Wednesday, October 29, 2014

" Syrian rebel forces join battle to protect Kobane" (grand title in Qatar's Al Jazeera!)

Al Jazeera 

"... 50 Arab fighters from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) arrived in the embattled town on Wednesday in a move aimed at halting ISIL's advance across northern Syria....  the FSA fighters were only equipped with light arms and machineguns..."

"The US has been at war since 2001 -- nearly this entire century so far ..."

"... The problem that Obama has, which has crippled his foreign policy, is that his principles have not been defined with enough rigor to provide definitive guidance in a crisis. When the crisis comes, that's when the debate starts. What exactly is the national interest, and how does it apply in this or that case? Even if he accomplishes that, he still lacks a figure with the subtlety, deviousness and frankly ruthlessness to put it into place. I would argue that the same problem haunted the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations, although their challenges were less daunting and therefore their weakness less visible.
There is a sphere in which history sweeps a president along. The most he can do is adjust to what must be, and in the end, this is the most important sphere. In another sphere -- the sphere of principles -- he can shape events or at least clarify decisions. But the most important level, the level on which even the sweep of history is managed, is the tactical. This is where deals are made and pressure is placed, and where the president can perhaps shift the direction of history.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not had a president who operated consistently and well in the deeper levels of history. This situation is understandable, since the principles of the Cold War were so powerful and then suddenly gone. Still, principles without definition and execution without precision cannot long endure."

Ignatius romancing ISIS wants US boots back in Iraq & Syria: NOW!!

"... When the jihadists stand and fight, as they have done in the northern Syrian town of Kobane, they get pounded. U.S. officials estimate the jihadists have lost 400 fighters in that battle. U.S. airstrikes have also hammered their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, including oil wells and supply depots.
There is some solid military planning in the U.S. strategy but it also includes some wishful thinking. The most dubious assumption is that Iraqi and Syrian recruits can win this fight against the extremists without U.S. advisers alongside them in battle."

Obama's WH: "The intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus"

Via MoA. Very informative interview of Gen. John Allen, the WH's anti-ISIS Czar!
"...Q: But you don’t see the FSA units that are being trained to fight ISIS as being those who will later fight the regime’s armed forces?No. What we would like to see is for the FSA and the forces that we will ultimately generate, train and equip to become the credible force that the Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognizeThere is not going to be a military solution here [in Syria]. We have to create so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution. Now, there could be FSA elements that ultimately clash with the regime, that may well be the case, as they seek to defend themselves and those areas that they dominate and as they seek to defend their families and their ways of life . . . it could be an outcome. But the intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus—that is not the intent. The intent is that in the political outcome, they [the moderate Syrian opposition] must be a prominent—perhaps the preeminent voice—at the table to ultimately contribute to the political outcome that we seek..."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Umm Mahmoud, Abou Mahmoud, Mahmoud... & ... the fantasms & infighting of a mercenary force!

"... A spokeswoman for Legion 5, an umbrella group of rebel units that receive American support through a covert CIA program, said that rebels are using TOW anti-tank missiles in their battle to slow the government advance. ... who identified herself only by the nom de guerre Um Mahmoud, or Mahmoud’s mother, denounced a claim by another rebel figure, Gen. Abduljabbar al Akidi, the former head of the opposition Aleppo military council, that the rebels were sending 1,500 troops to Kobani to fight. Gen. al Akidi made the claim Thursday to Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel.
Um Mahmoud said the situation was far too dire in Aleppo for the rebels to spare that many fighters...."

Winds in Washington: "Tel Aviv now exercises less of a veto over the US-Iran talks..."

'... The Administration is also gearing up for a final push on the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran, hoping to meet the late November deadline for an agreement. From conversations we have held with senior contacts, there is little doubt that the dividing line runs – as it always has – between the differing US and Iranian requirements for the residual enrichment capability to be left to Tehran post settlement. A senior State Department analyst commented to us: “This is more a political problem rather a technical one. It depends entirely on what the political leadership in Washington and Tehran can convince themselves that their arguments have prevailed.” The US is making sure that it is keeping top Israelis officials, for example the defense minister, fully informed about the negotiations, but our sense is that Tel Aviv now exercises less of a veto over the talks. Returning to ISIL, the Administration’s message is that this will be a long engagement, with little expectation of rapid breakthroughs.  Indeed, we are advised that Pentagon pessimism about this operation is at an all-time high.'

