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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #261
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I see the relation, and I was about to ask a similar question. You repeatedly suggest that there are options that would be possible or practical without what you seem to suggest are leadership constraints:

    All of this suggests a belief that viable options (hinted at, but never specified) exist that have a real chance of altering the state of affairs in a favorable manner, but that leaders are unwilling or unable to pursue them. I wonder what exactly those options are, and why you think they'd achieve anything.

    I, and I believe Madhu, believe that the problem is not leadership, but rather the inherent undesirability of intervening in a situation where we have no realistically achievable goal and where applying force is likely to forcefully dig us into a very unpleasant hole.
    You really think so? Well golly, who knew?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  2. #262
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    My original narrow point regarding Russia was that Putinistan, a state with a lot of problems, punches above their weight because we ascribe to them power that they don't actually have. The above short list is a quite excellent illustration of the line of thinking that results in that.
    My original point was that the Russians don't need to punch very hard, or to have much power, to make life difficult for any intervening power in Syria. Neither does Iran. Neither does Hezbollah. None of them are great superpowers, none of them can fight the US and win, all of them can and will make life miserable for anyone foolish enough to get bogged down in that particular quagmire. Worth noting that while the Russians are more than willing to offer material and ideological support to Assad, they don't want to put people in there either: they know where that would go, and they know that once entrenched it would be easy for their rivals to make their lives miserable.

    One of the realities of quagmires is that once you're in one, your antagonists don't have to be great powers or heavyweight punchers to make your life difficult.

    It's normal enough to be frustrated by the realities of American governance (democracy can be such a pain but if you're going to suggest that effective action would be possible with better leadership, you might consider clarifying what action you think would be effective and what you think those actions might achieve.

    The US operates under a real constraint in Syria, the constraint being that the US electorate is in no mood to countenance another military adventure in the Muslim world, especially with no clear and immediate threat to US interests and no clear and achievable objective. I have yet to see any coherent argument against that position, and I think the US electorate is showing a good deal of sense.

    PS: The "inside the Beltway" crowd is not exactly unaware that Europe would benefit from diversifying its energy sources, as evidenced here:

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42405.pdf

    Still, there's no reason to think that anything the US does on that score is going to change the Russian position on Syria, or act as an effective constraint on Russian action in Syria.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 06-23-2013 at 12:18 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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  3. #263
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    Default The Increasing Flow Of Iraqi Fighters To Syria, An Interview With University of Maryl

    As the conflict in Syria has escalated, so has the involvement of foreign countries. Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and now the United States and England are all supporting one group or another in the war. Neighboring Iraq has also joined in the conflict. Every month there are reports about young Iraqis going to fight in Syria, usually organized by not only Shiite militant groups like the League of the Righteous or the Hezbollah Brigades, but also the country’s major political parties like the Sadrists and the Badr Organization. These organizations are now publicly acknowledging their losses in funerals and on the Internet. Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are also recruiting, arming, and funding Iraqis. To help explain this growing flow of men and material to Syria from Iraq is Phillip Smyth. Smyth works for the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies’ Lab for Computational Cultural Dynamics. He also writes the Hizballah Cavalcade which focuses on militant Shia organizations operating in Syria, their members, ideologies, arms, funerals, and other related topics for the Jihadology website.

    continued

  4. #264
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Russia withdraws its remaining personnel from Syria

    A report from The Guardian, citing an official Russian statement and that:
    Russia has been evacuating its citizens from Syria for weeks.
    With an important caveat:
    ...the decision to remove defence ministry personnel did not include technical experts employed by the Syrian government to train its army to use Russian-issued weapons.
    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...ersonnel-syria
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  5. #265
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Why Syria is not like Bosnia

    An excellent explanation all the way from Australia's Lowy Institute. Oddly few parallels are made in the UK with Bosnia / FRY, when intervention is mentioned:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...ke-Bosnia.aspx
    davidbfpo

  6. #266
    Council Member pcmfr's Avatar
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    Things are confusing on the ground in Syria. Freelance UW campaigns make them much more so: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/po...JUpk%2Etwitter

    It's difficult to see how the Agency is adequately vetting its surrogates with so many other parties in the mix.
    Last edited by pcmfr; 06-28-2013 at 09:34 PM.

  7. #267
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    Default Rebels behead Catholic Priest

    Not surprising but sad, are these the primates John McCain is pushing to provide support to? He claims we can vet them, during his "McCain's War" visit to Syria he was posing with a known kidnapper/terrorist (unknown to him at the time). Assayd may not be a friend of the U.S., but he kept house inside of Syria. Our nave politicians and diplomats somehow confused the Sunni uprising as a democratic movement of peace loving citizens. They weren't peace leaving citizens the last night they rose up, nor are they this time.

