By Patrick BAHZAD
As readers will probably be aware by now, huge developments have taken place in rebel held Eastern Aleppo over the weekend. In a matter of 48 hours, the rebels have lost some 40 % of the urban territory that was under their control. Adding insult to injury, several thousand residents of those areas started moving over to government or Kurdish held areas in the West of the City.
SST has always forecast such an outcome and stuck by its judgement despite the circumstantial developments that media outlets and expert groups with far larger means considered testimony to the "impossible military victory" in Aleppo.
Well, it turns out, they were wrong and probably out of their depth. The pipedream of the moderate opposition and the propaganda BS that was being sold 24/7 both online and on our TV networks do not necessarily make up for a solid military background and real-life experience … What has just happened over the weekend is the classic example of a strategic breaking point being reaching in a case of attritional urban warfare.
You can debate all you like about the specifics of the case, but there is no denying that the principles of war apply in the same way they do for any other theatre of operation. People just tend to forget that there are means and ways to "prevail" in urban warfare, which is not – and never has been – an "unwinnable" battlefield.
Considering the high operational tempo of the current SAA offensive, it is likely that there will soon be a pause in the advance, in order for troops to regroup and prepare for the next phase, unless it appears that the so-called "moderates" are in such a state of disarray that the Southern part of the East-Aleppo pocket might be taken quickly through keeping the pressure on and just keep on going.
From what has trickled through so far however, it looks like the rebels chose to retreat from the Northern part of the territory they controlled, in a way not to be cut off from the main body of their forces and command centres. They might still have a fight in them, but now more than ever, they will have to fight with their backs against the wall. Whether or not a new offer at leaving the city or facing the consequences will be offered to them is up for debate.
What is looking more and more like a decisive victory for Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies does not put an end to the civil war in Syria however, let's be clear about this. But if Aleppo is won over by the SAA, this will definitely change the dynamics of the conflict in Northern Syria and shape the next phase of the war in a way much more favourable to the regime. The "moderates" would lose the last urban stronghold they have in Syria and would be left fighting a guerrilla war in inhospitable and backward areas of the country, where they will be much more vulnerable to R+6 airpower and ground operations. The similarities with the fate possibly awaiting IS, if and when it loses Mosul, are quite striking.
We shall elaborate on such issues in a SITREP to be published soon about the Aleppo and Mosul situations. For now, feel free to comment and share your opinion
Any thoughts on if the next big fight will be between Syria and Turkey over al-Bab? If so, what will be the American response?
Morning Joe and his ilk do not even understand the impact and meaning of the term “fighting a war,” as opposed to an ongoing occupation on the order of Israel in the West Bank. They do not know how to view the events of an actual war.
They harp, for instance, that Assad is “bombing his own people,” not remembering a similar example in 1863. The US Army shelled our own people in Vicksburg for days, and it was absolutely the right thing to do, because we were engaged in a civil war and they were rebels against the government.
Patrick: Any idea how determined the resistance will be in Idlib after Eastern Aleppo is liberated by the SAA?
I think, in case of Vicksburg and CSA, based on my limited understanding of US Constitution, they were exercising their inalienable right to separate from a federal structure that they thought no longer protected their interests.
Lee’s country was Virginia, if I understood his attitude correctly.
And then Abraham Lincoln turned around and said, in effect, “The Hell you are.”.
@Vic – Turkey has been told by no uncertain means to stay away from al-Bab. Erdogan then tried to get agreement in a phone call to Putin but was told to pack up and leave the area. No al-Bab, no Manbij, no Raqqa for him. Temporary(!) hold of Jarablus – maybe – but no more Turkish planes in Syrian air space and no Turkish artillery on Syrian ground. That will limit any action to 15km max from the border. The message seems to have finally been received.
Local rebels in the northern part of the cauldron have given up and went over. Foreign jihadis and their families went into the southern part. That is nibbled on from all corners, currently its eastern border. Whenever the Jihadi defense are too thick a different part is nibbled on while artillery and airforce clear the hardened defense lines. Expect more areas to fall soon.
