- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Who Is Destroying Syria?

The United Nations Charter, to which all member states are signatories and which prevails over all other treaties and agreements, states that [1] the organization is obligated to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security.”

The justices at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 concluded that [2] “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The U.S. Constitution’s Article I states that only Congress has the authority to declare war, with the understanding that, per Article II, the president is empowered to respond to a “sudden” or imminent threat only if there is no time to pass such a declaration. An Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) [3] amended in 2016 grants the president blanket authority to respond militarily to threats against the United States, but only if they originated with al-Qaeda and “associated forces.”

So how is it that on April 6 the United States attacked a fellow member state in the United Nations that has an internationally recognized sovereign government? That member state posed no imminent threat, had not attacked the United States, and was not at war with Washington. Nor did that member state consist of or support al-Qaeda or an associated group, and it was not under sanction from the United Nations Security Council to authorize any other member state to act against it. On the contrary, that member state was actively fighting several terrorist groups as defined by the U.S. government that had occupied its sovereign territory.

I am, of course, referring to the cruise-missile attack on Syria, which many critics are belatedly recognizing [4] to be illegal under both international and U.S. law. But illegality being related to the ability to enforce the law, there has been little apparent desire on the part of the United Nations to bring Washington to heel, and the U.S. would surely use its Security Council veto to stop any undesirable UN action.

The United States has been backing various schemes to undermine and force “regime change” [5] on Baathist rule in Syria since 2006, well before the so-called Arab Spring brought protests to the streets of Damascus. More recently, Washington has been arming and training so-called rebels against the Bashar al-Assad regime, ostensibly in unrealistic hopes that some kind of transition to a moderate, pro-Western regime might take place. Current White House policy appears to consist of putting pressure on ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked al-Ansar, which the Syrian government is fighting, while also demanding the replacement of Assad to permit resumption of all-party peace talks. Apart from those general markers, there has been little attention paid to what might happen on day two, after Assad is gone. Reasonable concerns that the vacuum created might be filled by radical Islamists have largely been ignored.

But even if the United States policy is a muddle, there are others in the region who know what they want and are pretty sure what they have to do to get there. Saudi Arabia and Qatar also have been fighting an unsanctioned and illegal war against Syria with very little in the way of pushback from the international community. They have been hostile to Syria’s government for two decades and began bankrolling and arming dissidents [6] inside the country after fighting began in 2011. Their reasoning is that Syria has become an ally of Iran [7] and Lebanese Shi’ites, including Hezbollah, threatening to create a ring of Shi’ite-dominated territories that will cut across the middle of the Arab Middle East and empower the government in Tehran, which the Saudis in particular see as their regional enemy. It is also possible that the Saudi export of militant Wahhabism also plays a role; Syria, which like Iraq before it is tolerant of most religions, is often accused of being both unacceptably secular and supportive of heretics.

So the Saudis would like to see a Syria in which the Sunni Arabs are dominant, which will presumably lead to discrimination against Shi’ites, Alawites, and Christians—as well as a severing of political ties with Iran. In reality, a broken Syria would likely turn out much like neighboring Iraq, with minorities in trouble and a lack of effective central control. But that would be all right with Riyadh, as it would mean the alliance with Iran would be de facto dissolved. Whether the Syrians would benefit from the change is immaterial as perceived through the optic of Saudi interests.

Turkey would also like to see Assad gone and a Syria in chaos. On April 25, Ankara attacked Kurdish targets [8] in both Syria and Iraq, including members of the YPG militia, who are U.S.-trained and -supplied allies against ISIS. Twenty YPG militiamen were reported killed. The Turks claim that virtually all armed Kurdish groups are terrorists, allied with Turkey’s domestic terrorism problem, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Turkey particularly fears that Syria will permit the creation of a Kurdish-dominated entity along their mutual long and difficult-to-defend border. It wants Assad out because it has accused him, perhaps rightly, of supporting the incursions of Kurdish terrorists, but it chooses to ignore the fact that the current problems with the Kurds were in part initiated by the government [9] of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader needed a credible enemy for internal political reasons, to discredit a largely Kurdish party that opposed him.

