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First comes this morning's announcement that the UN Observer Mission is standing down in Syria, now comes word that Russian troops are headed to Syria. From the UCLA Newsroom we have this faculty experts advisory:

Armed Russian troops have been sent to Syria to guard the Russian navy’s deep-water port in the Mediterranean coastal town of Tartus, a move likely to frustrate Western efforts to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
According to Russian sources, these troops are being sent merely to protect Russian bases in Syria. That's what LBJ said the first time he sent US Marines to Vietnam and we know where that led. From Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War we have:
On 8 March 1965, two battalions of U.S. Marines waded ashore on the beaches at Danang. Those 3,500 soldiers were the first combat troops the United States had dispatched to South Vietnam to support the Saigon government in its effort to defeat an increasingly lethal Communist insurgency. Their mission was to protect an air base...
The US sent its own soldiers in because it found the the troops of its client state were proving unequal to the task of putting down the insurgency. What could be the Russian motivation? Are they afraid Assad's troops can no longer protect the Russian base?

From The Hill's Defense Blog we have this, the most through description of Russian military support for the Assad regime I've seen so far:

Report: More Russian troops heading to Syria
By Carlo Munoz - 06/15/12 03:03 PM ET

Russia is deploying another batch of troops to Syria as Moscow and Washington continue to spar over the best way to resolve the worsening crisis in the country.

A Russian warship carrying a small contingent of troops is en route to the country's naval base in Tartus to provide security for the installation, U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday.

In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.

Two months later, a Russian guided-missile destroyer, named the Smetlivy, was sent to Tartus, joining three other warships deployed to the Russian naval base in Syria on March 19, according to reports at the time by Agence France Presse and al Arabiya.

It remains to be seen how the anti-interventionist left will respond to intervention of "foreign boots on the ground" in the Syrian Civil War.

Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM PT: The NY Times published this today:

Russian Warships Said to Be Going to Naval Base in Syria
By ANDREW E. KRAMER and ALAN COWELL
Published: June 18, 2012

MOSCOW — Introducing an unpredictable new element into the Syrian crisis, a news agency said on Monday that two Russian naval vessels with marines on board were ready to head for Syria to protect Russian citizens and a naval base there, in what would be the first known reinforcement of Moscow’s military presence since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian naval official, who was not identified, as saying that the two amphibious assault ships would head for the Mediterranean port of Tartus, where Russia has its only warm-water naval base in the region. Russia has been the staunchest ally of Mr. Assad in the 16-month-old conflict, shielding the Damascus government from stern international measures to remove him from office.

Moscow is also Syria’s biggest arms supplier, and the relationship provides Russia with its main foothold in Middle East diplomacy.

Interfax quoted the official as saying the ships were “ready to ensure security of Russian citizens and infrastructure of the Russian Navy logistics base” in Tartus.

The official said the crews “jointly with the marine units they carry are capable of protecting the security of Russian citizens and evacuating a part of the property of the logistics base.”

The Russia Today English-language television news channel said the vessels were currently moored in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Talk of evacuation of material and “protection” of Russian citizens in Syria, who include military advisers, seemed to be one more sign of alarm about the deteriorating security situation there after United Nations monitors announced over the weekend that they were suspending their operations as violence mounts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It makes sense they'd want (16+ / 0-)

    To protect their assets in a civil war zone. The comparison to the US in Vietnam is bizarre IMO.

    •  EXACTLY! (6+ / 0-)

      LBJ said he was doing it because if he let US planes get damaged, there would be hell pay politically back home. Read the Whitehouse tapes.

      However Russians only asset worth protecting in this case is the Assad regime because having already so completely thrown in their lot with Assad, they probably assume that any new government that overthrows him may very well ask them to leave.

      It would be naive to assume they are merely sending guards for the fence line to insure that none of their property is damaged, They want that base for the long term and that can only be guaranteed by insuring the survival of the Assad regime. Other than the regime being overthrown, there is no real threat to that base and I don't they would be willing to pay the heavy political costs they are bound to pay for this just to avoid a little property damage.

      Besides, as I quoted above:

      In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.
      And we know how broadly Assad defines the terrorists.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 03:39:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. (13+ / 0-)

        As doc2 said, it is entirely understandable that they'd want to protect this base.  An actual presence of Russian troops on the base effectively protects it no matter what happens in the Syrian Civil War, because neither force could take on the Russians.  The Soviet Union was a superpower.  Their loss of that status, along with their empire, left them with few overseas bases of any kind.  Because of this, Tartus is vitally important to Russian strategic planning, as they endeavor to regain superpower status.

        In short, were I President of Russia, I'd be sending troops too.  But only to occupy the base.  I will grant you that it is possible that this base could now be used as a beachhead in order to pour tens of thousands of troops into Syria to intervene on Assad's side.  But I'll say this too: Vladimir Putin is many things.  A fool isn't one of them.  I believe he is simply protecting one of the few overseas assets Russia has left, and don't blame him at all for that.

        •  The Russians aren't foolish enough (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg, majcmb1, subtropolis, downsouth

          to stand by Assad to the very end if it completely isolates Russia and makes them pariahs in international public opinion. But they do intend to protect their naval base in the event Assad falls. I see their despatch of troops to protect Tartus as an encouraging sign, an indication they recognize Assad's days are numbered.

          For similar reasons the US is developing measures to prevent Pakistan's nuclear arsenal from falling into dangerous hands in the event the "government" of Pakistan collapses.

          •  you may have a point there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dansmith17

            They for sure realise that were Assad to fall their position at Tartus would be in serious jeopardy. However, i think it's also possible that they're concerned about the FSA targeting one of their ships as a gesture of disdain for Russian intransigence on the Security Council.

            All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

            by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:47:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So there's a basis for a deal here: (0+ / 0-)

              Obama is about to meet with Putin. He should reconcile Putin to international support for the opposition to Assad's Alewite dictatorship by pledging the US and the new government of Syria will respect Russia's rights to the naval base at Tartus.

        •  You don't blame him at all for supporting a (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus, mithra, mookins

          murderous bastard to protect Russia's military assets in the region.

          Do you think they might have SF troops in country doing what all imperialist powers euphemistically refer to (as the US did in Vietnam) as anti-terrorist missions?

          You think the Iranian soldiers captured by the FSA were there against Putin's wishes?

          You don't think Russian has been resupplying Assad with weapons?

          You don't think they are providing him with sate intel?

          You don't think they are making sure he has functioning helos to deliver "Death from Above?"

          You don't think they have been running interference for Assad at the UN while he massacres his people?

          You just think they are worried about physical damage to their property and are perfectly willing to pack up and leave if the struggle in Syria, free from all outside meddling, concludes with a government opposed to any foreign bases in Syria.

          Go look up apologist in the dictionary. If there's not a picture next to the definition, you should send them yours.

