Third, the countries that makes this possible:
Without the enormous Russian material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long.
Russia has invested more than 55 years into this country and this regime going back to Soviet times. So the Russians are not going to give all that vested strategic interest up voluntarily. Regardless of how many civilians Assad is going to slaughter.
After all, Vladimir Putin is the butcher of Grozny and Chechnya. Or as Paul Conroy so aptly put it: “What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one — not even the story — gets out alive.”
“Five years later, Russia was back. And Putin’s new strategy was unbending: silence, encircle, pulverize, and ”cleanse.”
To just give one small example of this Russian duplicity. While they “talk” about their support for the Annan peace plan another huge arms shipment was delivered toSyria.
Thursday, May 24, a Russian arms ship, the Professor Katsman (owned by the Russian arms company Rosoboronexport), was detected outside Cyprus. The crew had shut down ALL communications systems, including its transponder, in breach of international regulations and crept forward in silence. The ship also refused to disclose its cargo manifests.
The Russian vessel anchored in the Syrian port of Tartus Friday May 25. Military equipment was then unloaded behind tarpaulin screens and transferred to waiting Syrian military truck convoys.
The cargo? Large quantities of artillery and tank shells as well as spare parts for tanks.
And of course none of these shells is ever going to be fired at the Syrian civilian population, as they have been everyday for the last 15 months.
On June 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, as for reports that Russia is arming the Syrian military, “Russia is not shipping weapons that could be used in a civil conflict.”
And more arms are on the way, the North Korean arms ships Odai is also reported on its way to Tartus with hardware for the Syrian army.
Rosoboronexport by the way is Syria’s main weapons supplier. Since 2007, Rosoboronexport has had a virtual monopoly on arms exports from Russia.
According to shipping records collected by ThomsonReuters, at least four cargo ships have left Russia’s Black Sea port of Oktyabrsk – which Reuters said is used by Rosoboronexport for weapons shipments – for the Syrian port of Tartus since December 2011. In addition, a Russian-operated vessel, the MV Chariot, was carrying four containers of “dangerous cargo” from St. Petersburg to Syria when it stopped in Cyprus in January 2012. Although the ship ostensibly changed course for Turkey, it nevertheless traveled to Syria, according to Reuters, which described the cargo as ammunition reportedly supplied by Rosoboronexport. Davidenko, the company spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the report, telling Reuters, “We do not comment on where our deliveries go, when they leave port or how.”
Here is a list by SIPRI, which is considered an authoritative source on the trade in heavy weapons, of Russian arms transfers to Syria. I want to point out that this by far IS NOT a complete list. This is the ones they found out. Also, it doesn’t include the huge quantities of ammunition, spare parts and lighter weapons etc:
•36 Pantsyr-S1 mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;
•Some 700 surface-to-air missiles for use with the Pantsyr mobile air-defense systems, delivered between 2008 and 2011;
•87 anti-ship missiles, delivered from 2009 to 2010;
•Two Bastion-P mobile coastal defense systems, delivered from 2010 to 2011;
•72 anti-ship cruise missiles, delivered from 2010 to 2011, for use with the Bastion-P coastal defense system;
•300 air-to-air missiles, ordered in 2010 for use with MiG-29 combat aircraft;
•Two surface-to-air missile systems, delivered in 2011, from an order for eight such systems;
•40 surface-to-air missiles, delivered in 2011, from an order for 160 such missiles, for use with the missile systems;
•36 Yak-130 jet trainers/combat aircraft ordered in 2011; and
•24 MiG-29 fighter aircraft, ordered in 2007 (delivery pending).
In addition, Jane’s Defense Weekly in 2010 cited a deal for Russia to supply armored vehicles to Syria. The Moscow-based arms research organization Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) has reported that from 2007 to 2011, Russia completed a contract to upgrade 1,000 T-72 battle tanks. A media report indicates that Russia also has arms contracts with Syria worth $250-$400 million for delivery of ammunition, pistols, sub-machine guns, machine guns, anti-tank missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Just to mention a “few” Russian arms deals.
These are the people that Obama and his administration are basing their whole policy on that they, the Russians, are going to “change” somehow.
In the “meantime”, every day Syrian civilians are slaughtered with Russian arms, Russian ammunition, Russian trained “soldiers” and “officers”, Russian advisers, sometimes directing at the “front”, and with the use of Russian intelligence.
See Part 3 –Russia in my original series for more info
IRAN / Hezbollah
Without the enormous Iranian material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long.
Between Russia and Iran, there is a division of labour of how they support Syria. Iran, usually, has more troops, personal, advisors etc direct on the “front line” where the direct slaughtering is going on.
