In ‘The Wayward Spy’, Ahmed Kadri, a principal character and friend of Michael Vaux, the chief protagonist, told Vaux about Syria’s need for a beefed-up army and defense force: …’Now Russia, under Yeltsin, believes, as we do, that the only concessions we’re ever going to wrench from the Israelis is through strength, the strength of arms. Our military, to put it mildly, is run down. We need all sorts of weaponry and armaments and replacement components. Israel could walk over us today. They have complete air superiority, hundreds more tanks and armored vehicles…That’s what I’m talking to Russia about.’
Fast forward to 2011: THE ECONOMIST warns (December 29) that war could break out any time if Israel loses all patience over Iran’s plans, or lack of them, to obtain nuclear weapons; and if Hizbullah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, continues a big arms build up. Such a war could bring in Syria (which is as far away as ever in regaining the Golan Heights from Israel) and spark another Middle East maelstrom.