IMO, there are not enough troops…


"The Syrian Arab Army’s 525th Regiment of the 18th Tank Division was under heavy attack near the T-4 Airport; this prompted a direct military intervention from their Russian advisers. In just two days, the Russian Marines helped the Syrian Armed Forces recapture the initiative in east Homs, while also recovering several points near the Al-Sha’ar Gas Fields and T-4 Military Airport. Now, with the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” pushing south towards the Al-Sha’ar Gas Fields, the Russian Marines can go back to their original role, which includes advising the Syrian Armed Forces."  AMN | Al-Masdar News


I have understood that Russian marines were in Syria to secure their air base complex and naval facilities at Latakia and Tartus as well as to do some line troop re-training.  Now we see them committed to actual front line combat.

IMO this backs up my contention that the R+6 alliance in Syria lacks enough quality ground combat units to accomplish their many obvious objectives in population and geographical control of Syria's territory and resources.   

It is easy to list the SAG's primary and current operational and strategic needs:

  • The portion of Aleppo City still under insurgent control must be re-occupied.  The political effect of this success would greatly improve the over-all position of the SAG especially at Geneva.  The world has awaited a serious effort to make this happen.  Perhaps it will occur, but not yet.
  • Idlib Province needs to be re-occupied.  If that occurred communications and trade would be freed between Aleppo City and both Latakia Province and Damascus to the south.  A lack of progress in doing this and the reverses and lack of progress suffered by R+6 at places like Tel Issa and Khan Touman are indicative of an insufficiency of strength on the ground.
  • The continued existence of the large insurgent pocket around Rastan between Homs and Hama astride the main north-south highway is a major embarrassment for the integrity of the Syrian state.  It does not seem that much is being done about this.
  • LOCs all over the eastern parts of Syria on the roads to Aleppo and Palmyra are continuously threatened by insurgent forces operating in what are really open, treeless, barren deserts.  This indicates a continuing SAG inability to field enough forces to conduct patrol and local quick reaction forces to push the insurgents back from the roads.  Please don't tell me that TE Lawrence did the same thing along the line of the Hijaz Railroad.  Yes, he did and he was able to do that because the Turks were not strong enough in troops in the Hijaz to outpost and patrol the railroad line adequately.
  • In East Ghouta just beyond the eastern boundaries of Damascus, the SAA and other R+6 forces seem unable to muster sufficient force to clear what amounts to a surrounded and nearly isolated inferior force.
  • The need to advance from Palmyra to Deir Az-Zour  and then to Raqqa is clear but there is not a lot of progress in doing that.
  • From Damascus south to the Jordanian border the real action seems to be the struggle for control between IS on the one hand and non IS insurgent forces on the other with the SAA largely in a spectator status.

All of that indicates to me that there just are not enough ground troops in R+6 to sustain the stated goal of the SAG to re-conquer the country.  Why is that?  Syria is a substantial country and many, many of its citizens loath and fear the prospect of living and dying under jihadi rule.  Nevertheless, millions have fled to:  Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Europe and Canada.  Among these migrants are hundreds of thousands of men of military age (of all confessions) who have chosen to abandon their country to its fate. 

The bi-polar policy of the US with regard to Syria contributes to this flight in that it both encourages resistance to the Syrian Government and also encourages the belief that the collapse of IS is inevitable and therefore personal self sacrifice would be foolish. 

Russia, Hizbullah and Iran must be considering the inevitability of a negotiated peace that will destroy the Syrian state if the present correlation of forces continues.  That inevitability is certainly the main objective of the neocons and R2P.  pl

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Current Affairs, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Middle East, Policy, Russia, Syria, The Military Art. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to IMO, there are not enough troops…

  1. b says:

    One main reason why soldiers are missing is lack of money. The Syrian central bank is already printing money and inflation is much too high. The soldiers can simply not feed their families from what they make. The “rebels” pay better.
    Another reason for the current lack of soldiers is the Russian ceasefire gamble. Iran and Hizbullah put new deployments on halt until the Russian make up their mind and stop believing the bullshit Kerry is feeding them. The ceasefire nonsense put several planned attacks on halt.
    As for some regions not being attacked. There is internal fighting between rebel groups and al-Qaeda in east Ghouta with SOHR claiming that over 300 were killed. The Rastan area is relative quiet.
    On the other hand IS and the U.S. organized al-Qaeda&Co groups continue surprise attacks all over the country often overwhelming local forces by concentrating masses and by using multiple suicide attacks in attacks.
    Unless the Russians make up their mind and have their air force back in force the slaughter will continue. Iran could do mor right now and send a division of regulars but that would be difficult to sustain and the reaction from Turkey and others to that would probably make things worse.
    One positive incident was the recent PKK MANPAD against a Turkish helicopter. The PKK threat in its back will hopefully keep the Turks out of Syria at least fro the time being.