The Jihadis want to hold onto the old city for a last stand. The SAA will surround them there and leave that part for a negotiated solution (why risk the casualties…).
Thanks for this PB – Looking forward to your next installment.
I see on Kurdish twitter accounts that the YPG is now in the Bustan Pasha & Hallok (spelling?) neighborhoods of East Aleppo which had been abandoned by retreating jihadis. Unfortunately the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood was still getting shelled as of a few hours ago.
Yes indeed Sir, I believe this view is correct. At the time the Constitution was signed each state was sovereign and the powers of the federal government were carefully restricted. The constitution did not address the issue of whether or not the states could secede from the union or not. Had the constitution prevented the states from secession, it is very unlikely that the states would have approved it. For that reason, the constitution remained silent on the issue. At the time of the Civil War, good men on both sides saw their their principal identities as citizens of the states with their obligation to the federal government as secondary, but also important.
Lincoln chose to resolve the issue on the battlefield as did the leadership of the states that became the Confederacy. The rest is, as they say, history. Many younger Americans do not understand this aspect of our history and hence you will see some people in the talkback sections of US publications claiming the Confederates were “traitors”, which is quite untrue.
Bill H is also correct, in my opinion, in stating that the bombardment of Vicksburg was justified. Once a civil war breaks out, it should be prosecuted as vigorously as possible in order to limit the casualties and costs to both sides.
Why is Kerry running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to protect the jihadists in East Aleppo? I would have thought by now, he would have given them up as a lost cause.
The reason given by Josh Rogin ,The Washington Post/Fake News columnist, seems like fake news to me.
“He is motivated not just by the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city but also by the prospect that the incoming president will strike a different kind of deal with Moscow, one that abandons the Syrian opposition and places the United States squarely on the side of dictator Bashar al-Assad.”
I doubt that Kerry gives a toss about the humanitarian crisis and he knows that Trump will do whatever he wants. So why is Kerry so bothered?
Thanks, Patrick. RT is reporting that Kerry is in a flurry trying. To nail down a Syria deal with Lavrov before his boss has to hand over the WH keys to Trump. Link via Russia Insider.
The East Aleppo “ghetto” defenders are jihadis but they are our jihadis. pl
The jihadis departure from northern East Aleppo may have been deliberate, but it was still a flight. If you compare to the Ghouta rings, there they fought on, until forced to make terms. In northern East Aleppo they retreated precipitately. It’s a sign. The Syrians should follow up, until the offensive runs dry.
Kerry is running around like a blue arsed fly because there are NATO people helping the Takfiri thugs there, trapped in the fighting and lots of evidence that needs syphoning out of the theater fast…
Hamar News is reporting that the shelling of the Kurd neighborhoods of Sheikh Maqsoud earlier today came from Kefer Hemra.
That area is west of the Castiello corridor and not part of the East Aleppo kettle. This is the same area that shelled Sheikh Maqsoud on Friday with chemical projectiles.
According to to the SOHR, about 10,000 civillians were in the liberated areas. So, the figure of 270,000 civillians in East Aleppo (according to the NYT) now seems highly dubious.
These liver-eaters are/were also tayyip’s jihadis, but our (Turkish)thief-in-chief is speaking softly these days; the days he was hoping to go to Aleppo for prayers is past and he knows it,
In the meantime the MENA policy of the Masters of the Universe is becoming visible as the massive Charlie Foxtrot that SST has always predicted. Things are now getting murkier. Since the air attack on TSK positions on the anniversary of the Sukhoi shoot-down we have been trying to find out who is responsible, with no luck so far. Russia is still publicly denying that it was their forces-I have no idea what is being said in private.
No one really knows what the deal is with the kurds. Might be that Trump and Putin have an agreement. Does anyone have any links which might be helpful?
His behavior is pretty baffling. Are the Dems looking ahead to charging Trump with “Losing Syria” and so can’t appear to diplomatically abandon the jihadis, even though they are doing so materially?
