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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #221
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    I am with you on limited use. I believe the military can be used as to offer both a carrot and a stick, but I fear the American mindset is similar to how I interrupted your quote and how you interpreted my response - it is all or nothing.

    On a separate note:

    This situation is far more complicated than we simple American's, with our "shot-out" mentality to solutions, are capable of understanding. What "may" have started as a democratic revolt has clearly morphed into something different with multiple societal and political cleavages feeding the fire. The opposition cannot agree on a government in abstentia and the Muslim Brotherhood are changing the narrative to a ethnic/sectarian fight, one more apt to gain ground in a middle east where conflicts are fueled by identity not ideology.

    Whether we should get involved is a question of national interest. Since it is doubtful that one could argue that intervention on the side of the insurgents is justified as a means of spreading democracy, I doubt that we could continue to justify our actions as part of a plan to remove a dictatorial leader since whomever comes to power next will probably be no better, and potentially far worse. Whether national interest now includes humanitarian intervention is part of a broader question of whether humanitarian intervention is justified at all. Security interests seem to be primarily around what will happen to the chemical weapons should a terrorist affiliated group ultimately end up in power, or at least in control of some of those weapons. The Israeli solution may be our best choice. I just don't want the US to believe that limited air strikes must inevitably lead to a full scale invasion and occupation or that under the right circumstance the US could not be part of a broader peacekeeping mission in the former country of Syria.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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  2. #222
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I didn't read it that way, this is classical so-called Powell Doctrine and a NEO is a specific task that the military can accomplish.
    The Powell Doctrine is wholly inappropriate in this case. The Powell doctrine says if you broke it, you own it. We did not break Syria. It is already broke. We have no obligation to fix it, so we do not have to restore a working government. Our interests and the actions we take to further those interests, can be far more limited.
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  3. #223
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bashar says the S-300s have arrived.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/wo....html?hp&_r=1&

    I wonder if he is trying to bluff the Israelis.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  4. #224
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Carl,

    This AM on BBC Radio Four an Israeli commentator was asked about the arrival of the SAMs, his response was noteworthy; these are not his exact words:
    Our concern is not over the arrival of the missiles, which may not be ready to use for sometime. It is whether they provide cover for our enemies to launch attacks and if should they fall into the hands of our enemies. Israel has taken a very clear stance on what is happening in Syria. We support no-one.
    Given the internal situation such weapons - when ready - do not help the regime to win the civil war. Nor do they deter foreign or more accurately US intervention. What is their actual value is unclear. They may act as a visible sign within Syria that Russia remains a helpful friend; which I am sceptocal about.

    Note Russia this week was reported as evacuating all Tajik nationals, after their government said leave.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    The Powell Doctrine is wholly inappropriate in this case. The Powell doctrine says if you broke it, you own it. We did not break Syria. It is already broke. We have no obligation to fix it, so we do not have to restore a working government. Our interests and the actions we take to further those interests, can be far more limited.
    That was Secretary of State Powell, not Gen Powell. That was never part of the original Powell doctrine.

  6. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Bashar says the S-300s have arrived.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/wo....html?hp&_r=1&

    I wonder if he is trying to bluff the Israelis.
    Quick draw another Red Line and dare someone to cross it , when they do take three steps back and draw another one.

    Most of our strategic assessments point out that we live in a multipolar world and while the U.S. is still the sole superpower its power is relatively less and increasingly less year by year. This means other nations are not going to dance to our music just because we ask, or tell, them to. Some of our leaders still seem to have a hard time grasping this and are quick to recommend flexing our economic and military muscle to get our way. If Sen McCain and others in Congress want us to pursue military action in support of one faction of the resistance then they should be prepared to apply all necessary force needed to achieve whatever clear policy objective they come up with and accept the potential escalation of the conflict into a much broader conflict involving other states who will wage war in a way we are probably not anticipating. Even a limited military action on our part can potentially lead us into something much larger, or create a situation that is worse than the current one in the region.

  7. #227
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant

    A short paper, lovely graphics and a selection of obituaries. This US paper's correct title is 'A Joint Study Charting the Evolving Role of Sunni Foreign Fighters in the Armed Uprising Against the Assad Regime in Syria'.

    The role of foreign fighters has appeared before, there's even a thread.

