Syria Goes Hot: Russia To Deliver Weapons, Deploys Air Defense; Israel Warns Russia; Obama Demands No Fly Zone
Those who were intently following the USDJPY pair formerly known as the stock market today missed the biggest news of the day: the proxy war in Syria just went hot, following a confluence of news, first that Russia insisted "it would deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Syria despite international criticism, as fears of spillover from the conflict grew" and in logical retaliation to yesterday's decision by Europe to lift an arms embargo to the Al Qaeda-supported, Qatari mercenaries operating in Syria, also known as "rebels.
This lead Israel's defense minister Moshe Yaalon to immediately signal that "its military is prepared to strike shipments of advanced Russian weapons to Syria."
Meanwhile back in the US "the White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and Great Britain, two administration officials told The Daily Beast."
And just to make it very clear that Russia is not bluffing, it announced overnight that its four regiments of S-300 air defense systems have been deployed at the Ashuluk firing range in southern Russia as part of another snap combat readiness check of the Russian armed forces "The missions will be carried out in conditions of heavy electronic warfare to test the capabilities of the air defense units to the highest limit."
And to think: yet another threat of a global war over some natgas pipelines from Qatar to Europe, and a threat to Gazprom's monopoly.
Russia insisted Tuesday it would deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Syria despite international criticism, as fears of spillover from the conflict grew after three Lebanese soldiers were killed in a border-area attack.
Israel warned Russia it would "know what to do" if the delivery went ahead, and Syria's top rebel commander gave Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement, a 24-hour ultimatum to stop fighting alongside regime forces.
The developments stoked tensions after the European Union decided to lift an embargo on weapons to Syria's rebels, in a move the opposition reacted to with caution.
Syria's regime joined its ally Russia in condemning the EU decision as an "obstruction" to peace efforts, while accusing the bloc of supporting and encouraging "terrorists".
Moscow said it would go ahead with its plans to deliver the S-300 missiles to Syria, despite international concerns, saying the weapons were part of existing contracts.
"We consider these supplies a stabilising factor," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said, adding they could act as a deterrence against foreign intervention.
Israel's immediate response via the Guardian:
Israel quickly issued a thinly veiled warning that it would bomb the Russian S-300 missiles if they were sent to Syria, as such a move would bring the advanced guided missiles within range of civilian and military planes over Israel. Israel has conducted three sets of air strikes on Syria this year, aimed at preventing missiles being brought close to its border by the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.
"The shipments haven't set out yet and I hope they won't," Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli defence minister, said. "If they do arrive in Syria, God forbid, we'll know what to do."
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, argued that the delivery of the S-300 system had been previously agreed with Damascus and would be a stabilising factor that could dissuade "some hotheads" from entering the conflict. That appeared to be a reference to the UK and France, who pushed through the lifting of the EU embargo on Monday night and are the only European countries considering arming the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
After much deliberations, and unable to find the much needed "weapons of mass destruction" to justify intervention, the US is nonetheless escalating next and Obama is now said to demand plans for a No Fly Zone over Syria from the Pentagon. From the Daily Beast:
Along with no-fly zone plans, the White House is considering arming parts of the Syrian opposition and formally recognizing the Syrian opposition council.
The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and Great Britain, two administration officials told The Daily Beast.
The request was made shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry toured the Middle East last week to try and finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and rebel leaders in Geneva. The opposition, however, has yet to confirm its attendance and is demanding that the end of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s rule be a precondition for negotiations, a condition Assad is unlikely to accept.
In April, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that the military was planning for a range of options in Syria but that he did not necessarily support using those options.
"We're prepared with options, should military force be called upon and assuming it can be effectively used to secure our interests without making matters worse,” he said. “We must also be ready for options for an uncertain and dangerous future. That is a future we have not yet identified."
And finally going back full circle, Russia announced overnight that its four regiments of S-300 air defense systems have been deployed at the Ashuluk firing range in southern Russia as part of another snap combat readiness check of the Russian armed forces, the Defense Ministry said. From RIA:
The regiments were airlifted on Thursday by military transport planes to designated drop zones where they will carry out a variety of missions simulating the defense of the Russian airspace from massive attacks by “enemy” missiles and aircraft.
“The missions will be carried out in conditions of heavy electronic warfare to test the capabilities of the air defense units to the highest limit,” the ministry said.
A total of 8,700 personnel, 185 warplanes and 240 armored vehicles are involved in the three-day exercise, overseen by Col. Gen. Vladimir Zarudnitsky, head of Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate.
Surely all of the above is very beneficial for future global GDP prospects.
Finally, here is the Russian S-300 system causing Qatar gas pipeline plans global democracies so much consternation: