Analysis: The Syria-Russian Alliance
Vol: 40 Issue: 27 Thursday, January 27, 2005
Syria’s President Bashar al Assad returned from Moscow with more than even he had dreamed of, despite the disappointing news that Moscow was caving in to pressure not to sell Syria advanced missile technology — for the moment.
But Assad was able to bring his people the glad tidings that Syria and Russia were resuming the relationship Syria once had with the Soviet Union.
Moscow forgave ten billion of Syria’s fourteen billion dollar debt to Russia during the signing of a formal declaration renewing their once-cozy relationship.
Assad managed to score a ‘win-win’ deal, despite the temporary withdrawal of the arms deal. While the Syrians won’t have the advanced SAM missiles or the modified Scuds it hoped for, it will have something even better. The support of the Russians who have them.
The declaration puts Moscow in the catbird seat in the Middle East. Part of the declaration calls for the ‘soonest possible resumption of talks’ between Israel and the new tripartite entity Moscow hopes to create by grouping Syria and Lebanon in with the Palestinians as part of any comprehensive peace deal.
The declaration demands an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, a ‘fair settlement’ of the ‘refugee problem’ [the Right of Return] and the formation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital at Jerusalem.
And while Moscow promised NOT to sell Syria the Iskander and SAM missiles, it also denied that any government had sought to purchase them, including Syria. The Syrians deny that, and Western intelligence has confirmed that Iran already HAS them, so a denial from Moscow means as much today as it did during the Soviet era.
The Russians did agree to joint energy exploration and other projects that will focus on developing oil and gas resources in Syria, including development of known resources and construction of several pipelines including the Syrian portion of the Pan-Arab pipeline project.
Another agreement in preparation centered on work by Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz and the Syrian Oil and Natural Resource Ministry on exploration and development of two oil and gas deposits in Syria over a 25-year period.
There is plenty in it for Russia, apart from gaining control over Syria’s energy production industry, which clearly fits with Russia’s long range plans for dominating the global energy market.
Russia’s ambition is to resume its role as a major player; if not the superpower it had been during the Soviet era. Moscow wants to involve itself in the international arena now dominated by the EU and US, but has no chips to buy into the game.
But by renewing military and political ties with countries blackballed by Washington and Brussels, it is carving out a new sphere of influence for itself.
In 2000, it resumed its old Soviet-era relationship with Iran, announcing the beginning of a “new phase of military and technical cooperation” that has, in the past four years, put Tehran on the path to nuclear arms, upgraded Iran’s air defenses to the degree Iran’s airspace is virtually impenetrable by Western aircraft, and generally ingratiated itself with the Islamic Middle East, despite its ongoing war with Chechnya’s mainly-Islamic separatist movement.
Syria is one of Russia’s few key allies in the region. It is the only foreign country where Russia still has an active naval base, and is the only Arab country where Moscow still has any major influence in the Middle East.
The two Islamic countries where Moscow has staked out its claims are both designated by the US State Department as state sponsors of terrorism.
The third Arab Islamic country that Moscow has designs on is the as-yet non-existent country of Palestine, which is not merely a sponsor of terror, but is an entity defined by its embrace of terrorism as a legitimate form of political expression.
That puts the Russians on one side in the war on terror, and the United States on the exact opposite side, even though both sides are pretending they are working together to achieve the same ends.
It is important to consider the context in which all this is taking place.
The United States and Russia are both members of the international ‘Quartet for Peace’, together with the European Union and the United Nations.
The United States is taking the position that Israel must have security guarantees before any deal can take place — the other three parties are demanding a deal first and security guarantees later.
The United Nations is on record as blatantly anti-Semitic and is dominated by the Islamic voting bloc in the General Assembly that ensures that all resolutions passed by that body concerning the Middle East conflict favor the Arab side.
The Europeans are actively working against any US-brokered deal in the hopes that, following another failure, they will be able to step in, pick up the pieces and save the day.
Although the EU’s anti-Semitism is blatant and growing, the US war on Islamic terrorism makes the US increasingly unacceptable as a broker for peace by the Arab side.
And the EU’s anti-Semitism, while worrying to the Israelis, is diminished somewhat by the gravitas that gives the EU in the Arab world.
Israel is on record as saying it would make a deal with anybody — even the devil — if it would bring them a lasting peace.
To Israel, ‘peace’ doesn’t mean making friends; it just means the absence of war. The EU’s Euromed Project holds out the promise of the kind of peace that Israel seeks — integration with a larger Mediterranean trade group and the hope it will result in an enforceable collective security agreement.
The United States, while still the main player in the Middle East, is rapidly becoming ‘damaged goods’ as it’s alleged ‘allies’ in the Quartet continue to exploit Islamic anger at the US war to strengthen their own positions.
In short, America finds itself locked in alliances with ‘allies’ who are locked into alliances with enemy states that America may eventually find itself at war with.
The odds that the US will eventually find itself forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities are as good as the odds that Iran will continue to develop those facilities for weapons production.
And the odds that the United States will have to take military action against Syria are about equal to the odds that Syria will continue to fund, harbor and facilitate the terrorists fighting the US presence in Iraq.
And in any case, if the United States doesn’t take action, the odds that Israel WILL are at least even. Although Israel refuses to confirm or deny it, the Dimona facility is believed to house at least four hundred nuclear warheads and Israel’s declared ‘Sampson Option’ says that they will use them.
Syria’s biological and chemical weapons capability are among the most advanced in the Middle East, and the acquisition of the Russian Iskander missile would give Damascus the ability to strike anywhere in Israel.
Iskander’s guidance system is significantly better than in previous Scud designs, and it is much better at avoiding Israeli air defenses than previous models.
And there is no effective defense against the new SAM anti-aircraft missile that could protect Israeli warplanes overflying Syrian airspace.
Leaving Israel with only the Sampson Option in the event of war. The Sampson Option is drawn from the story of Sampson, who pulled down a temple on himself in order to kill his captors.
Briefly stated, if Israel’s existence is threatened, it will use whatever means necessary to retaliate, even if that retaliation means the destruction of Israel in the process.
The Bible says that Israel will survive, but Isaiah says that Damascus won’t.
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1)
Damascus is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. To this point in history, it has never been ‘taken away from being a city’ and has never become the ‘ruinous heap’ foretold by Isaiah – so his prophecy remains, to this point, unfulfilled.
In addition, Ezekiel warns that Russia will, in the last days, ally itself to Persia [Iran] — together with a grouping of other Islamic states, in an all-out invasion effort against Israel.
When Isaiah’s vision of Damascus comes to pass, it is unlikely that Russia will sit idly by, particularly in light of the fact the only country more threatening to Israel’s continued existence than Syria would be a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran.
The alliance is in the process of being constructed before our eyes. The scenario that brings it all together is in the process of development. Bible prophecy has never been more relevant to current events than it is right now.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto ALL THEM ALSO WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING.” (2nd Timothy 2:19)
I wear a size seven and a half.