  2. Barish says:

    “That inevitability is certainly the main objective of the neocons and R2P.”
    And basically translates into not much more than a zero-sum game as far as overall objective is concerned: “We can’t have it – noone will!”
    After all, one has to take note that the non-ISIL insurgents, even banking on Nusra and other jihadis to do the heavy lifting as they do, can’t get ahead too much either. They keep losing men clawing themselves into what they still retain in north-east Latakia province and the two places they captured southwest of Aleppo-city, Tal Issa and Khan Tuman, latter of which I wouldn’t be surprised to see back under SAA-control soon given the pounding the bunch is given there by Syria’s and Russia’s AFs. Elsewhere, they aren’t capable of mounting wider ops and are even busy tearing each other apart, Daraa-countryside aside see East Ghouta. So why not let them indulge in that?
    With the infighting going on in East Ghouta, SAA and Hizbollah did capitalize on that, as it happens. The pocket around Dair al-Asafir keeps shrinking further and further to Nusra and Co.’s detriment.

  3. turcopolier says:

    b & Barish
    I buy all of that from you both but there “is a tide in the affairs of men.” Time counts. pl

  4. Swerv21 says:

    There are reports of the Syrian lira going for almost 700 to the dollar. This is up from 500 even just a few weeks ago. This is a major problem for the SAG. If this persists there will be institutional collapse across the entire government apparatus. Even in places like Deir el Zour, government workers are still collecting salaries. Those salaries are no longer sufficient to pay for basics.
    Assad will need a bailout to survive. The economy is a bigger threat to his control than The jihadis right now.

  5. Serge says:

    IMO the Russian goals for intervention from the start were very limited. Manpower is only one dimension of Assad’s very real problems, looking at the Iraqi government for example, which certainly does not lack in manpower yet experiences the same battlefield difficulties as Assad in both the micro/macro scale. There is no particular reason for the upper middle class alawite in Tartus or the conscript farmer from damas to want to die in the deserts of shaer. While I believe you are 100% correct about the fear of living in a jihadi state for the average Sunni civilian, the vast majority of the (non-alawite) Sunnis with this fear will prefer to pack up to Turkey or the surrounding countries than to be conscripted to fight for what is now barely a feudal state(an apt example of this assertion being that pocket around rastan that you’ve mentioned, the reason for the total lack of action is the feudally run status of virtually all government areas surrounding the pocket,the warlords governing the population centers there only giving nominal allegiance to Assad or the Syrian state)This war will end in partition, the Russians IMO looked at this with a cold eye and recognized this from the start and were never willing to do more than was absolutely necessary to prevent a jihadi thrust into Latakia and a general collapse of government morale in non-alawite areas. This diplomatic reality can only be averted in the event of a general jihadi collapse, which none of the current major players(US,Russia,Iran,GCC) seem willing or able to accomplish,the preponderance being on the latter, each having his reasons to deal with the problem in conflicting and uncooperative ways which in the end are counterproductive and strengthen the enemy.

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iranian leaders conceded to Russia on this ceasefire deal. They expected nothing positive to come out of it.
    Nothing has changed in their estimation that the war will go on for another 5 years; 2021.

  7. Things look pretty dire in Deir Az-Zor today. If the R+6 plans on doing something, they better get to steppin.

  8. VietnamVet says:

    This is true. After four years of war, all that remains in Syria are the left behinds and those having a cause worth dying for. The Russians are allied with the minorities, Shiites, Christians and Alawites. A minority enclave has been carved out and maybe even a rump Kurdistan has been established but to take Raqqa, let alone Mosul requires a large national army willing to have thousands of soldiers die in the concrete rubble killing fanatics. If it is not NATO or the Russian Federation; only a few armies are left; Iran, Turkey or Egypt. As long as the American policy is to remove Assad and the USA refuses to form a world alliance with Russia and China to eliminate the Islamic State and quarantine Wahhabism, the Middle East proxy war will continue. The Sunni fanatics have no desire for peace.
    An endless Middle East war between Muslim sects is the basic intent of Israel and its supporters. If Russia is stuck in it, all the better for Russophobes.

