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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #681
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    Surely the US Administration will address this...



    Al-Nusra uses chemical weapons against Syrian Army soldiers (SAA)

    In this video, we see Al-Nusra rebels walking through a Syrian Army position. The dead Syrian soldiers do not appear to have been shot or blown up. There is no blood on any of the dead soldiers in the video. It looks as though their faces have been burned and some are holding gas masks in their hands.

    This is proof the Al-Nusra has chemical weapons and most probably Sarin.
    Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=493_1...PsJVyS5wx07.99

    If it was a gas attack, maybe the outpost was hit at night. Something about the bodies looks like they were half-dressed, particularly the cluster away from the farmhouse at the 8.00 or so mark. Survivors trying to regroup got a dose from the vapors?

    Note that the SAA have been stripped of weapons and magazines.

    Bodies have black burns on their faces - that's indicative of a Sarin gas attack, right?

    http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/sarin/basics/facts.asp
    Last edited by AdamG; 04-29-2014 at 02:44 PM.
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    Syria chemical weapons: the proof that Assad regime launching chlorine attacks on children

    Lucky for Assad and any others there is no red-line on the use of chemicals.

    then:

    Syria Missed Another Chemical Weapons Deadline. Now What?

    “I never have a reason to believe that Bashar al-Assad tells the truth about anything, but we are not in a position to give a judgment as to whether the declaration is complete or deliberately incomplete, or incomplete but not deliberately so. That’s a technical task,” the (administration) official said.
    Yet they went ahead and signed a deal with Assad??????

    ... and the bodies pile up.


    The last thing a 3-year-old Syrian said before he died: “I’m gonna tell God everything”
    Last edited by JMA; 04-30-2014 at 11:34 AM.

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    Default Assad gains upper hand

    A week ago a IISS Strategic Comment had the title 'Syria's war: Assad gains upper hand' and partly ended:
    ...While its survival is no longer in question in the medium term, its ability to rebuild the pretence of a state remains in doubt, given its limited resources, internal contradictions and the reality of soft partition. Syria is, in effect, transforming into small statelets, none of which is viable on its own.
    Link to a very short free passage:http://www.iiss.org/en/publications/...pper-hand-6a54
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    The full title of this Canadian article is: A Throne of Bones: The Assad Regime’s Military Strategy Leading to the June 3rd Election

    While wide swathes of the country remain outside government control, regime forces and their allies have reversed the steady downward trend they were experiencing through 2012 and have since gone on the offensive in key areas. Damascus and its allies established a clear set of strategic priorities to focus on in the months leading up to the June election, and they have eagerly pursued them in order to establish their preferred environment for the event. The Syrian military is far from strong enough to retake all the territory it has lost, but it is capable of making significant progress in areas where it chooses to concentrate its forces and firepower, as recent months have shown.
    Some maps too, although after the first minus a key.
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    Default Gone but not forgotten

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    Default Meanwhile someone has changed their mind

    This post appeared first in the current Iraq thread and is cross=posted here. There have been allegations here that the Assad regime has a "Nelson's eye" to ISIS.

    So from Twitter (so maybe a "pinch of salt") just:
    Seems Assad's army of terror finally started striking ISIL bases after largely ignoring, rather, aiding them, for more than a year. Assad is certainly not working on his free will. Either Iran ordered the strikes, or he realized if he doesn't strike, someone else/US will.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-15-2014 at 06:50 PM. Reason: edited as copied here
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    Sadly it is apparent that the US and the West (may as well tar everyone with the same brush) have once again proved to be hopelessly incompetent when it comes to foreign policy.

    In the case of the US it is beyond doubt that the CIA is a Keystone Cops outfit of laughable proportions but surely even they would have presented the White House with the intel on what was likely to develop, then what was developing as the civil war progressed. There is clearly a lethal combination in the WH / CIA mix under this US Administration.

    The Brits can't get off scott-free as in their system a similar cock-up has occurred.