Turkey has supported ISIS in the past, including treating their wounded [10] in Turkish hospitals and allowing them to regroup in safe havens inside Turkey, mostly because the terrorist group is a foe of the Kurds. It has also been plausibly claimed [11] that Ankara supplied the sarin that was used in several attacks on Syrian civilians that have been conveniently blamed on the government in Damascus. The shoot-down of a Russian fighter bomber in December 2015 may have also been a crude attempt to draw the U.S. and NATO into a war against Assad and Moscow. Ironically, playing both sides in an all-too-visible attempt to bring down Assad has destroyed any credibility that Erdogan has. And weakening Syrian central-government control and de facto handing power over to a ragtag of rebels and local tribesmen will virtually guarantee the emergence of a Kurdish statelet, but Ankara is apparently not thinking that far ahead.

Finally, there is Israel. Israel, unlike Syria’s other adversaries, has been seeking to destabilize its neighbor for more than 20 years and has little or nothing to do with either Iran or the Kurds. The Yinon Plan of 1982 [12], drafted when hard-right politician Menachim Begin was prime minister, was outlined in a paper entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” It maintained that Israel’s security would be guaranteed only if its neighbors were to be somehow forced or otherwise induced to come apart and return to their tribal, ethnic, and religious constituencies, which had been arbitrarily combined into individual nation-states by the imperial powers after World War I. The Yinon Plan included recommendations for military action to accomplish what might not be done more clandestinely, including an Israeli invasion of Syria to break the country down into Alawite, Druze, Sunni, and Christian communities. A fragmented Arab world creating a “Balkanized” weak-state system for the region, combined with relocation of the Palestinians to Jordan, would remove all the threats to Israel’s survival.

The Yinon Plan never became official Israeli government policy. But it might be seen as a blueprint for the regional actions subsequently undertaken by Tel Aviv, which have persistently sought to weaken Arab governments perceived as being too powerful or threatening. A second paper, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” followed in 1996, during the prime ministry of Benjamin Netanyahu. It was authored by a group of American neoconservatives that included Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Meyran and David Wurmser. It advocated a policy of preemption for Israel and was particularly focused on Iraq and Syria as enemies. Once critic described [13] the document as endorsing “a mini-cold war in the Middle East, advocating the use of proxy armies for regime changes, destabilization and containment.”

More recently, Israeli officials have made clear that they would prefer to have [14] “moderate rebels” in control in Syria than the Assad government. They have reportedly provided medical care [15] for wounded militants, possibly including ISIS. It would appear that there is a de facto truce between the Israeli military and ISIS, as ISIS reportedly apologized [16] when one of its associated groups fired on IDF units in the Golan Heights back in November.

Israel has carried out a number of air strikes against Syrian bases and military units, most recently a missile attack near Damascus [17] on April 27. There are also reports that it is already using [18] its new U.S.-provided F-35 stealth fighters for combat missions against Syria.

Israel would prefer to have a fragmented political situation across its border rather than a unified and capable government. The former constitutes an easily containable threat, while the latter will no doubt continue efforts to regain most of the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied in 1967 and continues to hold. So the choice for the Israeli government is a simple one—and it does not include whatever the United States might currently be envisioning. It is, in fact, much closer to what Turkey and the Saudis want.

Daniel Larison has frequently warned [19] that the U.S. is encumbered with allies that are allies in name but not in reality. In terms of actual national interests, it should be observed that the Saudis, Qataris, Turks, and Israelis are all currently (or have been recently) in bed with terrorist groups that the United States is pledged to destroy. All of them have either directly attacked or arranged for surrogates to attack the legitimate Syrian government, which is opposing ISIS and al-Ansar on the battlefield. Turkey has also attacked Kurdish militiamen allied with and trained by Washington.

