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14 September 2015

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bth

Is it better to trust open source information often manipulated or the consistent institutional bias of government organizations that lied us into conflicts of devastating consequence for over a decade? That is the question.

A few weeks ago on this blog I pointed out that the pattern of news from open sources on the Russia-Syria meme was more consistent with news generated from neocon or ME frenemies and not Russia's usual MO for use of blogs and trolls. My guess it has to do with the final budget with Israeli set asides and the timing of the Saudi King's visit and Saudi's hired media manipulators.

The best and in fact only original source I've found regarding Russian naval shipments to Syria is http://turkishnavy.net/ and it would show a step up in material shipments since mid-August after Soleimani visited Russia in July/Aug.

The 10 cargo flights last week that Gordon of NYT reports from unnamed government sources is interesting but needs verification. The day of trusting a NYT article from unnamed sources is over. One also wonders what air traffic patterns look like from Iran to Syria of late - did they step us as well?

Col. on a different note, do you think the Iranians have opted to lead help to Assad in the Southwestern areas of Syria and have a handshake to let the Russians handle to Northwestern portions?

Also we learned last week from open sources that Russia has postponed delivery of S300 to Syria and increased delivery of small arms and ammunition plus BTRs in low quantity. Photos of Syrian armored vehicles this summer shows them increasingly battered and stripped of reactive armor often using sandbags in contrast to two years ago. Also historically we know that Russia has been reluctant to finance Assad and usually gets the Iranians to pay for him. Iranian money is still largely tied up in sanctions. But time seems of the essence on the battle field or Assad could collapse.

It is interesting to note that the US sanctioned, in early September, Iran, Soleimani and Rosoboronexport without details over arms. I speculate there is a connection to the current developments. I also speculate that Syria is financially destroyed, will burn wood again this winter with oil fields overrun or compromised, and will need Iranian money that will free up with an upcoming nuke deal to pass on to Russia. If this speculation on a three-way is correct, we might see announcement of Russian oil purchases from Iran or settlement of the Iran-Rosoboronexport lawsuit, or new nuclear plant deals between Iran and Russia; basically transactions to mask payment for arms to Syria.

turcopolier

BTH

Such a division of effort would make sense. The Iranians and Hizbullah are based logistically on Damascus airfields. The Russians would be based on seaports mainly. the Shia are undoubtedly more concerned about the south than the north. pl

Aka

bth,
"increased delivery of small arms and ammunition "
For an example the kord heavy machine gun.
http://armamentresearch.com/russian-kord-and-asvk-systems-in-syria/

b

@bth - regarding the situation of the Syrian army see this BBC Jeremy Bowen report. Bowen just returned from the frontlines around Damascus.

According to him the army is well positions, reasonably resourced, well run and well motivated.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34244430

The talks of the end of the Syrian Arab Army seem premature.

bth

I don't know. Russians themselves said last week they were delivering small arms, ammunition and grenades. On the ships photographed transiting Turkey it looked to me like many wooden crates. Also of note is that the camouflage on the ships over the cargo had improved in the recent photos now that the shipments are getting media attention. One will also note the Turkish coast guard vessel running parallel to the ship and I presume images were being taken. As to the kord heavy machine gun refereneced source it is about 2 years old so who knows other than to say it probably is useful for stand-off against suicide vehicles. Perhaps some sharp eyes on the blog could look at the Turkish ship photos and make some better conclusions.

bth

Don't you think it odd that Soleimani went to Russia on a commercial airliner so the entire world would know he was there? I've been wondering if he said something to Putin on the order of, the Syrian situation is going to hell in a handbasket and can't wait for our sanctioned cash to fund Russian weapons, so the Iranians are going to protect their Shia constituent's in the SW and Central West and you Mr. Putin can lose your only Mediterranean port to JaN if you keep screwing around any longer. So then Putin puts a ship to sea about the 20th of August and starts to reinforce an airbase that might be used for support or evacuation. Then some folks that want to stir the US pot leak information via friendly western news sources and the US has to sanction the Russians to look tough earlier this month. And Syrian government leaks a couple of videos showing BTRs to hook the Russians into the situation. If this were a planned move, I'd think the Russian media trolls would have been out early with a planned message like they were with Croatia. Instead they hesitated to present a coherent message as if waiting for instructions.

