Washington DC – September 2, 2009 – (Farid Ghadry Blog) — In a report published by the Jerusalem Post on August 23, 2009, the Middle East will surpass, for the first time, the $100 billion mark in arms purchases in the next five years with Saudi Arabia and Israel leading the pack.

While the major players are known, what slips under the radar screen are the secret transfers to Hezbollah and Hamas. More importantly as well are smaller countries acquiring sophisticated weapons that, even if ineffective against advanced weaponry systems rolling off the assembly lines, provide them the confidence for aggression.

Today, Ynet published an article that Iran is suggesting selling arms to the Lebanese government and Lebanon responded with the need for some anti-aircraft batteries. Not that these batteries will sway Israeli reconnaissance planes but given the  history of arms sale to Iran by the Russian Federation, suddenly these batteries become a test of wills between two superpowers. Also, under a sanctified purchase, Hezbollah may be able to wrap its arm around high technology provided by a superpower legitimately.

We also learned today that Chavez of Venezuela is visiting Syria tomorrow for consultation with Assad. While the agenda for the visit, as far as the Syrian regime is concerned, is a state secret, the delegations accompanying Chavez dealing mostly with industry and foreign affairs may not provide the real reason for the visit either. One should assume that the reason is to further the arms race in the Middle East whether Chavez foots a bill or uses his country as a transition point to help Assad gain an advantage.

An additional threat to countries is the proliferation of missile technology arranged by rogue regimes such as North Korea. They may not be the FN five-seven of the world but a Saturday Special kills as well as a good pistol. It is estimated that Hezbollah alone has some 80,000 rockets all aimed at Israel. Estimates of thousands of missiles in Syria and Iran all aimed at their long list of enemies including Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt pose an existential threat to a number of countries.

The fact that an arms race is peeking in the Middle East and that defenses against low quality but lethal missiles may not keep up with the massive threat these missiles pose, the matter dictates an effective stratagem to curb the expanding threat.

Plans for regime change in Syria and Iran must have been drawn as a counteroffensive to the missiles technology falling in the wrong hands. Preparatory steps and asset acquisition for such an eventuality must have been considered, analyzed, and implemented as well.

In a scenario where rapid self-destructive exchange of fire between two countries is imminent, such implementation can be essential to thwart a disaster. A last-minute assassination of one dictator far outstrips in benefits the risks of civilians caught in the line of fire.

The question becomes: If replacing one dictator has been planned, how far to go to replace a whole government? Syria and Iran are stepping over one red line after another. Soon, it will be bare bones. In that case, it behooves those in charge to dust off those plans and expand them to save both countries from dictatorial regimes of oppression to enlightened democracies accountable to their people.

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