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:07:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I first started tracking U.S. casualties in (0+ / 0-)

            Vietnam in 58' or 59'. Granted, back then there were still more caused by tigers and snakes than the Viet Cong, but it didn't really take that long for the numbers to swing towards combat involvement.

            On the other hand, do I think that Putin wants to go in the middle of the modern Med and get involved in a shoot em up on behalf of a thoroughly discredited dictator?

            Not so much.

            There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

            by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:23:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  How arrogant (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            downsouth, protectspice

            I bet you have no idea about the fight between As Suwaydah and Dara' and who the players are in the fight. Not unlike the Council for Foreign Relations 'expert'.

            Your just some asshole who most likely doesn't even speak the language that feels like he can talk about what is going on based on crappy western reporting.

            •  good grief (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Clay Claiborne

              It's like this: When one debates an issue, one doesn't always take (or be given) the side one genuinely believes in. In fact, the best debaters are particularly good at it. There's even a phrase we use: Devil's advocate ... know that one?

              Really, if you're going to toss around "asshole" here please get in the habit of reading comments more carefully.

              I'm sure the target of your muddled wrath would accept an apology, btw.

              All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

              by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:04:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  that's a lot conclusions your jumping to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            downsouth
            Go look up apologist in the dictionary. If there's not a picture next to the definition, you should send them yours.
            Respectfully, i think you ought to read a person's comment a little more closely before going off. The point being made was that Russia has particular strategic interests, and that the ruler of Russia is likely to make particular decisions.

            All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

            by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:58:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
            You think the Iranian soldiers captured by the FSA were there against Putin's wishes?
            Last I checked, Vladimir Putin does not command Iranian troops.  That would be Ayatollah Khameini.  Sure, Putin probably knew about the insertion.  Doesn't mean he approved or disapproved, or had the power to do so.  Russia, despite the wet dreams of Vladimir Putin, is not the Soviet Union.  Yet.
            You don't think Russian has been resupplying Assad with weapons?

            You don't think they are providing him with sate intel?

            You don't think they are making sure he has functioning helos to deliver "Death from Above?"

            You don't think they have been running interference for Assad at the UN while he massacres his people?

            Please point to where I said any of that, Clay.  My comment concerned deployment of troops to Tartus, nothing more.  Putin sees the handwriting on the wall, knows Assad's days are limited, and is taking action to try to not just protect Tartus from attack, but protect Russian sailors and civilians stationed there.  Just as the US would do, if that was our base.

            I also never said they were "willing to pack up and leave".  Nowhere did I mention them pulling out.  In fact I mentioned how important the base is to them strategically.  Another purpose of those troops could be to pressure the new government to allow Russia to keep the base.

            Maybe you should try reading a comment before you reply.  The reactionary crap is unnecessary.  I would tell you which word to go look up to find your picture, but it would just get me HR'd, and rightly so.  Grow up, Clay.

            •  You said (0+ / 0-)
              My comment concerned deployment of troops to Tartus, nothing more
              That's the problem I had with it. You ignored.
              In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.
              and many other things so that your excuse for Russia's actions would even be plausible.

              Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

              by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:42:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  March report (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                downsouth

                The March report has been discredited several times, yes there were some special forces on board a Russian Destroyer which had been conducting Anti Piracy mission off Somalia, and on the way out and on the way home it stopped at Tartus as would most deployments coming from either the Northern or Black Seas Fleet.

                No troops stayed in Syria to conduct 'anti-terrorist' missions.

                However Russia does already have significant numbers of boots on the ground in terms of advisors and contractors supporting decades worth of military hardware, whether air defence radar or aircraft engineers.

              •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Claudius Bombarnac
                That's the problem I had with it.
                I was addressing this newest report that you wrote about in this diary, not the overall situation on the ground in Syria.  But very well.
                In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.
                Emphasis mine.  You know, Clay, in 1938 Martians "reportedly" invaded New York City.  Seen any green men on Bloomberg's staff?  This issue was addressed well by dansmith17, so I'll simply endorse his comment.  

                I do find it ironic, though, that an American would criticize another nation for sending specialized troops "to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country".  Tell me, Clay...what is the stated mission of the US Special Forces troops in Yemen?  And in Uganda?  And in the Philippines?  And in Pakistan?  And in Somalia?  And in the Sudan?  And...wherever else we have them or "reportedly" have them?

                As a Muslim American, I support the goals of the FSA to defeat and overthrow the Assad regime.  But I do so in full knowledge that, at the public urging of Ayman al-Zawahiri, many Pakistani and Arab fighters have joined the FSA, and a significant number of those are either al Qaeda or AQ sympathizers.  There may just come a time, after the fall of Assad, when we will appreciate any groundwork the Russians may have done regarding counter-terror operations and intelligence gathering.

        •  I trust Putin. I've seen into his hort. nt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          subtropolis

          "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

          by Bob Love on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:53:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Russians could'nt transport large (4+ / 0-)

        numbers of troops on a destroyer. Such as vessel could only transport small numbers, especially if they are also transporting weapons. We're looking at a number in the dozens, not the thousands we sent into Vietnam.

        I'm not trying to say that the Russians are innocent in this matter. They are propping up the Assad regime, but I can't imagine that they are looking to take a prominent role in the fighting.

        They have a very clear idea of what that would be like after their wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Protecting their base in Syria is really more about pride, than any real strategic purpose.

        The base and its forces are so over matched by NATO forces in the region, as to be largely irrelevant in any hostile situation. Hell, the Turks and the Israeli's would be more than capable of neutralizing the Russian threat.

        Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

        by OIL GUY on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:06:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, that's ridiculous. From start to (0+ / 0-)

          finish.

          •  You demonstrate brilliant rhetorical skills. (0+ / 0-)

            If you have nothing to offer to support your claims, perhaps you should refrain from making them.

            Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

            by OIL GUY on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:36:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'll give you a point for the first half (0+ / 0-)

          I agree that the number of troops wouldn't be large. I'll bet some of them are divers, to patrol below the surface.

          They are propping up the Assad regime, but I can't imagine that they are looking to take a prominent role in the fighting.
          Well, sure. They'd prefer the fighting stop, actually. With Assad still in power, naturally.

          But Tartus is a hugely important base for Russia. All of those "NATO forces in the region" make it so.

          All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

          by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:09:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is not the point, (0+ / 0-)

          Could Turkey take out a single Destroyer, a couple of glorified gunboats and a Radar facility, of course.

          Would they be willing to risk war with Russia if they did, now that is the question.

    •  It may make sense, but it will... (0+ / 0-)

      ...only complicate matters for all involved. Assad will have to devote resources and manpower to coordinate the security of the base if for no other reason to make a show of National Sovereignty over the situation.

