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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #161
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default What's the Russian's end-game

    I would think it is more likely that they are interested in a NEO operation and in maintaining security on their own instillation. I doubt 300 marines are going to deter anyone. It certainly isn't enough to keep Assad in power. But I do believe they are interested in maintaining the instillation with whomever comes out on top. I am curious how they plan on playing this out.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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  2. #162
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    Default Domestic politics ?

    Dr. Stephen Cohen on the John Batchelor show spoke about the Russian domestic situation and the anger many Russians felt at those stranded in various countries when the Soviet Union collapsed. The anger and unease stayed within the domestic psyche, apparently, but this is not an area I know much about. There is a Russian diaspora (some married locally) in the region?

    How much of this is directed at the domestic situation and how much is in reaction to various international power plays (including unhappiness over NATO and regime change in Libya, worries over radicalism of the anti-Assad forces and its effects within Russia, etc?)

    Link to podcast:

    http://johnbatchelorshow.com/podcast.../22/third-hour
    Last edited by Madhu; 03-18-2013 at 03:16 PM. Reason: Added one sentence.

  3. #163
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How many Russians are there?

    Madhu asked:
    There is a Russian diaspora (some married locally) in the region?
    In the old Syria thread IIRC there was a post on the size of the Russian contingent, civil, military and families - which put the total at 30k. I did try to locate the post, but failed.
    davidbfpo

  4. #164
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Chemical Attack, but who is responsible?

    Lets see if this changes anything. My guess is - not unless we can prove it was the Assad regime that used the weapons.
    The specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other for using such munitions.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/19/wo...war/?hpt=hp_t1
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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  5. #165
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Searching for truth in the debris

    A short report by Alex Thomson, UK C4 reporter, from the Syrian government side of the frontlines:http://blogs.channel4.com/alex-thoms...th-debris/4444

    All in all weapons experts would consider chlorine as a not particularly effective chemical weapon in terms of effect, but one ideally suited to home-made weaponising because of factors like its stability and availability.

    In short the kind of device that conventional armies would not be interested in, but a militia group might just be.
    davidbfpo

  6. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A short report by Alex Thomson, UK C4 reporter, from the Syrian government side of the frontlines:http://blogs.channel4.com/alex-thoms...th-debris/4444
    That would make sense based on the available information. AQI used Chlorine weapons a few times during OIF, but these attacks were largely unsuccessful, so AQ may have provided the training to do this to the militia.

  7. #167
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default So if Islamists are going to take charge after Assad's fall ...

    History has shown that in the other "Arab Spring" countries Islamists have taken control after the revolution, is it in the West's best interest to work to keep Assad?

    Feel free to talk amongst yourselves ...
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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  8. #168
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    Default "F**k a drone"

    This tidbit started with a Fox News story, US-born former Army vet known as 'The American' fights alongside Al Qaeda (by Greg Tepper and Ilan Ben Zion, March 11, 2013):

    He's a U.S.-trained soldier turned Muslim warrior who moves between America and countries where the winds of the Arab spring blow, fighting alongside jihadists and America-hating terrorists while celebrating his bloody exploits on YouTube videos.

    Eric Harroun, 30, grew up in Phoenix before joining the U.S. Army in 2000. Although Harroun was never deployed during his three-year hitch, he has seen plenty of combat fighting with Syrian rebels and, more recently, Jabhat al-Nusra, a group the U.S. State Department classifies as an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq. ...
    and then amplified in a Foreign Policy piece, The Jihadist from Phoenix - Eric Harroun claims to have joined up with an al Qaeda-linked group fighting in Syria’s brutal civil war. We tracked him down, but getting the truth was more difficult (by Greg Tepper and Ilan Ben Zion, March 22, 2013):

    In mid-January, a video emerged on YouTube of an English-speaking man, wearing a black-and-white kaffiyeh and surrounded by four bearded Arab men, addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad directly. "Your days are numbered, you're going down in flames, you should just quit now while you can," he said. "You're going to die no matter what ... we will find you and kill you."

    The speaker was Eric Harroun, a white American from Phoenix, Arizona, who hails from a Christian family. He has become a self-described Sunni Muslim, fighting in Syria's brutal civil war -- even, he claimed, joining up with Jabhat al-Nusra, which the State Department has labeled an alias of al Qaeda in Iraq. He served nearly four years in the U.S. Army's 586th Engineering Company, but was never deployed overseas.

    In mid-March, a video released by Assad's supporters celebrated the alleged death of "The American" fighting in Syria. But Harroun himself confirmed to us that the rumors were false: In a Skype chat on March 17, he appeared alive and well, and claimed he was staying near the upscale Taksim Square, in Istanbul, Turkey. ...
    That piece ends with Harroun's view of drones - the headline to this post.

    And, no; Harroun was not "droned", in Syria or in Turkey. Instead, he returned to the US, being met by a kinder and gentler Department of Justice face with criminal complaint in hand.

    The present charge (subject to amendment) alleges a violation of 18 USC 2332a(b), which (inter alia) makes it a crime for a US national to conspire, while abroad, to use "weapons of mass destruction". So, what sort of CBRN weapon was Harroun conspiring to use. None; the weapon alleged was an RPG.