  9. turcopolier says:

    What you continue to omit in your Syria narrative is that most Syrian Sunnis support the government and are the majority in R+6 and the SAA. pl

  10. robt willmann says:

    That is unfortunate news. Even though I am ignorant of any detail about what has been happening on the ground, I have expressed the opinion that right after R+6 got Palmyra, it was time to angle up to Deir ez Zor. That is always easier said than done, but when eyeballing a map, that appeared to be potentially a very effective move, and was a fast path to the Iraq border. Getting to the Iraq border by that route would also cut down the size of the playing field quite a bit.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No, it is a war between Seljuk Muslims and non-Seljuk Muslims – for the most part.
    The irony is that the major Seljuk inheritor state – Turkey – is on the same side as the non-Seljuks and the Jihadists.
    The Turks are quiescent since they like what AKP has achieved internally.

  12. VietnamVet says:

    Yes. True. But, the Sunni tribes and secular Sunnis backing Syrian government did not have sufficient force of arms and elan to prevent the continued Islamists uprising supported by outsiders. The Syrian Arab Army with Christian and Shiite Muslim allies plus the Kurds are primarily fighting the Sunni fanatics. There are not enough government troops to retake Raqqa unless the USA reverses its policy of forcing a Syrian regime change.

  13. Peter in Toronto says:

    I have my own theory that the 2015 refugee “crisis” was an engineered event devised by Turkey with the approval of several other actors (and possibly Germany herself) formulated to deprive Assad of the cosmopolitan, military-aged males who his army relies on for manpower. These city-dwelling young men faced either conscription into a bloody conflict of survival against formidable odds (militants backed by foreign actors) or a $3000 dollar journey into Western Europe can’t be blamed. The choice for most is intuitive.
    I believe Turkey conspired to shut down many of the make-shift camps using their security forces in 2015 and begin to move this mass of humanity north and west towards the Eu.

  14. bth says:

    Syria is out of foreign cash reserves. Its currency is in dead stick freefall. There also is about a tenfold decrease in tax revenue and little to export. The need for hard cash is region-wide. Cash needs may explain the importance of natural gas fields which feed the Syrian electrical grid.
    If a Syrian militiaman can’t get enough pay to feed a family and can’t take supplemental loot because territorial gains have bogged down then its hard to keep manpower in the field.
    Will the Iranians cough up cash for Assad? Will Putin? A couple of billion now might make all the difference.
    Kerry has made it clear that Assad must go. That isn’t the same as saying the regime itself must end. One source of cash may be some sort of international humanitarian and reconstruction fund. But this would probably be after Assad’s retirement to Russia and replacement as head of the regime.
    Is there such a thing as an economic culmination point?

  15. MRW says:

    “Those salaries are no longer sufficient to pay for basics.”
    Why? Are the basics priced in currency other than the Syrian lira?

  16. MRW says:

    OT, Chas Freeman’s speech on May 12, 2016 at a book talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Great talk.
    America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East

  17. Chris Chuba says:

    Yes, from reading almasdarnews, it looks like R+6 lost all their momentum after Palmyra/Qaryatayn was liberated.
    Here is an interesting article from Southfront who claims that Russian ground troops played a large role in that campaign and that without Russian ground troops that R+6 cannot sustain an offensive. I don’t believe this narrative but I post it because in general, it looks like Southfront does some worthwhile military analysis so it might be worth a look.
    The SAA can either beat ISIS or the non-IS rebels but they can’t do both at the same time. With both groups attacking at the same time it just looks like they are spread too thin. I think that the main problem is that the Turkey spigot of foreign fighters is wide open sending in new troops to the non-IS rebels. They don’t have to be that good, they just have to be good enough to engage the SAA along with all of the other forces to keep them occupied to prevent them from achieving a decisive victory. I don’t know if the SAA has any kind of stream of new recruits, if being able to raise new recruits was part of the Russian refurbishing plan.
    Putin tried to reach out to the U.S. to control Turkey/Saudi Arabia to quiesce the non-IS rebels but it didn’t work. They are getting new weapons and fighters. R+6 should take Aleppo so that Assad’s people do not get demoralized. After all, it’s about people, right? I mean, is it fair to subject them to mortar attacks just to pacify the U.S. with our new ‘red line’ for a peace process that is going nowhere.
    This is all my opinion based on my readings from southfront, here, and almasdarnews, of course. I don’t clock much time with the London Observatory anymore but get their view from our press.

