FLORES: Is Russia Playing S-300 Games with Syria? Israel Promises Continued War Crimes

It's time for a balanced and intellectually honest assessment of what's at play


Published on: Oct 4, 2018 @ 11:57 – The Israeli settler-colonial Zionist enterprise, appears to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. One the one hand, they are confronted with their unending desire for more power, land, and a weakened state for their imagined opponents. On the other, they are confronted with their insatiable greed, obstinance, bellicosity, arrogance, and inability to differentiate short term from long term interests.  These two insurmountable boundaries which define Zionist thinking is what has been leading the doomed project to its eventual dissolution.

Therefore, the news that Israel is not satisfied with the emergence of the S-300 in Syria, but yet cannot fail to carry out military operations in the neighboring country, is of no surprise. In fact Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said as much just on Wednesday in an interview with local radio station Reka.

He said this news for the first time in response to the statement made by his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on the recent delivery of air defense systems to Syria as a response to the ‘tragic incident’ with the Russian aircraft Il-20, which FRN believes was carried out by the French. This does not imply that Israel was not ultimately responsible, given Israel’s weight upon France’s foreign policy in the Levant.

We should note that this is the second quote from an Israel authority, the first being from Netanyahu himself, which is worded precisely the same way. Note that in neither instance is the word ‘bombing’ or ‘air campaign’ mentioned, rather the specific phrase ‘will continue to carry out operations’ is what is used.

FRN is aware of the numerous official reports which, though often contradictory in terms of time line and dates involved, seem to confirm that Syria has received the S-300 systems. Absent clear, photographic, or better, video evidence of the SAA unfurling these S-300’s to the public, painted to SAA standard, and deployed on location, there has been an editorial decision not to simply echo SAA or Russian official statements. This is because of the delicacy involved and numerous intrigues surrounding this story, as well as Russia’s less than perfect record in terms of delivering specifically this and similar weapons system to a number of states in the region, now.

FRN has also been made aware that in at least some of these reports, the Syrian forces will require 3 months of training before the systems are operational and manned by Syrians. Those reports have been confirmed. 

But what does this mean, and why? FRN cannot at this time speculate, but our commitment to understanding this story so far has still left open the possibility that the S-300 will not be fully operational in terms of sovereign control by the Syrian military itself, at least not in the near future, and according to these reports, not until 3 months.

The 3 months timeline explained by Shoigu, and reported on Russian propaganda outlets like Sputnik, deserves some further inquiries on a number of levels. The Syrians had first purchased the systems in 2014, but in response to Israeli pressure – indicating that either indeed Israel has significant leverage on the Kremlin or that the Kremlin was allowing such a simulacrum to exist for the aim of baiting the over-confident Zionist leadership – the Kremlin agreed not to supply the S-300’s to Syria, effectively reneging on the deal with Syria, at a time that it was desperately needed by Syria. FRN will not comment further on the number of losses or air strikes delivered to Syria that would not have been possible on the part of the Zionist aggressor, had Syria been equipped according to the already finalized and paid-for deal, back 4 years ago. At the same time, it would be incomplete not to include that in the final analysis, Syria would have lost the ground campaign to invading mercenary-takfiri forces of Daesh if not for the Russian campaign overall.

Wouldn’t, in this 4 year period, or perhaps in any number of the years prior to 2014 in which Syrians were expecting the S-300’s, or sometime between 1978 and 2018, in that 40 year period that the system has existed, and that Russia and China (with an identical copy called HQ-9) had it, there have been an opportunity, even a mandate, to learn how to use said systems? If not ‘hands on’, then at least in a preparatory way? Since the SAA would have been preparing eventually to need to use them, and to use them immediately upon delivery, given the context of a war raging since 2011, wouldn’t the SAA have already found a way to ‘train up’ on the system?

Given that Russia has had its own S-300’s in Syria for some time, since 2015, wouldn’t this interim have additionally been ideal to train Syrian forces on how to use the S-300’s? Indeed, since the order had already been made, and since the equipping of the Syrian forces with S-300’s would have been a contingency plan from day 1, and given that the possibility to arm the SAA with S-300’s would have been thought of before hand as the scenario indeed unfolded, wasn’t it already known that the SAA would ‘need’ to be equipped and by logical inference, trained beforehand or concurrently?

