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Thread: Syria in 2015

  1. #61
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    http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-e...fight-1.360551

    Capture of US-backed Syria rebel leader a setback in Islamic State fight

    Islamic State extremists, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria has captured a commander of a new U.S.-trained anti-jihadist force and several fighters, according to Turkish officials and Syrian rebels
    Shortly before his capture, Hassan had complained in an interview with The New York Times that the Pentagon had failed to provide night-vision goggles, had yet to announce an anti-Assad component to the fight and hadn’t made a clear pledge to the rebels to provide U.S. air support should they come under attack by the regime. He also told the newspaper that some fighters had threatened to quit over unpaid expenses.
    I hope I’m giving you enough of a steer here,” Davis said. “I’m telling you I’m not disagreeing with the reports. If you want to report based on what you’ve seen, I don’t think you’re going to see the Department of Defense pushing back.”

    At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said he wouldn’t use the word “setback” to describe the specific incident but acknowledged that “the train-and-equip program has been slow to get off the ground.”
    Initially DOD denied the report, but now they have softened their tone. It appears the train and equip mission is in disarray. All of the complaints presented by Hassan point to why the U.S. is generally not effective in these types of operations since the Cold War ended. It has little to do with the talent of our intelligence operatives and Special Forces, and very much to do with our policies and bureaucracy.

    Furthermore, by attempting to limit their action to fighting ISIL and not the regime, we created an unsustainable force. They have no cred with the populace the hail from; therefore no resilience (it isn't a self-sustaining movement that we helped mobilize, it is just a few proxies with a narrow mission).
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 08-02-2015 at 12:27 AM.

  2. #62
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    http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-e...r-ago-1.360651

    Despite bombing, Islamic State is no weaker than a year ago

    After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.
    The Islamic State remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadis as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.
    The following shouldn't be a surprise to those that have studied the historical attempts to go after an adversary's money or cut off their resources. It always briefs well, but most adversaries are capable of adapting.

    Oil continues to be a major revenue source. By one estimate, the Islamic State is clearing $500 million per year from oil sales, said Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury Department. That's on top of as much as $1 billion in cash the group seized from banks in its territory.
    Although the U.S. has been bombing oil infrastructure, the militants have been adept at rebuilding oil refining, drilling and trading capacity, the defense official said.

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    Default The U.S. does have a strategy

    For all of you who claim the U.S. does not have strategy to defeat ISIL and bring stability to the Middle East read this:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...d-game/400034/

    Defeating ISIS: The Board Game

    America’s strategy is substantially different from everyone else’s. President Barack Obama wants to defeat ISIS by not appearing to be the force defeating ISIS. This is a difficult task, particularly when your air force is the one carrying out most operations against ISIS targets. But Obama is an astute strategist. His plan centers on supporting Kurdish factions as he also supports Turkey which is now attacking the Kurds while also supporting Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen which upsets Iran whom U.S. forces are collaborating with in fighting ISIS in Iraq as he simultaneously yields to pressure from allies to weaken Assad in Syria which complicates things further with Iran which he pacifies by signing the nuclear deal upsetting America’s traditional friend Israel whose anger is absorbed with shipments of advanced weapons escalating the arms race in the region.

  4. #64
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    Hard to believe, but Hassan's capture did have one positive effect: US Jets to begin to target Syrian Forces IF they target pro-US Rebels (that is: NOT ONLY the regime...)
    The United States has decided to allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the US military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, US officials said on Sunday.

    The decision by President Barack Obama, which could deepen the US role in Syria's conflict, aims to shield a still-fledging group of Syrian fighters armed and trained by the United States to battle Islamic State militants -- not forces loyal to Assad.
    ...
    ...and 'good to have' is also the http://airwars.org/ - a website dedicated to tracking the US-led campaign against the Daesh (in Iraq and in Syria).

  5. #65
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    Default Syria approaching de facto partition amid Assad military setbacks

    A broad brush comment:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...itary-setbacks

    The map has some puzzling areas and this copy loses the key. So red: ISIS, blue Assad regime, blue-green Kurds and light grey Other rebels.
    davidbfpo

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    I'm going to triple post this because it relates to all three threads and hopefully no one will get sick of my repeating this.

    I just published an article on Turkey's decision to join the US led coalition against IS. Gave reasons for the change and some analysis.

    1) Basically Turkey is going to follow its own policy which conflicts with the U.S. Obama admini thinks it can change Erdogan's view in the long term while getting right to use Turkish bases in the short. Obama only has little more than a year in office however so Turkey will probably win out in the long run.