Who would trump be “losing” Syria to, the secular, multi-confessional government of Syria that has a seat in the UN? pl
Have we seen the tughra of Sultan Tayyip? Will he march on Vienna or just send masses of people engaged in volkervanderung? pl
From the west? Got it. Any SAA baseball caps for sale out there? pl
Kurds claim that area, Kefer Hemra, is Erdogan backed Turkmen jihadis. I have no clue if that is correct. But Syria conflict maps show that area as under opposition control. Most maps name it as ‘Kafr Hamra’ rather than ‘Kefer Hemra’. It appears to be ten Klicks or less from Sheikh Maqsoud.
I don’t think that ball caps will save their arses, no matter what they plea. They would be better off retreating through Idlib and eventually into Turkey’s Hatay province.
your analysis proved to be on point!
As for further developments I think it is important to keep in mind the “rebels” are no uniform force. In Aleppo it used to be “Fateh Halab” as coalition (and operation room), now there was a new “East Aleppo Council”. It is not really clear how many “jihadis” properly speaking there are, by this I mean JFS/ex-Nusra (and allies like Jund) and Ahrar al-Sham. Usually they cooperate well, but recently there were tensions between Nusra and Ahrar. For both we also hear rumours about new leadership.
Then there are “FSA” factions (better described maybe as “Islamist nationalist”) like Nouraddin al-Zenki and Fastaqim Union (and a couple of smaller ones). Both Zenki and Fastaqim – who together make 60, perhaps 70% of Aleppo rebel force – are firmly rooted in Aleppo, but 2 or 3 weeks ago there was a bloody clash between the two, allegedly over control of warehouse or ammunition, more likely over strategy. Zenki was reported to “merge” with Nusra, Fastaqim with Ahrar (whatever that means).
So the fissures are there, and they will deepen when the blamegame over defeat begins.
Basically it will about whether to surrender (Assad´s nice offer of Green busses to Idlib) or to stay. Ahrar & co will opt for the latter, while some hardcore jihadis (Nusra) may choose to fight it out (yes, the 72 virgins and all that stuff, listen to Muhaysini).
So there is a pretty good chance of complete collapse soon, with little pockets of fierce resistence.
Most of the population of eastern Aleppo has been in Glasgow and other northern British cities for the last 18 months or so. Or so it seems. Thanks Dave the pig-fancier. Thanks Tony Bliar. And not forgetting Gordon “is a moron ” ]Brown.
Khan AlShish is being evacuated atm. Apprently this will free up 3,000 Syrian Troops. Another terrorist holdout slightly North of Aleppo is on the brink of capitulation.
Perhaps Trump will just put out a treat relabeling the jihadis as the “Barack Obama Brigade”.
Minor differences in transliterated names mean nothing. There is no universally accepted system of transliteration from Arabic into Western languages and these are all Arabic names. I said SAA ball caps, not jihadi. pl
Ahrar will opt for the former = transfer to Idlib (and some “FSA” factions will give up completely and join the reconciliation process).
And the blamegame already has begun:
One of the reasons why rebels didn’t break the siege of East Aleppo bc rebels had smokers among their ranks according to one rebel
Ridiculous as it may sound this is a “theological” issue about how strict to follow sharia law. In Ahrar-dominated areas you are allowed to smoke, with Nusra rather not …
SAA ball caps is what I meant also. My point was that they (the jihadis west of Castiello road) have a safe reverse ratline back to Turkey. Erdogan will resettle them in eastern Turkey in Kurdish cities and villages to complete his ethnic cleansing.
Moon of Alabama had a report on Nov 25 on this incident, which I think clarifies the matter. It is at:
correction: North of Damascus.
Let’s hope that argument will be accepted.
Thanks. I did know this story at MoA. However, it is rumored that our radars did NOT show any attacking aircraft-this is peculiar given the assets of SAA and the aircraft fielded by the Russians. In addition, the tayyiban government and its megaphones dropped the story like a hot potato-it has vanished.
There might be more to this story.
P.s: I am trying to find a proper tughra for tayyip-the-klept for Col. Lang, but have had no luck so far.
How about مضمحل (Mozmahel)
Thank you for your comments.
So, if I understand you correctly, there is no mechanism within the United States constitutional framework which could be used to adjudicate between the rights of the states and those of the federal government of those states.
