Dr. Joe TuzaraThe writer was clinical research-physician-general surgeon for Saudi Arabian, Philippine and American healthcare systems and is currently an American freelance writer as well as op-ed contributor.
It appears that the world is witnessing a portentous geopolitical upheaval and transformation in the Greater Middle East, the ultimate amalgamation of a new “United States of Islam.”
Miscalculation over the use of chemical weapons in a last ditch effort to save the Syrian regime could be a tactical blunder and horrendous mistake.
Unless Damascus ceases and desists from playing chemical solitaire with Tehran, it has already sealed its own tragic fate.
There is no denying the fact that Iran is pulling the strings and that its fingerprints are all over in the escalating Syrian conflict.
Make no mistake about it:
The Islamic republic of Iran is using Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah, as a classic Cold War deterrent whose status is significant as Iran's front-line operative arm against Israel and American interests.
Evidently, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has established a joint war room with both Syria and the Lebanese terrorist group Huzbullah.
Fifteen thousand IRGC’s elite special-ops are already inside Syria to help suppress uprising and protect President Bashar al-Assad regime.
So, it came as no surprise that ominous signs are steadily emerging that the Syrian regime’s isolation and desperation may lead them to unleash chemical weapons (CW) when on the verge of collapse.
Sources close to the French Defense Ministry reported that a Libya-style military assault to topple the al-Assad regime is imminent.
Military intelligence sources disclosed that US, Israeli, Jordanian and Turkish special ops armed with special gear for combating chemical arms are now operating inside Syria to track chemical weapons.
Apparently, the huge concentration of the combined military assets around Syria was triggered by Western and Arab growing fears to the possibility of chemical warfare instigated by Iranian agents operating within the Syrian military and Hizbullah.
According to Jane's Intelligence Review, Iran has helped the Syrians with a number of these CW production and storage facilities which employs over 10,000 people.
It is intriguing to note that despite the warning, the Syrian opposition released a video to prove that al-Assad is already utilizing chemical weapons and that the Internet blackout was cover for transport of arms to Damascus.
An internal Pentagon study estimated that it would take more than 75, 000 troops to secure Syria’s CW storage facilities and keep them under control— and that assumes that US intelligence knows precisely where they all are.
Since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, the Syrian rebels have made considerable headway bolstered by defections, Western-Arab military support and the rebels’ capture of man-portable air-defense systems from the Syrian regime’s stockpiles.
But in reality, the real danger and the greater threat is that the fall of the al-Assad's would likely be followed by unrelenting chaos.
To be specific, it would be a “a very clear red line” if Syria’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) inadvertently falls into the wrong hands of Hizbullah and other terror outfits.
If chemical weapons are obsolete, then why did Syria just threaten to use them?
The al-Assad regime insists it won't use WMD against its own people, reserving them instead to counter "external" threats — but what exactly does that mean?
It has been reported that Syrian officials warned that they would deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention. Washington officials cited this as the most “direct confirmation” ever that Syria possesses a stockpile of unconventional armaments.
Here is a brief guide:
-Syria owns one of the fourth largest and most advanced stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world. These include sarin, mustard agent and VX -- the most toxic nerve agent of all.
-An Unclassified Report to Congress in 2011revealed that Syria’s chemical weapons can be delivered by aerial bombs, ballistic missiles, and artillery rockets.
-Designed primarily as a strategic deterrent against Israel, Syria’s chemical weapons stocks were aimed to offset Syria’s inferior conventional military capability.
-Although Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention which outlaws its production, the confirmation, albeit vaguely, does not diminish but rather exacerbates foreign military intervention.
-The Syrian regime knows that there is little tactical advantage to using chemical weapons in an urban warfare.
Close-quarters combat renders CW not only ineffective but counterproductive; with sarin or VX, a simple wind shift could turn the deadly agent against the Syrian military. Syria’s likely blister agent — so called “mustard gas” — is highly corrosive, remaining a hazard for forces attempting to occupy the affected area.
If al-Assad stumbles and seeks asylum, he has nowhere to hide from the slaughter of 40,000 civilians and nowhere to go after unleashing chemical weapons.
Doubts linger if Iran can defend Syria
Although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “the Islamic Republic will defend Syria,” the reality on the ground is quite foreboding and increasingly becoming uncertain. To wit, emails released by Wikileaks- show both Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had already concluded al-Assad’s regime could not be rescued.
In addition, Iran’s perilous goal of destabilizing the volatile region has backfired with the humiliating fiascos in Khartoum and Gaza Strip.
There is always an exception –in suicidal messianic regimes, the chemical/biological weapons are used as a tactical component of jihad, not subject to argument- in the absence of nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, there is always a distinct possibility that the complex US Air-Sea Battle strategy (ASB) is already in position to keep an eye on Iran.
To put it simply, ASB relies on tightly coordinated operations that cross operating “domains” — air, land, sea, undersea, space and cyberspace – aimed at Iranian threats.
In retrospect, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Gaza operation was a classic anti-Iran coup masterminded by Israeli, Turkish and Qatari intelligence to abort the military ties Tehran was cultivating with Hamas before the Gaza Strip is grabbed as Iran’s springboard to Cairo.
It may not have been coincidental that the destruction of the Sudan factory occurred at exactly the same time that a joint US-Israel military exercise, ‘Austere Challenge’, involving some 3,500 US troops, was taking place in Israel.
Some military analysts have speculated that the drills and the Gaza operation were part of a dry run for a potential future incursion into Iran.
There is no telling whether al-Assad would act responsibly or not, but his “fight or flight decision” and the order to deploy chemical weapons are poitical suicide.
Indeed, if al-Assad already has used chemical weapons, then Israel, the US and its allies are justified to launch a full-blown military operation in Syria.
Speculation aside, the battle for Syria could probably be Part Two of the US overall agenda: to secure Syria’s missiles, chemical, biological and modern weapons systems.
The moment Syria’s chemical weapons fall into the hands of Hizbullah would be a “game changer” - a casus belli for Israel to wage war.
Given these circumstances, the fall of Damascus could be a strategic fatal blow to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.