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Old 08-03-2017   #541
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There is a nice verb in German, for which there is no translation to English.

It's called 'zerreden'.

It's the best description of such 'explanations' about Syria, like your's.

Example?

First let Assad detain and disappear 60.000-120.000 peaceful, secular activists; congratulate him for 'reforms' like letting 5,000 Islamists out of his jails, where these were extremised; then let Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey sponsor extremist gangs organized by these while doing whatever is possible to curb foreign support for secular armed groups (including taking away all of their MANPADs)...add plenty of such nonsense like 'Turkey is supporting moderate Syrian insurgents', 'CIA is doing the same too'...preferably while establishing a close alliance with Marxist/Maoist terrorist group that's completely foreign to the country in question - and then declare the entire affair for 'no matter of national interest', before, finally, concluding it just couldn't work.

Then, sigh, fighting a war for... well, gauging by Afghanistan: meanwhile it's 40+ years and there's no end in sight... is, what: 'cheaper'?

Than what?

(Disclaimer: and of course, there's no conspiracy; then any similarities to earlier, well-known and well-documented cases - are pure coincidence.)
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Old 08-03-2017   #542
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Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
There is a nice verb in German, for which there is no translation to English.

It's called 'zerreden'.

It's the best description of such 'explanations' about Syria, like your's.

Example?

First let Assad detain and disappear 60.000-120.000 peaceful, secular activists; congratulate him for 'reforms' like letting 5,000 Islamists out of his jails, where these were extremised; then let Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey sponsor extremist gangs organized by these while doing whatever is possible to curb foreign support for secular armed groups (including taking away all of their MANPADs)...add plenty of such nonsense like 'Turkey is supporting moderate Syrian insurgents', 'CIA is doing the same too'...preferably while establishing a close alliance with Marxist/Maoist terrorist group that's completely foreign to the country in question - and then declare the entire affair for 'no matter of national interest', before, finally, concluding it just couldn't work.

Then, sigh, fighting a war for... well, gauging by Afghanistan: meanwhile it's 40+ years and there's no end in sight... is, what: 'cheaper'?

Than what?

(Disclaimer: and of course, there's no conspiracy; then any similarities to earlier, well-known and well-documented cases - are pure coincidence.)
There are two words in English that may still have some currency in your stomping grounds: Western betrayal.

If we must still suffer hearing about the incomparable bravery of a handful of people with clandestine printing presses in Copenhagen and Brussels, and about how the Free French Forces were the fourth-largest of the Allies in 1945, then I suggest you get used to hearing about how the YPG fighters are liberal, democratic and pluralistic heroes.

Firstly, where did you arrive at this figure? Is it pre-Civil War? Even the lower bound would be more than four times higher than the non-political prison population. Assad was not “congratulated” for detaining some 200,000 people during the course of the war and murdering more than 10,000 of them.

Secondly, where do Saudi Arabia and Jordan fit in among the foreign sponsors? You are actually confirming my argument that direct U.S. intervention was necessary rather than “leading from behind”. One can infer that given the lessons of Operation Cyclone, the U.S. objective was never to establish a strong, liberal democratic state in Syria, but to set it ablaze and make it ungovernable by Assad and Khamenei. If the objective was the latter, then Operation Timber Sycamore was the most efficient means of doing so.

Thirdly, the primary Western interest in the Syrian Civil War is preventing spillover, including Islamist terrorism. The PKK/PYD has made itself very useful in that regard, by establishing a truce of sorts with Assad, and fighting Daesh. Of course, we will reap the whirlwind of an ethnic war for Kurdish independence, a political struggle for leadership of the Kurds whether independent or not, continued sectarian war between Sunni and Shia, and a struggle between the unitary states in question and the centrifugal forces of autonomy and outright secession.

As Americans made clear in 1918 and 1945, they care little for unfinished business so long as they are protected by two great oceans. As the British learned over a period of centuries, dabbling in “offshore balancing” not only worsens the carnage and destruction, but it usually opens the gates to the next existential threat.