Friday, October 24, 2014

27 abducted Lebanese soldiers & Cedarland Banana Republic still 'negotiates'

Al Jazeera English

"... Despite his arrest warrant, Hujeiri still moves around the town of Arsal freely... He is out of the hands of the Lebanese state, ... "

"American policymakers continue to see Saudia as indispensable not because it has shown itself willing to change.. but because it does not.

"... Anti-Shiism today is not so much the product of a retrograde or orthodox interpretation of Islam — widely labeled Wahhabism — as it is the convergence of several political forces, the most important of which is a vulnerable state.Confronted by a number of internal and external threats — the Iranian pursuit of influence in the Gulf; the rise of Shiite power in post-invasion Iraq; the uprising in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s satellite state; and most importantly, the rise of a range of domestic challenges to Saudi authority since 2003, including criticism of deep state corruption and the absence of political rights — leaders in Riyadh have responded by fomenting discriminatory anti-Shiism. Rather than broadening participation or overturning inequalities, the regime’s impulse has been to pursue the politics of sectarian escalation...
With these priorities in mind, it is unlikely that American officials will do much to challenge Riyadh on either al-Nimr’s verdict or try to alter its sectarian behavior more generally. Critics have called on the United States to rethink its strategic ties to Riyadh. But doing so would require confronting not only the contradictions in American policy, especially given that it is close to a Saudi state that supported the rise of ISIS, even if indirectly, even while it now claims to be committed to the Islamic State’s destruction..."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Iranian Foreign Minister at the Council on Foreign Relations

"... It is a sensible and sophisticated presentation that drives US neocons crazy. They can hardly control their grief at no longer having Mr Ahmadinejad around. He was so much easier to hate ..." (Gary Sick)
"... 

STATE Official: “We have to face whether we are going after ISIL or Assad or both, but for the present we just want to postpone the decision.”

'.... Externally, the picture is not much better. While the commanding general of the anti-ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria is reporting optimistically about progress, the two major open questions – the deployment of US ground forces and the long-standing dilemma over Syria – remain unresolved. On the latter, the US finds itself being drawn deeper into Syrian politics in the form of a meeting with the Kurdish PYD party. Its armed wing the YPG is providing the main body of opposition on the ground to ISIL in Syria, but its links to the PKK in Turkey, which the US regards as a terrorist organization, is complicating relations with Ankara. A State Department official put it this way in a comment to us: “We know we have to grapple with the question of whether we are going after ISIL or Assad or both, but for the present we just want to postpone the decision.” The ground troop question is becoming ever more urgent in the light of ISIL’s consolidation in Anbar province from where it can threaten Baghdad airport. As a Democratic strategist commented to us: “The logic of war is forcing the President in a direction to which he is profoundly resistant.” On other subjects, following last week’s high level talks with Iran, a top State Department official is due to clarify the US position in a major speech on October 23rd. Our sense is that US officials feel that an agreement is within grasp – albeit far from assured. As US officials like to repeat: “even if the deal is 98% done, the final 2% could see it fall apart.”.."

'Out of courtesy'

"... Because of the consistency of such behaviour, the source added, many in the international community have started meeting opposition figures “only out of courtesy”. According to official sources, Saudi Arabia and other key backers in the region have been left dissatisfied by infighting within the opposition..."

Western 'artificial creations' will collapse, says Israel's Ya'alon!

Yaalon predicts end to Middle East newly created 'artificial' states.  Not those TWO who are (by order of antiquity) 5000 & 3000 years old!!!!
"... "We have to distinguish between countries like Egypt, with their history. Egypt will stay Egypt," Ya'alon, who is on a visit to Washington, tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.In contrast, Ya'alon says, "Libya was a new creation, a Western creation as a result of World War I. Syria, Iraq, the same — artificial nation-states — and what we see now is a collapse of this Western idea."

Border Incidents Escalate Again: Iran Kills Pakistani Soldier

"... The big question is whether Iran feels that Pakistan’s Frontiers Corps is aiding the groups that cross into Iran or whether the Pakistani forces came under fire in this case through a mistake when they were chasing the same “miscreants” Iran presumably wished to target..."
'“The FC personnel were chasing miscreants when they came under attack by Iranian forces. It was a targeted attack on Pakistani forces,” the spokesperson added. One FC vehicle was completely destroyed due to intense firing by Iranian forces.Iranian border guards continued firing for six hours. However, Pakistani forces did not retaliate to the offensive of the neighbouring country.'

