It seems that a military solution in Syria was possible after all…


"“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Damascus who witnessed the uprising’s earliest days. “And I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.”

The government has yet to fully secure areas around the capital, and fighting continues in various pockets of Syria’s east as well as the northwestern province of Idlib. Yet even Assad’s staunchest international adversaries see the continuation of his rule as a fait accompli and have urged the rebels arrayed against him to do the same.

“The nations who supported us the most … they’re all shifting their position,” said Osama Abu Zaid, an opposition spokesman contacted by phone. “We’re being pressured from all sides to draw up a more realistic vision, to accept Assad staying.”

The key to the Syrian leader’s survival has been his battlefield allies Moscow and Tehran; both have been laser-focused on keeping him in power.

Russia dispatched warplanes and elite Spetsnaz units in 2015 to stop the opposition’s advance, just as a coalition of hard-line Islamist rebels were on the cusp of overrunning key government bastions. Iran poured in materiel as well as manpower, including proxies from as far afield as Afghanistan, to bolster Assad’s exhausted troops."  LA Times


Yes, my title is sarcastic and aimed at all those who moaned for years that "war settles nothing," and  "no military solution is possible."  "War settles nothing?"  Those who thought that should have learned a little history before spewing stupidities.  The Japanese and Germans could have given them instruction on that as could the very existence of the US which was in battle born.  It is particularly sweet to have  Robert Ford, a former US ambassador under Obama who IMO did much to enable the unrest that led to this awful war.

There was a "moment" just before the Russian intervention began when it seemed likely that the jihadis of both AQ and IS as well as their "secular" allies would manage to drive the multi-confessional Syrian government into a negotiated surrender.  That grim possibility ended with an incredible effective intervention by Russia, Iran and Hizbullah.

Will Assad take advantage of the opportunity for building a better Syria both physically and in governance?  One can hope.  pl

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89 Responses to It seems that a military solution in Syria was possible after all…

  1. Karl Kolchak says:

    I’m no fan of Assad, but having his regime reunify Syria and stop the madness of this war is by far the least worst option. Glad it appears to finally be over. Maybe the U.S. will learn a lesson about the humanitarian disasters that usually result from its foreign meddling, but I doubt it.

  2. Kooshy says:

    All Assad had to do, was not to leave and stand up to bully to become and be legitimate, he did that well without anybody forcing him or asking him. The rest don’t matter, he saved and preserved syria’ as sovereign country capable of standing up to west. IMO, Syria will not forget him

  3. Jack says:

    Obama, Hillary, Robert Ford and the cast of warmongers in the US Congress have much blood on their hands. It is incomprehensible that they would fund and arm jihadists to overthrow secular governments in Syria and Libya. Especially after the fiasco of Bush, Cheney, Powell and the coterie of neocons who turned a secular state albeit a dictatorship into chaos and anarchy. If there is a just God they will all rot in hell for the death and misery they have caused to millions.
    IMO, Assad will be a changed man. I don’t see how the complete destruction of his country will not have had an impact on his psyche. He knows who his friends where and who stood with him in his darkest hours.
    These conflicts have solidified for me that the best foreign policy for the US is a policy of non-intervention. I concur with Ron Paul that we should exit all our foreign bases and bring our troops home and respect the sovereignty of other nations.

  4. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Whereas many, particularly readers of SST, will continue to learn from the Syrian war, I see no sign that the US is learning lessons as indicated by strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan (where there probably is no solution), Yemen, and probably elsewhere. I think several of Assad’s policies were very wise wrt decreasing sectarian tensions – Shiites bombing a Sunni city into a field of rubble (aka Mosul), and providing many opportunities for rebel groups to switch to the SAA side. This (and the possibility, that in a few years Saudi Arabia will fund new jihadi’s) gives me hope for Syrians.
    IMO, I think the underlying problem is that the US tends implement multiple contradictory strategies which are created by different committees (power centers in the administration) that are in disagreement and the president (Obama / Trump) refuses to take responsibility (the buck stops ….) and force consistency.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Yes, Afghanistan would require a lifeblood drinking sacrifice for a hundred years to achieve pacification and it would be waste of time. If the Saudi regime survives it will try to send more jihadis north. pl

  6. Laguerre says:

    I had the same word from a Syrian last week, whose father was a major intellectual opponent of Asad. Asad has won.
    As to whether Syria will be better in the future, I would say there is a divide. Bashshar al-Asad himself is quite liberal, but the family is not. It is the family hardness which has kept the regime going.
    What will prevent the hard family from doing what they want, in the wake of victory, is the minorities. First case, the Druze of Jebel Druze. They have stayed out of the battle, but in return they will expect a federalised Syria. Second case, the Kurds. Although they are supposed to have thrown in their lot with the US, they’ve always been ready to parlay with Asad, because they understand that when the US withdraws, they will have no other choice.
    The idea of a federalised Syria already existed in 2015, and the same in Iraq. I should think it is the way things will go. I only know what it means from Iraq, where I had a conversation with an Iraqi politician in 2015. It means devolution of nearly all the budget to local control.

