Russia and the US are working to resolve the situation in Syria in a very concrete and organized way, according to Shoigu, who explained that all of the suggestions are aimed at preserving the country’s territorial integrity and fighting terrorism, while the sides believe that the rest can be worked out at the negotiation table.
Shoigu said that, despite being feared in the West, Islamist militants are actually unaware of what they are fighting for. “If we look at [their] nationalities… they would hardly know five cities in Syria by heart. They don’t know the names of those cities, and they hardly wonder what they’re fighting for. It’s obvious and clear to everyone.”
State Department officials told a CBS News correspondent that there is presently nothing to announce on US-Russia cooperation in Aleppo. Direct talks on the issue are continuing in Geneva, but there is no “deadline” for any agreement on cooperation, they said. (RT)
What is Shoigu talking about here? He has never struck me as one given to idle chit-chat or speculation. My guess is that he is not talking about the city of Aleppo. That would be a stretch. He is referring to the coming battle for al-Bab and the closing of the link between IS and the Turkish border. They are preparing for a "Meeting on the Elbe" moment which will require close air-ground coordination. It is militarily prudent to discuss such things.
A French member of the SDF told ARA News that their forces aim to liberate as much as territory from ISIS as possible. During a press conference, the al-Bab Military Council announced that they follow the example of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council that liberated Manbij city from ISIS last Friday.
“Drawing on the experience of our neighbours in liberated Manbij and it’s countryside, it has become necessary for us to work together to liberate our people, as a step to the liberation of all of Syria, and to build a common home,” the council said. “That’s why we announced the founding of the military council of al-Bab and its countryside,” the organization said. (ARA News)
The SDF has announced the formation of the al-Bab Military Council on Sunday. This is in line with the YPG desire to continue the offensive to al-Bab and on to Afrin. The US desire to seize Raqqa will have to wait for another day. The SDF and the new al-Bab Military Council give the US the fig leaf needed to continue supporting the Kurdish drive to unite Rojava. I also believe the Kurds and the Arabs of the SDF are not of the "Assad must go" camp. They may be ambivalent of his continued regime in Damascus, but they desire a united Syria with some hard won federated semi-autonomy. They know they live in a tough neighborhood. The US will have to look elsewhere for their new unicorn army.
Quote from Elijah Magnier on his Twitter a/c:
That is his wish perhaps. Shogun can’t decide without forces on the ground in harmony with his Air Force. A problem he is facing Note : Typo Shoigu
In addition, from Haidar Sumeri
#Russia has deployed bombers and other aircraft to #Iran’s Hamedan AB in an expansion of its air campaign in #Syria.
It looks like the Russians are getting even more deeply involved if they are going to base aircraft in Iran for combat roles.
What’s in it for them?
And, are they getting into a situation that the Borg Queen and her neocon fellow travelers can exploit to create further chaos?
Shoigu is an interesting person. He reportedly speaks Turkish. But I wonder if it is the Tuvan version of Turkic that he must have learned as a boy in Siberia?
Russia’s not closing any doors, they will keep talking as long as their is somebody to talk to,
meanwhile, they will continue to act.
They don’t treat Diplomacy like a soap opera, marital melodrama complete with edicts, slamming of doors, long silences and then make up sex, unlike other Diplomat’s we know.
What’s in it for them? If Putin’s article in the NyTimes about “no such thing as an exceptional nation” and “sovereignty and rule of law should be respected” and other things was sincere, a successful “enforcement” of those things as realizable principles where Syria is concerned is a goal in itself. If it can be enforced with regard to Syria, it can be more easily enforced elsewhere. Also, the Borg and its Global Axis of Jihad may be dissuaded or even prevented from trying such an overthrow and dismantlement elsewhere.
Then too, preserving Syria and its legitimate government would achieve the narrower goal of denying the Global Axis of Jihad a free zone for setting up yet more training camps for yet more jihadis to attack yet more regimes targetted for changing . . . as well as depriving the GAG of a base to train and send jihadis from Russia back into Russia.
interesting and independent. Seems he has very little to do with Putin. And he became a minister when Putin was a non-entity in Russian politics.
It’s the Tu-22M3s which so far have been operating out of southern Russia, so instead of a 2,800 mile round trip with reduced load to bomb Aleppo, they now have a 1,300 mile round trip with full bomb load (26 short tons). They could partake of two missions in a day and still be back in time for tea. So reduced cost and increased destruction – surely the neo-cons would approve.
In reply to Sam Peralta 15 August 2016 at 09:18 PM
Adding to the comments of Different Clue & Ghostship below:
Take a look at a map. You can get to Syria from, for example, Chechnya by motorbike. In fact by motorbike is exactly how Chechen jihadis who’ve been captured in Syria got there.
One of your more disastrous presidents had a slogan about fighting them over there so you don’t have to fight them on your homeground. It was never more than a slogan used to justify hamfisted dimwittedness as taking a look at any map showing where the USA is locate will soon reveal. But it’s entirely applicable to Russia and to the former Soviet republics.
What’s in it for them?
Denying their enemies a base from which to train and launch attacks. That’s what’s in it for them.
Seems he has very little to do with Putin
It is a very wrong impression.
Russian defense ministry confirms Syrian airstrikes out of an Iranian airbase. looks like checkmate for the “‘bomb Iran” advocates.
A bit controversial to some but it paints the reality:
“In the first of two articles, a Westerner with extensive on-the-ground experience in Syria and Iraq explains how the West’s understanding of sectarian identity in the Middle East is fatally flawed. He reveals new information on these civil wars and their participants.”
According to Elijah Magnier today:
Strikes on Aleppo, Idlib and Deir-Ezzor by RuAF from Hamedan
That slogan is revived and is being used in Iran in regards to the war in Syria.
I’m sure the neocons will try to spin this as a danger to our “ally” Turkey.
Do you have a link for the Putin statement? I’d like to read the whole thing. Thanks.
