Fuck you, Wall Street Journal.
Hollande is a liar and a puppet. He knows the Security Council will never approve a no-fly zone. Russia and China have already said so. And they’ve explained why they are opposed to it, too. It’s because they don’t want another failed state on their hands like Libya, which is what happened last time the US and NATO imposed a no-fly zone.
But that’s beside the point. The real reason the no-fly zone issue has resurfaced is because it was one of the concessions Obama made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the use of Incirlik airbase. Washington has kept the terms of that deal secret, but Hollande has let the cat out of the bag.
So who put sock-puppet Hollande up to this no-fly zone nonsense?
First, I would not be surprised if the Russians did declare that it was their standard operating procedure to protect their military installations with air defense systems. And then would finally bring in their S-300s (I am aware of rumors that the S-300s are already there, but I have seen no confirmation so far). I would expect the Israelis to feel particularly miserable about that, and I would not be surprised if the Russians offered guarantees that these systems would remain exclusively under Russian control. What is already certain is that Netanyahu did fly to Moscow to address issues at least of Russian-Israeli “non-interference,” if not “cooperation.” I would add here that Moscow has no hostile plans towards Israel whatsoever and that, by all accounts, the Russians and Israeli officials get along famously, if only because both sides are smart and pragmatists (they don’t need a love fest, they need responsible behavior).
In purely military terms this is a rather minor development. Yes, the Syrian Air Force badly needs some modernization (the fact that they are using helicopter-dropped 500kg barrel bombs is a proof that they don’t have enough aircraft to deliver guided or even unguided 500kg aerial bombs) and the Russians will be bringing some very capable aircraft (SU-24s and SU-25s for sure, and in some specific cases they could even use Tu-22M3s and SU-34s). But this will not be a game changer. Politically, however, this marks yet another triumph for Vladimir Putin, who has forced the US Empire to renounce its plans to overthrow Assad. Because—and make no mistake here—the Russians are now there to stay: a limited Russian military presence will now turn into a major Russian political commitment. Furthermore, not only will Tartus continue to serve a fairly limited but not irrelevant role for the Russian Navy, the airbase in Latakia will become a hub of Russian military operations and, in effect, a forward operating base for the Black Sea Fleet.