• If the United States chooses to attack Syria, it would not be to « punish the régime » for a crime it did not commit, but to overthrow it, just as it did in Libya. The war would have no meaning unless it goes all the way, because its only aim would be to maintain the status of the United States as a super-power, capable of destroying anyone they choose in defiance of the United Nations Charter.

From this perspective, the attack would be a simple reproduction of the Libyan operation – ships and aviation would bombard all of Syria’s political and military infrastructure until they are completely destroyed, and then a column of several hundred Saudi tanks, piloted by « Syrian opposition forces » recently recruited in refugee camps, would occupy the capital.

However, unlike Libya, the United States would have to confront a regional alliance, the Axis of Resistance, which includes Iran and several non-state powers of varying sizes, including the Hezbollah and the Islamist Jihad. Bombardment from destroyers positioned in the Mediterranean may prove impossible because of the presence of the Russian fleet along the coast-line. Tomahawk missiles would in fact have to fly over the Russian fleet without being perceived as a threat, in order for the Russians to allow them to continue on to their targets. The Pentagon may therefore decide to fire from the Nimitz group in the Red Sea, sending its missiles through Saudi and Jordanian air-space. This would in fact constitute an act of war by Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which would lead to a riposte against them by the Axis of Resistance, in the form of an immediate popular uprising. The United States may also use their aviation in the same conditions as bombardment from the Red Sea. However, they would risk losing men and material to the Syrian anti-air defences.

Once Syria has been destroyed, a column of several hundred Saudi tanks, presently stationed in Jordan, would roll in to « liberate » the ruins of the capital. In anticipation, the Saudi Deputy Minister for Defence has ordered the recruitment of Syrians from the refugee camps in order that some of the tanks will be seen to be manned by « crews of Syrian revolutionaries ».

The allies of the United States will be asked to participate in the aerial operations. To facilitate this participation, France has already positioned its planes and sent units of the Foreign Legion to Jordan.

This plan relies on the hypothesis that there would be no direct intervention by Russia, and that the riposte by the Axis of Resistance would take too long to influence events. But if these conditions are not met, the war would immediately become a regional affair, and could degenerate into the Third World War.

• In the other camp, both Russia and Iran hope to avoid a confrontation with the United States, but are preparing for it in case. The Russian plan consists of supporting the Axis of Resistance so that non-state elements and Syria can inflict important losses on the allies in as short a time as possible. From this perspective, the Russian military command has organised liaisons with Syria, Iran, the Hezbollah and other Iranian « forward positions ». Iran will try not to enter into war immediately, instead using the force of these « forward positions ».

Russia seems to oppose the idea of a riposte on Israël, which is home to a million ex-Soviets. However, it may easily be considering support for revolutions in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Nonethless, the greatest difficulty will be situated elsewhere – wide-ranging attacks on US interests in the region, including US military bases, by non-state groups. This may not exclude attacks against US and French interests on their own territory.

From this point of view, Iran has on the one hand banned any form of provocation during the present crisis. As a result, the international summit meeting of anti-imperialist intellectuals, which was to be held in Teheran, has been cancelled. On the other hand, its armed forces are preparing for a regional upheaval. The Guardians of the Revolution have sent instructors to all their « forward positions ». In Lebanon, the Hezbollah has openly recalled its combatants. The villages of the South have been deserted by young people of military age, who are now waiting in reserve.

Pete Kimberley