    How does one get there ? Here, in material part, 18 USC 2332a(c):

    (c) Definitions ... (2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means -
    (A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title; ...
    and 18 USC § 921 - Definitions:

    (a) As used in this chapter ...

    (4) The term “destructive device” means —

    (A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas —

    (i) bomb,

    (ii) grenade,

    (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,

    (iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,

    (v) mine, or

    (vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;

    (B) any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and

    (C) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled. ...
    This could be a very stiff charge, whether or not Harroun killed or aided in killing anyone:

    ... shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, and if death results, shall be punished by death, or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
    A charge under the Neutrality Act is a relatively minor offense, 18 USC § 960 - Expedition against friendly nation:

    ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
    and one might argue about whether Syria and the US are "at peace".

    A charge, closely fitting the FBI declaration, would be under 18 USC § 2339D - Receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization; but that again carries a lesser sentence:

    ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for ten years, or both.
    From Harroun's viewpoint, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Regards

    Mike

  9. #169
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    JMM,

    Thanks for providing the US legal definition of WMD. It does appear rather all-embracing and there is no reference to 'mass destruction'.

    To be even handed in my observation here in the UK private, personal possession of nuclear components was only made illegal after 7/7.

    On a humorous point now. Until recently possession of a siege machine, such as a catapult or battering ram, was a capital offence. Years ago an eccentric built a Medieval trebuchet - a very large catapult - so I asked our legal advisers was it still illegal. It is not! For fun:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thiTa8wfZsc
    davidbfpo

  10. #170
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default ICSR on European Foreign Fighters in Syria

    A short research report by the London-based ICSR, the author being Aaron Y. Zelin, from the DC-based WINEP:http://icsr.info/2013/04/icsr-insigh...rs-in-syria-2/

    It shows that the extent to which the Syrian conflict has mobilised Muslims across the world is significant: between 140 and 600 Europeans have gone to Syria since early 2011, representing 7-11 per cent of the foreign fighter total. (Much later) The extent to which the Syrian conflict has mobilised Muslims across the world is significant and may be compared to the conflicts in Iraq in the 2000s, Bosnia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan in the 1980s.
    davidbfpo

  11. #171
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    Default Al Qaeda In Iraq Fighters Involved In Syrian War

    These photos from a militant website and reprinted by the Associated Press purport to show Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters in Anbar who are involved in fighting in Syria. It has been widely reported that Islamists like AQI have been flocking to take part in the Syrian conflict. Al Nusra Front for example, is said to be a front group for Al Qaeda. There has recently been blowback in Iraq as well when a group of over 40 Syrian soldiers who had sought refuge in Iraq were ambushed and massacred in Anbar in March 2013. Shiite militias and the Kurdistan Regional Government have either sent forces to Syria or supported fighters there as well. Like the Iraq War involved regional powers and Islamist groups, the same thing is now happening in Syria as these pictures reveal.

    http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.co...volved-in.html

  12. #172
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria

    Three viewpoints on the announcement by:
    AQI Amir al-Baghdadi that Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria is in fact part of AQI's Islamic State of Iraq..
    As one analyst concludes:
    So, in a nut shell: I believe it is important, even though it might have been little surprising, to know that AQI and Jabhat al-Nusra form a unified body. This is not about AQ supporting Jihadists in Syria, this is AQ expliting another local conflict. In the end, the aim is larger: dominance on the ground where it can be won; attacks on Israel; international attacks.
    Link:From a WINEP analyst, which ends with a very optimistic stance on US policy:http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/p...state-in-syria

    Jihadica:http://www.jihadica.com/introducing-...yria%E2%80%9D/
    davidbfpo

  13. #173
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    Good frontline episode just came out. Does a decent job of getting a sample of each factions perspective on the war.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ind-the-lines/

    Moderator's Note: not available in the UK.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-11-2013 at 11:06 AM. Reason: Add note

  14. #174
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wise words on chemical weapons use

    Jeffrey Lewis opens with:
    A few thoughts on where we are with the allegations of chemical weapons us in Syria.
    I was unaware of this:
    Remember, in 1991, US troops detonated a pit of munitions at Khamisiyah in Iraq only to discover that the munitions contained Sarin. The image atop the post is one of a series showing US forces detonating the munitions at Khamisiyah, exposing thousands of US service personnel to low-levels of sarin. This was the worst event, but not the only potential exposure of US forces in 1991 to nerve agents.
    Link:http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/arc...yria-and-sarin
    davidbfpo

  15. #175
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default C.J. Chivers was the guest on ‘Fresh Air’

    a couple of days ago. A nice interview which discusses not only shooting and explosions but also the effect of the conflict on society.

    Chivers seems to suggest in the interview that the government has had a plan in mind in terms of gradual escalation of use of force and how each step would play in the West. From the transcript of the interview:

    It came, you know, later in the cycle, if you will, of the way the Arab Springs were playing out, and with very cunning savvy leadership in terms of calibrating the tactics of the war to what they thought that the West could tolerate. And by that I mean, you know, the Assad government did not do what the government or the Gadhafi family did in Libya, where it came out of the gates in Libya hard and fast with armored columns, you know, bearing down on Benghazi. You know, immediate use of attack jets, you know, dropping, you know, dumb bombs on the road outside of Benghazi right in front of the foreign reporters. Which kind of galvanized international will and gave it a sense of immediacy.

