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Russian Military Drills in Mediterranean Pose Security Risk for Israel

Russian Military Drills in Mediterranean Pose Security Risk for Israel

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Thursday, 06 September 2018 03:08 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The IDF, Israel's defense forces, has announced that in the past year and a half Israel has launched over 200 separate strikes into Syria. During that period over 800 Israeli missiles were shot from Israel into neighboring Syria. The announcement has been corroborated by several of the Netanyahu government's cabinet ministers.

The strikes were surgical. They were almost all aimed at weapons depots or military convoys. Not at individuals, deaths were collateral damage, not designated targets. The operational strategy of Israel went like this: If these weapons get into the hands of the wrong forces, like Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda, it will change the status quo in the region. Israel decided to, militarily speaking, put the genie back into the bottle.

The status quo in the Middle East is unlike the status quo anywhere else in the world. For those who live in the region, living in a tinder box that is about to explode is the norm. The idea is to make sure that the box does not explode. The goal is to keep a lid on tensions. Success is when you are able to turn a crisis into a manageable state of affairs.

It is Israel's philosophy in all military operations. It is Russia's philosophy in Syria.

The difference, however, is that while Israel strives for surgical strikes, Russia's military strategy is, to put it politely, less delicate — and intentionally so. Their intention is to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and to do that they have chosen to work together with Iran and Hezbollah and Assad's tattered and war weary forces. For the most part, Russia provides the airpower and supports forces on the ground. They strafe almost indiscriminately and carpet bomb in order to destroy any and all resistance.

And sometimes, they bring in their navy. Russia has just concluded a multi-day naval exercise off the coast of Syria. Their fleet of ships, known as the Caspian Flotilla arrived in the Mediterranean Sea after setting sail from the Black Sea. The ships then passed through the Bosporus Straits into the Marmara Sea, from there to the Aegean and then right into the Mediterranean. The journey took only hours to go from home port to the shores of Syria.

Officially, this Russia naval exercise was launched for the purpose "of improving naval communications." But nobody believes that. This group of ships is, plain and simple, a mobile attack base. It is a strike force. It is composed of 26 ships, 34 planes on board the ships, 28 helicopters, and two submarines.

Already in the area were two other subs, dozens of other helicopters and dozens more planes. Over one hundred Russian air attack vehicles took part in the maneuvers. So extensive were the activities that BenGurion Airport, Israel's civilian airport, situated just outside of Tel Aviv, rerouted civilian aircraft for fear of being accidently targeted during the exercise. It's happened before.

The intimidation factor aside, the most important part of this naval exercise is that Russia was able to practice their acclaimed offensive maneuver called "The Wall."

This particular "wall" is a communications wall. It linked all the naval vessels, aircraft, and land operations into one seamless system of attack, one communications network that is so powerful that it even permits the Russian military to detect low flying missiles and aircraft that normally, literally, fly under the radar.

Russia initiated this exercise off Syria with two goals in mind. They wanted to check the United States and test the rhetoric of President Donald Trump vis-a-vis his intentions for Syria. And they wanted to be in position so that they can use this massive attack force as a weapon to strike ISIS, al Qaeda, and Syrian rebels in areas threatening the success of Assad-led forces, like Idlib. The Russian "Wall" will be able to identify any potential threat to Russian forces in the region for as long as they remain in the region. And while the exercise is over, the flotilla is still there.

Aside from potentially toppling the status quo — and that's a big one, there are other downsides to having Russia's naval base on the Syrian coast. The communication technology Russia is using is not limited to Syria and neighboring Lebanon. The Russians are scanning everything in the region — that includes Israel. And that's not the only threat to Israel. While the Russian naval presence off Syria improves Russia's strike and defense abilities, it hampers Israel's strike and defense abilities and the freedom to fly near or over Syria even if there is no direct conflict.

Positioned where they are, the Russians are so close to Israel that they can effortlessly spy on Israel's planes and learn Israel's military secrets. Israel's security is at risk. Putin has orchestrated more than a simple military exercise.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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The IDF, Israel's defense forces, has announced that in the past year and a half Israel has launched over 200 separate strikes into Syria.
russia, israel, syria, military
864
2018-08-06
Thursday, 06 September 2018 03:08 PM
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