“..a base to train and send jihadis from Russia back into Russia.”
Makes perfect sense.
If the Borg Queen gets crowned in November do you think Russian forces in Syria are in danger of attacks with sophisticated US arms provided to the jihadis? How would the Russians likely respond to such provocations?
Russia, forget Middle East, which is very open country, with freedom of speech Western Europe can only dream about, with millions of tourists. It seems that it wouldn’t take much to get it right, right? Forget it. It is like a Wheel Of Fortune–West can get some, of even all, letters right and yet, fails time after time to come up with the right word. The problem is not in complexity of ME (or Russia, or wherever)–the problem is West’s “elites”, their “education”, world-view and a combination of other malaise so well noticed by Alexis De Tocqueville 180 years ago. In simple words–US (and West in general) lives through Chalabi moment non-stop and not just in the last 25 years.
Sorry. Not “has”. “had”
I believe he was referring to Putin’s editioral in the NY Times, published at the time of the agreement to remove chemical weapons. Putin wrote that it was dangerous for any nation to view itself as exceptional.
Another interesting development: China will provide Syria with humanitarian aid and may provide training to the Syrian military.
In reply to Babak Makkinejad 16 August 2016 at 09:44 AM
For Iran it’s entirely apposite.
Since we are all experts on ISIL, al-Qaeda, Assad, Iraq, Iran – and even Washington, I feel uninhibited about speculating as to what’s going on in the Kremlin. Obama, and the administration that he nominally heads, has been trying to square circles in Syria. In this cause, they repeatedly have tried to marginalize (if not eliminate) the Russia factor since Moscow keeps doing and saying things that highlight the contradictions in Washington’s actions. Kerry’s ploys over the past few months have aimed at doing this by trapping the Russians in phoney cease-fires, the rebranding of al-Nusra & Assoc, and related maneuvers. This strategy has had a few tactical successes but seems to have reached the end of the road after the latest fiasco of the ‘war party” pulling the rug out from under the Oslo-dreaming Kerry.
Now, it’s Putin’s turn to try trapping the Americans. In effect, the Shoigu message is saying: if you are really concerned about the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, if you really are dedicated to achieving “Syria for the Syrians,” if you really want to crush the terrorist groups – then, we’re prepared to help you militarily, politically inside Syria and diplomatically by doing “X & Y & Z.” I suspect that the expectation in Moscow is that this will go nowhere. but were Obama to bestir himself to seek a genuine resolution of some sort in the interests of his famous “legacy,” Putin would be glad to cooperate.
Live by smoke-and-mirros; die by smoke-and-mirrors.
He was the Minister of Emergency Affairs, under both Yelstin and Putin, from 1991-2012. He got a reputation for competency and hands-on leadership in handling emergencies.
I wonder if the YPG/SDF Kurds after fighting for and expanding their Rojava will favor returning it to a United Syria ruled by Assad even with some semi-autonomy? The Kurdish Nationalist goal is the creation of Kurdistan with Rojava being one province in that larger dream.
The Rojava Kurds have formally called for a federated system for the northern cantons with those cantons remaining in Syria earlier this year. Damascus wants a united Syria without federation. The difference lies in the degree of autonomy. This is doable. Turkey is more opposed to any kind of Kurdish federation than Damascus.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Obama doesn’t pivot on Syria and arrange an agreement with Russia as described. He did something similar by short-circuiting the hawks on his side when reaching a nuclear settlement with Iran. He must know that if he doesn’t act, that will leave a door open for escalation and he clearly doesn’t want that. He knows Clinton well and is in the position to out-maneuver her again. Special bonus is it will allow Obama to demonstrate to both Bibi and Erdogan who is the boss.
For Russia, neither does Putin want Clinton to enter with a free hand, which makes it in both Putin and Obama’s best interests to come to an agreement before November. This is the kind of bittersweet “October Surprise” that will both help and handcuff Clinton.
I hope it happens.
Now, it’s Putin’s turn to try trapping the Americans
Russia is not trying to trap anyone. It is a very different dynamics on Russian side, the same as stakes–they are much higher for Russia since it is not about reputational and image losses. Consistently, for many years Russia stated, sincerely, that she is open to dialogue with the West. She still is, but the logic of this dialogue seems to be beyond the grasp of West’s “elites”. One thing they fail to understand is this time there is no trust whatsoever left in any “establishment” so called partners. There is simply no trust, period. Fact is, Lavrov recently reiterated this. “West” or rather those who think that they are West trapped itself through its own means. Since 2008 (in reality much earlier) it was absolutely transparent. But then again, none other than famous “scholar” of Russia, Richard Pipes, for all the wrong reasons, in 1977 correctly stated that West’s “strategies” against USSR are being developed with no regard to actual Soviet intentions. Russia does take war damn seriously, she always did.
There are only three constituencies for continued chaos in Syria: Israel, Erdogan’s Turkey, and ISIL/al qaeda.
Clinton is firmly in Israel’s camp, but Obama has shown with his Iran deal that he is perfectly willing to toss Bibi’s concerns aside to find a solution which works better for the US.
Turkey is a more difficult case, but Erdogan’s clumsy recent appeal to Russia helps Obama justify freezing them out of a deal with Russia.
It will be tough to lose face and cut off the unicorn rebels, but not that tough. The US has found a way to do that pretty often.
TTG & /or Smoothie X12
There is some speculations here locally in Central Texas from some “former federal officials ” that BHO & Sec of Defense Carter are coming around to actually having Military to Military cooperation in setting up a liberated zone from Aleppo City to Jarabalus ? Is this possibly in the works ? And furthermore if I am understanding the current news the RuAf ‘s strategic bombers flying out of Iran now can carry three times as much ordnance to strike the Liver Eaters amassed around Aleppo City ? Thats a pretty big strategic advantage to be leveraged for the ‘liberated zone ‘ yes ? ( This is the Russian AF equivalent to Incirlik ? ) Could this be the October Surprise for our national election that Aleppo , Raqqa et al will be freed from the Liver Eaters thus boosting BHO ‘s legacy and Big Grandmas chances for winning in November ? Some kind of Elbe River photo op for Shillary is how one former official described it here recently,,,
One big difference. Rohani’s election punctuatd a turn in Iran’s political climate that led Teheran’s leaders to bend over backwards to give Obama what Washington was demanding. They made all the concessions. He subsequently has stiffed them on implemented his side of the bargain.