  18. different clue says:

    I clearly had self-inflated views of what Russia wanted to achieve within the R + 6. I thought Russia along with the others wanted to exterminate all traces of jihad within the borders of Syria. I thought Russia was committing whatever it took to help the ” + 6 ” achieve that goal.
    If Russia is satisfied to attain the preservation of a coastal Alawistan and nothing more, does Russia think it will have no future problems from a great big Jihadistan allowed to live long and prosper in much of Syria as well as much of Iraq? A great big Jihadistan where the
    Global Axis of Jihad can play and relax and train its people and bases for the planning and launching of future 9/11s all over the world? Including Russia?

  19. The dire situation in Deir Ez-Zor does not involve massive numbers of attacking Is fighter or SAA defenders. The hospital was attacked by a unit of up to 50. The SAA did retake it and appear to have stabilized the entire pocket. They said about 100 IS fighters died over the last 48 hours. Those are not massive casualties. If Russia put an airborne brigade in there for up to a month, the situation would be much improved.

  20. BraveNewWorld says:

    Based on what I have been reading recently I have been thinking most of the things that people around here are saying. But there is a small voice screaming in the back of my head that every thing isn’t as it seems.
    The R+6 was solidly on the march right up until the capture of Palmyra and then all of a sudden the wheels fell off. The turn around seems just to fast. The introduction of more manpads and TOWs for the terrorists have changed the equation but not that significantly. So what has happened?
    The R+6 have been getting gamed by the US on the cease fire front, especially in Aleppo. But I think Russia’s patience is wearing thin on that. Some one had mentioned a while ago that we were coming up on either sand storm season or the part of the summer where it was going to be so hot that day time ops would slow to a crawl. Can any one speak to the weather this time of year and if it would be a factor?
    Could it be that they are just resting up the hard worked troops before the next big push? The Tigers and Desert Hawks I have to believe are some damn tough people but they have been dropped into every hot spot in the country. I have to think they are kind of burned out and could use some down time.
    It’s just my gut but some thing is telling me every thing isn’t as it seems.
    I don’t know if any one here is interested but this is what the Canadians have been up to next door. Under the former government Canada basically out sourced foreign policy to the US and the new government is still trying to formulate what the new policy is so this likely reflects what the US forces are getting up to as well.

  21. johnf says:

    How are the Western states and Turkey and KSA going to cover up this?
    Al Qaeda Turns to Syria, With a Plan to Challenge ISIS
    “WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda’s top leadership in Pakistan, badly weakened after a decade of C.I.A. drone strikes, has decided that the terror group’s future lies in Syria and has secretly dispatched more than a dozen of its most seasoned veterans there, according to senior American and European intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
    The movement of the senior Qaeda jihadists reflects Syria’s growing importance to the terrorist organization and most likely foreshadows an escalation of the group’s bloody rivalry with the Islamic State, Western officials say.
    The operatives have been told to start the process of creating an alternate headquarters in Syria and lay the groundwork for possibly establishing an emirate through Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, to compete with the Islamic State, from which Nusra broke in 2013.”

  22. Tel says:

    War is like a fire: either someone puts it out, or it burns itself out by consuming all available resources.
    Syria has been stretched, and Russia too… but don’t kid yourself Daesh are not in a good position either. Their oil revenue is blocked, it’s more difficult for Turkey to send them supplies with everyone watching, and there’s only so much you can tax the local population. Saudi Arabian income ain’t what it used to be, same with all those other oil states. On the other hand Iranian income is looking better since that “deal” they put together.
    When Daesh are putting their own men into industrial freezers as a warning to defectors, suddenly it’s not such a great gig anymore.
    Turkey are just looking for an excuse to get drawn into this. Their influence could be significant, but not sure if they will get away with such blatant aggression. Let your enemies grind each other down, then jump in at the last minute… it’s a strategy that has worked in the past.

