2016 EMF Conference Part 1: New Developments in Air Power in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean – Brigadier General IDF (Retd.) Asaf Agmon 5-7 December, 2016

by on January 08, 2017

EMF Conference Part 1: New Developments in Air Power in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean
Brigadier General IDF (Retd.) Asaf Agmon
EMF Conference 5-7 December 2016
Larnaca, Cyprus

Due to the Russian involvement, the balance of power in Syria has changed dramatically since the beginning of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. The air strikes have played crucial role in this development. Since the opposition forces have no air power, the Syrian regime, backed by Russia, has managed do gain a de facto air dominance in Syria. With the deployment of Russia’s sophisticated S300 and S400 air defence systems, this domination has become unchallenged. However, it has been achieved with very high human cost. The airstrikes have greatly contributed to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. What are the broader implications of the Russian involvement in Syria for Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean? Has Assad got a chance to stay in power in the long run? What is the prospect of Russia establishing permanent presence in the Eastern Mediterranean?


Christodoulos Pelaghias (C.P.): We’d like to welcome our friends from Israel and particularly Brigadier General Asaf Agmon. General, welcome. I understand you’ll be talking to us about new developments in air power in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean. Please go ahead.

Asaf Agmon (A.A): Thank you, thank you. It’s a great honor for me to be part of this important conference and to share with you some facts about my thoughts regarding the use of air power in the last years in Syria and the lessons and applications we can learn to the future of air power. We can clearly see the role of using a power in the conflict in Syria especially after the intervention of Russia in this conflict. Assad regime was in a very difficult situation when the Russians sent their air force power to Syria almost two years ago. The Russian air strike completely changed the balance of power in Syria and today Assad stayed in the best position military-wise since the beginning of the uprising against him almost five years ago. So let us examine how comes that a limited use of air power have been causing such a huge change in the balance of power in a conflict like this.

We should remember the forces against Assad regime are based on unorganized forces with very limited access to more than very basic weapon systems without any support of air power or air defense capabilities at all. More than that, military power of Assad opponent is separated in a wide variety of different organizations with no joint command coordination structure and many times with even conflict of interests and goals. All of these make using of airpower very, very attractive. No air defense, no problem to gain air superiority, no problem to gain air dominance over any operational area in the battlefield. Actual, an ideal condition for a decisive air operation that will achieve the military goals of the side using it. Still we need to face the problem of the following: use of empire in an urbane area, using massive force in a very populated area, many what we call not involved casualties and few more moral and international law issues. But these issues I will leave for the discussion later as they related to moral aspects and personal value of each of us. So let’s see what are the missions the Syrians Air Force is doing.

First of all air-to-ground strikes mainly versus populated areas. Intelligence missions, mainly using visual sensors, ground force movement and close air support to the ground forces. The Syrian air force include the helicopter Mi-8, -17 and -25, the transport airplane albatross and the fighter plane like the mig-21 mainly, the MIG 23 p.m., the Sohoy 22, Sohoy 24 and few mig-29, mainly for patrols. We can see the involving use of drones by the Syrians for attack use by modifying intelligence drones into cruise missile style guided by GPS. The armament that they are using are mainly general air-to-ground bombs, orchids, guns, fuel and (inaudible) bombs, cluster bombs and chemicals bombs. Generally speaking they suffer a great lack of armament. When we look on the way they operate the Air Force we see that they totally neglected the interception capabilities and any other air superiority capabilities. And they are using all the system and any platform that they have for ground attack missions. Actually we can see very few training missions and even no operational missions to protect of airspace by alert or scrambling the air defense airplanes. Most of the armament and missiles were converted for ground attack capabilities.

Looking on their infrastructure we see that many of the air bases were attacked and even captured by the rebels. More than fifty planes lost by enemy ground defense system, mainly guns made portable anti-air missiles, an accident caused by technical problems and due to the fact that they have a lack of spare parts and poor maintenance services. Couple of tens of planes were destroyed on the ground, mainly the helicopters MIG 8 and 17 and the others. A big problem they are facing is the lack of pilots. They have all the Air Force about 120 pilots at all. To summarize the data till now we can see that we have an air power with almost no air superiority capabilities, very low air-to-air capability, and a decent ground attack capabilities to achieve an effective ground support and mainly ineffective infrastructure and environmental damage to the opponent, mainly killing as many as they can without paying too much attention to collateral damage and so on.