What Obama et al are demanding is tantamount to suicide for the Assad regime, humiliation for Russian and a strategic defeat for Iran. So, this time it is Obama who will have to climb down from the untenable positions he’s taken. Does he have the courage and conviction to do that in the next 5 months? Nothing in his record or character suggests that he does.
If you would knew ME, you would knew a free independent Kurdistan, even a fully autonomous one, was not, will not, be possible, even if Saladin was alive today. Except for western pipe dreamers none of the ME countries suport that, regardless. Like the state of Israel is tough and expensive to survive when you are not welcomed and supported by your neighbors. Maybe Kurds (like my sister in law) know that better than the European Jews.
As I stated recently (couple or three months ago)–“face saving” play from Russia for US is not only possible but probable. How probable? I don’t know, I wish I knew what Russian and US military are talking about. There is no doubt that Obama’s foreign policy is an unmitigated disaster. Could he go for some Russian offer of face saving nature? Also possible. As per Iran–it is not basing bomber force there, it is called the jump field (Aerodrom Podskoka)–it is no real base. Just refueling, some rest and then on with mission. Saves time, plus TU-22M3 is not real-real strategic bomber in terms of range (unlike TU-160 or TU-95), which is limited, hence TU-22’s moniker–a Eurobomber. But its load is respectable, of course and this arrangement is good for this type of plane.
I don’t believe you are accurately describing who is undermining the Iran deal. Obama has obviously paid them the $400 million, and worked to defeat senate opposition. He also has worked against the initiatives to derail the agreement, but we don’t (yet) live in a dictatorship.
Sure, what Obama’s current demands are would end Assad, but you assume he won’t negotiate. I believe he will. Nobody in the US really wants this Syria war to escalate with increased US involvement. Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel, and Trump on behalf of Putin.
Obama, no matter what you think of him, has a pretty good pulse on what the center wants, and that sure ain’t war. Presidents often want to go out with a foreign policy win. Especially an unexpected one.
You are correct. And thank you for bringing the link.
Yes, Clinton will surely try to get effective weapons provided to the jihadis, even to ISIS if she thinks she could cover her tracks on that. How would the RussiaGov respond? I don’t know. I can imagine the RussiaGov would suspect the Clintonites of seeking high stakes brink after brink after brink in hopes of winning a short sharp prestige battle. The RussiaGov knows it would not end there. The RussiaGov also knows the Clintonites are not smart enough to know it would not end there, and not humanly empathetic enough to care anyway.
So the short term RussiaGov response would be to dance around brink after brink after brink as long as possible, and meanwhile strengthening and deepening military alliance with China and maybe Iran and maybe others. The RussiaGov’s longer term goal would be to make itself part of an “attack one-attack all” alliance context of such obvious power that the Clintonites might eventually be scared to brink with Russia.
They would try to act very reasonable with Europe in hopes that European publics would vote their own Clintonite-equivalents out of power and vote European-safety-first Russia-accomodationists into power.
They would also try to lower their dependence on gas and oil sales beyond their border and increase their reliance on arms and weapons sales beyond their border, trying especially to undercut traditionally American markets.
These are all a pure layman’s guesses, to be sure.
He won’t climb down
It is no use supplying them with facts, Western people think they can create countries out of the thin tissue of paper, ink, and dreams. The last one was South Sudan, into which they had vested so much over decades. They finally got it and it blew up; demonstrating once again why UK is a sovereign state and Fiji a nothing.
If they sincerely wanted to help anyone, they could have helped usher in Puntland as an independent member of UN. But that goes against another one of their No-No-s.
Puntland should not exist, South Sudan should, and so should Kurdistan – but not the People’s Republic of Texas or the Islamic Republic of Hyderabad
Smoothie x 12
Russia provided BHO with the off ramp regarding the CW in Syria . We shall see.
The Rojava Kurds are governing their territory already with little if any Syrian input so these calls for federation may be just soothing rhetoric. The de-facto state of Kurdistan already exists in northern Iraq and they appear to be expanding their territory around Mosul and planning to at least claim part of that prize, if they can.
With the almost complete local and international rejection of the idea of and actual Kurdistan they may have to accept a lesser condition but their long-term goal seems to be a united Kurdish state.
“Nobody in the US really wants this Syria war to escalate with increased US involvement. Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel, and Trump on behalf of Putin.”
1. “Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel” – Do you know any other powerful group in the US government, apart from ziocons, which makes all the important decisions in foreign affairs?
2. “…Trump on behalf of Putin. “- Could you elaborate on your conviction that Trump is a willing agent of Putin? This theme has been vigorously promoted by Clinton camp, but their supporting evidence is not just lame – it is imbecile.
“…Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 strike aircraft took off from the Hamadan airfield in western Iran to conduct airstrikes against Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham — formerly known as al-Nusra Front — in Syria.
“It’s unfortunate but not surprising or unexpected. And I think that it speaks to the continuation of a pattern that we’ve seen of Russia continuing to carry out airstrikes and now it appears with Iran’s direct assistance that at last purport to target ISIL [Daesh] targets as well as Nusra targets, but in fact and we’ve seen this continually predominantly target a moderate Syrian opposition forces,” Toner told reporters.”
Poor Mr. Toner. He has no choice but to beg for gentle handling of the “moderate jihadis.” He has a nerve to slander Russians by accusing them of avoiding bombardment of ISIS but targeting instead the precious and mysterious “moderate jihadis.” Perhaps Israel is losing its patience and presses the the US to protect the Israel’ tool (“moderate jihadis”) from the imminent destruction? A free and prosperous Syria would be anathema for Israel.
