Iran has transferred an advanced radar system to Syria. According to the WSJ report, this has at least three strategic implications. First, it helps to protect Hezbollah from Israeli retaliatory strikes. Second, it makes more difficult an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Third, it improves the accuracy of Hezbollah missile attacks, including potential SCUD attacks on Israeli cities. (Presumably by allowing observation of the missile trajectory up through its final stages so that the aim of succeeding missiles can be adjusted.)
WSJ says that the transfer was a “blow to U.S. strategy on Damascus.” It also should have been a totally predictable one.
The radar report is likely to place greater pressure on the Syria strategy of the Obama administration, which has aimed to tamp down tensions with Syria as it tries to rebuild diplomatic ties.
U.S. officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sent a high-level trade delegation to Damascus in June, continue to argue that Washington has the best hope of altering Syrian President Bashar Assad’s behavior, and weakening his alliance with Tehran, through diplomatic dialogue.
In dealing with regimes like that of Syria, diplomacy is useful only when backed by the credible threat of military force and by a clear willingness to stand by committments to allies. Obama’s feckless policies have greatly reduced our credibility on the military dimension, while his evident hostility toward Israel offers great encouragement to that country’s enemies. Hillary Clinton, who should know better and quite possibly does, is acting as his enabler.
Speaking of radar systems, see this item about the way in which poor maintenance policies are damaging the effectiveness of the naval AEGIS system. Note that these problems threaten not only the traditional role of AEGIS in supporting air/sea combat, but also its new role as a ballistic missile defense system.