    2) Turkey wants to punish the PKK/PYD into submission and make it a client like it's done to the KRG

    3) Finally Turkey wants to give more direct aid to the Syrian rebel groups its supports like Al-Nusra with the Syrian Free Zone.

    Here's a link to the full article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    I'm going to triple post this because it relates to all three threads and hopefully no one will get sick of my repeating this.

    I just published an article on Turkey's decision to join the US led coalition against IS. Gave reasons for the change and some analysis.

    1) Basically Turkey is going to follow its own policy which conflicts with the U.S. Obama admini thinks it can change Erdogan's view in the long term while getting right to use Turkish bases in the short. Obama only has little more than a year in office however so Turkey will probably win out in the long run.

    2) Turkey wants to punish the PKK/PYD into submission and make it a client like it's done to the KRG

    3) Finally Turkey wants to give more direct aid to the Syrian rebel groups its supports like Al-Nusra with the Syrian Free Zone.

    Here's a link to the full article.
    Joel,

    When I read your blog posts I generally feel I'm getting the Paul Harvey "the rest of the story" that is lacking in mainstream media.

    You wrote,
    What Erdogan would like is to become the hegemon of the Kurds. The Kurdistan Regional Government for example, has become almost completely dependent upon Turkey economically via its pipeline. Turkey’s new attacks are likely focused upon the same goal to punish the PKK into submission, and in turn get it to limit the PYD’s expansion in Syria.

    Turkey is using the U.S. to further its own goals vis a vis the Syrian rebels and PKK-PYD. Ankara wants to increase its support for the Syrian rebels, who it hopes will overthrow Pres. Assad, cajole the Syrian and Turkish Kurds into being pliant clients, while regaining the Obama administration’s favor
    I don't want to come across as supporting Turkey, but I'm somewhat sympathetic to their view. They were opposed to our invasion of Iraq in 2003 and only provided limited support after much coercive diplomacy. The general U.S. military reaction was to get Turkey two thumbs down, but the mess we created, the mess they saw coming, was on their border and presented a much more significant threat to their national security interests than ours. The same can probably be said about the situation in Syria.

    Their issue with the Kurds has been going on for decades. It would be nice if they could reach a political accommodation, but it seems they won't want to negotiate from a position of weakness, so possibly this is the reason for their choice of bed fellows in Syria?

    What do you think Turkey's desired outcome in Syria is? Who do they desire to see running Syria after Assad is gone?

  8. #68
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    Erdogan entered into talks with the Turkish Kurds several years ago. The PKK-PYD's advances in Syria made Erdogan worried that their Rojava autonomous region would gain more standing and change the power dynamics within Turkey as well. That led to the bombing campaign.

    Syria is such a mess that Turkey is unlikely to achieve anything other than just adding to the chaos. Since Ankara has supported many of the Syrian rebels including the Islamist ones and the Islamic State it seems like anyone but Assad would be fine with them. Very short term thinking to me.

  9. #69
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    JWing wrote,

    Syria is such a mess that Turkey is unlikely to achieve anything other than just adding to the chaos. Since Ankara has supported many of the Syrian rebels including the Islamist ones and the Islamic State it seems like anyone but Assad would be fine with them. Very short term thinking to me.
    Perhaps, but I have a hard time believing they will accept anyone but Assad. What if it is another Iranian proxy? Is that really in Turkey's interest? The outdated clich that all politics are local certainly doesn't play in today's Syria, or what once was Syria. I wonder just how many different countries are providing aid to various proxies in Syria to pursue various ends, and how many of these countries have interests that overlap and conflict? The only country strong enough to pull anything together resembling a coalition is the U.S., but it appears to be a role we are unwilling to play.

    I'm curious, do you buy the argument that Assad supports ISIL to garner international support for, or at least indecision regarding his regime? Some have argued on this forum that it is documented, but a lot of myths are documented. Is it fact or propaganda? This perception would be a valuable image for the anti-Assad groups to paint; on the other hand, if it is true then it seems we would need to adjust our strategy appropriately. If Assad supports ISIL, that implies that Iran is supporting ISIL, which doesn't add up, but then again it isn't completely improbable either.

