It has been confirmed that a few days remain before a massive air/land/sea exercise gets underway in the Eastern Mediterranean off the Coast of Syria, led by Russia and including Iran, Syria and China.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, reporting from Jerusalem says that the Russians are backing the Assad regime entirely, and that the Russia maneuver means that the P5+1 talks in Moscow will go nowhere. Iran has no reason to bend with Russia's support so massive and aggressive.
Iran and China have received permission to pass warships through the Suez Canal to participate in the games. The exercise is to rehearse the repelling of an invasion of Syria from the West or the North.
These “wargames” demonstrate that the NATO card played in Libya will not be played again. Russia believes that the U.S. betrayed the agreement reached with Gadhafi, and Russia will not be fooled again. Putin plays a strong card. It’s “game on” for the Obama administration.
Anne Gearan, AP National Security Writer, pens this at Boston.com:
“Pressure increased on Russia over the weekend, when the United Nations suspended its unarmed monitoring mission in Syria out of concern for the monitors’ safety. The move was widely interpreted as a challenge to Russia to intervene with Assad to preserve a U.N. role Moscow sees as a brake on any armed foreign intervention.”
“Meanwhile, Obama’s leverage and options are limited.”
“The United States has refused to arm anti-Assad rebels, in part to avoid confrontation with Russia, which has armed the Syrian regime for years. Although Moscow fears one, there is little chance of a military campaign like the one that led to the ouster of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi last year.”
“Russia has angrily charged that the U.S. and other nations went beyond the bounds of the United Nations Security Council humanitarian mandate in Libya, and have blocked U.S. efforts to win an arms embargo or other tougher Security Council measures on Syria now.”
“In the days leading up to the G-20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Russia by charging that it was equipping the Syrian government with attack helicopters that could be used against civilians. She later acknowledged they were helicopters already owned by Syria that were being repaired in Russia, but the U.S. has let the charge of possible use against civilians stand.”