    Syria civil war: Hundreds of radicalised fighters are already back in the UK, warns former MI6 chief

    Mr Barrett is co-author of a new report, released this month, which states that the Syrian war “is likely to be an incubator for a new generation of terrorists” and reveals that more than 12,000 foreign fighters have gone to Syria since the war began. That is more than the 10,000 who went to Afghanistan during the decade-long jihad against Russian occupation. One in four foreign fighters in Syria is from the West – part of a global phenomenon, with fighters from more than 80 countries represented on the battlefield.
    (Added by Moderator) The cited report, from the Soufan Group, was posted four days ago on the main thread on foreign fighters and is:http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/up...s-in-Syria.pdf

    Just in case some smart guy throws out the Monday morning quarterback line this is what I posted on 09-24-2012:

    Same holds with Syria as it did with Libya... arm the opposition at your peril.
    And as referred to in the Libya thread on 04-11-2011:

    I suggest that the strategy should have been to bring the end to the Gaddafi regime without the population getting militarised and gaining war experience in the process. This apart from the future best interests of Libya itself but also in case a western coalition has to return one day it would be better to face the current stumble-bum Keystone Cops than some switched-on and experienced militia or army.

    Don't arm or train the rebels... just concentrate on taking Gaddafi out (within the constraints of the UNSC resolutions of course)
    How does one explain the recurring incompetent decision making at the highest level in two of the world's major nations?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-23-2014 at 07:21 AM. Reason: Note and link added

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    JMA,

    I don't recall seeing these posts, but they are great insights. I think we put blind faith and too much emphasis on surrogates or using the buzz phrase "through, by and with" approach. This approach certainly has application in some cases, but it is not want we should depend upon for our national security. As you correctly point, militarizing a populace to pursue our goals can have long term negative blow back against our national interests. Perhaps removing Qaddafi unilaterally with U.S. or NATO forces without supporting a rebellion would have been a much better option. This is one reason I argued against providing support to rebels in Syria, we would never provide enough to be decisive, and our aid would simply prolong the conflict resulting a war like society that ultimately makes stabilizing the region much, much harder.

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    Bill, IMHO there is also a place for the use of surrogates but with the caveat that the potential for a spill over of unintended consequences have been carefully considered.

    I have mentioned - in a simplistic manner - the potential for accurately targeted interventions against the individual causing of problems. JMA's 3-Cruise-Missile-Option.

    I continue to be amazed how the Gaddafi, Assad etc etc can get away with unspeakable crimes and not be held personally responsible while thousands of their countrymen are killed by them and again later in the process of trying to dislodge them.

    So while I have stated way back that the rebels in Syria should not have been armed I did advocate that a personalized strike on Assad himself would be quite acceptable.

    It is not that I am so smart but rather that so many in decision making positions are so damn stupid.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    JMA,

    I don't recall seeing these posts, but they are great insights. I think we put blind faith and too much emphasis on surrogates or using the buzz phrase "through, by and with" approach. This approach certainly has application in some cases, but it is not want we should depend upon for our national security. As you correctly point, militarizing a populace to pursue our goals can have long term negative blow back against our national interests. Perhaps removing Qaddafi unilaterally with U.S. or NATO forces without supporting a rebellion would have been a much better option. This is one reason I argued against providing support to rebels in Syria, we would never provide enough to be decisive, and our aid would simply prolong the conflict resulting a war like society that ultimately makes stabilizing the region much, much harder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    JMA,

    I don't recall seeing these posts, but they are great insights. I think we put blind faith and too much emphasis on surrogates or using the buzz phrase "through, by and with" approach. This approach certainly has application in some cases, but it is not want we should depend upon for our national security. As you correctly point, militarizing a populace to pursue our goals can have long term negative blow back against our national interests. Perhaps removing Qaddafi unilaterally with U.S. or NATO forces without supporting a rebellion would have been a much better option. This is one reason I argued against providing support to rebels in Syria, we would never provide enough to be decisive, and our aid would simply prolong the conflict resulting a war like society that ultimately makes stabilizing the region much, much harder.
    Bill, by “removing Qaddafi unilaterally with U.S. or NATO Forces..." you mean declare war on a sovereign nation? As impractical as it may be arming the local population and becoming involved only once there is an alternative government body that you can deal with, it is more appropriate response than unilateral invasion. It also does not create a group of foreign fighters – a situation different from Syria.

