Unless Trump is interested to start World War 3, or another Vietnam War, he should stop bitching about attacking Syria again. He has made his statement. The world is impressed on how the U.S. military fired 59 Tomahawks to a deserted Syrian airbase. Shares of Raytheon, the manufacturer of the cruise missiles, jumped after the attack and so does global crude oil.
As the U.S. president is being praised for his bravery, the TV-reality star should understand that he can’t attack Syria again without facing any serious consequences. That’s because Syria is under Russia’s protection. Vladimir Putin has “egg on his face” after Donald Trump’s airstrike. For not retaliating, Russian president has given enough face to the U.S. president.
If President Trump thinks he could repeat his stunt just to enjoy another round of applause from American defence contractors or weapon manufacturers, he should think again. If the U.S. strikes Syria again, Russia and Iran will hit back. In a joint statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin said – “We will respond with force.”
In retaliation to last Friday’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, the alliance of Russia-Iran made a joint statement – “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
However, it’s unknown if the latest threat by both Putin and Rouhani is serious or merely an empty rhetoric. Like the United States’ 1970s Vietnam War, Russia has its own nightmare in the form of Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989). America, together with Britain and France has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of gassing civilians while Russia, Iran and Syria have rubbished the accusation.
Iran has also criticised U.S.’ allied Gulf Arab states for endorsing the missile strike, particularly Saudi Arabia who hailed the strike as a “courageous decision” by President Trump. Naturally, in their competition for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi and Shia Iran would applaud or criticise accordingly.
For now, the Tomahawk missile strikes appear to be a smokescreen to divert attention from Donald Trump’s extraordinary relationship with Russia. However, the strikes have opened a floodgate of provocation by provocateurs which could lead to new intervention over the 6-year-old Syrian War. After the missile strike, UK Secretary of State Boris Johnson scraps a trip to Moscow.
Since then, he has been actively calling for new sanctions against Russia, prompting Moscow calling Britain a “lapdog” of the U.S. Mr Johnson is expected to push leading nations to demand Russia withdraws its forces from Syria when he meets G7 counterparts for talks in Italy. Russia’s embassy in London called Johnson “deplorable” and has even suggested “conventional war”.
Putin has a reputation to protect too – his “tough leader” image. If push comes to shove, the Russian supremo might be forced to mobilize more Sukhoi fighter jets, “Triumf” S-400 SAM (better known to NATO as the SA-21 “Growler”), S-300VM (known by NATO as SA-23 Gladiator) or even Russian soldiers on Syrian soil to fight the U.S. and their allies.
After two U.S. warships – destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter – struck Syria, Russia immediately sends frigate Admiral Grigorovich to join the Russian battle group off the coast of Syria. Grigorovich carries Kalibr cruise missiles, the Russian equivalent to the U.S. Tomahawk missiles. In certain ways, Kalibr is deadlier than Tomahawk.
With a range of up to 2,600-km, the supersonic 3M-54 Kalibr missiles (NATO codename: “Sizzler”) are able to penetrate the enemy’s missile defence systems, not to mention its capability of carrying both a conventional or nuclear warhead. Russia had demonstrated its prowess when it hit targets in Syria from 4 small Russian warships in the Caspian Sea.
What is impressive about Kalibr is the active-radar homing missiles are also designed to perform evasive manoeuvres instead of making a straight-line approach. As they closing in on targets, the missiles accelerate from their cruising speed of Mach 0.8 to Mach 3, and descend to just 4.6 meters in altitudes – making them extremely difficult for a ship’s antimissile defences to shoot down.
The Russian foreign ministry has also cancelled a “deconfliction” agreement, designed to prevent mid-air collisions, under which the US and Russia informed each other about their military operations. The absence of such agreement would definitely raise the chances of an accident or strike escalating into a direct conflict – between Russia and America.
Russian anti-aircraft units could start covering not only Russia’s assets in Syria but also Assad’s facilities, if Trump administration stubbornly and arrogantly wants a proxy war in Syria. Tensions with Washington could also play into Putin’s hands and allow him to rally Russians around the flag ahead of the Russia presidential election next year.
Therefore, it really depends on Trump whether he wants to take the present glory off the table and keeps bitching about it, or he prefers to risk a real military conflict with Russia. There’s no way for Putin to exit from Syria without losing face. The Russian supremo would rather start a World War 3 with the U.S. than pulling out of Syria with tail between his legs.
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