"Hezbollah and the Syrian Army's five-month campaign to clear rebels from the strategic Qalamoun region is approaching its final stand. The allies have seized one village and town after the other, gradually moving southward through the corridor between Damascus and Homs which links the Syrian capital to the Mediterranean coast." CSM
As SST foresaw the Syrian Army/Hizbullah alliance forces are proceeding to grind their way across rebel controlled parts of Syria husbanding their supplies of manpower and materiel while systematically inflicting casualties on their opponents.
IMO, once this method clears the Qalamoun area along the Lebanese border the action will move to the Alawite homeland north of Lebanon. The rebels have been moving into this region for the last several weeks. The need to protect the Alawite population will require a major concentration of government forces. pl
Why would the rebels be moving into the Alawite region when they know they aren’t popular there and the government will eventually chase them down? Are they blocked off from other areas?
It seems a bone headed move to me for the reasons you mention, but they have been doing it. the motive may be simple hatred for the “heretical” Alawis. pl
i.e. they can be expected to act on their hatred by lashing out against Alawi civilians?
The Turks call the shots. The Alawite region is close to Turkey thus the logistics are simpler. And it helps keep the Turkish Alevites down.
Just wondering…why the ‘heretical’ in quotes?
The idea of heresy in Islam, a religion, that has no hierarchy and that determines its belief system and law through consensus amuses me. at the same time I do not consider Alawis to be Muslims at all. Islam is a monotheistic religion. The Alawi faith is not monotheistic. People who do not really understand Islam keep calling them Muslim. In Syrian law they are Muslim because Hafith al-Assad had the law changed to make his family eligible for the presidency. pl
Given their behavior elsewhere I would think so. pl
Armenians are under attack as well:
I am sure that the illegal combatants fighting in Syria are going to take special notice of Ms. Kardashian’s disapproval and behave themselves well….
Would it be a stretch to imagine tactics on either side? Government drives them into Alawite kill zone, expels dregs to Turkey, or jihadis drive/retreat to Alawite heartland nearer to Turkey in anticipation of further Turkish action.
“IMO, once this method clears the Qalamoun area along the Lebanese border the action will move to the Alawite homeland north of Lebanon.”
I don’t think so. I think the forces in the north and northwest are strong enough to beat the rebels in Kassab and near regions. I think the army and auxilliary forces will take positions on the hills and then finish the rebels in Kassab with a daily rate of 5 to 50 in a long process over several months.
The forces currently engaged in Qalamoun I expect to get two new tasks:
1. Simply go down the western border further south all the way to the Jordan border – after Zabadani Khan Al Sheikh may be next and so on.
2. Tighten the siege on eastern Ghouta, make the ring around eastern Ghouta smaller and so on.
That would decisively secure the capital Damascus, make life in the Reef Dimashq area much better for millions of people and make Damascus an uncontested bastion from which the rebels will be slowly combed out of the rest of Syria. And, of course, one of the first places where Damascus will want rebels to be combed out then will be Syria’s largest city Aleppo.
This makes me think of a recent article by Stephen Walt, on the education of American foreign policymakers. Having attempted to explain that history might have some relevance to current events, he goes on:
“A solid grounding in international history should therefore be part of every aspiring foreign policymaker’s intellectual training. Unfortunately, that’s not what most young people learn these days as they prepare for foreign policy careers. In the United States, at least, future foreign policy managers are more likely to go to law school instead, which is good for honing one’s argumentative skills but doesn’t teach much history (and certainly not world history). In schools of public policy and international affairs (including my own employer), the emphasis is on economics, statistics, “leadership,” and other aspects of policy analysis or management, with a smattering of ethics or philosophy thrown in on occasion. Students sometimes learn the rudiments of international relations theory and get some practical skills in memo-writing, and maybe they do some in-depth study on policy areas like arms control or human rights. You’ll undoubtedly learn some basic history if you’re interested in a particular region, but it will probably focus on the post-World War II period and will almost certainly be taught from a U.S. perspective. Neither a wide knowledge of history nor a sophisticated understanding of historical method and reasoning are likely to be offered. And then we wonder why American policymakers often appear to be so ignorant about the past.’
(See http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/10/foreign_policy_history_study_ukraine )
It would appear some kind of ‘remedial education’ is necessary.
As a teenager, more years ago now than I care to remember, a book that impressed me deeply was the account of ‘The Defeat of the Spanish Armada’ by Garrett Mattingley. From Wikipedia, I learn that he had been a sergeant in the U.S. Army at the end of the First World War, and as a lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, spent most of its successor instructing intelligence officers.
Many of the facts, and accordingly, some of the arguments, in Mattingley’s Armada study are out of date. But I still think it has all the elements in it that a serious student of international relations needs to know something about: the technicalities of military strategy, theology, Machiavellian calculation, and the strange ways in which theology and Machiavellianism interrelate.