  23. Barish says:

    It does sound reminiscent of the bind that northern Iraq’s regional government is – has been? – in as far as affording pay not just for their regional govt staff, but their military as well is concerned…Far as I recall, US jumped into the gap with a few hundred million there, so we can expect to see the same in Syria on part of the Iranians, irregardless of whether Kerry and other US officials would love to play the sanctions card against the Syrian Arab Republic to their desired end.

  24. bth says:

    I wonder what has changed that has caused this move by Al Qaeda. Is it something in Pakistan or something in Syria.

  25. SmoothieX12 says:

    Russia’s first and foremost objective was to secure Assad’s survival. This has been achieved. The issue of Syrian Army (and its complex internal dynamics) is a completely different issue–Russia WILL NOT fight Syrian fight for them. Russia provides and will provide in the future a framework–Air Defense, Air Support, in general C4ISR, some involvement of SSO, the rest is a Syrian business. In the end, Russia can provide the Damocles Sword in form of a threat of dropping Ivanovo and Pskov divisions in Syria–this will sure as hell change the dynamics on the ground in very short order but why, again, should Russia fight somebody’s fight? These are purely common sense considerations. And then there is a larger, much much larger geopolitical framework in which Russia has to deal with not always adequate US “elites”. This is completely different game altogether.

  26. turcopolier says:

    IMO the jihadis still believe that the Westerners will succeed in bringing down Assad and that this will cause a collapse of the Syrian state itself upon the ashes of which at least one jihadi “state” can be built. pl

  27. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    “The Turks are quiescent since they like what AKP has achieved internally.”
    You might say “Some Turks” or another more appropriate qualifier. Not all smell of roses in tayyipistan, and not all Turks like the smell of this “islamic rose”. With Iglas being introduced in the sectarian war, the smell might even get more interesting. For me the real irony is watching/listening to/reading past tayyip supporters. One should be careful for what one wishes for.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  28. Barish says:

    Isn’t it rather the case that the Syrian war for years has made AQ relevant in a way they haven’t been for quite a long while, even before Bin Laden was offed?
    I find it more than a little dishonest to suggest that AQ only now turned their attention here. They’ve been in the game in Syria for years, as one of the major forces of the “revolution”, as even al-Jazeera recorded back in 2013 in this documentary here (shows the status quo of late 2013, was aired in late 2014 however):
    Most of the stops in the documentary are at Nusra points, which the docu tries to paint in as positive a light as possible, e.g. “we aren’t from outer space, we are people” – and play soccer during R&R.
    Regarding the “formerly secular” Tawhid-brigade that is also show-cased, AJE doesn’t bother to translate that name: the “Oneness-brigade”, tawhid being a common concept among the jihadis – on the other hand, the type of songs those fellows sing kinda give away that not all’s right there, war songs or no: “let our skulls be a staircase to Your (God’s, that is) glory”…
    Also telling: late in the documentary, at minute 39:30, they interview a couple Turks. One of them’s saying that from where he comes from in Turkey, about a thousand brothers joined jihad in Syria, and that they (probably meaning him and his masked comrade at his side) would like more to come and join.

  29. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Re: Peter in Toronto ‘engineered event’:
    “I have my own theory that the 2015 refugee “crisis” was an engineered event devised by Turkey with the approval of several other actors (and possibly Germany herself) formulated to deprive Assad of the cosmopolitan, military-aged males who his army relies on for manpower. ”
    The numbers are there (that is if the flood crossing @ Opatovac i saw in September is any indication of the numbers involved — okay, a chunk were from Iraq/Afghanistan, nevertheless.
    That Turkey/Erdogan/Germany/WDC+ (that’s some clusterf…) ‘engineered/carried-out’ the refugee crisis as a tactic seems a bit much. Or is it?