    Syria is drawing in foreign fighters for ideological reasons, but that does not guarantee that any of these fighters will return to their homelands to wreak havoc. A large number of Americans went off to Spain to fight fascism against the wishes of the U.S. government and they did not return en mass to start killing people. There is no guarantee that they will continue the fight once back home.

    I understand JMA’s admonitions, but I think that each situation needs to be considered separately. You also need to know who are in the lines of succession - who is the next Devil you will have to deal with? Also, dictatorial leaders dominate a population. Once that leviathan is removed, all the other sectarian conflicts will rise to the surface. With it unlikely that the population has ever dealt with parliamentary politics each group will seek the greatest advantage for themselves while simultaneously trying to seek vengeance for real or perceived injustice. It is rarely as simple as killing Qaddafi.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 06-24-2014 at 08:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Bill, by “removing Qaddafi unilaterally with U.S. or NATO Forces..." you mean declare war on a sovereign nation?
    Why the surprise?

    You don't remember Operation Just Cause - the US invasion of Panama in 1989 where Noriega was 'lifted'. A 80% public approval in the US for the action.

    The US now certainly has the wherewithal to target the leadership of such countries - in other words the cause of the problem - without getting tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed through some unimaginative conventional method of removing such criminal leadership.

    We can discuss what level of sovereignity a criminal or illegal - non-democratically elected - government can hide behind if you wish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I understand JMA’s admonitions, but I think that each situation needs to be considered separately. You also need to know who are in the lines of succession - who is the next Devil you will have to deal with? Also, dictatorial leaders dominate a population. Once that leviathan is removed, all the other sectarian conflicts will rise to the surface. With it unlikely that the population has ever dealt with parliamentary politics each group will seek the greatest advantage for themselves while simultaneously trying to seek vengeance for real or perceived injustice. It is rarely as simple as killing Qaddafi.
    Well are these various situations being 'considered separately' by the recent US administrations? I don't think so. It is clearly apparent that the 'smart guys' in these Administrations are not as smart as they think they are.

    Part of any intelligent planning process factors in the Law of Unintended Consequences based on the intel and background of the situation provided by (in the case of the US) I suppose State and the CIA (yea I know those Keystone Cops guys again).

    Then we get onto the subject of the wisdom of forcing these diverse groups to remain trapped within the arbitary boundaries - called countries - if you wish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Why the surprise?

    You don't remember Operation Just Cause - the US invasion of Panama in 1989 where Noriega was 'lifted'. A 80% public approval in the US for the action.

    The US now certainly has the wherewithal to target the leadership of such countries - in other words the cause of the problem - without getting tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed through some unimaginative conventional method of removing such criminal leadership.

    We can discuss what level of sovereignity a criminal or illegal - non-democratically elected - government can hide behind if you wish.
    JMA, I am not surprised. I was a little surprised to see Bill interested in the idea.

    I have no allusions about these things. There is no such thing as International Law; there is only what various actors can get away with. The larger the power, the more you can get away with. We complain about the Crimea but we had much less justification to invade Grenada, although the justification was similar – we needed to go in and protect American students at a university - they needed to protect Russians in the Crimea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Well are these various situations being 'considered separately' by the recent US administrations? I don't think so. It is clearly apparent that the 'smart guys' in these Administrations are not as smart as they think they are.

    Part of any intelligent planning process factors in the Law of Unintended Consequences based on the intel and background of the situation provided by (in the case of the US) I suppose State and the CIA (yea I know those Keystone Cops guys again).

    Then we get onto the subject of the wisdom of forcing these diverse groups to remain trapped within the arbitary boundaries - called countries - if you wish.
    I agree with you up to the point of using the Law of Unintended Consequences. That law speaks more to the Rumsfeldian “unknown unknowns.” Bush the Wise knew not to overthrow Saddam because of the chaos it would unleash. Bush the Foolish intentionally disregarded what should have been common knowledge with the foolhardy belief that we could all live together – “Peace in our time.”

    The grunts at CIA and maybe even State probably understand these things, but Presidential policy inevitably skews what information actually gets through the layers of appointees to the top.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Bill, IMHO there is also a place for the use of surrogates but with the caveat that the potential for a spill over of unintended consequences have been carefully considered.

    I have mentioned - in a simplistic manner - the potential for accurately targeted interventions against the individual causing of problems. JMA's 3-Cruise-Missile-Option.