  7. ToivoS says:

    I googled “no military solution” + john kerry and got many hits beginning in october 2013 and ending on october 31, 2016. Obama repeated that nonsense many times also. I suppose they intuited that there would be no military solution favorable to the borg.

  8. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I wonder if “no military solution” comes with the caveat that whoever that seeks that solution does not want to pay the due price in blood and sweat, and, in a sense, the interventionista gang is right in the sense that they can probably never get the American people to pay that blood price for the solution that they want in Syria (or many other places). Apparently, there are people closer by, people who have more at stake, that will pay the due price in blood.
    But there are surely “solutions” to the problems that the American people will pay the due price in blood, say, if the NoKos get too cute for their own good, and threaten us too directly too much, or, perhaps, if the interventionistas get too cute with their own schemes of aggression. That is something that we should wonder about sometimes.

  9. Stumpy says:

    Sir, I also propose that a hardening of the R+6 partnership is pinching off further attempts by the Borg to topple regimes or terraform the ME. I would go as far as to say a functional equivalent to NATO has been fostered by Russia and Iran. This is not to say that the effort will not be revisited as colonial projects expand in Africa and SE Asia. If the smoke coming from the Russian consulate in San Francisco is a sign,the US will imho remain a step behind in a reactionary posture. Even if the Russians have something to hide, so does the US and EU/NATO — nothing new there. As you posit the question as to how Assad’s to rebuild Syria, the new ME political environment will influence that to a great degree, with a stronger Hizbollah, a diminished Israel, and a powerful trade pipeline building along the Silk Road.
    @ISL, you might agree that the US would have a leg to stand on if they had a history of delivering something better for the countries they meddle in, but leaving behind rubble and death is a terrible marketing strategy. If Trump defines success in Afghanistan with surging troop strength without specific objectives, he is horribly consistent with US FP doctrine since 1947.

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Every one said that, including Iranian officilas. That is called Diplomacy.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Federalized Syria is not in the cards.

  12. DH says:

    “US officials familiar with the situation say that the Trump Administration is likely to announce a dramatic “ramping up” of US involvement in Libya, appointing a new US ambassador, and setting up a permanent US military presence in the nation.”

  13. Thirdeye says:

    IMO the Takfiri war will give a big boost to Assad the way the Great Patriotic War gave a boost to Stalin. Stalin went from simply being a feared dictator to the leader who saw Russia through its greatest ever existential threat. In terms of loss of life, disruption and destruction, the Syrian experience has a lot in common with the Russian GPW experience. The message has also been driven home to Syrians that there are some reeeelly reeeelly bad people who would completely destroy their ancient society if given a chance. Whatever willingness there was to indulge sectarian demands is likely gone by now. With the remnants of the defeated caliphate likely to reconstitute themselves as a violent underground movement committing random terrorist acts, it is also likely to lend popular legitimacy to a repressive stance by the Assad government.
    Per the article you linked, Syria is likely to emerge stronger both militarily and otherwise. They know which side their bread is buttered on in international relations and finance. R+6 wouldn’t even have been considered a remote possibility 20 years ago. It’s got military underpinnings now, with economic underpinnings likely to be strengthened with growth of the Eurasian economic sphere. Sanctions have shown the Syrians the complete folly of expecting anything good to come their way from the Euro-Anglo economic sphere. Training and fighting alongside Hezbollah, equalled only by the Houthis as an effective force in the Arabic world, and Russia, a contender for the most effective (adjusted for numbers) force in the world, has to have a profound effect on Syrian military culture and doctrine.
    It’s interesting that the concession of Assad winning is mostly from the catastrophe the SAA is bringing on ISIS and not any similar losses by the Al Qaeda affiliates in Idlib, East Ghouta, or Daraa. Beating the jihadis in Latakia and Aleppo is nothing to sneeze at, but it doesn’t compare with the strategic collapse of ISIS. I’m willing to take that assessment as an admission that having the Syrian government backed up to the wall by ISIS was part of the US/Israeli/Gulfie strategy all along. That is the light in which I view attacks on Syrian government forces by the US and Israel, and the hands-off stance of the US towards ISIS forces moving to the Syrian front.

  14. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    The diplomatic endgame is certainly going to be interesting. I dont think the Druze will insist on federation (other then as a negotation ploy to get more titles and positions), they can likely be bought off with offices and positions. It will however get very interesting with the Kurds.
    The Russians, as far as I get, would be fine with a “Kurdish march” that wards of Turkish expansionism, but the Assads would only entertain this if they felt sufficiently threatened by Turkey, which they imho arent right now.
    Of course, Russia backing a “Kurdish march” is going to make things more interesting for Russo Turkish relations. Also, but much less so, for Russo-Iranian ones (although I dont think that Kurdish seperatism is very threatening for Iran, iirc their kurdish minority is fairly integrated).

