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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #741
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Foriegn Fighters in Syria

    http://www.economist.com/news/middle...f-hot-here-mum

    Within this long article - with many points made - is this table:
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    It really comes down to picking the right people to lead these I think more than picking the right organization.
    I ask your personal opinion. Is the US military capable of selecting and putting the right people in charge, or is the personnel system so strong that that is impossible?

    Same question for the spook community, are they capable of that? Can either group overcome their bureaucracies in order to accomplish the mission?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I ask your personal opinion. Is the US military capable of selecting and putting the right people in charge, or is the personnel system so strong that that is impossible?

    Same question for the spook community, are they capable of that? Can either group overcome their bureaucracies in order to accomplish the mission?
    I can' answer for the spook community. For the military if it was considered important they would carefully select commanders, at least initially much like they do for certain elite SOF units. If it wasn't considered important, then you get what you get from the bureaucracy.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    A of lot truth in that argument and there is the rub. A lot of our covert and clandestine efforts are conducted by idiots who don't have a clue and their work is concealed from critics, so they have a degree of free play that won't be exposed until it is a tragic failure. On the other hand, covert and clandestine operations don't work if they're exposed, so obviously there is a tension here that can't be resolved unless we take covert and clan ops off the options list. I don't think we want to do that. There has been talk for years on pushing these paramilitary ops from the CIA to the military. I think there are pros and cons for doing that and I'm not prepared to present an informed opinion on keeping the same or switching DOD to the lead. Like you said, we have already seen what the likes of Rumfield and Wolfowitz did as DOD leaders, imagine giving them the lead for the nation's covert and clan capabilities for paramilitary operations. It really comes down to picking the right people to lead these I think more than picking the right organization.
    The military is already involved in Title 50 operations, though, isn’t it?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  5. #745
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Why Assad Strengthened the Jihadists

    A long, multi-sourced and linked article - the full title being 'Provocation and the Islamic State: Why Assad Strengthened the Jihadists' and from an author who is an observer or student of the Syrian Civil War: http://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2...the-jihadists/

    His argument is that Assad has consistently followed a strategy of provocation, which is cited as:
    simply means taking control of your enemies in secret and encouraging them to do things that discredit them and help you
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A long, multi-sourced and linked article - the full title being 'Provocation and the Islamic State: Why Assad Strengthened the Jihadists' and from an author who is an observer or student of the Syrian Civil War: http://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2...the-jihadists/

    His argument is that Assad has consistently followed a strategy of provocation, which is cited as:
    I suspect some of these claims are true, but it is also true that the first casualty of war is the truth. We're to the point now, especially in the social media era, where everyone simply quotes their so called experts creating a cesspool of opinion and propaganda attempting to shape the views of various audiences. We won't have access to what our intelligence community knows, but we're to the point that we have to rely on the professionals (not the retired loud mouths from the military and CIA who are making money has talking heads), because the truth has been too distorted in the public realm.

    The strategy of provocation sounds logical in hindsight, and may in fact have been Assad's strategy, but it is also a strategy that the state would have had little control over once implemented. Other reasons could explain what is happening, such as the government may be forced to buy oil from ISIS based on economic realities. As for protecting ISIS to prevent the other groups from gaining strength, maybe, but it could also be that ISIS is located in the areas that Assad's forces are not capable of defending (to far away from Damascus). Seems like government has never had good control of eastern Syria.

    The counterfactual argument that "if" support was provided to the moderates earlier the extremists wouldn't be as strong is simply pure speculation. First off quite a bit of support was provided to the moderates from a lot of different countries, but we like to ignore that. The moderates simply don't appear to be that strong, which goes back to the former article you posted that they're not that united.

    We want to believe so badly that this rebellion is all about moderates seeking to overthrow an illegitimate government that we tend to grasp at straws when they are presented if we think they support our world view. No doubt there are many moderates in Syria who have a vision for the country that is more aligned with what the U.S. considers universal values, but is also true many do not. While most potential outcomes are possible in a conflict, it is hard to envision how various groups of moderates who are not united could effectively control the stronger extremist groups if the moderates actually ousted Assad. First they would have to consolidate power among themselves, and this period of chaos would create a window of opportunity for ISIS and al-Nusra and others who seem to be better organized. We all know this isn't a simple conflict between extremists and moderates and Assad. There are many actors within and external to the country that are interacting in ways that results in an unpredictable situation. In the end, those of us on the outside, and even most in the inside, are stuck viewing this conflict through opinion of others, not expert opinion, just opinion. Those that argue that someday the stock market will crash are probably right, but if they can't tell you when it isn't overly helpful. Those that tell us this conflict is all about poor governance may be right, but again it is trite and not helpful. Those that argue it would be better if the moderates win seem to be right also, but they don't provide realistic strategies on they could.