    At the end of the article there is a link to a video of the priest being beheaded, and it is as disturbing as the article suggests, but still worth watching to capture the excitement in the crowd at this sick, murderous act.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013...res-and-cheer/

    Catholic Priest Beheaded in Syria by Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels as Men and Children Take Pictures and Cheer

    Catholic Online is raising alarm that western nations are providing support to the rebels who have shown a proclivity toward persecuting Christians:

    This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.

  8. #268
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcmfr View Post
    Things are confusing on the ground in Syria. Freelance UW campaigns make them much more so: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/po...JUpk%2Etwitter

    It's difficult to see how the Agency is adequately vetting its surrogates with so many other parties in the mix.
    This is a good find, thanks for sharing.

    Islamists Auction Off Cars to Buy Heat Seeking Missiles for Syrian Rebels

    A group of hard-line Islamists in Kuwait raised enough cash to arm 12,000 Syrian rebels this week, according to statements by the group's leaders. The next step: flood the country with guided missiles, heat-seeking missiles and tandem warheads.
    With friends like this........

    We can't control any of this, we opened Pandora's box when we removed Saddam with no real plan for what would follow.

    Not the most popular man in American politics, but Richard Clark got it right in his book, "The Scorpion's Gate."

  9. #269
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    The next step: flood the country with guided missiles, heat-seeking missiles and tandem warheads.
    Are these weapons really that readily available? Obviously cash isn't a major constraint. If anyone who can auction a few cars can pick up a MANPADS, it's odd that more of them haven't been used for terrorist purposes.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  10. #270
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Syria under Bashir Assad: crumbling now?

    This is the thread's current title and perhaps should be changed now.

    Aside from that Patrick Cockburn is a reporter who has been in Syria, with regime approval and writes a quite different account, as suggested by the title 'Foreign media portrayals of the conflict in Syria are dangerously inaccurate':http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/...e-8679937.html
    davidbfpo

  11. #271
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Are these weapons really that readily available? Obviously cash isn't a major constraint. If anyone who can auction a few cars can pick up a MANPADS, it's odd that more of them haven't been used for terrorist purposes.
    http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/asmp/MANPADS.html

    Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) Proliferation

    There are an estimated 500,000 MANPADS in the world today, many thousands of which are thought to be on the black market and therefore accessible to terrorists and other non-state actors.8 MANPADS are attractive to terrorists and insurgents because they are:
    •lethal—the history of MANPADS usage by guerrillas and terrorists underscores the efficacy of these weapons against both civilian and military targets. Estimates of deaths resulting from MANPADS attacks on civilian aircraft range from 500 to 1000.9 While most of these deaths were from attacks on smaller aircraft, the Congressional Research Service identified 5 cases in which large civilian turbojet aircraft were targeted. In two of the five cases, the outcome was catastrophic - all people on board were killed.10 ◦Insurgent groups seek MANPADS because they are effective against attack helicopters and other aircraft that are used in counter-insurgency operations. During the Soviet occupations of Afghanistan, rebels used U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles to damage or destroy hundreds of aircraft, degrading the threat from Soviet airpower.
    http://eurasianhub.com/2013/03/23/ma...tion-in-syria/

    Of course the most recent proliferation of MANPADs and other arms came from the collapse of the Qaddafi Regime.

    MANPADs Proliferation in Syria

    Currently in Libya we are engaged in the most extensive effort to combat the proliferation of MANPADS in U.S. history. But before I talk about Libya, let me first talk a bit about why we are so focused on this threat.
    http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/...they_get_there

    One of the most disturbing things about this development, according to Schroeder. is that these weapons likely smuggled into the country via the black market. The Syrian military is not believed to have had SA-24s and the sale of such weapons is supposed to be strictly regulated.
    Interestingly, there are reports that SA-24s were smuggled out of Libya in during or immediately after the war to oust Muammar al Gaddafi in 2011 and ended up in the hands of militants in Gaza and Syria's Levantine neighbor, Lebanon.
    http://www.ibtimes.com/libya-armed-d...on-war-1311035

    Libya, Armed And Dangerous: Piles Of Weapons Fuel Illicit Exportation Of War

    Some Libyan weapons went even farther afield, and MI6 officials have reportedly warned UK Prime Minister David Cameron that Libya has become a “Tesco” for terrorists. But whether the Libyan arsenal actually amounts to 1 million tons is impossible to say.
    They have the weapons for those who have the money. Brothers in arms and all that, but hey there is still a profit to be made.

    http://news.yahoo.com/news-summary-c...153105655.html

    News Summary: Civilian planes shot down by MANPADS

    Since 1975, 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS, causing at least 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world, according to the U.S. State Department. Here are some incidents involving commercial planes.