When we look on the Russian air power use in this conflict, we can see that they use the same concept, but with more sophisticated platform and better equipment, they cannot allow any unfriendly forces to interrupt the operation, so they brought with them the most advanced air defense ground system like the S300 and S400. So when we conclude all of this, we see that the concept of using air power is limited. Mostly it won’t be available to many countries like the Europeans, NATO, USA and Israel of course, as it neglected the public opinion aspects, international law and moral issues. More than that, any intervention by a (inaudible) airpower opponent will stop this operation with the collapsing of all this military concept and will put the side using this concept in a position of decisive defeat.

I will leave the rest to the discussion and will be more than happy to take any questions should you have, and thank you for your attention.

C.P.: Thank you very much. Just to start you off though, it appears that the strategy that the Russians together with the Syrians have developed is that of area denial. It’s a combination, I understand, that the Syrians don’t have the capability for air dominance, but they certainly together with the Russians and their anti-aircraft missiles, etc., have the ability to create area-denial situations. How do you see that developing? Will that be limited to small areas or can you envision a broader area denial situation like in the Ukraine?

A.A.: If we are talking about Syria, actually they can decide were to have dominance. And actually, what they are doing, they are considering with the operation of the area which they have a conflict with their opponent, with the rebels. So if it’s (inaudible), they will concentrate in this area, if the area that they would like to keep the corridor to the north part of Syria, they will do it in this area. They can use limited forces to achieve it because they don’t have any opponent. So if you take it to Ukraine and you have an opponent of ground defense forces or even another air power, you will not be able to do this kind of operation in the same way. Because, actually, there are the only ones that fly the sky, they don’t have any opponent, and according to international sources, what we call, whenever somebody attacks anything in Syria he faces no objection at all. So if you take this concept to an area where there is an opponent with air capability or air defense capability, you won’t be able to do such operation. And even if you have a very limited air defense capability, like man-portable ground missile, you won’t be able to do all the very effective operations that they are doing with the helicopters, dropping a barrel of fuel and air a kind of bombs that cause a lot of damage on populated area, because you will be shut down immediately. To do this kind of operation you have to fly very low, very slow, is the best target for any ground defense missile they have. So I don’t see that this concept of operation can be taken to any other places beside a place that there is no air power existing at all, that they opposed to (inaudible) operations.

Andrew Lambert (A.L.): General, if I may, I’d like to ask you from an Israeli perspective what you see the role of the Peter the Great and the Kuznetsov operating in that area?

A.A.: Oh, this is a very complicated question. As long as the Russian air power is involved in what is happening in Syria I don’t think that beside looking and learning for the operation about Russian air system capabilities we have anything to do. So far, we have a coordination with the Russian air force that is in this area, mainly to prevent any accidents or any unintended collisions between our forces, so we have a cooperation, coordination about where they fly and when and where we are flying.

If you ask my personal view, I’m not very happy with this involvement. I think that we, and I include ‘we’ as NATO, the Western European countries and the United States, leaving the airspace to the Russians to control, it’s not something that supports the Western world interest. Now, we are in a position that the Russians are here and they will protect their interest now, and if you want to prevent them from doing so you are in danger of getting in a very large, or very complicated conflict, which none of us would like to have.

A.L.: I think your latter comment is the most telling and it’s really this that is inviting people to escalate. If you start attacking the Kuznetsov, or indeed Peter the Great – and let’s not forget they are the flagship of the northern fleet – you are inevitably going to escalate the conflict, and no one frankly is going to be prepared to do that, for what after all are very limited aims. So I think it’s a bit of a power play. We’ve got our forces there, we’ve got S300s, S400s, anybody who gets airborne from your side will be inside our surface to air missile zone, this is our area, you better keep out. Do you think that’s the message they’re trying to get across?

A.A.: I agree with you and you have to take into consideration also all of the (inaudible) aspects that for a long time Syria is trying to support the Hezbollah with very sophisticated weapon systems and we declared that if anyone tries to do something like this we will try to deny it because then it will change all the balance of power between us and Lebanon, and especially with the great power of the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Bringing in the S300s and S400 and the Russian plane flying in this region make our mission much more complicated. But so far including what is publish in the open media, lately last week our prime minister did declare that the presence of the Russians in the area will not prevent us from continuing to stop any trying to offer of moving or transforming such weapon system to the Hezbollah.