    On a quick skim read some nuggets here:https://flashpoint-intel.com/upload/...yrs_Report.pdf
    davidbfpo

  8. #228
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Most of our strategic assessments point out that we live in a multipolar world and while the U.S. is still the sole superpower its power is relatively less and increasingly less year by year. This means other nations are not going to dance to our music just because we ask, or tell, them to. Some of our leaders still seem to have a hard time grasping this and are quick to recommend flexing our economic and military muscle to get our way. If Sen McCain and others in Congress want us to pursue military action in support of one faction of the resistance then they should be prepared to apply all necessary force needed to achieve whatever clear policy objective they come up with and accept the potential escalation of the conflict into a much broader conflict involving other states who will wage war in a way we are probably not anticipating. Even a limited military action on our part can potentially lead us into something much larger, or create a situation that is worse than the current one in the region.
    I agree with you in broad principle, but often I think we judge other countries to have far more power than they have because we are spineless putzes. Russia is an example. They are in the midst of a demographic disaster. Their armed forces are a wreck. Their leadership is composed of kleptocrats. In sum, they got mostly nothing much but nerve. Yet, we allow Putin to keep our Secretary of State cooling his heels for 3 hours before a meeting. That kind of thing does not impress the hard men of the world. No, it does impress them, rather a lot. It impresses upon them that we are putzes and they can pretty much do as they please. That is not a good thing.

    Now I am not saying that the 843rd Bomb Wing should launch over that but at least Mr. Kerry should have left and gone to the movies and turned off his cell phone for a few hours.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  9. #229
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I was thinking about how we are looking to the hard men of the world. Last year or the year before we told the Russians not to deliver S-300s to the Iranians and they didn't. This year they announce they are going to deliver S-300s to the Syrians who are close allies to the Iranians. When those missiles are delivered I expect for every Syrian learning the system there will be an Iranian sitting next to him. When that happens there is no longer any reason for Russia to further defer delivering the S-300s already ordered to Iran. Our obvious lack of resolve is going to make the world rather interesting from a SEAD point of view.

    I don't see how Israel can let those missiles reach operational status in Syria. They will be destroyed/disabled somewhere along the way, Russians killed in the process or not. The life insurance policy premiums for the Russian techs going along with those missiles must be very high.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  10. #230
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    Default S-300 -v- Patriot SAMs

    It is rather curious that there is the prospect of Russian supplied of S-300 missiles versus a soon to take place US exercise in Jordan, that will "leave behind" its manned Patriot batteries.

    From FP Situation Report:
    Patriot batteries to remain in Jordan after Eager Lion. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to leave the Patriot missile system in Jordan after the big training exercise there in order to give the United States options to play a more active role in Syria, like creating a no-fly zone
    davidbfpo

  11. #231
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    Default End of UNDOF???

    After Syrian rebels captured and occupied the Bravo gate (Syrian side) for some time today, the Austrian government apparently has decided today to withdraw its 390-strong contingent within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

    I wonder what that will mean for the continuation of UNDOF and for the region as a whole, now that there will be no more puffer between the Syrian forces (both rebels and freedom fighters) and the IDF ...
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  12. #232
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    Default Aiding Opposition Civilian Authority in Syria

    Aiding Opposition Civilian Authority in Syria

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

  13. #233
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Syria’s Strategic Balance at a Tipping Point

    Recommended by IISS Emile Hokayem a Carnegie commentary, in summary:
    The fall of the Syrian town of Qusair to Assad’s forces shows that the regime is poised to secure its position for the long term. The opposition must address its serious shortcomings.....If the strategic equilibrium that has emerged since November 2012 tips further, it will be a decisive shift in the regime’s favor.
    It ends with:
    The regime will not achieve a total military victory, but it can consolidate its grip on Syria’s cities, stabilize its economic situation, and hold the rebels at bay in peripheral parts of the country. Assad would be left ruling a Myanmar on the Mediterranean, boycotted by the West and some Arab states but surviving on the support of its external allies and the informal economic and trade networks that are already forming across its borders.

    Something has to give—and soon. Time is running out. The regime cannot win. But the opposition can lose.
    Link:http://carnegie-mec.org/2013/06/07/s...ing-point/g95a
    davidbfpo

  14. #234
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    Default Regional flames are intensifying

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...390622,00.html

    Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are massing around Aleppo in preparation for an offensive to retake the city and build on battlefield gains that have swung the momentum of Syria's war to Assad and his Hezbollah allies.

    Rebels reported signs of large numbers of Shiite Muslim fighters flowing in from Iraq to help Assad end the civil war that has killed at least 80,000 people and forced 1.6 million Syrians to flee abroad.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middle...758639885.html
    Deadly blasts shake Syrian capital

    Pro-government TV says at least 14 killed in attacks, day after Gulf states pledge sanctions against Hezbollah
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013...wer-this-week/

    Obama to decide whether U.S. will send Syrian rebels air power this week
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...390298,00.html

    White House meetings are planned over the coming days, as Syrian President Bashar Assad's government forces are apparently poised for an attack on the key city of Homs, which could cut off Syria's armed opposition from the south of the country. As many as 5,000 Hezbollah fighters are now in Syria, officials believe, helping the regime press on with its campaign after capturing the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border last week.
    Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip Monday to Israel and three other Mideast countries to participate in White House discussions, said officials who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middle...425112509.html

    Austria began pulling out its UN peacekeepers from the Golan Heights days after Vienna decided to quit the mission over deteriorating security concerns.

