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article imageOp-Ed: Battleground in Eastern Mediterranean is heating up fast

By R. C. Camphausen     May 17, 2013 in World
As if the 80,000 dead in Syria are not the result of a war, Israel warns Russia that shipping missiles to Assad could result in war in the region. Meanwhile, Russia has sent at least 12 warships into the Mediterranean to protect its assets in Tartous.
Today's Times of Israel and yesterday's New York Times present us with crucial and new information of what's happening on the ground while somewhere else - in the province of the mind - diplomats are arranging for so-called renewed peace-talks in June.
When not moving through the Eastern Mediterranean and monitoring the situation near the port of Tartous, the Russian vessels will be at harbor in nearby Limassol, Cyprus.
The Syrian deep-water harbor in Tartous (also Tartus) can accommodate a broad range of Russian Navy vessels, from frigates and larger warships to nuclear-powered submarines. Access to this port is crucial to any large shipments of missiles or missile defense systems Russia seems to be presently delivering to Syria.
A P-800 Yakonth missile
A P-800 Yakonth missile
In addition to the previously discussed six S-300 anti-aircraft missile defenses, it now emerges that the Russian Federation will also deliver a coastal defense version of the P-800 Yakhont system; apparently previously ordered by Syria. These missiles are about 22 feet long, carry either high-explosive and/or armor-piercing warheads with a range of about 180 miles. They are mainly meant to be used against hostile ships approaching the coast and would make it difficult for US/NATO to enforce a naval blockade, while the S-300 would be a perfect defense against air assaults.
Even while both the S-300 and the new P-800 may arrive in Syria at any moment, Israel seems not to rule out further airstrikes against the country, albeit under the pretext of not wanting to allow weapons to reach Hezbollah. The following 'warning' was quoted in a New York Times article of May 15:
“Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region. If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies, he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, an unnamed top US official tried to play all of the Russian involvement down by saying “It’s a show of force. It’s muscle flexing.
Whatever is being said, or thought; it doesn't look too well for 'peace talks' when the Eastern Mediterranean 'theater of war' is heating up fast.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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