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Syrian weapons blockade could catch Russians

Posted By F. Michael Maloof On 08/03/2012 @ 8:43 pm In Front Page,World | No Comments

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – After hitting a stone wall in getting the United Nations Security Council to take military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the European Union and the United States have decided to impose further sanctions by agreeing to inspect ships and aircraft destined for Syria thought to be transporting weapons for the regime, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The increased sanctions freeze the assets of some 26 prominent Syrians and three companies close to the regime. Under the enhanced sanctions, any plane or ship can be boarded if it is suspected of carrying arms that could be used against the opposition.

This comes as the U.S. through its proxies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar continues to supply weapons to the opposition through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, which has just imposed a blockade at border crossings for the movement of arms and personnel, including al-Qaida. While the latest sanctions will impede the normal flow of weapons, they will not stop the diversion of arms into Syria through well-established smuggling routes either from Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon.

Sources tell WND/G2Bulletin that the border between Iraq and Syria is so opaque and lengthy that weapons still would be able to reach the Syrian regime originating from Iran by going through Iraq, whose government led by Iranian-backed Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is sympathetic to Iran and supports Assad.

The reason for Iraq’s backing of Assad is concern that a Sunni takeover of Syria will have a spillover effect into Iraq’s own sectarian fight between Salafist Sunni radicals in Iraq and Maliki’s Shiite population.

But there is also another aspect that such a blockade doesn’t address – the prospect that the Russians may use their naval warships to escort ships that also could carry arms to the embattled Assad regime.

In condemning the latest round of United Nations sanctions against Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry has let it be known that it will not allow any inspection of its ships sailing under the Russian flag.

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that the latest sanctions “can be considered a declaration of a sea and air blockade of Syria.”

In addition, Iran has vowed to keep the Assad government from falling.

Tehran earlier this year did a test run of sailing some of its warships up the Red Sea and into the eastern Mediterranean Sea on a “training mission.”

It wasn’t until the fall of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year that Iran was allowed to sail up the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean for the first time since 1979.

Conceivably, Iran similarly could use its own naval warships to escort or even deliver arms either to Syria or Lebanon, also setting up a potential challenge from Western and even Israeli naval vessels enforcing the sanctions.

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