syria rocket

After last week’s shenanigans in Lebanon, the focus has shifted back onto Syria in a truly international manner.

As General Salim Idriss of the Free Syrian Army claimed more than 7000 Hezbollah fighters had invaded Syria to aid Government Forces in the Rebel-held town of Qusair, the European Union in the form of UK Foreign Secretary William Hague lifted restrictions on arming the Syrian Rebels proclaiming, “This is the outcome that the United Kingdom wanted.”

This is the Diplomatic and legal equivalent of Wonga.com because in reality what Hague is saying is, “arm the FSA and we may not be so skint in the near future.”

This is tried and trusted method that backfired during the Lebanese Civil War years, when a rifle involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre of Derry was needed as evidence in one of the many enquiries into the affair, turned up in the hands of a Lebanese militia and had to be bought back.

The insane thing about this move is that the Free Syrian Army is not a united force. It’s a lose federation of factions, one of whom is Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That’s right folks, the West is potentially arming Jihadists.

Nevertheless, whatever the real reason behind this decision, it has inevitably prompted a response from Moscow who announced they were sending S-300 surface-to-air missiles to aid President Assad.

In a bizarre twist, Assad himself went on Al Manar TV, part of Hezbollah’s media group and suggested that the weapons system was in the process of being delivered by the Russians, and hinted at an offensive in the Israeli-held Golan Heights.

Assad’s positive outlook was almost immediately contradicted when an anonymous Russian Arms Industry insider announced that the defence system could be delivered “no earlier than the Autumn.”

So once again, as has happened before, a local problem has now turned into a proxy international war between Russia and the West.

Even if, Syria does not get the promised air defence system, and the West does not arm the Rebels of whatever shade of religion or politics in any significant way, the regional war has already begun as Syrian Rebels clashed with Hezbollah fighters near the Lebanese town of Baalbek on Sunday. There were at least 15 casualties.

The blue touch paper has been lit at least regionally.

by Stephen Leece