December 18, 2011, midday

Will the Iranian Navy attack U.S. carriers if the first move is made to take out Assad?

The U.S. and its allies are engaged in a semi-covert war against Iran to stop its nuclear program and halt its extending its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. Iran’s ticket of influence is that it has the third largest oil reserves and second largest natural gas reserves in the world and its reserves are on sale.

In Syria, there is no area like Benghazi, which is somewhat insulated from Assad’s forces by population or geography, as there was in Libya, where opposition forces can gather and control a base from which to receive material, manpower, and then project force throughout Syria. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition in Syria is spread thin throughout the country. Assad’s Army has not defected in sufficient numbers to provide the FSA with a conventional army; rather it remains relatively intact.

The war in Libya was won by American and Allied planes and drones bombing out areas in front of the Libyan rebel’s front, so the front could move forward mile after mile into these bombed out areas and declare victory. Libya’s air defenses were easily bombed out first and early and could not defend themselves. Syria, however, has a better air defense system which would be more difficult to take out. Casualties and big expense would occur. Why pay this price, when Syria does not have oil resources which obviously attracted France and England into attacking Libya?

The CIA’s Special Activities Division, the U.S. Army’s Special Forces and U.S. contractors are on the ground in Syria providing training and direction to the opposition. FSA members are also being trained in Turkey.  Developing the opposition and collecting intelligence to overthrow Assad is ongoing. But will the opposition conduct actual assassinations and sabotage of Assad's military and of the controlling power elite? Moreover, will the FSA form a real Army? Probably not.  Unless U.S. air support is guaranteed and millions are paid out to FSA leaders to do the job.

On December 6, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Syrian opposition members in Geneva. Was a time-table for raising an Army and for U.S. air support set up? Is the money and material (weapons) to back it flowing in?

The FSA claims to have struck the Syrian Directorate for Air Force Intelligence in Damascus. But this appears to have been more symbolic than effective. The FSA has yet to show muscle by attacking infrastructure such as oil/gas lines and military bases.

The first move to knock out Assad, will occur when aircraft used to suppress air defenses are moved within attack range on U.S. Carrier Strike Groups.

The Syrian Navy will not be able to stop the carriers. The fleet based in Latakia, Baniyas, Minat al Bayda, and Tartus has only 41 vessels including two 1985 vintage Soviet submarines, 22 missile attack craft (including 10 advanced Osa II missile boats), 2 submarine chasers, 4 mine warfare vessels, 8 gunboats, 6 patrol craft and Sepal shore-to-sea missiles with a range of 300 kilometers. The port of Tartus hosts the Russian Navy and Assad has agreed to allow Russia to base nuclear-armed warship there.

One can expect the Iranian Navy, now subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy to be very interested if these U.S. carriers arrive. Iran has been building up its Navy to assert a Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean influence. Its Navy added patrol boats, submarines and surface-launched missiles which it built domestically and also purchased from China, North Korea and Russia. Iran has engaged in naval exercises with Pakistan and India. The Iranians have developed frigates, corvettes and large fast boats which carry precision anti-ship missiles. Some are updated with Chinese C-802 missiles. It utilizes three Russian SSK Kilo attack submarines and Ghadir and Nahang class mini diesel submarines.

Iran Navy policy is to engage in "access-denial" of the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz through which almost a third of all seaborne oil passes. The Iran Navy would target U.S. warships, merchant ships, place mines and attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz. Iran will employ its “mosaic defense” strategy – decentralization of command and allowing units to operate autonomously. However, this policy will have a big blowback. Iran won’t be able to export through the Straits of Hormuz either, and will lose money, effectively "starving" its elite a little bit.

So the question is, will the Iranian Navy support Syria if U.S. carriers move in to take out Syria’s air defenses, preliminary to the start of the FSA’s first serious moves to topple Assad as an actual army, backed by U.S. air power?

The world has yet to see in the late 20th and early 21st Century that one Arab nation actually and offiically supports another Arab nation under attack with its Army and Navy


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