SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Other, By Region > Middle East

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-10-2013   #141
Bill Moore
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,561
Default

I have been reading and hearing the so called experts saying Bashar Assad is going to fall in a matter of weeks for well over a year now. Now this article claims the Syrian Army isn't capable of fighting the rebels because it was training for the wrong war (terribly flawed observation on a number of levels), yet the Syrian military has been holding the line for two years now (more if you consider previous insurgencies in Syria) despite the expert claims they should have failed months ago. Do global liberals who embrace our COIN doctrine and the U.S. view on "The End of History" confuse wishful thinking with reality?

I suspect Assad will eventually fall, but has long has he has control of his military there is little risk that happening in the near term unless there is more foreign intervention. Armies composed of conscripts have been winning conflicts for years despite not being as well trained as professional forces. Put all the political theories aside to include legitimacy and look at the effective application of force and I don't see any side achieving a decisive advantage, and doubt the rebels can gain much more ground without more support, and/or Assad is effectively isolated from external support (Russia, Iran, others). That all changes is Assad loses control of his military much like Mubarak did.

Syria's military has suffered since the collapse the USSR, but it is still a relatively powerful military. The link below compares Syria to Iraq, but the date of the data is questionable.

http://www.globalfirepower.com/count...pare+Countries

Not a insignificant Army relative to the region or the threat.

http://www.voanews.com/content/syria...s/1212985.html

Quote:
Experts said President Bashar al-Assad’s army - estimated at between 200,000 and 250,000 troops - is by regional standards a highly-capable military force.

"When you compare it to neighboring states such as Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, it is one of the largest forces," said Aram Nerguizian, a Syria expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It does have pockets of excellence."
then back in Sep 2011

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn....er-than-libya/

Warning: Syria is much stronger than Libya

Quote:
But Syria is an altogether different target in military terms, too.

First, it’s simply more powerful. Syria’s armed forces are four times the size of Libya’s, and its personnel per capita and total military spending are both one-third higher. President Assad can draw on thousands more tanks than could Colonel Gaddafi (including twice as many advanced T-72s) and a thousand more artillery pieces.
Quote:
Libyan rebels were divided by tribe, region, ideology and ethnicity. But Syria’s rebels are even more fractured. Lebanon’s prolonged civil war – in which the US, Syria and Israel all intervened – is a cautionary tale: backing one party to a multifaceted conflict is more complex, and possibly counterproductive, than working with a rebel alliance like Libya’s which is at least loosely held together by a political structure and lacking sectarian divisions.
Quote:
Finally, it is worth thinking through the implications of a loyal army. Syria’s elite units and officer corps are dominated by the Alawi sect, to which the Assad dynasty belongs. They have neither disintegrated nor turned on Assad. In Libya, a very large portion of the army, particularly in the east, melted away at the beginning of the conflict.
Bill Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-10-2013   #142
TheCurmudgeon
Council Member
 
TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Posts: 1,015
Default To a point ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I have been reading and hearing the so called experts saying Bashar Assad is going to fall in a matter of weeks for well over a year now. Now this article claims the Syrian Army isn't capable of fighting the rebels because it was training for the wrong war (terribly flawed observation on a number of levels), yet the Syrian military has been holding the line for two years now (more if you consider previous insurgencies in Syria) despite the expert claims they should have failed months ago. Do global liberals who embrace our COIN doctrine and the U.S. view on "The End of History" confuse wishful thinking with reality?

I suspect Assad will eventually fall, but has long has he has control of his military there is little risk that happening in the near term unless there is more foreign intervention. Armies composed of conscripts have been winning conflicts for years despite not being as well trained as professional forces. Put all the political theories aside to include legitimacy and look at the effective application of force and I don't see any side achieving a decisive advantage, and doubt the rebels can gain much more ground without more support, and/or Assad is effectively isolated from external support (Russia, Iran, others). That all changes is Assad loses control of his military much like Mubarak did.

Syria's military has suffered since the collapse the USSR, but it is still a relatively powerful military. The link below compares Syria to Iraq, but the date of the data is questionable.
I have to agree that Assad is not going anywhere unless things outside his domain change (i.e. loss of support from Russia and Iran). Our interests here are containment, not intervention.

