The Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov’s statement today re-affirmed Moscow’s rejection of arms embargo against Syria. It comes on a day EU FMs met in Brussels and tightened the sanctions against that country. But what makes the Syrian situation rather interesting is that Moscow also let it be known today that it is arming Syria to defend itself. There were reports last week that Russia is supplying Syria with S-300 missiles.
Now, Interfax reported today that Russia has supplied Syria with Bastion mobile coastal missile systems with supersonic anti-ship Yakhont cruise missiles as part of an arms deal – about which there were US and Israeli objections previously. A Russian naval battle group is also reaching Syria shortly with military advisors. Interestingly, the Interfax report appears on the same day that Russian DFM Sergey Ryabkov met Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman and the head of Israeli National Security Council Yaakov Amidror in Tel Aviv.
The Yakhont cruise missile significantly puts up the cost of intervention in Syria for Turkey and its western allies. Moscow has done well to anticipate the likely repetition of the western plan to first incrementally destabilise and degrade an interntionally-recognised regime and then ‘delegitimise’ it in order to pave the way for armed intervention and ‘regime change’. This was what happened in Iraq and recently in Libya.
So, if the Turks and the French really want to go for Syria, let them also take with them a few additional coffins to bring back the corpses of their brave warriors. Whether the Russia ploy works as a ‘disincentive’ on the dogs of war, time only will tell. But it may just about make them think twice, at least. And maybe something good may come out of it, after all, if the Turks and the western powers change their cussedness and would permit the Syrian opposition to enter into a national dialogue with the government in Damascus.
In Turkey, at least, there is a sharp division of opinion about Syria. The main opposition party CHP strongly questions the interventionist policy of the government. The CHP is a staunchly secularist party and it is wary of the present government abandoning Kemal Ataturk’s dictum that Turkey shouldn’t get entangled with the Muslim Middle East. CHP is rooted in the Kemalist principles of Turkish nationalism. But then, its leadership also has no ‘entanglement’ with the unaccounted ‘green money’, which flows into Turkey from the Persian Gulf sheikhs.
Posted in Politics.
– December 1, 2011