Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Build up of Russian War Fleet in Syria Largest Since the Cold War

Many in the West see the war in Syria through the prism of the Arab Spring. But this rose colored frame is the result of war propaganda. The situation is in fact much more explosive

The build up of Russian military power in the East Mediterranean is dating back at least 18 months 

Reposted from May 18, 2013

The war is Syria is in essence a battle between Shia and Sunni Islam over the hegemony of the Islamic Middle East. On the one hand there's Iran and her proxies - Assad's Socialistic regime and Hezbollah - and on the other end of the divide, the Sunni autocracies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

The West has no dog in this fight. Or has it? NAVO Special Forces have long been operational in Turkey and Jordan, despite denials on the part of the participating states. We are in fact already involved in this war, if only covertly! 

The Muslim Brotherhood connection

The 'Free Syrian Army' consists of irregular Sunni Jihadists that are aligned to Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed they picked an American naturalized Syrian, Ghassan Hitto to lead to Interim Government; he is as close to the Muslim Brotherhood as it gets. Morally they are no better than the Iranian Republican Guard and thugs like the Basij

Turkey is a party to this war and would love to use the power of NATO for its own imperialistic interests in the region. Arms have been filtering into Syria for a long time from Turkey and Jordan. The Benghazi scandal that has the Obama administration in its grip, was in fact a cover up of arms shipments from Libya to the Syrian rebels. 

Russia plays chess

This very complex situation has become critical due to the involvement of the Russians, who support the Shia side of the equation. Moscow is a staunch ally of Iran and has been involved in Syrian politics since the Assad dynasty came to power. 

Russia has a marine base in the port of Tartous. Putin just sent 12 war ships to the Mediterranean to patrol the waters of Syria. It is meant as a message to the West not to pull another trick like they did in Bosnia, Kosovo and Lybia: interference in a historically Russian sphere of influence under the cover of a humanitarian invention (JWT) . 

In that light is the Russian military build up - the largest since the Cold War - of geo strategic importance. Another purpose is to repatriate tens of thousands of Russians living and often married to Syrians, if the need arises. 

Israel strikes Hezbollah

American commentators have predicted that the build up will lead to more Israeli strikes on missile depots of Hezbollah. The missiles are a great danger to Israel and American war ships in the region. The Russian missiles can easily be handed over to Hezbollah militants in a matter of hours. 

Russia and the US are publicly working towards a peaceful settlement of the war in Syria, but neither is expecting any results. On the contrary, tensions are mounting by the day. Obama does not want to join battle overtly, but has signaled that the use of chemicals weapons by the Assad regime constitutes a red line. The Pentagon meanwhile has drawn up contingency plans should the war spill over into Turkey or Jordan, both Western allies. 

Russia stepping up arms deliveries

The military build up by Moscow signals that the Russians want to hold on to Tartous in case of regime change in Syria and that it means to defend its sphere of influence in the region. 

Putin has communicated last week that the delivery of an advanced long range surface-to-air missile system to Syria via the port of Tartous, will be brought forward to the end of May. The S-300 is able to shoot down guided missiles as well as jets.

Update Aug. 27, 2013: in a recent interview with Izvestiya, Assad has said that all Russian contracts have now been executed, meaning that he has taking delivery of the S-300 shipments. 

This constitutes a fresh dilemma for Israel, which has already attacked three such Hezbollah weapon depots. It has so far managed to avoid attacking Assad's assets directly. The Russians have fiercely condemned Israel's defensive actions.

The Russian fleet

Russia conducted military exercises in the East Med and the Black Sea region in January 2013 on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War. It involved 21 vessels and three submarines. In the last three months no less than 10-15 war ships have been spotted in the Syrian port of Tartous. 

Moscow has at the moment got some 11 vessels in the East Med, comprising three task forces of destroyers, frigates, auxiliary and intelligence collection ships. Another group of three landing ships is on its way to the region and will be deployed between Cyprus, Lebanon and Turkey.

Russia intends to defend its traditional sphere of influence in the Mediterranean. The military build up is signalling that Russia has drawn a line in the sand and means business!


The situation just got even more complicated!

America's Navy:
The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), along with embarked Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) arrived in Eilat, Israel for a regularly scheduled port visit, May 14. While in port, the officers, Sailors and Marines will meet with local officials, participate in community engagement projects and experience the rich history and culture of the region. This visit is not associated with, nor a reaction to, any world events. 

(...)  in a historic event, the Russian Pacific fleet, for the first time in decades, crossed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean, direction Cyprus' port of Limassol, Cyprus in what is now the loudest implied warning to the US and Israel amassing military units across Syria's border that Russia will not stand idly by as Syria is used by the Israeli "Defense" Forces for target practice. “The task force has successfully passed through the Suez Channel and entered the Mediterranean.

It is the first time in decades that Pacific Fleet warships enter this region,” Capt. First Rank Roman Martov said. This is what is also known as dropping hints, loud and clear. The group, including the destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, the amphibious warfare ships Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi, the tanker Pechenga and the salvage/rescue tug Fotiy Krylov left the port of Vladivostok on March 19 to join Russia’s Mediterranean task force.