I will only disagree that legitimacy does not matter. I would argue that there is more than one type of legitimacy and Assad had done a very good job of cultivating a traditional ethnic Patron/Client system. He, is, for all intents and purposes, the King of Syria. This is a different tact then take by some self-styled leftist leaders who try to portray themselves as populists leaders in societies are still based on tribal/ethnic/religious ideas.
__________________
"I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
---
TheCurmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-10-2013   #143
Bill Moore
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,561
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I have to agree that Assad is not going anywhere unless things outside his domain change (i.e. loss of support from Russia and Iran). Our interests here are containment, not intervention.

I will only disagree that legitimacy does not matter. I would argue that there is more than one type of legitimacy and Assad had done a very good job of cultivating a traditional ethnic Patron/Client system. He, is, for all intents and purposes, the King of Syria. This is a different tact then take by some self-styled leftist leaders who try to portray themselves as populists leaders in societies are still based on tribal/ethnic/religious ideas.
Exactly, there are different types of legitimacy and one size doesn't fit all, especially in countries composed of competing tribes, ethnic groups, and religious ideas (we can add economic philosophies also). Mike from Hilo pointed this out on a recent post in the SWJ Blog where he corrected some folks who implied Ho was legitimate and the Gov of S. Vietnam wasn't. S. Vietnamese forces actually fought hard after we left because they didn't want to fall under the "legitimate" rule of Uncle Ho. My point is the ability to apply force matters, and if the government retains control of their military and police then the vague concept of legitimacy (legitimacy for who?) often takes a back seat. On the rebel side which group is legitimate? Those who are affilated with AQ? The fundamentalists who want to suppress the Shia? There is a reason the military isn't deserting in droves, they're scared to death of what will happen if these extremists take over.
Bill Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-10-2013   #144
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,129
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Mike from Hilo pointed this out on a recent post in the SWJ Blog where he corrected some folks who implied Ho was legitimate and the Gov of S. Vietnam wasn't. S. Vietnamese forces actually fought hard after we left because they didn't want to fall under the "legitimate" rule of Uncle Ho. My point is the ability to apply force matters, and if the government retains control of their military and police then the vague concept of legitimacy (legitimacy for who?)
Legitimacy is not an all-or-nothing construct; a Government is not 100% "legitimate" or "illegitimate". There's little doubt that Ho's successful expulsion of the French endowed him and his movement with a substantial perception of legitimacy. That perception was not universal, especially among those who had a personal vested interest in maintaining the dwindling perception of their own legitimacy, but it was sufficient to attract support and sustain his movement until those who opposed him saw their own perceived legitimacy dwindle (largely through their own actions) to an unsustainable level.

Certainly the capacity to apply force matters, but that capacity, as well as the ability to sustain that capacity through foreign and local support, depends largely on how the balance of perceived legitimacy shifts. That was true in Vietnam and it's true in Afghanistan or Syria.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2013   #145
Bill Moore
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,561
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
Legitimacy is not an all-or-nothing construct; a Government is not 100% "legitimate" or "illegitimate". There's little doubt that Ho's successful expulsion of the French endowed him and his movement with a substantial perception of legitimacy. That perception was not universal, especially among those who had a personal vested interest in maintaining the dwindling perception of their own legitimacy, but it was sufficient to attract support and sustain his movement until those who opposed him saw their own perceived legitimacy dwindle (largely through their own actions) to an unsustainable level.

