Late last week Russia caught the Obama administration off guard, again, by sending troops, SA-22 anti-aircraft missiles and tanks to its naval base in Tartus, Syria. “I know of no prior notice that was given to the United States with respect to these additional activities that Russia has taken,” State Department’s spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on Friday that Moscow ordered troops and military support for its longtime ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The embattled leader has been engaged in a significant battle against Arab Spring rebels and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since 2011. Additionally, some news reporting in the region also suggest the troops are the same unit President Vladimir Putin sent to Crimea.
However, the Russians would not confirm a Reuters’ report that suggested Russian troops have already engaged ISIS. Moreover, Lavrov cautioned the US about a risk of “unintended incidents” if all militaries did not cooperate inside Syria. Lavrov also confirmed the Russian Navy initiated training exercises, using five anti-aircraft missile ships, off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
Plus, new intelligence reports verified that Russia is sending military forces into Syria capable of striking ISIS targets. Two U.S. officials told Foreign Policy Magazine; “The intelligence community has substantiated that Russia is going to deploy Mikoyan MiG 31 and Sukhoi Su-25 fighter planes to a forward operating base in Latakia.” Much of the military equipment has arrived, including air traffic control towers, aircraft supplies, as well as housing units for hundreds of troops.
Obama told reporters on Friday that Russia’s involvement in Syria was “doomed to failure.”
The renewed effort in Syria highlights Putin’s lack of respect for President Obama and some US officials have labeled this latest action “a slap in the face” for the president and Department of State Secretary John Kerry’s naivety about the Middle East. On top of that, experts contend that Russia’s backing of Assad will significantly improve the odds that al-Assad survives in some capacity.
Kirby responded with, “any actions in Syria that empowers (sic) the regime to escalate the conflict. We’d welcome constructive anti-ISIS efforts by Russia, but it can’t start with, and it can’t be a function of, continued support to the Assad regime.” Currently, Russia is not part of the coalition of nations fighting ISIS and Kirby suggested this conversation wasn’t an invitation.
Nevertheless, Kirby, a former press secretary for the Department of Defense, noted the Pentagon has “routine military-to-military exchanges and dialogue with Russia, just as a matter of course.” He stopped short of saying the US was coordinating an air campaign with Assad or his government. “There’s no coordination with the air campaign and the Syrian regime, but yes, they have been notified in the past about air activity and advised to stay clear of it,” Kirby concluded.
Back in Russia, Lavrov intimated the US was giving Russia the cold shoulder treatment. “If, as John Kerry has said many times, the United States wants those channels frozen, then be our guest.”
According to Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, coalition forces haven’t encountered the Russian military so far.
There can be serious consequences if coalition nations don’t cooperate inside the battlefield. James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO explained, “It is very dangerous to have both Russian and US troops in a confined battle space, essentially on opposite sides of a civil war, without contact for deconfliction of any combat or support activities,” he said. “Open communication at the strategic and tactical level are both important.”
Conversely, after multiple rebuffs from President Obama, Putin has moved away from the US diplomatic solution in Syria. Moreover, last week amid the Russian military buildup, Putin publicly claimed Assad was willing to open “healthy” discussions to end the four-year civil war. But Obama’s position on removing Assad from power has not changed and the war with ISIS rages on, claiming 240,000 lives and displacing half its population.
“Russia’s support for the Assad regime is not helpful at all, it’s counterproductive, and it’s against some of the things they have said about trying to bring about a solution,” Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pontificated. But Cardin’s position appears to be counterproductive if Russia’s primary goal is to rid Syria of ISIS, the same mission as the coalition nations?
It’s worth noting that the Syrian military, the Iraqi Kurds and now the Russian military are fighting the ISIS terrorists without the coordination of President Obama’s administration.
Is the US prepping for war with Iran? (Posted in the Examiner July 2014)
This week the State Department opened the door to selling American made armed drones to its allies. Under the new Obama administration guidelines Reaper and Predator drones armed with deadly missiles can be sold to allies, including Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia. San Diego defense contractor giants like General Atomics and Northrup Grumman welcomed the news and said the program will increase their billion-dollar industry. It’s also worth noting that China, Israel and South Africa also build and sell drones.
But is this a good idea? Yesterday CNN reported that ISIS recovered US weapons left behind at an Iraqi military base. “They seized dozens of weapons, M-16s and heavy machine guns. They also made off with American vehicles and Humvees while leaving behind a trail of death, including burned bodies of Iraqi soldiers.”
So what are military analysts saying about the potential sale of armed drones to Gulf countries? Will they change the war efforts in the Middle East? The U.S. military buys its armed drones, known as Predators and Reapers, in San Diego, the companies made a name for by providing the Pentagon with the UAV weapons system. “Over the past two decades, Northrup Grumman has sold more than 600-armed drones to the U.S,” the company spokesperson said.
After more than 14 years of continuous war in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention supporting insurgencies in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, the U.S. departs in a zero sum game that has cost tens of thousands of lives, trillions of dollars and leaves the Middle-East totally destabilized with conflict everywhere. To make matters worse and seemingly incomprehensible, evidence suggests the U.S. and its partners are planning for war against Iran. Keep reading here.