    I found your interview with former AMB Ford interesting, but I'm not as optimistic as he seems to be in U.S. leadership. That may be due to the lack of it in the current administration. We also generate so much internal friction within our own ranks that it is exceedingly hard for the U.S. to effectively use unconventional warfare as a policy tool. It not only requires clear policy guidance (certainly lacking in Syria), but sufficient resources to achieve the ends identified in the policy. Quoting AMB Ford,

    In Syria, by contrast, the administration has always avoided working with the Syrian state or the opposition. It is not a secret that we have given a few armed opposition groups limited aid, but the accent has to be on the word "limited". Meanwhile, we have countenanced other countries' giving material aid to their client groups. The overall levels of aid have been far too small and thus armed opposition groups have competed with each other for scarce resources and foreign patronage. That is the key reason they are divided; withholding aid from them and allowing different countries to operate in a patron-client relationship has made them divided.
    We could have built, and could still build, an effective Syrian armed opposition that would fight the Islamic State and Asad. The advances the armed opposition groups have made on the ground in 2015 after other regional countries increased their aid sharply shows what might have been done far earlier. But the most important thing to remember about our strategy in Syria that whatever we do has to aim at building support inside the Syrian government, inside the Syrian opposition and among the various international actors for a national political negotiation.
    The area I highlighted is State speak for our desire to do the impossible. We want to lead without leading, and despite the amazing impact of soft power in other parts of the world, it seems to have little to no impact in this part of the world. We're half in and half out, and apparently having little impact on the overall condition there.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 08-09-2015 at 09:23 PM.

  10. #70
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    Yes, the Sunni-Arab populations of Syria and Iraq both believe the Shia dominated governments over them offer no future. They also realize that the US removal of the Saddam regime served to extend Iranian led Shia influence across the region. In short, they know they are screwed unless they fix those two conditions.

    AQ conducted UW among these populations, but what they offered was too theoretical. The US could have taken advantage of the opportunity with our own UW campaign, but we were too committed to our own solution we had crafted for Iraq, and did not want to take on the burden of attempting to implement a similar solution in Syria. Into this space came ISIS, offering something tangible and now. The stole the march of us both.

    We are so worried about what we think is best for us, that we miss opportunities to help people get to what is best for them.

    So now we kill 15,000 Sunnis with air strikes, and hope that moderate Sunnis will emerge to take out a Assad regime we don't much like, and equally to submit to an Iraqi government we hope will somehow succeed. How can anyone think that combination will earn us the trust of a Sunni population that we punish with one hand, while holding out empty promises in the other?
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    In broad agreement with your argument Bob, but

    We are so worried about what we think is best for us, that we miss opportunities to help people get to what is best for them.
    this comment is a little over the top. We should be concerned with what we want, we commit our national treasure to pursue national interests. If you slightly modified your comment, that we need to seek ways to align interests where that is possible then I would agree. In some cases that won't be possible; however, we tend to always default to stupid by buying the most cooperative warlord to facilitate short term tactical success (occasionally), but this approach almost always leads to strategic failure.

  12. #72
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    Yes, we must operate based upon true interests; not the after the fact interests we use so often to rationalize poor decisions today.

    Facilitating self determination, and garnering influence with whatever emerges; rather than seeking to control outcomes through some self-serving man or group willing to sell out their own to rise to power by playing to our fears, ego ignorance.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Doing some cross posting here because this applies to 3 different forums.

    I just collected together 10 different experts and got their opinions on how they believe the war against the Islamic State is going. That includes Ahmed Ali of the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, J.M. Berger of the Brookings Institution, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aron Lund of Syria in Crisis, Alex Mello of Horizon Client Access, Douglas Ollivant of the New America Foundation, Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi of the Middle East Forum, Craig Whiteside of the Naval War College, and Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Here's a link to the article.

  14. #74
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    Has Russian now expanded their non linear war to include Syria---after the recent dust up between Russia and the KSA Foreign Minister who declared that Assad is the problem and must go.

    Russia is attempting to rebrand Assad as this great anti IS fighter and Russia is doing everything it can to convince the US to support their proxy in his fight against IS BUT at the same time Russia has defined Assad a key ally.

    BUT it now appears that Russia has place Russian boots on the ground and not said a single world--that can not have gone undetected by US intel.

    Syria Nusra linked acc. posted pics of Russian made drone & jets flying over Western #Idlib. Huge if true. pic.twitter.com/1xPuUbD9an
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-02-2015 at 12:04 PM. Reason: Copied here from Ukraine (military) thread.

  15. #75
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    Default Russian expeditionary air force to Syria?

    Outlaw09,

    I spotted this strange report via Twitter yesterday and was unsure as to its accuracy, partly as the website is new to me:http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...696268,00.html

    The report starts with:
    Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.
    According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base.

    In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.
    davidbfpo

  16. #76
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    Default Russian expedition to Syria?

    A longer article in The Daily Beast by Michael Weiss, who assmbles all the open source clues on Russian moves:http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...-in-syria.html
    davidbfpo

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Outlaw09,

    I spotted this strange report via Twitter yesterday and was unsure as to its accuracy, partly as the website is new to me:http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...696268,00.html

    The report starts with:
    David---Russia is in fact on the ground regardless what the WH states--meaning they have no firm intel.