Certainly the capacity to apply force matters, but that capacity, as well as the ability to sustain that capacity through foreign and local support, depends largely on how the balance of perceived legitimacy shifts. That was true in Vietnam and it's true in Afghanistan or Syria.
I question Uncle Ho's legitimacy on a lot of levels. I don't distract from what he accomplished, but challenge the common perception of how he accomplished it.

http://www.historynet.com/ho-chi-min...nam-leader.htm

Quote:
First, however, Ho ruthlessly consolidated his power in the North. Evidencing the fact that behind his carefully constructed faade of the kindly and gentle 'Uncle Ho' he was in reality (in Susan Sontag's particularly descriptive words) a 'fascist with a human face,' Ho massacred his countrymen by the thousands in a Soviet-style 'land reform' campaign. In November 1956, when peasants in his home province protested, some 6,000 were murdered in cold blood. With such actions, Ho proved he was a worthy contemporary of Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung, who had also built their empires with the blood of their countrymen.
How legitimate were the communists in S. Vietnam?

http://vnafmamn.com/fighting/massacre_athue.html

Quote:
Besides more than two thousand persons whose deaths were confirmed after the revelation of the mass graves, the fate of the others, amounted to several thousands, are still unknown.The 1968 massacre in Hue brought a sharp turn in the common attitude toward the war. A great number of the pre-'68 fence sitters, anti-war activists, and even pro-Communist people, took side with the South Vietnamese government after the horrible events. After April 30, 1975 when South Vietnam fell into the hand of the Communist Party, it seems that the number of boat people of Hue origin takes up a greater proportion among the refugees than that from the other areas.
Quote:
Most people heard of My Lai atrocity, but a few would know of Hue massacre. Today some Hanoi's sympathyzers have even tried to whitewash the war crime by saying the Hue massacre never happened. It sounds just like the neo-nazis saying the Holocaust is a myth. The two following articles will offer you a better perspective (thanks to the recent opening of LIFE photo's archive, we found the original pictures of Hue massacre related photos that were thought ever lost).
http://vnafmamn.com/VNWar_atrocities.html

Quote:
Hue Massacre, 1968, when the VC/NVA systematically executed as many as 5,000 civil servants, teachers, etc. who were sytematically rounded up and executed, some buried alive in mass graves, some tied up and shot in the back of the head, around Hue City during 25 day NVA occupation of the city-NO entries.
Of course after S. Vietnam surrendered the S. Vietnamese must have celebrated in the streets that they were finally liberated.

http://www.matus1976.com/vietnam/free_vietnam.htm

Quote:
As is usual with communist governments, the losers faired horribly. The killing did not end with the surrender of South Vietnam in 1975, a year after the congressional abandonment of Indochina by the US. Uprisings continued in the south where another 160,000 lives were lost. In fact, more lives were lost in the six months following the fall of Saigon then were lost in the entire war! Vietnam was invaded by Cambodia and China, and in turn Vietnam invaded Cambodia and Laos. The total killed is estimated to be at 150,000 and, amazingly, an estimated 3 million were killed by the Vietnam governments proxy regimes.

...In fact, more lives were lost in the six months following the fall of Saigon then were lost in the entire war!
Vietnamese concentration camps, deportations to 'new economic zones', and the people rounded up and shot for various reasons has been estimated to be 250,000. A quarter of a million people.

One of the most telling signs of the brutality of the North Vietnamese Communist party was the fleeing of nearly 1 million Vietnamese people, most took of into the South China sea in make shift rafts. Of these "Boat People" it is estimated that nearly 500,000 drowned trying to escape this murderous regime.
Who are the good guys in Syria again? How much do we really understand the actors, their objectives, their legitimacy? Once we start, if we start, to get involved we will heroify and villianfy the various actors and that will skew our true understanding. Once we realize no good will come out of our involvement and we tire of treading water we'll withdraw and let history take its course. I have no compelling evidence we should pick a side at this time. We may have to intervene for other reasons, and we may desire to create safe havens for the refugees, but until we understand what the heck is really going on we shouldn't leap.
Bill Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2013   #146
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,129
Default

I'm not talking about legitimacy in the abstract, or about our perception of legitimacy, but of domestic perceptions of legitimacy.

In countries where colonial occupiers or hated dictators have to be expelled by force, those who did the expelling typically earned a significant perception of legitimacy simply by expelling the colonial power or hated dictator. In many cases those governments did perfectly awful things: taking power through armed struggle often means that the most ruthless and aggressive people in the movement end up running it. The awfulness of what those governments did when they gained power does not change the reality that success against an occupying colonial power or hated dictator does typically - at least initially - earn a movement a significant degree of perceived legitimacy. Similarly, those who supported the colonial power typically earn a degree of illegitimacy, even if they are in many ways more able to run the country.