William R. Cumming

Russia already in a formal agreement with Iran to fund, build, and operate ten [10] new nuclear power reactors over the next 25 years.

William R. Cumming

IMO we need a new Albert Thayer Mahan to outline the strategic value of seapower for this century and next. Both Russia and Iran are seapowers but frustrated ones IMO.

Perhaps Bablefish has thoughts on this subject?

Joe100

There have been two recent good posts (cites below) by Saker on this situation that are quite consistent with the French Military Intelligence perspectives above. I find these helpful given Saker's insight into how Russia thinks about external force projection vs. how many are imagining or asserting they are thinking:

http://thesaker.is/a-russian-military-intervention-in-syria-i-very-much-doubt-it/

http://thesaker.is/so-what-are-the-russians-really-doing-in-syria/

Bill Herschel

I find that what the Saker says confirms my belief that Russia wants no part of war anywhere, but that she believes the only way to prevent a wider conflict in Syria that destabilizes the entire region and ultimately threatens her border is to raise the specter of Russian-US conflict in Syria *before* the next Presidential election.

Gomart echoes what the Saker says elsewhere about "intelligence" in Ukraine that is published in major media outlets such as the Times and the Guardian. That is extremely interesting. There are many mansions in my father's house.

bth

Meant to say Crimea not Croatia.

bth

b perhaps you are right, but if you were the Syrian Army you wouldn't tell the BBC you were running out of spare parts or munitions. Do a google image search for Syrian tanks for certain date windows and judge for yourself.

J

Colonel, TTG, Patrick,

See latest from NYTimes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/world/middleeast/russian-moves-in-syria-widen-role-in-mideast.html

Ulenspiegel

"Russia already in a formal agreement with Iran to fund, build, and operate ten [10] new nuclear power reactors over the next 25 years."

Then I will be not surprised when only 4 are actually build. :-)

Allen Thomson

And this:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/09/14/this-satellite-image-leaves-no-doubt-that-russia-is-throwing-troops-and-aircraft-into-syria-latakia-airport-construction/

Akira

“We have nearly two million orthodox Christians in the Levant—Syria and Lebanon— and approximately 5 million Christians across Middle-East. Regardless of America’s presidential election outcome, White House craves chaos in that oil-rich region by supporting fanatic Islamist organizations, i.e. ISIS and al-Nusra Front,” Moskovskaya Pravda cited the Russian president as saying.

It is morally incumbent upon Russia to change this terrible status quo in the Middle-East , added Mr.Putin , prepare for operation ‘Salvation’ and with God almighty’s aid , we shall cleanse Syria from Obama’s ruthless terrorists.

http://www.awdnews.com/top-news/putin-to-russian-army-officers-operation-salvation-shall-begin-soon,-you-must-prepare-to-cleanse-syria-from-obama-s-terrorists

rjj

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Patrick Bahzad

Akira,

Your information is incorrect. First of all, it's about 3,3 million Christians in Lebanon and Syria and only about 1 million of them are Orthodox.

In Syria, 500 000 Christians are Catholics belonging to the "Eastern Catholic Churches", same in Lebanon with 1.2 million Catholics.

In total, this means you have/had 1.7 million Catholics, 1 million Orthodox and around 0.5 million belonging other Christian Churches, neither Catholic nor Orthdox, in the Levant.

Therefore, referring to Putin as being "morally" in charge of Eastern Christians is basically BS. We in the West could claim "moral" responsibility for these people at least as much as the Russians.

I don't buy this "Moskovskaya Pravda" propaganda piece.

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