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As promised in a previous post, it seems timely for a post on the Russian moves and discuss what I feel might be a progression of events and why. Israel takes action when threats are calculated to represent a direct threat to the nation. This includes a cost factor or an early “penny wise pound foolish” approach to action based on how a calculation of delay would mean a higher cost in terms of prevention, deterrent, or actual conflict after heavy terrorist or advanced weaponry infrastructure is in place.
If Russia is adding Syria in their ever expanding sphere of control and regional military dominance along the north south longitude lines including Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and heavy influence in countries along the same area, then Israel seems to be the only bulwark. Imagine what the situation would be were Russia to suddenly state that they are protecting their national interests, and their Russian nationals (2 Million Israeli’s are from the former USSR, sound like Ukrainian story?) by moving against Israel as a reaction to an escalation in Syria, again, caused by Israel. If Russia feels that this is in its interest and permits or encourages Iranian and Russian advanced arms to flow to Hezbollah and Syrian backed military, and Israel steps in to block this, again, then Russia will have an excuse to act. An excuse created totally by Russia, but who would worry by them. There was one other time in history when the U.S. and Russia almost came to blows during an Egyptian conflict with Israel. Then Israel would be in a position to choose how to respond. What would happen if Israel were to join the Russian camp and play both sides?
Today, Egypt is close with Israel in their military and security cooperation, although a long way to go in terms of true potential peaceful relationship. The U.S. has tried to play a game with Egypt that makes no sense to anybody watching Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and their modus operandi. So, Russia can move in this direction as well, and then Egypt becomes another choke point for goods traversing the Suez Canal, just like Yemen at the other end. If you want to control the price of Oil, how better way than to control all the pipelines or sea lanes? Does anybody pay attention to Russia’s recently erected fence placing a short BP-operated oil pipeline section Caspian Sea to Black Sea (Baku-Supsa) inside Russian occupied territory?
I don’t believe Russian fighter jet pilots wish to come up against the Israeli Air Force, it would potentially be extremely embarrassing for Russia. Russian fighter aircraft pilots and hot-dog anti-aircraft operators have in the past moved against American aircraft, commercial and military, and after the fact, you can’t do much. (How’s the investigation and accountability going for the recently shot down passenger aircraft over the Ukraine?) But, none of those were Israeli engagements. This is now why this is in my opinion, entering into a totally new area. Israel doesn’t act like the United States or any other nation. It will act first to defend itself and typically without a lot of noise. So, if there is a mission, Israel will act, if the Russians move to intercept or interfere using any of the weapons at their disposal, Israel will surprise Russian aggression and it will be decisive. The question would be what happens next, how Mr. Putin would feel he’d have to respond after such a humiliating encounter. I think that he knows this, and probably voiced very strict orders directly from Putin himself to not, never, no matter what, engage with any Israeli aircraft. No problem with United States aircraft since the rules of engagement might be similar to Beirut 1983 or Benghazi where the U.S. is there to show their shiny new toys, but are not allowed to use them by direct command from their commander in chief. Assad is irrelevant, he will be replaced by a Russian backed and controlled entity, and then the entire region will fall nicely into the ever expanding sphere of Putin and his demagogues.
Let’s hope the fictitious attention grabbing headline above never gets published. Once big boys start to sit in the small corner booth that is the Middle East, the existing small family trying to eat their meal in peace will not have much choice in how to respond to the new crowded reality.