One of our consistent problems in the Cold War in the developing world was identifying conflicts as "communist vs non-communist" while local populaces identified the same conflict as "colonial power vs national liberation movement" or "detested dictator vs those who fight the dictator" or "foreign intruder vs local resistance", with very little emphasis on or understanding of whether anyone was a communist or not. While for us the identity of those who were "communist" was of surpassing importance, it often meant very little to those who saw the insurgent as the enemy of their enemy.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2013   #147
TheCurmudgeon
Council Member
 
TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Posts: 1,015
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
I'm not talking about legitimacy in the abstract, or about our perception of legitimacy, but of domestic perceptions of legitimacy.

In countries where colonial occupiers or hated dictators have to be expelled by force, those who did the expelling typically earned a significant perception of legitimacy simply by expelling the colonial power or hated dictator. In many cases those governments did perfectly awful things: taking power through armed struggle often means that the most ruthless and aggressive people in the movement end up running it. The awfulness of what those governments did when they gained power does not change the reality that success against an occupying colonial power or hated dictator does typically - at least initially - earn a movement a significant degree of perceived legitimacy.
I don't think successfully throwing out a colonial regime earns you legitimacy. In the initial phase of the fight it will earn you an allegiance in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" sort of way, but that is a far cry from legitimacy, as the events after the fall of the colonial regime often prove. Once the common enemy is gone then the true beliefs and their associated loyalties and legitimacy show themselves. By then, it is often too late.

What it can earn you is respect: the kind of respect born out of fear. That can be turned into power, but it is still not legitimacy. We had the power after the fall of Saddam but we were not going to use it as some others (i.e. Ho) would to consolidate their governments. As you say, no government (even, or perhaps especially, the U.S.) garners legitimacy from 100% of its population. Of course, it is easier to up your legitimacy numbers if you simply kill off those people who don't see you as legitimate - a method you are unlikely to see in the new, updated 5-34.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
Similarly, those who supported the colonial power typically earn a degree of illegitimacy, even if they are in many ways more able to run the country.
This just goes to prove that efficiency does not create legitimacy, despite what some of our current COIN ideas tend to espouse.
__________________
"I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
---

Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 02-11-2013 at 11:53 AM.
TheCurmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013   #148
bourbon
Council Member
 
bourbon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 898
Default Syria: How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons)

How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons), by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 4 · 21 February 2013.
Quote:
So how do you form a battalion in Syria? First, you need men, most likely young men from the countryside, where the surplus of the underemployed over the centuries has provided for any number of different armies and insurgencies. Weapons will come from smugglers, preferably via Iraq or Turkey. You will also need someone who knows how to operate a laptop and/or a camcorder and can post videos on the internet – essential in applying for funds from the diaspora or Gulf financiers. A little bit of ideology won’t hurt, probably with a hint of Islamism of some variety. You’ll also need money, but three or four thousand dollars should be enough to start you off.
Very interesting article. Key take away:
Quote:
For decades, the dictatorship in Syria worked to stamp the people into submission.... So when these systems of control collapsed, something exploded inside people, a sense of individualism long suppressed. Why would I succumb to your authority as a commander when I can be my own commander and fight my own insurgency? Many of the battalions dotted across the Syrian countryside consist only of a man with a connection to a financier, along with a few of his cousins and clansmen. They become itinerant fighting groups, moving from one battle to another, desperate for more funds and a fight and all the spoils that follow.
__________________
“[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson
bourbon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013   #149
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,129
Default

This doesn't seem to add up:

Quote:
Weapons will come from smugglers, preferably via Iraq or Turkey...

...three or four thousand dollars should be enough to start you off.
Unless weapons are very very cheap, the smugglers are very very generous, or the "batallion" is very very small.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013   #150
bourbon
Council Member
 
bourbon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 898
Default Thats the point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
This doesn't seem to add up:

Unless weapons are very very cheap, the smugglers are very very generous, or the "batallion" is very very small.
Had you even read the article - or even the second highlight - you would understand that is the entire crux of the article.
__________________
“[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson
bourbon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013   #151
Bill Moore
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,561
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons), by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 4 · 21 February 2013.