Assad TOTALLY depends on Iran (together with Russia and China) for his survival.
For Iran, Syria plays a vital roll in its ambitions to control parts of the Middle East. In addition, Syria is crucial for Iran’s support and control of Hezbollah and Lebanon. And Hamas in Gaza.
For the first time the Iranian regime have openly admitted that it has troops in Syria and is actively supporting the Syrian thugs.
On May 27, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) first published and then removed an interview with a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force in which he said Iran is involved inSyria.
“Someone” understood what a blunder this was and pulled the plug a few hours later.
The interview was with Deputy Quds Force commander Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani. He said ”Thanks to Iran’s presence in Syria– physically and nonphysically– big massacres were prevented.” He also said that “the Quds Force had had an ”effective” presence in Syria.”
He also claimed that ”if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have been multiplied.” SIC!
And he said: ”Despite all the problems that the Syrian government has — and we have asked them to address those — Syria is a location of resistance. The reason for all the pressure from the U.S. and Israel is that they have realized the country is impossible to occupy”.
In another twist of fate, Hezbollah, with over a 25-year record of kidnapping and murder against Israelis, Americans and other Westerners, have had a taste of their own medicine.
In two incidents, Hezbollah operatives were kidnapped by the Syrian opposition.
You should remember that Hezbollah, together with Iran, actively has helped the Assad regime against his own people.
The first group of eleven was captured on May 22 in a bus heading home through Aleppo from Iran. The story was that these people were “pilgrims” returning. In reality, they were Hezbollah operatives. They are now held by FSA.
The second and much more serious for Hezbollah was a very sophisticated commando raid outside Damascus, where 5 top Hezbollah officers was kidnapped. This has sent shock waves through Tehran and the Al Qods Brigades command there.
The unidentified commandos, guided apparently by precise intelligence, ambushed a Hezbollah car 15 km west of Damascus after they left the Syrian military base of Al-Hame 4 km from the Syrian capital. And captured five top-ranking Hezbollah officers. A sixth escaped.
Al-Hame is one of the two big military bases Hezbollah has outside Damascus. The other one is in Al Zabadani. It is there that Hezbollah maintains its heavy Scud D long-range missiles, as well as it’s more sophisticated and advanced hardware and missiles/rockets it intends to use against Israel.
One of the kidnapped Hezbollah officers was Ali Safa, a senior officer of Hezbollah intelligence and nephew of Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. The kidnapped also included Hussein Hamid, Dep. Commander of Hezbollah forces in South Lebanon; and Ali Zerayb, member of the Hezbollah Jihad Council.
This is part of Hezbollah core leadership so no wonder Tehran is worried.
It is said that Obama is doing nothing in Syria because he does not want to “disturb” the nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran. Negotiations that have led nowhere during all these years. In the meantime, Iran is SO MUCH closer to make nuclear weapons, if it decides to do so.
At the same time, every day Syrian civilians are slaughtered with Russian and Iranian arms, Russian ammunition, Iranian led “soldiers”, Iranian advisers and with Iranian intelligence.
See Part 4 –Iran in my original series for more info
Without the Chinese material support, weapons, training, intelligence, personal, diplomatic support etc. the Syrian regime would not survive very long. The Chinese support is however on a smaller scale than Russia and Iran.
China helps Assad mostly through its sanction busting system it has set up to help Iran.
China has helped Iran to sidestep the regular global financial system to create a huge clandestine money-transfer, commercial and currency exchange machine for getting around the US-led Western sanctions hurting Iran’s international trade.
They are assisting in the construction of this underground network as a pipeline through which Iran can continue to conduct its commercial business with the outside world. And to help Iran evade the financial isolation because of the sanctions regarding its nuclear weapons program.
China also profits enormously from these sanctions-busting measures. Two years ago, anticipating the blockage of its regular trade relations, Iran began transferring billions of dollars to Chinese banks, which as a rule do not enter into foreign currency transactions with foreign banks.
China undertook to make available the amounts need to buy essential goods that the embargo prevents Iran from acquiring directly.
Beijing does the shopping and draws on the Iranian deposits to pay for the purchases. The goods are delivered to China and transferred to Iran via Pakistan.
China is making a very tidy profit from its shopping service for Iran. China is charging Iran an extra four-percent to cover insurance dues and another four percent surcharge as a “risk fee,” over and above the expensive roundabout delivery route. Already, China may be clearing as much as a billion dollars a year from this service alone.
And the Chinese use this system to also help Assad with ALL the things he needs to suppress the uprising.
See Part 5 –China in my original series for more info
Next part in one or two days
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