As for Afghanistan, “victory” is possible so long as the definition of that victory is restricted. There will be no strong and friendly state in Afghanistan (there never was a strong Afghan state to begin with), but there can be an autonomous client region in the north, not unlike the KRG in Iraq.

Lastly, none of your points alter the fact that the liberation of Syria and its reconstitution as a liberal democracy, would have required a major U.S. national commitment on the order of those it has made to France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. You will note that the Special Operations Executive or its post-1945 iterations did not liberate Europe from either of its 1939 occupiers.

I would enjoy seeing the relative success in Tunisia be replicated beyond its borders, but it may well be short-lived and due to unique local factors.
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Old 08-03-2017   #543
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External intervention in a civil war is never easy.

Syria is no exception, sadly for its people there is little prospect of peace after over six years of war (Wiki refers to the start as March 15, 2011). It is easy to foresee the Syrian diaspora being quite large (bigger than the Palestinian) and with "camps" scattered around its periphery.

Once the Assad regime decided to bludgeon the protestors the die was cast. I do not think there was ever a chance the regime would reform itself. There was a potent "witches cauldron", with a fair amount of external advice and training. Having "kept the lid" on protests and repressing the Homs / Hama revolt in 1982, why would it think the trusted, reliable methods wouldn't work once more?

Yes the "West" has an interest in the region, Syria was rather low down the list of priorities. The USA's interest had a large complicating factor, the defence of Israel - I do find it curious how careful and guarded Israel has been, almost as if the conflict suited it's interests.

Were the policies followed by the USA wise, let alone practical? I am unsure if other Western countries had much impact on the USA, with the exception of France.

Was there a "golden hour / day /month" when external intervention could have ended the civil war? No.
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Old 08-04-2017   #544
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo
External intervention in a civil war is never easy.
No, it isn’t, but by the same token, few civil wars have occurred without external intervention.

The Syrian Civil War is hopelessly intertwined with the Iraqi Civil War as well as the other anti-authoritarian popular uprisings throughout the Arab world. It is as much a Gordian knot in our time, as the Thirty Years War was for 17th Century Europe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo
Once the Assad regime decided to bludgeon the protestors the die was cast. I do not think there was ever a chance the regime would reform itself. There was a potent "witches cauldron", with a fair amount of external advice and training. Having "kept the lid" on protests and repressing the Homs / Hama revolt in 1982, why would it think the trusted, reliable methods wouldn't work once more?
I disagree that the repressions of 1979-1982 informed Assad’s course of action in 2011. The former uprising was largely a militant Islamist one led by the Muslim Brotherhood whereas the latter uprising was peaceful, popular and anti-authoritarian. Whereas Hafez al-Assad could rely upon the Soviets and other allies to prevent foreign intervention on behalf of the Islamist rebellion, his son was much more isolated in 2011 and had seen the Western response to the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia already.

I strongly believed that Assad was following the advice of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who suppressed the uprising in Iran in 2009-2010, and who had assumed that they could achieve the same success in Syria. Yet Syria is not Iran…

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo
Was there a "golden hour / day /month" when external intervention could have ended the civil war? No.
I completely agree. As I have said to Outlaw and CrowBat many times, the reconstruction of Syria as a liberal democracy would have required a major and enduring U.S. or Western commitment.
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Old 09-05-2017   #545
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Somehow the regime has managed this relief operation:
Quote:
The Syrian military has broken a siege of the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, surrounded for years by so-called Islamic State, state media say. An estimated 93,000 civilians have been trapped in an enclave on the western bank of the River Euphrates since 2015.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41162683


A recent map from IHS Conflict Monitor:
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Old 09-17-2017   #546
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Somehow the regime...
It wasn't 'the regime', but Hezbollah. Look whom Zahreddine (commander of the former southern pocket) thanked as first when interviewed on the TV.

Quote:
... has managed this relief operation:Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41162683...
...which is the usual nonsense spread about this war by the Western MSM.

