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Thread: Syria

  1. #281
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia prepares army for Syrian deployment

    By Clara Weiss
    12 June 2012




    Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria.

    The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

    The details of the operational plan are being prepared by the working parties of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to which most of the post-Soviet states belong, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to which China and Russia belong.

    According to the newspaper report, deployment depends on the decision of the Russian government and the UN. However, the plans also foresee that the troops might intervene without UN approval. The Russian government has so far not confirmed the report.

    On Monday last week, three Russian warships were sighted off the Syrian coast. An anonymous source from the Russian government told the Iranian newspaper Tehran Times that Moscow wants to show NATO that it will not allow any military operation against Damascus under the guise of a humanitarian mission.

    Earlier, the secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Nikolai Bordjusha, had held out the possibility of using “peacekeepers” in Syria. “The task in Syria is likely to be to impose peace—primarily against the insurgents, who use weapons to solve political problems.”

    Russia and China strongly oppose a military intervention by NATO in Syria, and have already blocked two UN resolutions on the issue. The US and its allies, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France, have stoked up a civil war in Syria and are systematically arming the so-called rebels, who consist mainly of Islamists, ex-members of the government, or Al Qaeda terrorists.

    Turkey is increasingly in the leadership of the US proxy war in Syria.
    In recent weeks calls for a military intervention in Syria have increased. After the massacre in Houla, French President Francois Hollande spoke out in favour of military intervention. The West blamed the government of Bashar al-Assad for this massacre without any clear evidence. The German elite is also openly discussing a possible military intervention; Berlin has tried unsuccessfully to push Russia to make concessions on the issue.

    Russia has not excluded a “political solution”, i.e., the slow transition from the Assad regime to another government. At all costs, however, the Kremlin wants to avoid the violent overthrow of Assad by the West for several reasons, whether it is through direct military intervention by NATO or is brought about by the rebels armed by the West. Two weeks ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that a military intervention in Syria could quickly escalate and lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

    Since Soviet times, Moscow and Syria have maintained close ties, especially in military and economic matters. More importantly, however, a war against Syria means a ramping up of US aggression in the Middle East.

    The US has already significantly extended its influence in the region through the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. They also have military bases in almost every country in the area: Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkmenistan, as well as some in other smaller states. Meanwhile, Syria and Iran, which are virtually surrounded by US military bases, have become the last bastions of Russia and China in the Middle East against the encroachment of the United States.

    A regime change in Damascus would probably bring a Sunni government to power, which would work closely with Saudi Arabia and the United States against Russia and China. Moreover, an escalation of the civil war in Syria—which is already well underway—and a military intervention would set the entire Middle East ablaze. A NATO-led war against Syria would be an immediate prelude to a war against Iran. An attack on Iran would mean another step toward a military escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing.

    While China obtains a significant portion of its raw material imports from Iran, Tehran is Russia’s most important ally in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to counter the influence of the US and Israel. Both Moscow and Tehran oppose the construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline by the West. They also reject the massive military rearmament of Azerbaijan, which is promoted by the United States, Israel and Turkey. The Caspian region is of key geopolitical importance because it links resource-rich Central Asia with Europe, and because it also has extensive oil and gas reserves.

    The growing threat of war in the Middle East—and the fact that the European countries, including Germany and France, are siding with the United States—is increasingly driving Russia into a military alliance with China.

    It is significant that Vladimir Putin’s first foreign visit since taking office was to Belarus, and that he then only spent a few hours in Berlin and Paris before going on to Central Asia. The highlight of his visit abroad was in China, where he met with the Chinese president, and then took part at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 6 and 7. In addition to Russia and China, the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan also belong to this organization; Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have “observer” status.

    As was the case at the previous meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, discussion at the SCO summit centred on military and economic cooperation. The summit adopted a declaration on the “establishment of a region of lasting peace and common prosperity”. Military intervention against Syria or Iran was explicitly rejected.

    The declaration also condemns the establishment of the NATO missile defence system in Europe, which is directed primarily against Russia and has led to severe tensions between Washington and both Europe and Moscow. In future, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is planning to cooperate militarily more closely on issues of “regional security”.

    During his two-day visit to Beijing, Putin had previously agreed with Chinese President Hu Jintao to jointly strengthen “security in the Asia-Pacific region”. Both countries intend to hold frequent joint military exercises in the Pacific, after holding joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea in the spring.

    The United States is increasingly focusing its military build-up in the Asian Pacific region in preparation for a military confrontation with China.

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  2. #282
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    Default Re: Syria

    On brink of Bosnia-style war: Britain could send in troops to Syria says William Hague

    Foreign Secretary said that time for a diplomatic solution is rapidly running out


    Fears: William Hague

    Britain could be forced to send troops into Syria if the bloodshed escalates into all-out civil war, William Hague warned yesterday.

    The Foreign Secretary said that time for a diplomatic solution is rapidly running out and the country is “on the edge” of a Bosnia-style sectarian conflict.

    Britain will “greatly increase” support for the Syrian opposition if attempts to end President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression fail, Mr Hague said.

    Admitting that our troops may be called into action, the Foreign Secretary said: “The reason I don’t rule things out is because we really don’t know how this situation is going to develop or how terrible it is going to become.”