The Trump administration will certainly not pressure Israel to change course when the president travels to Jerusalem later this month. Apart from anything else, Trump will be aware that Republicans in Congress have launched an Israel Victory Caucus [20] and that all 100 senators have recently signed [21] a letter to the United Nations demanding that it abandon its “anti-Israel bias.” So there is no wiggle room there. Nor will The Donald squeeze President Erdogan when he arrives in Washington next week, for fear that the already feckless and foundering Syria policy will become even more unmanageable. And the Saudis are always there in the background, using their money weapon to buy influence and manage the narrative [22].

So the answer to the question “Who is destroying Syria?” must be “Pretty much everyone.” Though there are different motives surfacing regularly by the key players to justify the continued carnage. From the commentary coming out of the foreign and defense ministries in Washington, Riyadh, Ankara, and Tel Aviv, it is more than a bit hard to discern if there might be a way out of this quagmire. Otherwise, it appears that it will continue to be business as usual until everyone gets tired, declares victory, and goes home.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

23 Comments (Open | Close)

23 Comments To "Who Is Destroying Syria?"

#1 Comment By george hass On May 3, 2017 @ 4:50 am

Iran and Russia

#2 Comment By Simon Gunson On May 3, 2017 @ 6:17 am

Thank you Philip for a very balance & insightful article. The hisory of Syria stretches even further back and that is of relevance. Syria obtained independence from France in 1946 but the years that followed were unstable, but in 1949 the CIA engineered a coup d’etat.

That Authoritarian regime was overthrown in the 1954 coup which brought Arab nationalists to power. There followed a period of tension with Turkey which kept trying to inspire Islamic uprisings. In 1956 Syria sought protection from Turkish aggression through a closer relationship with the Soviet Union.

Current events in Syria are almost a carbon copy of Turkish efforts in the 1950s to destabilize Syria. In 1963 the Syrian military installed the socialist secular Ba’athist Party. In 1979 backed by Turkey and Israel the Muslim Brotherhood committed several massacres and atrocities which were put down by Hafiz Al Assad with strict repression from 1979 to 1982 before peace resumed.

People talk about the brutal Assad regime but forget all the Islamist atrocities and massacres which Assad protected Syria from.

What is happening now is a re-run of this historical drama, only this time with the intervention of many outside players.

#3 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 3, 2017 @ 8:17 am

A great essay, Philip!

And yet the news of last night offers a reawakening of hope for a US-Russia-sponsored cease-fire in Syria:

“President Trump reopened direct communications with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday and sought to reignite what he hoped would be a special relationship by agreeing to work together to broker a cease-fire in war-torn Syria. In their first telephone conversation since the United States launched a cruise missile strike on Syria’s Moscow-backed military to retaliate for a chemical weapons attack on civilians, Mr. Trump agreed to send a representative to Russian-brokered cease-fire talks that start on Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan. He and Mr. Putin also discussed meeting each other in Germany in July…When Mr. Trump met with ambassadors from the United Nations Security Council last week, he told them, ‘The future of Assad is not a deal-breaker,’ a Russian diplomat said afterward…”

[23]

#4 Comment By Hassan On May 3, 2017 @ 9:13 am

Philip, let me add a piece of information that is seemingly completely loston FBI and CIA: Qatar’s Aljazeera Arabic network is a terrorist supporting propaganda tool. This is not an exaggeration, I wish there was a research project on it. Al-jazeera was a favourite network for Al-Qaideh for interviews. The network openly supports Taliban. Even with ISIS, there were articles justifying it (at least one sympathetic article appeared in English Aljazeera as well). These days the support is implicit, which is perhaps the reason intelligence agancies are not catching up to it. The network focuses on the problems of, and setbacks of any coalition fighting ISIS. All the while , entirely censoring anything that might hurt perceptions of ISIS. You almost never read any coverage of ISIS atrocities on Arabic Aljazeera. Just two days ago, ISIS killed about a 100 people in a refugee camp in Syria. It was top news on BBC for a short time. You won’t find any mention on Aljazeera, instead extensive reports about the collateral damages caused by anyone who fights ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Their comment section is moderated, and full of ISIS support and they get upvotes with a ratio of 80%, meaning that 80% of Arabic Aljazeera website pray for its victory. I have seen the Aljzeera TV ‘s impact on North American mosques first hand. Someone has to wake up and make a report.

