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December 05, 2011

Syria holds military manoeuvres: trying to divert attention abroad

December 05, 2011

December 05, 2011

The state of the Syrian army's unity is very interesting. How is it holding together? Very strange indeed. But I suspect that these manoeuvres are an army unity exercise, to tell the soldiers that Syria is facing an external threat, and it is not only about protecting the regime. It is also a message to the Free Syrian Army, the defectors who are launching attacks against the Syrian military, and are being supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other NATO member states like France. Here is a good article on those manoeuvres:

"Syria's military conducts war game every year but these manoeuvres were of a higher-level, combining missile tests, the air force and ground troops.
State TV said the exercise was meant to test "the capabilities and the readiness of missile systems to respond to any possible aggression."
The drill showed Syrian missiles and troops were "ready to defend the nation and deter anyone who dares to endanger its security" and that the missiles hit their test targets with precision, the TV said."

Why is Russia supporting Syria? Of course, one of the reasons is geopolitics, but there is also money. David Hearst offers a brief in his Guardian article, (it is worth reading, except the part where he makes the suggestion that Moscow fears a civil war in Dagestan after Syria):


Why is Russia engaging so heavily with Syria, where it did not with Libya or Iran? After all, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev banned the sale of R-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran.
The first answer is money. Apart from active arms contracts worth $4bn, the Moscow Times reported recently that Russia's investment in Syrian infrastructure, energy and tourism amounts to $19.4bn in 2009. A Russian company, Stroitransgaz, is building a natural gas processing plant 200km east of Homs and is providing the technical support for the Arab gas pipeline. The Tatarstan-based Tatneft began pumping Syrian oil last year and in January vowed to spend $12.8m drilling wells near the Iraqi border.

Here is a photo of the Russian Naval base at Tartus:


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