    I continue to be amazed how the Gaddafi, Assad etc etc can get away with unspeakable crimes and not be held personally responsible while thousands of their countrymen are killed by them and again later in the process of trying to dislodge them.

    So while I have stated way back that the rebels in Syria should not have been armed I did advocate that a personalized strike on Assad himself would be quite acceptable.

    It is not that I am so smart but rather that so many in decision making positions are so damn stupid.
    Is that even possible? I highly doubt the necessary intel for real time targeting is available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maeda Toshiie View Post
    Is that even possible? I highly doubt the necessary intel for real time targeting is available.
    The theory (my theory) is that you may not actually kill him (the targeted leader) but you will drive him underground and make life as intolerable for him as he has made it for his subjects.

    Let me give you a very broad summary of events...

    The 3-cruise missile theory.

    The first missile is aimed at a strategic military target. Something like the most loyal troops like a Presidential Guard or the like. This makes the point that troops loyal to the 'target' can and will be targeted.

    The second missile is aimed that the official residence of the 'target' at 24 hours notice. He won't be there when it arrives but the message will be clear.

    The third missle will be reserved for a strike on the target. A reward of $1m (or more) will be promised for information on the location of the 'target' leading to a successful strike on him but probably won't be used.

    As with Gadaffi and Saddam who moved a few times a day to avoid being in one place long enough to offer a target the strain becomes unbearable (as these people are used to the world revolving around them in their time and not having to keep moving out of fear for their lives). The result is that even their supporters avoid them as they do not wish to be collateral damage in the event of a strike and they themselves begin to trust no one and eventually offer a nice isolated target for a strike or a visit from a special forces team.

    The result... let the target fell the fear and don't end up having many thousands of civilians killed to get at the 'target' when the message will be clearly transmitted to the one who is the cause of all the problems that there is a cruise missile with his name on it.

    If the use of quid pro quo cruise missile strikes had been used (in the manner I suggested) in Syria the regime could have/ would have been put under sever pressure without having to arm the rebels (and we know hat a stupid policy that has been).

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The theory (my theory) is that you may not actually kill him (the targeted leader) but you will drive him underground and make life as intolerable for him as he has made it for his subjects.

    Let me give you a very broad summary of events...

    The 3-cruise missile theory.

    The first missile is aimed at a strategic military target. Something like the most loyal troops like a Presidential Guard or the like. This makes the point that troops loyal to the 'target' can and will be targeted.

    The second missile is aimed that the official residence of the 'target' at 24 hours notice. He won't be there when it arrives but the message will be clear.

    The third missle will be reserved for a strike on the target. A reward of $1m (or more) will be promised for information on the location of the 'target' leading to a successful strike on him but probably won't be used.

    As with Gadaffi and Saddam who moved a few times a day to avoid being in one place long enough to offer a target the strain becomes unbearable (as these people are used to the world revolving around them in their time and not having to keep moving out of fear for their lives). The result is that even their supporters avoid them as they do not wish to be collateral damage in the event of a strike and they themselves begin to trust no one and eventually offer a nice isolated target for a strike or a visit from a special forces team.

    The result... let the target fell the fear and don't end up having many thousands of civilians killed to get at the 'target' when the message will be clearly transmitted to the one who is the cause of all the problems that there is a cruise missile with his name on it.

    If the use of quid pro quo cruise missile strikes had been used (in the manner I suggested) in Syria the regime could have/ would have been put under sever pressure without having to arm the rebels (and we know hat a stupid policy that has been).
    Ok, so you've fired off your three missiles. The dictator goes underground, his army disperses. They issue a statement telling you to stick your missiles where the sun don't shine, and proceed to do more of whatever it was you objected to in the first place. Your bluff has been called. Now what do you do? Do you escalate, and (assuming you're in the awkward position of leading a democracy) face the wrath of your populace and rest of the political edifice? Do you back down? Or do you just stand there buck naked with your putz shriveling in a cold breeze?

    I can't see how it's a good idea to start firing off missiles based on assumptions about how somebody else is going to react, because you don't know how they're going to react. I can't see how it's a good idea to start something you aren't willing to finish: if you don't have a viable and politically feasible plan to escalate if plan A fails, better keep your missile in your pants, because once you're in, you're in.

