Russia to ship missiles to Syria after EU ends arms embargo on rebels

posted at 8:01 am on May 28, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Escalations continued on all sides in Syria’s civil war except, curiously, among the Syrians.  The EU decided not to renew the embargo on arms sales to Syrian rebels, which prompted the Russians to pledge delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, which prompted Israel to implicitly warn that they would make great targets for their air force.  In the middle of all this, John McCain got a photo op with a Syrian opposition that’s being dominated by radical Islamist militias, including an al-Qaeda affiliate that forms the core of their military operations.

In other words, it’s a mess, but let’s start with the embargo’s end, announced last night:

The European Union plans to end its embargo on arming the Syrian opposition, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday.

The Associated Press reports: “Hague insisted that Britain had ‘no immediate plans to send arms to Syria. It gives us flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate.’ ”

The EU will continue its sanctions against Bashar Assad’s government, which had been set to expire on June 1, Hague said.

Russia answered almost immediately, explaining that they want to keep “hotheads” from interfering in the Syrian civil war:

Russia says it will go ahead with deliveries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, and that the arms will help deter foreign intervention.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the missiles were a “stabilising factor” that could dissuade “some hotheads” from entering the conflict.

Russia also criticised a decision by the EU not to renew an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition.

The missiles are clearly intended to keep NATO from imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, which would rob Assad of a vital means to fight the rebels.  However, it also means that Israel can’t react to threats as easily, either, including the transfers of arms to Hezbollah it has recently targeted in air raids across the border.  Israel responded with a veiled threat to destroy Russia’s missiles before Syria can use them:

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says the Russian statement could be seen as an escalation. He says there had been reports that Moscow was holding back on delivering the arms, in exchange for an Israeli commitment not to carry out further air raids over Syria.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Russian missile systems had not yet left Russia.

“I hope they will not leave, and if, God forbid, they reach Syria, we will know what to do,” he said.

What might help the situation?  Perhaps a crescendo of responsible voices demanding that everyone take two or three steps back.  Instead, McCain decided to pay a visit to the rebellion yesterday in an unannounced mission that makes it pretty clear which side McCain favors:

Sen. John McCain Monday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to enter Syria since the bloody civil war there began more than two years ago, The Daily Beast has learned.

McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.

On the other hand, perhaps McCain was there to talk them into the Geneva peace conference, which Assad’s regime will attend.  Fat chance:

“What we want from the U.S. government is to take the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons,” Idris said. “Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria.”

There’s no assurance the Obama administration will be able to convince the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva conference, and Idris said the conference would only be useful if there are certain preconditions, which the regime is unlikely to agree to.

“We are with Geneva if it means that [Syrian President] Bashar [al Assad] will resign and leave the country and the military officials of the regime will be brought to justice,” he said.

In other words, this mess is just the beginning.

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Russia against McCain?

Electrongod on May 28, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Smart Power!!!!! Eleventy!!!!!

TKindred on May 28, 2013 at 8:03 AM

What could go wrong???

/obligatory

ted c on May 28, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Did McCain tour the sight where Obama laid down that Red Line?

Electrongod on May 28, 2013 at 8:04 AM

“What we want from the U.S. government is to take the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons,” Idris said. “Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria.

and what the fark will we get in return except a new-Muslim brotherhood situation, right??? Another Benghazi???

ted c on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Isn’t this how WWI started?

BigGator5 on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Russia answered almost immediately, explaining that they want to keep “hotheads” from interfering in the Syrian civil war:

McCain just stepped in it.

Electrongod on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

So where the hell is John Kerry? I’m not a big fan of Congressmen meddling in foreign affairs but when you have a corrupt administration more intent on punishing Gibson Guitar and Tea Party groups than with the affairs of state, somebody has to step up. Sadly for the nation that somebody seems to be John McCain who never encountered a situation he didn’t want to solve with boots on ground.

Happy Nomad on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Did McCain tour the sight where Obama laid down that Red Line?

Electrongod on May 28, 2013 at 8:04 AM

the only thing he saw was pencil eraser stubble…….

ted c on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

It’s Serbia all over again and McCain is falling all over himself to show how progressive he is and supporting radical-Muslims against their oppressors…

Why would the EU, McCain or anyone propose an action that would endanger their own troops?

Skywise on May 28, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Cripe

cmsinaz on May 28, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Why is it that the US get involved? It’s not like any of our actions are intended to protect Israel, after all. What is the US national interest in Syria’s civil war?

