The idea is not new — Iran has long been eyeing the plans to establish its own naval base on the Mediterranean coast. The other option, besides using one of the ports that is Syria (though geographical, even political reasons) simply no.
So the message that Iran leases on October 1, the port city of Latakia for their own purposes, was to be expected. It is expected that a similar agreement was signed by presidents Bashar Assad and Rouhani Asanam during the February meeting in Tehran. And now began the logistical preparations of the berths and port infrastructure for the arrival of new “owners”.
Naturally, estimating these event we will be exclusively from the point of view favorable or unfavorable to Russia. In this situation, as usual, has its pitfalls. One of them — it is obvious that Syria’s President Assad gradually becomes free from the influence of Moscow, not as often as before conferring with the so-called Russian President Vladimir Putin and is not asking for military assistance. This is normal for a Middle East when the Sultan begins to forget those who helped defend the Palace, raising its head, over which no longer cut through steel air sharp scimitars.
In General, Putin and Assad were not consulted, deciding that the stake was three years ago an agreement with Rouhani, it makes no sense the passage of time to recall it now. Bashar Assad feels more confident lately in the presidential chair and becoming more independent politician, which is also quite understandable phenomenon. Of course, that Syria is now very important to restore relations with its neighbors — Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Israel.
The first three are all relatively clear and understandable, special conflict situations there. More complicated with Turkey — and there are territorial disputes, and a different attitude to the PKK (Kurdistan located on the territory of both countries), and the consequences of the current civil war in Syria. As a third deterrent is Russia.
With Israel’s generally bad. While the fighting for the Golan heights was not conducted for forty years, Syria considers them its illegally occupied territory. Plus aviation tel Aviv regularly conducts missile strikes in Syria, aiming, allegedly, are there Iranian troops.
Iran, despite the lack of a common land border with Syria is the main ally of Damascus in the middle East, and members of the IRGC (Islamic revolutionary Guards Corps) in the amount of not less than 12 thousand people took (take) part in the fighting on the side of government forces. It is clear that Assad is willing to go for contacts with Iran, including the granting of a naval base on its territory. Perhaps keeping in mind the fact that the Iranian air defenses, which will deploy in Latakia to shield military objects, they will shoot down Israeli planes. Not what Russia is doing now.
Russia supplied the Syrian army with anti-aircraft missile systems s-300 and trained to work with them, the Syrian crews. It was assumed that the s-300 “Favorit” will greatly change the strategy of defense of Damascus. The more that Syria had delivered the most “advanced” complexes s-300PMU-2, can destroy aerodynamic targets at ranges from 3 to 200 kilometers, ballistic — in the range of from 5 to 40 kilometers. The target detection occurs at a distance of 300 kilometers.
As far as we know, at the moment in Syria there are 3 divisions of anti-aircraft missile systems s-300 “Favorit” (8 mobile units each). In order to create a “zone” air defense around Damascus and a number of adjacent airports, this is enough, but not to repel a massive air raids throughout the country. It is argued that Russia is creating in Syria a full-fledged classical defense, which will include a system of rocket fire near and far radii, a cover of SAM and “all-altitude” radar field.
But now there was such situation that the Russian military advisers in Syria can only teach their colleagues the skills of air combat, without interfering in the course of the fighting. And those Russian air defense forces that cover the base in Tartus and Mamimi responsible for the safety of its military facilities from air attack. Otherwise, the Russians shot down the Americans or Israelis scandal with implications not mine. It is likely that the Syrian military did not give the opportunity to shoot down the Israeli aircraft complex s-300, not to provoke a conflict situation. Or, even worse, to shoot down a civilian airliner somewhere on the approach to the Lebanese Tripoli.
It is clear that Damascus is not very happy with such a “toothless” the position of Moscow and is ready to work with Tehran that Israeli planes will not stand on ceremony. The more that is in service with the Iranian army are the Russian s-300PMU-1, which will be used to shield military objectives.
For Russia, a broader involvement of any third party, even a friendly Iran has a pure image value, because it is believed that Moscow is the ultimate guarantor of the stability and future peace in Syria. Strengthening the role of Tehran will lead to the loss of such items. Seriously affected the Russian-Israeli relations, since tel Aviv would assume that any attack from Syria of Iranian military coordinated with Moscow, which, in fact, not just “withhold” Tehran.
There is another, not voiced Moscow’s plan, which actually might sanction such a deal between Damascus and Tehran, did not prevent the possibility of placing the Iranian naval base in Latakia. The assertion that the proximity of this city on the Mediterranean sea to Tartus, where a Russian naval base, and Heimia, which deployed the main force VC of the Russian Federation, can put them at risk of attack from the United States and Israel, is not quite correct.
From Latakia to Tartous — 72 km in a straight line, to Hamina — 24 km, which eliminates the “accident” of falling rockets, especially that the Russian protected his air defense systems (s-400, zrpk “Carapace-C1” and “Tunguska”).
Likely that such a “concession” on the part of Moscow at the location of the naval base of Iran in Syria is connected with the renewal plans of connecting the Railways of Iran, Iraq and Syria into a single unit. This strategic project was launched before the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011 and was suspended for obvious reasons. It was assumed that thus Iraq and Iran will get through the Syrian ports access to the Mediterranean, and she railway in the future will continue to the East — to China. Syria even managed to implement the project is 97 percent, but during the fighting, a significant part of the road was destroyed. In Iraq lacks only a few kilometers of railway, and in Iran they are up to the Iraqi border near the town of Basra.
Russia by train this way also can get an opportunity to land outlet via Syria to the Mediterranean sea through the Iranian marine terminals in the Caspian sea. Here is seen not only in a position to supply its military bases in Syria, but also to establish a more favorable flow of trade for the entire middle East.
By a strange coincidence, these two news — Iranian base at Latakia and the railway between Syria and Iran, appeared almost simultaneously. Maybe this is all logical?
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