  15. turcopolier says:

    I see. you were right all along. history screwed you. I worked with a lot of people like you. Mostly they believed that the “vision thing” was impossible. pl

  16. Henshaw says:

    Bashar’s speech on 20 August sets out the Syrian Government’s public position on Syria’s future. He re-iterated the basics-
    Everything linked to Syria is one hundred percent intra-Syrian.
    The territorial integrity of Syria.
    Arabism with its civilization aspect.
    We will not allow others to gain through diplomacy what they failed to achieve through war.
    War did not change our principles.
    The Palestinian Cause is central.
    Israeli occupation is the enemy.
    Support for genuine resistance.
    Most of this is standard stuff, but at least at the outset, there’s not much room for negotiation with minorities.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not even then, just look at Algeria. After 100 years under US occupation and tutelage, upon US departurr, Afghans would revert to type.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you are going through contortions in order to salvage your earlier prognostications.

  19. turcopolier says:

    You are right. People easily revert to type. pl

  20. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: “there’s not much room for negotiation with minorities”
    Could you please define what you mean by “minorities”, keeping in mind that Assad’s Syria is a multi-confessional society?
    Right now there are quite a few folks in MENA who regard concepts such as “minority rights” and “inclusiveness” as Borg levers for sedition and regime change. Are they wrong?
    It will be interesting to see what happens to those minorities who served as tools of the Borg agenda and caused so much destruction and death. The izzies and the US will, no doubt, try to succor their “near proxies (the Jordanians and the Kurds” (per Crooke) but these groups will not be trusted again for at least a few generations. Betting on the wrong horse with such high stakes might not be good policy….
    Ishmael Zechariah

  21. guidoamm says:

    For Syria it indeed turned out that the military solution was possible.
    Not so for the US/NATO and their proxies

  22. guidoamm says:

    Assuming that mere destabilisation was not the aim (debatable), had the US/NATO coalition succeeded, it is likely Syria would have descended into anarchy and true civil war… in that light therefore, a military solution would have been pushed back indefinitely…
    Semantics and perspectives…

  23. Lemur says:

    Update: Tiger Forces are now within 25 kms of Deir Ez Zor.
    I wonder if the garrison will be able to push toward the liberating forces when they get closer?

  24. Bandit says:

    “Maybe the U.S. will learn a lesson about the humanitarian disasters that usually result from its foreign meddling, but I doubt it.”
    If only that were true. You have every reason to doubt any lessons being learned by the US or the neocons. They will just double down, as is their historical pattern.
    It doesn’t matter what administration is in office, the neocons are an evil cancer that has infected the entire US government and corporate state and the media. Peace is not on their agenda, and we can expect more interference in the ME , SE Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.
    The US has already raked over Latin America and is ready to have another go with Venezuela. It is just a matter of time before the US creates another false flag pretext to get the flag-waving American citizens to support it. To be realistic, they don’t really care if the citizens support their wars, they will launch them anyway, either covertly with proxy fighters or direct intervention. After 70 years on this planet I have become the eternal pessimist.

  25. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Not in doubt at any time, except perhaps by those in DC who never looked at a demographic map of the population numbers in the different regions of Syria. Early on the SAA and their friendly militias sought to hold the high density centers in the west, which was their only possible strategy at the time but a good one.
    Then they got Hezbollah, IRGC and Russian backing. But as important as the military support was Russian diplomatic expertise in Astana and Geneva – getting ceasefires and agreements by jihadis to move to Idlib Governate. Although I thought that was a mistake at the time, it seems to be working for them now. The turning point is generally thought to be finally winning the four year long Battle of Aleppo in November/December of 2016. Now the SAA have come east like gangbusters. They will win against Daesh there also.
    By the way, the Kurdish YPG fighters in Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood were Assad’s unofficial ally in that victory. They collaborated fully with the final offensive of the government, providing manpower and blocking forces and moving quickly into jihadi areas in cooperation with the SAA. So maybe R+6 should really be R+7. The Kurds and their Arab allies in the SDF also freed the northeast from Daesh, thus securing the left flank of the SAA in their current push to Deir ez Zor.
    Or add in the Coalition who have conducted over 11000 airstrikes against Daesh in Syria since September 2014. That certainly softened up Daesh for the SAA, even though the US and others in the Coalition previously supported the FSA. (Un)friendly allies??? I suspect some guests here will cry foul on this admittedly armchair analysis and call it politically incorrect. I stand by it.

  26. turcopolier says:

    “So maybe R+6 should really be R+7.’ For quite a long time the Sheikh Maqsood kurds’ cooperation with the SAG was restricted to survival level actions. Until the YPG comes to some actuak political agreement with the SAG I will not write of an R+7. If the YPG/SDF were a truly cooperating force they would be attacking across the Euphrates into the rear of IS at Ghanem Ali. pl

  27. turcopolier says:

    “Not in doubt at any time, except perhaps by those in DC who never looked at a demographic map of the population numbers in the different regions of Syria.” Oh, come on! you are talking about the whole US government. They all had it wrong from the beginning. I used to go to government sponsored war games in which I was the only participnt who believed a military solution was possible. The participants were a mixed bag of active and former government people along with the usual grab bag of academics and former ambassadors. These last by the way were universal in asserting that no military solution was possible. pl

  28. Henshaw says:

    Those minorities including elements that harbor independent territorial ambitions, ie Druze and Kurds.