McCain can go to hell. Apparently he’s no longer content to only be a problem at home. He’s taking his act on the road. I see no side we should take in Syria, but McCain is certainly on the wrong one.

The Russians and the EU do their thing, even if they clash. We saved Europe’s collective butt twice last century, and kept a third Euro war from breaking out because of a Soviet invasion of the West. That’s enough, in my book.

Liam on May 28, 2013 at 8:13 AM

So our choices are…

al Qaeda or Iran…al Qaeda or Iran…al Qaeda or Iran…

What kind of choice is that?

*facepalm*

workingclass artist on May 28, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Thanks McCain
-obama

cmsinaz on May 28, 2013 at 8:17 AM

“What we want from the U.S. government is to take the decision to support the Syrian revolution with weapons and ammunition, anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons,” Idris said. “Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria.”

Libya redux, anyone?

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2013 at 8:21 AM

So our choices are…

al Qaeda or Iran…al Qaeda or Iran…al Qaeda or Iran…

What kind of choice is that?

*facepalm*

workingclass artist on May 28, 2013 at 8:15 AM

“Nuke the site (Syria) from orbit……… it’s the only way to be sure.”

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Good times.

BallisticBob on May 28, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Is Putin right on this one? McCain sure assumes we think the answer is “no”, but sending weapons to al Qaeda sure does sound stupid to me.

MTF on May 28, 2013 at 8:23 AM

No worries I’m going to hang out with Christie on the jersey shore
-obama

cmsinaz on May 28, 2013 at 8:25 AM

I’m amazed how much so many of our politicians are looking to get us into a war in Syria. Arming AQ is the worst idea possible. Didn’t we learn from when we supported the resistance in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation?

Liam on May 28, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Arming AQ is the worst idea possible.

Liam on May 28, 2013 at 8:26 AM

No, running guns out of Benghazi was a worse idea (because it put Americans at risk on the ground) but arming AQ and/or the Muslim brotherhood is a close second.

Happy Nomad on May 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

A madman and a fraud walk into a bar…

Cleombrotus on May 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Is Putin right on this one? McCain sure assumes we think the answer is “no”, but sending weapons to al Qaeda sure does sound stupid to me.

MTF on May 28, 2013 at 8:23 AM

I’m sure McCainiac is just convinced al Qaeda isn’t part of this rebel group. I’m sure he thought the same about the Libyan rebels, too.

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2013 at 8:34 AM

A madman and a fraud walk into a bar…

Cleombrotus on May 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

“…he announces, ‘I’m John McCain. Vote for me!’”

Liam on May 28, 2013 at 8:34 AM

We especially do not need for Vichy Republicans like Juan McAmnesty to continue sucking up to our enemies, foreign and domestic.

The resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC is doing more than enough of that, all by himself.

kingsjester on May 28, 2013 at 8:35 AM

would rather McCain stick to the Sun a.m. talk show circuit..

hillsoftx on May 28, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Meghan: What were you doing on Memorial Day Daddy?
John: Oh, sucking up to the barbarians, honey.

Fenris on May 28, 2013 at 8:42 AM

I do believe that Putin is enjoying himself.

farsighted on May 28, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Liam on May 28, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Incredible, isn’t it? This is what passes for leadership and statesmanship in the declining years of the American experiment.

Cleombrotus on May 28, 2013 at 8:43 AM

All things working to give the Muslim Brotherhood control of the Middle East.
Even John McCain.
Stupity rules!

ROCnPhilly on May 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Because arming rebels like the mujahideen worked out so well for the western world in the past.

It’s time for a new red line. Western world over on this side….Islamic world on that side. Never the two shall meet.

can_con on May 28, 2013 at 8:54 AM

“Nuke the site (Syria) from orbit……… it’s the only way to be sure.”

Bitter Clinger on May 28, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Only after we invite both AQ and Iran in.

Steve Eggleston on May 28, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Meghan: What were you doing on Memorial Day Daddy?
John: Oh, sucking up to the barbarians, honey.

Fenris on May 28, 2013 at 8:42 AM

If we were at AoSHQ, I would finish that conversation (IYKWIMAITYD)

Steve Eggleston on May 28, 2013 at 8:59 AM

How do these clowns pay for their weapons?