You have also to take into consideration that the Syrian Air Force is using chemical weapons, the Syrian forces are trying to smuggle chemical weapons to Hezbollah and to other extreme organizations. And this is something that all of us should be very worried about. Because if they reach Lebanon, it doesn’t mean that they will go from Lebanon to Israel, but they can go to any terrorist activities all over Europe or even further than that.

Klearchos Kyriakides (K.K.): First of all general thank you for your presentation. As the Director of ERPIC’s Rule of Law and Democracy Program I have a question that flows from what you’ve just commented about chemical weapons. To what extent, if at all, are the Syrians and the Russians complying with their duties under international law generally, and international humanitarian law in particular?

A.A.: I cannot say anything about the Russian involvement. I can say that according to open evidence that all of us could see, I cannot talk about non-open or classified evidence, we know that the Syrians are using in some cases a chemical weapon. And you can see the tragedy of the casualties that suffer from this kind of attacks. And you can imagine that they still have some chemical bombs and weapons in their warehouses, and they will decide when and how to use it. So far, they didn’t show any kind of, you know, moral resistant or even obeying the international law to use the chemical weapons and it always goes against civilians which makes it even worse.

C.P.: In your view and the Israeli view, with what long-term objectives of the Russians and the Syrians can Israel live with? And I’ll be more specific. It seems that, as I was alluding to before, the Russians are helping the Syrians and the Iranians – by the way they have ground forces and proxies, Hezbollah etc. – in the creation of certain strongholds in this air denial, area denial areas. Does that suggest that there will be a more or less permanent Russian presence in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean? And do you think Israel could live with that?

A.A.: First of all, yes, Israel can live with that. Will Israel be happy about it? There is different views. Few people think that the existence of the Russians in the Middle East will stabilize the Middle East, will not allow extreme forces or extreme movement to do unplanned or uncontrolled military, so they will keep under control the Hezbollah and the Syrians, and this will control or stabilize the area. Other people like me, I don’t think it’s good for Israel, I don’t think it’s good for the Western world, because we have to remember that the main power in the Middle East and the one that is all the time working to destabilize the Middle East for their purposes is Iran. And Iran is the main supporter of Assad regime. And now, in our case in Israel it was always what we call the root of the evil, what we call a different name, it was Iran, Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas in Gaza. And this was the “chain of evil”, what we call. And it was on the verge of collapsing. If Assad regime collapsed, this chain was destroyed, then Hezbollah would lose the main base of power, the main base of military support and military weapon system and their situation would be automatically changed. When the Russians get in, this situation completely changed. Now, Assad is in a relatively stable position, Hezbollah’s popularity in Lebanon is suffering because their people are being killed in a foreign country. Now, they are in a better position, and the ones that gain the most out of this conflict is Iran, because Iran is now considered in the Arab world and in the other countries of the region as a local super power, original super power, that you can rely upon, and upon their support with weapon system, with soldiers, with money, with all what you need. While other countries like Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and the other moderate countries are battling to get support from the main supporter – the USA. So all these for the long run is not for the good in my point of view. The only question is how long the Russians will stay here and how long this will serve the Russian interest, which I don’t have the answer for it. But in not very dramatic changes the position of the Russians in this area can be very similar to what happened to them in Afghanistan and in other countries, because after all, when you look on the demographic and geographic facts about Syria, Assad regime is based on 12% of the Syrian population. So I don’t see that before the long run he will survive. And if the Russians will keep backing him till the end, they face a big problem, a big problem. Because you cannot base on something that is so narrow and so unstable. But it can take few or even more than few years that this would happen.

A.L.: Can I ask you General about your view of air power against ISIS and why it is that we’ve been attacking ISIS on and off now for some two years, and yet we seem not to have the end in sight?