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And granted that if, and reasonably so, for any entirely innocuous reasons, Syrian forces had no clue what an S-300 looked like until today, is 3 months the standard training time? Will the courses be in Russian, and require an accompanying language course?

Imagine there was a war that threatened an entire nation, and whole S-300  brigades had been wiped out. There were still physical S-300 systems fresh from the factory that needed to deployed ASAP; are we to take from this that in such an event it would nevertheless take 3 months to train-up the next batch of recruits into the S-300 system? Since Syria is awash with ‘Russian advisers’ already intimately familiar with the S-300 systems which Russia itself uses already in Syria, can’t these systems be ready and be used today, and the SAA be trained in real-time?

Or is it at all likely that this 2-weeks ‘delivery’ timeline has effectively been pushed back to ‘3 months’ in order for horse trading and politics to do its work? It is difficult to conclude, but it would be irresponsible journalism and analysis not to pose all these above questions to the reading public. At the same time, none of these questions are themselves conclusive of anything, but they simply force themselves to be asked. This is because of the reality of the situation, and the Machiavellian nature of grand strategy, where Russia is working towards its own strategic interests in the Levant, not on some abstract crusade to right the world’s wrongs or fight darkness with light, or any other simple and naive Manichean mythologies that many still operate under. What is clear, however, is that Russia acting in its own interests and not the interests of the unipolar Atlanticists, is incidentally helping to establish a multipolar world order which, without any unnecessary moral qualifications or motives inserted, is engendering a rise in national and regional sovereignty on all corners of the globe.

And what FRN also needs to consider, with all this talk of transponders, IFF, auto tracking etc., will Syria nominally have these systems, but be unable to ‘press fire’ if the Israelis are coordinating with the Russians – as both parties have indicated they would – and the Israelis claim they are striking ‘Iranian targets’? More intelligent people have undoubtedly worked this all out, and have some plan in place. It would  be a critical and arrogant error to engage in standard liberal criticism of governments and policies, and indulge the narcissistic tendencies to believe without justified reasons, that the critic addressing the public has it all sorted while highly competent professionals entrusted with decisions that determine the outcome of history, do not have it also all sorted. There is generally a failure in liberal journalistic criticism to understand that in life-or-death matters of statecraft and war, that countless contingencies and strategies are devised to work through these challenges. The statements made by officials and military leaders in the course of this, represent less than 5% of the thinking going on, and the real reasons behind any given decision. Decisions are arrived at not on the fly, but using advanced computerized methods, Bayesian statistics, and different ‘A/B’ groups working independently as to avoid Abiline paradox, or group think. At the same time, we are confronted with the need to raise these questions in order to understand complex situations, without deference to official statements and their due authority.

As we recall, what started all this was the Russian reconnaissance aircraft with 15 military personnel on board that was supposedly shot down by mistake by the Syrian anti-aircraft defense on September 17th, in a botched return-fire during an Israeli aviation attack, which Moscow blamed for the incident.

Munazir Eid, a columnist for the Syrian daily Thawra , believes that the presence of these missiles in Syria’s anti-aircraft defense system will help deter Israeli aggression and serve as a “belt” against that state.

For Eid, the presence of such a system is a necessity in the fight against terrorist organizations, as well as being “an element of deterrence and a defensive wall against all those who intend to deconcentrate the Syrian Arab Army to continue the war against terrorism.”

He emphasizes that if a front is opened to combat the Zionist formation, including to free all occupied territories, these missiles will allow the Syrian Army to immediately drop 96 enemy missiles by firing 192 missiles at them, assuming a roughly 48% hit rate; as well as many other features such as ease of movement, detection by missile radars against the system and other advanced technologies.

While there can be no doubt that on the balance, the efficacy and qualitative assistance of the Russian campaign towards the liberation of Syria from the aggressor alliance against it has been critical, and impossible without it, there are any number of remaining questions about Russia’s strategy and intentions regarding Syria’s anti-air needs.

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