With the possibility of chemical weapons being used in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the Obama Administration has upped the ante by ordering a fourth ballistic missile-armed warship into the Eastern Mediterranean, as reported by both IsraelHayom.com and the Associated Press via ABC News on Aug. 25, 2013.
The USS Mahan has joined her sister ships, the USS Gravely, the USS Barry, and the USS Rampage, in the waters off Syria. This paves the way for a cruise missile strike against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. Assad has been accused by Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda-allied rebels of using chemical weapons against 1,000 Syrian civilians.
Assad denies the accusations and counters with the claim that the rebel forces fabricated the story in hopes of garnering Western military support.
To date, there has been no independent or objective verification of any chemical attack by either side has been launched and/or civilians have been killed or wounded.
The End of U.S. Sovereignty?
Obama hedged his bets on direct deadly force against Assad when he stated last Friday that the United States of America can only act if given permission by the United Nations:
If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate or clear evidence, then there are questions of whether international law supports the attack. Those are considerations that we have to take into account.
The Strange Relationship Between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin…
The diplomatic workings between the two world leaders have been tenuous at best. It is widely believed in diplomatic circles that Assad’s greatest ally on the world stage and greatest supplier of military equipment is Putin’s Russia — a view that couldn’t have been lost on the American leader.
Russian Build Up Greatest in Decades…
On May 16, 2013, the news portal Russia Today reported that Moscow is establishing a permanent and powerful naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean for the first time since the days of the Soviet Union. The group includes destroyer RFS (Russian Federation Ship) Admiral Panteleyev, two amphibious warfare ships, the RFS Peresvet and the RFS Admiral Nevelskoi, and approximately 2,000 Russian Marines, as well as a oil tanker and an ocean going tug.
Said to be joining the Russian Mediterranean Squadron are an anti-submarine destroyer, a frigate. and a third amphibious assault ship. The Russians have also made it clear they may add both diesel and nuclear submarines to their growing naval presence in the area.
For decades the sole Russian naval installation in the region was the maintenance facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, which has since been quickly evacuated and all but shut-down. However, there has been increasing movement, with the Russian Navy opening shop in the Cyprus port city of Limassol as well as possibly headquartering a forward deployed air power component at the Cypriot Air Force base at the Andreas Papandreou Air Base at Paphos.