According to one assessment by Israeli intelligence, Russian President Vladamir Putin and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan are scrambling to take advantage of the power vacuum left in the Middle East by US President Barack Obama. As Moscow soldifies it superpower presence there, it is already carving up a portion of Syria for shared control with Ankara.
Surprisingly, the open powder keg in Syria has not yet exploded into a regional or global war. But it still could. Unfortunately, another trigger for such a conflict is developing to Israel's southeast. Via Yemini rebels, Iran is making moves to block the chokepoint of international shipping off the southern coast of Yemen. Missiles have been fired at US vessels. This morning the US fired back.
Upping the ante of superpower war in the Middle East, Russia is deploying two state-of-the art defense systems in Syria. One fires missiles called "Gladiator;" the other, "Giant." Israel's concern is that Russia might use the missiles to shoot down Israeli fighter jets.
There is a growing sense that a military showdown between the US and Russia is inevitable. In Syria and throughout the Middle East, minor players are likely to step aside and run for cover.
A coalition of Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces has assembled only 5 miles (8 km) from Israel's northern border. Israel is not its immediate objective, but it is very much on the minds of Assad and his military partners.