  12. #272
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Not surprising but sad, are these the primates John McCain is pushing to provide support to? He claims we can vet them, during his "McCain's War" visit to Syria he was posing with a known kidnapper/terrorist (unknown to him at the time). Assayd may not be a friend of the U.S., but he kept house inside of Syria. Our nave politicians and diplomats somehow confused the Sunni uprising as a democratic movement of peace loving citizens. They weren't peace leaving citizens the last night they rose up, nor are they this time.

    At the end of the article there is a link to a video of the priest being beheaded, and it is as disturbing as the article suggests, but still worth watching to capture the excitement in the crowd at this sick, murderous act.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013...res-and-cheer/

    Catholic Priest Beheaded in Syria by Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels as Men and Children Take Pictures and Cheer
    More recent reports refute that the Priest was beheaded, but he was murdered by Islamists. That leaves the question who were those beheaded?

    http://www.aleteia.org/en/world/news...n-rome-2329002

    Slain Syrian Priest Remembered at Mass in Rome
    Fr. Francois Mourad was murdered by rebels


    According to Vatican Radio, Fr. Pizzaballa explained that when Fr. Maroud tried to defend the sisters and others from the rebels, he was shot and killed.

    A few days later, a video was posted on YouTube, and shortly thereafter on Live Leak, showing three men being beheaded. Those posting the video claimed that one of them was Fr. Mourad.

    The claim has since spread, having been picked up by various other media outlets later in the week.

    However, a reliable Vatican source told CNA July 2 that reports of the priest being killed by beheading are “false.”

  13. #273
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    From Catholic Online:
    This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.
    This is happening in a lot of places, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt. Given the ideology it can't be stopped. So what to do? Maybe we could give special visas or something like that. They sure would be grateful and grateful people I suspect make pretty good citizens.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-09-2013 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Fix quote
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  14. #274
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    Default After Checkmate: The Use and Limits of the Chess Analogy Regarding Syria

    After Checkmate: The Use and Limits of the Chess Analogy Regarding 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.

  15. #275
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    Default Here Come the Clowns

    From SWJ Round Up today

    http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-e...syria-1.234210

    Defense experts question Joint Chiefs chairman’s views on Syria

    But several experts questioned his costs and conclusions.

    Michael O’Hanlon, a security expert at the Brookings Institution, said Dempsey’s numbers “strike me as fairly high, at least once the mission is established.”
    I had to see what this alleged defense expert said about Iraq, because I just knew he had to weigh in with his expertise.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/20...on-grade-iraq/

    O’Hanlon Grades Himself On Iraq: ‘I Give Myself A Score Of 7 Out Of 10′

    O’Hanlon has written and said about Iraq over the years. A few highlights:

    O’Hanlon today: “Prediction that the occupation/stabilization mission would be long and challenging: correct.”


    – “The United States and coalition partners would win any future war to overthrow Saddam Hussein in a rapid and decisive fashion. This will not be another Vietnam or another Korea.” [9/25/02]

    – “In all likelihood, the war will culminate in a battle for Baghdad starting anywhere from five days to two weeks after bombs begin to fall. The war could be over within a month. … the battle for Baghdad will almost surely not last more than a week or two.” [3/18/03]

    O’Hanlon today: “I believe Ken Pollack and I have been generally proven right by events—especially since we did not overstate by arguing that Iraq was calm, or that a good outcome was within easy reach.”
    Fascinating! I'm waiting for Paul Wolfowitzless to resurface somewhere and testify there is no ethnic tension in Syria and everything will be O.K.. Then I know we'll have a very positive outcome for a limited expenditure of resources. Grab your guns and CERP boys, let's go! We'll go kill some terrorists, build some schools, turn the power back on and democracy and peaceful development will simply grow beneath our feet. We'll be home by Christmas. Think I heard this story before, but since it has been over a decade now (I know, hard to believe), and of course we don't have lessoned learned, only lessons observed.

    The other analysts are more reasonable and simply point out the U.S. is tired, which may or may not be true, but hopefully we're wiser too. I'll pick my military expert and it's the Chairman.

  16. #276
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Islamist recipe for success

    A short podcast by Professor Scott Lucas, who drives the blogsite 'Enduring America'; listen, don't watch:http://eaworldview.com/2013/08/syria...3-point-guide/

    One of the prevailing narratives in the Syrian conflict is that Islamist factions are “winning” within the insurgency.....Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq have claimed a significant presence in the opposition’s fight against the Assad regime, often clashing with other elements of the insurgency.