Akzed on May 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM

By comparison, the situations the next President will inherit from Obama will make what Obama inherited from Bush look insignificant.

can_con on May 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Obama is the biggest narcissist we’ve ever elected.
But McCain would have been pretty close, no?
Lucky for us…both of these idiots are hard at work screwing us.

Sugar Land on May 28, 2013 at 9:18 AM

So … did McCain violate the Logan Act?

Maybe he figured if Pelosi could get away with it …

IrishEyes on May 28, 2013 at 9:18 AM

WTF, over.
I swear this is the most incompetent administration in our history. Stay out of this whole fiasco. We have nothing to gain and a heck of alot to lose.

D-fusit on May 28, 2013 at 9:34 AM

No worries I’m going to hang out with Christie on the jersey shore
-obama

cmsinaz on May 28, 2013 at 8:25 AM

In a comment mentioning Christie, ‘hang out’ are not words that I want to hear early in the morning.

slickwillie2001 on May 28, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Kerry and McCain…gee, why does that not instill confidence in me?

right2bright on May 28, 2013 at 9:38 AM

would rather McCain stick to the Sun a.m. talk show circuit..

hillsoftx on May 28, 2013 at 8:39 AM

With McCain, that is probably the point. This little move will get him a year’s worth of invitations to these shows. They may even start calling him “Maverick” again.

Alabama Infidel on May 28, 2013 at 9:43 AM

By comparison, the situation the next President will inherit from Obama will make what Obama inherited from Bush look insignificant.

can_con on May 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM

It may approach what Lincoln inherited from Buchanan.

Gene Hunt on May 28, 2013 at 9:49 AM

It is becoming clear that the EU is being held hostage by the powder keg of internal fear over more “Woolwiches” and to what that might lead.

Arming AQ seems to be their “solution” to try to defuse things and McCain has signed up to carry their water, once again leaving Obama “above the fray”.

Disgusting.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 28, 2013 at 9:56 AM

By comparison, the situations the next President will inherit from Obama will make what Obama inherited from Bush look insignificant.

can_con on May 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM

At the same time, the MSM will be telling us that he was the greatest President ever, and half the country will believe them.

Alabama Infidel on May 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

…Flexibility!…Arab Fall!

KOOLAID2 on May 28, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Seems like McCain is working hard to earn the title of the Republican’s Jimmy Carter.

Socratease on May 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM

So where the hell is John Kerry? Happy Nomad on May 28, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Er…Cambodia, Christmas shopping?

Don L on May 28, 2013 at 11:12 AM

How do these clowns pay for their weapons?

Akzed on May 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM

\
Syria? General finance comments:

Iranian Financial Aid to Syria at USD 7 billion – Government Official
27-05-2013
The total volume of concessionary loans provided by Iran to Syria amounts to USD 7 billion, according to the governor of the Central Bank of Syria, the first such admission by a senior government official.

Occupancy Rates, Revenues Fall Further at Syrian Hotels
27-05-2013
Occupancy rates at Damascus hotels in 2012 were only a fifth of what they were two years earlier, according to a recently released report.

Trading Remains Strong in Syria’s Stock Exchange
27-05-2013

Syria’s stock market continued last week its winning streak as interest from investors remained strong.

Other news:
Rami Makhlouf Re-elected as Chairman of Syriatel
New US-made Internet Monitoring Devices Identified in Syria
Iraq Remained Syria’s Main Export Market in 2012
Central Bank Revokes Licenses of Two Money Dealers
Syrian Farming Losses at SYP 101 Billion
Syria Seeking to Increase Wheat Purchases from Ukraine

I don’t play over there but people I know don’t think Syria is so nuts a place. They are just working out some issues. All will be well. You have to remember that these guys compare it to the rest of the area. You know, like one employee killed at your store in the last year if you have several stores and other interests in Chicago. See?

Source: http://www.syria-report.com/

IlikedAUH2O on May 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Good old Russia. Always willing to help out a despotic regime when the timing is right.

Putin must really despise Obama. He has so much more to lose propping up anything islamic, but he’s making an exception for Obama.

dockywocky on May 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Hague should send arms to the English in London.

goatweed on May 28, 2013 at 1:06 PM

The last time the U.S. ignored what was happening in the Middle East Khomeni took over Iran from the Shah and the Taliban took over Afghanistan from the Russians. How did this work our for the U.S. ED???

philrat on May 28, 2013 at 3:19 PM