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How close did we come to another war in the Middle East?

21 September 2007

2:49 PM

21 September 2007

2:49 PM

The more that emerges about the Israeli air strike on Syria the more mysterious the whole thing becomes. The Washington Post reports today that the US corroborated an Israeli intelligence assessment that North Korean personnel were present in Syria before the strike; suggesting that the US effectively signed off on the strike despite the risk that it could have sparked an all out regional war just as Washington is desperately trying to damp things down so that it can make some progress on stabilizing Iraq and sanctioning Iran. But there is still no real read on precisely what the Israelis were bombing or how far along the Syrians were in any nuclear efforts.

It would, though, be reasonable to assume that the Israelis must have been hitting something worth running the risk of a war over. As David Ignatius revealed on Sunday, the Israelis and the Syrians have already almost blundered into to war by miscalculating this year. The plot thickened further on Friday with a report from North Korean state media that Syrian and North Korean officials had held high-level talks. It seems bizarre that either country, let alone both, would want to add credence to the idea that North Korea is assisting Syria with a crash nuclear programme. 


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