#5 Comment By Brian On May 3, 2017 @ 9:22 am

The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs who are the Bankster puppets!

July 23, 2006 Secret 2001 Pentagon Plan to Attack Lebanon

Bush’s Plan for “Serial War” revealed by General Wesley Clark. “[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark) According to General Wesley Clark–the Pentagon, by late 2001.

Sep 11, 2011 General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries In Five Years

“This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 3, 2017 @ 10:31 am

I am going to start with the tired claim that Israel has a right to defend itself. It is a complete worthless and tiresome refrain. No kidding. It’s he strawman of all strawan’s. No one I have heard in the US contends that Israel doesn’t have a right to defend herself. I make this refrain to tave off accusations that any critique of Israel is bound to have -” which is —
“You don’t believe in Israeli self defense.” Hogwash. But we are not talking about Israeli self defense. We are talking about Israeli paranoia which lends itself to meddling in the affairs of other states. The argument that pre-emption is self defense is such a circular tactic with no where to go. But it does feed the old fears now repeatedly echoed by those in the region, that the reintroduction of Israel would breed Zionist ambitions. Since the attack on Egypt, Israel continues to confirm that rationale as well as feed the paranoia of her neighbors.
The idea among neoconservative ambitions that destabilized regions are prefrable to stable states doesn’t make much sense. But the ensuing chaos that ensues feeds the money machine of support. Because Israel can lay claim to the chaos and cry wolf, and “knee-jerk” Washington leaders will sing,
“Israel, has a right to self defense.”
The US citizens of those representatives that continue to foster chaos in the name of self defense, should send them packing in self defense against careless hornet stirring. Frankly, I care not about their status or power, i just don’t think they really know what they are talking about or doing. In twenty years of intervention, none of it has made the US safer. Next refrain, “if they are busy there they won’t come here.” Dog chasing tail, “they came here because we are busy there.”

The reality is also true. Other countries have the right to protect themselves as well, including from Israeli interventions via proxies.

#7 Comment By Jim Bovard On May 3, 2017 @ 10:41 am

Great piece! I continue to be chagrined at how most of the media coverage on Syria misses the points that Giraldi clearly lays out.

#8 Comment By PRDoucette On May 3, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

As this article nicely demonstrates, what is happening now in the Middle East is just another variation of the game of whack-a-mole, a game that history shows us has been enjoyed at various times in many parts of the world. The Europeans greatly enjoyed paying whack-a-mole with live ammo up until 1945 when, at least for the moment, they seem to have decided a non-lethal for of the game is just as effective.

In over 4000 years of history, numerous empires have held sway over the Middle East and each one, to a greater or lesser extent, tried to suppress the playing of whack-a-mole. 100 years ago, with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the English and the French decided they would redraw the whack-a-mole board in the Middle East in the hope this would cause the players in the area to be less interested in playing whack-a-mole. Things have not gone as planned as in the past 100 years the UK, France, the US and Russian have all felt the need to get involved with one player or another in the Middle East in the playing of whack-a-mole, even in some cases taking over parts of the board for periods of time.

Now Russia and the US seem to want to take a crack at redrawing the board in the Middle East in the hope that this will cause a decline in the playing of whack-a-mole. This effort is doomed to failure, as just like the players in Europe, the players in the Middle East will only stop playing whack-a-mole with live ammo when they themselves come to the realization that the game is pointless. As this could well take another 500 years, the best the US and Russia can expect to do is to at least make it clear to the whack-a-mole players in the Middle East that while the US and Russia are willing to supply convention weapons to play the game, they will not allow any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to be used and that any attempt to play the game outside the boundaries of the Middle East will not be tolerated.

