Debka aka. Pro-war propaganda machine reports Amerikan plans to attack Syria. War with Syria witch will surely mean a draft DEBKAfile’s Military and US sources reveal: Bush has ordered US Iraq commander Gen. Casey to prepare February attack on Syria. Assad sends Syria’s chief of staff Gen. Habib to establish command post on Iraqi border. Israel braces for Hizballah backlash. US and Iraq All Set for Strike against Syria. Israel Is Braced for Hizballah Second Front DEBKAfile Special Military Report Updating DEBKA-Net-Weekly 188 January 11, 2005, 2:44 PM (GMT+02:00) US warns Syria to keep its newly-purcahsed Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missile out of Iraq Last Sunday, January 2, US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage performed his last major mission before stepping down in favor of Robert B. Zoellick, whom incoming secretary Condoleezza Rice has picked as her deputy. (Zoellick, currently trade representative in charge US world trade, served as deputy to secretary of state James Baker in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. This mission took Armitage to Damascus with nine American demands. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington sources published those demands for the first time in its last week’s issue: To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE . 1. Start repealing Syria’s 40-years old emergency laws. 2. Free all political prisoners from jail. 3. Abolish media censorship. 4. Initiate democratic reform. 5. Speed up economic development 6. Cut down relations with Iran. 7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory. This would cut the ground from under the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah’s claim that the land is Lebanese and must be “liberated” from Israeli “occupation.” DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that the Iran-sponsored Hizballah’s attack on an Israeli convoy patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms sector, killing an Israeli officer, on Palestinian election-day, Sunday, January 9, was addressed as much to President George W. Bush as to the new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a foretaste of what it has in store. 8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices. (An address, telephone number and cell phone number were listed beside each name). But the punchline was in the last demand. 9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source. DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Because he cannot afford to buy advanced fighter planes and tanks, Assad purchased massive quantities of the “third generation” Kornet AT-14 anti-tank weapons. Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment. Number 9 therefore incorporates a tangible threat. The American general has the authority to launch military action against Syria as he sees fit and without delay if Damascus continues to meddle in Iraq’s affairs. DEBKAfile adds: The Syrian ruler protested to Armitage that he is doing everything he can to hold back the flow of guerrilla fighters and weapons into Iraq. As proof, he ordered Syria’s chief of staff General Ali Habib to establish a forward command center on the Syrian-Iraq border to oversee efforts to control border traffic on the spot. The fact is that General Habib is one of the few Syrian officers which the Americans have trusted. He commanded the Syrian units dispatched to Saudi Arabia in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq and made friends with the US commanders and officials conducting the war, including vice president Dick Cheney and the then head of joint chiefs of staff, Colin Powell. However, even Habib’s old American buddies do not rule out the possibility that he was posted to the border not to restrain the traffic but to take command of Syrian units posted there and prepare them for the contingency of an American military offensive. Assad and General Habib are both aware, according to our sources, of the near carte blanche handed down to General Casey to pursue military action against Syria as and when indicated by US military requirements in Iraq. In this regard, DEBKAfile’s military sources note four important points: 1. It will not take place before President Bush is sworn in for his second term on January 20 or Iraq’s general election ten days later. 2. The Americans will not start out with a large-scale, orderly military offensive, but rather short in-and-out forays; small US and Iraqi special forces units will cross the border and raid bases housing Iraqi guerrillas or buses carrying them to the border. If these brief raids are ineffective, the Americans will upscale the action. 3. The Allawi government will formally request the United States to consign joint Iraqi-US forces for action against Syrian targets, so placing the US operation under the Baghdad government’s aegis. In other words, Iraq will be at war with Syria without issuing a formal declaration. 4. It is fully appreciated in Washington, Baghdad and Jerusalem that intense American military warfare against Syria could provoke a Hizballah backlash against Israel. Damascus may well activate the Lebanese Shiite group to open a second front on Israel’s northern border. The Syrian ruler is expected will tolerate a certain level of American low-intensity, low-profile action. But, because of his reluctance to strike back directly at American or Iraqi targets, he will field the Hizballah – and not just for cross-border attacks but to galvanize the terrorist cells it controls and funds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a stepped-up offensive against Israeli targets. These Palestinian cells have proliferated over the years, particularly in the Fatah and its branches, encouraged by Yasser Arafat’s cooperative pact with the Hizballah which remains in force after his death. Therefore, the key Middle East happening in the coming weeks will be US military strikes against Syria. The election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority chairman, his invitation to the White House, the formation of the Sharon-Peres government coalition - albeit on very shaky legs, and the talk of imminent Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations, will prove to be no more than sideshows of the main event.