US Supreme Court cannot perform that adjudication since it is itself an instrumentality of the US Federal Government – is that a correct understanding?
Think it was signalled in very clear terms that al-Bab was off limits for the Turks. Any area the legitimate Syrian gov (Assad) and army (SAA) can reasonably control will probably be considered the same way.
As for an American response, why should there be any ? Other than making sure there is no escalation dragging NATO into conflict with Russia, the best option is probably to monitor the situation closely and “don’t do sh*t unless …”
That depends on how much of the rebel LOCs into the Idlib area will remain open, how many fighters will pour into the area coming from various other regions they are currently being expelled from and how much of an interest Turkey has in closing those borders, as opposed to weighing in more heavily to defend Turkmen minorities in that area.
It’s an equation with various unknowns, but overall, I suppose once Aleppo has fallen, the R+6 would probably be happy enough to suppress an insurgency in remote areas further away from regions with greater logistical, economical and demographic importance.
We shall see
Again, I’m not putting any money on which rebel faction doing what and when. They are all proxies for one of the larger players in this game, whether that is one of the regional powers, the US or Russia, or the Jihadi Multinationals (IS and AQ).
As a matter of fact, there is strong enough evidence to suggest that a significant part of those groups are being infiltrated at various levels by JaN/JFS/AQ-central and depend on skills, equipment and coordination that can only be provided by AQ. Says it all …
In principle federal law is supreme, but that principle is subject to challenge by the states in federal courts which often do not accept federal claims as to the constitutionality of specific federal law. You must remember that the federal judiciary is not subordinate to any other part of the government and Article 3 judges are appointed for life. For this reason the people who are federal judges matter very much especially at SCOTUS. pl
But these leaves the states in a fundamentally weaker position.
One could imagine a Court of Final Arbitration in which states would submit their judges and the US federal government theirs; and then those judges could arbitrate in matters between State Rights and Federal Rights.
It is what it is – but over the decades and centuries states will become weaker and weaker; in my opinion.
That would require a constitutional amendment and you would never get one because of the desires of the centralizers like Origin who want to see the country homogenized. Trump’s election and the possession of control of the senate by the Republicans is likely to lead to the appointment of numerous judges opposed to centralization. The multi-culti centralizers understand this. This is the reason for much of their angst. pl
“as did the leadership of the states that became the Confederacy. ”
That’s a bit of revisionist history. Virginia voted against secession the first time out (April 4th) and only voted the second after Lincoln’s call “in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand,”
Given Lincoln’s historical precedence the “sanctuary” cities, universities etc may want to think long and hard about what Trump can do to because, well, to quote Lincoln: “WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed…”
That would require a constitutional amendment and you would never get one because of the desires of the centralizers like Origin who want to see the country homogenized. …The multi-culti centralizers understand this.
Somehow, I have never conceived of myself as a “multi-culti centralizer” before, but perhaps, I should ponder the possibilities of such a label. I may even consider a post on the possibility of the label and its implications at some later time when I am not so tied up writing law things for work. Last week it was a real pleasure to have some time to post at length. Unfortunately, this week I cannot because I as a time slave, I have to work.
However, I am not in favor of eliminating the Electoral Collage as I have previously explained my position and the real genius of the idea itself.
There is one thought though that might add to this discussion. If the damn it, I’m American de-centralizers are not careful, the genuine centralizers are going to eat up this country. It has always been my view that the Republican establishment lacks any sense of the consequences of the fatal flaw in markets, the inevitable tendency of markets to move toward concentration.
As an example, my Congressman, Tom Price, who thankfully is about to leave on his quest to go destroy Medicare and Social Security by privatization is a true centralizer. We only have about five or so medical insurance enterprises that carry almost all of the coverage for the nation. https://www.thebalance.com/the-big-five-health-insurance-companies-2663838 Blue Cross alone covers over 106 million of the 325,000,000 people in the U.S. (33%). United Health Group covers 70,000,000 or almost 22% of the people. Aetna with about 20,000,000 members about 6%. Humana insures about 13,000,000, about 4%. Kaiser Permanente insures about 10,000,000,3%.