While my comments above may appear jocular, I firmly believe that the US has a vital interest in what happens in the Middle East and should be willing to supply weapons to parties it deems deserving, I think we also have to accept that regardless of how long it takes we need to let the players in the Middle East come to their own agreement as to how they will resolve their differences and instead of the US feeling it has to be involved in any mediation of the conflict I suggest we let the UN take the lead as neither the US or Russia are by any means deemed neutral parties.

#9 Comment By Phil Giraldi On May 3, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

FYI, and for what it’s worth, I note that Turkey is now threatening to attack US troops accompanying the Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

[24]

#10 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 3, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

“FYI, and for what it’s worth, I note that Turkey is now threatening to attack US troops accompanying the Kurdish militias in northern Syria.”

Which should come as no surprise. I have given the Kurdish gambit mighty shrift praise for good reason. Primarily because of the Kurds. They turned on Pres Hussein, despite the fact that he provided them safe haven from Turkish reprisals for bombings and what not. They turned on each other when great leghths had be gone to in providing a territory they could call their own.

And we are going to have to be the protectorate against, Turkey and both societies in Iraq.

#11 Comment By The Wet One On May 3, 2017 @ 6:39 pm

“So how is it that on April 6 the United States attacked a fellow member state in the United Nations that has an internationally recognized sovereign government? ”

Because the words on the page aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Most especially when it comes to a major world power acting.

It’s not like they made a lick of difference when Russia invaded the Ukraine and annexed Crimea either.

“The weak are meat and the strong do eat.”

Such is the way of the world much as we’d like it otherwise.

#12 Comment By MEOW On May 3, 2017 @ 8:57 pm

Phillip is a godsend. Saddam made a big mistake in Iraq 1 when he lobbed scud missiles into Israel. This escalated their goal to rid themselves of an organized pesky nation state on their border. If they were not going to allow the USS Liberty to interfere with their acquisition of the Golan Heights, why would they allow a nation that had lost the Golan in their preemptive war of 1967 be a strong nation with the ability to recapture their conquered property? It is sad that Israel directs U.S. foreign policy to the extent it does. That is the reality. Trump, Clinton, Bush, Obama (the Amen choir) enshrined this one-side policy into America’s foreign policy.

#13 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 3, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

I guess I should add,

I doubt that Turkey will be taking on US Forces in n attempt to diminish Kurdish ambitions. They may have that desire and express as much. But action — I doubt it.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 4, 2017 @ 5:53 am

When you can’t have what you want from others, the next best thing is making trouble for them.

Not a view I ascribe to, but intrinsic to the imperial Great Game.

#15 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 4, 2017 @ 5:58 am

“In twenty years of intervention, none of it has made the US safer.”

It has destabilized life for most Americans, but all of it has enormously enriched a few elites who may have the convenience of American citizenship, among others.

Their loyalty is to the American greenback, not the American people.

#16 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 4, 2017 @ 6:04 am

“The network focuses on the problems of, and setbacks of any coalition fighting ISIS.”

It’s laughable to contend this constitutes material support for terrorism, as most of the U.S. media massage coverage as well – and there has been more than implicit condemnation of some of those fighting ISIS, because it is a useful cat’s paw for destabilization in support of regime change, under some circumstances.

#17 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 4, 2017 @ 6:11 am

Who’s destroying Syria? George Hass says, “Iran and Russia.”

Well, those are definitely not part of our “United Satrapies of America.”

#18 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On May 4, 2017 @ 9:21 am

Now Russia and the US seem to want to take a crack at redrawing the board in the Middle East in the hope that this will cause a decline in the playing of whack-a-mole.

It is regional powers like Israel and Saudi Arabia that are trying to redraw borders in their own interests. I don’t think the US or Russia are that interested, but they are being dragged in by their client states in that region.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 4, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

“When you can’t have what you want from others, the next best thing is making trouble for them.”

I appreciate this more than you know.