    His warnings come after reports that gung-ho David Cameron joked about which country he should target.

    While giving fellow Tory MPs a tour of his Downing Street flat, the Prime Minister apparently stopped in front of a map of the world and said: “Where shall I invade next? I’ve done Libya.”

    Mr Hague yesterday said the Syria crisis “is not so much like Libya last year, where of course we had a successful intervention to save lives”. He added: “Increasingly the analogy is not with Libya but with Bosnia in the 1990s.

    “We are on the edge of that kind of sectarian murder on a large scale so who knows what may be required by the international community to try to deal with that if that gets going in that way.”

    More than 100,000 people were massacred in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia. At one point 12,000 UK troops were part of the international peacekeeping force. Our Army lost 55 soldiers in the operation.

    Mr Hague yesterday called on Russia, which has protected the Assad regime, to persuade Syria to end the violence and accept UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.The Foreign Secretary “welcomed in principle” the Russian proposal for an international conference on Syria, but he warned it must “lead to a change and not just buy time for the regime to kill more people”.

    After Syrian troops began shelling homes in the capital Damascus at the weekend, Mr Hague said if diplomacy fails to stop Assad world leaders will return to the UN “for further measures” and ask the countries in the Friends of Syria “to step up the isolation of the regime”.

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    Default Re: Syria

    My opinion here...


    The stuff is building. Pressure is on. Obama won't DO jack though, he's scared of Russia, which makes it sound like America is "afraid".

    This is NOT going to go well for anyone now.

    Russia should have stfu and backed off. But no, they are sending attack choppers and people to fly them, my bet.

    Because of this, if the Brits walk in, they will get involved in it and muddy the waters more, so that the US MUST do something or be laughed off the face of the planet.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria


    THE world could slip back into a Cold War over Syria and the sprawling Arab country could break up into two or three warring parts, with unforeseeable consequences for the Middle East, a senior Israeli military commander said.

    "Support for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad from Russia and China is taking us back to the Cold War," he said this week, on condition of anonymity. "The world is not a one-man show."


    A regional proxy war is already under way in Syria, he said, with direct, daily, on-the-ground support for Assad from his allies in Iran and Lebanon's heavily-armed Hezbollah movement.

    "There can be real chaos. It can take years," he said.

    The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.

    Hundreds of civilians, rebels and members of Assad's armyand security forces have been killed since a ceasefire deal brokered two months ago was meant to halt the bloodshed.

    Russia and China backed the United Nations plan to send in military observers to check on adherence to the truce, but have refused to consider Western calls for a U.N. Security mandate that would authorise force, including military intervention.

    The West has repeatedly said it has no plan to intervene, but has not ruled it out.

    "In Syria, a proxy war is under way with Iran supplying arms to its Alawite client and Turkey actively arming the opposition," says Can Kasapoglu, a Turkish analyst who is currently a visiting fellow at Israel's Begin-Sadat think tank.

    The rebel Free Syrian Army is getting support from Sunni states Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all allies of Washington.

    Recent video of spectacularly successful attacks destroying Syrian tanks suggests the rebels may have obtained modern anti-tank weapons more powerful than rocket-propelled grenades.

    Washington says Russia may be sending attack helicopters to its ally Syria. Claims by Moscow that its arms transfers toSyria are unrelated to the conflict are "patently untrue," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

    Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday defended his country's sale of arms to Syria and accused the United States of supplying rebels with weapons to fight against the government.

    "We are not violating any international law in performing these contracts," said Sergei Lavrov at a news conference in Tehran shown on Iranian state television.

    "They (the United States) are providing arms and weapons to the Syrian opposition that can be used in fighting against theDamascus government," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

    The exchange was reminiscent of Cold War rhetoric when proxy wars were frequent. The superpowers, who could not risk a direct nuclear-armed confrontation between each other, battled for hegemony by involvement on warring sides in third countries.

    From 1945 to the collapse of Soviet communism in 1989 there were proxy wars in Greece, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon Afghanistan ,Angola, Mozambique, Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

    In the post-Cold War world, America was the only superpower but spheres of influence were heeded.

    Moscow did not take on NATO when its former Yugoslav allySerbia was bombed by the Western alliance in 1999 over the civil war in Kosovo.

    In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Russia was able to successfully back its secessionist allies militarily without triggering a war with the United States.

    In Libya last year, however, Moscow was stung by NATO's military intervention under a U.N. mandate it believed had been stretched beyond the limits it had agreed to.

    Israel sees the Syrian civil war becoming part of the struggle for dominance in the Arab world between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. "Shia are only 20 percent of Muslims in the world but have taken the lead away from the Sunnis," he said.

    "Assad has seen the death of Gaddafi in Libya and the fate of Mubarak in Egypt and he understands he has no choice. He knows his Alawite minority will be slaughtered," the officer said. "We all know the end of the story. We just don't know the chapters."

    The question is who might grab the lead in "this Sykes-Picot country", he said, referring to Syria's creation by colonial powers Britain and France after the First World War, on what look like arbitrary geographical lines that disregard tribal and ethnic distinctions.