      And minor differences of opinion might just morph into a "Series of Unfortunate Events."

      Something tells me that the Russians will very soon wish they had radically "downsized" staffing at the base and "temporarily" relocate ships to the Black Sea rather than try to "double the guard."

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:09:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nonetheless, (5+ / 0-)

    while this could be considered a panic diary, the Russians are nothing if not opportunistic and there is a leadership vacuum, not only in the Middle East but in Europe as well. Most people here are concentrating on financial worries rather than physical space.
    Would the Russians take advantage of this? Perhaps.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 03:03:35 PM PDT

  •  Very ominus report. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ontheleftcoast, cotterperson

    Next I imagine we'll be dispatching the 5th fleet out of Bahrain...

    Your tax dollars at work.

    Kick apart the structures - Seth

    by ceebee7 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 03:14:07 PM PDT

    •  Do your tax dollars now pay for Russian (0+ / 0-)

      troops?

      •  No, but if/when the 5th fleet sails we do (0+ / 0-)

        pay for that.

        All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

        by ontheleftcoast on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:07:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Any sources (other than your imagination) that (0+ / 0-)

          it will be happening?

          •  Didn't say it was. I was pointing out that if it (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, Trotskyrepublican

            happens (note that "if") then it would be on our dime. As to whether or not it will happen, the sabre rattling from the Obama adminstration has been fairly measured on Syria. However, they've been reluctant to engage as they did in Libya because of the Russian and Chinese stonewalling in the UN. If that part of the equation changes then I'd say we're looking at some level of US military involvement. And yes, that is in my imagination, though I don't think it requires a particularly creative imagination to predict that outcome.

            All my sig lines are hand-crafted by demented elves living in my skull.

            by ontheleftcoast on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:15:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really don't think NATO wants in on this fight (0+ / 0-)

              Especially not Obama. Frankly I think they are secretly happy that Russian & China are "holding them back."  Let's NATO off the hook. I think the Russians, Chinese, US, EU, UK and especially Israel were reasonable happy with Assad in charge versus what is like to replace him be it Islamic, revolutionary or even merely democratic.

              I want someone to draw a cartoon of Obama facing Assad and Obama is kicking and screaming "Let me at him" and behind Obama is Putin holding him back with on finger and a thumb clinching the back of his jacket.

              Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

              by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:07:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Srsly? (0+ / 0-)

    Better evidence may be considered.

    If you have it  . . .

  •  It makes the US intervention (7+ / 0-)

    even worse idea than before. In reality, it's a small group of soldiers that will stay on Russian base. It's mostly a political gesture.

  •  Now it's their turn to fight Al Qaeda. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moose67, devis1, ZedMont


    "Let the Dragon sleep, for when China awakes, she will shake the world." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

    by Pluto on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:22:46 PM PDT

    •  The only things that ever change are sides. (4+ / 0-)
      Jordanian MP: US Equipping Al-Qaeda in Syria, Region

      TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent Jordanian lawmaker mocked the US excuse for its military presence in the region under the guise of war on terrorism, saying that Washington is the main supporter of terrorists, specially the Al-Qaeda in Syria.

      "… first of all, terrorism is a product of Americans and they were the ones who supported the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and are now supporting the Al-Qaeda terrorism which has targeted Syria," Fowad Dabor told FNA in Amman on Saturday.

      http://english.farsnews.com/...

      Qatar financing al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria attacks

      The government of Qatar is hugely financing al-Qaeda terrorists to carry out military operations against the Syrian government, reports say.

      A group of Qatari intelligence agents have met with al-Qaeda-aligned commander Abdul Ghani Jawhar and gave him millions of dollars in aid, according to reports from north of Lebanon.

      The reports add Jawhar along with the Qatari intelligence agents have infiltrated into Syria through the Lebanese border to organize “suicide attacks and bombing operations” inside the crisis-hit country.

      http://www.presstv.ir/...


      "Let the Dragon sleep, for when China awakes, she will shake the world." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

      by Pluto on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:33:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You mean Qatar supports both Al Jazeera & al-Qaeda (3+ / 0-)

        Because al-Qaeda is Islamic Fundamentalist to the nth degree whereas Al Jazeera is completely secular and very hard on al-Qaeda.

        I've heard they are supplying weapons to the FSA, which makes more sense to me but al-Qaeda does make for better press.

        I've already shown that Press TV was a very unscrupulous source in the Libyan Revolution, why should they be believed in this case?

        Besides  "according to reports from north of Lebanon" is very sloppy geography. Could be Syria, could be Russia.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:22:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Al Jazeera is completely secular? (3+ / 0-)

          Ever watch the Arabic version?

          It is recently become hard core Sunni. They have a Pat Robertson version of a Sunni cleric on giving his 'wisdom'.

          3. Al-Qaradawi's popularity among the Sunnis has grown because of the massive use he makes of electronic media, mainly television and the Internet. One of his most important tools is the Al-Jazeera TV channel, which broadcasts his popular program "Life and Islamic Law," viewed by tens of millions of Muslims.
          Al-Qaradawi

          The guy hates Jews, Shi'ites, the West. And has a show on Al Jazeera. Not what I call 'secular'.

        •  probably northern Lebanon (0+ / 0-)

          But i agree with your point about Press TV. No credibility there, although it's sometimes useful to see what they're putting out. But, again ... no credibility.

          All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

          by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:15:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Is Al-Queda real and a threat (3+ / 0-)

      or a contrived and convenient excuse to keep the war profiteers flush, and the USA involved in perpetual intervention and entangling alliances..  We need more sunlight from Wikileaks, not less.

      Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

      by dailykozzer on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:03:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's their only naval base in the Mediterranean, (6+ / 0-)

    correct? I can only imagine how the USA would react in a similar situation. Probably there's some negotiating going on to assure Russia keeps their base after the change of government.. if not, why not?

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:28:11 PM PDT

  •  Let's catch up, shall we (11+ / 0-)

    They've been there  "on the ground" for at least 5 years.  Not considering their involvement in the region since the 60's...