Very interesting article. Key take away:
I think the key aways were:

Quote:
Until recently, Colonel Riad al-Asad, the nominal head of the FSA, and his fellow defectors from the Syrian army were interned in the Officers’ Camp, a special refugee camp in southern Turkey – for their protection, the Turks say. All meetings and interviews with the defecting colonel had to go through Turkish intelligence. Towards the end of last year the FSA announced that it had moved its headquarters to the Syrian side of the border, in an attempt to prove its relevance. But battalions are still formed by commanders working and fighting on their own initiative across Syria, arming themselves via many different channels and facing challenges unique to their towns and villages. For these people the colonel was just a talking head and a stooge of the Turks, and the FSA not much more than a label.
A couple of Americans getting ready to get played

Quote:
Ali Dibo turned to another supplicant. ‘All I want from you is a short video that you can put on YouTube, stating your name and your unit and that you are part of the Aleppo military council. Then you can go do whatever you want. I just need to show the Americans that units are joining the council. I met two Americans yesterday, and they told me we won’t get any advanced weapons until we show we’re united under the leadership of the officers in the military councils. Just shoot the video and let me handle the rest.’
As for the cost of arms, market dynamics are clearly in play.


As Syrian Uprising Escalates, Business Booms for Lebanon's Arms Dealers
May 2011


Quote:
"There is an arms selling frenzy," says Abu Rida, "and it's all going to Syria. All of it." He added that weapons also are flowing into Syria from Iraq. The most sought after weapons are assault rifles — the ubiquitous AK-47, and variants of the M-16. A good quality Russian Kalashnikov, known in the Lebanese trade as a "Circle 11" from the imprint stamped on its metalwork, today fetches $1,600 — a $400 increase from a month ago. In 2006, the same weapon only cost around $500 or $600. The M4 assault rifle fitted with grenade launcher, a weapon commonly carried by U.S. troops, costs $15,000. Another popular weapon is a short-barreled AK-47 known locally as the "Bin Laden" because the former al-Qaeda chief routinely used one as a prop in his videos. The "Bin Laden" costs $3,750, up almost 20 percent from last month.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middl...nades-and-RPGs

As Syria unravels, prices soar for guns, grenades, and RPGs Jan 2012

RPG prices double; grenade prices quadruple
Quote:
The price of a good quality Russian AK-47 assault rifle has almost doubled in the past 10 months from around $1,100 to $2,100. A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher cost $900 last March and a single grenade was priced at around $100. Today an RPG launcher is worth $2,000 and each grenade $500.

“The prices are crazy. And it’s all going to Syria,” Abu Rida says. “The market is so strong that ordinary people are selling their rifles to make a quick profit.”
And we're going to teach these people about entrepreuneurship?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomeg...1/syrias-war-0

The axis power JAN 2012

Quote:
Jamal al-Ward, a member of the coalition who liaises with the rebel fighters, reckons that fewer than 20% of their weapons are being supplied from outside Syria; most, he says, are bought on the black market or have been captured from military bases. The fighters’ morale has been dented and they are becoming still more fractious. Rebel units argue over their share of booty. A battle under way for six weeks to capture Minagh military airport outside Aleppo involves 13 different groups. None will want to go home empty-handed.
Quote:
In this atmosphere, Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group with its own evidently abundant sources of cash, has expanded its reach. In rural areas, people continue to support local fighting units, since they are made up of their sons, husbands and fathers. But in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub, and in Deir ez-Zor desperate residents are increasingly turning to Jabhat al-Nusra, because it is the most effective group at hand, though many reject its ideology. One rebel commander says that most battalions are preparing for a reckoning with Jabhat al-Nusra, were Mr Assad to fall.
The market always seems to find a way if there are customers able to pay. This touches upon our concern with the nexus of transnational organized crime, terrorism, insurgents, and state actors, and how that creates new challenges we're not prepared to deal with due to organizational shortfalls and outdated policies.
Bill Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2013   #152
SethB
Council Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: CenTex
Posts: 222
Default

I can see why they would want us to supply them with weapons.
SethB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2013   #153
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,607
Default

A few updates, some of uncertain veracity, others from reliable sources.

