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Thread: Syria in 2018-2019

  1. #81
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    An article by a lady academic / policy analyst (who is a Forum member too), which has had compliments on Twitter. So a couple of passages, near the start:

    She ends with:
    Link:https://theglobepost.com/2018/12/24/syria-us-lesson/
    By all respect for the author, and while I know the way of thinking in that article is widespread, I find it nothing less than appalling. See here:

    In late 2015, he chose to join the conflict in Syria in firm support of Assad and his regime. Whether this was against ISIS is entirely debatable, but also irrelevant at this point, as their defeat was not the necessary requirement to sustain the regime. Like it or not, irrespective of any opinions on the Syrian leader, this was a realistic strategy with the best chances for success. Assad had the political heft to be a reliable partner in the war. At that moment, the policy and strategy calculus had changed in the Syrian leader’s favor.
    ...the only thing missing here would be to declare the war in Syria for 'over'...

    'Assad' - is no 'partner', but a 'representative figure'; a 'front' or 'corporate identity' without any capabilities, powers, or money to govern. It took the Russians three years of plentiful and costly 'learning by doing' to save him from a bunch of - supposedly - 'loyal' warlords, not to talk about saving him from insurgency. Even the much famed Republican Guards cannot be described as 'loyal to Assad' any more.

    Instead, the result of the Russian intervention is - at most - a temporary stalemate between the Russia-supported Assad-Makhloufs axis, and the Iran-supported Maher-IRGC/Hezbollah axis.

    So, the only 'realistic strategy' in all of this is that Putin can comfortably conclude that the West is more than happy to continue falling for his scam in Syria.

    What remained to be decided was how and when ISIS’ state demise would be orchestrated and what a post-civil war Syria would look like. ISIS’ defeat in Iraq was on the march but would struggle so long as the former’s strength of position remained in Syria. In that moment, I would have recommended the difficult choice to side with Putin on Assad (and I did so at the time, on CNN International, with Hala Gorani).
    ...typically short-sighted view of the situation. It makes me wonder what amount of illusions people prefer to simple acceptation of reality.

    Firstly: all the Western powers have given up on Syria even before Putin launched his gamble. Everybody was only too happy to say, 'Syria's not our problem, leave it to the Russians (and Iran), we only fight Daesh there'.

    Secondly: neither Putin, nor Assad have any kind of solutions for Syria, nor are they solutions for Syria. On the contrary: Assad is the core reason for all the problems there - including all the religious extremism.

    The most they're going to manage is to run a para-state with official representative to the UN, buying plenty of time for the IRGC to complete its take-over of the country.

    In whose accounting is that a 'solution' - and for what exactly, please? For creation of another failed state and a never-ending conflict - and then one certain to remain active and more destructive than those in Afghanistan and Lebanon (combined)...?

    Instead, in early 2016 the U.S. led the middling position to fight ISIS in Syria (with airpower and aid to local forces) without full support to Assad. This has enabled the defeat of the ISIS territorial state but has left undetermined the thornier problem of the enduring civil war in Syria and the role ISIS can continue to play in it.
    Why is it so hard to call a spade a spade...? Once again, the USA decided to fight the effects of disease, instead of the disease itself.

    Well, at least you can congratulate yourself for one thing: 100+ years since Sykes/Picot, and the US decision-makers learned absolutely nothing at all - especially not about the Middle East. Man, that's some stamina.

    There is a military mission that plays an important role in the continuing fight against ISIS in support of critical allies like the Kurds, but which is difficult to explain or justify insofar as its broader policy objectives are concerned.
    Two questions here:

    1.) Since when is PKK = Kurds?

    2.) Since when is it 'broader policy' to let Pentagon circumvent US law prohibiting cooperation with the PKK through re-naming it into 'Syrian Democratic Forces'?

    Indeed, what kind of 'policy' is that...?

    This analysis may feel unsatisfying, may seem to leave readers with few answers and more uncertainty regarding their correct apprehension of the current situation, and those challenges to come in the future. That is as intended. And as paradoxical as it may seem, such a state of enlightened confusion will serve the U.S. and the international community better to hedge against hubris, partisanship, or propaganda in national security policies.
    Oh, special thanks: this with 'enlightened confusion' reminds me of Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns'. Really, the perfect recipe for creation of never-ending conflict like those in Afghanistan or Lebanon, though 10x bigger by scale and intensity.