    Russian Navy

    Syria

    In September 2008, it was reported that Russia and Syria conducted talks about permitting Russia to develop and enlarge its Russian naval base in Syria in order to establish a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean,[40] and amidst the deteriorating Russia relations with the west in conjunction with the 2008 South Ossetia war‎ and the plans to deploy US missile defense shield in Poland, it has even been asserted that president Assad has agreed to Tartus port’s conversion into a permanent Middle East base for Russia’s nuclear-armed warships.[41] Moscow and Damascus additionally announced that it would be renovating the port, although there was no mention in the Syrian press.[42]

    On September 22, 2008, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the nuclear-powered Peter the Great cruiser, accompanied by three other ships, sailed from the Northern Fleet's base of Severomorsk. The ships will cover about 15,000 nautical miles (28,000 km) to conduct joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy. Dygalo refused to comment on Monday's report in the daily Izvestia claiming that the ships were to make a stopover in the Syrian port of Tartus on their way to Venezuela. Russian officials said the Soviet-era base there was being renovated to serve as a foothold for a permanent Russian navy presence in the Mediterranean.[43]

    In late November 2011, Pravda and Rueters announced that a naval flotilla led by the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov would sail to its naval base in Tartus as a show of support for the al-Assad regime.[44][45]

    On 29 November 2011, Army General Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, said that sending ships of the Russian Navy to the Mediterranean Sea is linked to exercises and not to the situation in Syria. "In the event of necessity, namely to carry out repairs, to take water and food on board and to allow rest for the crews, Russian ships may visit Tartus but in this case this has not been included in the plan of the trip," the Interfax source said. He also noted that the size of Admiral Kuznetsov does not allow it to moor in Tartus because the port does not have suitable infrastructure, i.e. large enough mooring.[46]

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:54:44 PM PDT

  •  I thought they had learned their lesson. (0+ / 0-)

    History merely repeats itself; it doesn't cure its own ills. That is the burden of the present.

    by ZedMont on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:58:16 PM PDT

  •  Syrian rebels might be foolish enough to (3+ / 0-)

    snatch some hostages from among the Russian base personnel. With Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah on the ground there, I wouldn't blame Moscow for increasing security just to deter desperate acts.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:21:20 PM PDT

    •  If I were a Syrian rebel commander (0+ / 0-)

      and heard this news, I'd start to set up an attack on the Russian base and troops immediately.  There has to be a price for propping Assad and helping him kill Syrian civilian protesters.

      More generally, I don't know why we ought to give deference or assume legitimacy to a Russian "need" to have a military port in the Mediterranean.  Even their port and fleet in the Black Sea serve no significant defensive needs or historically significant projects.

      It's not the American role in the world to assent or enable the imperialism of other countries.  In fact, our role has historically been to bust up empire projects when they overreach and become the primary disorders of the world.

  •  Russia's interest (8+ / 0-)

      Russia's interest in Syria is 1) To have a naval base that allows them access to the Mediterranean and 2.) To maintain a friendly government in Syria. A satisfactory outcome from the Russian standpoint might be the departure of the Assad family, leaving behind a govt dominated by his Alewite allies.
      A Sunni pro Saudi, pro US govt is not to their liking. Nor is the fragmentation of Syria, which is a neocon aspiration.
      The US needs to stay out of this. There is no compelling US national interest in overthrowing the Syrian govt. And, we depend on Russia for access to our assets in Afghanistan and access to the space station.
      For those appalled by the atrocities taking place in the Syrian civil war: Compare to the carnage wrought by the US and its opponents in Iraq. Get the US involved in this mess and you could see death tolls in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

    •  "Hundreds of Thousands"? "Millions"? How? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:36:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  US-Russia fighting on opposite sides (0+ / 0-)

        No, nothing could go that wrong.

        All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

        by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:45:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Remember Fallujah (0+ / 0-)

        In response to the killing of a few mercenaries, and their public hanging on the TV machine, we sent in a Marine Division to exact revenge, when it was getting too bloody for TV Bush called it off till after the November election and then restarted the assault a few days later.

        Most of us at the time initially still thought of contractors as civillians sent to fix the power not Blackwater.

        Ok so if most of the Syrian Armed Forces are NOT defecting now they are killing the regiemes enemies as ordered. What will happen if we get Western troops on the ground.

  •  What does this mean? (5+ / 0-)
    It remains to be seen how the anti-interventionist left will respond to intervention of "foreign boots on the ground" in the Syrian Civil War.
    I mean, what are you trying to say here?

    H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

    by Knarfc on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:02:26 PM PDT

    •  It would appear that he is referring to (3+ / 0-)

      the Russian presence as "foreign boots on the ground" and the "anti-interventionist left" as those who objected to the UN no fly zone in Libya being morphed into regime change.

      Maybe the diarist can provide an explanation.

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:05:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I mean will they oppose or excuse Russian troops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis

      being sent in to support Assad. While Russians to guard the base are one thing the reports of

      In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.
      if true, are another thing entirely and one that has been discounted by much of the discussion here.

      Here is more on that from the Hill, March 19, 2012:

      Moscow has sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct "anti-terrorism" missions in the country, according to reports by Al Arabiya.

      The troops were reportedly aboard two Russian warships that arrived at the country's naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus on Monday, the news agency reports.

      The ships joined up with “a Russian naval reconnaissance and surveillance ship" already anchored in Tartus, the report adds, citing sources within opposition forces in Syria.  

      The Russian base in Tartus is the country's only naval installation outside the borders of the former Soviet Union. A Russian naval squadron conducted a port visit in January, just as violence between rebel forces and government troops loyal to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad was coming to a head.

      The port call was interpreted by many regional observers as a show of support by Moscow for the Assad regime.

      Russian military advisers are currently stationed in the country to help train Syrian troops. It is unclear exactly how many Russian troops are now on Syrian soil due to the new deployment.

      Last Friday, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov dismissed claims that Moscow would send special-operations units to Syria to support Assad's crackdown on rebel forces. “There are no [Russian] special forces with rifles and grenade launchers running around,” he told The Associated Press.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:26:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  fair point (0+ / 0-)

        Although it's worth pointing out that those "anti-terrorism" missions being conducted by marines and special-operations forces may in fact be purely defensive in nature. Those ships are targets, and the longer this goes on, the more FSA is going to lean towards making a statement by sinking one of them. I expect that there will be divers arriving there, along with equipment and soldiers to guard from above.

        The Russians sent their ships in to keep NATO from going all Libya again. Not that anyone was considering doing that but Putin's not stupid, either. Sailing his ships in was likely less about directly supporting Assad than ensuring things didn't boil over, lest they lose the port outright. I think they might be ok with Assad gone as long as the political class remains largely the same and they keep a big stake in the government. The problem is, the regime runs deep, so i don't think too many of Russia's "New Syria" friends in high places would last very long.

        So the easiest choice for the Russians is to stall for Assad. I've no doubt there are Russians quietly advising the Syrians on putting this thing down. But even just what's been out in the open, at the UN and in the news, makes their ships start looking like a big target. The Russians would be crazy not to consider that the FSA might hit them, if only to make a point. And the FSA might just gamble that the Russians wouldn't call WW3 on us.

        All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

        by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:13:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "they" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

        There is a group of people of concern in your mind, this "they" who are "anti-interventionist", and "left". It remains to me a mystery as to why this is the case.

        You are apparently not concerned with the interventionist left, or the anti-interventionist right, or the interventionist right, or other groups such as centrists and independents, 'interventionist" or otherwise, as you have not mentioned them. Why?

