Syrian President Bashar al Assad, addressing his newly installed cabinet Tuesday, delivered a chilling warning, that the country is at war. His stark comments came as foreign-armed and -financed rebels, including foreign mercenaries, carried out armed attacks on Republican Guard buildings on the outskirts of Damascus, and the Turkish government issued new military rules of engagement, following the shooting down of a Turkish surveillance jet over Syrian territorial waters last week.
On Tuesday morning, the Turkish government met with NATO ambassadors in Brussels, to confer on the shoot-down incident. While NATO Secretary General Rasmussen made clear that NATO is not interested in military action against Syria, the invoking of the Article 4 session by Turkey could be a prelude to direct NATO intervention. Addressing the Turkish parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Erdogan vowed that Turkey would retaliate for the shoot-down, and warned that any Syrian troop buildup near the Turkish border would be considered a threat to Turkey and could trigger military action. The danger of a full-scale border war between NATO member Turkey and Syria can not be ruled out, despite statements from Turkish officials that they are not interested in a direct conflict.
Special UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is still working on a Contact Group meeting in Geneva on Saturday, June 30, and he continues to insist that Iran should be a member of the Group, a proposal that has been supported by Russia and even by the Arab League. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that he would be prepared to attend such a meeting, which is seen as a last opportunity to revive the ceasefire and negotiations envisioned in the Annan Plan. China has offered to host the June 30 Geneva meeting.
The stumbling block to the Annan Plan and the proposed Contact Group remains the fact that Britain, France, the Obama Administration, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar are all hell-bent on regime change in Damascus, and are all involved in a coordinated arming of the opposition, which includes Al Qaeda and radical neo-Salafi fanatics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin completed his visit to the region yesterday, traveling from Israel, to Bethlehem in the West Bank, and then on to Jordan. Putin met with President Abbas and with King Abdullah II. In Israel, he delivered a strong message, that it would not be in Israel's interest to launch military actions against either Syria or Iran. In the aftermath of the Moscow meeting between the P5+1 and Iran, the drumbeat for a U.S.-Israeli joint attack on Iran has resumed, despite the fact that technical meetings between EU and Iranian experts are scheduled to begin next week, and are expected to lead to another round of P5+1-Iran negotiations.
Lyndon LaRouche warned yesterday that, with the disintegration of Europe reaching a break-point by the end of this week, the danger of London instigating a thermonuclear confrontation is intensified.