Israeli Army and Mossad Disagree About Syria


Richard Moore

Original source URLs:

    The Israeli Army and Mossad Disagree About Syria
    By Marc Henry
    Le Figaro
    Monday 26 February 2007

The military deem that Bachar al-Assad's offers of dialogue must be 
investigated, while Mossad sees them as nothing but a simple ruse.

Syria is making the Israeli leadership more and more nervous. A very intense 
debate opposes those who deem a war inevitable against the more optimistic who 
think that negotiations are possible. As evidence of these uncertainties, Meir 
Dagan, head of Mossad, the secret services, and General Amos Yadlin, who heads 
up the Israeli military intelligence services, presented their annual reports 
yesterday to the Council of Ministers. According to the press, the military 
allow it to be understood that President Bachar al-Assad's appeals for 
discussions with Israel deserve to be considered, while Mossad sees them as 
nothing but a simple ruse by a desperate man trying to play for time.

The two main Israeli intelligence services, whose rivalry is notorious, are, on 
the other hand, in agreement as they note with concern that Syria has been 
engaged in an all-out arms race since the end of last summer's Israeli operation
in Lebanon against the Hezbollah militia. Thus, Damascus has obtained 
medium-range missiles from Iran that are capable of reaching any site on Israeli
territory. Another worrying sign: the Israeli daily, Haaretz, quoting senior 
military officials, reported last week on troop movements and reinforcements in 
the vicinity of the front line close to the Golan Heights.

    Ehud Olmert Criticized

Ehud Olmert can't allow himself the least error in assessing the situation. 
Criticized on all sides for the way he conducted the war in Lebanon, the prime 
minister is in freefall in the polls. He recently spent seven hours before the 
members of a Commission of Inquiry that next month must designate those 
responsible for a long list of failures associated with this operation that has 
left a bitter taste for Israelis. The General Staff chief, General Dan Haloutz, 
has already drawn his own conclusions by resigning. On the defensive, Ehud 
Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz anxiously await the verdict that could 
determine their own political futures.

It is difficult in this situation to take the slightest initiative - all the 
more so as everyone knows that returning the Golan Heights, where about 20,000 
Israelis have moved, constitutes the price to pay for peace with Syria. This is 
a concession that Ehud Olmert cannot allow himself to so much as suggest. 
Wanting to retain what remains of his image as a moderate, Amir Peretz, who is 
also the head of the Labor Party, is trying to run with the hare and hunt with 
the hounds. Yesterday, he repeated that Israel "must not close the door to 
negotiations with Syria, even as it prepares for war."

To complicate everything, the United States has invited itself to weigh in on 
this matter. Having decided to sanction Syria - accused of allowing transit to 
Islamists en route to Iraq to fight American troops and of wanting to 
destabilize the Lebanese government by supporting Hezbollah - George W. Bush 
wants to tighten the stranglehold on Bachar al-Assad. To dot the i's, American 
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has - according to the Israeli press - 
demanded that Ehud Olmert renounce the least softness of will that might incline
towards feeling out the situation with Damascus. It was a call to order from the
big American ally that the prime minister cannot allow himself to treat with 

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