        As for "foreign boots on the ground", are you advocating for them, or not? Where, when, why, how, and for what purpose?

        Are you suffering from a condition of interventionist envy, I wonder?

        Is your point to get this group of "anti-interventionist left", to transform itself into an interventionist left, or perhaps into an interventionist right? Is so, why, and exactly what argument do you make to this group in favor of your idea?

        H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

        by Knarfc on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:13:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That report originated from the Saudi government (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        mouthpiece "Al Arabiya". As the Saudi's are the main instigators of the destabilization of Syria for the purpose of regime change, they are hardly a good source of factual news.

        Moscow has sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct "anti-terrorism" missions in the country, according to reports by Al Arabiya.
        •  But they aren't the only source (0+ / 0-)

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 10:08:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How many "elite units of Russian marines and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice

            special forces" can you bring in on this ship? One?

            http://www.acus.org/...

            How does that compare to US Vietnam era troop ships?

            •  Where do you get this crap? (0+ / 0-)

              Your argument on the facts is no longer with me but with the NY Times and a host of other publications, from the NY Times today, as cited above:

              Introducing an unpredictable new element into the Syrian crisis, a news agency said on Monday that two Russian naval vessels with marines on board were ready to head for Syria to protect Russian citizens and a naval base there, in what would be the first known reinforcement of Moscow’s military presence since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

              The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian naval official, who was not identified, as saying that the two amphibious assault ships would head for the Mediterranean port of Tartus, where Russia has its only warm-water naval base in the region.

              Now where did you get the crap you are trying to peddle to the effect that its just this one old rusty tanker ship is all?

              More to the point, why are you here on the pages of the Daily Kos with over 6k comments and no diaries, posting bull shit in defense a dictator that is massacring his own people as we write?

              Have you no shame?

              Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

              by Clay Claiborne on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:53:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The MSM were full of it last March (0+ / 0-)
                Russia denies reports of 'anti-terror' forces sent to Syria

                Russia denies reports of 'anti-terror' forces sent to Syria
                March 20, 2012 | 11:39 am
                Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

                REPORTING FROM MOSCOW -- Russia's foreign minister denied reports Tuesday that his country had sent special forces to help its ally Syria, calling media reports "sheer fairy tales."

                Sergei Lavrov said he surmised that the reports must have arisen because an oil tanker was sent to the Gulf of Aden to help refuel Russian navy boats positioned to protect the sea routes in the area from pirates.

                Several Russian and Western news outlets reported Tuesday that the Iman tanker, at the Syrian port of Tartus, had an "anti-terror squad" on board. The Syrian regime often refers to the forces rebelling against President Bashar Assad as terrorists.

                Lavrov said the tanker had a "protection unit" on board to protect against pirate attacks, "like any other civilian vessel."

                The Russia Today news channel reported that the Russian Defense Ministry issued this statement:

                    There are no Russian combat ships on missions off Syrian shores. The Iman auxiliary vessel (tanker) has been in the port of Tartus for the last 10 days with the task of providing supplies to the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the North Sea Fleet that are currently protecting the navigation through the Gulf of Aden. The crew of the Iman is manned by civilians with a security formation joined with them.

                Russia sneaks anti-terror military unit into Syria

                A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was “a bomb” certain to have serious repercussions. Now the Russian Black Sea fleet’s Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency.
                ...

                Let us know when Russia actually does send troops to fight in Syria.
  •  From the official Russian stance (6+ / 0-)

    as written here:

    Those who say that Russia "is saving" Bashar al-Assad are wrong. I would like to reiterate that it is the Syrian people themselves who choose the political system and leadership of their country. We are not trying to whitewash the multiple mistakes and miscalculations made by Damascus, including the use of force against peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the crisis.

    For us, the issue of who is in power in Syria is not the major one; it is important to put an end to civilian deaths and to start a political dialogue in a situation where the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country will be respected by all external actors. No violence can be justified. The shelling of residential areas by government troops is unacceptable, but it cannot be viewed as an indulgence for terrorist acts in Syrian cities, for murders conducted by insurgents opposed to the regime, including those of Al-Qaida.

    The logic that dictates the need to break the vicious circle of violence has manifested itself in the unilateral support that members of the UN Security Council have given to the Annan Plan. We are upset by the claims and actions of some actors involved in the Syrian situation that manifest their stake on the failure of the Special Envoy's efforts. Among them, are the calls of the Syrian National Council (SNC) leadership for foreign intervention. It is unclear how such claims would help SNC sponsors to unite the Syrian opposition under its umbrella. We stand for the integration of the Syrian opposition only on the platform of preparedness for political dialogue with the government - in exact accordance with the Annan Plan.

    The armaments entering Syria for the rebels via NATO Turkey originate where? Who is paying the mercenaries fighting for the SFA?

    From November of 2011 we have this report from The Daily Telegaph:

    Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya's new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

    At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested "assistance" from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.

    "There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria," said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see."

    "The Libyans are offering money, training and weapons to the Syrian National Council," added Wisam Taris, a human rights campaigner with links to the SNC.

    There are reports of Arms shipments to the rebels from Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    A pro Sunni government in Syria is preferable to the current secular government if regime change in Syria is intended to be another step towards isolating and weakening Shiite Iran in order to set them up for a future regime change. Al Queda is primarily Sunni.

    We all know that "Iran undermines US interests" in the region. See Brookings Study "The Path to Persia".

    Regime change is Syria is an important step towards that goal. This is part of a larger plan. It's very unfortunate for those who stand in the path of "US interests".

    Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

    by truong son traveler on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:47:52 PM PDT

    •  sometimes the "larger plan" just kinda happens (2+ / 0-)

      Life's like that sometimes. Yes, all nations engage in strategic planning. However, one also has to consider that shit happens, frequently and everwhere. And so more strategerising takes place all the time. And sometimes that may make things appear to have unfolded according a … well, a larger plan.

      In any case, a tip for the links.

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:19:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The strategic planning to destabilize Syria (2+ / 0-)

        and remove Assad started in 2005. The Iraq War gave a boost to the Shia at the expense of the Sunni and the US had to try and remedy this.

        The Redirection
        Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
        by Seymour M. Hersh March 5, 2007

        Efforts to curb Iran’s influence have involved the United States in worsening Sunni-Shiite tensions.

        A STRATEGIC SHIFT

        In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy.
        ...
        Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.

        ...Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

        There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

        Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”
        ...

        •  I thought it was part of a 5 year plan started (0+ / 0-)

          around 9/11, according to Westley Clark.

          Of course western imperialism aways has schemes, plans etc. showing that is not the same as showing what is really happening.

          What you seem to miss, as do far too many on the US left, is that last year the people of MENA, the Arabs, autonomously determined to rise up and throw off their monarchies - Mubarak, Qaddafi, Ben Ali, & Assad.