Not an Iranian or anyone from Iranian descent believed ONE word of President Hopey-Changey. If and when he lies to his own electorate, one does not expect better. I had told before on this very forum “Iran gave up a nuclear program that did not exist, for a recognition of it’s rights by USG that will never come forth”.
The only reason, that the Iranian government decided to reach an agreement, was to showcase for the world community (and no, the latter does not exist of U.K., New Zealand, Australia, US and Canada) which party is responsible for the problems.
Again, as I had told before, when U.S. sanctions one country that could be effective. When it sanctions half the world then it is only sanctioning itself.
Only the “Northern Tehrani Westoxificated elite” (to use the conservative language of Iranians) were convinced by Obama.
Trump’s daughter visited Russia for a vacation! 😉
“Obama, no matter what you think of him, has a pretty good pulse on what the center wants”
ROTFL… Herb, you are either naive or delusional if you think that Obama, or any high level politician or advisor or think-tanker or Borg member of either party cares what the little people of America want (other than pretending to such at election time). Perhaps you missed all the articles a few years ago about the research showing that the US is a plutocratic oligarchy at the national level (democracy only exists at the state and local levels in the US).
As a whole, the elites only care what each other think… and even then are primarily concerned with whoever can help them achieve their own ambitions. Not sure why so many hang on to fantasies about noble caring leaders who dream of doing right by the little people. It is a strange modern fantasy. Though perhaps some people need this fantasy to justify their political ideologies and votes.
Of course a “foreign policy win” is seen as desirable as a legacy amongst fellow elites, but how often does such actually benefit the little people? But such “wins” do make for good exhibits presidential libraries. At this point I’m sure Obama is thinking pretty hard about that library and how much he can make at speaking gigs after he’s out of office. As well as what sorts of do-gooder projects his foundation will promote. All these will benefit his image and bank accounts, but what does that have to do with the rest of us?
The opposition in Iran is going bonkers that Rohani made the deal with Obama to get 400.000.000 $ as a first installment towards the 1.7 Billion debts that U.S. owed Iran, for non-delivery of weapons that were already paid for prior the Saddam’s invasion of Iran.
Obama’s team and Rohani settled the debt by agreeing to reduce the sum that Iran was seeking, thus allowing the former to dodged a likely ruling by an arbitration court against the United States that could have awarded Iran as much as $10 billion.
Believe you me, Rohani shot himself in the foot and maybe somewhere else too.
You mean that it is not in interest of Iran to fight DAESH??
You can’t spend 10 billion you don’t have. You can’t even spend 1.7 billion you don’t have. But you can spend $400 million that you do have. I’m sure his opponents are going bonkers. So? My response was to whether Obama is reneging on his promise. He obviously drove a hard bargain. From the perspective of the US, why is that bad?
1) Yes. My comment was obviously referring to the electorate. They are a powerful group who, through their elected officials make important decisions in foreign affairs. We are looking at another right now. But the other powerful group in the US government that makes important decisions in foreign affairs is the US military leaders, and they are not neocons or ziocons, necessarily.
2) Trump is making his decisions as a willing agent of Putin in the same way as Clinton is making her decisions as a willing agent of Israel. A quite literal case of “if it is good for the gander, it is good for the goose.”. Interesting (or not) that you only chose one half of my formula to object to. An ox was gored?
Did I say whether Obama actually CARED about delivering what the vast center wanted? I said he “has a good pulse” about what they want*. Could one just as easily read that as implying he understands what the vast center wants and panders, such that it improves his approval and legacy? Reread my comment objectively, It might help.
* Trump also has a good pulse on what a certain segment of our society wants. Bravo to him. I don’t think he actually cares about their needs or wants but he understands it, that can’t be denied. Same with Obama.
Iraq’s Barzani runs into trouble with this little nation building act in Syria.
The PYD said no rather forcefully. And another power struggle erupts
There’s little evidence that the Syrian Kurds want to submit their sovereignty to the kleptocracy that is Barzani’s Iraqi Kurdistan. A degree of autonomy as a federated region within Syria offers better prospects.
There may be some Kurds working for a state incorporating parts of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, but they’re making the fatal mistake of believing their own origin myths.
Rohani’s election punctuatd a turn in Iran’s political climate that led Teheran’s leaders to bend over backwards to give Obama what Washington was demanding. They made all the concessions. He subsequently has stiffed them on implemented his side of the bargain.
that’s the bad story, Ahmadinejad or people like him are probably already waiting in the wings. The failed deal in itself will be the best chance ever to show that the US (“big versus small Satan”) can ultimately not be trusted.
But Indira A.R. Lakshmanani’s article Herb links to is interesting. It somewhat shows why people like Mark Dubowitz in their well funded institutions and think thanks can make their “bipartisan” case quite easily. Long established enmity after all.
On the other hand considering the longer UN – WMD – sanctions story of Iraq, did anyone ever think it could be different with Iran this time? Never mind we sometimes would like to not give up hope completely.
Monday, October 21, 2013
The internal power structures in Iran continue to puzzle outside observers. Although President Hassan Rouhani is the new face of the government, shadowy-strongman and IRGC Quds force commander, Major General Qassem Suleimani, sits at the epicenter of all of Iran’s overseas activities—including supporting insurgent groups in Iraq, backing Syrian President Assad’s violence against the Syrian people, and training and equipping terrorist organizations across the region. Meanwhile, the IRGC, which reports directly to Supreme Leader Khamenei is engaged in ever more elaborate sanctions evasion activities including shipment through numerous shell companies and renaming and re-flagging ships used to transport embargoed goods to and from Iran.
As Rouhani rages a full-scale diplomatic charm offensive, how long before he and Suleimani face-off over the question of the direction and tone of Iran’s foreign policy? How much flexibility will Rouhani have on the nuclear question when the IRGC controls the program? The ultimate question is, at the end of the day, “Who rules Iran?”