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

US & Syria to share intelligence on ISIL, via Moscow!

Al Jazeera English

"... Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Paris, to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and Syria.Kerry said the US had agreed to "intensify intelligence cooperation with respect to ISIL and other counter-terrorism challenges of the region".He said Moscow would also explore whether it could do more to help arm and train Iraq's embattled military..."

Z Moussawi wants to testify against 'several' Saudi banks & the Arab Bank ..

... and the crusade of the 'invisible hand' against the whole Arab banking sector continues!

"... After a federal jury in Brooklyn found Arab Bank liable last month for financing Hamas operations during the Second Palestinian Intifada, Moussaoui sent a handwritten letter to the clerk of the court from a super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, where he is serving a life sentence. (Moussaoui said he heard about the jury verdict on Fox News.) “I want to testify against financial institutions such as Arab Bank, Saudi American Bank, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia” and several individuals, Moussaoui wrote, “for their support and financing of Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda from the time of the Eastern Africa embassy bombing, U.S.S. Cole bombing and 9/11.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

'America'ss allies' logic of the situation believe that the US will be compelled to intervene on the ground'

"As the pace of operations against ISIL accelerates but with inconclusive results, there are signs of rising tension between President Obama and his leading military advisers. In a visit to the Pentagon on October 8th, Obama received what a Department of Defense contact described to us as a “reality check.” With top Pentagon spokesmen acknowledging that air strikes by themselves will not check ISIL advances, the talk in Washington has turned to ground troops. Talks with regional allies, notably Turkey, about supplying combat forces have proved fruitless. As a State Department official remarked to us: “They all believe that the logic of the situation will compel us to intervene on the ground, so they will not make the first move.” Administration contacts tell us that both Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel accept this logic, but Obama and his inner circle remain resistant and thus the official line remains that ground troops are not under consideration. Another unresolved dilemma for the Administration’s posture is Syria. Advisers close to Obama now advocate giving less priority to efforts to unseat the Assad regime, at least until ISIL is sufficiently weakened. We do not, however, see this as likely to emerge as official policy. One unexpected beneficiary of the turmoil in Iraq may be the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Following a bilateral meeting between US and Iranian officials on October 14th in Vienna, Kerry will resume talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javed Zarif together with the EU negotiator Katherine Ashton there on the following day. While expectations for these sessions are modest, US officials tell us that the conflict with ISIL on which the US and Iran find themselves broadly aligned has made these talks more collegial. As one official put it: “We have found that we have interests in common.” Whether this will lead to tangible results remains to be seen."

'Kobani will be remembered as a turning point for Turkey in the expanding US-led coalition’s war on ISIL'

"... Turkey is in the least enviable position in the region. Bursting at the seams with Syrian refugees, crawling with foreign and local jihadis, and on the receiving end of increasingly unrealistic demands from the West, the country is facing renewed internal violence from Kurds throughout the country.
Certainly, the Turkish leadership has made several mistakes in its quest to see the Assad regime removed..."

The origins of Russia’s new conflict with the West

"... The Ukraine crisis demonstrated that the West has no means to impose its twenty-first century worldview on Putin. To paraphrase Anthony Lake’s words of a quarter-century back, the US does not have leverage over Russia’s ways, now even beyond Russia’s borders..."

The U.S. government does not trust the Free Syrian Army!!

"... Being excluded from Tuesday’s coalition meeting is only the latest clear signal to the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the FSA from the Obama administration that they don’t see these groups as a credible or trusted partner in the fight against ISIS..."

The Syrian clowns of Saudia & Qatar

'Mama & the Emir'
GulfNews.com

"... The two countries are seen as competing for influence in regional affairs. Over the weekend, the Syrian National Coalition failed to agree on a prime minister during a summit in Turkey. A member of the SNC said the biggest dispute at the Istanbul meeting centred around a split between the favoured candidates of vital funders Saudi Arabia and Qatar..."

