Friday, November 01, 2013

Israel 'bombs' Syria as envoy presses peace talks bid

That's how the story "Israel bombs Syria as envoy presses peace talks bid" was displayed courtesy of my Yahoo! home page.

Huh?  What's with the quotation marks? 

In the body of the article, you get:

A US official confirmed to AFP that "there was an Israeli strike" but gave no details on the location or the target.

Pretty direct.  I don't think Yahoo! needs to hide behind the air quotes.  I guess the simple phrase "Israel bombs Syria" felt too accusatory.  Maybe if a US ally bombs somebody it has to be presented as 'in response to an unacceptable security threat, targeted kinetic actions within the scope of international law as we understand it were undertaken'.  In that case, it's just easier to put airquotes around 'bomb' to alert the reader that it's not just a bombing.  There's more to it in the whole moral, security, and strategic megillah than just dropping a 'bomb' on somebody.

You also get:

The reported air strike on a military base in regime stronghold Latakia on Wednesday would be the first Israeli strike on Syria since a US-Russian accord on chemical weapons averted punitive US military action last month.


Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said Israel had targeted a shipment of surface-to-surface missiles destined for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement fighting alongside the regime.
Kind of interesting that Al-Arabiya got the scoop.  Another indication of that burgeoning Saudi-Israeli alliance, I guess.

Maybe there was some special intel that these missiles would eventually make it to Lebanon, though Latakia is pretty far (about 100 miles) from Lebanon and Hezbollah.  Or maybe the Israeli-Saudi alliance is also interested in degrading Syrian capabilities and is using the missile story as an excuse to take potshots at Syria.  Or maybe this is a political shot across the bow to rebuke the United States and comfort militants with the demonstration that some people are still gung-ho on military strikes against the Assad regime.

If the mission was meant to send a message, it's rather ironic if Yahoo! soft-pedaled it with those craven quotation marks.

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