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On Scorpions & the Middle East
Israel - Middle East
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Alf Cengia

Centuries ago, when we were kids, my brother and I imagined that certain individuals had an imaginary self destruct button on their foreheads.  I know it wasn't nice of us.  But we noticed certain behavioral tendencies in some of our acquaintances.  Things would be moving along nicely for them for a while and then they'd inevitably ''press that button'' and get into mischief.

Most often we could predict it; the longer it didn't happen the more imminent the event.  And when it did, we'd nod our heads knowingly - "told you so."

As I said, it wasn't nice of us.

Still, the idea was born out of observing some of these individuals' consistently predictable behavioral patterns.  You could talk to them and get them to agree that certain actions were detrimental to themselves, and sometimes they'd even promise to change.  But it was as if they were programmed to behave in a particular way.  They couldn't help themselves.  And, of course, it was never their fault.  There were always extenuating circumstances.

Back in Melbourne, one friend liked to tell the story about the scorpion and the frog:

One day a scorpion came upon a river which he couldn't swim across. Spying a frog near the bank, he asked the frog if it could give him a ride on its back. The frog immediately refused on the grounds that it couldn't possibly trust the scorpion. The scorpion promised to not bite the frog and finally managed to convince it to help him cross the other side. Half way across the river the scorpion bit the frog. As they were sinking to the bottom, the frog asked the scorpion why it did that. The scorpion answered that he couldn't help himself; it was within his nature to do it.

The frog should have known better!

Last week I wrote about Syrian President Assad's sponsorship of terrorism.  The fact that Syria uses terrorist groups like Hezbollah as proxies - while it acts as a proxy for Iran - has been well documented by several Middle East observers such as Daniel Pipes and the CFR.

Why was Assad shipping weapons to Hezbollah while in the midst of defending his regime?  The CFR responds:

"Hezbollah has long stockpiled weapons in Syria, and the Assad government has long provided some of these weapons to Hezbollah. In addition, Iran has often supplied weapons to Hezbollah through Syria. As events in Syria turn worse for the Bashar al-Assad regime, Hezbollah is going to - as we've already seen - try to move as much of its weapons to safer ground. Some of its stockpiles [are] in Lebanon where it has dug caves into mountains." (Emphasis mine)

Why does Assad do it?  Simply put - because that's what Assad does.  It's in his nature.

There will be those who are going to depict Syria as a victim of Israeli aggression.  And, predictably, that's exactly how Syrian officials spin it:

"Syria will respond to the Israeli aggression and will choose the moment to do so. We will not accept to be humiliated. We are all in a state of anger. We are abused by this attack."

Aside from the scorpion-like traits exhibited by the Assad regime, one pundit may have a good point when he posits that:

'Even the slightest hint of the Syrian conflict's "re-direction" toward an inter-state conflict is a plus for Damascus, which can put the Arab League on notice that they are skirting their historic responsibility toward a fellow Arab state that is put under siege by the Zionist state. At a minimum, this can drive a wedge in Arab public opinion and even influence some Syrian rebels, who consider themselves, first and foremost, nationalists.'

In other words, when all has fails, draw attention to Israel.  Everyone in the region hates the Jewish State; they can all agree on that.  It's in their nature.

So, did Assad deliberately set up the Israelis to attack on Syrian soil so that he could garnish sympathy from his Arab brothers and some of the insurgents?  I don't know.  It may be a desperate plan but the idea seems plausible to me.

Assad may have gambled on a win-win situation.  If the Israeli intelligence had missed out on the shipments to Hezbollah then Syria would have successfully transferred them to Lebanon.  In the event the shipments were discovered by Israel, Syria could deny they were weapons of any kind, and point the finger at Israel.  It does, after all, have friends in high places who exhibit similar compulsive traits...

Like the United Nations:

"The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon has protested to Israel after it observed increased violations of Lebanese air space by Israel, which carried out raids in Syria to target what it said were Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah militants."

Of course, in a perfect world, it would be nice if the U.N. "peacekeeping force" could actually keep the peace by preventing weapons shipments from being delivered to terrorists to begin with.  That way the Israelis wouldn't have to invade someone else's air space.  But it isn't a perfect world.

As it is, I figure that everyone in the area (including the United Nations) wishes that Assad and the insurgents would just kiss and make up - like fellow Islamists should - and get back to the business of attacking Israel.  The U.N. could then get back to doing what its nature best compels it to do (and does well) - come up with resolutions against Israel.

Predictably, Russia's Putin is not a happy man after Israel's attack on Syria.  If several reports are accurate, he announced that: “Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.”

Respond?  How?

Protest to the U.N. so that they can draft up another solution?  Or - as another report cites him as warning - "by ordering the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria"?

So, what's new?

Cynic that I am, I think the Middle East (and its northern allies) is infested by leaders who - like the scorpion - are dominated by their nature.

And like the scorpion, they just can't help themselves.

Most often Israel knows when armaments are being transported by Assad to Hezbollah, yet it inevitably draws international condemnation whenever it takes preemptive steps to safeguard its existence. This is a mounting tension that cannot continue indefinitely.

There will be time of reckoning (Zechariah 12:9).

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Can Syria be fixed?

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