Washington (CNN) Democrats on Tuesday gave President Barack Obama the votes he needs to prevent the Senate from passing a measure disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal.
MOSCOW — Signs of an ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria have drawn U.S. concerns and raised questions of whether Moscow plans to enter the conflict. President Vladimir Putin has been coy on the subject, saying Russia is weighing various options, a statement that has fueled suspicions about the Kremlin’s intentions.
Observers in Moscow say the Russian manoeuvring could be part of a plan to send troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State group in the hope of fixing fractured ties with the West.
Iran’s president has said his country is ready to hold talks with the United States and Saudi Arabia on ways to resolve the Syrian civil war.
Shia powerhouse Iran is a leading patron of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and accuses Sunni rival Saudi Arabia and the US of siding with anti-Assad rebels and fighters.
US and regional reports that Moscow’s diplomatic and logistical support for Assad is shifting into major military backing has raised the prospect of Israel and Russia accidentally coming to blows.
How quickly things come together!
Could the Obama Administration have “offered” Syria — no resistance — as part of negotiations in exchange for the nuclear deal?
BackChannels cannot peek behind those curtains, but the shift from 2011 in which ordinary Syrians challenged the Assad regime’s absolute control of the state to this day in which the major media cannot help but promote the the theatrical “Assad vs The Terrorists” (as if every loose fighting brigade was born of al-Qaeda) appears to have invited increased Russian military support and presence benefiting the despots — Putin, Assad, Khamenei — all around.
Moscow is not planning to transform its logistics center in Syria’s Tartus into a full-format military base, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and special presidential representative for the Middle East and African countries Mikhail Bogdanov told Interfax.
BackChannels close readers might recall that mention was made last December of Mikhail Bogdanov meeting in November 2014 with PFLP representatives and discussing the S-300 missile program.
According to the New York Times, “Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and has transported prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to an airfield near Latakia, according to American intelligence analysts.” The Times adds that “Russia has also delivered a portable air traffic station to the airfield and has filed military overflight requests through September.” The reports follow closely on the heels of similar allegations in recent weeks, including reports of new arms, and even combat troops.
U.S. military officials said Tuesday that Russia has moved new personnel, planes and equipment into Syria in recent days.
Assad said: “The Russian presence in different parts of the world, including the Eastern Mediterranean and the Syrian port of Tartus, is very necessary, in order to create a sort of balance, which the world has lost after the dissolution of the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago.”
A report published on 27 June by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says: “Russia’s greatest strategic and geopolitical interest in Syria is the use of a deep-water port at Tartus”.
That report goes on to say that Tartus can dock nuclear submarines, it is the receiving point for Russian weapons shipments to Syria and it is linked to a well-developed network of roads and railways.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-18616191 – 6/27/2012.
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