Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Russia threatens to sell S-300 missiles to Iran....

MOSCOW — Russia may scrap its ban on S-300 antiaircraft missile sales to Iran if Syrian President Bashar Assad is replaced, said Ruslan Pukhov, who heads a Russian defense think tank.

Then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree prohibiting the sale of Russian weapons, including S-300s, to Iran in 2010 after the United Nations imposed sanctions against the Islamic republic. Iran has sued Russia for breach of contract.

"The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions," Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said in an interview Tuesday. "If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn't like the outcome" of a peaceful transition to a new government, "it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and China, endorsed a United Nations plan for political transition in Syria on Saturday. Lavrov said the road map doesn't imply Assad's ouster and Russia says it will continue to block efforts in the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria to force him out.

Assad's government is fighting a growing insurrection in which as many as 17,000 people have died in the last 16 months, according to non-governmental organizations. At least 114 people were killed in Syria Monday, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria said in an e-mail.

"The fall of the Syrian government would significantly increase the chances of a strike on Iran," said Pukhov, who also sits on a Defense Ministry advisory board. "Resuming S-300 shipments to Iran may be a very timely decision."

Zioconned, utterly criminal and corrupt Western powers say the Persian Gulf nation is hiding a nuclear-weapons program, and the Zioconned United States and Israel have declined to discount the possibility of military strikes against its atomic installations, despite the fact that the NIE has repeatedly confirmed that no such programs exist since 2003 in IRAN....

Due to the export ban on S-300 exports to Iran Russia lost about $1 billion dollars, according to Pukhov's think tank. Russia built Iran's $1 billion Bushehr atomic plant, the country's first, and the country has said it would like to order new Russian-made nuclear power stations.

After shipments of S-300 were stopped in 2009, Iran also canceled talks on buying 40 TU-204 passenger aircraft, which would have added about $3.5 billion of revenue, CAST says.

President Vladimir Putin may resume shipments to Iran in retaliation for the U.S. selling weapons to Georgia and at the same time to promote Russia as an arms exporter, Pukhov said.

"Russia needs to bolster its image as an exporter as a decline in weapons exports is inevitable" because the country "is fulfilling its contract obligations in arms trade quicker than it gets new contracts," he said.

Russia has signed export contracts worth $5.7 billion this year, up from $3.3 billion in the first half of 2011, Putin said. It shipped $6.5 billion of defense equipment overseas in the first half of 2012, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

Arms exports more than doubled to $13.7 billion in 2011 from $6 billion in 2005 and exceeded $44 billion over the last seven years, Putin said on July 2 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Defense accounts for 2.5 percent of Russian exports.

Fifty-five countries including India, China, Venezuela, Syria and the U.S. buy Russian weapons. Sales of new-generation air defense system S-400s to China may begin as early as 2015, Pukhov said.

In Syria, Putin has focused on negotiations over sanctions or military intervention after Russia lost billions of dollars of arms and civilian contracts as a result of the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled autocratic regimes in the region.

Since 2006 Syria signed with Russia arms contracts for about $5.5 billion, according to CAST estimates. In 2012, Syria is due to receive Russian weapons for about $500 million, CAST estimates.

Russia has contracts with Syria to deliver fighter jets, antiaircraft systems and anti-tank systems, according to Pukhov's think tank. Vyacheslav Davidenko, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia's arms export monopoly, declined to comment....

Syria again and again....

Regional stability and moral considerations both require a transitional phase in Syria, not cold turkey Zioconned democracy.... Cold turkey Zioconned democracy coupled with regime collapse in Syria, given the historical record, risks bloody anarchy. And a transitional phase may require an implicit deal between the Zioconned United States and Iran. Iran and the Zioconned United States have a record of dealing with each other behind the scenes; the Zioconned Bush administration and the ayatollahs did likewise in Iraq even as they fought each other there.

The Iranians, like the Zioconned Americans, are already looking beyond Assad. They are identifying generals and leading businessmen who could rule in his place and maintain the overall regime structure. There may come a point where Zioconned American and Iranian interests in Syria overlap at least to the extent of agreeing on Assad's replacement next year.... Though, to repeat, the situation in Syria will probably have to further deteriorate before reaching that stage. Iran has to be made to feel that Assad is no longer an option. We are not there yet. The fact that Syrian air defenses were able to shoot down a Turkish plane without incurring a military response means Syria's security apparatus and its allies is still formidable.