    And, you know, what Gadhafi got for that was, you know, the U.N. Security Council resolution which authorized intervention. He got, you know, U.N. 1973. The Assad government seems to have looked at that and has realized that you don't come out with everything at once. You spin this thing click by click or you move it like a dimmer on your wall. You brighten the lights a little bit at a time.

    And so you start with arrests and batons and you move to bullets, and from bullets, you know, you move to the army being involved. And you get the mortars, you get the 107 millimeter rockets. And then you gradually move up to artillery. And then you escalate a little bit by rolling out your air force. But when you roll out your air force, you start with helicopters. You don't go right to jets.

    They didn't go to - you know, they didn't start using their attack jets against the towns until last summer. And then you go to, from there, to ballistic missiles. And now perhaps to chemical weapons, which would be the last piece, you know, the last arrow, if you will, left in the quiver. And if you follow this sort of boil the frog slowly policy, you sort of, you know, sensitize your political opponents outside of the country.

    The West has watched this step by step and not really taken action beyond rhetorical action. And the Syrian government knows that. And they've sort of escalated the ante so slowly, so methodically, so smartly, that they've almost paralyzed the West. And so the West now finds itself in this position where it's tolerated all of these things. There's never been sort of a trigger moment.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  16. #176
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    Default Israel May Have Conducted Air Strikes Against Syria

    Link to CNN report of possible Air Strikes into Syria. Supposedly against chemical weapon sites.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/03/world/...ria/index.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Link to CNN report of possible Air Strikes into Syria. Supposedly against chemical weapon sites.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/03/world/...ria/index.html
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22409380

    Israeli warplanes 'launch air strike inside Syria'

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middle...434558135.html

    Israel confirms airstrike on Syria missiles

    Israeli officials say air force hit a shipment of 'game changing' weapons in Syria bound for Hezbollah.

    The officials said on Saturday the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of "game changing" weapons bound for the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

  18. #178
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Syria -v- outsiders: 'game changer' by Israel

    An assessment of the Israeli air strike this week on:
    Mt. Qasioun, a mountain that overlooks the capital and is at the center of Syria's largest military complex. The very symbol of Assad's control over Damascus was on fire...several important military installations appear to have been the targets of this most recent strike....videos suggest that huge stockpiles of weapons, likely artillery shells and ballistic/artillery rockets, were also destroyed in the airstrike..
    Which ends with the 'game changer' passage:
    This incident should also permanently put to rest the debate as to whether Assad's air defense is capable of standing up to external threats. Assad is completely vulnerable, and has been dealt a serious blow. As a result, Israel may have completely changed the debate about foreign intervention in a single instant, and may have catalyzed an international drive to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.
    So important enough to have a new thread. The main thread 'Syria under Bashir Assad: crumbling now?' remains open:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...228#post146228


    Link:http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/...b-and-why.html

    An interesting viewpoint, although I am not convinced Israel would prefer Bashar al-Assad being removed from his position. Nor that international action may follow, at a minimum it may enable a 'no fly zone' - rather late - and direct action if the regime uses chemical weapons.

    Now what will others say?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-07-2013 at 09:44 AM. Reason: This was a newsworthy, stand alone thread and now merged in.
    davidbfpo

  19. #179
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I've read mainstream media reporting that Israel did not breach Syrian airspace to conduct the attack, which seems thoroughly possible when you consider that a high density of aircraft were aloft above Lebanon at the time.

    Damascus is barely 15 miles from the border, and although I don't have a grasp of the range of a JDAM delivered by a F-15, I imagine the Israelis could dump a few onto Syrian soil fairly easily and not even break a sweat.

    Getting in close, and low and slow, may be a totally different issue.

    I imagine the US is going to be surprised with whatever happens in Syria, relative to Assad remaining in power. Since we chose to support the efforts of the various anti-Assad actors and are not taking lead, the hands-off-the-wheel approach is going to leave us scrambling to work through several issues that will crop up very soon:

    -Breaching sovereignty to secure chemical weapons. Once we do that, what then?

    -Limiting Iran's actions in the region. We know it will seek to play a part, so we really need to think through our range of responses.

    -Assad is going to fall eventually, and whether it happens today or next year is really of little importance. It is inevitable and we need to think through our next step, and next year's steps, and what we want the Middle East to look like circa 2020. If we don't have the will to start making those choices now, we need to just pack it up and let Israel become the hegemon in the region (and accept all the instability that will come with it).

    -Are we willing to play the FID/COIN game again (true COIN this time) alongside the Hashemite Kingdom when it is besieged?
    Last edited by jcustis; 05-05-2013 at 06:31 PM.

  20. #180
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    Default Syria: The True Chaos Will Begin After the Fall of the Regime

    Syria: The True Chaos Will Begin After the Fall of the Regime

    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.

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