Since late December 2015 Russia has been pouring its military forces into Armenia with whom it has just inked a defense agreement which extends Russia's military presence in the country through the year 2044. The sprawling Russian base at Gyumri, Armenia is within walking distance (less than 6 miles) of the Turkish border (NATO ally). Armenia is a virtual dagger pointing at the heart of critical U.S. allies Georgia and Azerbaijan. It would make all kinds of military sense for Russia to overwhelm Georgia and Azerbaijan prior to moving south against Israel.
It is instructive to look at the types of weaponry pouring into Armenia at present: advanced drone aircraft, attack helicopters, Iskander-M (SS-26 'Stone') tactical strike ballistic missiles with a range of 30 to 300 miles, a full division of combat troops, a thousand artillery pieces plus an additional 5,000 troops to operate all this hardware. Notice also that all of this military force is of the air mobile or air assault type.
The questions to ask are: Why are you just now hearing about this; why is this immediate threat not being reported by mass media? (25FEB - Forbes.com has reported this; Drudge.com links to the report) I still think you know the answer.
22 February 2016: The first hints of a dissonance in the Russia-Iran-Syria military alliance are being heard in recent OSINT reports. I mention this only because it is an interesting item to note given what has been occurring around Aleppo and Dera'a.
Accordingly, Russia wants a gradual winding down of its military operations and withdrawal of its combat forces from Syria in favor of a political resolution to end the 5-year old conflict in Syria. Part of the envisioned political process is Russia's tacit admission that Bashar al-Assad will be required to step down. In other words, Russia has no real interest in an open-ended war against Sunni Islam.
For Iran and Syria, Bashar al-Assad in particular, it is only total military victory over all of the anti-Assad forces that will suffice to determine Syria's future. They see negotiations as a means to an end of their choosing, meaning that negotiations are a distraction from their true objective of military conquest over all rebel factions. Such a tactic worked against compliant American and European foreign ministers in nuclear negotiations, so why not against an incohesive, and fratricide-happy mix of anti-Assad rebel militias?
No matter what, newspaper headlines and insider reports will always have to take a back seat to what Bible prophecy has to say about current events in Syria. The texts of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49:23-27 are what will be in the future, and it is toward that future reality that events will inevitably maneuver.
19 February 2016: Nothing should change the military dynamic in the Middle East faster than precision airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force directly against Syrian military targets. This is precisely what transpired on Wednesday evening, 18 February, according to the SOHR (Syrian Observatory on Human Rights) as reported by Reuters News Service and multiple Israeli news sources. Now the wait is on to see how the dynamic changes.
Background: Russian military forces are in Syria to defend the regime from several groups of rebel Sunni forces. So are the Iranians (IRGC), Hezbollah and other Iranian-led Iraqi and Afghan Shi'a militias. Since the Russians and these other foreign forces arrived in Syria, this is the second such IAF strike in the country, and it occurs at a time when increased Russian airstrikes are occurring very close to the Golan border. Wednesday evening's IAF airstrikes scored direct hits on a Syrian regime military facility located between Damascus and Dera'a. There has been, thus far at least, no Russian or Iranian military response to the Israeli strikes.
There is little doubt these strikes, as with the previous strikes, were an Israeli red-line crossed response for the ongoing transfer of advanced weaponry to Lebanese Hezbollah by Syria, Iran, or both, in southern Syria. These strikes very probably destroyed the advanced weapons in a Syrian government depot, as has occurred on multiple previous occasions in the past couple of years as reported on Eschatology Today.
So we watch and wait...
Meanwhile, according to Arab media over in the Hafr al-Batin, region of northwestern Saudi Arabia, in the desert just southwest of Kuwait where the 1991 Operation Desert Storm was launched against Iraqi forces 25 years ago this month, there is an ongoing Saudi-hosted military exercise of Arab and Sunni Islamic countries known as Exercise North Thunder. The number of troops and war materiel involved in the exercise appear to be somewhat exaggerated as reported by "unconfirmed sources." Nevertheless, this exercise is being touted as a message to Iran and intended to get the apocalyptic, Mahdi-hastening Shi'a clerics to modify their ambitions.
Participating nations in Exercise North Thunder are: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunis, Djibouti, Comoros, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia Egypt, Mauritania and Mauritius. North Thunder is scheduled to conclude on 10 March 2016.
15 February 2016: The dynamics of ongoing wars in the Middle East are changing pretty much as expected ever since the Russian military intervention in Syria commenced a few short months ago.