Also interesting are the moral judgements in his book. In no way does Mattingley seek to refight old ideological conflicts. His heroes – and heroine – if such they are, are people who tried to make the best of bad situations. So Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Medina Sidonia, the Admiral who commanded the Armada, come well out of the account. By contrast, the Duke of Guise, the champion of the French Catholics, is close to being portrayed as an unmitigated villain – and Francis Drake, a Protestant hero over the centuries, does not come out of the story very well either.
But then Mattingley may have come from an older America, of which not very much remains.
Wouldn’t that be something for the ‘genocide chick’ to be against?
Odds are that when supporting the Jihadis against Assad, she’ll get to indirectly participate in things born of a genocidal mindset (Alawites are heretics and must be killed?) rather sooner than later.
To quote Max Liebermann “Ick kann jar nich soville fressen, wie ick kotzen möchte”
~ ‘I can’t eat as much as I’d want to puke’
One hopes the anti-Alawi factions in Lebanon don’t try having a civil war with Hezbollah to prevent Hezbollah from working with the Syrian government forces to defeat the rebels before those rebels try conducting an “Interahamwe Holocaust of the Tutsis” against the Alawis. (If that is what the rebels hope to conduct).
One also hopes none of the jihadis are able to get away to fight again another day.
Aren’t Hague and Cameron Oxbridge graduates and therefor beneficiaries of all that Western historical scholarship?
“Jesus’s donkey, taken to Mecca, still an ass when coming back.”
Jesus had a donkey that went to Mecca? Ah, a Nazarene donkey it must have been. Did Jesus go with the donkey? That would be new for me. This is a variation of Bonaparte’s statement that he had mules in his army that had been on six campaigns but … pl
Here is a link to a translated text of a speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah concerning events in Syria and Lebanon. First observation, it’s long, but it should be borne in mind that it was a speech, and not a written document, so it would be logical that there would be a certain amount of repetition in order to reinforce the main points that he wished to convey to his auditors. Second observation, this is a very intelligent man. Third observation, nobody is going to roll over these folks; they have focus, and they are well aware that they have major “skin in the game”, so to speak.
I found it fascinating, especially in light of the cartoonish portrayal of Hezbullah that one characteristically gets in the Western media, and from the mouths of our “leaders”.
Ibn Hind’s Liver Lovers Legion won’t take notice, but Ms. Karadashian’s followers here in the US will start to and begin questioning why we are supporting one side over the other.
Its fascinating to watch the sharpening of HA as a fighting force. I’ve said for years that they’ve likely got the best light infantry in the world, and now they’re getting some very hands on learning in how to function as part of a coalition. Is the Syrian Air Force providing air support? If so that CAS experience is invaluable for an army.
For those who are familiar with Dune, I get a very Fremen vibe from HA.
Tyler, Tyler, Tyler, you know all we need to do now is send in the Nuland brigade. I sure hope they bring some Thanks-A-Lot®, because the Savannah Smiles® just don’t pack the same kind of punch.
On the other hand your analysis seems to make one hell of allot of sense. I’m sure we won’t hear a word on what’s really happing from the likes of Matt Lauer, Robin Roberts, Charlie Rose or any of the little miss sunshine blondes on the Fox morning news.
These are the same monsters who gushed about “bombs for peace.” (this doozy belongs to the late Richard Holbrooke, on a PBS show, Frontline, I think, talking about US intervention in the Balkans. I believe it was around 2000.)
This should be interesting. Until recently, most celebrity endorsers of foreign policy have been heavily pro-Israel, if any of them brought up foreign affairs and/or Middle East at all (Natalie Portman and more recently, Scarlett Johansson, for example). Given the Armenian experience in the region, Kardashian has as much legitimate stake in the region as the aforementioned Jewish (Israeli in case of Portman, American in case of Johansson) celebs. But I seriously doubt anybody would pay attention to any of these–especially in case of Kardashian, I doubt she has much credibility on anything…
I wonder how the flow of money works? Is Russia and Iran footing the full Syrian bill?
I remember that speech quite well. Like usual, Nasrallah based that speech on logic, anti-zionism, religious tolerance and a deep understanding of culture and history of the region. I think that’s what makes Hezbollah such a dangarous enemy for Israel that Israel would like to see all media broadcasting Nasrallah’s speeches banned. I think they were really angry when Julian Assange on Russia Today broadcated a lengthy interview with Nasrallah, too.
The portrayal of Iran in the western media is similar to that of Hezbollah and the truth is distracted in a similar way. So I was quite surprised that Al Jazeera recently published an article by Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Dean of the University of Tehran’s Faculty of World Studies. The Leveretts recommend to read it:
Iran, Orientalism, and Western Illusions about Syria—A View from Tehran
Though acting mostly indirect via supporting Iran the economically and financially most capable power backing Syria is clearly the People’s Republic of China – a country with a 10 trillion Dollar economy and ~3.5 trillion Dollar foreign exchange reserves.
Baron Harkonnen won’t know what hit him.
No you see Fred, all you have to say is ISLAMOFASCIST a thousand times and talk about Israel Uber Alles, the little democracy that could, and that’s all you need to know about the Middle East.