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a top expert on Iran and the inner workings of its regime. He came to FDD from the American Enterprise Institute, where he worked as a resident fellow specializing on civil-military relations in Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He is the originator of the thesis that the Islamic Republic is transforming into a military dictatorship, which he first published in 2005, and has since been adopted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister John Baird. Ali is the author of Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship (AEI Press, April 2013). He is also the author of the definitive series of articles on Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations branch.
Mark Dubowitz is senior research fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto where he teaches and conducts research on international negotiations and Iran’s nuclear program. He is also the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute, where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, nonproliferation, and countering electronic repression. Mark is an expert on sanctions and has testified before Congress and advised the U.S. administration, Congress, and numerous foreign governments on Iran sanctions issues. He is the co-author of eight studies on economic sanctions against Iran and the co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, a nonpartisan project co-chaired by five nonproliferation and sanctions experts, which produced a 2013 report on U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East. Mark has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Forbes, Slate, The Weekly Standard, The Globe & Mail, and The National Post, and appeared on CBS Evening News, CNN, Fox News, NPR, PBS, BBC and CBC
What are the experts on the other side?
Russia provided BHO with the off ramp regarding the CW in Syria
Thus unleashing Obama’s tantrum because of his perceived diplomatic “loss”. Russia is (and was) in this proverbial position of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Even helping Obama seems to be perceived on his side as being humiliated because, in Obama and his circle it is known that approaching deity such as him must be done on the bent knees. All this situation around Syria is extremely simple, really. It all reduces easily to a hubris–the rest follows.
She was seen in the company of Wendy Deng, former wife of Murdoch and now, according to scuttlebutt, the girlfriend of Vlad.
I can understand you, Smoothie.
But yes hope was a very, very good election slogan. 😉
Interesting analysis from Elijah Magnier:
“…Obama was selective in choosing his targets in the land of ISIS: indeed, sometimes his air force fighters would express frustration, instructed to fly past ISIS targets without bombing.
For over a year, Obama did not touch ISIS’s main source of income, its oil revenue, maintaining the organisation’s continuing ability to fight for as long as necessary in the process depleting Iran, Hezbollah and its Iraqi proxies in Syria.
It was only when Russia’s air strikes hit hundreds of ISIS oil tankers that Obama decided to jump in to prevent the Kremlin from receiving all the credit for its Air Force.
Obama’s diplomacy imposed itself even on its sworn enemy, al-Qaida (AQ). The US threatened to join military efforts with Russia to bomb the AQ franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria, unless it declared overtly that it was breaking ties. For many months, and still to date, Obama has not provided Russia with any information related to the location of the CIA-vetted Syrian groups.”
Like the Barzanis or Talibanis are going to share the oil wealth of Northern Iraq with any other Kurds in the world.
The Beaver: What can Obama do? The entire anti-Assad opposition is apparently made up of medical personnel. See https://twitter.com/TheStudyofWar/status/765232871753723904
I’m really surprised that all these physician-fighters have been able to hold off the SAA with only their scalpels.
Problem is, if everywhere in opposition-held areas of Aleppo and Idlib is a “hospital,” people start to get a little cynical about the message and messenger.
JCPOA is not a failed deal; like any other cease-fire deal it suffers from occasional flare-ups and violations.
And, in the absence of a Peace Treaty, it will, like any other cease-fire deal,eventually disintegrate under the accumulated weight of violations as well as the changing circumstance since the signing of the deal.
The need for a Peace Treaty with Iran is certainly not appreciated among the Western Diocletian states (save among few scholars in Italy); no surprises there, their leaders are not even willing to agree to a Peace Treaty with the Russian Federation.
That issue is not settled.
I did read your comment objectively as I have no political attachments whatsoever (I’m a political atheist). That you disagree with my opinion is fine with me. I think there are many elites who don’t want war either and I believe that’s the only “center” Obama is catering to.
I’m a third party voter. Not impressed with Trump either. I thought at one point he possibly had “a good pulse” on certain issues, but was always suspicious that he was stuck in pro-wrestling trash talk mode for the sake of attention getting. He had some good points but is not capitalizing on them and now acting dumber by the day.
Btw, I don’t believe in things like a “vast center” (that’s an imaginary place) nor do I find traditional notions of left and right useful any more.
My view of the candidates this election https://www.pinterest.com/pin/3096293472915575/
“there are many elites who don’t want war” That does not matter. It is the ones who do want war who will bring it to us. pl
Al Rai seems to have fallen once again to the FSA. Though they’ve won it other times in recent months and then lost it, there are signs that ISIS is losing the initiative in the northern Aleppo rif.
I’m curious from someone who knows more about this than I do. There are a string of villages held by FSA in the far north of Aleppo rif from Bab al-Salame to the Bab al-Rai, all within 1 to 3 miles of the Turkish border. Aside from the Azaz-Mare’a corridor, they’ve been unable to hold or regain other villages in this area. They look stretched thin – holding a territory consisting of two perilous salients and no core.
Is there something about Turkish artillery that is significantly more accurate and effective within 1-3 miles, which has allowed the FSA to take and hold those villages but not ones further from the border? Or is it something about these villages that is distinct from those further just another mile or two south (all Turkmen populations perhaps)?
I also find it interesting that the Kurds have advanced to the west just south of Arima into several villages. The best road south had already been closed to ISIS by previous advances. Every village south of Arima that the Kurds take makes the ISIS line of communications with the outside world is that much more difficult – With al Rai at least momentarily closed, logistics have to run Jarabulus to al-Bab, then a series of rugged country roads south between the SAA at Rasm as-Sirhan and the YPG at Jubb al Hamir.
Even as the Kurds advance east to their objective of a connecting corridor, they are doing so in a way that does tend to further isolate Raqqa.