  30. Chris Chuba says:

    Col, I cannot fault their reasoning. The Saudis and Turks are openly supporting Nusra and Army of Islam and the U.S. is supporting the FSA who is more often than not, fighting along side them.
    True, we also support the Kurds in the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) coalition who fight ISIS. They are a problem for the Al Qaeda types but Turkey would always look to help them with that problem.
    If our insane plan actually worked, I wonder what our policy makers think would happen next? Do they think that the FSA would turn on Nusra and Army of Islam and then win, even though they are currently the junior partner.
    So yeah, if I was Al Qaeda, Syria is still the best game in town even with a revitalized Syrian army. If ISIS gets defeated then some of their members would likely bolster Nusra and Army of Islam membership. Also, its the one place where you can get both material and even diplomatic cover in a country that you can potentially take over.
    I believe that our foreign policy establishment, the Borg / blob, is collectively mad to be obsessed with Assad and speak as if everyone in north/west Syria is a moderate rebel. The danger of an Al Qaeda takeover of Syria should be obvious but to them the solution is just to send in more weapons to anti-Assad rebels. I know that I am not saying anything unique or new but I am still amazed that the Borg and their minions still don’t see this after 4yrs.

  31. Chris Chuba says:

    My posts have been overly pessimistic. The Syrian govt isn’t going away.
    In 2015 when faced with simultaneous attacks by ISIS and Nusra they lost most of Homs to ISIS and Idlb to Nusra/FSA. Today faced with recent counter-attacks the SAA has had to do a lot of fire fighting and traded ground but it’s not like they are collapsing. It’s just frustrating to see all that good momentum lost; but they are not on the ropes. The SAA is a much better force today than they were in early 2015.
    In Deir Ezzor, if almasdarnews is to be believed, ISIS has been launching a series of probing attacks for several weeks, or more, and losing between 50-80 fighters a week. This is plausible given that it was reported that ISIS lost up to 2,000 fighters over 6 mo’s at Kobani against the Kurds. So they are willing to lose fighters doing sieges. Maybe they still think they will wear down and find some weak spot against the SAA at Deir Ezzor.
    Regarding my comment on an Al Qaeda takeover of Syria, I don’t think it will happen but it is a logical consequence if the Borg actually got their way which is what kills me. They also seek revenge against those who are saving us from our own stupidity. No good deed goes unpunished.

  32. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I knew if I scrolled down far enough someone would have made this point already…As far as Russia goes, the Russian government under Putin seems to play a parsimonious game. Americans are used to their government just pouring money on every problem by the trillions. Russia is forced to look for ways to leverage the limited funds and military power they can spare. They are also faced with Borgist subversion in the Caucasus and Central Asia, not to mention the trainwreck that is Ukraine and pressure on Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Can anyone who’s not just a flag waving meathead fail to understand Russian fears? The Brzezinski plan for Russia (breaking it into chunks that are more easy to dominate from Wall Street and DC) has been the thrust of US foreign policy anytime a democrat is in the White House.

  33. different clue says:

    Chris Chuba,
    Perhaps the Borgists do see this and secretly want it. A jihadified Syria would be a base for training jihadis from the Russian Federation and then sending them back there, among other things. It would also be a “plausible threat” to American society to be used to scare the population into accepting further tightening of the Lockdown State.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I did not mean any disrespect to Turks; only that the AKP crowd, in spite of their womenfolk in hejab, going to mosque as frequently as they can for their daily prayers, their half-beards, and avowed Muslim outlook on all things in life, are not rebuking their government for trampling on one of the major tenets of Islam – Comity and Amity among the Believers – in regards to war in Syria.
    One has to ask them: “Where is Justice?” in this.
    I suppose as long as their businesses are doing well and their womenfolk can go around in hejab without the government bothering them – unlike how it was under the Kemalists – they are happy as clams.

  35. Mark Pyruz says:

    Quite a contrast, the current results of Russian and Iranian-led intervention in Syria supporting Syrian, Iraqi and forces in Syria… to that of the US intervention in Afghanistan in support of Northern Alliance during OEF-A.
    The American intervention during that part of the Afghan conflict was much more effective, due to a variety of factors. One factor that shouldn’t be dismissed during this part of OEF-A was Iranian assistance.
    R+6 effecting current US-directed outcome in Afghanistan (which is deemed here in US as less than successful) would for the R+6 in Syria be deemed as victory.

