The arrival of USS George H.W. Bush on Saturday, July 1, for the first visit a US aircraft carrier has paid to Israel in nearly tow decades is a happy event for the Jewish state. The 5.700-strong crew of the biggest nuclear-powered vessel in the world will be given a joyous welcome when they celebrate America’s Independence Day on July 4.
But amid the comings and goings of helicopters ferrying official VIPs and high officers between the port of Haifa and the decks of the Bush, one question remains unanswered. Why was this mighty ship, with its more than 80 warplanes and cruise missiles, deployed to the eastern Mediterranean at this time? And which bad guy is it meant to deter?
Russia is certainly not in US sights, or even the air force and naval units it has posted to Syria. Washington and Moscow are not seeminlgy poised for a direct confrontation over Syria and its ruler Bashar Assad. Since no showdown occurred in the two years since the Russians stepped up their military intervention in September 2015, it won’t be staged days before President Donald Trump’s first face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany.
Assad can therefore rest quietly; he is out of danger for the foreseeable future. Even the new French President, Emmanuel Macron admitted on June 22: “France is no longer pushing for the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
Washington and Moscow will no doubt have their ups and downs over military moves in Syria while carving up their spheres of influence, but Putin appears to have got away with his strategy for stabilizing the Assad regime and its future, while setting up a chain of Russian air and naval bases on the western Syrian Mediterranean coast.
Propped up by Russian air might, the regime in Damascus is additionally secured by Iran and Hizballah. READ MORE