    "Who will replace Assad? Will it be all those doctors inEurope (Syrian National Council in exile) or will it be al Qaeda?" said the officer, adding U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was very concerned.

    "It is not a nation state like Iran and Egypt are. It can become two or three states."

    The risks of a regional war were clear, he said, as key U.S.Middle East ally Israel faces the possibility of its sworn enemy Iran becoming a nuclear-armed state and contemplates whether military action will be needed in the end to stop it.

    Israel has to be prepared, he said.

    "You don't know what will trigger it, but everything is ready for a big, big fire. You don't know who will strike the match."


    Syria becoming wider global, regional proxy war


    Reuters
    12:22 p.m. EDT, June 13, 2012


    LONDON (Reuters) - With the United States accusing Russia of providing attack helicopters and ethnic violence spiraling out of control, Syria's conflict is pulling world and regional powers into a mounting proxy confrontation.

    While Washington, Moscow and Beijing as well as European and Middle Eastern capitals have all endorsed Kofi Annan's peace plan, analysts say it has become increasingly obvious that they have also been taking sides.


    Kofi Annan Publicly critical of violence by all parties but broadly lining up behind embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad are not only Iran but also long-term ally Russia. At stake for Moscow could be its Tartus naval base and lucrative trade, including arms sales. While there are few signs of any direct involvement, China looks to be throwing its diplomatic weight behind Moscow, both keen to avoid a repeat of events in Libya.

    Washington maintains it is not providing direct military support to the opposition Free Syrian Army, but has pledged "non-lethal" support. Some believe it may be helping facilitate arms deliveries from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others.

    There are also growing signs al Qaeda-linked militants may be entering the fray against Assad, worrying Western states.

    In some ways, the face-off already has more than a flavor of Cold War era confrontations, in which Western and communist states fought, manipulated and almost certainly prolonged a host of conflicts in the developing world.

    With communal militia increasingly blamed for bloody massacres within Syria itself, it may also feed a Middle East-wide growing ethnic confrontation between Saudi-backed Sunni and sometimes Iranian-backed Shi'ite forces.

    "If you look at what's happening on the ground, both sides are now acting like a ceasefire doesn't even exist," says David Hartwell, Middle East analyst at IHS Jane's. "The great powers say they want peace in Syria and they are right in saying that conflict there is dangerous... but if you look at what they've been doing, they have simply been making matters worse."

    Without outside encouragement, some doubt Syria's fractious and chaotic opposition would have kept up the initially peaceful struggle against Assad's forces for so long. Moscow has simply shrugged at U.S. talk of helicopter shipments, and maintains its arms deliveries are legitimate and have no bearing on a domestic conflict.

    Ultimately, it seems clear both sides believe that if they can continue the fight and convince their foreign backers that they have a credible chance of victory - or at least survival - then they will continue to receive outside support.

    FUNDAMENTAL POLITICAL DISAGREEMENT

    Moscow's backing for Assad might in part be driven by local strategic interests, analysts say, particularly a desire to preserve its main regional ally and weapons buyer as well as retain a naval base in the eastern Mediterranean.

    But most believe President Vladimir Putin and others believe much more is at stake. For Russia, and to a slightly lesser extent China, Syria is seen as a battleground in which they can draw a line in the sand and end years of unilateral Western foreign intervention.

    "It's not about contracts or our base," said Alexander Golts, an independent Moscow-based analyst. "Russian support to Syria is mostly based on ideology."

    In Kosovo, Iraq and most recently Libya, Moscow in particular has been forced to simply sit on the sidelines and watch the United States and allies act almost unchallenged against its one-time allies.

    Facing their own internal rise in protest and accusing the West of backing pro-democracy groups within their borders, Russia and China would also like to re-establish another once almost universally agreed principle: that states have the right to crush dissent and restore order in their territory with whatever force necessary and without external meddling.

    That stands in stark contrast to western talk of a right - or even obligation - to protect civilians even from their own governments, invoked last year in Libya although only applied sporadically to the other countries of the "Arab Spring".

    "Russia does not agree with the breakdown of the system of international law which is currently happening," said Yevgeny Minchenko, director of the Moscow-based International Institute of Political Analysis. "Why should Russia allow the Syrian regime to be annihilated by countries that it has a competitive relationship with like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the West?"

    Russian weapons shipments would almost certainly continue, he said, although if a Western-backed military intervention were launched against Assad it was unlikely Moscow would fight and risk all out global war.

    OUTRIGHT INTERVENTION UNLIKELY

    With the United States already well into a presidential election campaign and Europe preoccupied with dangers of euro zone collapse however, any repeat of Western and the Gulf action in Libya is seen highly unlikely.

    Not only is Syria's military considerably more capable than that of Muammar Gaddafi and the country considerably more complex to fighting, but most observers believe the West is now in a considerably weaker position than even a year ago.

    The deployment of a Russian aircraft carrier earlier this year to Syria after the United States quietly moved one of its own carriers to the region sent a clear message, analysts say.

    "It is about pushing back the power of the United States, which has been struggling in the region since the "Arab Spring"," said IHS Jane's Hartwell, pointing to the revolutions against U.S.-backed strongmen such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak that left Washington wondering how to react.