The inevitable trend is for the huge fish to eat up the really big fish. Do not be surprised to see BC-BS or UHG try to swallow-up the smaller ones to get greater power. The fix is already in with Trumps appointment of Joshua Wright who has spend his career opposing anti-trust enforcement. https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/us-former-ftc-commissioner-to-lead-trump-transition-on-antitrust/
Tom’s idea is to substitute the single payer system of Medicare with a voucher system so elderly people will be forced into the clutches of the highly concentrated U.S. Health Insurers. His argument against Medicare is that the government is in the way of patient treatment and patient-doctor collaboration and need to get out of the healthcare business altogether. What he wants to do is subject us all to monopolist pricing by his friends.
Let’s consider the bait and switch inherent in Tom’s proposition. A casual reader would think, good, I will be able to make more of my healthcare decisions in consultation with my physician.
The reality is that Medicare approves and pays for the procedures is decides it likes. The patient and the doctor is stuck with Medicare’s decisions and regulations. There is no real incentive for Medicare to kill-off expensive patients because the citizenry like it and the Congress’s tenure in office is slightly affected by how much people like Medicare. An aggrieved patient can call the constituent services office of his Senator or Representative and obtain get some effective help. Under Medicare, at least you get to vote for a Senator or Congressman for whatever that is worth.
Most importantly, with government single payer Medicare, the government does not need to take tax money and Medicare premiums and distribute to it shareholders as profit.
Under Tom’s plan, he wants his friends who we do not have any control over to manage our Medicare. Go to the links I listed above. You will see that the circle of deciders in the Healthcare industry is very small. The citizens have no way to affect them, no vote, no real influence. Their interests they will pursue are not good for us regular citizens.
And, most importantly, these people want to make a profit off of old people. It is in their economic interest that the sick die fast.
The whole thing is a deceptive con and scam.
Meanwhile, Twittering Trump is deflecting the “lefty-librals” with his flag-burning as a part of his three-card-monte game.
In the monopoly health care industry, micro-economic theory will result in the skyrocketing of the co-pay part not covered by the government voucher will increase until it breaks the senior who need care and they drop out. Health insurance will be priced along the line of this http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/25/news/economy/cancer-drug-cost/index.html
Who profits–The people who will have the real control of privatized Medicare will be profit maximizers, a layer of medical expense that government Medicare does not have.
It will not the people who voted for Trump because “he tell it like it is” Tyler, I assume you are over or near 65. The fact is your vote for Trump may kill you when you cannot sustain monopoly pricing for your privatized Medicare. The Republican powers now in place will be the real centralizers, they will centralize even more money into the top .0001 percent.
In the meantime, Trump will shill with his Tweets while the People are robbed blind and the nation’s interests are bartered for a new Trump tower in some godforsaken third-world dictatorship.
The multi-culties and the Noble Deplorables have more in common than either group imagines. They need to come together and “centralize” themselves against those who are clandestinely stealing our country.
From the length of this comment you do not seem short of time. pl
The issue is non-enforcement of Robinson-Patman.
Bill Clinton did not do it. Neither did George Bush or Barack Obama. And Trump will not either, just as Hillary Clinton would not have.
Health care costs have been rising at 9% per year for over 30 years. Medicare & Medicaid already represent a third of federal expenditures. At this rate it will collapse federal government finances in two decades. MRW and the MMT crowd will chime in that the federal government can spend to infinity with zero costs to the economy. We’re going to find out if that is true soon enough as healthcare becomes a larger and larger piece of the federal budget.
Why is it that the economies of Canada, the UK and France do not collapse under the burden of universal health care? pl
I’ll go a step further — from personal experience, universal health care can encourage free enterprise. When I was contemplating going out on my own, leaving company going free-lance, selling my services, one risk was that sickness could destroy my ability to work, ie no revenue stream coming in. But being not at risk of having to additionally pay big bucks, huge expenses going out, made the risk much less.
So yeah, socialized medicine helped an entrepreneur. Sorry to bust the bubble of ideologues.