    I agree on not arming the rebels, unless of course there is some faction that you really want to see win and that you really think can win, both contentions requiring very realistic assessment and full awareness that you might be wrong. However, just because you don't arm the rebels doesn't mean they won't get arms. They will. People make ways. If they don't get them from you, they'll get them from someone else: no shortage of actors and agendas out there. If they want to fight, they will. If the dictator falls, different factions will fight it out to fill the vacuum. These things are not ours to control, and will happen whether we like it or not.
    “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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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The theory (my theory) is that you may not actually kill him (the targeted leader) but you will drive him underground and make life as intolerable for him as he has made it for his subjects.

    Let me give you a very broad summary of events...

    The 3-cruise missile theory.

    The first missile is aimed at a strategic military target. Something like the most loyal troops like a Presidential Guard or the like. This makes the point that troops loyal to the 'target' can and will be targeted.

    The second missile is aimed that the official residence of the 'target' at 24 hours notice. He won't be there when it arrives but the message will be clear.

    The third missle will be reserved for a strike on the target. A reward of $1m (or more) will be promised for information on the location of the 'target' leading to a successful strike on him but probably won't be used.

    As with Gadaffi and Saddam who moved a few times a day to avoid being in one place long enough to offer a target the strain becomes unbearable (as these people are used to the world revolving around them in their time and not having to keep moving out of fear for their lives). The result is that even their supporters avoid them as they do not wish to be collateral damage in the event of a strike and they themselves begin to trust no one and eventually offer a nice isolated target for a strike or a visit from a special forces team.

    The result... let the target fell the fear and don't end up having many thousands of civilians killed to get at the 'target' when the message will be clearly transmitted to the one who is the cause of all the problems that there is a cruise missile with his name on it.

    If the use of quid pro quo cruise missile strikes had been used (in the manner I suggested) in Syria the regime could have/ would have been put under sever pressure without having to arm the rebels (and we know hat a stupid policy that has been).
    Again, killing the target, in this case Assad, is no guarantee that the next person in line is better, or that there will even be a orderly transition of power. The result could be total anarchy. At least with Assad in power you have someone to negotiate with.

    Seems to me you want to know what you are going to get next before you pull that trigger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Again, killing the target, in this case Assad, is no guarantee that the next person in line is better, or that there will even be a orderly transition of power.
    Yes that is always a consideration when one considers an assassination.

    The result could be total anarchy. At least with Assad in power you have someone to negotiate with.
    Yea, over the bodies of 160,000 civilians.

    I guess you don't understand the concept I propose. No matter.

    Seems to me you want to know what you are going to get next before you pull that trigger.
    Obviously.

    You want to anticipate the consequences, intended and unintended, of all actions before proceeding.

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    Oh, you are back.

    Enjoy the little rant?

    Seriously Steve - as I have told you before - I have little interest in discussing anything of this nature with someone with zero military background.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Ok, so you've fired off your three missiles. The dictator goes underground, his army disperses. They issue a statement telling you to stick your missiles where the sun don't shine, and proceed to do more of whatever it was you objected to in the first place. Your bluff has been called. Now what do you do? Do you escalate, and (assuming you're in the awkward position of leading a democracy) face the wrath of your populace and rest of the political edifice? Do you back down? Or do you just stand there buck naked with your putz shriveling in a cold breeze?

    I can't see how it's a good idea to start firing off missiles based on assumptions about how somebody else is going to react, because you don't know how they're going to react. I can't see how it's a good idea to start something you aren't willing to finish: if you don't have a viable and politically feasible plan to escalate if plan A fails, better keep your missile in your pants, because once you're in, you're in.

    I agree on not arming the rebels, unless of course there is some faction that you really want to see win and that you really think can win, both contentions requiring very realistic assessment and full awareness that you might be wrong. However, just because you don't arm the rebels doesn't mean they won't get arms. They will. People make ways. If they don't get them from you, they'll get them from someone else: no shortage of actors and agendas out there. If they want to fight, they will. If the dictator falls, different factions will fight it out to fill the vacuum. These things are not ours to control, and will happen whether we like it or not.

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