'Kurdish forces at Kobani benefit from U.S. airstrikes while being targetted by Erdogan'

"... Turkey has blocked military aid or Kurdish volunteers from crossing into Kobani, but Idriss said he is hopeful that talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the largely autonomous Kurdish area of Iraq, will lead to weapons and ammunition support. If that comes to pass, the question is whether Turkey will allow it in.The airstrikes in Hakkari, about 250 miles east of Kobani, may suggest that the answer is “no.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/14/243388/kurdish-forces-at-kobani-benefit.html?sp=/99/117/416/#storylink=cp

Our friends in the Middle East are issuing new passports


Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking down Assad "not on the front burner"

"... Turkish Kurds fought a decades-long insurgency in which 40,000 people were killed. A truce last year has been one of the main achievements of Erdogan's decade in power, but jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has said the peace process would collapse if Turkey permits Kobani to fall...."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Romancing ISIS continues in Erdogan's Turkey

"... Former Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler defended the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is known for its brutal treatment of people in every place it has taken over, in a tweet he posted to his Twitter account late on Wednesday, stating, “ISIL also kills, but at least doesn't torture.”İşler's tweet, seen as supportive of the terrorist ISIL, which has been attacking the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani with heavy artillery for over three weeks, drew ire on Wednesday.İşler wrote: “What was the crime of the youth who died after he was struck by stones in the head? Even ISIL cannot hold a candle to those who did this. ISIL also kills, but at least does not torture.”

Moscow & Tehran to Erdogan: 'Do not attempt regime change in Syria!'

'MOSCOW. Oct 8 (Interfax) - Moscow believes it is unacceptable to take advantage of the fight against the Islamic State as a pretext for regime change attempts to in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said."It is unacceptable to use antiterrorist combat slogans in order to make attempts to change regimes. I hope nobody is talking about this," Lavrov said in commenting on some remarks by Turkish leaders.Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara would agree to join a ground operation against the Islamic State in Syria if the U.S. guaranteed that its antiterrorist strategy implied the continuation of the struggle with Bashar al-Assad's regime.'

Sunday, October 5, 2014

'Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV'

Bacevich in the WaPo:
"... , Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew....."

Winep/Aipac to Israel: 'Please support al Qaeda in Syria!'

"... The risk of empowering an al Qaida affiliate is a small price to pay for Nusra’s contributions on the battlefield, said Jeffrey White, a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who’s now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank..."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Something gave (part II) Joe Biden: "Our allies are the reason behind ISIS' strenghth!"

Something gave (part II) Joe Biden: "Our allies are the reason behind ISIS' strenghth!"

Something gave (part I): “I will send weapons to al-Qaeda if it will help” topple Assad

"... But unity within the Istanbul operations room frayed when the Turks and Qataris began to support Islamist fighters they thought would be more aggressive.... The Turks and Qataris insist they didn’t intentionally support the extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State. But weapons and money sent to more moderate Islamist brigades made their way to these terrorist groups, and the Turks and Qataris turned a blind eye.
“The operations room was chaos,” recalls one Arab intelligence source. He says he warned a Qatari officer, who answered: “I will send weapons to al-Qaeda if it will help” topple Assad. This determination to remove Assad by any means necessary proved dangerous. “The Islamist groups got bigger and stronger (see Something gave (part II) above) and the FSA day by day got weaker,” recalls the Arab intelligence source.
The Saudi effort was run until late 2013 by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at that time head of Saudi intelligence.
Bandar was enthusiastic but undisciplined, adding to the chaos. Pushed by the United States, the Saudis in February replaced Bandar and gave oversight of the Syria effort to Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef. The program was less chaotic but no more effective in checking the rise of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State...."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Escobar: 'Obama using the ISIS pretext to go after Assad!'

"... Escobar said. “So now Obama's finally got his war in Syria - and in no less than three fronts; against the Caliphate; against the mysterious Khorasan jihadi group; and weaponizing the Syrian ‘rebels’ to try once more to get rid of Bashar al-Assad.”...
 “There had to be an ‘unimpeachable’ justification for yet another Obama bombing/droning ‘kinetic’ adventure in the Middle East. So those ghostly Khorasan goons perfectly fit the bill - more evil that Caliph Ibrahim. To the point that the Pentagon is convinced their ‘plotting was imminent’ to stage a new 9/11,” he added.
Concluding, Pepe Escobar referred to
Khorasan as “the perfect ghost in the GWOT [Global War on Terrorism] machine; the invisible target of a war within a war.” He also stressed that Khorasan is “the perfect terror ghost; nobody has heard about them before, nobody knows how many they are, and nobody knows exactly what they want...."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

'Why al Qaeda only?'

