Monday, May 6, 2013

Israeli strikes on Hezbollah-bound missiles in Damascus provoke questions...

Which of the many strikes in Syria will be the one that ignites a much larger conflict?
Will the Israeli week-end strikes on Iranian-made guided missiles near Damascus, allegedly bound for the militant (terrorist) group Hezbollah in Lebanon, be the one that generates a more violent response from Iran, in support of Syria? Will the actions by the Israelis prompt more aggressive acts from the United States, already actively investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons? Will the Syrian regime's alleged provision of these more sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah provide enough stimulus and provocation to the members of that group to launch their own attack on Israel, testing the missile defence system in Israel that proved so effective the last time Hezbollah attacked Israel?
Will the Israeli attack on Damascus push Russia a little closer to military support, not just the provision of weapons, but with actual combat troops in support of the Syrian regime?
Will Iran be pushed a little closer to full development of their nuclear weapons, thereby making it more likely that they would and could deploy such weapons against Israel directly?
Is the Israeli prime minister attempting to generate a U.S. military response toward the conflict in Syria, as his own way to "protect the Israeli people from more agressive and more accurate attacks from Hezbollah?
We all know the history of many military conflicts begins, or is assessed to have begun, with a single act, commonly known as the 'tipping point' in an already precarious political/military/economic equation. In the Middle East, there have been so many moments that might have flared into a major conflagration, that many people in the west have come to regard the cauldron as one of constant boiling, just waiting to "boil over" by engaging major powers from outside the region.
The political energy to eradicate Israel ebbs and flows without ever fully dissipating in countries like Iran, and among terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The Islamic fundamentalist contempt for Israeli runs so deep that its very existence is, or seems to be, constantly under threat. And no matter what attempts to dampen the feelings and perceptions of injustice, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and outright hate are attempted, in the 'final' analysis, what remains is a precipitate of bigotry and contempt for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
Canada, under the current government, has become one of Israel's most public and vocal allies, a major shift from previous Canadian governments' positions that attempted to strike a balanced approach as power broker in the region between the Israeli's and the Palestinians. However, as recently as this past week, Qatar has been reported to be soliciting public support among members of the United Nations, to move the only United Nations facility from Montreal to that nation state, as a political and diplomatic snub of Canada's cozyness with Israel.
Qatar hopes to pry International Civil Aviation Organization out of Montreal: Siddiqui


Campaign could be retaliation for Stephen Harper’s pro-Israel stance.

By Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star, May 5, 2013 Qatar wants to pry the International Civil Aviation Organization away from Montreal. It is promising to build a gleaming new headquarters in Doha for the agency that sets international standards for civil aviation. It is ready to pay for the transfer of the UN agency’s 535 staff and do whatever else needs doing. The tiny gas-rich Arab nation of 270,000 certainly has the resources.

It created Al Jazeera, Arabic and English. Hosted the 2001 Doha round of trade talks and the 2006 Asian Games. Landed the 2022 World Cup of Soccer with a pledge to build $4-billion worth of stadiums with outdoor air conditioning in 48C summer heat.
Last year, Qatar bought the athletes’ village at the Olympics in London, where it also owns the Harrods department store, the American embassy building and the Shard of Glass, Europe’s tallest building. Recently, it reportedly offered $200 billion to rent Egypt’s pyramids for tourism.
The lunge for the only UN agency that Canada hosts is in keeping with that relentless drive to put itself on the map.
There’s speculation that the bid is also politically motivated, in retaliation for Stephen Harper’s rabid pro-Israeli stance.
The prime minister’s stand was a major reason for Canada’s shocking failure in 2010 to win a seat on the UN Security Council.
Still, Canada changed its historic position on three key UN resolutions. It voted against one that asserts the status of Jerusalem as occupied territory; against another that speaks to the illegality of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, and yet another that asserts the applicability of Geneva Conventions to Israel.
Last fall, Canada was one of only nine states to vote against the Palestinian bid for observer-status at the UN, with Foreign Minister John Baird threatening to cut off Canadian funding to the Palestinian Authority.
Last month, he warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah not to haul Israel before the World Court in The Hague for its actions in the Occupied Territories. Strange for a man who thinks Israel does no wrong. Stranger still for one who touts his own pro-Israeli position as “principled” — yet wants the Palestinians to sell their principles for Canadian aid.
Baird proceeded to meet Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in East Jerusalem, ignoring the reported advice of Canadian embassy officials. He tried to pass it off as nothing more than “having coffee,” and insisted that Canada had not changed its stance, when it clearly has in more than ways than one.
“Either the man is ignorant or he was trying to set a precedent,” an enraged PA official told me on the phone after the April 9 meeting. “Baird gave the green light to Israel to occupy East Jerusalem.”
The official added that had the Palestinians known about Baird’s plans with Livni, Abbas would not have met the minister.
Back in Ottawa, Baird met Arab ambassadors April 15. He was asked to clarify his stance. He got testy and became “undiplomatic,” according to a person present there. “All these actions do have consequences.”
Along the way, Canada picked a fight with the United Arab Emirates over granting Emirates Airlines extra landing rights in Canada. In retaliation, the U.A.E. booted Canada out of Camp Mirage, a free way-station for ferrying Canadian troops and machinery in and out of Afghanistan. That reportedly cost Canada between $300 million and $500 million. Baird has since mended fences with the U.A.E.
All these ideological, bull-in-a-china-shop moves may be cited by Qatar. It needs the support of 60 per cent of the 191 member states (115 votes) when the matter is decided in September.
The Qatari bid is likely to fail, for no other reason than that the agency has been in Montreal since 1946, and has attracted other airlines-related groups. Montreal is also a far more pleasant place to live and visit than Doha.
But Ottawa is forced into a fight, and has to rally support at home and abroad. Baird lost no time dashing to Quebec Friday, to forge a common front with the Parti Québécois government as well as the city of Montreal, which benefits by $100 million a year and 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.
The real battle would have to be waged internationally.
Baird said Qatar’s immense wealth should not be a factor in the vote. Harper said there’s no reasonable case to move the agency out of Montreal.
True. But that’s not all that may be in play.
So...now that Canada is fully in Israel's court, what will the political implications be for our country, should there be another military conflict in the Middle East?
No longer the "modest peace-maker" is Canada under Harper becoming what James M. Minifee once asked, a "powder monkey"?





Israel escalates involvement in Syria conflict with airstrikes on Hezbollah-bound missiles


By Bassem Mroue And Ian Deitch, Associated Press, In National Post, May 5, 2013

Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital Sunday, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be on their way to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.

The attack, the second in three days, signalled a sharp escalation of Israel’s involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war. Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles struck a military and scientific research centre near Damascus and caused casualties.
An intelligence official in the Middle East, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to disclose information about a secret military operation to the media, confirmed that Israel launched an airstrike in the Syrian capital early Sunday but did not give more precise details about the location. The target was Fateh-110 missiles, which have precision guidance systems with better aim than anything Hezbollah is known to have in its arsenal, the official told The Associated Press.
The airstrikes come as Washington considers how to respond to indications that the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons in its civil war. President Barack Obama has described the use of such weapons as a “red line,” and the administration is weighing its options — including possible military action.
Iran, a close ally of the Assad regime, condemned the airstrikes but gave no other hints of a possible stronger response from Tehran.
Israel has said it wants to stay out of the Syrian war, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated the Jewish state would be prepared to take military action to prevent sophisticated weapons from flowing from Syria to Hezbollah or other extremist groups.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in mid-2006 that ended in a stalemate.



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