In the ever-active international policy and strategy game, there is always an ebb and flow. It is a geopolitical equivalent of the old “king of the mountain” game we all played as kids. First one side stands at the top only to be countered for a brief time by the other. Then the first side does something to regain the mountain, all the while with eyes on a swivel in case others try to catch us unawares. Sometimes the contestants partner up and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they partner up as a ruse to swap alliances with another to help regain the prize. And so it is today. The Middle East continues to head to that boiling point from which one cannot turn down the flames of war.
First, Iran agreed to nuclear negotiations set for April 13-14 in Istanbul. But now they want a Mulligan and instead want the talks held in a “friendlier” city, such as Moscow, Vienna, or Geneva. Why? Because if the other parties agree, it will take more time to re-set up all the plans and logistics, thus pushing the Israeli/U.S. military option back considerably. This would give Iran more time to plan counter responses as well as to continue their work on a nuclear weapon unimpeded.
Apparently Iran has begun to believe that Israel, and the United States really means it this time when they say these talks are probably the last time to avert using the military option.
Meanwhile, The U.S., Greece, Turkey, and Israel have begun very secret war games in the Eastern Mediterranean designed to simulate an attack on Iran. So, not to be outdone the Russians have sailed their largest, state-of-the-art destroyer, the Smetiviy, to the Syrian port of Tartus as a counterpoint. This ship is loaded with anti-air, anti-ship, and anti-submarine missiles, as well as highly advanced electronics. It’s support group is on the way to join the Smetiviy.
Why did the Russians go to Tartus? Because they are supporting the Assad regime along with the Iranians. They have provided the Syrians with advanced defense systems that would make any foreign intervention, i.e., NATO, the U.S., and/or Israel extremely dangerous. Yesterday, Sergey Ryabkov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was quoted as saying, “…The Middle East standoff could boil over into military action at any moment…The pot can explode if the diplomatic valve is not opened.”
The U.S. led war simulation-game-drill was led by the U.S.S. Enterprise aircraft carrier battle group. The exercises are expected to end by tomorrow and then the battle group will go through the Suez Canal and head for the Persian Gulf. For those doing the ongoing math, that will put three carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Red Sea. And of course they will be shadowed by Iranian and Russian naval vessels.
The trouble with playing King of the Mountain is that it is hard enough to master when conditions are good. But when it gets mucky out there the mountain becomes a slippery slope. And with all that military hardware floating around in such tiny spaces, bad things can surely happen.
Remember, it was Leonardo DiCaprio who stood on the bow of a huge ship and declared he was the king of the world. I believe the ship was named the Titanic and we all know what happened shortly after.