A.A.: I will go first to my personal view before general. My view is that we took, I hope, now it’s less than before, we took ISIS more seriously than what we should. ISIS got their position in the international media and international public opinion by using all their very cruel and dramatic event, using the Western media and the digital media in the best way that they can. But when you judge it military-wise, how many soldiers they have? What is their weapon system? This is not something that threatens the Western world and that threatens the Mediterranean countries. And it’s a terrible organization, and we suffer from terror in the past and we will suffer from terror in the future. It’s like other criminal aspects that we have in our modern life, we will have to face it in the future for many years, and we have to do it smart. But ISIS is not… The concept if ISIS will establish the new Islamic country all over the Middle East, I think it’s not based on the real facts of what they are capable to do. Also our country, for example, which I see differently from the general view, we were so frightened that ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra or something similar, or daughter of ISIS will take control of Syria, that we decided we are not intervening by any mean in what’s happening in Syria, because we don’t know if Assad is not better than the alternative. I don’t think so. I don’t see any real threat or existential threat by Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS, even if they will be on the border of Israel. They will be a terrorist threat, there will be some things that we would have to deal with, but it’s not something that you compare to what we had before, when our major enemy that threaten our country was Syria, the country led by Assad. In ’73, Syrian forces crossed the border and was threatening the security of Israel. Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have no capability to do so, and they will not have the capability do so in near future that I can see. So, if you judge things by military effects and by not being frightened by terror activities, then you can come to the conclusions that you have to deal with ISIS as a terror group, and something that you have to take into consideration, but not as something that you will have to take all your military effort just to face this kind of threat.

K.K.: If I may have a follow-up question to what you’ve just said. What we’ve been seeing in Europe over the last two and a half years or so since the establishment of the so-called Islamic state, ISIS, ISIL, whatever you call it, what we’ve seen in Europe is a trickle, or an outflow of people who were born and brought up in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and elsewhere towards Syria and Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East. And that’s a relatively new phenomenon, we haven’t seen it in previous decades, and now we are seeing this outflow of people. And some of them, of course, are staying in Syria or Iraq, and others are coming back into Europe. My question really concerns Israel. Have you in Israel seen a similar outflow of Israeli-born people who are sympathetic to ISIS and have left Israel to go and fight in Syria or Iraq?

A.A.: This is a very good question I think, because we have very few incidents – I can count it on two hands – of Arab Israelis that went to ISIS, or Syria, Turkey and Syria, very, very few. And you can imagine that some of our Arab Israelis are in favor of the forces fight against Israel and support it, you know, our enemies, but very, very few of them took this extreme move of trying to join ISIS. You know, although we are in conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab Israelis our consider themselves to be Palestinians, in every survey that you are doing, you find the huge majority, more than 92% of them when they were asked, “If there will be a Palestinian state, would you move to the Palestinian state or stay as an Israeli citizen?” more than 92% of them said that would stay as Israeli citizens. Although they are here a minority, a minority thinks they are deprived of some of their rights, but overall they have full identifications and rights as Israelis. And they made their fight for equal rights and all the other ideas that they would like to have as Israelis. So really there have been very, very few that went to join ISIS. And when something like this happens, in most cases their families notify the authorities about it and they try every way to bring them back to Israel.

K.K.: Can you just maybe address one related question. Why have so few people gone to fight for the jihadists from Israel? I don’t know enough, but I’d be interested to know. Is there anything to do with the culture, is it anything to do with the Israeli integration policies, is it anything to do with your democratic culture? What is it that has prevented people going in any large numbers?

A.A.: I think that they are raised in a society that the values of ISIS is completely unacceptable. It doesn’t mean that even if you are a minority, and you are thinking that you don’t get the equal rights of the majority and you have many things that you are angry about, still, in our society and the children raised in our society, to take somebody and cut his throat is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable even to very religious Muslims, it’s not according to the Muslims values, and it’s not according to all the other values that they are living by. Many of them are ashamed of what they see is done by ISIS. They think that this degrades their reputation in the general society, they don’t want to be identified as somebody that agrees with what ISIS is doing. So when you have some incident that rocket is fired by Gaza, or by Hezbollah, Hamas and Hezbollah, sometimes you see a few Arabs, Israeli Arabs happy about it because it seems that it serves their struggle to have their broader Palestinian independent state. But when they say, when they see an incident made by ISIS, I don’t see anybody that is happy about it and identify himself of supporting such things. On the contrary.