    Vienna’s decision on Tuesday came after Syrian opposition rebels briefly seized the Quneitra crossing late last week, in an incident in which two UN troops were injured.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middle...143535185.html

    Several rockets launched from Syria have hit the eastern Lebanese town of Hermel, a bastion of the Shia group Hezbollah, reportedly killing at least one person and wounding several others.

    Tuesday's incident was the latest in a series of cross-border rocket attacks on Shia areas of Lebanon.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...95B04320130612

    (Reuters) - Shi'ite Muslims in the Gulf, alarmed by the shrill sectarian rhetoric of some Sunni clerics after Lebanon's Hezbollah militia entered Syria's civil war, fear they will be blamed and may be victimized for the bloodshed.

    "Hate language is on the rise, in the press, on social media and even at lectures in mosques. Shi'ites in general are being blamed for what's happening in Syria," said Waleed Sulais, a researcher at the Saudi Adalah Centre for Human Rights.
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...rkeys_protests

    How the War in Syria Has Helped to Inspire Turkey's Protests

    The anti-Erdogan protesters in Turkey have many grievances - but the prime minister's record of support for the Syrian rebels may turn out to be the most explosive.
    Not all opponents of Erdogan's Syria policy are motivated by concerns about economics or security. Some secular Turks are staunch supporters of Assad, whom they see as a bulwark against Islamism. One female protestor in Taksim (who asked to remain anonymous) told me that, while she agrees with the government's stance on admitting Syrian refugees, her loyalties remain with Assad. "Our government supports terrorists here, like the Syrian rebels."

    Such sentiments are especially widespread among Turkish Alawites (Alevis), adherents of the same sect who are a crucial part of Assad's power base. With a population of around 10 million, Turkish Alawites make up 15 percent of the population. (Some estimates put the number as high as one-third.) One of their most prominent members is Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), who has long been one of the harshest critics of the prime minister's Syria policy. Though Kilicdaroglu denounces the Syrian president as a "dictator," he also allowed a delegation from his party to pay an official visit to Assad in Damascus three months ago.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ias-civil-war/

    The Changing Shape of Syria’s Civil War

    The war has already had an impact. Even if the conflict ends, Sunnis and Shias will be more divided than ever before — and not just within Syria. Iran is terrified of losing its closest ally, and will not allow Sunnis to gain control of Syria. With the ability to stir conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, any international negotiating without Iranian involvement would be folly. The conflict has also stirred up the question of the Golan Heights, the strategically important slither of rocky land between Syria and Israel that has been under Israeli occupation for 40 years — and which Israel will not give up without a fight. The Syrian civil war also presents an opportunity for Kurds to assert their own independence.

    Syria and the Middle East as we know it will never be the same again.
    I have to wonder if those who promoted the invasion to transform the Middle East are at least questioning their underlying logic. I also wonder if the COINdistas still think we addressed the underlying causes of tension in the region.

    http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice...killers-498733

    The challenge of deciding who to provide aid to.

    Parents ask Free Syrian Army to find son's killers

    The parents of a 14-year-old boy who was killed by Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Syria’s Aleppo after being accused of heresy were heartbroken over their son’s death and said they had resorted to the opposition Free Syrian Army to help them find the killers.

  15. #235
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    World exclusive: Iran will send 4,000 troops to aid Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria
    US urges Britain and France to join in supplying arms to Syrian rebels as MPs fear that UK will be drawn into growing Sunni-Shia conflict.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...a-8660358.html
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  16. #236
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    Interesting interview with CIA legend Milt Bearden, who oversaw the covert supply program to the Afghan muj in the 1980's:

    Interview: 'Don't Try to Convince Yourself That You're in Control' - Afghan lessons for arming the Syrian rebels from the CIA's mujahideen point man, by Joshua Keating. Foreign Policy, 14 June 2013.
    With the announcement that the United States is planning to begin providing small arms to rebel groups in Syria, Bearden is blunt as to what the CIA's experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s should teach us. "The lesson here is that once we start providing anything to the rebels, we better understand that if they win, we own it," he told Foreign Policy on Friday, June 14. "The big cheerleaders on the Hill for doing this aren't focused on this. The biggest lesson from the Afghan thing was that over a 10-year period we supplied all this stuff and then walked away once the Soviets left. The same Congress that was cheerleading the brave freedom fighters against the Soviet occupation -- and they were brave and they did suffer brutally -- just walked away and wouldn't give them a nickel. If we start arming anyone in this enterprise, implicit in that is that we own it once the Assad regime falls."
    I believe this is a terrible mistake in the making.
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  17. #237
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    Default The myth of walking away

    I fear too that we are making a huge mistake by getting more involved in the Syrian Civil war.