#20 Comment By richard young On May 8, 2017 @ 3:43 am

As someone who grew up during the Great Depression and WWII, and served in the Korean War, it is particularly depressing to see that our political “leaders” and mainstream media see nothing wrong with our Government’s open violation of the UN Charter’s (and the Nuremburg Principle’s) prohibition against aggressive war, in proudly attacking a sovereign nation which has never attacked or even threatened to attack our nation. When lead US Nuremburg Prosecutor (and Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson pronounced the “supreme war crime” statement the author correctly quoted, Justice Jackson also noted that if the Nuremburg Principles were only applied to the losing side of WWII, the 55 million human beings slaughtered in WWII would have died in vain. It seems that our current “leaders” either do not understand or do not care about the tragedy that Justice Jackson was warning us of. Not only do we have a President who has openly and boastfully committed “the supreme war crime” (i.e., aggressive war), we apparently do not have a single political “leader” in Washington who gives a damn about US-committed war crimes.

#21 Comment By Hank On May 8, 2017 @ 9:54 am

Americans are an “exceptional” people?

1) exceptionally ignorant
2) exc. arrogant
3) exc. misinformed about world events.
4) exc. corrupt officials
5) exc. screwed up election system
6) exc. one-sided distribution of wealth.
7) exc. geared to wars
8) exc. “giving” towards human-rights-violating nation
9) exc. generous to a criminal regime(Israel).
10) exc. hard-headed when it comes to offering dignified surrenders.

#22 Comment By Michael Kenny On May 8, 2017 @ 9:58 am

Syria’s problem is that it has become irrelevant to its own civil war! Once Putin waded in on Assad’s side, instead of trying to act as a neutral mediator, he “hijacked” the Syrian Civil War and made it part of his broader conflict with the US, which he sparked off by attacking Ukraine. Thus, Russia needs to be included in the lsit of those destroying Syria.

#23 Comment By RamboDave On May 8, 2017 @ 5:51 pm

There was a deal made in 2002 between Israel (and their Neocon supporters in the US) and Saudi Arabia, in order to get the Saudis to join the Iraq war coalition. The deal was to do regime change in Iran and Syria after Saddam was removed in Iraq. That is what the Saudis demanded in exchange for the Iraq war to proceed.

Israel and their Neocon corner, must now complete their part of the bargain. The Saudis may be threatening to expose the whole thing if they don’t.

That is why we got the Iraq war. ……. But there is more to it !

Here is probably what happened in 2002 in a deal worked out by Dick Cheney:

The Iraq war, and removal of Saddam, would have been impossible unless the Saudis agreed to it in advance. Therefore, in 2002 Saudi Arabia (Prince Bandar) was shown a list of seven countries where the neocons (Zionists) wanted to do regime change.This is the same list that General Wesley Clark later spoke about seeing. The Saudis agreed that, in exchange for the high probability that, after the war, Iraq would be taken over by the Shiites, there would be regime change in both Iran and Syria to compensate the Saudi’s.

There was also probably a side agreement made by Dick Cheney in 2002 with the neocons, that President Bush, in exchange for the Iraq war, would be guaranteed re-election in 2004, by receiving favorable media treatment through neocon (Zionist) controlled media, such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

It all has to do with a 1998 Zionist document entitled The Project For A New American Century written by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. Seventeen of the signers of that document later got jobs in the Bush Administration. Also keep in mind that 90% of the signers were Jewish Zionists. The whole purpose of the document was to make the Middle East safe for Israel, so that Israel could keep the land they stole and dictate the settlement terms with Palestinians.

That is where we are at today folks !
The neocons must absolutely complete their part of a grand bargain made back in 2002 with Saudi Arabia. That is why they will not give up on their quest for regime change in Syria. They absolutely have to do this first in order to isolate Iran, and then do regime change in Iran, as promised to the Saudi’s.

If they can’t complete their grand bargain, the Israeli / Saudi alliance will fall apart. Israel will appear powerless, at a time when they are dependent upon the perception that they control Washington. The Saudis may also be threatening to expose the entire deal unless the promises made to them are carried out.