On Thursday, September 6, the very same day that the
Israeli Air Force carried out a bombing raid in northern
Syria for still-undisclosed reasons — unless it’s an
obvious reason, such as testing the performance of
the kind of Russian-built surface-to-air missile defense
system that Iran also has been stocking-up-on in anticipa-
tion of the worst — i.e., a "clear message to Iran" — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his spokesperson Michèle Montas issued statements that covered (among other ground) the fact that the Secretary-General had participated in a joint news conference earlier that day in Khartoum with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, where the two of them pledged to work for peace in Darfur, and announced that negotiations to this end are to be held in Libya on October 27.
Montas even issued a statement on the Secretary-General’s behalf about his having been "deeply saddened to learn of the death of Luciano Pavarotti."
But when Montas’ prepared remarks concluded, and she turned to the question-and-answer session, the very first question of all was about Israel’s bombing raid into Syria: "I just wanted to ask whether the Secretary-General has any reaction to Syrian charges that Israel violated its airspace this morning and that they had to fire back."
Montas’ exact response? "Not at this moment. We are monitoring the situation."
Can you imagine how this September 6 news conference might have gone, had it been Syria’s jets that launched a bombing raid into Israel earlier that morning, rather than the other way around?
Of course you can.
But in terms of newsworthiness and in terms of the relative worth of the victim and perpetrator in this particular instance?
Well. This was just another illustration of the age-old adage about dog-bites-man versus man-bites-dog stories. And to the best of my knowledge, as of Sunday eveing, September 16, the UN Secretary-General had not yet issued anythng remotely like an official condemnation of this all-too-typical Israeli breach of the peace.
So much for the end of the "culture of impunity" in the 21st Century!
"Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing," UN, September 6, 2007
"Advanced Russian Air Defense Missile Cannot Protect Syrian and Iranian Skies," DEBKA File, September 7, 2007
"North Korea-Syria nuclear ties: déjà vu all over again?" Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy Blog, September 14, 2007
"Syrian raid a ‘clear message to Iran’, says former UN envoy Bolton," Agence France Presse, September 16, 2007
"Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?" Peter Beaumont, The Observer, September 16, 2007
"Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’," Uzi Mahnaimi et al., Sunday Times, September 16, 2007
"To Iran and Its Foes, an Indispensable Irritant," Elaine Sciolino and William J. Broad, New York Times, September 17, 2007
"IAEA chief warns speaks out against striking Iran," George Jahn, Associated Press, September 17, 2007
"Speculation flourishes over Israel’s strike on Syria," Conal Urquhart, The Guardian, September 17, 2007
"A silent warning shot," Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, September 17, 2007
"NKorea Denies Nuclear Cooperation with Syria," Albert Aji, Associated Press, September 18, 2007
"Analysis: Israeli media bypass censors to report on Syria raid," Peter Feuilherade, BBC Monitoring, September 18, 2007
"Drift into war with Iran out of control, says UN," Julian Borger and Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian, September 18, 2007
"Neocons Tie N. Korea to Israeli Strike on Syria," Khody Akhavi, Inter Press Service, September 18, 2007
"N. Korea-Syria Deal?" Editorial, Korea Times, September 18, 2007
"Israeli Nuclear Suspicions Linked to Raid," Mark Mazzetti et al., New York Times – IHT, September 18, 2007
"Osirak II?" Bret Stephens, Wall Sreet Journal, September 18, 2007
"U.S. watches Syria, Israel after air strike," Bill Gertz, Washington Times, September 18, 2007
"Syria tells IAEA: Israeli nukes sparking arms race," Yossi Melman, Haaretz, September 20, 2007
"Netanyahu Breaks Silence on Syria," Dan Williams, Reuters, September 20, 2007
"The Israelis have unearthed a new and deadlier axis of evil," Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph, September 21, 2007
"US feared N Korea-Syria link before Israeli strike," Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times, September 21, 2007
"Fury as Netanyahu confirms Syria strike," Donald Macintyre, The Independent, September 21, 2007