          They did this.

          This was not part of some grand western scheme. They were not "orchestrated."

           (although the west can certainly be counted upon to messy around and try to shape events)

          The Arab street, that has shown incredible courage and creativity in the past 18 months are not somebody's useful idiots. They know what they are doing.

          The UK, US, EU, Russian & China are all scrambling to shape events, but they aren't the main actors or motivator here, the Arab masses are.

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 10:20:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Destabilization of Syria goes back further than (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice

            9/11. Here's a report done in 1996 by the very same people that produced the paper that Westley Clark was quoting from. These people were also the people who successfully pushed for and engineered the Iraq War II in Washington. Recognize the names?

            A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

            Following is a report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000."
            ...
            Securing the Northern Border

            Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:

                striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan.

                paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.

                striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.

            A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

            A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the "Clean Break" report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel.[1] The report explained a new approach to solving Israel's security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on "Western values". It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

            Project for the New American Century

            Calls for regime change in Iraq during Clinton years

            The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC throughout the 1997-2000 Iraq disarmament crisis.[6][7]

            Richard Perle, who later became a core member of PNAC, was involved in similar activities to those pursued by PNAC after its formal organization. For instance, in 1996 Perle composed a report that proposed regime changes in order to restructure power in the Middle East. The report was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm and called for removing Saddam Hussein from power, as well as other ideas to bring change to the region.

    •  Libyan fighters reported to have been killed (2+ / 0-)

      in Syria.

      Libyans die in Syrian fighting

      Islamist websites have confirmed the deaths of three Libyans during fighting against Syrian government troops in the Baba Amr district of the city of Homs.

      The dead men are said to be part of a Libyan contingent at least 100 strong, mostly from the Benghazi area, that entered Syria last December via Lebanon....

      The web sites “Channel Benghazi” and “Almukhtar Revolution of Libya” both reported that the men were killed on Monday. Another web site, “February 17th Revolution – Alawakir Youth”, which is connected to the Alakori clan, confirming the third death, stated that Ahmed: “Went for jihad and to support our brothers in Syria a month ago”.

      This confirmation that Libyans are fighting and now dying in Syria comes amid growing speculation that the NTC has been supplying arms, as well as fighters to the Free Syrian Army.
      ...

      •  There is no question that the Libyan (0+ / 0-)

        revolutionaries have been helping their brothers and sisters in Syria. They have traveled there with and without NTC support, many in the spirit of Che.

        I believe the know the have gained from hard won experience on how to wage a people's war under very similar circumstances will prove crucial to the eventual Syrian people's victory.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 12:15:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Libya is a foreign country that needs to stay out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          protectspice

          The US was calling for a UN mandated arms embargo at this very same time. Also there was a ceasefire in force since 12 April.

          They have traveled there with and without NTC support, many in the spirit of Che
          FUCK!!! Spirit of Che!!!!

          Do you even know the history of Che? He was involved in Guatemala's social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz. He believed neocolonialism and imperialism were the root causes of economic inequalities and social injustices. He became a guerrilla fighter when the CIA, under Operation PBSUCCESS engineered the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état.

          If you go to the links, you will see direct parallels to what is happening in Syria. Read your sig line - "Remember history"

          You come across like an agent for Operation Mockingbird

          I believe the know the have gained from hard won experience on how to wage a people's war under very similar circumstances will prove crucial to the eventual Syrian people's victory.
          Yes. The Libyan "revolution" was armed from the very beginning from outside sources. The Syrian conflict has very similar overtones. Just look at your own propagandizing to get the west to intervene militarily.
          21 indicted in connection with ‘Lutfallah II’
          May 4, 2012

          Military prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr indicted 21 people, including customs agents and crew members of the Syria-bound Lutfallah II vessel that was seized over the weekend in Lebanese territorial waters near Batroun.

          They were charged with “buying and shipping large quantities of weapons, munitions and explosive supplies from Libya to Lebanon . “They were also charged with forming an evil group … with the intention of carrying out terrorist acts by means of these weapons" National News Agency reported.

        •  Here's further reports about Libyan Islamic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          protectspice

          fighters going to Syria.

          Libyan fighters join "free Syrian army" forces

          Libyan sources conveyed in recent days that 600 rebel fighters have already gone from Libya to Syria in order to support the Syrian opposition. The sources explained that the announcement of Libyan interim leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil regarding his country's willingness to provide support for the rebels in Syria, has actually opened the door to volunteers. The source pointed out that there is coordination between the Libyan interim government and the Syrian opposition.

          The source added that the Libyan rebels entered Syria through Turkey, to join "the free Syrian army" in order to counter the pro-Bashar al-Assad forces, asserting that the door is still open to more volunteers in Libya in case they wish to fight.

          One good aspect of this is that these fighters will not be in Libya to destabilize the upcoming elections. Jalil is a shrewd politician. He is acting just like Gaddafi did when he encouraged the groups to leave the country or go to jail. They went to Iraq and killed Americans.
  •  Tartus is the main reason for Russia's stance (0+ / 0-)

    Putin would like very much to maintain a position in the Mediterranean. And he's feeling cocky now that he's back in charge. But the bottom line is that if Assad's regime crumbles, the Russians will not be welcome at Tartus any longer.

    And i've been wondering for months now if anyone in the Syrian opposition has been thinking about trying to sink a Russian warship in the port. Hopefully, if they have, they've also carefully considered how that might make things a whole lot worse.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:43:34 PM PDT

  •  The russophobes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    will have to make up another paranoid fantasy to keep the voters scared after Syria is over.  I'm guessing Iran.

  •  Comparing Russia's move to Vietnam is histrionics. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice, Claudius Bombarnac

    Pure and simple.

    The underlying reasons behind either conflict are far more complex than a false equivalency between two powers defending bases during different eras for different reasons. No offense, but that sounds like the kind of one-dimensional logic I'd expect from a conservative pundit trying to con us into another war.

    "A man doesn't save a century, or a civilization, but a militant party wedded to a principle can." - Adlai E. Stevenson

    by Zutroy on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 12:53:32 AM PDT

  •  About that "base"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    Well, after reading all the comments here, I've decided to add my 2 cents worth. My conclusion will be at the bottom.

    My background: I grew up in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, and served six years in the Coast Guard. I've seen my share of naval and Coast Guard bases and am quite familiar with what those facilities entail on the military and physical sides.

    The Russian "base" at Tartus is a joke, plain and simple. In using Google Earth to look at what little there is of Tartus Port (as a whole), the base consists of about 15-20% of the entire area, and is not physically separated from the civil port area. It consists of about 2400' of pier space, has a small shipyard (for small ships naturally) some support buildings, and not much else. It also looks pretty run down and unkempt. There is no other area in or near Tartus that even comes close to resembling a naval base.