C.P.: General, can I bring you back to Syria. What would you see the final solution of Syria? A partition perhaps, a federation? What’s your sense of where the war in Syria, what it would result in? As the matter of fact, Syria is not existing anymore. It is not a country anymore. It’s a kind of few tribes, if you want to call them, separated and not under one control. I don’t see any option that in the near future Syria will come back to something even close to what it was. And the only question is, should Assad and the Alawis survive? There are many options that if the Assad regime will collapse, there will be a disaster, and the Sunnis that are the majority will kill and will massacre the Alawis, which I hope will not happen. And the only other option is that there will be few provinces of separate small countries, but it’s very complicated, because the hatred and the conflict of interest between all these groups is not something (inaudible0. Ok, let’s give the Alawis this area, you will have this area, the Kurds this area. It will not be like what we saw in previous Yugoslavia. It will not happen like this because the conflict of interest and the fight about natural resources, like the oil, like the water, is so strong that the conflict will go on for a long time.

A.L.: Can I just follow up on that? And if there is some sort of partition, despite the fact that it’s very much a checkered type of arrangement of ethnic minorities and majorities, and the Alawite take the area to the western side under Assad, what will happen in the vacuum then that is to the east of them going towards the Iraqi border? What will actually establish a power basis there? And is there some way in which maybe Saudi Arabia would become involved in that area?

A.A.: If Saudi Arabia will try to be involved in this area then they will have problem with Iran. And I don’t see that Saudi Arabia is looking for a conflict with Iran beside what they already have. I look about this area that something like what we are seeing now in Libya will happen over there. It will be a huge area with no real central control, an area where every tribe, and every family, and every group can do whatever they would like as long as they can do it by force. And I don’t see any interest of the international community to send over there an international force, or to do an international joint coalition. So I believe this area will be unstable for many, many years. We have the example of Libya today.

A.L.: If I can widen that slightly and just talk about Saudi Arabia in a little more detail, why is it do you think they’re having such lack of success in Yemen, and is there a problem particularly with the Yemenis, as I understand it, having access to a few modified systems?

A.A.: I don’t think that Saudi put the Yemen conflict as first priority that they will try to do whatever they can in order to achieve their goals. But more than that, I think they are smart enough to understand that in order to achieve a decisive win of victory in Yemen, it’s something that is very unlikely to be achievable. In this long areas with so big diversity of the population, it’s almost impossible. Look on what happened to the Russians in Afghanistan. Look what happened to the Americans in Afghanistan. This is similar areas. You will be able to destroy the major infrastructure but still you will not control the area, you will not control the ground, you will go into an attrition war that will take long time, you will pay a lot of casualties, and you will not change the situation dramatically like in a normal war that one side is winning and other side is losing, and there is a treaty and agreement, and go to the next phase. It will never happen in such areas. So why to go into deep mud when you understand that you are going to be dragged into a big mud, and it’s better to stay away, as long as it’s not interrupt or threaten your main interest. And that is the way that I think the Saudis are controlling the conflict in Yemen.

A.L.: But what you seem to be suggesting, if I read you correctly, is that not only in the areas to the east of Syria, but also in Yemen, we’re going to have lots of ethnic groups under warlords, and the best thing we can do is just be well clear of them. Is that what you’re saying?

A.A.: Generally speaking, yes. I agree with this. And the best way or the most efficient way is to try to make sure that the outside intervention will not unbalance the situation. The problem in Yemen the Iranians are involved in it. And when you send a message to Iran “keep out of it” and this I think is what the Saudis are trying to do – similar to what happened in Bahrain a few years ago – then is the situation that you are controlling the fire within its limit. Otherwise if you are outside of it complete, and you are saying it’s not my business, then you will suffer an uprising in Bahrain, in Yemen and then in other countries, and this is something that you must try to stop. So the smart move is how or when to intervene. Usually, if you are smart enough and you have a long vision you do it very early, and not late, as in Syria example, I think that if the Western world, and including Israel, would have intervened earlier, Assad would not exist, Russia would not be in the area, Iran would be smaller than it is now, and it would be for the good side of the Western world and the global world I think.

