On May 13th 1967 the USSR provided doctored satellite imagery showing a mobilisation of Israeli forces on the Syrian border. No one is quite sure why it was that they decided to do this but the end result was that a war that looked like it might happen on May 12th actually did happen on June 7th (almost exactly 46 years ago). The result of that war was a huge victory for Israel that changed the map of the Middle East.
Now the Russians are back, this time they’ve left the satellite imagery to Google Earth and provided if not the actual S-300 missile system then an ironclad guarantee that they will provide them and now the promise of 10 MiG-29 fighter jets, a very powerful weapons platform indeed.
Now, I’m wary about calling any weapon platform a ‘war winning’ weapon. The first version of the S-300 missile system came out in 1979 making it the same age as me. I can’t find out anywhere whether the Syrians are about to get an S-300 weapons system that was built then or one that was built more recently. In fact, I doubt one was built all that recently since the Russians are already (well it has been 33 years) using an upgraded version called the S-400.
The missiles were ordered by the Syrians in 2010 when the Assad regime’s predicament wasn’t as bad (arguably) as it is now. I do know that our Defense Minister is taking this pretty seriously and that when he says that the S-300 “is a threat, and I can testify that the deal is not making headway. The shipments have not left yet. Let’s hope they won’t, and if they do, we’ll know how to act” it’s worth listening, especially to that last part.
The Lebanese civil war had been raging for three years before the situation on the Northern border was so intolerable that the IDF made a foray into Lebanon all the way up to the river Litani. It had been raging for 5 years when the IDF invaded all of the way up to Beirut. I am wondering how long the conflict in Syria is going to continue before Israel is dragged into it. We’ve already been hit by mortars, rockets and gunfire, I doubt that the situation on the border is going to become anything other than more tense as the war in Syria continues.
I wonder how long it will be before the Russians promise to deliver yet another game changing weapons system, or make another promise that is aimed squarely at Syria’s most powerful neighbour. I don’t know how or why they find it so important to meddle quite to the extent that they do but I am certain that, just like in 1967, the outcome will not be one which they anticipated.