    Some believe a similar agenda may be behind at least some tacit Chinese and Russian support to U.S. enemy Iran, with Beijing in particular seen undermining Western sanctions with continuing oil purchases.

    But others argue the most dangerous trend is taking place within the region itself; the growing sense of ethnic polarization and conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite in the year and a half since the "Arab Spring" began,

    Saudi and wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) fears Iran might be stirring unrest among Shi' ites in eastern Saudi, Bahrain and northern Yemen may help drive their support for the broadly Sunni Syrian opposition, some suggest.

    Through its confrontation with Tehran over nuclear issues and long-term Saudi alliance, some in the United States worry Washington itself may be being drawn awkwardly towards a sectarian regional Sunni agenda.

    "This is also the inspiration for the GCC to be so outspoken against Assad in Syria, not the goodness of their humanitarian hearts but the fact he is backed by Iran," said Hayat Alvi, professor of Middle Eastern studies at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island.


    When should states intervene militarily to stop atrocities in other countries? The question is an old and well-traveled one. Indeed, it is now visiting Syria.

    In 1904, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, referring to Cuba, argued that the United States should intervene by force of arms when "there are occasional crimes committed on so vast a scale and of such peculiar horror." A century earlier, in 1821, as Europeans and Americans debated whether to intervene in Greece's struggle for independence, U.S. President John Quincy Adams warned his fellow Americans about "going abroad in search of monsters to destroy."


    More recently, after a genocide that cost nearly 800,000 lives in Rwanda in 1994 and the slaughter of Bosnian men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995, many people vowed that such atrocities should never again be allowed to occur. When Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic engaged in large-scale ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution recognizing the humanitarian catastrophe but could not agree on a second resolution to intervene, given the threat of a Russian veto. Instead, NATO countries bombed Serbia in an effort that many observers regarded as legitimate but not legal.


    In the aftermath, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan created an international commission to recommend ways that humanitarian intervention could be reconciled with Article 2.7 of the UN Charter, which upholds member states' domestic jurisdiction. The commission concluded that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens. If a nation disregards that responsibility by attacking its own citizens, the international community can consider armed intervention.


    The Responsibility to Protect principle was adopted unanimously at the UN's World Summit in 2005, but subsequent events showed that not all member states interpreted the resolution the same way. Russia has consistently argued that only Security Council resolutions, not General Assembly resolutions, are binding international law. Meanwhile, Russia has vetoed a Security Council resolution on Syria. Somewhat ironically, Annan has been called back and enlisted in a so-far futile effort to stop the carnage there.


    Until last year, many observers regarded the Responsibility to Protect principle as, at best, a pious hope or a noble failure. But in 2011, as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi prepared to exterminate his opponents in Benghazi, the Security Council invoked the Responsibility to Protect principle as the basis for a resolution authorizing NATO to use armed force in Libya. U.S. President Barack Obama was careful to wait for resolutions by the Arab League and the Security Council, thereby avoiding the costs to U.S. soft power that former U.S. President George W. Bush suffered when the country intervened in Iraq in 2003. But Russia, China and other countries felt that NATO exploited the resolution to engineer regime change rather than merely protecting citizens in Libya, as the resolution wording stipulated.


    In fact, the Responsibility to Protect is more about struggles over political legitimacy and soft power than it is about hard international law. Some Western lawyers argue that it entails the responsibility to combat genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under various conventions of international humanitarian law. But Russia, China and others have become reluctant to provide a legal or political basis for actions such as what occurred in Libya.


    There are other reasons why Responsibility to Protect has not been a success in the Syrian case. Drawn from traditional "just war" theory, Responsibility to Protect rests not only on right intentions, but also on the existence of a reasonable prospect of success. Many observers highlight the important physical and military differences between Libya and Syria that would make Syrian no-fly zones or no-drive zones problematic. Some Syrians who oppose President Bashar Assad's regime, pointing to Baghdad in 2005, argue that the one thing worse than a cruel dictator is a sectarian civil war.


    Such factors are symptomatic of larger problems with humanitarian interventions. For starters, motives are often mixed. Moreover, we live in a world of diverse cultures, and we know very little about social engineering and how to build nations. When we cannot be sure how to improve the world, prudence becomes an important virtue, and hubristic visions can pose a grave danger. Foreign policy, like medicine, must be guided by the basic principle "Do no harm."


    Prudence does not necessarily mean that nothing can be done in Syria. Other governments can continue to try to convince Russia that its interests are better served by getting rid of the current regime than by permitting the continued radicalization of his opponents. Tougher sanctions can continue to delegitimize the regime, and Turkey might be persuaded to take stronger steps against its neighbor.


    Moreover, prudence does not mean that humanitarian interventions will always fail. In some cases, even if motives are mixed, the prospects of success are reasonable, and the misery of a population can be relieved at modest expense. For example, military interventions in Sierra Leone, Liberia, East Timor and Bosnia did not solve all problems, but they did improve the lives of the people there. Other interventions — for example, in Somalia — did not.


