If the Syrians reply by shooting a number of missiles at Israel, the Israelis will then claim "self-defense" and hit key government installations, command and control nodes, ammunition dumps, command centers, air bases, etc all as part of their "legitimate right of self defense" (nevermind that Israel is already clearly guilty of undeniable acts of war and aggression). If needed, the Israelis could also initiate an air campaign aimed at restricting the mobility of Syrian troops and armor (by claiming that anything moving on a Syrian road is a "convoy of terror weapons destined to Hezbollah" or something equally predictable).
If the Syrians refrain from any retaliation, then these airstrikes would at least give the Israelis a sense of satisfaction: having failed to take on the Big Guy (Iran) they at least had the "guts" to attack Syria. This is not a pleasant option - believe me, I wish to see the Israelis pay for what they did as much as the next guy - but it is absolutely imperative for Assad not to fall into this trap. He needs to stay put and ride out the Israeli attacks.
The sad reality is that Syria is in no position to confront Israel militarily while at the same time fighting a US/NATO/al-Qaeda insurgency.
I have said it many many many times over on this blog, the way to defeat US/Israeli style air force or cruise missile attacks is not to shoot down their aircraft or to retaliate with your own strikes, but to deny them a lucrative target. This is what the Serbs did to perfection in Bosnia, and this is what Hezbollah did to perfection in Lebanon.
If the Syrians learned the lessons from the Hezbollah victory against Israel during the "Divine Victory" war, then their military should be ready to fight in a very decentralized manner, their means of communications should be extremely redundant, and their forces dispersed in a way to deny the Israelis a lucrative target. Of course, such a posture has the disadvantage of dramatically reducing the mobility of the Syrian army, in particular at the operational level, but as long as most of the war effort is carried by tactical subunits this should not be too much of a handicap.
Also, unless the Syrians respond and fire back the Israelis will not have a pretext to do much more than what they are doing right now: provoking. Their provocations are extremely offensive and morally repugnant, but they are much preferable to a real Israeli close air support campaign which the Israelis could launch in support of the US/NATO/al-Qaeda insurgency with thousands of sorties.
The Israeli involvement also have a beneficial side effect: it goes to prove a very simple but fundamental thesis: anybody supporting the Syrian insurgency is a "useful idiot" who, whether he understands that or nor, supports the US Empire, NATO, al-Qaeda and the Zionists. Yes, if you support the "FSA" you are in bed with Netanyahu.
What the Syrians need to do now is press on their advantage on the ground. If possible, they should deny the US/NATO/al-Qaeda coalition the possibility of using any part of the Syrian territory as a conduit to bring in more weapons. This can be best done by sending in numerous special forces groups inside"FSA" controlled territory to disrupt their operations and strike at their forces.
Just as the Russian only defeated the Chechen insurgency when the Russian commanders convinced the Kremlin of the importance of sending Spetsnaz forces deep inside the forests and mountains of Chechnia, the Syrians will only defeat this insurgency if they deny the Wahabis any type sanctuary.
This type of operation are very counter-intuitive for regular army officers who are used to think in terms of "fronts" or "terrain held" and who loathe the idea of sending a tiny force deep behind enemy lines. And yet, these tactics are crucial to deny the insurgency the big advantage that it enjoys when engaging regular forces: in a typical "insurgency versus regular forces" the insurgents always have the initiative, they choose when and where to engage, and they can withdraw to areas in which regular forces either cannot penetrate, or can only do that at a huge cost. Only autonomous special forces have the training needed to turn the tables on the insurgency and hunt it down in its own lairs.
|Spetsnaz GRU in the mountains of Chechnia|
Something similar needs to happen in Syria now. The Syrian military must absolutely deny the "FSA" any kind of "safe territory". Furthermore, by sending in special forces teams they deny the Israelis the option to engage in close air support: special forces teams are undetectable and their strikes are too short and too devastating to call in close air support. By multiplying such "hit and run" operations the Syrian military could capitalize on its recent more conventional successes.
I don't know if the Syrian military does have the type of units needed to conduct such operations, but if not I am sure that Iran and Russia can send enough qualified advisers to provide them with the basic training to prepare and execute such a campaign.
The Israeli aggression against Syria is a clear sign that the war is now entering into a qualitatively new phase. The Syrian armed forces have proven that they had what it take to very skillfully adapt to a conflict which turned out to be very different from the one they had trained for, and I hope that they will now again show the flexibility and skills needed to adapt to this new phase which will be decided by the correct use of special operation forces.