    On Bearden, though, I've never been a fan of the "we walked away and that's why 9-11 happened" narrative. While there is certainly some truth to it, it's too simple a narrative. It doesn't take into account other things that happened including the larger context that the first Bush administration was dealing with. Nuclear proliferation and other issues came to the fore. The CIA plan of outsourcing our dealings in Afghanistan through intermediaries was recognized as problematic even at the time.

    CUSAP had one big name on its original eight-person board: Milton Bearden, a former CIA official whose name carries weight on Afghanistan because he helped run the war there against the Soviets in the 1980s. When Bearden testified about Afghanistan before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the fall, John Kerry called him a "legendary former CIA case officer." But in his testimony Bearden did not advertise his ties to Wardak or to the company's Defense Department contracts; Bearden is on the advisory board of NCL, a firm with millions of dollars at stake in Afghanistan. ("Aram," he said when I reached him on his mobile phone, "I don't have anything to talk to you about, so go ahead and do your story." Then he hung up.) Another former board member, Hedieh Mirahmadi, a prominent expert on Islamic radicalization, told me she had never been to a CUSAP board meeting. "I don't actually know what they did," she told me.

    www.thenation.com/article/afghan-lobby-scam#ixzz2WOUALQoy

    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has enabled Pakistan to acquire sophisticated American arms intended mainly for use against India and to scoff at the Symington Amendment with impunity. Likewise, it is important for the American right to distort the Indian-Soviet military relationship to justify a new round of United States arms to Pakistan, forgetting that Indian military dependence on the Soviet Union was created by American arms to Pakistan. Meanwhile, massive economic aid for Pakistan - the third largest per capita foreign aid the United States gives to any country after Israel and Egypt - has enabled it to enjoy the highest economic growth rate in South Asia. It is no wonder Pakistan is not serious about resolving the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/19/op...ly-787087.html

    I'm not sure how the CIA types that ran the operation against the Soviets get away with their narratives completely unchallenged. The brave freedom fighters turned out to be a complex mix, to put it mildly.

    The biggest lesson is that our running the operation through our allies became problematic in addition to, "we will end up owning regime change." More problematic than self-aggrandizing CIA types allow. Myth and reality are two different things. They didn't know where the money was going and they didn't really know what was going on. Freedom fighters my $%#. Nice job, Foreign Policy. No one else on the digital rolodex to write op eds?
    Last edited by Madhu; 06-16-2013 at 04:34 PM. Reason: Added last link and comment

  18. #238
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Just for reference, a view from the Sunni side...

    http://www.arabnews.com/news/455344
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  19. #239
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    "I'm not sure how the CIA types that ran the operation against the Soviets get away with their narratives completely unchallenged. The brave freedom fighters turned out to be a complex mix, to put it mildly.

    The biggest lesson is that our running the operation through our allies became problematic in addition to, "we will end up owning regime change." More problematic than self-aggrandizing CIA types allow. Myth and reality are two different things. They didn't know where the money was going and they didn't really know what was going on. Freedom fighters my $%#. Nice job, Foreign Policy. No one else on the digital rolodex to write op eds?"

    Agree with all. Seems they forget our assistance helped oust the Soviets combat forces but Moscow still supported the government while Pakistan was focused on radicalizing the Talibs to pursue their interests in Afghanistan. That makes you wonder who we were supposed to provide aid to? The various Afghan tribes killing each other, the Soviet sponsored government, or the Talibs? Typical CIA rhetoric: blame, deny, and counter accuse.

  20. #240
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bill M.:

    I think going in would be a good thing, but with provisos. If we knew enough about the players to pick a side. If we were willing to run that side strongly. if we were really willing to back that side with whatever it took to win. if we actually decided we really wanted to win. If we would determine that we would persevere despite inevitable setbacks. If we were willing to change sides depending on how the situation played out. If we were willing to tell the Russkis to go stuff it. If we told the Iranians they ain't seen nothing yet if they keep horsin' around. If we told Israel that the days of us dancing to their tune were over, they will survive as a state but we play the music. Same thing with the Gulf States, especially the Gulf states. And finally if we were willing to frankly explain all this to ourselves and how these efforts would benefit us and the whole region. The Americans would see it and go along in my opinion. The Americans would.

    The problem is the inside the beltway elites won't do any of this stuff, so we shouldn't do it. But we will do it because there are bureaucratic bones to be made in the spook and State worlds; and political bones to be made elsewhere. They don't serve us anymore. They serve themselves.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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