The NATO alliance announced earlier this week that Patriot missiles will be deployed in Turkey to respond to rockets launched from Syria. The USS Eisenhower was reported to have arrived in the area yesterday, off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean. It holds 8,000 personnel and eight fighter bomber squadrons. The U.S. Senate, meanwhile, has voted for the Pentagon to present military options available on Syria.
Later today, Hillary Clinton is meeting with her Russian counterpart as well as the UN’s “peace envoy.” Russia, of course, has been keeping Assad’s regime running with needed cash infusions. Russia has also used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to keep western intervention in check. Russia (and China) abstained facing the same kind of pressure for intervention vis a vis Libya. Syria is more important to Russia because it houses Russia’s only extraterritorial military installation. In 1971, the Soviet Union established a presence at Tartus (a Kaliningrad-on-the-Mediterranean of sorts), and Russia took over after the Soviet Union dissolved, maintaining naval personnel there since.
The United Nations, and so Russia’s support or at least non-opposition, is, as we well know, not required for Western intervention. The intervention in Libya may have been sparked by the U.N. Security Council resolution, but it was prosecuted by NATO, which has the actual firepower to turn military intervention from a pipe dream of a diplomatic bureaucrat to reality.
Another troubling indicator of intervention in Syria: the U.S. is now claiming the Syrian government is preparing chemical weapons to use against its own people. Matthew Feeney noted yesterday both the president and Clinton have warned Syria against using those weapons. Weapons of mass destruction, of course, were the original M.O. for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. While those WMDs were never found, with Saddam Hussein testifying he was bluffing to keep his neighbors at bay, the idea that they made their way to Syria is still popular in some circles sympathetic to the invasion of Iraq.
In July, reports indicated the Obama administration told Syria’s rebels the U.S. could not offer more help until after the presidential election in November. Here we are just a month out from the election.
You can follow the latest on the ongoing situation in Syria at Reason 24/7.