Otherwise what are you, some sort of Pat Buchanan who wants to Holocaust the Jews all over again?
I think the weird part of it all is the hint of moral indictment. The Syrian Air Force is using a low technology weapon ergo they are inferior. I would say quite the opposite, it speaks to their intelligence – they’ve created a nice little precision bomb for pennies on the dollar.
You’ve got me there Tyler. What with Saddam = Hitler, Assad = Hitler, Putin = Hitler, Ahmadinejad = Hitler and so on what is a lonely little nuclear armed state blockading Gaza and the West Bank to do but demand the US take action.
I fear that in Cameron’s case the remark about ‘Jesus’s donkey’ may be to the point. From an interview on his first visit to the United States as PM, in July 2010:
“I think it’s important in life to speak as it is, and the fact is that we are a very effective partner of the U.S., but we are the junior partner,’ he said. ‘We were the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting the Nazis.”
(See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1296551/David-Cameron-describes-Britain-junior-partner-Americans-1940.html )
The Nazis are coming from inside my brain at this point!
Liquid natural gas must flow.
But the nation that is gradually ethnically cleansing their neighbor and appropriating their land? Crickets.
Thanks for the link. If I read it correctly Syria needs $6 billion a year and is getting $4 billion via line of credit from Iran in 2013. I can’t imagine Syria is exporting oil to speak of such as they have it and tourism revenue must be non-existent. So Syria’s economy must be wiped out. Then there is the oil for commodities deal that Russia and Iran are negotiating at 0.5 million barrels a day which at $103/bbl would be about $18 billion annually. Given that the deal seems to be sped up from August to now, before the nuclear sanctions are/if resolved in July, just makes me wonder what the full dynamic actually is here. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/russia-oil-talks-pose-hurdle-iran-nuke-pact-23266319 And curiously the Russian intermediary isn’t named. As to China and Syria I don’t see recent open source info on their economic relations.
What got me about Ms Kardashian’s power with her followers was an incident after her TV divorce from mid-level NBA player Kris Humphries, who shows up with his team at MSG while she is sitting on celebrity row, and gets mercilessly booed. I didn’t realize her show had that audience watching.
For those of her people that normally wouldn’t pay close attention to global events, they would be now on this issue. And the Turkish-Armenian conflict is coming back into vogue again.
You must be a Nazi if you think Jews have had agency since Solomon.
Gotta keep in mind since the rise of neoconservatism and the new neoliberalism (really two sides of the same coin) its been all about convincing the US to bomb the shit out of Christians in the name of non-Christians.
Syria’s oil production almost dropped to zero, there are no Syrian oil exports anymore. As I read the article just the Iranian help with oil on credit to Syria is worth USD 500m per month. That Iran delivers a lot of oil to Syria seems very logical to me. Since the west sanctioned Iranian oil exports, and Iran must let oil flow so that Iranian production facilities would not harmed by becoming dry, it makes perfect sense to Iran to deliver to Syria a lot of oil – which it can’t sell otherwise anyway.
On top of this Iran, Russia and China help Syria with other “vast credit lines,” too. How much that is is the major wildcard what is hard to get know from the outside. I think it’s quite a lot, probable multiple times more than Iranian oil help of USD 500 mln monthly. Syria’s agrar production is severely damaged due to the war and it’s industry and tourism sector is almost completely broken due to war and western sanctions.
Nevertheless the Syrian pound is quite stable since a while, state employees are paid – even those in regions occupied by rebels, Syrian soldiers got even wage increases and quite large structures of pro-government “National Defense Force” neighborhood militias were founded and are paid. In addition to this the Syrian government has likely high expenses for weapons and sheltering and nuturing internal refugees. As Syria produces almost nothing anymore this hints to me that some outside powers are paying a lot of money to keep Syria economically afloat. And the economically and financially most capable of these outside powers known to be friendly with the Syrian government is clearly China. My estimation is that Iran and Russia are operating visible in support for Syria, while China prefers to silently hold the back of Russia and Iran.
But simply paying the bills to keep small Syria afloat with some billion of Dollars monthly still for me seems to pale for the costs of western economic pressure. Hillary Clinton seems to have had a similar idea when in July 2012 she called for every nation in the world to bring pressure on Russia and China due to their support for Syria:
I read in Chinese media that some influental Chinese people believe this Clinton’s call to bring pressure on China due to Syria was the true origin of the suddenly increased “island trouble” between Japan and China. So some people in China saw the Japan as a proxy of the US bringing pressure on China due to it’s stance on the Syrian issue and China decided to fight off that pressure and managed to do it decisively by crashing Japanese cars and hitting thereby Japanese car companies very hard.
My Opinion: That surprisingly decisive and successful Chinese stand against pressure of the western alliance seems to me to be the key to understand why Assad still stands tall despite western politicians trying hard to press for another outcome. Western politicians seem to have totally underestimated the seriousness of the UNSC vetos of the economic superpower China.