I guess this news won’t trouble the anti-interventionists too much — some forms of intervention seem more palatable than others.
The Associated Press reported over the weekend: Russia’s deputy foreign minister called on the United States and Europe to take “serious” steps to combat terrorism during a visit to Damascus on Saturday, warning that several Middle Eastern countries are threatened.
“Russia will not stand idle toward attempts by terrorist groups to spread terrorism in regional states,” Sergei Ryabkov told reporters, apparently referring to the rapid advance of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant across eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
The Daily Beast now reports: While the Obama administration struggles to speed up delivery of U.S. military assistance to the government of Iraq, Vladimir Putin has already delivered not only fighter jets but also the pilots needed to fly them, diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast.
On Monday, Russian television trumpeted the arrival of the first five of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 combat fighter jets to the Iraqi government, saying it had also sent “trainers” to help the Iraqis use them. Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, told The New York Times the fighter jets would enter the battle against ISIS within a few days, after which the Russian trainers would leave Iraq. He said Iraq had plenty of pilots with “long experience” flying the Su-25. The Russian ambassador to Iraq also said Russian pilots would not fly missions inside Iraq.
Perhaps. But diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast that Russian pilots will fly the planes due to a lack of Iraqi pilots with the proper training. Neither Russia nor Iraq as explained how the Iraqi air force could possibly have pilots trained and ready to fly the Russian fighters. The Su-25 planes were used in the Iraq-Iran war but have not been employed in Iraq since at least 2002, when Iraq’s military was controlled by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.
Last week, Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, told the New York Times:
“We have pilots who have long experience in this plane and of course we have the help of the Russian friends and the experts who came with these aircraft to prepare them.”