By Mark Wachtler
June 17, 2013. Amman. (ONN) Each day, new revelations and official announcements frame the Syrian civil war in a new dynamic. Is it a war of liberty versus tyranny? Sunni versus Shiite? Imperialism versus Communism? US/UK versus Russia/China? Rich versus poor? Saudi Arabia versus Iran? Palestine versus Israel? The answer, as is becoming ever more clear, is all of the above. And most perplexing of all is that the US seems to be on four sides of two wars.
Many neighborhoods in many Syrian towns have been destroyed by the civil war. Image courtesy of Globial.com.
Iran to officially enter Syrian War
Out of all of the above conflicts simultaneously making up the Syrian civil war, the news that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was preparing to send an initial force of 4,000 elite troops into Syria is the one that threatens to destabilize the region, and possibly the world. The Islamic Republic has already watched hundreds of its militant citizens cross into Syria to join pro-government militias. But this would be the first act of war on the part of the newly elected Iranian government.
As reported by The Independent out of the UK yesterday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is poised to go on the military offensive. And Syrian rebels aren’t their only target. The account details how Iran sees their involvement in Syria as creating a strategic opportunity to put its troops only inches from Israel. With Iranian paramilitary units already in Syria, it’s a good bet they’re already digging in along the Jewish State’s northeast border.
The report cites individuals within Iran’s security apparatus explaining, ‘A military decision has been taken in Iran – even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the largely Sunni rebellion that has cost almost 100,000 lives in just over two years.’
Explaining how their ultimate intent is to gain highly strategic ground in its probable upcoming defensive war against an Israeli surprise attack, The Independent goes on to report, ‘Iran is now fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime, according to pro-Iranian sources which have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new Syrian front on the Golan Heights against Israel.’
US sends troops to Jordan-Syria border
As Whiteout Press reported last week, and The Independent confirms, US-backed Syrian rebel forces are suddenly losing their two year-old revolution to overthrow the Assad regime. Within the next few months, the rebellion will be over and government forces will win – unless the US intervenes. And according to announcement’s by President Obama this weekend, that’s exactly what America is going to do.
Two days ago, Reuters reported that US officials had announced that after next week’s war games in Jordan, the US military would remain in Jordan at the monarchy’s request. The previously scheduled war games give the American military a convenient excuse to have both an offensive and a defensive presence all along the Jordan-Syria border.
As Whiteout Press reported last week, Israeli media has announced that at least 1,000 US Marines had already entered Jordan and taken positions along the Syrian border. In addition to those forces, the US has an existing presence in Jordan with semi-secret military camps used to train Syrian rebel volunteers.
Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘US and Russia deploy Forces to Syria Conflict’ for more information.
No Fly Zone – defense or disaster?
A number of countries and groups have long called for a NATO-enforced ‘no fly zone’ over Syria similar to actions taken in Libya to protect a mostly civilian revolution there. But for months, the Obama administration has hesitated on taking such a large step in escalating America’s involvement in the country’s civil war. Supporters of the Assad regime insist it isn’t for lack of desire, but out of fear.
Syria is no Libya or even Iraq. Unlike Iraq’s generations-old air defense systems, Syria’s missile defenses are on the cutting edge of modern military technology. It was only last week that Russia confirmed it would go-ahead with its sale of the most advanced missile defense system they have to Syria. And while that system is months or years away from deployment, Syria’s current defenses could wreak havoc on any NATO offensive actions.
As of yesterday, the current thinking is that US cruise missiles could destroy every military runway in Syria, thus eliminating the Assad government’s air force capabilities. But anonymous sources within the US military fear that the use of F-16’s over Syrian air space may result in the loss of too many American jets and their pilots. And don’t forget the curveball that Iraq threw at the US during the Gulf War.
Immediately upon US air forces entering Iraqi air space, the country’s pilots fled to Iran hoping to fight the war from there. Syria’s Russian-made MIG’s could theoretically do the same thing this time around. Except while the Iranian government confiscated Iraq’s air force and arrested its pilots, the Islamic state would instead re-arm and re-fuel Syrian planes.
Russia warns US
Russia, a longtime ally of Syria and the Assad dynasty, has made a number of announcements over the past week showing it does not intend to stand idly by as its surrogate is attacked by the world’s most powerful military. In addition to confirming its sale of missile defenses to Syria, Russia also announced it would re-deploy its nuclear-missile submarine fleet throughout the world’s southern hemisphere, starting with the Mediterranean Sea.
Even more ominous, a Russian battle fleet is already positioned off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean and is awaiting an additional convoy of Russian warships that were recalled from Russia’s eastern sea and dispatched to the Syrian conflict. Showing that the Putin administration may be a few steps ahead of his US counterpart, the Russian fleet was ordered to Syria back in March.
Overt military moves by Russia aren’t the only message being sent to the Obama administration this week. Hours after the announced possibility of a US no fly zone over Syria, Russian officials warned against such a move. “You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law" Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted.
Countries quickly taking sides – prepare for war
The greatest indication that a regional war is on the verge of breaking out is the fact that just over the last two days, a number of neighboring countries have publicly taken sides in the Syrian civil war. Based on the most recent state announcements, leaks and military movements, here is how the coming Middle East War would shape up:
Philosophy, religion or money?
If the two sides stay limited to the above countries and military forces, the conflict will remain a regional war within the Middle East. But if US forces suddenly enter the fight, don’t assume Russia will sit by and simply watch as the American military conquers yet another of its southern neighbors, especially such a strategically important ally as Syria.
As the two sides are solidified, it raises questions into the motivations of the participants. The Syrian government is obviously fighting a defensive war to preserve its own existence and is motivated by the millennia-old desire to retain power and wealth. The Syrian rebels appear to be fighting a religious war as they are made up of predominantly Sunni Muslim jihadists like al Qaeda, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood fighting against the Christian and Jewish-backed Shiite Assad regime.
Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia each have their own motivations, including financial and religious factors. But they are also motivated by the fact that they are all neighbors of Syria and have much to lose or gain if either Iran or Saudi Arabia suddenly becomes the undisputed dominant power in the region.
For Russia, the motivation appears to be a determination to stifle America’s growing empire in the Middle East, while at the same time stopping the advancement of its own enemies within the Islamic terror scene. For years, Russia has been fighting its own war on terror as groups like al Qaeda and other Sunni terror organizations made Russia’s semi-autonomous region of Chechnya another jihadist battle ground. To this day, Chechen rebels continue to fight an underground war for independence.
The United States’ motivation is the most curious. Many wonder how it is that America can fight a war against Sunni extremists like al Qaeda in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the same time, supply them and even fight alongside them in neighboring Syria. Perhaps most enlightening are the statements of US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The Republican Senator continues to push for a US military offensive, first against the Assad government, and then against the Syrian rebels. Between the Democrats’ Barack Obama and the GOP’s Graham, it appears the US is on four sides of two wars.
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