Namely, the only party 'besieged' there was the Assadist garrison, and people besieged by it. For details see SiegeWatch.org's entry on Dayr az-Zawr.

Note the entry about WFP's airdrops: run by Russian aircraft, these airdrops functioned as supplies for the garrison, not for civilians. Namely, the thugs commanding the garrison have either taken them away, or even sold them to civilians they are besieging there.

With other words, and as tragic as it sounds: even the Daesh treated the population of Dayr az-Zawr better than Assadists.

But, why should anybody in the West care...

Last edited by CrowBat; 09-17-2017 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 09-17-2017   #547
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Originally Posted by Azor View Post
Firstly, where did you arrive at this figure? Is it pre-Civil War? Even the lower bound would be more than four times higher than the non-political prison population. Assad was not “congratulated” for detaining some 200,000 people during the course of the war and murdering more than 10,000 of them.
Ah yes, excuse me: 60,000 disappeared and 200,000 others detained...

No wonder I concluded it's pointless do discuss this war with you, long ago.
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Old 09-18-2017   #548
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
Ah yes, excuse me: 60,000 disappeared and 200,000 others detained...

No wonder I concluded it's pointless do discuss this war with you, long ago.
I'm afraid that you sometimes play fast and loose with the timeline and the facts in Syria, conflating Bashar's and Hafez's policies, as well as the pre-war and wartime periods. All I asked was for clarification...
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Old 10-23-2017   #549
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Default Who has what in Iraq & Syria

From the NYT series of graphics on the rise and fall of ISIS, a map showing the position October 2015 to October 2017.


There are other graphics. Link:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...and-back.html?

From the BBC a map showing who has what; from IHS Conflict Monitor:
Link (part of a wider article):http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-41679377
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Old 10-26-2017   #550
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Default Who will govern and who will rebuild Raqqa?

An ICSR commentary that was republished by CNN, which raises many more questions too. Personally I cannot see anyone volunteering the funding and more to rebuild Raqqa or anywhere else in Syria. I exclude those supporting the Bashir Assad regime.
Link:http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/18/op...ion/index.html
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Old 10-30-2017   #551
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Default Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War

I offer this article for readers to assess themselves. It comes from a previously unheard of news website, which on my second reading maybe pro-Assad. It starts with:
Quote:
A television interview of a top Qatari official confessing the truth behind the origins of the war in Syria is going viral across Arabic social media during the same week a leaked top secret NSA document was published which confirms that the armed opposition in Syria was under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the conflict.
Link:http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-1...ind-syrian-war

I asked a SME to have a peek and they responded:
Quote:
I am a bit skeptical. Lots of Saudi vs Qatar disinformation going on at present. This seems part of that. Weird that the Arabic is unheard, and the translation does not mesh entirely with the claims in the article made on the basis of the same video.
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Old 11-28-2017   #552
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Must be 'truth, nothing but the truth, so God help me' - then back in February-March 2011, everybody here in the West was sending inquiries about who's in command of the protesting in Syria...

But then, there's plenty of such BS flying around the internet in regards of Syria, lately. Here another example:

Top US commander in Afghanistan Gen. Nicholson: Pentagon has seen ISIS escape Iraq & Syria battlefield for Libya and other African countries

Yeah. And Iran is delivering ballistic missiles to the Houthis... via Oman... or hidden behind sacks of rice on board of dhowes bound for Hodeida...because the Saudis said so...

It really looks like plenty of people at the Pentagon (apparently in Tampa too) are suffering from various versions of collective hallucinations...

... though only on straight days: on uneven days, they're all suffering sudden, though temporary blindness - and can't find a single IRGC in Syria.

Perhaps somebody there might want to check air conditioning - or the Pentagon is full of people that might need some fresh air...
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Old 11-28-2017   #553
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...ah yes: talking about the IRGC....

...and because even some of best think-tanks in the USA and the EU seem entirely unable to understand what's actually going on in Syria...

