I was speaking last week to a Syrian Kurd asking him about the current Isis offensive which is taking over eastern Syria, capturing oil-rich Deir Ezzor province and assaulting the Kurdish enclaves in the north. We agreed that, given the international furore in the three weeks after Isis captured Mosul on 10 June, there was astonishingly little reaction to or publicity about Isis’s successful new offensive in Syria. The reason for this is that this time international attention is focused on the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
“Do you think it possible,” asked my Syrian friend tentatively, “that Isis might have arranged to have the three Israeli teenagers killed – it certainly has militant cells on the West Bank – knowing that this would provoke an Israeli assault on Gaza and divert attention from its own operations?” I pooh-poohed the idea at the time as one more conspiracy theory based on no real evidence, but thinking it over I am not so sure.
I remember how in June 1982 the Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov was critically wounded in London by three assassins working for the Abu Nidal movement directed by Iraqi intelligence. The aim, successfully accomplished, was to provoke the Israelis to invade Lebanon and become engaged in a war with Syria which was allied with Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and a hated enemy of Saddam Hussein. Israel knew Iraq was behind the assassination attempt but even so used it as an excuse to invade Lebanon to crush the PLO.
Could somebody in Isis, reputedly filled with former cadres of Saddam’s regime, have hatched a somewhat similar plot? For all those ludicrous theories, there are real conspiracies out there.