The Jerusalem Post reports:
Syria has begun delivery of the first batch of anti-aircraft missile and gun range land-based Pantsyr-S1E defense systems (SA-22 E in NATO terminology), the Web site of Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Saturday.
The SA-22 E, produced by KBP, a precision weaponry manufacturer based in Tula, Russia, is a combined surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system. The versatile platform can be mounted either on a tracked or wheeled vehicle.
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the recently developed SA-22 E will be dispatched to Syria even before its deployment in the Russian military.
This is exactly the kind of weapon that Syria shouldn’t have. Let’s look at the Iranian-Syrian strategy: Iran wishes to develop nuclear weapons unmolested. She hopes to deter Israel and the US from a preemptive strike at her facilities by threatening Israel with missile attacks — especially mobile short-range missiles, which are very difficult to counter — from her clients Syria and Hezbollah.
I believe that Israel’s leadership considers an actual Iranian nuclear capability an existential threat, and will take action once some red line is crossed. We don’t know when this will be, but it’s obvious that Iran and Syria think it will be soon and are rushing to prepare for it. I do not believe that the US administration has the political capital or will to launch an attack themselves, but they would probably support an Israeli one.
I doubt that the Russians would be especially happy with a nuclear Iran. However, it appears that a new global struggle for influence is developing between the US and Russia, and of course the Mideast is a major theater in that struggle. Israel represents a strong point for the US side, and the Russians would probably like to see it neutralized.
Indeed, the scenario of an Israeli strike setting back Iran’s nuclear program by a decade or so, followed by an Iranian-Syrian-Palestinian war which Israel loses would probably be just fine with the Russians.
What a pity for the folks who gave us the word ‘pogrom‘ if Israel were to destroy the Iranian nuclear program, and then turn around and deal a crushing blow to Mr. Assad and his missile collection.
Or maybe it will happen in the reverse order?