Skip to comments.''Intelligence Brief: Russia's Moves in Syria''
Posted on 06/30/2006 2:10:53 AM PDT by M. Espinola
In early June, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Moscow's decision to establish naval bases in the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia. The Russian Defense Ministry officially denied the report, even though more than one source confirmed it.
As part of the plan, the port of Tartus would be transformed into a naval base for Russia's Black Sea Fleet when it is away from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.
The Russian plan involves the installation of an air defense system with S-300PMU-2 Favorit ballistic missiles. The missiles have a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles), allow a larger warhead and are equipped with a better guidance system than the previous version. The air defense system would be operated by Russia for the defense of the Tartus base and would provide potential protection for a large part of Syria. Through these initiatives, it is clear that Russia wants to strengthen its position in the Middle East.
Russia is searching for a new role in the diplomatic balance in the Middle East and a decision to move into Syria is a step on the path toward increasing its influence in the region. Syria seems to be the best target for this approach because of Damascus' heightened weakness as a result of its international isolation that was reinforced after the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is searching for allies to move the country out of isolation. This increases its incentive to turn to Moscow, even if this relationship will not be as strong as it was during the Cold War era. For Russia, its increasing ties with Syria provide Moscow with added leverage in the region. [See: "Russia's Future Foreign Policy: Pragmatism in Motion"]
During the first five years of Putin's presidency, Moscow and Damascus did not share close relations; since the beginning of 2005, however, that situation changed. In the last two years, Russia has built a closer relationship with Syria. The country is an important cash-buyer of Russian arms and an interesting partner for Russia's energy industries. Moreover, Putin is searching for a stronger role in the Israeli-Arab peace process; Russia's February 2006 meeting with Hamas is a clear example of this policy. Through that meeting, Russia tried to seize the initiative from the United States and the European Union, with the latter two's decision-making about the future of the peace process paralyzed by Hamas' election victory. [See: "Intelligence Brief: Recognizing Hamas, Iran Welcomes Shi'a Control in Iraq"]
The increase of Syrian strategic dependence on Russia will strengthen Moscow's political role in the region, even if Russian arms sales to Syria risk damaging the good relations built with Israel in recent years. Of course, stronger Russian influence in Syria could be used by Putin in a dual way. For example, if Russia needs to improve relations with Israel and the United States, it could possibly compel Syria to take a softer approach toward these countries. On the flip side, if Russia needs to increase pressure on these countries, it can use Syria as its arm for this purpose.
When connecting these latest initiatives in Syria to Russia's good ties with Iran, it is clear that Moscow is planning on playing a stronger role in the political and diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East.
Another reason why Moscow wishes to preserve the Bashar government's stability is to guarantee Russian economic contracts in the country. For example, in December 2005 Russia and Syria signed an important agreement worth US$370 million in the gas sector. This agreement presupposes the construction of a section of pipeline that ends in the Syrian city of Ar Rayyan, and of a gas processing plan next to Palmyra, built by Stroitransgaz -- Russia's most important engineering company in the oil and gas industry. The gas industry is one of the economic sectors in which the relationship between the two countries is growing. Commercial ties are also increasingly strong in the military and oil sectors.
Moreover, from Russia's point of view, Bashar's good relationship with pro-Russian Chechen groups is an important guarantee for Russian homeland security. A Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus is seen as a threat for Moscow because it will probably give financial and logistical support to terrorist groups operating in the Chechen conflict. The need for a stable, Bashar-led regime is also shared by Israel and the United States because the Syrian regime could be replaced by one that is more radical and more of a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests.
Moscow is in search of a new role in the Middle East. Russia is trying to moderate U.S. dominance of the international system, and the Middle East is a focal point of this strategy. Putin knows that modern-day Russia does not have the same assets as the former Soviet Union to influence the diplomatic dynamics of the Middle East, but he wishes to use every window of opportunity to increase Russian power. Decisions such as helping Syria, having a more decisive role in the Israeli-Arab peace process and playing a primary role in the Iranian nuclear affair are steps on the path to strengthen Russia's position in the Middle East and to increase Moscow's power to better serve its national interests.