    Recent large-scale interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, though not primarily humanitarian, have eroded public support for military action. But we should recall U.S. writer Mark Twain's story about his cat. After sitting on a hot stove, it would never sit on a hot stove again, but neither would it sit on a cold one.


    Although interventions will continue to occur, they are now more likely to be shorter, involve smaller-scale forces and rely on technologies that permit action at a greater distance. In an age of cyber warfare and drones, the end of Responsibility to Protect or humanitarian intervention is hardly foretold.



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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Syria

    The Orlando Sentinel is WAY behind the power curve. We've already re-entered a Cold War. It started MONTHS AGO!!!!!!!

    Ryan? What do you think?
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    Default Re: Syria

    Just a bit...

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    Default Re: Syria

    Just a bit... the Sentinel is behind the power curve or we're just a bit into a Cold War? LOL
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    Little of column "A", little of column "B".


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    Default Re: Syria

    LOL


    Chinese menus, gotta love 'em.
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    Default Re: Syria

    This is interesting isn't it. Is Russia actually ready to get it on or did they overstep and are now committed. If the english or some in NATO get in there then we are committed whether Obama wants to go or not he is going.

    At this point maybe Russia full on deploys heavy into Syria. If I was them in this chess game that is what I would do.

    I guess the minute any of us and Russia start shooting at one another it won't be long the UN is done and all hell breaks loose. You guys are right I can't Imagine Putin letting Syria go so they are in. One last part left do we go in and or have to follow someone else in.

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    Default Re: Syria

    I have to keep reminding myself that Russia never, ever does anything without fully realizing the implications of their actions. If they are attempting to draw us into the Syrian conflict then there is a distinct reason that is so. If they are feigning, there are other reasons for this strategy. It is very possible that we are being baited into this conflict in an effort to push the scenario global. Time will tell.

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    Default Re: Syria

    I don't believe they "don't know what they are doing" either. They are chess masters - as we once were. Our problem is our "masters" have retired and moved on, or passed on. They have the same guys sitting there controlling the strings from somewhere off camera.

    Seriously... Putin is an old commie. He's been around a long time. He's BACKKKKK....
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    Default Re: Syria

    And then there were two....

    China Rejects Syria Sanctions





    China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin gestures to a journalist during a news conference in Beijing (file photo).











    June 14, 2012

    China says it does not approve of using sanctions to address the crisis in Syria, a day after France's foreign minister discussed possible measures to enforce a faltering cease-fire plan.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Thursday his country objected to using pressure, and instead backed the efforts of international envoy Kofi Annan.

    "Under the current circumstances, all the parties should continue to vigorously support U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's mediation efforts," Liu said. "We urge relevant parties in Syria to effectively implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and Annan's six-point proposals, actively cooperate with the U.N. monitors, end any form of violence, protect civilians, and ease the current tense situation as soon as possible.''

    Russia

    Russia has also been opposed to Western and Arab efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Syria's government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended his country's arms sales to Syria, Wednesday, saying they do not violate international law.

    Syria's ambassador to Russia also rejected criticism of the sales during a visit Thursday to Moscow. Riyad Haddad said the arms are defensive weapons, and further blamed Western countries for any failures of the Annan plan.

    US

    In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday it was time for the international community, including Russia, to come to table and "be constructive" in finding a way forward in Syria despite deviating views.

    Violence in Syria continued Thursday, with reported clashes in Homs and Rastan. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four civilians were killed.

    U.N. observers visited the site of a car bombing Thursday near the capital, Damascus, which state media said wounded 14 people.

    Rights violations

    Meanwhile, Amnesty International issued a report saying it has new evidence of widespread and systematic rights violations by government forces seeking to punish those supporting the opposition.

    The group says its workers witnessed Syrian security forces firing on peaceful demonstrators late last month in Aleppo, and that families described soldiers dragging away family members and killing them.

    Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis advisor, said the U.N. Security Council has failed, and called for "concrete action" to hold those responsible accountable.

    "We are now facing a situation which has deteriorated so much precisely because of the failure of the Security Council to act earlier on when the situation was -- when it was more possible to avoid the kind of large scale killings and massacres that we're seeing today,'' she said.

    The group said it has received reports of more than 10,000 people being killed since the crisis in Syria began in February 2011, and that the number could be much higher.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Hague presses Russia over Syria
    (UKPA) – 33 minutes ago



    Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Moscow to use its full influence to secure a peaceful resolution to the unrest in Syria, when he met his Russian counterpart in Afghanistan.


    Mr Hague and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met on the margins of the Heart of Asia Conference in Afghan capital Kabul.


    They agreed that the situation in Syria had got worse since they met to discuss the issue in Moscow on May 28, said the Foreign Office.


    Mr Hague welcomed Russia's proposal for an international conference on Syria, but said that the presence of Iran would be "probably unworkable".


    A conference should set out a plan for political transition from the regime of president Bashar Assad and the full implementation of the peace plan of international envoy Kofi Annan, said Mr Hague, who discussed Syria with the former UN secretary general on Monday.


    Mr Hague told Mr Lavrov it was important for the UN Security Council - on which both Britain and Russia are permanent members - to remain "seized" of the situation in Syria.