    All the background noise is important, but ultimately we have to determine what, if anything, actually threatens our interests and deal with it. Ideally in a way that doesn't strengthen Iran, Assad, AQ, or other groups that our contrary to our interests. However, we don't live in an ideal world, and waiting to develop the perfect strategy could put us in a position in disadvantage. We may have to choose from the least bad of several bad options.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 09-05-2014 at 12:29 PM.

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ....perhaps David posted that precisely because there're so mufh insisting on 'the first casualty of war is the truth'...while the idea of sticking heads into sand and searching for excuses is usually proving the worst one...?

    Furthermore:

    - It doesn't matter - not the least - what the US IC knows. What matters is what the WH decides (and what Israel tells the WH and State Department they should think) and that are Problems No.1 thru 99 in the case of US policy for Syria.

    - And from the standpoint of the WH (and everybody gathering around it or searching for excuses 'to do nothing there'), every excuse is good just NOT to cooperate with what is left of the insurgency: either (or earlier) it is (or was) 'better' because insurgents are not united and nobody knows what would happen if they win; then it was 'better' because everybody was explaining that the insurgency = Islamist extremists, and 'Assadists = fighting against Islamist extremists', although neither of this was (or is) truth; and lately it's 'better'.... well, because anything is better but to cooperate with or support anti-Assadist insurgents...

    ...and all of this, of course, because it's so 'impossible to predict' what would've happened in Syria if one would have provided support to insurgency.

    (Where's that bamboozled smiley....?)

    Makes me wonder: if that's so impossible to predict, but it's so easy to predict what is going to happen if Assadists are left in power... then how to hell comes that nobody predicted the emergence of the ISIS, first and foremost?

    - Yeah, it's so pity the insurgency was so very much weakened by a simultaneous attacks from Iran- and Russia-supported regime and the ISIS from the other side. But, what can one do now? 'Nothing'. Back then when the insurgency was near-destroyed through cooperation of the regime and the ISIS, one didn't find that at least worth reporting, not to talk 'understanding'. So, why doing anything else now, when 'moderates simply don't appear to be that strong' any more...?

    - Has the gov had good control of eastern Syria? Well, think whatever you like, but the fact is that the original cadre of idiots that established the ISIL in Syria has entered Syria and passed government-controlled territory with help of a bribe of local regime's functionaries. Barely three months later, they were already in control of specific oilfields and 'exporting' oil to the regime in Damascus (via the pipeline in Homs).

    So, if the gov was 'not in control', then how comes these idiots had to pay a bribe for a safe passage through gov-controlled territory?

    We want to believe so badly that this rebellion is all about moderates seeking to overthrow an illegitimate government that we tend to grasp at straws when they are presented if we think they support our world view. No doubt there are many moderates in Syria who have a vision for the country that is more aligned with what the U.S. considers universal values, but is also true many do not.
    This is so right, you wouldn't believe. After nearly four years of insistent ignorance - or at least downplaying - of moderates in Syria, there are hardly any moderates left. And even the few that are left are certainly not going to start cheering any kind of US/Western help any more. That train is away, long, long ago - just like the Iraqi 'pro-US-train' was away in 1991, and in 2003 there was hardly anybody left greeting the US invasion.

    But, why learn from such historical lessons? It's so much more easier to explain that there are too few moderates left and nobody can be sure about what would they do if...well, if... erm... if what happens?

    ... Those that tell us this conflict is all about poor governance may be right, but again it is trite and not helpful. Those that argue it would be better if the moderates win seem to be right also, but they don't provide realistic strategies on they could.
    ....yeah, and that's a reason more to keep on protracting this war through letting others to provide only enough help for the insurgency to survive, but not to win...

    ...However, we don't live in an ideal world, and waiting to develop the perfect strategy could put us in a position in disadvantage. We may have to choose from the least bad of several bad options.
    Yeah, that's why it's better to go on with Assadists, because the longer the war lasts the more extremist is everybody getting - and because the USA are 'not meddling' since that is not in 'higher US interests'...?

    Sigh...

