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Russian expert says Mideast made narrow escape from major war Tuesday

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September 03, 23:39 UTC+4 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, September 3 (Itar-Tass) - Launching of two ballistic missiles in the Mediterranean water area testifies to the ongoing U.S. preparations for air strikes against Syria, a top-rank Russian military expert said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass Tuesday night.

The U.S. and Israel actually wanted to watch the reaction to the launch on the part of Russia, China and Iran, said Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, Ret. From 1996 through to 2001, Gen Ivashov was chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Department for International Defense Cooperation. He is President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems at present.

He believes that the missiles were launched for the purposes of reconnaissance.

“The thing is ballistic missiles won’t be used if the U.S. and their allies begin an intervention in Syria,” Gen Ivashov said. “While a cruise missile can hit directly not only the target as such but even a separate element of it, a ballistic missile very definitely won’t hit the target due to the impact dispersal effect. Hence it’s inefficient for the purpose.”

“Those who launched the two ballistic missiles towards Syria obviously hoped Iran would consider this launch as an attack on Damascus, its ally,” Gen Ivashov went on. “The Pentagon clearly wanted to see if the Iranians would respond to this by delivering a ballistic missile strike at Israel.”

“The provocation would have thus played into Binyamin Netanyahu’s hands and would have helped him to convince his nation Israel should throw its shoulder into a joint aerospace operation conducted by the U.S., Turkey and Saudi Arabia against Syria,” he said.

“Had Iran responded to the challenge, the U.S. would have gotten weighty reasons for attacking Syria by way of support for Israel as its ally, since Barack Obama still doesn’t have congressional support for an operation against the Syrian government either among the rank-and-file Americans or in the Gongress. In the meantime, the necessity of defending Israel would offer an important argument for shaping up public opinion in favor of ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime.”

“From the angle of view of military strategy, the launch of ballistic missiles compels Syria and Iran to bring into full-scale action all the tracking systems they have,” Gen Ivashov said. “Air defense systems, too, start reacting to missile launches.”

“When this happens, the U.S. warships, aircraft, and ground-based tracking systems immediately do the computerized identification of all the locations in Syria and Iran where combat operations control is exercised from - their working frequencies, the places where radar stations are deployed, their coordinates, technical characteristics, and so on.”

“Right after that, radio-electronic jamming of the enemy’s combat control networks goes into action. It is followed by string missile strikes, with the data on location of the enemy’s control and command systems loaded into the programs.”

“As a result, the Syrian and Iranian Armed Forces should lose control and coordination and lose the war eventually,” Gen Ivashov said.

This is a technological side of the provocation but there is a political side to the missile launch, too.

“Israel is demonstrating blatant disregard for the norms of international law,” Gen Ivashov said. “The Israeli Defense Ministry did not issue a warning to the countries, the ships of which were cruising in the Mediterranean at the moment. More than that, Israel has a bigger arsenal of nukes than France although it is not a member of the world nuclear club.”

“Nonetheless, Israeli government was prepared to set the machine of a major war in the Middle East into motion Tuesday - with support from the Pentagon,” he said.

Another Russian military expert commented earlier this year on the role that an element of spontaneity may play in triggering a large-scale armed conflict.

Major-General Pavel Zolotaryov, Ret., a deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute for the U.S. and Canada Studies made the comment in spring 2013 with regard to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. “The Korean crisis may pose a danger to the world due a possibility of haphazard developments,” he said.

“When two countries, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea keep their Armed Forces in a huge tension, a factor of spontaneity can play a very bad role,” Gen Zolotaryov said. “Suppose someone has a nervous breakdown and fires a shot and then unpredictable developments start snowballing.”

A risk of a chain of haphazard events is looming in the situation around Syria, too.