...here a somewhat 'raw' Write-up & Collection of Links on Assadist Regime and its Functions, Financing (i.e. IRGC’s Sponsoring), and Troop Strengths

Should anybody be 'sceptic' about all the stuff collected and concluded there, check the following: late last year, I've put together an 'ORBAT' (Order of Battle) for Assadist forces in Syria, and published this on the ACIG.info forum (requires a registration to read). Between others, this contained an estimate for the total strength of the famed Quwwat Nimr (aka 'Tiger Force'), of about 1,600.

Early this year, a slightly updated version of the same was published on the website of Truppendienst, military magazine of the Austrian Ministry of Defence (see: Assad Streitkräfte) - citing a figure of 1,500 combatants for the Quwwat Nimr (unsurprising, considering their losses in Aleppo and Palmyra, in period November 2016 - January 2017).

Everybody who only could - but especially all sorts of online 'experts' on this war - were ridiculing me for that. Supposedly, 'Tiger Force has thousands of troops'.

Now lookie here: by side that the Quwwat Nimr suffered something like 50% of casualties during latest fighting against the Daesh... but it turns out I was right, and that gang is meanwhile down to only some 1,000:

https://twitter.com/IvanSidorenko1/s...19851772698214

Guess, all those calling me names for my analysis and reporting about what's going on in Syria must feel 'very much confirmed' now.
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Old 12-15-2017   #554
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Here two quick reads for fans of ideas like 'War in Syria is over' and 'Russia's victory in Syria':

The first is here, and the second here.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #555
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Reading the latest piece by Charles Lister & Dominic Nelson published by the Middle East Institute - All the President's Militias: Assad's Militiafication of Syria - left me wondering: is it an accident that the two authors are drawing a number of conclusions that are the same like mine expressed a month ago in A Write-up & Collection of Links on Assadist Regime and its Functions, Financing (i.e. IRGC’s Sponsoring), and Troop Strengths...?

The only thing they have surely missed - almost certainly because they never cross-examined financial backgrounds of the groups in question, and the 'battlefield organisation' of the Assad-Regime and the IRGC-QF (includes Hezbollah) in Syria - is the conclusion that it's the IRGC that's controlling all of the militias in question.

Reason?

Because, and as anybody with serious interest in monitoring, discussing, and understanding warfare should know - supplies (whether of money, beans, bullets or gas) are the essence of any war. No supplies = no war.

Thus, the party that pays most of the bills is also the party that's controlling the war.

In the case of Syria, and because it's paying 200,000-250,000 combatants deployed there (no matter of what nationality, and including at least 80,000, probably up to 150,000 Syrian nationals) - there's only one such party. That's the IRGC-QF.

...which in turn means that recommending the US government such things like,

Quote:
...in dealing with pro-Iranian militias in Syria, the U.S. government should make greater efforts to publicly map said militias and to designate those deemed to have violated international law, in particular through maintaining direct links to the I.R.G.C.’s Quds Force...
....is missing the point, actually: except for 25,000-30,000 directly subordinated certified killers (see 'Quwwat Nimr/Tiger Force', 'Republican Guards', '4th Division', 'IV Assault Corps', 'V Corps', air force, and various HQs of 'SAA Divisions'), EVERYBODY THERE is controlled by IRGC-QF.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #556
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Let's start with a 'reminder', that the war in Syria is - contrary to what some of the media in the West is reporting - anything else than 'over'.

Right now, there's a big offensive against Idlib (run by Assadists, the IRGC/Hezbollah and Russians; see the map below); Russian bombs are still massacring civilians in Idlib (GRAFFIC!!!!!); there's a big offensive against the Bayt Jinn Pocket (run by Assadists and Hezbollah); and Eastern Ghouta and Ra'astan-Talbiseh Pockets remain besieged and no aid is left in since November.

Thus, it's unsurprising if 40 different Syrian insurgent groups announced they are not going to negotiate in Astana, and not going to accept any kind of decisions taken there.

************

BTW, either Jaysh al-Idlib (FSyA), or Ahrar ash-Sham (AAS), or HTS (ex-JAN), has shot down an Assadist L-39ZA yesterday.