The real horse-trading, if and when it comes, may involve Turkey and Iran. Zioconned Turkey wants to replace the entire regime structure; Iran wants the opposite. That's why both Ankara and Tehran will need to compromise, identifying high-ranking Syrians, probably military, who will protect each country's interests and upon whom a new regime can be based. If Zioconned Turkey and Iran can reach some sort of agreement, it can then be blessed by both the United States and Russia. The Zioconned Obama administration can play a role in this process, but to do so effectively will require more diplomatic realpolitik than it has demonstrated thus far in any crisis. This is all a long shot, but there may be no other way out that averts a worsening civil or regional war.

There is a stark realization in all of this: If the Zioconned United States reduces its strategy toward Iran to only stopping its nuclear enrichment program, it increases the probability of ascending bloodshed in Syria. Easing Assad out becomes easier when some deference is paid to Iran's and Russia's strategic interests. Zioconned Washington now wants two things that may not go together: handing Iran (and maybe Russia) a total strategic defeat in Syria, even as bloodshed is reduced there.

This may sound like appeasement, but keep in mind that Assad's Syria, so dependent as it is on Iran, already represents an Iranian satellite. Therefore, any deal between Ankara and Tehran on a new transitional regime holds out the distinct likelihood of a pro-Iranian regime in the future, especially as elections in Syria would eventually be held under an arrangement. For Iran to try to determine a post Assad Syria -- with land border between the two countries through Iraq-- to the same extent that it has undermined Iraq will, in addition to being in sync with Lebanon, constitute a case of a normal axis of Resistance and an alliance willing and able to confront the evil Western and crumbling Zioconned US Empire....

Syria's situation is dire. From both a moral and geopolitical point of view, fighting a proxy war with Iran and Russia there is less desirable for the Zioconned United States than reaching out to them....

Decisions are flowing from President Vladimir V. Putin, whose career has left him overwhelmingly wary both of revolutions and of Western intervention.

This is a man who, during the death throes of the Communist system, personally defended the K.G.B.’s headquarters in Dresden against an angry crowd of Germans. And Mr. Putin’s already suspicious view of street politics only deepened with the “colored revolutions” of the mid-2000s, in which pro-Western protests, ALL supported and wholly engineered by the United States's Zioconned and criminal CIA, ousted a series of Moscow-friendly leaders in Europe and elsewhere, as well as tried to do so in Lebanon since 2002...2005-2006 and counting.....

Since the recent Arab uprisings began, Russian leaders have viewed them through this lens — as a product not of social change but of interference by the West, intended in part to damage Russia.

Mr. Putin takes little interest in the details of foreign policy, but this notion touches him personally. He memorably blew up in April 2011, when NATO warplanes were attacking Libya against Russia’s protestations, delivering a speech that scoffed at the notion that Zioconned Western intervention aimed to advance democracy.

“Look at the map of this region, there are monarchies all around,” he said during a visit to Denmark. “What do you think they are — Danish-style democracies? No. There are monarchies everywhere, and this basically corresponds with the mentality of the people, as well as longstanding practice.”

“Libya, by the way, has the largest oil and the fourth-largest gas reserves in Africa,” he added. “This immediately presents the question: Isn’t this the basis for the interests of those now messing around there?”

Meanwhile, Russian leaders fear that rising Islamism in the Arab world will breathe new life into the armed insurgency in the northern Caucasus, which is mostly Sunni.

In short, Syria has provided Russia with an opportunity to say no — to Western intervention and to the specter of revolution.

The argument has been framed as a matter of principle, making it difficult to dial back. Leonid Medvedko, who covered Syria for Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, said Russia could not publicly call for Mr. Assad to step down, because it would create “a very serious precedent for anyone who doesn’t like their government.”

“I don’t want to allow such ultimatums, because they could then be presented to any country,” said Mr. Medvedko, who is now a regional analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences. “We cannot allow this precedent to be established. Now they don’t like Assad. Next they may not like someone in Lebanon. We’ve already seen how they didn’t like someone in Libya — we saw the fate of Qaddafi.”

Each incremental move is followed by demonstrations that Russia is standing firm: for instance, its refusal, last weekend in Geneva, to approve language suggesting that Mr. Assad could not be part of a transitional government. These tactics serve to draw out the diplomatic process for weeks or months — not such an inconvenience, perhaps, for the Zioconned Western governments that are themselves deeply conflicted about intervening....

This realization conflicts with the desire to stand on principle, and to repay the abject humiliation of being ignored on Libya, he said: “The question is, will they make a stand in Syria to the end?”

The answer will hinge on the calculations of Mr. Putin. He may judge that bending to Western pressure would hurt him more than losing Syria.....

Iran's Persian Gulf gambit takes shape...
Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Responding to the onset of the Zioconned European Union's oil embargo with a defiant show of military strength and renewed threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has signaled to the West that it won't be a passive victim of economic warfare.