    "The Foreign Secretary asked Russia to use its full influence on the Syrian regime to ensure a peaceful resolution of the situation through a political process," said the Foreign Office in a statement issued in London.


    Russia, a long-time ally of the Assad regime, has been accused of blocking international moves to bring about a political transition to end the year-long conflict between government forces and rebels in Syria.


    In the latest outbreak of violence, at least 10 people were injured by a suicide car bomb outside one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines in capital Damascus.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Holy crap. The lights just came on.

    NO WONDER RUSSIA DOESN'T WANT US THERE!

    All of Saddam's WMD are there, there are nukes hidden there, there are chemical weapons hidden there, and RUSSIAN'S NAME IS ALL OVER THAT STUFF!!!!!!!!!!
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    Default Re: Syria

    U.S.-Russia divide sharpens over Syria

    June 14, 2012 | 5:00 am












    The world has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when the nuclear-armed superpowers backed rival factions in proxy wars in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua and elsewhere. But lingering mistrust and competing interests continue to keep the United States and post-Soviet Russia on opposite sides of regional conflicts.


    Tension between the erstwhile enemies has been sharpening of late over Syria. The embattled regime of President Bashar Assad has reportedly been stepping up attacks on civilians in a desperate bid to reclaim territory lost to scattered opposition forces in the now-15-month-old conflict.


    United Nations and Western leaders have begun referring to the Syrian fighting as a civil war, a recognition likely to complicate the international community's ability to effectively intervene. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded in an exchange Tuesday at the Brookings Institution that the risks for 300 unarmed U.N. observers in Syria were becoming untenable. Extending their mandate when it expires next month makes little sense "if there is no discernible movement" toward respecting a 2-month-old cease-fire, she said.


    Clinton also accused Russia of sending helicopter gunships to the Syrian government, contending that expanded air-assault capabilities threatened to "escalate the conflict quite dramatically."


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded with an affronted denial and suggested it is Washington fanning the flames of the conflict by assisting the rebels.


    "We don’t supply Syria or anyone else with things that are used to fight against peaceful demonstrators, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies that region with such equipment," Russia's RT network quoted Lavrov as saying during a visit to Tehran. Lavrov described Moscow's supplies to Damascus as fulfilling contractual obligations "exclusively for air-defense systems."



    Clinton reiterated Wednesday that Moscow needs to cut its military ties to Assad, calling on the international community to "speak with one voice" in its efforts to quell the violence in Syria that has already taken at least 10,000 lives.


    The U.N. chief for peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, told reporters Tuesday in New York that the world body's monitors in Syria had confirmed the use of attack helicopters in recent battles waged by Assad's forces to recover rebel-held territory. Ladsous also added his voice to those conceding that the increasingly vicious fighting in Syria now constitutes a civil war.


    With the six-point peace plan drafted by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan widely ignored, diplomats and humanitarian activists have been pressing for more deliberate action by the U.N. Security Council.



    With the exception of Russia and China, member states have been pushing for harsher sanctions on Assad's regime, the erection of havens for refugees and "no-fly" zones to end his air power and arms shipments.
    Any new mission, though, would require support by all five permanent members of the Security Council, and Russia has already used or threatened its veto power to quash resolutions condemning Assad.


    The U.S.-Russia standoff reflects a new complexity in their relations, especially in the Middle East. Syria is an important Moscow ally in the region and a longstanding customer for Russian arms and other trade.



    Russia also has close ties with Iran, including collaboration with Tehran's nuclear programs. Russian officials have proposed drawing Iran into the next diplomatic initiative on Syria, an idea firmly rejected by Washington.


    Syria's slide into civil war weakens the argument for military intervention, which the Russians and Chinese already oppose, said David Kaye, head of UCLA's International Human Rights Law Program.


    "To the extent outsiders see the conflict as a confrontation between two armed camps, as opposed to what I think it is -- a violent, atrocity-driven crushing of a domestic opposition that is increasingly turning to armed force itself, first for protection and then to press the government -- the argument against intervention militarily looks more attractive," Kaye said.


    Kaye said he sees Russia increasingly isolated on the Security Council, as the Arab League, the European Union, the United States and most regional powers are united in their demands that Assad stop attacking those agitating for his ouster. But Kaye said Russia perceives itself as having deep interests in Syria that are likely to keep Moscow on Assad's side even as the fighting escalates.


    "Russia is reasserting itself, and in an increasingly authoritarian way, and not just over Syria," said Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He noted Moscow's cozy relationship with Iran and its vehement opposition to U.S.-backed plans for a European missile shield.


    Tabler said he believes that the United States and its allies erred in thinking the Russians would be persuaded to use their influence with Assad to get him to respect the cease-fire and perhaps eventually agree to step down. Instead, he said, Russian support and arms have strengthened the Assad regime and emboldened it to fight on despite the risk of provoking widespread sectarian fighting.


    Allen Weiner, a Stanford professor of international law and security, likewise sees little likelihood of Russia changing course on Syria now that the conflict has become a battle between armed factions rather than regime repression of demonstrators who began their protests in March 2011.


