For the last two years, the bloody conflict in Syria has careened toward a tipping point.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we may be there.
The timing of this is a little bit crazy:
- A deputy national security advisor has announced that the White House believes the Bashar al-Assad regime used chemical weapons against the rebels in Syria.
- The Pentagon has proposed a plan that would arm and train the rebels, as well as instill a limited no-fly zone over Syria.
- And 4,500 U.S. forces are a stone throw away, in Jordan, conducting a training exercise with Jordanian forces.
President Obama said last year that if Syrian president Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons, it would be a “red line” that would precipitate direct U.S. intervention in the conflict.
“That would change my calculus,” Obama said. “That would change my equation.”
Presumably the situation in Syria now meets the criteria for U.S. military intervention.
Coincidentally, this comes three days into a 10-day military training exercise in Jordan that has 8,000 American troops, including a detachment of Air Force F-16s and Patriot missile systems within striking distance. The U.S. today committed to leaving the aircraft and Patriot missiles in Jordan after the conclusion of the exercise.
One of the hardest things about any large-scale military operation is moving assets into a strategic position. With Operation Eager Lion underway in Jordan, that seems to be taken care of.
Citing unnamed U.S. military officials, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the Pentagon has developed a plan to bring the Syrian rebels across the border into Jordan, and then keep the Syrian air assets at bay with a limited no-fly zone.
Under this plan, the U.S. would not need a U.N. intervention, which Russia has repeatedly blocked, since they would not enter Syrian airspace.
Depending on how much you believe in coincidences, it certainly seems that the forces in Jordan for Eager Lion would facilitate the execution of the reported plan to arm and train Syrian rebels.
But it’s all speculation at this point.
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