    Best of all is that thanks to such viewpoints like those expressed in this article, all the Western politicians and other sorts of talking-heads are going to remain 'proud forever' for all of the 'solutions for Syria' they've 'found' - while sitting on millions of Syrian refugees, and convincing Turkey it's good for it to continue sitting on millions of Syrian refugees, too.

  2. #82
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    In the night of December 25th, The Israeli Air Force (IAF) delivered its first clandestine strike on Syrian targets after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops. As assessed in our latest policy impact analysis and recently reinforced by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. withdrawal will force Israel to ramp up its counter-Iran operations in Syria. The “Christmas raid” is as much a political statement as it is a continuation of the over 100 Israeli covert airstrikes in Syria. The Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) showed a mixed performance, but managed to intercept the majority of Israel’s air-launched missiles.
    https://t-intell.com/2018/12/30/isra...DyA9BJSLEw6Nbo
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  3. #83
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default BBC Monitoring: Analysis: What is brewing behind the scenes in northern Syria?

    I rarely spot their products, this however looks good if you are Syria focused. It starts with:
    In just a few days of fighting with Turkey-backed rebels, jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has raised its stake in the last opposition-held area in northern Syria. Within a week of launching attacks on a rival Islamist faction, HTS has expanded its control in the north, capturing most of western Aleppo Province, including the key towns of Darat Izza and Atarib.
    The infighting in the north is not unprecedented - clashes between rebels and HTS have been intermittent over the past two years.
    But the speed in which HTS has captured territory in the north, and the silence of key regional players – mainly Turkey - over these developments raises questions about what is happening behind the scenes. It also puts one of the last rebel areas in Syria at risk of a ground offensive by pro-government factions who may argue that they need to oust jihadists.
    Link:https://monitoring.bbc.co.uk/product/c200jfy0
    davidbfpo

  4. #84
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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  5. #85
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    Default Will Turkey respond?

    Via The Soufan Group a brief on Idlib Province which starts with:
    Over the last week, HTS, operating under cover of what is thought to be its administrative wing, referred to as ‘the Salvation Government,’ has routed or negotiated the surrender of the last remaining ‘moderate’ rebel coalition, the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF). The NLF receives significant support from Turkey, and its collapse suggests that either Turkey cannot help the NLF enough to prevent its demise, or that the Erdogan government chooses not to for reasons having to do more with the Kurds and Manbij.
    Link:http://thesoufancenter.org/intelbrie...dlib-province/

    Elsewhere the BBC reports on threats by President Trump to Turkey.
    Link:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46859164

    I am pretty sure there are no US forces in Idlib Province.


    davidbfpo

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    Cross posting this. My 2nd interview with author Tom Cooper. This time we discussed the role of the Iranian Rev Guard in the Iraq and Syrian wars.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-26-2019 at 10:36 AM. Reason: 25,392v today

  7. #87
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    Default Iblib nclave: what is happening?

    A BBC report on the spread of an Islamist group (HTS), which claims to have cut links to AQ. The map below is interesting, especially the location of Turkish outposts within HTS areas.
    Link:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-47252257

    davidbfpo

  8. #88
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    Baghouz (Syria) (AFP) - Suicide bombers, snipers, rockets -- Islamic State group fighters did everything they could to defend their last scrap of territory in eastern Syria, but their diminished resources were not enough.

    The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday declared victory over the jihadists in the remote village of Baghouz, after reducing their once terrifying proto-state to a ghostly riverside camp.
    After declaring a "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq in 2014, they ruled over millions in territory the size of the United Kingdom.

    But in the previously unheard of village of Baghouz, the group's fighters have emerged from tunnels and caves in the rocky hillside to surrender.

    On Sunday, AFP reporters saw dozens of people -- mostly bearded men in heavy woollen tunics, some with their faces concealed in a scarf -- trudge out of the battered camp.
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/suicide-b...095759465.html
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  9. #89
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Between Regime and Rebels: A Survey of Syria’s Alawi Sect

    Recommended by a "lurker" this interesting NYRB article, it dissects what has happened to this loyal community, their losses and the apparently little gain for this.
    Link:https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/0...as-alawi-sect/
    davidbfpo

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