The Middle East has unknowingly been living for ten days under threat of a regional war, which debkafile’s military sources disclose was delivered by Syrian president Bashar Assad to UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan when they first met Saturday, March 10. Assad warned him in no uncertain terms that Syria was ready to unleash its missiles against any country preparing for military intervention in Syria before they moved.
While not mentioning them by name, the Syrian ruler was referring to Britain, France, Norway, Holland and Italy whose navies and air forces were last week drawn up ready for action in positions in the eastern Mediterranean and bases in the Middle East, including the Royal Air Force Akrotiri facility in Cyprus.
A Western military source reported to debkafile Monday night, March 19 that those European forces were standing ready to cordon off certain Syrian regions and cities as “security zones” off limits to Syrian units including its air force.
Cruising opposite the Syrian coast are the USS Enterprise and the French Charles de Gaulle, both aircraft carriers. They are part of the combat disposition the West has arrayed against Iran and from their Mediterranean posts would take part in a military confrontation erupting in the Persian Gulf.
In his conversation with Annan,Turkey was the only foe Assad named specifically as his first target for a pre-emptive missile assault. He stressed he would have no qualms about attacking Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan is due to set out next week on a visit to Seoul where he will rendezvous with US President Barack Obama, possibly on March 28, for policy alignment on the Iranian nuclear threat and the year-old Syrian crisis. Our Washington sources report that Obama has set aside six hours for his conversation with Erdogan.
From the South Korean capital, the Turkish leader is scheduled to fly straight to Tehran. The primary Middle East issues, a nuclear Iran and the Syrian impasse. are therefore destined to reach a critical point in the coming days.
This may partly explain the announcement from, Russian Black Sea headquarters at Sevastopol Monday that two Russian naval vessels had put into the Syrian port of Tartus. The vessels’ mission and names were not disclosed, excepting that one carried a unit of “anti-terrorist marines” and the other was a military tanker which joined a Russian naval reconnaissance and surveillance ship already tied up in Tartus.