I’m also wondering whether the FSA advance eastward is part of an agreement with Turkey – that the FSA will be allowed or assisted to take the border corridor while the Kurds take a strip further south to connect Afrin and Manbij. Or perhaps this is just Turkey pursuing its interest without anyone’s approval.
There is talk that Kurds are withdrawing from Manbij this morning. This presumably means that military units are gone to places they are more needed, rather than garrisoning the town, while the council the Kurds worked through and put in place may still know it has marching orders from the YPG.
It will be interesting to see whether there is entente or misunderstanding in these Kurdish-liberated, Turkmen- and Arab-populated areas.
The idea of a Rojava or a Iraqi Kurdistan were unthinkable not that many years ago but time and war can offer opportunities for those willing to take the initiative.
I don’t know what the Rojavans might think about Barzani’s Kurdistan but they might be more likely to want to live within a Kurdish kleptocracy than an Arab dictatorship.
I don’t think this has anything to do with ‘origin myths’ because the nation state concept is an alien western construct imposed on the ME to further western goals. There is some irony in their present alignment with the US while their political ideology is from Soviet Russia.
This false rumor was addressed several months ago… see my comment on Wendi Deng at 01 April 2016 at 12:29 PM http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/03/httpsyoutubennrnszsza_8t1070.html
Oh you’re one of those people who thinks Trump is an agent of Putin. Thanks for the laugh
PL, you are, of course, absolutely correct. But I was addressing a somewhat different train of thought with Herb and his claims about Obama. I realize that just because many of the elite fundraisers for Obama and the Dems aren’t keen on war is rather meaningless in the larger Borgian scheme of things.
There is a good series being published in Foreignpolicy:
Today: Part 2 :
Within a day, the combined jihadi forces had broken through the lines of the Syrian Army. Shortly after, Regiment 111 was fully under jihadi control. They found large stocks of weapons, ammunition and, to their surprise, chemical agents. They were, according to Abu Ahmad, mainly barrels filled with chlorine, sarin, and mustard gas.
What followed was the distribution of the war spoils. Everybody took some ammunition and weapons. But only the Nusra Front seized the chemical weapons. Abu Ahmad watched as the al Qaeda affiliate called in 10 large cargo trucks, loaded 15 containers with chlorine and sarin gas, and drove them away to an unknown destination. He did not see what happened to the mustard gas.
BTW: Elliot Higgins alias Brown Moses (Bellingcat Analysis) must be sweating on his couch in England. Wonder who inside the beltway is paying him since he has mentioned that someone is funding him from DC.
After his made-up lies about Assad for HRW to use back in 2013 ( Yep Hollande was ready to bomb Assad when both US/UK said NON), now his conclusion that Russia was responsible for the Malaysian Airline being shot down over Ukraine has been debunked – reference Consortium News article on NYT by Parry.
Note: Part 1 was published yesterday and Part 3 tomorrow .
At just the time that Hitler came to power, the Berlin correspondent of the ‘Chicago Daily News’, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, published the first edition of his classic anti-appeasement polemic, ‘Germany Puts the Clock Back.’
(For a useful contemporary British account of his career, including extensive quotations from his writings, see http://spartacus-educational.com/SPYmowrer.htm . As will be evident, although he may be forgotten in his native country, some of us in Britain still revere Mowrer.)
He had the great advantage both of having interviewed Hitler extensively, and also having bought a lot of whisky for senior Nazi Party figures. As a result, he came to the conclusion that the agendas of ‘Mein Kampf’ were those Hitler would implement, if he had the chance.
In November 1937, an updated edition of the book was published by the popular British paperback house ‘Penguin’, as their first ‘Penguin Special’. It was immensely influential in the shift of opinion I this country against appeasement.
Although completely contemptuous of communism, Mowrer believed that any realistic strategy to combat Hitler required an alliance with the Soviet Union.
Something that amuses me is how close the response of American ‘neocons’ to suggestions that the United States might have a common interest with Putin’s Russia in combating ISIS is to the response of the appeasers to suggestions from Mowrer and people like him that Britain might have a common interest with Stalin’s Russia in combating Nazi Germany.
And, of course, Putin is not Stalin – although from much Western coverage, one wouldn’t realise there was any significant difference.
One difference between now and then: while supporters of appeasement certainly accused Mowrer and people like him of being ‘useful idiots’ of Stalin, they never to my knowledge accused him of being a ‘willing agent’.
Clearly, on the basis of Herb’s logic, Churchill was a ‘willing agent’ of Stalin.
Interesting analysis from Elijah Magnier:
You call this “analysis”? I thought this goes under different name.
Oh, these must be the chemical weapons we’ve always been looking for. Just laying around by the truck load in the front line. Of course that was 2012, four hears ago. Are they going to point out the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons in 2014?
Let us say that Putin is Stalin. So what?
Stalin did not seek a war with anyone, he had his hands full in USSR.
He was trying to avoid a war.
In reply to Amir 16 August 2016 at 11:16 PM
I suggest you find a dictionary and look up the word “apposite”.
In reply to Amir 16 August 2016 at 10:56 PM
In reply to The Beaver 17 August 2016 at 09:17 AM
Whenever I read “Vlad” being used by a westerner to refer to Vladimir Putin. I know I’m reading something by somebody who is so ignorant of Russia and Russians that they can’t even get his nickname right.
Who are they?
and what has 2012 got to do with it?
Did you read the article , part I& II?
In reply to Herb 17 August 2016 at 03:10 AM
“Interesting (or not) that you only chose one half of my formula to object to. An ox was gored?”
No it’s that that particular part of your formula is so effing ludicrous that it’s not worth refuting.
Hsve you considered buying large roll of tinfoil and fashioning it into a hat?
I don’t know ! All I know is that he has been to both Syria and Iraq to report about the civil wars.
Have you? or do you have any contact/data in/on those countries to appreciate what is really going on ?