Talk with, or better yet observe, farmers and fishermen and others who work with uncontrolled nature, and you realize that they are among the most socially aware, helping of others (in the group) types. It’s only in the luxury of cities, with lots of services, that a person can pretend he does not need to rely upon and trust his neighbours.
An aside, or rather a return to topic… Russia has sent a mobile hospital to Aleppo. Good move, both practical humanitarian and also counters the hospitals-bombed meme.
I’m not any expert on health care finance but I believe in Canada, UK & France there is healthcare rationing and price controls. In any case they spend half what we spend on a per capita basis and as a ratio to GDP.
Medicare and Medicaid are examples of socialized medicine in the US that are running away in terms of growth rate of expenditures and doubling every 8 years. My point is that this will collapse federal government finances as healthcare expenditures become an ever larger percentage of the federal budget within the next decade or two.
In 1970 the federal government spent $12 billion on healthcare which represented 1.12% of GDP. In 2015 it was over $1,028 billion representing 5.7% of GDP. In 1960 as a nation we spent 5% of GDP on healthcare in the US. By 2013 it grew to 17.4%. This clearly is not sustainable.
Socialized medicine is no panacea unless it is accompanied by rationing and price controls to bring down costs. If we were to get our spend to the same per capita level as UK, Canada and France then we have to cut healthcare expenditures by half. That means the federal government can only spend $500 billion and not a trillion dollars as it does currently. Who is going to bear those cuts? Drug companies, doctors, hospitals, grandma? IMO, we can be certain that there will be no political will for those cuts. So, on the current path the federal government’s healthcare spend will double to $2 trillion in 2023 and will become $4 trillion in 2031. Now, MRW and all the other MMT folks who comment here will say that’s not a problem as the federal government can spend to infinity with zero deleterious effects on the economy and the bond market. In fact they argue that is a good thing and government boondoggles are highly beneficial.
My other point is that to get a national healthcare system that covers 100% of the population and which will ration healthcare (aka death panels) will require legislation. That’s gonna take forever in our current political climate. So, the next best thing that can be done is to enforce existing law, in particular Robinson-Patman. For example, I suppose the DoJ can sue the FDA for anti-competitive practices and restraint on trade by preventing entrepreneurs from buying identical pharma products in Canada and selling them here at a substantial discount to prevailing prices. I am not a lawyer so don’t know exactly who and how that Act gets enforced.
It is my understanding that discretionary procedures like hip replacements are effectively rationed in Canada. pl
Sam Peralta “My other point is that to get a national healthcare system that covers 100% of the population and which will ration healthcare (aka death panels) will require legislation.”
Death panels exist and have existed for years. Healthcare is already rationed. The insurance companies call it “pre-authorization” and the patients have no meaningful input in the process. Hospitals do it all the time when they decide who remains in the intensive care ward and who is sent to hospice.
Face the facts. As long as the profit motive exists, it is the primary driver of healthcare rationing. It is in the best interest of the shareholders of insurers that the seriously sick die quickly. The public has absolutely no control over how insurance companies are operated and what patient care goals they set. About ten multi-billionaire families make those decisions for us and their interests do not mesh with those of Bubba or Sue or any of us who read or write on this blog. Their goal is to maximize the price of insurance and minimize the care provided and to gather the power to make those decisions into as few of them as possible.
The conservative idea that to allow the market regulate healthcare as the best way for them is true. Without regulation, all healthcare companies will consolidate into a handful of entities and a very few families will reap the benefits. That is what free markets do; they move towards extreme concentration unless restrained.
Nobody in the Republican Party is going to enforce Robinson-Patman. They might repeal or defang it though. And Trump’s DOJ is not going to do anything either other than counsel as to how Medicare and Social Security can best be privatized for the profit of Trump’s friends.
These folks do have a plan to create a national healthcare system that covers 100% of Americans. They are well along the way to reaching their goal by soon forcing everybody to buy an insurance policy from one of the surviving two or three national insurance companies who will price it all as expensively as possible and pocket as much profit to the few families as possible.
As a result, healthcare will not collapse the government, healthcare companies will collapse all of the people instead.