Via Twitter a purported film of Chechen fighters in Syria, that is on You Tube. IIRC reports of Chechen fighters outside the Caucasus have appeared before, who have reputation for fighting almost of mythological status. Links:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsYXy_0t0Qc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-IIC...e_gdata_player

There are small Chechen communities in Jordan and Syria - so probably not from the Caucasus.

Syria's regime have used Scud SSM before, it now appears a number have been fired at rebel-held districts of Aleppo:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21563669

Finally there is a Bruce Reidel commentary:http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...offensive.html
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2013   #154
TheCurmudgeon
Council Member
 
TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Posts: 1,015
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I don't think successfully throwing out a colonial regime earns you legitimacy. In the initial phase of the fight it will earn you an allegiance in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" sort of way, but that is a far cry from legitimacy, as the events after the fall of the colonial regime often prove. Once the common enemy is gone then the true beliefs and their associated loyalties and legitimacy show themselves. By then, it is often too late.
An example from Syria

Quote:
A recent confrontation between liberal protesters and Islamists in the northwestern Syrian city of Saraqeb, which was caught on video, set off a heated online debate. These weekly demonstrations have become a battle of symbols. Most demonstrators carry the green, red, black and white flag that was adopted by the secular opposition in the early days of the revolt.
But these days, a black banner also flutters at Friday demonstrations. It represents Salafists who embrace an ultraconservative brand of Islam that is new in Syria.The chants and counterchants are telling: The secular liberals shout for unity, freedom and a civil state. Democracy is what they say they want.The Islamists turn up the volume with calls for religious rule. An Islamic state is what they demand.
http://www.npr.org/2013/02/27/172989...re?ft=1&f=1001

The Islamists and the Secularist are fighting a common enemy, but they have two completely different concepts of what a legitimate government should consist of.

The basics of this cultural transition can be seen in almost all of the Arab Spring states as well as places like Thailand where royalists fight democracy advocates.(http://www.economist.com/node/15719095)

The history of each country adds unique flavors to these fights, but they are founded in human nature. They represent a transition from a belief in collective identity to individualistic identity. The use of force is only one tool, and one of limited "utility".
__________________
"I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
---

Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 02-27-2013 at 01:07 PM.
TheCurmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2013   #155
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,607
Default Syria: a land of opportunity and pessimism

From Jihadica:
Quote:
Read in full, Shumukh’s “comprehensive strategy” for Syria presents an unmistakably grim prognostication for jihadism’s future in Syria—indeed a grim prognostication for Syria’s future in general. It is an attempt to think realistically about the challenges to true jihadi success in Syria in the coming months and years.
Link to a summary and a translation:http://www.jihadica.com/al-qaeda-adv...%9D-for-syria/

Interesting contrast with the AQIM document found in Timbucktu; see SWC thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...038#post145038

Also taking a pessimistic view on events in Syria is Professor Bruce Hoffman, in a short interview, which covers more than Syria:
Quote:
Al Qaeda sees Syria generally and its unconventional weapons stockpiles in particular as offering the best chance for it to revive its waning fortunes and once again become as threatening and consequential as it appeared in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks. Indeed, I would argue that al Qaeda has pinned its faith and hopes to the demise of the Assad regime and, in turn, its acquisition of deadly weapons from that country’s vast unconventional weapons arsenal.
Link:http://www.middleeast-armscontrol.co...rorism-threat/
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2013   #156
SWJ Blog
Council Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 7,593
Default A Divided Society: The Impact of the Syrian Crisis on Lebanon

A Divided Society: The Impact of the Syrian Crisis on Lebanon

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.
SWJ Blog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2013   #157
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,607
Default Syria: strange combinations at work

Hat tip to Enduring America, about Turkish working with an AQ affiliate and then using SOF detaining suspects in Syria (not yet noted by the BBC). Last week I noted Croatian weapons being flown to Jordan and onto the Syrian opposition; yes, "money talks" and Croatia today is different from during the Bosnian War.