You too can join in the fun the American middle class way:
” .. you can’t travel to Europe without visiting the forests and lakes of the Baltic region — ….. and Russia”
Only part 2. See the relevant paragraphs describing the combat:
“ Syrian Army soldiers inside Regiment 111 successfully defended their base during the first rebel attack in early November 2012, …. . But the cold December wind only fortified the rebels’ resolve. The base was a goldmine: … And deep inside Regiment 111’s bunkers … more valuable — a cache of chemical weapons.”
“The attack was led by the Nusra Front and supported mainly by Kataib Muhajiri al-Sham, ….. Within a day, the combined jihadi forces had broken through the lines of the Syrian Army. Shortly after, Regiment 111 was fully under jihadi control. “
These reference alleged chemical weapons obtained when the Nursa Front captured the base – in 2012.
In reply to PeteM 17 August 2016 at 12:26 PM
How will three ethnic groups that speak mutually uninteligible languages come together as a nation state in the teeth of opposition from the nation states from which their territory would have to carved?
In reply to Kooshy 16 August 2016 at 04:38 PM
How can you say such a thing when they have sparkle ponys and unicorns on their side!!!???!!!
Behold I have photographic proof!
Thanks, now I understand your initial comment and reference.
Sorry, I didn’t catch the pt you were making.
I know a little bit about Russian-American and Russian-Middle East dynamics to smell out an “analyst” of this type a mile away. No, I haven’t been to Syria or Iraq.
With all due respect, I never pretended to be one nor did I proclaim that I am an authority on Russia.
I was just reporting what I read this morning on Trump in the Globe and Mail and hence the mention of “scuttlebutt” wrt Deng
Get off your high horse- this is just a blog.
“And, in the absence of a Peace Treaty, it will, like any other cease-fire deal,eventually disintegrate under the accumulated weight of violations as well as the changing circumstance since the signing of the deal.”
True, like refusing to open interbanking exchanges and suddenly seeing your adversary getting overflight and refuel/reload rights.
Many years ago I was told by someone who knew, that the problem the west/US has with Iran is not about the type of the revolution Iran had, but it rather is why Iran had revolution. He told me multiple US administrations did and will recognize Islamic Republic of Iran, but will not accept or recognize Islamic revolution of Iran, the reason being the revolution was the vehicle to ascend the interests and rights of Iran against that of US’ geopolitical and regional interests.
In reply to The Beaver 17 August 2016 at 05:02 PM
There’s a difference between not being an expert or even slightly knowledgable and being downright ignorant.
In reply to Herb 17 August 2016 at 03:02 AM
“You can’t spend 10 billion you don’t have.”
Have you mentioned this to the US government?
Somebody needs to put a dirty sock in ex-CIA Mike Morell’s nasty mouth to quiet his stupidity.
On second thought a dirty sock won’t quiet a wacko-mind such as the ex-CIA wonk. Any suggestions? Morell is a real nut-case.
There appear to be two questions here.
1. Did one expect Obama et al to use the nuclear agreement as a springboard for “resetting” (excuse the term) relations with Iran in the direction of normalization – and, accordingly, would the main economic sanctions be removed on a good faith basis?
2. Could Obama have done this?
To any dispassionate observer, there was ample evidence that Obama was dedicated to encapsulating the “nuclear accord” – principally because a) the only alternative to an accord was war of a kind for which he had neither stomach nor nerve, but b)he never was able to shift his thinking away from the hardening consensus in favor of an ultra-tough line toward Iran.
I believe that the answer to Q-2 is ‘Yes.’ But for that you need conviction, a strategic mind, and readiness for a political fight. Instead, Obama had boxed himself into a corner thanks to unrelenting rhetoric over the years that portrayed Iran as the devil incarnate. He never fights even when not in a tight corner.
Southern Front has a very good map of how the Iranian air base increases the effectiveness of the Russian air force.
They use radius lines based on different aircraft type to compare the range between Latakia and the Iranian air base. The Russians now have dramatically increased their ability to attack eastern Syria. The payloads will increase and the flight times per sortie will decrease in eastern Syria. They mentioned how much more effective air support could have been on the SAA’s ill fated attack on Tabaqa.
I just have to acknowledge some especially clever, cynical humor on today’s thread. It was greatly appreciated and I agree with sentiments.
Brunswick, “They don’t treat Diplomacy like a soap opera, marital melodrama complete with edicts, slamming of doors, long silences and then make up sex, unlike other Diplomat’s we know.”
Matthew, “The entire anti-Assad opposition is apparently made up of medical personnel.”
and Col. I appreciated your reference to Keitel on an earlier topic.
I don’t think this story is credible. There’s no evidence that the Syrian military ever stockpiled chlorine – it wouldn’t be much use in a modern war. The Syrian government has always maintained that none of their sarin stocks fell into opposition hands, and this is consistent with the lab evidence
Analyses of environmental samples in Porton Down, the OPCW-designated labs and the Russian lab showed that the sarin used in Syria between March 2013 and August 2013 was not from from Syrian military stocks, and appeared to have been synthesized under “cottage industry” conditions. Specifically, the finding of hexafluorophosphate reported by OPCW indicates that the synthesis started from phosphorus trichloride or elemental phosphorus. The process used by the Syrian government started from trimethyl phosphite. There’s also ample evidence of a Nusra sarin production cell: the Azaz border incident investigated by Mokhtar Lamani, and the arrests in Turkey in May 2013 of a Nusra team attempting to buy hundreds of kilos of sarin precursors.
Ironically, what the supporters of ‘appeasement’ believed was that Stalin very much wanted to ‘avoid a war’ at the outset. A central premise of their view was restated in the famous ‘Long Telegram’ that George Kennan sent from Moscow on 22 February 1946:
‘Soviet efforts, and those of Russia’s friends abroad, must be directed toward deepening and exploiting of differences and conflicts between capitalist powers. If these eventually deepen into an “imperialist” war, this war must be turned into revolutionary upheavals within the various capitalist countries.’
(See http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/coldwar/documents/episode-1/kennan.htm .)