    Bill, frankly, while the sarcast in me has big fun reading and commenting it, this logic is this short >><< of confusing even me.

  8. #748
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    We won't have access to what our intelligence community knows, but we're to the point that we have to rely on the professionals (not the retired loud mouths from the military and CIA who are making money has talking heads), because the truth has been too distorted in the public realm.
    Given the history of the last 25 or so years relying upon "the professionals" for almost anything is a sure fire recipe for disaster.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  9. #749
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ...and here's what's the probable reason for this 'new' problem, i.e. 'shall we or shall we not cooperate with Assad' and this intensive search for all possible excuses not to support Syrian insurgency....

    Just few days ago, Col Pesach Malovany (IDF, ret.), has published his newest book, titled (as far as the Google Translate says) 'North Shall Evil. Malovany, who served as expert for Arab militaries with the IDF, became famous for his book 'The Wars of Modern Babylon' (like his new title, this is available in Hebrew only), which is a massive volume about the history of Iraqi armed forces. Correspondingly, his new book is covering the history of Syrian armed forces.

    ...and, between others, on the back-cover of that book, one can read the following:

    Upon Israel, the Syrian army filled two dominant while conflicting roles; up until the Yom - Kippur War, the Syrian Army was a key participant and supporter of the hostilities toward Israel, while after the Yom - Kippur War, the Syrian Army was responsible of making the Israeli-Syrian border and Golan Hights one of the most peaceful areas in Israel and the Middle-East.
    And that's the essence of the newest 'thinking' we can hear from the DC in regards of Syria: 'if we support Assad, then his army is going to take care for Syria to remain peaceful.'

    ...as peaceful as graveyard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Given the history of the last 25 or so years relying upon "the professionals" for almost anything is a sure fire recipe for disaster.
    Can't argue the facts you presented, but what is the alternative? To have passionate bloggers with personal agendas influence the voters and then have the voters influence the politicians to take action which may be rash and unwise, or rely on all-source intelligence analysts to provide the closest proximity to truth we can obtain, and then see what we should do based on "our national interests," if we need to do anything?

    Everyone with a Smartphone can now be a propagandist and push a narrative out, and even support it with tidbits of truth to support it. The truth in the Middle East is exceedingly complex and shifting, so to assume simple answers like provide support to rebel group X will work is overly deterministic. It may or may not achieve whatever our objective(s) are, and there are certainly risks of it going bad based on our history of grossly mismanaging most UW efforts we have been involved in at the strategic level.

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/au...s-and-billions

    The video at this link is sadly hilarious, it was Jon Stewart supporting Obama during his election run in 2007, obviously Obama didn't do any better. It is roughly 4 minutes long after the 30 second commercial, and it is focuses on foreign policy in the Middle East. Sort of sums up why I'm hesitant for any grand schemes the home team may be dreaming up.

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    The article on Qatar supporting extremists covers much more than Syria and probably should be posted under threads also, but the purpose of putting it here to contrast the two articles and perhaps show some hypocrisy. I know, shocking.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/wo...ref=world&_r=1

    Qatar’s Support of Islamists Alienates Allies Near and Far

    In many cases, several analysts said, Qatar has sought to balance a wager on the future of political Islam as a force in the region with a simultaneous desire not to alienate the West. It has turned a blind eye to private fund-raising for Qaeda-linked groups to buy weapons in Syria, for example, but it has not provided direct government funding or weapons. At times, Mr. Stephens and other analysts said, Western pressure has moved Qatar to at least partly suppress some of the overt fund-raising.
    “All the gulf intelligence agencies are competing in Syria and everyone is trying to get the lion’s share of the Syrian revolution,” Sheikh Shafi al-Ajmi, also recently identified by the United States as a fund-raiser for Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, said in an interview on the Saudi-owned Rotana television network last summer.
    So much for claims the rebels aren't getting external support.

    http://www.latimes.com/world/middlee...ry.html#page=1

    Syria rebels, once hopeful of U.S. weapons, lament lack of firepower

    Congress has yet to approve a $500-million arms and training program proposed by Obama in June, and the rebels — Western-backed as well as other groups — continue to mostly rely on outdated spoils of war seized from the Syrian army in their fight against the government of President Bashar Assad.
    If they're getting support from several other countries how much of our own treasure should be spend?

    One concern on the part of the Obama administration is that the Syrian rebels could lose advanced Western-made weaponry to Islamist extremists.