K.K.: My last question it’s actually a comment. I invite my students to read Aristotle’s analysis of tyranny. It’s in the “Politics” and in a number of his other works. And in his analysis of tyranny Aristotle teaches us that you can spot a tyranny in the making, when the father – tyrant – is grooming one or more of his sons to take over. And in our discussion we’ve mentioned Libya and Syria. And in both occasions a tyrant – Colonel Gaddafi in one case, the father Assad in the second case – were grooming their children to take over. The child took over in Syria, he didn’t manage to take over in Libya. And all I just comment is that there is value in rereading Aristotle on tyranny, because your point about prevention being better than cure is timeless and most valid.

C.P: General, let me bring you back to Lebanon this time. So far, it seems that the war in Syria has not spilled over to a great extent into Lebanon, but what we have is the election of President Aoun with the support of Hezbollah and it seems that there may be the situation that the stage is set, at some point, for another, perhaps, confrontation with Israel through Lebanon. Do you see that? I mean, are you concerned about the developments in Lebanon?

A.A.: We’re always concerned about the developments in a Lebanon. And I think that one of the lessons that Hezbollah learnt from what we call the Second Lebanese War that they have to be very careful not to go into war that they have not planned and not go into this kind of war by their main patrons, which means the Iranians. And in the past it was the Syrians as well. So even Nasrallah said, he did not imagine that our reaction to what he did in our north borders that caused the Second Lebanese War, he did not imagine that it will cause such a big conflict. If he had imagined, he wouldn’t have done what he did. So I don’t think, and I don’t see any reason or any interest of the Hezbollah to go into a military campaign or military activity, especially today. They are deeply involved in what is happening in Syria, they are far away from being victorious in Syria, so why to open a new front with Israel? And they know that if they open a new front of Israel, this will be something very serious. Because you cannot start, you know, a limited campaign, you know well what you plan to start but you don’t know how it will end. And we know that they have about 180,000 missiles aiming on all our religious cities and strategic areas. So something will happen. It will be very massive. It will be very massive. So I don’t see any interest of the Hezbollah to gain in such a conflict, but they are building their forces and the infrastructure to the point that they will be directed by Iran, for example, to open a military campaign. Let’s imagine a situation that Israel, or even the Western world – the USA or the NATO forces – will attack Iran regarding the conflict of the nuclear plants that they have, then there will be a possibility that you are with (inaudible) Hezbollah, but okay, this is the time, this is the right moment to start kind of operation, this is something that we have to prepare ourselves and I think the Western world also has to prepare themselves. So it’s a very worrying situation, but I don’t think any interest of the Hezbollah which is the major power in Lebanon today to do some activity that would bring into a huge conflict in our area.

A.L.: Can I just as a final question widen it slightly? You’ve hinted of position of Iran. I would be grateful for your personal view of the Iran nuclear agreement and also the Israeli view of the Iran nuclear agreement.

A.A.: The Israeli official view about the agreements is that we’re very unhappy, but we think that we have not denied the capability of Iran to become nuclear and at the most we postpone the days that they will be able to become nuclear. And my personal view is that the only one that can prevent Iran from becoming nuclear is the Iranian people. If the Iranian people will understand that for their best interests they should give up the nuclear capabilities, nuclear military capabilities, this is the only option that they will do so. We see that even in the country much poorer like North Korea they are nuclear, they did not give up becoming nuclear, and superpowers like the USA cannot prevent them from being nuclear. So if we – the Western world – will find a way to show the Iranian people that it’s better for them not to have nuclear power, then is the only chance to prevent them from having nuclear power. Otherwise they will keep their attempts to have it. They will do it in steps that will bring the best benefits for them without exposed to a painful sanction. But we see now from the last developments in the Senate and what the elected President Trump is saying about this. This conflict will continue to keep us busy and in a very intense style. We have to take all we can to try to convince them not to have the nuclear capability. I as an Israeli don’t think that when Iran or if Iran will have a nuclear capabilities they will attack Israel. But when they will have a nuclear capability, it will be a different ball game in the whole of the region, the stability of countries like Saudi, like the moderate Arab Emirates – all these countries will be very, very unstable, and this is what should be worrying all of us very much. So it is common interest not to make Iran a nuclear regional superpower, because it is against all the interest, the common interest of the Western world, is my point of view.

AL: Thank you.

C.P.: General, thank you very much for a great presentation and question-and-answer. We need to wrap for a few minutes and return. Thank you very much.

A.A.: Thank you very much.


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