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December 27, 1991 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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will not have forgotten that
it was only an Israeli threat
of intervention, at Washing-
ton's request, that forced a
column of invading Syrian
tanks to turn back after they
had actually crossed the
international frontier into
Jordan in 1970.
While the Syrians might
be deterred from repeating
such an action in light of the
Iraqi episode, they might
also be emboldened by the
free hand which the United
States has allowed them in
Lebanon. At the same time,
the Jordanian monarch
cannot have missed the
signal from Israel that it
would refrain from any such
protective action in future.
Of all the Arab parties to
the negotiations, the
Syrians, anxious to reclaim
the Golan Heights, pose the
only credible military threat
to Israel and will find the
greatest difficulty in sur-
mounting the psychological
and political barriers to
achieving a formal, contrac-
tual accord with the "Zionist
enemy."
The Syrians and their
Lebanese proxies will prob-
ably be most resistant to a
diplomatic settlement, but if
Jordan and the Palestinians
can muster the courage and
overcome their inhibitions,
it is difficult to imagine
President Assad allowing
the process to conclude
without him.
At that point, he will
either jump on the diplo-
matic bandwagon or take
measures that would effec-
tively derail it.
In the search for signs and
wonders that point to possi-
ble future directions in Mid-
dle East relations, it is an
ominous yet incontrovertible
fact that even while the
Syrian delegates are talking
peace in Washington, Presi-
dent Assad shows every in-
dication of preparing for war
at home.
Cash-strapped Syria has
already spent virtually all of
its $3 billion Golf War wind-
fall from Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait on fresh con-
signments of upgraded Scud
missiles from China and
North Korea.
Some Israeli analysts
believe President Assad
ultimately will be unable to
leap the political and
psychological hurdles that
are necessary to achieve a
formal peace with the Jew-
ish state.
They fear that the polit-
ically savvy Syrian leader is
playing a long hand and
buying favor in the West
through participation in the
peace process. His strategy,

they say, is to amass diplo-
matic capital now which will
be spent in a military con-
flict with Israel later.
When the crunch comes, it
is thought he may choose to
gamble on a limited military
strike aimed at grabbing a
foothold on the Golan
Heights which he will seek
to maintain until the UN
Security Council calls for a
ceasefire and forces Israel to
hand back the entire ter-
ritory under a dis-
engagement agreement.
Such a strategy would
allow him to have his cake
and eat it — to retrieve the
Golan Heights without hav-
ing to pay a political price. It
also could have dangerous
and unpredictable conse-
quences.
A similar threat was de-
terred in the mid-eighties
when Israeli officials
perceived a military strike
from Damascus and went to
great lengths to make it
known to Mr. Assad that any
military adventures would
be met with "a massive and
overwhelming response."
At that time the message
was received, believed and
the threat was averted; but
Israel's restraint during the
Gulf War may have served
to dilute the credibility of
the tough talk.
President Assad, now
deprived of his Soviet
patron, may well calculate,
rightly or wrongly, that he
will never be stronger or
better equipped for a serious
confrontation with an Israel
which now will be restrained
by a less-indulgent Wash-
ington.
There is great truth in the
cliche that when the Middle
East is not moving toward
peace it is moving toward
war. The old maxim will be
tested to the limit in the
coming months.



'""1 1 N EWS

False Alarm
Triggers Hit

Tel Aviv (JTA) — A false
alarm triggered the heavy
shelling of two Shi'ite
villages in the southern
Lebanon security zone last
week.
The Israel Defense Force
and its allied South Lebanon
Army let loose an artillery
barrage against Kabrikha
and Majdal Slim villages on
the northern edge of the
zone, after the explosion, of
what they believed was an
incoming Katyusha rocket.
Actually, the blast was a
land mine detonated by a
wandering wild boar.

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