    Those concerns have intensified since July, when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over war-racked eastern Ukraine, most likely by a pro-Russia separatist who had come into possession of a sophisticated antiaircraft missile. Nearly 300 people died.

    Another issue is that the reliability of Syrian rebel groups allied with the West is sometimes not clear-cut, particularly when the groups must frequently make compromises with groups blacklisted as terrorists by the U.S. to remain viable.
    "They said they want to give us [antiaircraft] Stingers but they need to trust us first," Abu Matar said.

    Abu Matar, who like Zeidan was trained in Qatar by Americans, said he had already spent more than two years fighting, and didn't learn anything new.
    The great game continues.

  12. #752
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Nobody said they're not getting support: just that they're not getting support from the USA, and - much more importantly - that the USA are curbing support they're getting from other parties.

    ...and, of course, that the Jihadists are getting more support than the insurgents.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ... If they're getting support from several other countries how much of our own treasure should be spend?
    Effectivelly: nothing (and if they get anything, then most of that is provided by private groups - sanctioned by official DC).

    But, the US should stop curbing support the insurgents are getting from other parties. That would prevent the following from happening:
    Another issue is that the reliability of Syrian rebel groups allied with the West is sometimes not clear-cut, particularly when the groups must frequently make compromises with groups blacklisted as terrorists by the U.S. to remain viable.
    Namely, these 'unreliable' insurgent groups are forced to do what they do because they're not getting support they've not only been promised, but they need in order to continue their fight too.

    On the other hand: curbing support for Jihadists might be not only much more effective, but also in the higher interests of the USA too.

    (That is: unless there is interest to let the ISIS spread...?)
    Last edited by CrowBat; 09-09-2014 at 09:57 AM.

  13. #753
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    Default Captured IS weapons report

    This short report, with sourced data and photos by Conflict Arnaments Research popped up yesterday on a US origin emailed daily briefing and in The Guardian today.

    Link:http://conflictarm.com/images/dispatch_iraq_syria.pdf

    I've never heard of them and their website has no named staff. Anyway this is their explanation:
    Conflict Armament Research identifies and tracks conventional weapons in contemporary armed conflicts. Established in 2011, it was created in response to the growing need for informed, on-the-ground reporting on weapons proliferation in modern wars and insurgencies.
    I have added this post here in view of the exchange in the last few posts.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ...and that there was next to no interest to stop the spread of such elements like the ISIS so far, and that for reasons of 'political correctness' is rather 'obvious' (after all, we can't go demanding Saudis to clean up the mess they've created through private sponsoring of such groups since 60 years, can't we, they're our friends, or aren't they...?), can be read here (ignore the title, it's rather sensationalistic, as usually in the media):

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
    ...Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.
    ...

  15. #755
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Something else to keep in mind in the future too...

    Pit Weinert from ACIG.info has reviewed all the videos he could find on the internet that were taken at recently captured Tabqa AB, in northern Syria. As should be known, this was overrun by the ISIS in August. Pit came out with following numbers of aircraft captured there:

    - 1 MiG-21bis
    - 11 MiG-21MF
    - 1 MiG-21M (probable M; if so, then ex-East German example; if not, then another MF)
    - 10 MiG-21UM

    Note: it is possible that additional examples are around, then Google Earth photos are showing more MiG-21s around Tabqa than these 23.

    Obviously, most of are derelict and there is no chance of them ever being returned to service - at least not without really a complete rebuilt and replacement of most important parts.

    But, there is some uncertainty about the exact status of at least the above-mentioned bis. Plus, a photo surfaced of an 'extra' MiG-21U-400, supposedly taken inside one of maintenance hangars at Tabqa, and showing it as captured while still in a very advanced state of overhaul...

    So, theoretically - and provided they might ever find enough personnel with the necessary knowledge and experience, plus enough spares and weapons (the latter should be possible) - the ISIS might now be able to make at least 1, perhaps even two MiG-21s airborne.

  16. #756
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    ISIS has killed the top leaders of Ahrar a-Sham in a car bomb in #Idlib, including the movement's leader Abu...

    http://fb.me/1mVoFt1IK
    The leader of the Ahrar ash-Sham was Hassan Aboud, and yes, it appears he was killed in this bombing.

    Though, meanwhile, it's anything but sure this was an attack by the ISIS.

    The meeting was held in an underground 'bunker'. AFAIK, it might be hard to kill anybody inside an underground facility with help of a car bomb.