    The Google imagery is dated 3/30/2011, so the physical plant is probably unchanged since then. Only small patrol craft are visible, some 19 ships in all, ranging in size from 60 to 260' long. Some are missile-equipped gunboats, most aren't even that big. I think they're Syrian Navy, not Russian Navy, as they are too small for easy overseas deployment, yet are very useful for a state such as Syria.

    There is no fueling facility at this 'base,' which means they are dependent on local suppliers to bring in barges of fuel oil, which may be problematic in a war zone if you don't bring your own. There are no visible communications facilities (my military specialty), or even a helicopter pad. There simply isn't much there at all that is truly worth anything.

    What this is is an example of "basing rights." The US is setting up a similar situation in Singapore for some smaller combatant ships (LCS class) there: it will consist of dockspace, utilities, and a small command center ashore handling basic functions of supplies, communications, and support for the assigned ships. There will be no giant piers or living facilities with base exchanges, no airfield, just the basics. It also doesn't piss off the locals very much. Those of you with longer memories of the relevant data can think back to what Subic Bay in the Philippines was like, and Singapore will be the antithesis of that.

    Now what are the Russians doing (IMO)? Showing the flag, protecting the Syrian Navy from the FSA, and giving the illusion of power projection that Russia is important and all that. Oh, and serve as an evacuation route as well for all those "advisers" currently in country. If they bring in about 300 Naval Infantry personnel (their version of Marines), they will be able to adequately "defend" the base. If a mass evacuation is to take place, they'll likely bring in more so that convoys to Damascus can be run safely if needed. Think of the fall of Saigon and you'll be close to answering "why?"

    •  It is interesting that the ship bringing in the (0+ / 0-)

      dreaded "armed Russian troops" is the Iman - a small fuel tanker.

      http://www.acus.org/...

      •  Whoa...thanks for the link! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac

        That's a tiny tanker! That's the smallest one I've seen in many a year, maybe 15-20K tons gross. It does have large accommodation spaces though, look at all the cabins at the stern. It will probably hold about 150-200 troops tightly crammed together.

        Judging by the design, that ship may be as old as me (50+)! Yet another aged asset that is no great loss if attacked, outside of propaganda purposes that is.

        •  You may be interested in knowing why there (0+ / 0-)

          are Russian marines on board. They are for protection of the civilian crew as well as providing security for other vessels against pirates under "Atalanta".

          Notice how the western MSM (and this diarist who fell for it) has twisted the facts for the purposes of propagandizing.

          http://translate.google.com/...

          Russian warships off the coast of Syria, no, said the Defense Ministry

          "No Russian warships, performing tasks from the shores of Syria, no. In the Syrian port of Tartus 10 days of the ship auxiliary fleet tanker" Iman "which performs the tasks logistics - the replenishment of fuel and food - of the Black Sea and Northern Fleets, which provides security shipping in the Gulf of Aden anti-piracy ", - told RIA Novosti representative of management information and the Defense Ministry.

          Previously, some Russian and foreign media reported that the Black Sea Fleet tanker "Iman" on board which is a group of Marines, ostensibly to perform combat missions off the coast of Syria.

          The representative of the Russian Defense Ministry said that the crew of the tanker "Iman" is made up of civilian personnel, has been given protection.

          Fighting pirates in the Gulf of Aden is being conducted under a 2008 naval mission EU "Atalanta" and launched in 2009 NATO operation Ocean Shield. During the operation, in addition to the primary task of combating piracy, it is also expected to help countries in the region to start their own measures against pirates.

          Atalanta
          The EU participates in the work of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and has established cooperative frameworks and arrangements to enable EU NAVFOR - ATALANTA to cooperate effectively with other naval forces and assets deployed in the region such as NATO, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and also units from China, India, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and others – all with varying mandates and mission objectives.

          On 17 November 2009, the Council welcomed the proactive role taken by EUNAVFOR-Atalanta in the coordination between the multinational, national and regional naval forces operating in the area to ensure de-confliction, shared awareness and coordination in the disruption of piracy.

      •  Once again (0+ / 0-)

        Your argument on the facts is no longer with me but with the NY Times and a host of other publications, from the NY Times today, as cited above:

        Introducing an unpredictable new element into the Syrian crisis, a news agency said on Monday that two Russian naval vessels with marines on board were ready to head for Syria to protect Russian citizens and a naval base there, in what would be the first known reinforcement of Moscow’s military presence since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

        The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian naval official, who was not identified, as saying that the two amphibious assault ships would head for the Mediterranean port of Tartus, where Russia has its only warm-water naval base in the region.

        Now where did you get the crap you are trying to peddle to the effect that its just this one old rusty tanker ship is all?

        More to the point, why are you here on the pages of the Daily Kos with over 6k comments and no diaries, posting bull shit in defense a dictator that is massacring his own people as we write?

        Have you no shame?

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:55:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your link and quote in your post do not match. (0+ / 0-)

          Here's what it does say:

          http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Unnamed Russian officers who have discussed the possibility of deploying Russian marines suggested a limited mission of protecting the pier at Tartus and evacuating Russian citizens.

          Care to redo?
          Now where did you get the crap you are trying to peddle to the effect that its just this one old rusty tanker ship is all?

          From your own report
          . You were the one using the term "anti-terrorism" and "elite troops". Here's your misleading report:
          Report: More Russian troops heading to Syria
          By Carlo Munoz - 06/15/12 03:03 PM ET

          Russia is deploying another batch of troops to Syria as Moscow and Washington continue to spar over the best way to resolve the worsening crisis in the country.

          A Russian warship carrying a small contingent of troops is en route to the country's naval base in Tartus to provide security for the installation, U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday.

          In March, Moscow reportedly sent elite units of Russian marines and special-operations forces to Syria to conduct anti-terrorism missions in the country.

          Let us know when the next "batch of troops" leaves.
  •  This is interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

    and we should know soon if it actually takes place. This is by way of Voltairenet.org, an article written by Thierry Meyssan.

    Below are a few paragraphs from the article which claims that NATO will soon have a vast disinformation system up and running in Syria.

    In a few days, perhaps as early as Friday, June 15, at noon, the Syrians wanting to watch their national TV stations will see them replaced on their screens by TV programs created by the CIA. Studio-shot images will show massacres that are blamed on the Syrian Government, people demonstrating, ministers and generals resigning from their posts, President Al-Assad fleeing, the rebels gathering in the big city centers, and a new government installing itself in the presidential palace.

    This operation of disinformation, directly managed from Washington by Ben Rhodes, the US deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, aims at demoralizing the Syrians in order to pave the way for a coup d’etat. NATO, discontent about the double veto of Russia and China, will thus succeed in conquering Syria without attacking the country illegally. Whichever judgment you might have formed on the actual events in Syria, a coup d’etat will end all hopes of democratization.

