Behind the dispute between the United States and other Western countries over how the Bashar Assad regime made use of chemical weapons lies a genuine American concern over involvement in Syria’s civil war. The Obama administration is concerned not only about the possible political implications of a military operation to neutralize Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, but also the practical difficulties in carrying out such an operation.
When the danger of the chemical weapons first became a subject of public discourse in Israel close to a year ago, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz spoke at a session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about two possible types of action: a large-scale ground operation on Syrian soil, or a targeted air assault on convoys trying to smuggle chemical weapons to Hezbollah, for example. Gantz hinted that if action became necessary, he would aim for the second option.
If Israel is not interested in a wide-scale operation to foil the threat, that’s true all the more so for the United States. A major operation would involve “boots on the ground” – the dispatch of ground troops that would result in casualties – precisely the scenario that U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to avoid. Read more at Haaretz.