Russia starts major naval drills in Mediterranean Sea amid Syria crisis

Russian Black fleet ships take part in a Russian military Navy Day parade near an important navy base in the Ukrainian town of Sevastopol, on July 31, 2011.

 

Russia has launched its largest naval exercises in decades in the Mediterranean and Black Seas near the territorial waters of Syria amid the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.

The drills “are held in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and focus on interoperability of task forces from several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone,” said an official statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday.

The maneuvers will continue until January 29 and comprise more than 60 drills, including anti-submarine warfare missions, missile and artillery firing practices.

Russia’s Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets, strategic bombers, tactical aircraft, air defense units, paratroopers and naval infantry will take part in the naval exercises.

The task forces have four large landing ships and a variety of auxiliary vessels in their composition which enable the Russian forces to carry out simulated beach landing and convoy escort missions.  Continue reading

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The March to War: Iran and the Strategic Encirclement of Syria and Lebanon

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The encirclement of Syria and Lebanon has long been in the works. Since 2001, Washington and NATO have started the process of cordoning off Lebanon and Syria. The permanent NATO presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Syrian Accountability Act are part of this initiative. It appears that this roadmap is based on a 1996 Israeli document aimed at controlling Syria. The document’s name is A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.

The 1996 Israeli document, which included prominent U.S. policy figures as authors, calls for “rolling back Syria” in 2000 or afterward. The roadmap outlines pushing the Syrians out of Lebanon, diverting the attention of Damascus by using an anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon, and then destabilizing Syria with the help of both Jordan and Turkey. This has all respectively occurred from 2005 to 2011. This is also why the anti-Syrian March 14 Alliance and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) were created in Lebanon.

As a first step towards all this the 1996 document even calls for the removal of President Saddam Hussein from power in Baghdad and even alludes to the balkanization of Iraq and forging a strategic regional alliance against Damascus that includes a Sunni Muslim Arab “Central Iraq.” The sectarian nature of this project is very obvious as are its ties to opposing a so-called “Shiite Crescent.” The roadmap seeks to foment sectarian divisions as a means of conquering Syria and creating a Shiite-Sunni rift that will oppose Iran and keep the Arab monarchs in power. Continue reading