  36. Bill Herschel says:

    Putin has to sell the intervention to the Russian people. That was the reason for his General saying that the first thing they did was find all the Chechens fighting on the side of the “opposition” and eliminate them.
    He definitely wants to keep the Mediterranean base (cf. Crimea). How he will do that I do not know. But it is possible that whatever the strategy is, it is limited to that.
    Conversely, the “Trump Phenomenon” is a sign of weakness within the forces opposing Russia. Trump wants war to pay, and these wars ain’t paying. He has the people on his side.

  37. bth says:

    Yes I think our mixed signals are causing the conflict to drag on to the detriment of all. I feel that the Kerry monologue of Assad must go is more a reflection of our ‘allies’ interests than those of the US. The US State Department is trying to stay ahead of the parade but we aren’t leading it. We let Erdogan and the Gulf States control the agenda.
    A few months ago I mentioned a few suggested changes in US policy. One simply put is that the US needs to support the least crazy group in the region not shooting at us. I know this sounds naïve, but it would work a hell of a lot better as a compass than our current strategy of sophisticated confusion.

  38. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I have no problem with disrespect for the Turks, when a properly identified group of them deserves disrespect. A bit of research would show you that “their businesses” are not doing well at all-and that Turkey will undergo some adjustment sooner or later. You might also note that we, the secular progressives you term “Kemalists” , had properly identified the “justice” and “religion” concepts of AKP islamists long ago and afforded them the treatment they deserve. I wonder why you could not identify these vermin for what the are.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  39. Serge says:

    Serious reports of a 4.4 magnitude earthquake being recorded in environs of Shaer/north palmyra coinciding with ISIS announcement that they have blown the fields, seemingly corroborated by the usual mouthpieces SOHR et al.
    If true, would this type of tactic have historical precedence outside the well known Kuwaiti? It would be a bit of irony if some of the Iraqi ISIS directing this scorched earth campaign were the same ones involved as soldiers in the aforementioned war? The decision to completely destroy Baiji refinery in April 2015 also comes to mind. Along with the major ISIS attack on the Baghdad gas plant this weekend, all of this signifies yet more shifts in tactics towards striking at economic targets

  40. Barish says:

    I was beginning to wonder whether ISIL would wreck the infrastructure there before being shown out by SAA and allies…
    Yet, I got to ask: if such can be done at all, how much in terms of explosives would one need to make the boom felt that far off?

  41. bth says:

    It also might mean ISIS doesn’t believe they will be able to hold that area around the gas field as was the case with the Baiji refinery.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I always come back to the same point: has there ever been a Muslim polity in which would or could tolerate a man such as Aziz Nasin?
    I think not – I think we are decades away from that level of maturity or dispassion in the world of Islam – inside or outside of the old Seljuk Boundary.

  43. bth says:

    One wonders if we shouldn’t be air dropping Marlboros and Jack Daniels into IS controlled Syria to stir up dissent.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It means that they received instructions from the Gulfies to wreck Syria (and Iraq) further to poison it for the Iranians.
    “If I cannot have Janet, no one else would either.”

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In the war of Talibanis vs. Barazanis, whom would US chose to support?
    And for how long?
    I do not think your suggestion is practical.

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Please take a look at this:
    This woman is basically saying the following:
    Destroy Syrian Arab Republic to harm Iran and help Israel – ISISL and Al Qaeda to be dealt with later – if ever.
    As long as such policy advocacy is not recognized for what it is – madness – we will not see any changes among NATO states – in my opinion.
    It is late in 1939 and the Imperial General Staff’s war plans still calls for a war against USSR.

  47. SmoothieX12 says:

    I think we should limit drops to significantly cheaper (but still good) Evan Williams or some Canadian Whiskey which could be very cheap in bulk. The effect will be the same. Each bottle should be wrapped in whatever is hip in today’s porn magazines world. Jack must stay home–I would hate to see a shortage of this noble drink;-)

  48. Swerv21 says:

    The dollar is widely used by many as a hedge. You have runaway inflation in the market, and government salaries don’t keep up. The government sector in Syria is a fairly significant part of the economy.

  49. turcopolier says:

    It should be noted that the SAA has returned the Syrian Marine Regiment and other high quality units to the Palmyra area for them to provide weight to a renewed effort toward Deir Al-Zor. this is further confirmation of my thesis that R+6 just doesn’t have enough troops to “cover its bets” all over the country. pl

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