Twelve hours after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Assad he faced a "sad fate" if he failed to introduce reforms, Moscow's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin accused the Western alliance of planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the Assad regime "with the long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran."
In an interview published by Izvestia Friday, Aug. 5, the knowledgeable and high-placed Rogozin added: "This statement means that the planning [of the military campaign] is well underway. It could be a logical conclusion of those military and propaganda operations, which have been carried out by certain Western countries against North Africa."
Thursday, as the Syrian military crackdown in Hama reached a new level of ferocity with public executions in the town square, the Russian president warned Assad: "We are watching how the situation is developing. It's changing and our approach is changing as well."
debkafile's Moscow sources note that the Rogozin added Yemen to his remarks on NATO: He said he agreed with the opinion that Syria and later Yemen could be NATO's last steps on the way to launching an attack on Iran.
"The noose around Iran is tightening," he said. "Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region."
The Russian envoy made a point of citing NATO – never once mentioning the United States in his remarks. However, they were definitely meant to clarify to Washington that Moscow is fully updated on the next American military steps in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
debkafile's military sources add: The Libyan campaign taught NATO that without US military strength, alliance members were incapable of defeating even a small army on the scale of Muammar Qaddafi's six brigades, much less muster the ground, air and sea forces for striking Syria and Iran. The only power with the requisite military strength is the United States, which was therefore the unspoken address of Rogozin's warning.
Russian diplomats have repeatedly cautioned Tehran that it incurs the danger of American attack on its nuclear facilities. Now Syria has been included. Rogozin remarked that having "learned the Libyan lesson, Russia will continue to oppose a forcible resolution of the situation in Syria."