The Syrian threat

August 23, 2013

As William Hague said on Wednesday, if it happened, it was a shocking escalation in the Syrian conflict — and the world agreed.

The news that Bashar al-Assad’s forces almost certainly used chemical weapons against rebel-held areas of Damascus prompted an immediate call for a United Nations inspection of the affected area from Britain, France and the US, as well as the Arab League and EU.

The problem for Israel is that condemnation, outrage and a letter to the UN is nowhere near enough. Out of sheer necessity, Israeli intelligence agencies have led the world in the identification of Assad’s use of chemical weapons — and in doing something about it, with at least two air strikes on Syrian chemical weapons sites in the past year.

It is easy to understand Israel’s fears: if such weapons were to fall into the hands of the largely jihadi rebel forces in Syria, the danger would be imminent. Jerusalem would be within 100 miles of a missile that could inflict gruesome suffering on a large scale.

Tragically, all of Israel’s predictions about the dimension of the threat that sits across the Syrian border look as if they are being realised. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is still catching up.

Last updated: 5:45am, August 23 2013