US President Barack Obama’s about-turn Saturday night, Aug. 31 on the planned US military operation against Syria’s chemical weapons has shaken up the volatile Middle East balance of strength, spelling for Israel, Jordan and Turkey what Western and Israeli military sources called the day after “a military nightmare.”
Syria, Iran and Hizballah are let off the hook by the lifting of the imminent US military threat against Bashar Assad over his use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21. Not only that, but the threesome have won an unforeseen tactical advantage: President Obama’s turn to Congress to authorize that attack gives them at least a fortnight for launching a pre-emptive strike against US forces and its allies.
Syria and Hizballah’s defenses are already upgraded against the projected US strike and their forces on peak readiness. Rather than hanging around and waiting for the US Congress to go through with a debate, which only starts in the week of Sept. 9, they are fully capable of forcing the pace on their own terms, with the object of getting the US operation cancelled altogether.