    "This is playing extremely well at home in Russia," Weiner said of Moscow's diplomats flexing their muscle in the Middle East. "Russians see the preservation of the Assad regime as important to their international prestige. We see them as being obstructionist. But they see this as Russia standing up to the West."


    RELATED:
    Russian foreign minister denies selling helicopters to Syria
    Syrian authorities say troops have secured strife-torn Haffah
    Syrian children tortured, used as human shields, U.N. report finds
    --Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
    Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the State Department in Washington about Russia's military ties to the Syrian leadership of President Bashar Assad. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press
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    Default Re: Syria

    U.S. says Russian attack helicopters on way to Syria

    By Pam Benson, CNN
    updated 1:06 PM EDT, Wed June 13, 2012




    Clinton confronts Russia for arming Syria





    (CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria.


    At a Washington think tank on Tuesday, Clinton said, "We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."


    Clinton said the United States has repeatedly asked Russia to stop arms shipments to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, but Russia has said that anything it is sending is not being used against the public unrest.
    "That's patently untrue," Clinton said before making the accusation about the helicopter shipments.




    Russia denies role in Syria attacks




    UN: Children captured, tortured in Syria


    Clinton's comments were made at the Brookings Institution, where she was speaking alongside Israeli President Shimon Peres.


    Intelligence officials refused to comment on Clinton's assertion. The Russian Embassy in Washington also would not comment.


    But the Russian state-controlled arms trader Rosoboronexport said the firm will fulfill its arms contract with Syria, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency said.


    "No one can ever accuse Russia of violating the rules of armaments trade set by the international community," Rosoboronexport Deputy CEO Igor Sevastyanov said when asked about Russia's supply of mobile gun and missile air defense systems to Syria, RIA Novosti said.


    Sevastyanov added, "The contract was signed long ago, and we supply armaments that are self-defense rather than attack weapons."


    Although a Pentagon spokesman was unaware of a Russian helicopter shipment to Syria, Capt. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that al-Assad forces have been using helicopter gunships against their own people, calling the attacks "intolerable, unacceptable and just further evidence of the degree to which they are willing to kill their own people for twisted ends."


    On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the helicopter attacks on civilians a "new horrific tactic" that "constitutes a very serious escalation" of the conflict.


    Russia has been the long-time principal supplier of arms to Syria since the days when it was the Soviet Union. The weapons sales have more than doubled in recent years. According to Congressional Research Service, Russia sold Syria $4.7 billion in arms from 2007 to 2010, compared with $2.1 billion from 2003 to 2006.


    Nuland said the international community continues to press Russia to discontinue the weapons sales. "We are all making the point in the international community that they are on the wrong side with regard to this -- this set of issues. We've had people in Moscow in the last week making these points again and we will continue to do so," Nuland said.


    Earlier this month, Clinton said the continued supply of arms from Russia has strengthened the al-Assad regime, despite denials by Russian President Vladimir Putin that any munitions it was providing to Syria were being used against its own people.


    The Obama administration is also being criticized for its relationship with a Russian arms broker that is a major supplier of weapons to Syria.


    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, criticizing the Department of Defense's decision to award an Army contract to Rosoboronexport to buy helicopters for the Afghanistan military. "I remain deeply troubled that the DoD would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria," Cornyn wrote. "Such actions by Rosoboronexport warrant the renewal of U.S. sanctions against it, not a billion dollar DoD contract."



    Cornyn asked for an audit of the Pentagon's contract with the Russian company.


    Human Rights First also issued a statement saying the Army contract with Rosoboronexport is "out of step" with U.S. policy to stop atrocities in Syria and called on the American government to bar any U.S. entities, including contractors, from doing business with the company.
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    Default Re: Syria

    News

    Russia denies sending attack helicopters to Syria as diplomatic dustup with U.S. continues

    Mohammad Davari, Agence France-Presse Jun 13, 2012 – 3:56 PM ET
    AFP PHOTO/Handout
    A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on June 13, 2012 shows smoke rising following shelling from the the city of Talbisseh in the flashpoint province of Homs.



    Richard Johnson/National



    Click on this image to see an interactive map of Syria that shows the locations of this week's major events.






    TEHRAN — Russia and the United States were in dispute over arming the rival sides in the Syrian conflict on Wednesday, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks in Tehran with Syria’s ally Iran.


    Due to what Moscow said was a mistake in translation, Lavrov appeared at first to accuse the United States of supplying weapons to Syria’s rebels who are battling the Damascus regime supported by Moscow.


    On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she had information that Russia was sending to Syria “attack helicopters … which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
    Related




    Lavrov told a news conference during a brief visit to Iran that Russia was supplying “anti-air defence systems” to Damascus in a deal that “in no way violates international laws.”


    “That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government,” he said, in remarks translated from Russian into Farsi by an official interpreter.


    Other media, including Iran’s official IRNA news agency, published the same accusation, in what appeared to be the first time Moscow had directly pointed the finger at Washington.


    But in Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry later said Lavrov’s statement was mistranslated and that the minister had only said Washington was supplying arms “in the region.”


    REUTERS/Shaam News Network


    Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Kafranbel, near Idlib, Tuesday. Last week, it took days for UN monitors to reach Mazraat al-Qubair, where nearly 80 people were reported slain, because government troops and residents blocked them.