  29. Poul says:

    The siege of Deir ez-Zour could be lifted within a couple of weeks. That should get the local tribes on board with the government. They may well have a few axes to grind with any IS survivors

  30. The Beaver says:

    @ Richardstevenhack
    So what will Israel and the US do next to try achieve those goals? Plan B: Attack Hizballah in Lebanon unilaterally? Plan C: tear up the Iran nuclear deal and attack Iran unilaterally?
    Check the speech of Nasrallah last week ( August 28th) and you will have your answer.
    You can get the English version on social media

  31. Eliot says:

    Our policy was designed to be politically practical, not militarily effective. This is normal for Washington. There’s always a military solution, provided you’re willing to pay the price.
    – Eliot

  32. turcopolier says:

    “There’s always a military solution, provided you’re willing to pay the price.” What!? You mean history has not ended? This is not the day of Jubilo? You would never know that in Borgist circles (FPE) in washington or New York. pl

  33. Anna says:

    “IMO, I think the underlying problem is that the US tends implement multiple contradictory strategies which are created by different committees (power centers in the administration)”
    Perhaps inadvertently, your post leaves an impression that the US has become involved in Syria and Libya out of humanitarian concerns. The total absence of such concerns could be found in Clinton’s correspondence re Libya: and on the maps of Syria:

  34. turcopolier says:

    “The family is going to be forced to bend to his will, in the future.” I really agree with that. In fact I agree with this whole comment. How can that be? The multi-generational Assad government was always more than just the immediate family. There was always a tribe of Alawi gorillas in the mix as well as quite a lot of Sunni Arab Baathis. Mustafa Tlas and Hikmat Shihabi come to mind. Assad now has the upper hand with them if he does not let them face him down. pl

  35. This is admittedly off topic, but cogent.
    Yesterday, the DPRK successfully detonated a fission-fusion device with an
    estimated yield between 100Kt and 1Mt.
    They also displayed a mockup of a nuclear warhead sufficiently small so as to fit
    within the nose cone of their Hwasong – 14 missile.
    It would appear they are progressing rapidly with their nuclear deterrent.

  36. turcopolier says:

    Yes, it is a game changer, but the answer to this rule change may be that a hyper-power will not allow a minor state to hold its cities at risk. In that context Seoul’s future may not be a determinant. pl

  37. mike says:

    Colonel –
    You are correct about it being ”the whole US government”.
    And correct that ”Sheikh Maqsood kurds’ cooperation with the SAG was restricted to survival level actions” for the four long years of the siege of Aleppo. They defeated major jihadi attacks on their neighborhoods successfully without government support in late 2012 and again in late 2015 and February 2016, before finally joining in with the SAA offensive in November & December 2016.
    I disagree with the statement ”If the YPG/SDF were a truly cooperating force they would be attacking across the Euphrates into the rear of IS at Ghanem Ali.“
    The Tiger Force is doing very well without such help. If they wanted such assistance they could have easily gotten it. But it probably does not currently fit into the current anti-Kurdish line coming out of Damascus. And with all due respect my opinion is that an attack like that could easily turn into another ‘blue-on-gray’ disaster. No matter how well coordinated there always is some risk in such an operation even among battalions of the same regiment.
    On the other hand, the SDF rescued 50 Syrian government tribal militiamen who had fled across the river during the initial Daesh counterattack at Ghanem Ali. Plus they kept Daesh from fleeing across the river when Tiger Forces returned.
    PS – Who was Jubilo?

  38. Kooshy says:

    Colonel LANG-
    Unfortunately, Unfortunately,Unfortunately, US’ MENA policies is not made for US’ self interests, it’s formulated to protect it’s weak, unstable, illegitimate client states that we inherited from colonial Europe.
    IMO, it was much easier to have Iran and Syria and others in our side selling them iPhones than making them as a resistance force against us. I think still is not too late to change, unless this policy gets cleansed, changed wiped out our FP, by the demand of the electorate, nothing can be charged. Maybe the current president meant to change it, but he got shafted.

  39. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re:” Those minorities including elements that harbor independent territorial ambitions, ie Druze and Kurds.”
    Why would Assad negotiate with these seditious “minorities” who are trying to balkanize Syria in full accordance with Borg policy, especially after these folks and their backers are in the process of losing the game?
    It seems, now that Colonel Lang’s “military solution” has actually materialized and wrecked the hopes of the Borg, there is a propaganda blitz a-coming which will try to sell the kurds as eternal allies of SAA and Assad; one pilgrim has already came up with the term “R+7”. This is a hard task…MENA is a land of ancient vendettas. Most Syrians and Iraqis are unlikely to forgive and forget.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  40. Laguerre says:

    “Federalized Syria is not in the cards.”
    It is. You haven’t been following. It’s the only way you can get the Kurds and the Druze back into a unitary state, and perhaps others too. Asad took these initiatives some time ago. It was where the Iraqis got the idea from.

  41. Laguerre says:

    “Those minorities including elements that harbor independent territorial ambitions, ie Druze and Kurds.”
    The Druze aren’t planning independence. The Kurds might not either, if it weren’t for the US pushing them. They’ve never eliminated the Syrian army position in Hassekeh.

  42. Kooshy says:

    well said

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You live in a fantasy land. Don’t tell me about Druze; they made a deal with Jihadists, which cost them a village, until Israelis instructed Jihadist faction to stick to the deal. Isrealis were concerned about Druze in Isreal. As for governance: SAR will Pay Salaries – that is all that is needed.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The way great powers work is that they find foreign fools to carry their burdens; Byzantines were masters in that but France, Spain, UK, and US have not been that far behind. Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, the Pakitani Junta, Erdogan have been such useful idiots.

  45. Thirdeye says:

    I’d considered that wording. The Nazi ideology threatened much more than just the Soviet Union. It was targeted against the Russians as a people.

  46. Thirdeye says:

    I should add, Stalin’s line changed from defense of the revolution to defense of Russia.

  47. Thirdeye says:

    It seems that the siege of Deir Ezzor is in its last hours. Reports are that the SAA is between 6 and 8 km south of deir Ezzor, advancing from the Al Suknah direction. The garrison at the airbase (eastern pocket) reports seeing shells falling on ISIS positions.
    Previous reports of the Tigers entering the 137th Brigade base (western pocket) have been refuted.

  48. turcopolier says:

    the thing about Saddam is wrong. It was entirely his idea to invade Iran seeking possession of the oil fields in SW Iran where the population was heavily Arab. He correctly perceived Iran as weak after the revolution and its decimation of its military. the decision was altogether Saddam’s and had nothing to do with the US. During the war the US sought to impose an embargo on arms deliveries to both sides even as the WH idiots (North, Mcfarland, Poindexter, etc.)under the influence of Israel conspired sub rosa to provide key pieces of equipment, I-HAWK parts, TOW missiles etc. to Iran. Iraq’s military purchases came almost entirely from the Warsaw Pact countries and China with France providing the airplanes and advice for three squadrons of aircraft. The amount of US equipment was trivial. It was only in the last year of the war that the US at the urging of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait began providing air tageting data to the Iraqis. pl

  49. turcopolier says:

    General Ben Harrell, the architect of the breakout at Anzio once told me that the problem in getting to the Alban Hills and Route 6 to Rome was not reaching these objectives. No, the problem was in staying there once you had seized them in the face of inevitably ferocious German counter-attacks. As a by-product of my discussion with TTG I have come to realize how small the highly competent Tiger Forces really are and the threat of desperate IS counter-attacks is real. pl

  50. Lemur says:

    Russia takes many different forms. By the time you get to WWII Stalin Russian mores had effected a ‘revolution within the form’ of Sovietism. The Soviet Union in the long run simply represented the Russian response to the birth of mass society.

  51. mike says:

    Post-Daesh the bigger problem for Syria will be al Qaeda in Idlib province. They will still be there when the SAA and the SDF finish dismantling their Daeshi cousins in the east. And the Turkish backed Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib may be laying low now but will also be a problem for Assad in the future.
    Then there are the Israeli factions in the south.
    And what is Syria to do about the Turks and their other proxies in northern Aleppo province. That Jarablus/Azaz/alBab triangle is going to be a sore spot for years. Russia can use blackmail diplomacy to get Erdogan to pull out. But his Turkmen proxies that he moved in there after evicting the Arab residents are not going anywhere. So the MIT is going to continue giving them weapons and support. The MIT is going to end up like the Pakistani ISI, fueling hate and discontent for decades, trying to hold on to their puppet Ottoman Vilayet. Plus they are daily bombarding the Afrin area of Syria’s Aleppo province, encroaching on the border there, and constantly threatening to invade. Late last year the Kurds in Afrin recaptured the Menagh Syrian Air Force Base from Turkish backed rebels along with Russian help; and they have wisely invited the Syrian Air Force back in to Menagh. But it has not yet stopped Turkish encroachment on Syrian soil.
    Iraq has the same problem with the Turkish enclave in Bashiqa and a few other places.
    Erdogan was a major enabler of both Daesh and jihadi FSA groups. Erdogan is now threatening direct action. He stopped listening to NATO long ago. How much Russian and Iranian arm twisting is it going to take to calm down the Sultan wannabee?

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I stand corrected. Perhaps I should have said Lon Nol?

  53. brian says:

    most syrians are fans of president Assad ..maybe theyre better informed than westerners

  54. turcopolier says:

    I was in charge of DIA’s holdings on Iraqi OOB for a long time. that was the only OOB in the US government worth looking at. Everyone used it. I also traveled extensively in Iraq during their war with Iran on US government business. The army and air force were altogether equipped with Warsaw Pact and Chinese equipment as well as French aircraft and air to ground missiles. This vast amount of materiel was bought in state to state transactions through diplomatic channels. We had the SIGINT record of those transactions. They were paid for by funds provided by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as protection money in fear of the Iranians. The Iraqis had no need whatever for American “credits.” The Iraqis were armed with the very best Warsaw Pact and Chinese materiel available. American equipment in their hands consisted of 50 or so HETs made by Oshkosh, some ECM equipment to protect Saddam’s personal aircraft from missiles and a few crop spraying helicopters provided before the war to the agriculture ministry. Teicher and Dennis Ross, were very anti-Iraqi and opposed any sort of help to them. The DO at CIA were also opposed to doing anything for Iraq. They had a liaison relationship with the Iraqis until the Iraqis refused to have anything more to do with them after the implications of the Iran Contra affair became clear. I don’t know what kind of game Teicher was playing in this affidavit but it must have been self-serving. pl

  55. turcopolier says:

    In both cases it was solely for the money. The Israelis would have strongly opposed the aircraft, training and advisory sales to Iraq. France then had a large government owned and operated company engaged in such foreign sales, training and advice under government supervision. I forget the name of the company. France was eager to gain foreign exchange to support what was still essentially an agrarian economy. pl

  56. turcopolier says:

    Hersh’s piece is wrong. I will tell him that the next time we lunch. there was no effective help fpr Iraq until after the Iran-contra revelations which the Iraqis took to indicate CIA treachery. After that DoD took over the Iraq effort with results that you should have noticed in history. pl

  57. Hamilcar says:

    “Not so for the US/NATO and their proxies”
    If I try to put myself in the shoes of a neocon, my argument becomes “what military solution? We didn’t try the military solution, and this is the consequence.”
    I can’t see them seeing things the same way you do.

  58. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re:If I try to put myself in the shoes of a neocon, my argument becomes “what military solution? We didn’t try the military solution, and this is the consequence”
    It is possible that quite a few of us pilgrims here were, and are, in favor of the neocon military solution. I would give a lot if all neocons were kitted out, transported, and deployed in an active theater so they could try their version of a “military solution”. A dream come true…
    Ishmael Zechariah

  59. bernard says:

    what difference does it make whether it is a ‘minor state’ or a ‘major state’?
    Surely Steve Bannon is correct in saying there is no military solution to the Korean crisis.
    Well there is I suppose if you are prepared to accept the casualties. A conventional war would produce a large number of casualties, if it goes nuclear it could be in the millions, including Americans.
    Surely not even the neocons and borgists would go down this route, instead of diplomacy as suggested by Russia and China?
    Perhaps I am naive, but this is what I find difficult to believe.

  60. turcopolier says:

    It is only for the Koreans that there is no military solution. Yours is the kind of thinking that dictated that there was no military solution to the Syrian Civil War. pl

  61. Kooshy says:

    “And what is Syria to do about the Turks and their other proxies in northern Aleppo”
    IMO, all 4 sates (ITIS) will agree to put the Kurdish genie back in bottle, history repeats itself specially in ME, after all IT IS what IT IS and US will have no choice except to go alone with it.

  62. Kooshy says:

    Erdo can change direction in a minute and on a dime, watch him, ask IZ. Erdo is a poltical hore, like french poltics, he sleeps and kiss with who pays or who saves his political ass. If his national ass would be saved by cooperating with Assad, Iraq , Iran (ITIS) to contain the Kurds that’s what he would do. Which incidentally he is doing now. One can’t rule/run Turkey and let Kurds have autonomy, one can get a national political assassination in Turkey letting Kurds go loose. I hope IZ can expand on this.

  63. Kooshy says:

    IMO, at the end of the day Iraq government would rather to have a uninvited, illegal, unrecognized Turkish mule in that pocket of norther Iraq, than fighting his own Kurds in the area over secession vote like what is taking place in Kirkuk.

  64. Croesus says:

    When Moshe Ya’alon visited DC in March 2016 to negotiate w/ Obama admin for Israel’s next 10-year tribute package (successfully), Aaron David Miller interviewed him at the Wilson Center.
    Ya’alon was blunt and unequivocal: Syria would be divided; “no way” Syria would be unified under Assad, that’s wishful thinking. Assad controls only 30% of Syria . . . Syria will be federalized . . . Let’s find a way to have a federation . . .”
    The military situation has changed significantly, but it would be just as significantly out of character for Israel to stand down from its expectations.
    Comments here today seem prematurely optimistic. Israel remains as sand in the gears.

  65. turcopolier says:

    You are mistaken in your belief in Israel’s ability to control this situation. They gambled and lost. pl

  66. turcopolier says:

    I am uninterested in either Craig Murray’s views or Scottish independence. pl

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They are an ignorant lot, that is for certain.

  68. Charles Michael says:

    About military solution,
    The lesson is that a regime change has to be quick and total.
    The use of proxies or enabled regionals must be military supported by military foreign interventions openly in preference to secretly.
    Regime change by only foreign military intervention necessitate occupation and can easily turn in a quagmire unsolvable by military or expansive other means.
    If the regime put a determined figth, a strong national indigenous military resistance can effectively overcome or at list delay the expected regime change.
    The non intervention in 2013 by Obama Cameron Holland and the surprise and smooth Russian legal intervention turned the tide of war.
    From there there was No other final option than military.
    Irak, Afghanistan, Libya and further Sri Lanka are rather explicit demonstrations.

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Such a military solution will destroy the political structures of US alliance system. If South Korea is wounded or destroyed, who could be next? Lithuania? Poland? Germany?

  70. mike says:

    PA –
    You are correct about the Syrian Kurds. They do cooperate with the government. The only incidents have been at low level units because of paranoia and itchy trigger fingers – on both sides, not just the Kurds.

  71. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    Not only Kirkuk! Nineveh province, and some districts of Diyala and Salahuddin provinces also want in on the independence referendum.
    If it was just the existing KRG areas, it might have a chance without war with Baghdad, no? But there is no way Abadi or any other Iraqi leader would allow those others to go.

  72. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Not just the great powers. A lot of lesser powers have been very good at getting great powers to do their bidding, sometimes at immense cost to a lot of unrelated people.
    What was the purpose of World War I? To create a Greater Serbia called Yugoslavia (the original one), and that was all worthwhile too–since 10s of millions of dead French, English, Germans, and Russians mean nothing compared to the glory of Serbian nation, obviously.
    Snark aside, I think the world is somewhat safer place when the great powers do the manipulation, instead of lesser powers–assuming that is the leaders of great powers can see the world clearly (but then it is precisely when the leaders of great powers don’t know what’s good for them when they are manipulated by lesser powers). Lesser powers are often myopic. They are perfectly willing to destroy half the world so that they can take over Sanjak, or the equivalent thereof.

  73. guidoamm says:

    Empirical evidence shows that “US self interest” is not a monolithic reality.
    There is indeed a driver in the form of an owner of the currency that, through crisis, appropriates the collateral pledged for loans taken out by various entities including (and overwhelmingly) government.
    Other than the driver however, there are many competing interests within government.
    Ultimately however, from the arithmetical point of view, the diminishing marginal utility of debt guarantees that the creditor requires destabilisation regardless of how that is achieved.

  74. FkDahl says:

    I think the most important support the US gave Iraq was in insuring, and in some cases flagging under US flag, oil exports from Iraq. This paid for the war.
    (source The Great War for Civilization by Robert Fisk)

  75. Tim Robert says:

    Of all people: Robert Ford. The Syrian Arab Army said that of they ever find Ford in Syria again they will shoot him.

  76. mike says:

    An ITIS alliance does not exist. Nobody in Iran, Iraq or Syria trusts Turkey. Erdogan is a pariah in their eyes. Erdogan’s MIT sponsors Kurdish separatism in Sanandaj and Kermanshah, and Azeri resistance throughout the Iranian northeast corner.
    ILIS (sometimes called IISL – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) is the four party alliance espoused from Tehran.

  77. Kooshy says:

    Mike, you are taking my comment out of it’s particular focus, which was, all 4 states ITIS are unified against a Kurdish independence, I did not say they are allies against thin and thick or anything else, that kind of alliance only exist within the shia minorities ( due to need for a common security) from borders of east asia to mediterranean sea. But again IMO whoever is or will be leader of Turkey will be ready to sacrifice a lot of other positions or alliances against a Kurdish independent state anywhere in western asia, including joing EU or remaining as a de facto NATO member.
    Thank you

  78. says:

    Cool and correct comment!

  79. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    My context is thus.
    Iran funds the PKK in Turkey. Turkey supports the Kurdish PJAK resistance fighters in Iran. Sounds to me like they are for the Kurds if it is not in their backyard.
    Syria has no worries about Kurdish independence. The PYD has repeatedly stated that they do not seek to separate from Syria. All of their actions in cooperating with the regime tend to back up those statements.
    In Iraq we will have to see how the soon coming referendum goes. Iraq will certainly go to civil war if Kirkuk, Nineveh, Diyala and Salahuddin try to leave the country along with the KRG. But if it is just the KRG that leaves? Maybe, maybe not?

  80. Kooshy says:

    Mike there is no real evidence or proof of your claims that Iran is founding PKK, and Turkey founding PJAK, that is more like Debka file / Israeli hasbara stuff. Just check all 4 states official announcement with regard to Iraqi Kurds coming independence referendum, all 4 all against any independence referendum, simple it will not be accepted, as you said, for sure it will start a civil war and a new reason for US democratic loving forces to stay around. With regard to Syrian Kurds, just review the Iraqi Kurds since 2003 in the beginning they just wanted autonomy before they wanted their independence and as a bonus some more territory.
    None of this is new, Iran and Turkey have not fought for 400 years ever since 1639 treaty of Qasr e Shirin and later Erzurum (meaning Land of Rome) actually they have no border dispute and are allied regarding border security including Kurdish insurgency.

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is just a shakedown.

