Middle East military tensions around Syria shot up again Monday, June 18, with the news reported by the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars that a joint Russian-Chinese-Iranian exercise is to take place in Syria.
It was described as “the biggest of its kind ever staged in the Middle East” with 90,000 personnel, 400 air planes and 900 tanks taking part.
As part of its preparations, Beijing is reported to have asked Egyptian authorities to permit the passage through the Suez Canal in late June of 12 naval ships heading for the Syrian port of Tartus, where Moscow maintains a naval and marine base.
DEBKAfile reported earlier this week that Russian naval vessels with marines on board were heading for Tartus. The Iranian media did not itemize their contribution to the joint exercise.
DEBKAfile stresses that this would be the first time that substantial Russian and Chinese military strength has ever been deployed in Syria or anywhere else in the Middle East. It means that the two powers are prepared to parade their unabashed partnership with the Iranian and Syrian armies for the shared purpose of obstructing US-European-Arab military intervention in Syria.
A large-scale Russian and Chinese military presence in the embattled country would expect to deter the United States from leading a military operation against Bashar Assad and his regime.
No date was attached to the report but the exercise may possibly take place before the end of June 2012.
The failure of US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico to agree on terms for Syria and Iran holds the potential for three equally dire scenarios to unfold in Syria:
It could degenerate into another Afghanistan; or another Balkans, or al Qaeda’s next war arena. Potentially counterpoised in Syria today are, on the one side, the United States, Europe and their Arab allies; on the other, are Russia, China, Iran and Hizballah.
Source of text and video: DEBKAfile
DEBKAfile was founded by a team of journalists in June 2000 as an independent Internet Web site, providing an intelligence and security news service. The site deliver intensive news coverage and analysis of global terror before it hit the front pages as the looming threat to world security, the people behind the site claims.