Does the Bekaa beckon?

The Belmont Club:

"Reader DL points to a Jerusalem Post article that suggests a planned US special forces deployment in the Bekaa puts it on a collision course with Syria.

" 'US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is considering provoking a military confrontation with Syria by attacking Hizbullah bases near the Syrian border in Lebanon, according to the authoritative London-based Jane's Intelligence Digest. In an article to be published on Friday, the journal said multi-faceted US attacks, which would be conducted within the framework of the global war on terrorism, are likely to focus on Hizbullah bases in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon. It noted that the deployment of US special forces in the Bekaa Valley, where most of Syria's occupation forces in Lebanon are based, would be highly inflammatory and would 'almost certainly involve a confrontation with Syrian troops.'

"The Washington Post, in a wide-ranging article entitled Military Split On How to Use Special Forces In Terror War , reported two weeks ago that Secretary Rumsfeld was reviewing proposals to 'send the Special Mission Units into areas such as Somalia and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, where little government authority exists and terrorists congregate, seemingly safe from the long arm of the United States.' This coincided with the Weekly Standard article Showstoppers, which excoriated the Clinton and Bush administrations for failing to deploy Special Forces against terrorist threats before September 11.

"This takes place against a changing canvas in Iraq, where US forces are waxing in strength even while the insurgency is slowly being crushed. The Boston Globe reports that Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, told reporters that 'the former regime elements we've been combating have been brought to their knees.' He was referring to the Iraqi Ba'ath -- who are the ideological kindred of the Syrian Ba'ath. Meanwhile, a plannedmassive rotation of units will temporarily result in the presence of a quarter of a million men in Iraq, as relief units take the place of outgoing outfits over the next few months.

"The Jerusalem Post article rightly suggests that any US special forces deployment would inevitably bring then into direct conflict with the Syrian occupiers of Lebanon and the sponsors the Hezbollah. Their use would perforce be accompanied by the organization and training of indigenous Lebanese auxiliaries, a feature of all US special forces campaigns from Indochina to Afghanistan. The special forces would be supported by air units and fire support, plus light infantry to prevent a repetition of the 'Blackhawk Down' scenario. Units could draw on equipment already prepositioned in Israel, located in the mysterious Sites 51, 53 and 54. All in all, it would create a strategic nightmare for Damascus. With Americans in the Bekaa 40 km west of downtown Damascus -- less than a marathon run, the Israeli army on the Golan Heights a mere 60 km south of the capital and American forces on the Iraqi border 300 km to the east and Turkey on the northern border, the Assad regime would be literally encircled."

This is an interesting but unlikely theory. The chance of something like this happening in an election year is remote. While, it might happen if proof is developed in Iraq that the WMD was moved to the Bekaa as alleged by the Israels, a more direct attack on Hizballah would be to take out the ayatollahs in Iran. With their loss of state sponsor, they would be much easier to take down.

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