World View: Syria's Proxy War Expands as Russia Confirms Missile Sales

World View: Syria's Proxy War Expands as Russia Confirms Missile Sales

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia retaliates against EU by confirming weapons sales to Syria
  • Buddhist vs Muslim violence in Burma (Myanmar) spreads north

Russia retaliates against EU by confirming weapons sales to Syria

Russia's S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (AP)
Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (AP)

Russia said Tuesday that it would go ahead with the planned transferof state of the art S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the regime ofSyria’s psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad. The announcement wasmade in retaliation for Sunday’s announcement by the European Union that its member nations hadfailed to reach agreement on extending the embargo, set to expire onSaturday, on weapons to al-Assad’s opposition. Britain and Francehave led the demands to supply weapons to the opposition.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov used strong language tocriticize the EU decision and justify Russia’s delivery of the S-300s:

“We think this delivery is a stabilizing factor andthat such steps in many ways restrain some hotheads … fromexploring scenarios in which this conflict could be given aninternational character with participation of outside forces, towhom this idea is not foreign.”

Russia had previously promised Israel it would delay theS-300 delivery, so the new announcement represents a reversal,although no new delivery date was set. According to Israel’sDefense Minister Moshe Yaalon:

“I can say that the shipments are not on their wayyet. I hope they will not leave, and if, God forbid, they reachSyria, we will know what to do.”

What Yaalon means, presumably, is that Israel will launch air strikes,targeting the S-300 systems, if they reach Syria. The Israelis pointout that the S-300s, with a range of 125 miles, are not purelydefensive, since they can target Israel’s civilian aircraft.

Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague, said that Britain has notset a date either:

“We have said, we have made our own commitments, thatat this stage, as we work for the Geneva conference, we are nottaking any decision to send any arms to anyone.”

Both Britain and Russia gave similar reasons for their respectivedecisions — that their side’s weapons will provide stability toSyria. However, with Britain, France, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah inLebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey all supplying, or potentiallysupplying weapons to either side in Syria, and with the spilling overinto Iraq and Lebanon, the country’s sectarian proxy war took anothergiant leap forward on Tuesday. Reuters and Guardian (London)

Buddhist vs Muslim violence in Burma (Myanmar) spreads north

Hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, have already been killed insectarian violence in Burma between Buddhists and Muslims, first inRakhine State in the southwest last year, and then in central Burma inMarch. (See “5-Apr-13 World View — Meiktila, Burma, violence has echoes of Kristallnacht”.) Now there’s been a new wave of sectarianviolence, this time in the city of Lashio in northern Burma, near theborder with China.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we’re seeing isa great example of identity group formation. The initial violence, inRakhine state, was, in my opinion, not violence between religiousgroups, but rather violence between ethnic groups, dark-skinnedRohingya versus lighter skinned Burmese. However, Burma is a mostlyBuddhist country, and the Rohingya are mostly Muslim, and so Muslimsin other parts of Burma began to identify with the Rohingya, andBuddhists throughout the country formed their own identity group. Sothe ethnic violence has now been transformed, through identity groupformation, into religious violence that seems increasingly likely tospiral into a larger sectarian war. Reuters

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