    On the contrary, there are reports that the bomb was planted inside that bunker before the meeting.

    Rumours (and there are always plenty of these in Syria, no doubt) have it that the leadership of Ahrar ash-Sham met to decide whether to officially side with the revamped FSyA, in exchange for 'US support' (or whatever of this is provided), possibly in reaction to reports that the (official) Saudi support for insurgency is slackening. But, majority of insurgents in that group - and many other of Syrian insurgents - are meanwhile so fed up of Americans, that they opposed this and would have seen this as treachery.

    Overall, this version sounds at least 'logic', and if it's true, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ahrar - or at least large parts of it - defecting from the IF and siding with the ISIS as next...

    ...and should that happen, it would be a major 'PR victory' for the ISIS.

    Now, Ahrar is important as a relatively big, well-organized and -supplied organization of Syrian Salafists, that's sure. But, overall, it's not even 10% of the IF in total (and the IF totals something like 50% of all the insurgency).

    Nevertheless, if even a chunk of the Ahrar would defect to it, the ISIS could claim it is including Syrians, and then Syrian Salafists too - which so far was simply not the case (Syrian Salafists and Wahhabists of all sorts, but especially such idiots like the ISIS are at odds with each other).

    In total, this might be another tragic consequence of absurd and sadistic US policy towards Syrian insurgency...

    (BTW, this is actually all Syria-related, i.e. going off topic in regards of Iraq.)

  17. #757
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Eliminating one's enemies in a civil war - in Syria and within the Muslim faith in the region - just keeps on going.

    The principal victim was:
    Abboud, the head of Ahrar as-Sham, took up a senior political position in the Islamic Front when it was formed in November 2013. He set out a state based on Islamic principles and protecting the rights of women and religious and ethnic minorities, setting it against the vision of the jihadist Islamic State.
    Now here's no surprise:
    Syrian State news agency SANA is celebrating the attack, “28 Members of Ahrar al-Sham Terrorist Organization Killed in Explosion in Idleb Countryside”
    Link:http://eaworldview.com/2014/09/syria...uicide-bomber/
    davidbfpo

  18. #758
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    According to this report it was 11 commanders from Ahrar (including not only Aboud, but their military wing leader Abu Abdel Malik too), and up to 35 other leaders and commanders from the Islamic Front.

    The source is citing a 'suicide bombing' instead of a car attack.

    Meanwhile, and as indicated by plenty of other reports in recent days, the ISIS is going for Dayr az-Zawr as its next target. The regime is already claiming 78 Jihadists as KIA there in the last few days.

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    So, Obama announced the start of US military ops vs ISIS in Syria too; the action should be based on a multi-prong strategy revolving around air power deployed in support of Syrian insurgents reinforced so these can seriously tackle the ISIS....

    ...there was a meeting in Jeddah during which Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six GCC states (including Qatar) agreed to join coalition that is going to fight the ISIS...

    ...Turkey declared it can't join because the ISIS is holding 40+ of its citizens hijacked from the consulate in Mosul as hostages....

    ...Iran and the Assadist regime haven't been invited to that conference, and are thus effectively left out of this coalition...

    ...representatives of Syrian insurgents are appearing on the Israeli TV to explain that it's pity there will be no US boots on the ground in Syria, but now it's sure there will be an 'all-out war against the ISIS'...

    ...Bibi is struggling to explain that Israel is involved too (he wouldn't specify how, and I remain sceptic), that it is going to support US action, but that Iran remains 'ultimate terror'...

    ...all of this within the last 24 or so hours, on the 13 anniversary of 9/11...

    ...and everybody on this forum fell silent?

  20. #760
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Crowbat,

    Silence can sometimes be golden. I expect after the initial USG reaction and internal debate over a new campaign in this long war many of American members just waited to see what President Obama actually decided to do.

    I follow some of the public debate in the USA, amidst the shrill voices very few have pointed out 'destroying' ISIS is far from easy. Hence my posts on the analysis of ISIS on this thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=21084

    Anyway here is a comment on President Obama's choice by Shashank Joshi, of RUSI (in London). The summary is:
    In a shift in policy, President Obama announced on 10 September 2014 cross-border operations to challenge the jihadists of ISIS. The strategy’s success rests on the cooperation of neighbouring countries and the ability to sustain the campaign for the long-term.
    Link:https://www.rusi.org/analysis/commen.../#.VBIDD1e94dX
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-11-2014 at 10:51 PM.
    davidbfpo

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