Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | October 9, 2015

The real headline: Russians buy air space with cruise missile demo, as U.S. forces retreat

Russian Caspian fleet frigate launches a long-range land attack cruise missile on 7 Oct. (Image: Russian MOD/YouTube)

Russian Caspian fleet frigate launches a long-range land attack cruise missile on 7 Oct. (Image: Russian MOD/YouTube)

The Pentagon released information Thursday that some of the cruise missiles launched by Russian warships into Syria the day before (Wednesday, 7 October) had crashed in Iran, instead of making it to their targets.  The missiles were launched from the Caspian Sea, between Iran and southern Russia.

The global audience was apt to note the point that four of the 26 missiles launched by Russia crashed.  But the more important point is that Russia launched the missiles in the first place.

The question is why.  The answer is not darkly nefarious (not particularly, anyway), but it’s not obvious from the standpoint of tactical military operations either.

The Syria situation

The stage can be set with the background that Russia, the Syrian regime forces, and Iranian forces deployed to Syria started a major offensive against rebel groups this week.  The strongest push appears to be in the major north-south line of communication (LOC) between Aleppo and Homs, anchored by Idlib and Hama.  This area has little to no Islamic State (ISIS) presence.  The rebels under attack there belong to the Free Syrian Army, the Al-Nusra Front, and other minor groups.

The push also features a less concentrated assault in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa Province, including a campaign to recapture portions of Deir Ez-Zor which were lost to ISIS over the past year.  This latter effort appears to be especially close to the hearts of Syrian regime supporters.  The Syrian forces are in the lead on the ground.

In fact, a quip from Syrian General Issam Zahreddine, commanding the forces in Deir Ez-Zor, went viral among excited regime fans on the 7th:  ISIS, he said, is closer to Hell than to Deir Ez-Zor airport.  He promised the airport wouldn’t fall.

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Responses

  1. […] More here. […]

  2. […] More here. […]

  3. Ok, forget Syria for a moment, after adding in the blasts in Ankara today, along with everything else going on from Afghanistan to Libya I guess it’s fair to say that we’re in ‘real’ trouble now.

  4. I like Spyer. He reminds me of Barry Rubin, rest his soul.

    http://www.meforum.org/5537/russia-in-syria

  5. Looks as if Russian-backed Syrian/Hizbollah/Persian forces are steadily achieving their objectives in NW Syria. Iraq forces seems to be slowly moving up the Tigris corridor to Mosul. Americans are air dropping supplies to the Kurds and Christians in NE Syria. The Israelis aren’t provoking or searching for a pretext in Syrian airspace. Saudis are stalled in Yemen. And Fisky, just might have a point here about the SAA.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/with-russias-help-the-syrian-army-is-back-on-its-feet-and-fiercer-than-ever-a6698866.html

    All in all, I’d say… Peachy, I hope it keeps up.

    More coordination from the aforementioned players, and the animals will be wandering aimlessly in the Rub’ al Khali before you can say, “Faster please”.
    🙂
    Best Regards

  6. Always good to see you, jgets.

    There are no straw man arguments being mounted here about Russia getting herself into a quagmire (a logical impossibility in Syria, since Russia has no interest in ever leaving). Certainly there was never an expectation on my part that Obama’s policy had any hope of improving conditions in Syria.

    I think that’s all been clear. That said, we mustn’t overstate what Russia is accomplishing either. Russia won’t be an effective protector of Christians, for example — not in the way the US or even European nations have been in the past. That’s because Russia’s perspective is always pessimistic and defensive.

    Your expectations and mine about the material course of events aren’t that far apart. I assume Russia HAS tipped the balance in favor of gaining and enforcing a new status quo in Syria.

    Where we differ is on what that means. Russia will NOT prosecute her campaign to a decisive conclusion in the manner of the United States, because (a) she can’t, and (b) she doesn’t want to. Russia wants to drive her stake into Syria and edge toward a long-term solution that keeps it there, making sure that all the factions have to apply to Russia to play in the game.

    Western commentators will be anxious to call the resulting ambiguous situation a “quagmire” for Russia. They’ll be wrong about that. Russia will succeed precisely by not settling the situation so decisively that the various factions give up on the game. Russia tolerates well the patience-trying requirements of maintaining tension in an unsettled situation.

    That’s not the same thing as being successful the American way, and giving people across the board hope and a future. But since the American way has been taken off the table by our own president, we’re stuck analyzing what Russia does, as if it’s the only thing that could be done.

    Bully for us. Time goes on. When I’m president, America will own the Eastern Med again, and the entire world will be better off. Don’t bet against that. 🙂

    • It would very imprudent to bet against you dear….

    • “That said, we mustn’t overstate what Russia is accomplishing either. Russia won’t be an effective protector of Christians, for example — not in the way the US or even European nations have been in the past. That’s because Russia’s perspective is always pessimistic and defensive.”

      We may wish to revisit the aforementioned assessment in the upcoming weeks, dear optcon.

      Also, in relation to the above, kindly take into account that, certain strategic territories in the north of Syria, Manbij, for example, are due to become contested. They are, in large part, populated by descendants of Circassian and Chechen Muslims, displaced from their homelands about a century ago by the Russian Imperial Army, along with, classical age remnant and early 20th century refugee Christian populations. We’ll see how it turns out. But, I’ll leave that for another day…

      Syria is quite the mosaic, with very few permanently set pieces. It can go either way🙂

  7. While we’re on the subject of gambling….

    Oops, looks like ‘somebody’ is going to attempt upping the ante by shifting attention to Af/Pakcrapistan, Central Asia and Xinjiang. Again.

    Of course ‘somebody’ else will then probably be compelled to double down ‘somewhere’ else.

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/isil-child-training-camp-discovered-in-istanbul-report-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=90052&NewsCatID=341

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…..


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