This morning (0745hrs GMT):
Quote:
Detentions in Border Bomb Attack. Turkish officials say they have detained five suspects --- four Syrians and one Turkish --- over last month's bomb at a border crossing that killed 14 people. Two of the detainees allegedly staged the attack, at the crossing to Turkey's Hatay Province, while the other three are accusing of aiding and abetting. Officials claims the suspects have revealed that they got paid $35,000 by people connected to Syria’s intelligence agency.
At 1600hrs GMT:
Quote:
Turkish Special Forces Worked with Al Nusra. Hurriyet...to track down the perpetrators of a January car bombing at a border crossing. The second shocker is that the Turkish Special Forces actually entered Syria, using information acquired by the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al Nusra, in order to capture the suspects
Link:http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/...tyrs.html#1600

What next?
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2013   #158
bourbon
Council Member
 
bourbon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 898
Default

The Guns of Zagreb. The XX Committee, March 10, 2013.
Quote:
More answers appeared late this week, again in Jutarnji list, which fleshed out its earlier reporting with a lot more detail. It asserted that between November and February, seventy-five flights out of Pleso secretly brought an astonishing 3,000 tons of weaponry to the Syrian resistance. Much of the weaponry came from Croatian stocks, but some was taken from other European countries too, though which ones is not yet clear. Of greatest significance, the report claimed that the entire operation – which involved Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan, plus some help from the United Kingdom – was orchestrated by the Americans. Zagreb got involved when friends in Washington, DC asked them to. End of story.
__________________
“[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson
bourbon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2013   #159
TheCurmudgeon
Council Member
 
TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Posts: 1,015
Default Another interested party interceding?

Quote:
Three Russian warships anchored in Beirut en route to the port of Tartus in Syria, Sky News reported Friday.

According to the report, the ships carry hundreds of Russian soldiers as well as advanced missile systems.The reports have given no information so far regarding the ships’ intent.

Moscow has operated the naval facility at Tartus since signing an agreement with Damascus in 1971. Although it is merely a ship repair and refueling station with a limited military presence, it is the sole remaining Russian military base outside of the former Soviet Union.

In January, a flotilla of five Russian warships laden with hundreds of troops, headed toward Syria, as a show of force meant to deter Western armies from intervening in the war-torn nation, the London-based Sunday Times reported.

Previous reports cited Russian diplomats to the effect that the vessels were being put in place in order to evacuate thousands of Russians who still remained in Syria, if the situation in the country called for it.

However, a Russian intelligence source was quoted in the London Times as saying that the presence of over 300 marines on the ships was meant as a deterrent to keep countries hostile to the Bashar Assad regime — a key ally of the Kremlin — from landing special forces in the country.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/three-r...ed-for-syrian-
__________________
"I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
---
TheCurmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2013   #160
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,607
Default The Russians are coming!

The Russian 'gunboat diplomacy' is slightly odd. I cannot recall if the January 2013 flotilla actually docked in Syria, one assumes they left after enjoying the delights ashore.

This flotilla I suspect called at Beirut to take on fuel oil, supplies and water. If true that is not a good indicator of the supply situation @ Tartus / Latakia.

Having three hundred naval infantry aboard is 'meant as a deterrent'. Really? With no means of deploying ashore, apart from their own helicopters and trucks ashore. More like a large security detachment to secure the port if an evacuation of Russian nationals is required - long rumoured - but not reported to date.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
air power, al qaeda, chemical weapons, civil war, croatia, finance, fsa, hizbollah, intervention, iran, iraq, isis, israel, jihad, jordan, lebanon, north korea, nuclear weapons, peacekeeping, russia, supply, syria, terrorism, turkey, wmd

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ukraine (closed; covers till August 2014) Beelzebubalicious Europe 1934 08-04-2014 07:59 PM
Syria: a civil war (closed) tequila Middle East 663 08-05-2012 06:35 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:09 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8. ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation