Syria's Assad tells Charlie Rose that "everything is possible" if the Obama Administration carries out a strike against the regime.

by James Towe

The Syrian president expresses that everything is on the table were the United States to attack.

It's mostly conjecture to predict the form of a retaliatory response following a U.S. action against Syria, but certain events are plausible. My impression of Assad's message to Charlie Rose is that Hezbollah and other proxies for Syria and Iran would take steps through terror acts (civilian targets) or general rocket fire into Israel. A direct response from Assad is doubtful.

It would be difficult for Syria or Hezbollah to respond directly to any U.S. attack. American systems are too advanced and mostly too distant for any realistic Syrian option. The exceptions to this would be the small U.S. presence in Jordan. Terror groups may target American and European civilians or diplomatic posts. Syria's only choice would be to engage Hezbollah against Israeli targets. A caveat to this is Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile defense system. Regardless, Israel would probably suffer damage and some fatalities in a massive rocket barrage.

Assad's camp would be unlikely to attack Israel with a chemical weapon. The problem lies in the lack of intelligence about which players in the conflict have access to WMD. Syrian rebel groups have claimed to have chemical capability (Link). We know a significant part of the SFA (Syrian Free Army) consists of former Assad army loyalists. Assad also hinted to Charlie Rose that chemical weapons were a possibility due to other players. From this we can posit that various military arms of the Iranian Axis, including Hezbollah, may possess WMD.

Hezbollah is supported by the Iranian and Syrian regimes. The two countries feed it money and hardware. This terror group assists Iran and Syria in stretching the resources of Israel's intelligence and military prowess. Hezbollah exists to destroy Israel.

The possibility of conventional rocket attacks from southern Lebanon (by Hezbollah) into Israel is the most likely prospect. Hezbollah possesses the Fajr-5 Iranian built rocket capable of hitting Tel Aviv (Link) and other population zones in the Jewish state.

Were Israel to be attacked by Hezbollah, the Israelis would retaliate. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel agreed not to respond to Saddam Hussein's missile attacks on Tel Aviv. The Bush 41 Administration feared a breakup of the Arab coalition, were Israel to react. Today there is no international coalition and Israel would be unlikely to agree, considering the abysmal relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

There is concern of conflict spill over to Israel and Lebanon.

Israel's response could lead to further degradation of the region's stability. At that advanced stage, Jordan, seen also as an American cohort, might suffer rocket attacks on Amman and against American military assets.

There are no good options for the president. U.S. action against Assad is a no win, considering the great doubt about what constitutes Syria's opposition. Our choices are Assad or the distinct possibility of another dysfunctional Islamic regime. American action will adversely affect what is left of the region's stability.