    The Arab League has officially asked the satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media, either public or private (Syria TV, Al-Ekbariya, Ad-Dounia, Cham TV, etc.) A precedent already exists because the Arab League had managed to censure Libyan TV in order to keep the leaders of the Jamahiriya from communicating with their people. There is no Hertz network in Syria, where TV works exclusively with satellites. The cut, however, will not leave the screens black.

    The article is very detailed and does not hesitate to name names.

    Thierry writes that this operation has a double intent, one of spreading false information and the second which aims at censuring all possible responses.

    If true we could see reports of this same disinformation in the establishment media.

    Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

    by truong son traveler on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:00:59 AM PDT

    •  I did a little checking on Thierry Meyssan. (0+ / 0-)

      From Wikipedia we have:

      On 22 August 2011, Meyssan while stuck at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, reported live, by voice, to the Russian television network Russia Today. He claimed that, contrary to other reports, Gaddafi forces had driven the rebels from most of the city.
      In that case either he had no clue what he was talking about or he was a Qaddafi mouth piece. Remember Baghdad Bob?

      Here is more of what he had to say about Libya 16 August 2011:

      Five months into the bombing campaign, it is no longer possible to believe the initial official version of the events and the massacres attributed to the "Gaddafi regime"
      Now they keep finding mass graves in the desert and the evidence of Qaddafi massacres are overwhelming. He was covering for Qaddafi then as he covers for Assad now. Judging from how often he is on Russia Today, he is almost certainly being paid by them.
      They still believe, in fact, that in February the "Gaddafi regime" crushed the protests in Benghazi with brutal force and bombed civilian districts in Tripoli, while the Colonel himself was warning of "rivers of blood" if his compatriots continued to challenge his authority.

      During my two months’ investigation on the ground, I was able to verify that these accusations were pure propaganda intoxication, designed by the NATO powers to create the conditions for war, and relayed around the world by their television media, in particular Al-Jazeera, CNN, BBC and France24.

      Except now there is plenty of evidence of Qaddafi's war crimes.

      This one is my favorite:

      Every Friday, a large demonstration in support of the regime is organized in a different city and all experts are unanimous in considering that Colonel Gaddafi enjoys at least 90% of popular support in Tripolitania and 70% across the entire country, including the "rebel" areas.
      You can can it instead of putting his guy forward in defense of yet another brutal dictator. He simply lies too much.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 01:06:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very misleading diary. But it does demonstrate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice

    how media can be used to misinform and propagandize.

    Here's Why The Reports About Russian Troops In Syria Are Very Misleading

    Multiple outlets (including us) picked up yesterday's ABC News story about Russian anti-terrorism troops arriving in Syria, and a version of the story currently sits near the top of Reddit under the title "Russian troops roll into Syria to support Assad" — as the story was originally titled when syndicated to Yahoo News.

    Given that Russia has today decided to approve UN and Red Cross-led efforts to control the violence in Syria, this story confused us — Russia seemed to be sending mixed messages.

    Remember, this is the key part of the story (pay attention to the juxtaposition of sentences):
    ...
    But the idea that this anti-terrorist squad would actively be supporting the Syrian regime seems unlikely. While Russian domestic policy is sometimes stunningly cynical, Russia's foreign policy is, if nothing else, based in extreme realism.
    ...
    See Also: For All The Bluster, These 3 Reasons Show Russia's Position On Iran May Be Surprisingly Sane

    •  Russian foreign policy wasn't 2 releasitic when it (0+ / 0-)

      came to Libya was it? They bet against the Libyan people and they lost. When Qaddafi used his combat air craft against protesters, they lied about it, asI showed here. They claimed to be against "intervention" in Libya but now they are trying to get their own people out that were providing military assistance to Qaddafi.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 01:52:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Russia's RZD will continue to build the new (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        multibillion Libyan rail-line.

        They bet against the Libyan people and they lost.
        This doesn't look like a loss to me:
        Libyan PM says Russia welcome in Libya

        WASHINGTON — Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib said Friday that Russian business is welcome in Libya and that Tripoli is ready to honor existing contracts but he regretted Moscow's role during the revolution.
        ...
        In the years before Kadhafi's ouster in August, Russia secured lucrative contracts in the oil industry, railroads and defense.

        "This was a costly revolution, it wasn't easy. You (Russians) are welcome to come back. Keep in mind we don't want the past regime any more," Kib said.
        ...

        But Qaddafi son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, said warplanes had hit only ammunition dumps.

        He did not say why jets had carried out the air strikes, but on Sunday he accused protesters of raiding ammunition depots in the eastern city of Benghazi.

        All this proves is why the ammunition dump blew up and how the rebels got armed  within several days of the start of the conflict.
        They claimed to be against "intervention" in Libya but now they are trying to get their own people out that were providing military assistance to Qaddafi.
        That's nonsense. You are trying to allege that the Russian government is complicit.
        Russians accused of assisting Kaddafi regime face trial in Tripoli

        The Libyan authorities on Monday said that the detainees are suspected of launching missiles. "They are charged with helping prepare the launches of "surface to air" missiles, whose aim was to shoot down NATO planes which were conducting a UN-approved mission to defend civilians," AFP cited Ali Sheikhm the Libyan Army's General Headquarters spokesman.

        Another charge against the detainees is their assistance of Kaddafi's regime by suppressing the revolution and attacking civilians. "These people are seen as mercenaries of the former regime," Ali Sheikh said. According to him, the accused arrived in Libya "without informing their governments and without having their support." The defendants denied all allegations.  

  •  "An Obama arms bazaar is going on" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice
    US Sets Another Record on Defense Sales, Already

    "Despite the global economic strain, demand for U.S. defence products and services is stronger than ever," Andrew J. Shapiro, an assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department, said on Thursday.

    He confirmed that the U.S., long the world's largest weapons exporter, has already seen more than 50 billion dollars in government-to-government military sales this fiscal year.

    "This represents at least a 20-billion-dollar increase over fiscal year 2011, and we still have more than a quarter of the fiscal year left," Shapiro said, speaking with reporters. The current fiscal year will end in September.
    ...
    "An Obama arms bazaar is going on – this is further evidence of that," Jeff Abramson, director of Control Arms, an international civil-society alliance based in Washington, told IPS.
    ...
    "It's no longer just our ambassadors who promote U.S. security cooperation abroad. Senior State Department officials regularly advocate on behalf of the U.S. bidders on foreign government and foreign military procurements," Shapiro said.

    "We have seen tremendous growth and sales with developing countries and emerging powers such as Brazil and India, and this speaks volumes about our diplomatic efforts."
    ...
    According to Amnesty International, a watchdog group, today it is easier to trade in weapons than in bananas.

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