    Highly suspect a GRU Spetsnaz Brigade as one is not being reported in the Ukraine which had fought there about six months ago. There has been silence around that unit and with their recent combat experience they would be the perfect fit to fly in.

    Key evidence has been the BTR 80 photographed in a major combat op by the Syrians themselves--Russia has never given, issued, transferred the BTR-80 to anyone other than the Russian Army--even in the Ukraine it remains under control of the Russian troops.

    Secondly--actually the Syrians themselves with a press release this week confirmed the Russian were in fact fighting with them ---in a 4 photo release.

    The final key was the way the Russians responded via a press release from TASS--Russian info warriors only respond when pushed into a corner and then they try to change the narrative--in the case of the PR--we have always been there due to military agreements and supply contracts--Russia side stepped the actual accusation--you have troops/boots on the ground.

  18. #78
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    Yes the US intel and the WH know about the Russian flights into Syria.

    To deny the first time leads one to the question--why??

    Now they do because the social media has pounded this theme for the last three days.

    US official confirmed that "Russia has asked for clearances for military flight to Syria" http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/wh....XI90ZZDJ.dpuf

    Secondly the just released new US sanctions on the Russian weapons exporter is for their weapon shipments to Syria, Iran and North Korea.

    This came in via social media this morning----

    Putin has troops in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine and now Syria whose military doctrine is masked or hybrid warfare dedicated to destroy Europe.

    Remember I keep repeating the mantra---Putin has three geo political goals.

    1. discredit and damage NATO
    2. discredit and damage the EU
    3. completely disconnect the US from Europe

    This move into Syria was clear from the recent Russian KSA press conference where Larvov called the KSA FM a blooming idiot in mild terms .

    Russia desperately needs the naval port and presence in the ME and Syria gives that and Assad has been declared a critical proxy thus their moves right now.

    Why--militarily speaking Assad is in fact losing and losing badly and the Russians are trying to get a deal to allow him to leave with them still controlling who will follow him.

    They are trying to sucker the US into helping them rebrand him this great defender of the faith against IS AFTER Russia allowed over 1000 Russian jihadi's to leave Russia to join IS.

    Putin is playing the legacy card with Obama---you help me in the Ukraine and I can help you in Syria and against the IS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    Yes the US intel and the WH know about the Russian flights into Syria.

    To deny the first time leads one to the question--why??

    Now they do because the social media has pounded this theme for the last three days.

    US official confirmed that "Russia has asked for clearances for military flight to Syria" http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/wh....XI90ZZDJ.dpuf

    Secondly the just released new US sanctions on the Russian weapons exporter is for their weapon shipments to Syria, Iran and North Korea.

    This came in via social media this morning----

    Putin has troops in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine and now Syria whose military doctrine is masked or hybrid warfare dedicated to destroy Europe.

    Remember I keep repeating the mantra---Putin has three geo political goals.

    1. discredit and damage NATO
    2. discredit and damage the EU
    3. completely disconnect the US from Europe

    This move into Syria was clear from the recent Russian KSA press conference where Larvov called the KSA FM a blooming idiot in mild terms .

    Russia desperately needs the naval port and presence in the ME and Syria gives that and Assad has been declared a critical proxy thus their moves right now.

    Why--militarily speaking Assad is in fact losing and losing badly and the Russians are trying to get a deal to allow him to leave with them still controlling who will follow him.

    They are trying to sucker the US into helping them rebrand him this great defender of the faith against IS AFTER Russia allowed over 1000 Russian jihadi's to leave Russia to join IS.

    Putin is playing the legacy card with Obama---you help me in the Ukraine and I can help you in Syria and against the IS.
    BTW the US intel is playing a very interesting game lately--when social media grabs a topic and verifies it a number of different ways--then when the US intel is asked to confirm or deny--they say absolutely nothing thus allowing the social media OSINT to stand on it's own.

    Social media OSINT has come into it's own via the Ukraine events and MH17.

    Some are saying US intel OSINT teams simply watch what social media is digging up and then simply report it as then a classified version that can be in analyzing other INTs.

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    Notice the interplay between social media open source analysis and MSM in certain areas--ie aviation.

    The first report came from social media and then The Aviationist picked it up and ran with it.

    The Aviationist » These photos suggest Russian Air Force jets and drones are already operating against ISIS in Syria http://theaviationist.com/2015/09/02...is-over-syria/

    Why did I previously say the GRU Spetsnaz Brigade is in Syria--they have their own drone company assigned to them.

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