  82. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    I never used the term ”founded”. That is ridiculous. PKK and PJAK were not founded by outside countries or agencies. They evolved and formed themselves to fight repression.
    And I have never followed your debka file or AIPAC or other hasbara agitprop. I make a concerted effort to stay away from fake news sites like that and from Saudi or the IRGC sites that spread misinformation. The Turks and Iranians are the ones that blame each other for supporting Kurdish resistance groups.
    The Turkish foreign ministry has for years blamed Iran supporting the PKK. In addition they have blamed Greece and Syria, claiming that Bashar Assad’s father Hafez had a PKK training camp in the Syrian/Lebanese Mountains.
    The Iranian foreign ministry, just recently this year, blamed Turkey for a PJAK attack near Urmiya that killed two Iranian border guards and wounded seven more. That was in a report by FARS news agency, which is the mouthpiece of the Iranian government. PDKI, another Kurdish resistance group in Iran, is allied with Turkey according to an Iranian professor and author.
    Are you claiming that the Iranian and Turkish foreign ministries are dupes of the hasbara?

  83. Kooshy says:

    Mike, I have been reading and fallowing Iranian news in Persian for over 30 years,
    I have never seen or read official Iranian government blaming or claiming Turkey is helping Kurdish insurgency in Iran or for that matter heard or read Turkey blaming Iranian government for PKK. If you have seen read such thing ( in English?) would be new to me I have never seen an official one, please show me.
    As far as Iranian news sites and agencies goes they are no more better, credible or linked to state than the Provda on Hudson (NYT) or Izvestia on Potomac (WP). Logically, like the American media claims that Iran is helping Taliban, claiming, stating that Iran is helping Kurdish insurgents in Turkey or visa Vera’s don’t make sense, not that it don’t have any strategic value to either side but it rather makes Kurdish insurgency on both side stronger.
    From what I understand of your past comments, as well as well read detailed knowledge of the region you show
    you have, you already must know, no state in the region except for American government / military, Israel plus SKA is willing to help or protect Kurdish insurgency. IMO, part of western/ Israeli Kurdish operation could be a miss- information operation to create a wedge between Turkey and Iran on Kurdish issues. Informed people on this site will not buy to such a miss-information propaganda. If you believe Iran helps PKK tell us what would Iran’ strategic or tactical gain by destabilizing Tirkey? If true why Iran saved Erdo supporting him against cope. Do Iran thinks doing that makes Turkey return the favor what is good about that for Iran?

  84. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    Read FARS! Are you now claiming they are a bogus news agency trying to destabilize an Iran-Turkey friendhip? That they deliberately misquote high Foreign Ministry officials? On second thought, FARS does publish some pretty weird stuff occasionally. Maybe they got that story from the Onion. Like the Onion satire they took seriously and republished it like it was true about the majority of Americans wanting to have Ahmedinajad for our president rather than Trump or Obama.
    You think Iran saved Erdogan from the coup? Wow! That is misinformation on a classic scale.

  85. Kooshy says:

    Mike thank you for your reply,
    You must know Erdo spent the night of the cope in Tabriz fearing friendly NATO/Turkish Air force bombardment, according to Mr. Zarif Iranian officials were in touch with him all night, that was a political consequential risk for Iran to take supporting Erdo while our country US too almost the whole day to make such an announcement. As far as FARS news goes, if in your opinion NYT and WP compare to Onion than sure go for it it’s no difference FARS is onion. There is no proof Iranian government or Turkish Government are blaming each other for insurgency, it don’t make sense and one can’t make a case what it is the strategic benefit.

  86. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    And I also thank you for the continuing dialogue.
    However, I have to inform you that Erdogan spent the night of the coup attempt in Marmaris on the SW Turkish coast. From there he flew direct to Ankara, NOT to Tabriz. He did go to Tabriz in late August 2016 five to six weeks after the coup had been crushed. That was about the time that he invaded northern Syria, so he was evidently seeking Iranian concurrence and it probably had nothing to do with the July coup.
    You are correct though that Foreign Minister Zarif and others in Iran (Shamkhani and Soleimani) were in touch with their Turkish counterparts that night to condemn the coup. Zarif never claimed that Erdogan sought refuge in Iran. Although it is probable that he offered him sanctuary if needed.
    There is still serious doubt though that the coup was real. Most think it was a false flag by Erdogan so that he could consolidate power.
    By the way, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Bibi also condemned the coup attempt.

  87. Kooshy says:

    Mike news of Erdo spending the night in Tabriz was reported by some Iranian news site which obviously was denied officially ,. But IMO here was a good analysis why Iran was the first country to stand against the
    coup, and with legal legitimate government although they differed and differ on matter of Syria.

  88. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    Erdogan’s plane took off from Dalaman Airport near Marmaris at 11:47PM, but had to wait in the air south of Ankara for the airport to be secured. His plane landed at 2:50AM. Flight time between Marmaris and Ankara is just over an hour and 15 minutes. So he was waiting to land for about an hour and 35 minutes in the air. you are implying that during that time he flew to Tabriz and back. Impossible!
    As far as Iran being the first? Sorry to disappoint you. The EU was first to speak up publicly against the coup. And forty countries soon followed. Even many Kurds stood against the coup and stood up for the duly elected government. The KRG in Iraq did. So did the leadership of the Kurdish HDP political party in Turkey, even though they have now been outlawed and thrown in jail because they asked for Kurdish language newspapers and TV stations.

  89. Kooshy says:

    Sorry I missed to link the Al Monitor analysis
    “Why was Iran so quick to rally behind Erdogan?”

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