    How have they done this?

    Religion, Weapons and Organisation
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  17. #277
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Syria: has a 'red line' been crossed?

    Moderator's Note

    This was a stand-alone thread, but today was merged into the main Syria thread. A caption has been added to each post in case they appear out of sequence (ends).


    Today there are a number of reports that chemical weapons (CW) have been used in suburbs of Damascus, by the Bashir regime, known as rebel strongholds, specifically Eastern Ghouta. First a backgrounder, 36 pages, published in June 2013, by an acknowledged British academic expert via a German TV website:http://www.wdr.de/tv/monitor/sendung.../HSPOP_4_1.pdf

    Yes the report has important caveats and takes time to read. It also refers to the external, mainly Western declaration of the use of CW as a political 'red line', which today is very, very blurred. Two passages struck me:
    Two tentative conclusions are drawn. One is that the several governments which have explicitly accused the Syrian regime of using sarin nerve-gas against the rebels seem to be withholding evidence that, if disclosed, might make their charges more believable than they are. The gap in disclosure is not so much intelligence from sensitive sources or methods but is instead straightforward description for scientific audiences of the procedures that have been used for analysing physiological and environmental samples. The second conclusion is that, if the allegations are true, Syria is engaged in a form of chemical warfare whose purpose and therefore methods (small scale, pinpoint targeting, disabling) are at variance with concepts underpinning the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention
    Much later:
    The truth of the matter is nowhere near established yet. The present paper has shown that the reporting leaves far too many questions unanswered, and the possible dependence of at least some of the reporting on misunderstanding or on planted evidence cannot be excluded.
    The second is a link to a compilation of ninety-six videos by Brown Moses; which a BBC reporter on Radio 4 says is unprecedented and wonders why CW is used when the UN inspection team is only ten miles away! I have not viewed any of them:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUGrW...CByvYG&index=1

    Yes the existing main thread on Syria 'Syria under Bashir Assad: crumbling now?' has covered CW before, but today's reported attack warrants a new thread. Has the previous, small-scale use of CW weakened the declaration of a 'red line' as it is not WMD?

    Truly a small, bloody war with new implications today far beyond Syria.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-27-2013 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Was in stand alone thread, now merged to here
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  18. #278
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I don't know about the rest of the world, but we will do nothing. Nothing at all. We seem to specialize in bluff and clever rationalizations about how we didn't really have our bluff called. Those are double tough guys in Syria. They got us figured and will proceed accordingly.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-27-2013 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Was in stand alone thread, now merged to here
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  19. #279
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Clear cut CW use?

    Carl,

    It appears your fears and viewpoint is echoed in Australia, taken from the Lowy Institute's blog:
    Three possibilities exist as to why an event such as this may have occurred at precisely this time:

    1) The Assad regime is sending a message that it doesn't care about the international community and is deliberately thumbing its nose at the UN inspectors in order illustrate the UN's impotence.

    2) A Syrian army local-area commander had conducted an attack without reference to higher command because he doesn't care or in the hope that the opposition will be fingered for blame.

    3) The opposition (whichever sub-element) has carried out the strike to coincide with the UN inspection team's presence in order to blame the Assad regime, garner further international support and prod the West into taking more decisive action against Assad or in favour of the opposition.

    And of course there is always the possibility that it never happened as described, or that the reports refer to an incident(s) that happened some time ago.

    It's terrible to think that we cannot automatically apportion blame for an event of such cruelty and horror, or that the event didn't occur as described and is being used for people's own political purposes. Such are the depths to which the credibility of protagonists in the Syrian civil war have plunged that even a chemical weapons attack is open to interpretation.
    Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...clear-cut.aspx
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-27-2013 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Was in stand alone thread, now merged to here
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  20. #280
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    Default Syria: a wicked problem, three assessments

    The allegations of chemical weapons use this week in Damascus is currently on a separate thread: Syria: has a 'red line' been crossed?

    Below are a number of recent articles, some go over familiar ground, of note all are very different.

    Paul Rogers assessment:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...ia-turning-war

    In a rare report Michael Weiss, previously known as a young London neo-con activist, covers what is happening in Southern Syria, which is clearly from a Jordanian viewing platform. Unlike Paul Rogers he states the secular rebels can or are making progress:http://www.realclearworld.com/articl...pe_105391.html

    Mindful of Carl's gripe elsewhere this article is valuable, it actually provides a plan for the USA with the 'wicked problem' of Syria:http://nationalinterest.org/print/co...lan-syria-8924
    davidbfpo

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