This was, indeed, a by no means implausible reading of the available evidence. The context was the dramatic shift in Soviet policy, from the ‘Red-Brown Alliance’ with the ‘National Socialists’ against the Social-Democrat led government in Prussia in August 1931, to the adoption of the ‘Popular Front’ strategy by the Comintern four years later, which was the counterpart to Litvinov’s proposals for ‘collective security’.
It is not entirely surprising that this dramatic transition prompted suspicions that Soviet enthusiasm for co-operation against Hitler’s aspirations to wrest the – largely ethnic German – Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia was a ‘baited hook’.
The imputed strategy was to get ‘Russia’s friends abroad’ – prominently including those whom Kennan called ‘democratic-progressive elements’ – to pressure their governments into a confrontation which would generate a war, from which the Soviets could then stand aside.
They had no land border with the Czechs, and the last thing Poles and Romanians wanted, for entirely understandable reasons, was to have the Red Army crossing their territory.
The problem with this interpretation was not that it was at all implausible – but that it turned out to be wrong.
Restatements of the position of the ‘appeasers’ in the ‘Nineties by the GRU defector ‘Viktor Suvorov’, aka Vladimir Rezun, and Kennan’s erstwhile subordinate in the American Moscow Embassy, Robert C. Tucker, provoked what I think is a definitive refutation by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky, in his 1999 study ‘Grand Delusion’.
From a damning aside on Tucker’s work in a review of that study: ‘If Stalin saw the war as a chance for the Allies and Germany to bleed themselves white and let the Soviets move in and pick up the pieces, as others have argued, then it is not evident in the documents.’
(See https://networks.h-net.org/node/10000/reviews/10279/slepyan-gorodetsky-grand-delusion-stalin-and-german-invasion-russia .)
A point that the history ought to drive home is that, irrespective of whether or not one likes a regime or system it is important to try to understand how its leaders are thinking.
It is true that some of the ‘democratic-progressive elements’ who followed Mowrer’s lead had illusions about the Soviet Union.
But others shared Mowrer’s contempt for communism, and did not need to be reminded that – as Kennan recalls – Lenin had called the Social Democrats the ‘false friends of the people’ (otherwise, ‘social fascists’.)
They simply realised that one has to decide what the primary threats are, and – unlike Kennan – made the right choice. (I know: my late father was a case in point.)
An irony about the ‘neocons’ has always been that they talk incessantly about ‘Munich’, display no awareness of the fact that the decisions the British had to confront were not easy ones – and simply miss the point that Chamberlain’s most serious errors, which were in 1939, not 1938, had to do with a propensity to attribute to the Soviets conspiratorial intentions they did not at that time have.
In fairness, however, there were many aspects of Soviet behaviour, both before and after the war, which made a predisposition to exaggerate its involvement in conspiratorial activities rather understandable.
The common predisposition among Western élites to impute offensive intentions to Putin where none exist – which makes Neville Chamberlain look like a piker – is simply silly.
Instead, Obama had boxed himself into a corner thanks to unrelenting rhetoric over the years that portrayed Iran as the devil incarnate.
You are probably right; Michael. But I do not, even in a dispassionate way, want to imagine the consequences of your option a).
I stopped listening to him a long time ago. And yes, obviously there were reasons for doing so. Besides, one could no doubt argue he, at least partly, helped to create the election dilemma Americans face now.
But don’t worry (irony alert):
The leaders of multinational banks, I should think, the contingent and temporary nature of JCPOA. Therefore, they would avoid Iranian-related businesses, especially those that would be of multi-year duration and could fall victim of the disintegration of this cease-fire deal and drag the banks into the firing range as well.
I think this same consideration will also apply to the sanctions against the Russian Federation – likely for a generation we will not see large financial activities in Russia that are under-written by multinational Western banks.
It is always easy to start wars – financial or otherwise – and it seems also to be extraordinarily difficulty to end most them.
A couple of other important points to this deployment. First this signals an increase of joint Russian and Iranian efforts to aid the Syrian government. That puts a giant dent in the plans of the borg to spin yet one more crisis to justify a no-fly zone or outright intervention on behalf of the ISIS/nursa front (or whatever the borg have ‘re-branded’ them as) efforts to destroy Syria. Second it leaves open the possibility that ground forces may come from the same region even though the line for logistics is very long – stretching back to the ports on the Caspian Sea. Third neither this air effort or line of logistics are likely to be interdicted by post-purge Turkey. The question still remains if there are enough ground forces in the SAG to finish the job.
News from South Sudan – it speaks for itself:
Which three ethnic groups are you referring to?
Probably the most effective power play the Kurds have made to counter the nationalist resistance to a Kurdistan is their alliance with the Borg, first in Iraq and now in Syria. The IS attack on Erbil Is what brought direct US intervention in this conflict.
No, I don’t think he is any more an “agent of Putin” than I think Clinton is an “agent of Israel”. But their goals align.
I can see your point, but I’m going to give Obama credit here for avoiding war with Iran, because the vast majority of both his party and the Republican party “elites”, and all other pressure was driving directly toward it.
I voted for him solely on the hope that he would avoid war with Iran, and he did, so I’m giving credit where it is due.
In reply to PeteM 18 August 2016 at 12:03 PM
What tantrum ?
Guess where the issue of Ukraine came from?
Well, actually their ideology is from Plainfield, VT. – They have given up on the Maoism and authoritarianism and adopted many of Murray Bookchin’s ideas about anarchist community organisation.
In all the things I’ve read about them the only things that really bother me are some of the interviews with young soldiers show a continuing tendency to idolize the imprisoned PKK leader Ocalan – and his picture is up everywhere. They need to rid themselves of the remnants of the old personality cult.
Smoothie x 12
That is a point taken .
My next vacation spot will be to Saint Petersburg, time permitting.
I found a dictionary: apposite means very appropriate, suitable for the occasion or situation. Thanks.