Iranian officials this week made defiant remarks over a Zioconned United States build up of forces in the Persian Gulf after a three-day missile drill concluded on Wednesday. The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' aerospace division, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that all US bases in the region are within the reach of Iran's missiles.

The Great Prophet 7 exercise concluded a day after a "technical meeting" between Iran and the Iran "5 +1" on Tuesday that, as expected, failed to produce any meaningful results.

The Zioconned US had dispatched two of its top proliferation experts, Gary Samore and Robert Einhorn, to the meeting in Zioconned Istanbul, likely to indicate its commitment to the "diplomatic channel". However, few Iranians are convinced that the US and its Western allies are serious about reaching a compromise. As was noted by Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, "some countries are not serious about negotiation".

Even in the US there is a rising chorus of disapproval over the Zioconned Western approach toward Iran, with US commentators criticizing Western governments for failing to offer Iran any tangible rewards in exchange for concessions Tehran is willing to offer on the issue of its enriched uranium.

The international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz has also openly defended Iran's legitimate right to develop a nuclear arsenal to balance against Israel's destabilizing nuclear monopoly. (See
Why Iran does not want the bomb, Asia Times Online, July 4, 2012).

The credibility of the West's coercive approach to Iran has been undermined and no amount of US or Israeli propaganda can hide the fact. It is also growing harder to obscure that the rigid and inflexible Western strategy vis-a-vis Iran has put the world on the brink of a disastrous war, in light of rising temperatures in Persian Gulf.

The battle over Hormuz
Concerned over pending legislation in the Iranian Majlis (parliament) calling for a closure of the Strait of Hormuz - at least to oil tankers en route to countries that have accepted US sanctions - the US Navy has beefed up its presence in Persian Gulf.

The Zioconned US has doubled its number of minesweepers in the regional waters to eight in recent weeks, and several squadrons of F-22s and F-15s have been relocated to nearby US base. These forces would be tasked with keeping the Strait open in the event of an Iranian attempt to close it or interfere in oil transport.

The legislation on closing the Strait, prepared by the Majlis's national security and foreign affairs committee, has already been signed by 100 deputies (from a total 290 members) and is on the verge of being sent to the floor for voting. If passed as expected, this will spur Iran's military commanders to rely more forcefully on "hard power" to respond to US sanctions.

A militarization of the Iran nuclear crisis seems likelier now than ever before, portending a volatile scenario that will impact on oil prices and the health of the world economy.

The Zioconned US and its allies are gambling that Iran will refrain from disruptive behavior in Persian Gulf waters simply due to the asymmetry of any conflict. However, this rests on the erroneous assumption that Iran will bear the crippling brunt of sanctions without striking back. This is exactly what Iraq under Saddam Hussein did for a decade and half before his country - weakened considerably by the punitive measures - was subjected to a brutal, illegal invasion.

A number of Iranian pundits say the US and its allies have already declared "economic warfare" against Iran and therefore should expect stern reactions. This may come in the form of targeting Western interests in the region, undermining Persian Gulf stability, or supporting anti-North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan.

Tehran may decide to target foreign tankers in a strategy tantamount to maritime guerrilla warfare, while playing a game of brinksmanship with the superior US military power. Other steps would be accelerating Iran's enrichment program possibly even beyond the limit of 20% to achieve weapons grade plutonium, reducing cooperation with the IAEA and even exiting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Far from being irrational and or suicidal, Iran has calculated is that the US, economically bleeding from military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, is ill-prepared for a war would instantly hit the American consumers in the pocket in the form of heightened oil prices, particularly in an election year.

"Iran's message to Zioconned [US President Barack] Obama is very clear: we are not another Iraq and have learned the right lesson from America's invasion of Iraq after bleeding it for years," says a Tehran University political science professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He adds that most Iranians are "nationalistic" and will support the government in case of a military confrontation "with Zioconned Uncle Sam".

For now, however, the long list of 20 nations granted exemptions from the oil embargo, covering some 80% of Iran's oil market, represent a major barrier to the war scenario, by giving Iran temporary assurance that its economic lifeline is not cut off. These exemptions by the Obama administration are subject to review in six months - after the November US presidential elections - with a view towards containing the Iran crisis. Should the Zioconned US determine that most if not all of the present exemptions need to be overturned, that would be an invitation for some serious blowback.

Defying the hawkish maneuvers by the Zioconned US, Iran's response is tempered by the belief that there are significant loopholes in the sanctions that give the countries breathing space. Without doubt, unless the West makes a U-turn in its present Zioconned diplomatic charade the stage will be set for that eventuality sooner rather than later.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click
here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and Looking for rights at Harvard. His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

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