Alarming report from China Confidential:
Researchers at a Chinese government run think tank linked to Sun Bigan, Beijing's special envoy to the Middle East, expect the region to be engulfed in war before the end of next June. Reason: non-Arab Islamist Iran and its secular Arab ally, Syria, are determined to avenge the humiliating defeat of the (overwhelmingly Muslim) Arab armies by Israel in its historic Six-Day War, which began on June 5, 1967.
The Chinese view is that the looming 40th anniversary of the conflict--which resulted in the loss of Arab lands, including the contested West Bank territories and Golan Heights--is galvanizing the fanatically anti-Israel leadership of Iran (which, in '67, was ruled by the pro-American Shah, with whom Israel enjoyed a productive and close relationship). Iran's Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly vowed to destroy the Jewish state, is reportedly obsessed with erasing the so-called stain of Israel's victory by erasing Israel itself.
Along with the recently evacuated Gaza strip, which was occupied by Egypt prior to the '67 war, the West Bank lands have been earmarked for a Palestinian Arab state. It is generally assumed that any Israeli peace pact with Syria would include return of the disputed Golan, a strategically significant area from which Syrian forces shelled Israeli farms and villages before the war.
Sun is a strong supporter of both Iran and Syria--and an effective opponent of tough sanctions and other punitive measures against Tehran. Iran's counterproposal of "serious negotiations" aimed at ending its nuclear standoff with the West, in response to a proposed package of incentives, was basically his idea, as China Confidential has reported.
If I was Assad, I would feel quite emboldened by Israel's failure to bomb me, and demonstrated weakness in Lebanon. If I was Ahmadinejad, I would relish pre-empting any Israeli strikes on my nuclear program.
If I was king of Israel, I would start bombing Iran now, cutting off the head of a menacing python.