Tuesday, 24 April 2018 06:10 GMT

'Vlad's Armada' arriving in Syria after Macron 'convinced' Trump to stay for 'long term'

(MENAFN - Asia Times)

Despite Russia's warning of great 'consequences' should Western powers intervene in Syria, the United States, Britain and France managed to thread the needle with an airstrike on Friday which did not prompt any immediate military response from Russia.

In fact, Syrian media reports to the contrary notwithstanding, coalition forces said that not one of the missiles fired in the operation were successfully engaged by Russia's much touted defense technology. 'The Syrian response was remarkably ineffective,' according to the Pentagon. The US may have helped achieve these results by fooling Russia with a decoy destroyer – the only destroyer in the region's waters – which didn't fire a single missile.

One Russian expert said that the strikes were also effective on another level: they actually managed to drive a wedge between Russia, Turkey and Iran. "The three-member coalition has partially achieved one of its goals by driving a wedge between Russia, Turkey and Iran. The Turkish authorities predictably supported the strikes on targets in Syria," Vitaly Naumkin of the Russian Academy of Science was quoted by Russia's TASS news agency as saying.

But the 'one-time shot' strike, as US Defense Secretary James Mattis called it, did not mark the end to tensions in Syria. Far from it, headlines hyping 'World War III' only multiplied following the airstrike, as fears grow of Israel and Iran's mostly-proxy battle turning into a direct, all-out conflict, while Russia reinforces its dominant position.

Meanwhile, French President Emanuel Macron hailed his success in convincing his US counterpart to stay in Syria for the long haul. 'Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria'. We convinced him it was necessary to stay,' Macron said in an interview with French media. 'We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.'

Whether the US digs in with its Kurdish allies — which dominate a US-aligned swath of more than 20% of Syrian territory — or decides to leave, Russia is not going anywhere.

Mosow is stepping up supplies to Syria this week, with Turkish media posting photos of a Russian warship heading through the Bosporus:

UK tabloid The Sun chose more colorful language, declaring in absurdly exaggerated terms that 'Vlad's Armada' is on its way. 'Russian warships laden with tanks, Alligator ships and armoured patrol boats sail towards Syria as the world waits for Putin's response,' the headline continues.

Others cautioned that the airstrikes are a 'great distraction ' from the real collision course between Iran and Israel, which Thomas Friedman agreed on Sunday in the New York Times was far more dangerous than Russia-US tensions. 'This is not mere speculation. In the past few weeks — for the first time ever — Israel and Iran have begun quietly trading blows directly, not through proxies, in Syria. And this quiet phase may be about to end.'

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'Vlad's Armada' arriving in Syria after Macron 'convinced' Trump to stay for 'long term'

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