In the aftermath of yesterday's surprising attack by Israel on Syrian soil, an act which any prior justification notwithstanding is a clear act of war sovereign aggression, it was only a matter of time before Syria responded, at least diplomatically at first. And as we also noted yesterday that "Iran has previously warned that any attack on Syria is the same as an attack on Iran" it was safe to assume that Iran would have a thing or two to say in response as well. Earlier today they did just that, with Syria warning that a "surprise" response to the Israel attack is forthcoming, while the "Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said the attack "demonstrates the shared goals of terrorists and the Zionist regime... It is necessary for the sides which take tough stances on Syria to now take serious steps and decisive stances against this aggression by Tel Aviv and uphold criteria for security in the region." Finally yesterday we wondered "how Russia and/or China which have made clear that Syria is a strategic geopolitical center for both in the past will react", and today we know: "Russia, which has blocked Western efforts to put pressure on Syria at the United Nations, said that any Israeli air strike would amount to unacceptable military interference." So far nothing from China, which has in the past let Russia be its proxy on Syrian matters.
And while the rhetoric has soared on all sides, it remains to be seen if Syria will indeed challenge Israel or if it will retain its bluster, an act which will simply invite Bibi to launch ever more offensive sorties until one day something finally does snap.
Syria protested to the United Nations on Thursday over an Israeli air strike on its territory and warned of a possible "surprise" response.
The foreign ministry summoned the head of the U.N. force in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to deliver the protest a day after Israel hit what Syria said was a military research centre and diplomats said was a weapons convoy heading for Lebanon.
"Syria holds Israel and those who protect it in the Security Council fully responsible for the results of this aggression and affirms its right to defend itself, its land and sovereignty," Syrian television quoted it as saying.
The ministry said it considered Wednesday's Israeli attack to be a violation of a 1974 military disengagement agreement which followed their last major war, and demanded the U.N. Security Council condemn it unequivocally.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern". "The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to prevent tensions or their escalation," his office said, adding that international law and sovereignty should be respected.
Russia, which has previously made it very clear it will not tolerate US intervention in what it considers it own backyard, was quick at passing judgment:
"If this information is confirmed, we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives," Russia's foreign ministry said.
An aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday Iran would consider any attack on Syria as an attack on itself.
Yet the local Syrians, like most, are very skeptical this war of words will escalate into anything more:
In battle-torn Damascus, residents doubted Syria would fight back. One mother of five said she had heard retaliation would come later. "They always say that. They'll retaliate, but later, not now. Always later," she said, and laughed.
"The last thing we need now is Israeli fighter jets to add to our daily routine. As if we don't have enough noise and firing keeping us awake at night."
Then again, provoking a Syrian retaliation has been the plan all along. Which is why moments ago, just to keep Plan B afloat, Reuters blasted that:
- WHITE HOUSE SAYS IRAN'S INSTALLATION OF ADVANCED URANIUM ENRICHMENT CENTRIFUGES WOULD BE PROVOCATIVE STEP IN VIOLATION OF U.N. RESOLUTIONS
Cue more photoshopped pictures of WMDs.