Syrias president Bashar al-Assad er i Moskva og håper på en gjenoppvekking av samarbeidet mellom de to land. Man frykter at konflikten i Georgia skal forplante seg til Midtøsten.
Det var en av den kalde krigens kjennetegn at man søkte å bygge nettverk og allianser mot hverandre. Bashar al-Assad ser muligheten i å få avanserte våpen og politisk støtte fra Moskva. Syria har vært presset i lang tid, og har kun hatt alliansen med Iran å støtte seg på. Nå seiler Moskva opp som en ny mulighet.
«Our position is that we are ready to co-operate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security,» the Syrian leader told Russian newspapers at the start of his two-day trip. «I think Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle.»
Mr al-Assad said that he would be discussing the deployment of Russian missiles on Syrian territory, possibly the Iskander system. Syrians is also interested in buying Russian anti-aircraft and tanks missiles.
In return, Moscow is expected to propose a revival of its Cold War era naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean. Some Russian reports even suggest that Moscow is deepening the port it to accommodate a fleet of warships. Russia may have similar ambitions for Latakia. Either port would give the Russian Navy its foothold in the Mediterranean for two decades.
Israel har solgt våpen til Georgia og israelske instruktører har trent hæren. Både Hizbollah og Assad gjør et poeng av at Israel var på Georgias side.
The conflict in Georgia has already sparked a mocking speech by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, over the performance of Israeli-trained Georgian forces. One of the main Israeli military advisers there was reserve Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch, who commanded a division in Israel’s inconclusive war with Hezbollah in 2006 and later resigned his commission.
«The entire front line of the army’s brass stepped down because of the war. Gal Hirsch, who was defeated in Lebanon, went to Georgia and they too lost because of him,» taunted the Shia leader. «Relying on Israeli experts and weapons, Georgia learnt why the Israeli generals failed . . . what happened in Georgia is a message to all those the Americans are seeking to entangle in dangerous adventures.»
That Cold War rhetoric was echoed by Mr al-Assad, who also used the Georgian crisis as a stick to beat Israel. «I think that in Russia and in the world everyone is now aware of Israel’s role and its military consultants in the Georgian crisis,» he told the Russian newspaper Kommersant. «And if before in Russia there were people who thought these forces can be friendly then now I think no one thinks that way.»