    The White House, meanwhile, denied arming Syria’s opposition.
    “We do not and have not supplied weapons to the Syrian opposition. You know our position on that and we have made it very clear,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.


    Russian news agencies offered a different version of Lavrov’s comments.
    “We do not supply — neither to Syria nor anywhere else — things used to fight peaceful civilians, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies such special equipment to this region,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.


    “Just recently, one such shipment was made to one of the Persian Gulf nations. But for some reason, the Americans treat this as par for the course,” Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.


    Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said at the same news conference with Lavrov that Tehran and Moscow were “very close” on the Syrian issue.


    Western and Arab nations, he said, “are sending weapons to Syria and forces to Syria, and are not allowing the reforms promised by the Syrian president to be applied.”


    REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout



    Demonstrators hold banners during a protest against Russia, China and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Kafranbel, near Idlib June 8, 2012.







    Reports in Iran allege that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States are arming Syria’s rebels — termed “terrorists” by Damascus — while US officials claim Iran is giving arms and military advisors to Syria’s regime.


    Monitors say more than 14,100 people have been killed in the 15-month uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


    Russia came under fierce criticism from Western and Arab countries for vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions that would have sanctioned Assad for his use of force.


    Since then, it has sought to distance itself from Assad while continuing to support his regime. “We do not support any individual or government, we support the people of Syria,” Lavrov said.


    Moscow is now trying to organise an international conference on Syria that would include several nations with influence over the conflict, including Iran. The United States, Britain and France, though, object to Iran taking part.


    “We want the support of all the players,” Lavrov said.


    “All sides in the conflict need to stop operations … Any player with leverage should apply pressure to stop the violence and facilitate negotiations,” he said.
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    Default Re: Syria



    This one "caught" my eye.....
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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.khou.com/news/national/159023795.html

    A glance at Russian arms sales to Syria

    Associated Press

    Posted on June 14, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Updated today at 8:02 AM

    MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria, warning that the shipment "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected Clinton's claim, saying that Russia is only shipping air defense systems under previously signed contracts.

    Russia has shielded Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, its last ally in the Arab world, from international sanctions and has continued to provide it with weapons despite international outrage. It has shipped billions of dollars worth of missiles, combat jets, tanks, artillery and other military gear to Syria over more than four decades. Moscow says it's currently providing Assad with weapons intended to protect Syria from a foreign invasion and is not delivering the kinds of weapons needed to fight lightly armed insurgents in cities.

    Here is a brief look at some of the weapons systems Russia has recently shipped to Syria or pledged to deliver in the future, according to official statements and Russian media reports. Russian government officials have remained secretive about arms trade, so a complete list of Russian weapons and other military gear sent to Syria is unavailable:

    — Pantsyr-S1 air defense system. The truck-mounted short- and medium-range system combines air defense missiles and anti-aircraft artillery with sophisticated radar to hit aerial targets with deadly precision at ranges of up to 20 kilometers (more than 12 miles) and an altitude of 15 kilometers ( nearly 50,000 feet). It has further strengthened Syria's air defense system, which has been developed with Moscow's help since Cold War times.

    Igor Sevastyanov, a deputy head of the Rosoboronexport state arms trader, said Wednesday that the Pantsyr contract is still being implemented. Sevastyanov didn't offer specifics, but Russian media reports have said that the contract envisaged the delivery of 36 such units, which include a truck mounted with guns and missiles together with a radar.

    — Buk-M2 air defense system. The medium-range missile system is capable of hitting enemy aircraft and cruise missiles at ranges of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) and an altitude of up to 25 kilometers (82,000 feet). It is a sophisticated weapon that is capable of inflicting heavy losses to enemy aircraft if Syria comes under attack.

    — Bastion anti-ship missile system. Armed with supersonic Yakhont cruise missiles that have a range of up to 300 kilometers (162 nautical miles), it provides a strong deterrent against an attack from the sea. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last fall that Moscow would fully honor the Bastion contract. Russian media reports said that Russia already has fulfilled the Bastion deal, which was worth $300 million, and included the delivery of more than 70 Yakhont missiles.

    — Yak-130 combat jets. Russian media reports said early this year that Syria had ordered a batch of 36 Yak-130 combat jets worth $550 million. Officials wouldn't confirm or deny the deal, which would significantly bolster the Syrian air force capability. The Yak-130 is a combat training jet that can also carry modern weapons for ground attack missions.

    The Kremlin has insisted that the continuing Russian arms sales don't violate any international agreements and scoffed at Western demands to halt the trade. Underlining Moscow's defiance, a Russian ship carrying a load of weapons arrived In Syria just a few weeks ago amid international anger over Assad's refusal to honor a U.N.-sponsored peace plan.

    The new Russian weapons supplies add to Syria's massive arsenal of hundreds of Soviet-built combat jets, attack helicopters and missiles and thousands of tanks, other armored vehicles and artillery systems. Russia said it also has military advisers in Syria training the Syrians to use the Russian weapons, and has helped repair and maintain Syrian weapons. Some experts alleged that the helicopters Clinton said were en route to Syria could be old ones that underwent maintenance in Russia.
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