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October 13, 2003
Israeli raid on Syria alters a 30-year-old 'proxy game' in the Mideast

I found an interesting article on the decades-long proxy game between Israel and Syria, and how Israel is looking to change the rules, with the first gambit being the attack on the terrorist training camp last week:

No matter how much violence raged around it, the Israeli-Syrian border has been quiet since the armistice following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. If the bitter foes wanted to fight, they squared off on the battlefield called Lebanon, or deployed various proxy forces.

The attack a week ago Sunday on what the Israelis said was a Palestinian terrorist training camp changed that formula, perhaps forever.

This article gives a much clearer explanation of what the attack means to both Israel and Syria and what Israel hopes to gain from the escalation:

The Syrians say they give no logistical support to the Palestinian groups, but cannot expel Palestinians who have lived legally here for decades. If expelling them is the price demanded to head off further attacks, however, it might be one the government pays.

"Maybe they will volunteer, maybe not," said Haitham al-Fahoum, an independent Palestinian official, said of the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "But I am sure they will leave if America puts pressure on Syria."

Syria needs to understand the new diplomatic realities of supporting (literally hosting) terrorists, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It means that the US will no longer reflexively restrain Israel from acting to secure itself from attack. Prior to 9/11, the US would never have stood for an Israeli attack on terrorist camps in Syria, but those days are, thankfully, over.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 13, 2003 8:06 PM

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