They both look like the devil.
Makes no sense except that we can't take on the Soviets right now.
--Makes no sense except that we can't take on the Soviets right now.--
Foreign policy for Russia and China (to a lesser extent) is basically to be a pain in the butt for the US. What else have they got? Kinda like France.
--Why do you think that is?
How else can they make their presence felt? They can't compete in a natural way and they're just not psychologically prepared to be ignored.
Because we intimidate them. They can not compete with us militarily, economically and socially. We also compete with them for the resources they need for their burgeoning economies.
Don't think that for one instance that Russia is our friend. They are more like an acquaintance, with some shared interests. Push comes to shove, they will look out for their best interests, before risking anything to help the US; unlike our true allies.
China has always been an enemy, and will continue to remain so. They wish to be the preeminent power in the Pacific, and at least on par with the US globally. They also don't have any qualms about using military force to achieve those goals. Only reason we haven't traded blows with them so far is that they know we will kick their a$$e$. That could very well change, with the way they are expanding their military. Chances are, that we will be involved in a shooting war with China before the end of the century. My guess that it is either over Taiwan, or us assisting our allies in the Spratleys.
That's my 2 Cents, and I could be wrong.
The ex-KGB apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Once a neo-stalinist KGB hate-US-and-Israel bolshie, always a neo-stalinist KGB hate-US-and-Israel bolshie. The old timers were more open and honest; Vlady tries to hide under veneer of "civilization" and "democracy".
WHY DO WE ALLOW SYRIA AND IRAN TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT TERRORIST THAT KILL OUR TROOPS IN IRAQ?
HIT THEM NOW BEFORE THEY GET STRONGER!
There is another way of phrasing Putin's real position:
CEO of the Axis of Evil & Company
You are 100% correct. Iran and Syria are both responsible for the continued murder of America's finest and that of the other Allied troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Who supports Iran and Syria? - Putin's Russia!
During the Vietnam war Russia gladly supported N. Vietnam's commies all though the war. Over 52,000 of our fellow Americans died & many more disfigured for life from Russian made bullets & bombs, Russian built MIG's, Russian SAM's shooting our flyers down, plus our POW's were tortured by North Vietnamese savages, who were 'well tutored' by those Russian bastards (advisor's).
It's the same deal in Iran, Syria, Cuba, Hugo Chavez's communist dictatorship, & elsewhere throughout Putin's expanding anti-American, neo-Soviet global empire.
Returning to 1973, it was Russian fighter pilots flying Syrian & Egyptian Migs (& getting shot down too) during the deplorable, yet typical Arab sneak attack on Israel during the highest Jewish holy day of the year, Yom Kippur.
It was the damn Russians again who invaded and butchered hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, and now are stuck cleaning out the mess they created.
Previously the Kremlin bosses aided Arafat's PLO terrorists. Today Moscow supports the Islamic serial killers of Hamas who sole twisted goal is the extermination of the Jewish people.
The question needs to be rightfully asked again, when is our own government going to wake up and realize the only way to win this counter-Islamic-terrorist-war is to take out the enemy behind the enemy.
Putin said that Russian forces must be able to simultaneously fight in global, regional, andif necessaryalso in several local conflicts.
Ain't that the truth!
Syria is the back door to that 'oil' that old Saddam sold to the Russians. Wonder how long before Syria starts building a nuke factory just like Iran is building?
Putin is arming Assad as if it were the 'good old days' of Syria being a Soviet client state, which it still is under Putin's 'neo-Sovietism' for a profit.
Being that Damascus is the world's #1 terrorist capital, Israel may be forced to make the oldest continuous inhabited city - a pile of rubble.
US-Russia relations deteriorating sharply, experts warn
The Financial Times | June 7 2006 03:00 | Guy Dinmore
Posted on 06/07/2006 2:22:15 AM EDT by vertolet