The aircraft with serial number 2139, flown by Captain Bassam Hussein, was hit by what looks like an SA-7 wire-linked to some external source of power-supply.

HTS and Assadists claim the pilot actually ejected safely, but was then 'killed while trying to flee' (some say even 'beheaded').

Hussein was a Sunni Arab from Talkalakh. That's a town in the Homs province, dominated by Assadists and providing plenty of troops for the Quwwat Nimr and 103rd Republican Guards Brigade. Kind of 'Qamahana of Homs'.

Video showing the MANPAD in question, and the downing of Hussein's L-39:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzjaY753v4s
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File Type: jpg Map Syria AbuAdDuhorOffensive 25Dec17.jpg (103.5 KB, 9 views)
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #557
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...sorry: it's the Russian sponsored negotiations in Sochi, not Astana, they're refusing.

Of course, the Russians are going to stage a big conference there - including 'even' numerous 'members of the opposition to Assad'.

However, characters in question are going to be representatives of that part of the Syrian opposition, the Assadists are ready to tolerate already since 2011 - i.e. not a single representative of any of insurgent groups.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #558
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...and the backgrounds of what's going on in Syria are getting 'better and better': there are massive accusations against Oblabla lately (this article is in German), blaming him for preventing the prosecution against Hezbollah over drug-smuggling of cocaine (into the USA, too).

What a nice illustration on how far he went to get 'his historic nuclear deal' with Iran: compared to that, handing Syria on a silver plate to the IRGC was 'peanuts'...

Makes me wonder where are now all those from this forum, that back in 2013-2014 were hot at explaining me about 'higher national interests' of the USA.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #559
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What Went Wrong in Syria?

Quote:
...The Syrian uprising didn’t start because of the United States in any way, and its course has followed a path largely — not entirely — by Syrians. The Syrian opposition, both political and armed, could never articulate a vision for the country that rallied a great majority of Syrians to their cause. The political opposition never laid out a transition plan —it eventually became nearly as sectarian and ethnically chauvinistic as the Syrian government, and it never demonstrated a deep commitment to human rights. It did not, for example, condemn excesses by the armed opposition and its rhetoric sometimes was anti-Kurdish. The armed opposition, desperate in its fight against Assad, agreed to coordinate on the ground with extremists, particularly the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.

This frightened many Syrian communities. The US specifically put the al-Nusra Front on our terrorism list in December 2012 to warn the armed opposition to stay away from the al-Nusra Front. Unfortunately, they ignored us. Moreover, as early as 2011, some Syrians hoped the American military would intervene, just as we had in Iraq in 2003, to overthrow Assad. I repeatedly warned them the US Air Force would not come, but many political opposition leaders disagreed with me and said Washington would eventually intervene. This belief forestalled their thinking about greater outreach to communities in Syria still supporting the Syrian government.
Quote:
Three other mistakes we did make. In retrospect, it was not helpful to say that Assad should step aside. Observers did not appreciate the nuance in the American position that said that Assad’s future was for Syrians to decide, not Americans. Our expressing our opinion became understood to mean that the Americans would compel Assad to depart, and there was never any intention to do that. Instead, the Americans wanted a negotiation between the opposition, including moderate armed groups and the Assad government, to determine a transition government by mutual consent, as per Geneva I. My personal mistake was not resisting that August 2011 declaration by the president.

Our second mistake was in not enforcing the red line after the Assad government chemical weapons attacks in 2013. This might have deterred Assad from further use and given impetus to reach the Geneva negotiating table in 2013. The State Department was on record supporting a strike but the president made his decision.

Our third mistake was in supporting Syrian Kurds linked to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] against ISIS instead of building an Arab force over time. We now are in the situation where our troops are stationed indefinitely in eastern Syria with enemies on all sides. Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria will all try to foster our rapid departure and the subjugation of these Syrian Kurdish allies. We will have seriously harmed our bilateral relations with Turkey, and [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan already is a difficult, very problematic leader with which to engage.
...
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