Here are five scenarios the the U.S. could face in coming weeks.
1. Syria Will Try to Retaliate
Syria has already made bold threats toward the U.S. and its allies, specifically Israel, about retaliation for any U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war.
“If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a licence for attacking Israel,” Iran’s Fars News Agency quoted a Syrian military official as saying. “If Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors.”
2. Iran Will Take Aim at Israel
Iranian leaders also issued strong rhetoric in recent days, warning the U.S. to stay out of the conflict in Syria and threatening to retaliate against Israel in response to any military meddling. One official was quoted in Iran’s Fars news service saying that Iran would “flatten the place (Israel) that is tied to the U.S.’s national security.”
But if Iran launched an attack on Israel, Cordesman said it is unlikely that the U.S. would come to its ally’s defense.
3. Radical Groups Could Retaliate
Islamic extremist groups and militant groups such as Hezbollah could also plan retaliations against U.S. targets or allies, according to experts.
“There is always the possibility that Hezbollah might act out,” Cordesman said. “Islamist extremist action is a possibility.”
4. U.S. Accused of War Crimes
“The charges that we’ve faked the intelligence are already taking place,” said Cordesman of the Obama administration’s assertion that chemical weapons had unquestionably been used by Assad’s forces on civilians.
One strategy that Syria could employ to retaliate against the U.S. is to accuse them of war crimes, Cordesman explained.
5. No Repercussions, U.S. Succeeds at Deterring Use of Chemical Weapons
Of all the potential repurcussions that could come from a strike, one U.S. expert is convinced that the biggest one will be success.
“The most likely, and it’s always important to underscore that you can never count on the most likely, is it’s a one-off,” said O’Halloran. “It’s very clear that President Obama has no more interest than that, and President Assad would be foolish to give Obama a reason or justification or necessity for doing more.”
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