Unbelievably, it is not an exaggeration to say we stand on the brink of a full-blown war between East and West. It appears that America has finally decided that no matter what, Syria, backed by Russia either packs up and vacates or there will be a war. It is not possible that America will back down now given the scale of resources it is pushing up to the front lines, which reportedly includes multiple battleships armed with hundreds of cruise missiles and at least one nuclear-armed submarine.
Foreign Policy headlines with: “For the Second Strike on Syria, Trump Will Have to Go Big“. Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University said: “There are going to be people in the U.S. military who will want to strike really hard.” Another part of the article reads: “Whether or not such a large-scale operation will lead the United States into a confrontation with Assad’s main patron, Russia, is less clear.”
The Washington Times reports “The Navy has sent four warships — USS Ramage, USS Mahan, USS Gravely and USS Barry — armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea amid violence in Syria. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military actions, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles as they did against Libya in 2011.”
SouthFront reports that: “These four guided-missile destroyers together have up to 240 Tomahawk cruise missiles. In total, the US Navy could have about 406 Tomahawks. Nuclear submarines are also deployed in the region.”
Star and Stripes reports an additional Navy battlegroup are departing the US this morning (11th April) to join the other US destroyers: “The aircraft carrier will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and the guided-missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke, USS Bulkeley, USS Forrest Sherman and USS Farragut. The destroyers USS Jason Dunham and USS The Sullivans will join the strike group later, a Navy statement said. The strike group, carrying 6,500 sailors and Carrier Air Wing One, will cruise alongside the German frigate FGS Hessen. It remains unclear what the upcoming strike group deployment might entail.”
The Russian naval facility in Tartus is a leased military installation of the Russian Navy located on the northern edge of the seaport of the Syrian city of Tartus. According to CNN Turk, US destroyers were at a distance of 100 km from the port of Tartus, as of Monday.
According to Pravda, the Chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee Vladimir Shamanov said that the United States did not notify Russia of the approach of the group of US warships to the Russian naval base in Tartus.
“A group of ships of the US Navy has appeared at a distance of 150 miles from the Tartus region. It is common in international practice potential participants of events in the area should be notified accordingly in advance. We have not been notified, although we had legally ratified the agreement on two bases in Tartus and Khmeymim,” the official said.
Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia said that the Americans would have to deal with “serious consequences” should they attack Syria.
“We have repeatedly warned the American side about highly negative consequences that may follow if they apply weapons against the legitimate Syrian government, and especially if the use of these weapons – God forbid, affects our military men, who legally stay in Syria,” the Russian Ambassador to the UN said at a meeting of the UN Security Council.
Newsweek reports that: “The Russian military has reportedly gone on high alert in anticipation of a potential U.S. attack on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
Russian Beriev A-50 early-warning aircraft were deployed to the coast, according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency. The elite Black Sea Fleet has declared a state of alert, according to Al Jazeera.
Gilbert Doctorow is a professional Russia watcher and actor in Russian affairs going back to 1965. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College (1967) and a past Fulbright scholar. Here is what some of he said just yesterday:
“The overriding issue of war or peace, survival of mankind or its utter destruction, is now being decided in Washington and NYC without so much as a ‘by your leave’ for the rest of us.
To anyone watching the UN Security Council “debate” last night it is crystal clear we are in the last days before all hell breaks out.
The wall of mutual contempt between Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya and US Ambassador Nikki Haley was on full display. Nebenzya took to pieces the entire argumentation of the US side regarding Douma and the ‘chemical attack.
He detailed the rebel caches of chemical weapons and equipment for their manufacture that Russian troops have found in the recently liberated territory of Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere. He spoke about the past provocations of faked chemical attacks including the one used to justify the US cruise missile launches on the Syrian air base at Sheirat a year ago. He linked the US training and support for terrorists in the fabrication of chemical arms to the faked nerve agent attack on the Skripals in the UK, which he described as a vaudeville act. He heaped scorn on Haley for her denying Russia the status of “friend,” saying that the US has no friends, only sycophants, whereas Russia has genuine friends, and seeks nothing more in relations with the United States than civilized discourse.
In response to this unprecedented denunciation of the USA and its policies of global hegemony, we heard from Nikki Haley the familiar story of how the UN Security Council could now either adopt a US resolution condemning the Assad regime, in effect, or admit its total irrelevance while the US continued on its own unilateral path to resolving the Syrian question.”
In Britain, the Financial Times, The Telegraph, BBC and others report that Theresa May is set to join America, the big problem is that this has not debated in parliament. MPs have said it would be a ‘huge mistake’ for the PM to bow to pressure from the US and intervene in the Syrian conflict without their backing.
In the past, MPs have approved air strikes on Islamic State in Syria but not on Russian forces directly. That would be an entirely different matter.
Even the Daily Mail reports that “As decisions on deploying armed forces come under a Royal prerogative, she (Theresa May) does not technically have to seek parliament’s permission before ordering airstrikes. While there is a precedent to gain the support of the fellow MPs before taking such drastic action, the move spectacularly backfired on David Cameron in 2013.“
In the meantime, the Mail also revealed that military chiefs had been instructed to prepare for a UK strike on Assad’s forces.
However, it is already known that British forces are already embedded with American troops in Syria, contrary to denials by Downing Street.
All it will take from here is one bullet fired at a Russian or US coalition soldier, one shell landing in the wrong place, one self-serving lunatic from the many factions in the theatre of the Syrian conflict to carry out what could be misinterpreted by another lunatic. America has clearly decided. France has decided. Britain is seemingly hesitating. Within days, Syria could determine the outcome of many things, not least, if East and West head into full-blown conflict, the outcome of which, could be far worse than we have ever seen in the Middle East before.