agreed road map for the
transition of power in Damascus without resorting to the Security
Council again. However, after the failed St. Petersburg encounter, its
chances of taking off are slim. Asked about this, a senior US official
commented: “We may get there, we may not.”
In the Middle East, the military alert declared by Saudi King Abdullah
Thursday was still in effect Saturday. Saudi forces continue to stream
to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders and Jordanian, Turkish and Syrian
army units are on the move, as debkafile reported Friday:
The Syrian crisis was Friday, June 29, on a knife edge between a
Western-Arab-Turkish military offensive in the next 48 hours and a big
power accord to ward it off.
military sources report heavy Saudi troop movements toward the Jordanian
and Iraqi borders Thursday overnight and up until Friday morning, June
29, after King Abdullah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining
an anti-Assad offensive in Syria. The Saudi units are poised with
tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries to enter Jordan
in two heads:
One will safeguard Jordan's King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.
The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syriam,
where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa,
Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal – all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion.
The region is also the home terrain of the Shammar tribe, brethren of
the Shammars of the Saudi Nejd province.
The Saudi units deployed on the Iraqi border are there to defend the
kingdom against potential incursions by Iraqi Shiite militias crossing
into the kingdom for reprisals. The Iraqi militias are well trained and
armed and serve under officers of the Iranian Al-Qods Brigades, the
Revolutionary Guards’ external arm.
Western Gulf sources report that Jordan too is on war alert.
Following the downing of a Turkish plane by Syria a week ago, Turkey
continues to build up its Syrian border units with anti-aircraft guns,
tanks and missiles towed by long convoys of trucks.
A Free Syria Army officer, Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, reported Friday that
170 Syrian army tanks of the 17th Mechanized Division were massed near
the village of Musalmieh northeast of Aleppo, 30 km from the Turkish
border. He said they stood ready to attack any Turkish forces crossing
As these war preparations advanced, US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton arrived in St. Petersburg Friday for crucial talks with Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They meet the day before the new
UN-sponsored Action Group convenes in Geneva to discuss UN-Arab League
envoy Kofi Annan’s latest transition proposal for Syria. He hopes for a
political settlement that will ward off military intervention.
Invited to the meeting are the five veto-wielding UN Security Council
members plus Turkey and Arab League envoys from Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.
Annan proposes forming a transitional national unity government in
Damascus that includes the opposition and excludes unacceptable regime
It was widely reported Thursday that Russia had agreed to this formula,
even though it entailed evicting Bashar Assad from power. However,
Lavrov stepped in to correct the record, stressing in reference to the
Annan proposal that Moscow would not lend its support to “any outside
interference or imposition of recipes in Syria.”
This position is doubly aimed at the intensive military movements afoot around Syria.
Clinton and Lavrov are therefore expected to go at the Syrian issue
hammer and tongs. The outcome of their meeting will not only determine
the course of the Action Group’s discussions but, more importantly,
whether the Western-Arab-Turkish alliance goes forward with its military
operation against Syria.
US-Russian concurrence on a plan for Assad’s removal could avert the
operation. The failure of their talks would spell a worsening of the
Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which
according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch
Saturday, June 30.