"Bush Declines to Lift Veil of Secrecy Over Israeli Airstrike on Syria," Steven Lee Meyers and Steven Erlanger, New York Times, September 21, 2007
"Israel, U.S. Shared Data On Suspected Nuclear Site," Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright, Washington Post, September 21, 2007
"A mission most secret," Martin Chulov, The Australian, September 22, 2007
"An existential battle is taking place in the Middle East," Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star, September 22, 2007
"Syria strike: US shared intelligence with Israel," Leonard Doyle, The Independent, September 22, 2007
"Raid on Syria Fuels Debate On Weapons," Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger, New York Times, September 22, 2007
"Israeli air strike on Syria shrouded in secrecy as speculation mounts about the target," Sonia Verma, Toronto Globe and Mail, September 22, 2007
"Israelis seized nuclear material in Syrian raid," Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times, September 23, 2007
"Snatched: Israeli commandos ‘nuclear’ raid," Uzi Mahnaimi et al., Sunday Times, September 23, 2007
"Secret US air force team to perfect plan for Iran strike," Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times, September 23, 2007
"Mission Of Mystery; Israel sends Iran a signal with a stealth raid into Syria," Dan Ephron et al., Newsweek, September 24, 2007
"The Whispers of War," Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, October 1, 2007
Syrian Arab News Agency (Homepage)
Update (September 17): Excerpted from S-G spokesperson Michèle Montas’ September 17 Noon Briefing:
Question: Any news about this clarification from Israel regarding the overflight over Syria?
Michèle Montas: No, we don’t have any more on this.
Question: Are you expecting anything?
Michèle Montas: So far, we haven’t got anything additional from what I told you Friday.
Michèle Montas: I think, as I have mentioned, this is a matter for which Syria has written a letter to the Security Council, so it is right now in the hands of the Security Council. If there is any further action to be taken, it will be taken by the Security Council.
Update (September 18): Excerpted from the Secretary-General’s September 18 Press Conference:
Question: On North Korea, it suspended today or yesterday its participation in the Six-Party Talks scheduled for tomorrow. There are lots of reports that this had to do with the reported Israeli attack on Syria. (A) Do you have any independent information to confirm that? (B) Would you urge North Korea to join the talks? And also, would you urge North Korea to accept the independent investigator into the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] issue, which North Korea has thus far refused to do?
Ban Ki-moon: First of all, on the North Korean nuclear issue. As you are, I am also very much encouraged by the recent developments in the denuclearization process of the North Korean nuclear issue.
On this report about North Korean involvement in Syria, I do not have any independent information on this issue. I read a report issued by the North Korean Government denying such kinds of reports.
On these overall issues between Israel and Syria, as I have clearly mentioned, on this intrusion by the Israeli air force into Syrian airspace, I do not have yet any clear information on this. In fact, the area of operations of the UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] is away from this, and I am still waiting for clarification on this matter.
As I said, it is very important for the countries in the region to fully abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions for the peace and security in that region.
Update (September 20): Excerpted from the Commander-in-Chief’s September 20 Press Conference:
Question: Sir, Israeli opposition leader Netanyahu has now spoken openly about Israel’s bombing raid on a target in Syria earlier in the month. I wonder if you could tell us what the target was, whether you supported this bombing raid, and what do you think it does to change the dynamic in an already hot region in terms of Syria and Iran and the dispute with Israel and whether the U.S. could be drawn into any of this?
The Commander: I’m not going to comment on the matter. Would you like another question?
Question: Did you support it?
The Commander: I’m not going to comment on the matter.
Question: Can you comment about your concerns that come out of it at all, about for the region?
The Commander: No. Saying I’m not going to comment on the matter means I’m not going to comment on the matter. You’re welcome to ask another question, if you’d like to, on a different subject.