"... Who was in the building at the time was unknown. One media activist told McClatchy that the missile killed at least 10 “emirs” of the Nusra Front, but another activist denied that any Nusra leaders were in the building.
“Nusra is still popular in Syria,” Hamadi said. “And now Nusra is playing on the emotions of the Syrian people.” It says that those who deal with the West become part of the West, he said. “They are accusing us of being traitors. And the majority of the Syrian people are speaking in the same tone.”But the biggest complaint about the bombings was that they didn’t target Assad..."

Recent reminders: 'Bandar & ISIS'

"... The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “moderate” armed opposition in the country, receives a lot of attention. But two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”
ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria. ..."

Game changer in Jordan

"... In response to the attacks, Mohammed al-Shalbi, a leading figure of Jordan's Salafist movement, told Al Jazeera that: "ISIL has been advised not to target Jordan but now it is a different story as the group will be in self defence mode and will seek revenge."
Other commentators harshly criticised the move."Assisting foreigners in any military activities is condemned by all popular forces and it goes against Jordan's real interests," said Zaki Beni Arsheed, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. "There is no interest for Jordan to transfer the Syrian conflict into the country."

Jordan clears Terrorist of charges

This is very interesting, as Israel just opened a corridor for Jabhat al Nusrah after creating a defacto 'no-fly-zone' in Syria.

 Al Jazeera English

"... The Bethlehem-born Salafist was extradited from Britain last year after a lengthy legal process and was acquitted in June in a separate case of charges of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. That acquittal was also based on lack of evidence.Analysts say Jordan's decision to release Abu Qatada comes as a part of its internal war on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and extremism."Jordan clearly needed his support to influence supporters of the ISIL in Jordan," said Hassan Abu Hanieh, a political analyst and expert on the Salafi movement in Jordan.Being a supporter al-Nusra Front, a rival of ISIL, Abu Qatada has been critical of the ISIL, calling it a "killing machine" and "dogs of hell"..."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aerial 'tour d'horizon'

48 hours ago: Hezbollah used Iranian made, HzB manned drones for aerial bombings of Jabhat al Nusra positions.
Today, the US launched aerial attacks against IS & other's positions in Syria. (Minions apparently joined: in wishes and prayers and a token flyer riding on a US fighter!)
Syrian radars were 'passive' according to the Pentagon.
One aberration: Israeli creation of a Jabhat al Nusrah corridor (no-fly-zone) in Syria.

"John Kerry’s Rhetoric On Isis Insults Our Intelligence"

Robert Fisk 

"... What we can’t be told by Kerry is as simple as he claims the struggle against Isis to be: that there will have to be a Western alliance – of some sort – with Iran to defeat Isis, that this will inevitably have to include an unspoken understanding with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, even with the ghastly, unthinkable, “super-terrorist” Hezbollah guerrillas who – unlike Kerry’s description of Isis – do not go around “killing and raping and mutilating women” or selling off girls “to be sex slaves to jihadis”.But for a man who thought he could stitch up a Palestinian-Israeli peace in 12 months, what else can you expect? Yes, Isis is the latest monster to taunt us. But isn’t there another one, not that far away, which is a threat to us all and which really has “to be defeated, plain and simple”. It is threatening to kill infinitely more people than Isis. It’s named after an obscure African river. So where are the calls for a 50-nation alliance to destroy Ebola?"

"Erdogan's flying carpet unravels"

"... Despite the largesse of the Gulf States, Turkey is locked into a vicious cycle of currency depreciation, higher interest rates, and declining economic activity. Turkish voters stood by Erdogan in last March's national elections, believing that he was the politician most likely to deliver jobs and growth. But his ability to do so is slipping. If the Turkish lira drops sharply, the cost of debt service to Turkish companies will become prohibitive, while the cost of imports and ensuing inflation will depress Turkish incomes. By some measures Turkey already is in a recession, and it is at risk of economic free-fall. 
That explains Erdogan's propensity to shoot the messengers: the rating agencies, the central bank, and even the New York Times. For the past dozen years he has made himself useful enough to his neighbors to stay in business. His magic carpet is unraveling, though, and his triumph in the March elections may turn out to be illusory much sooner than most analysts expect."

"Grow up Obama & recognize the simple truth: the SAG is a de facto co-belligerent!"

"... The Syrian government was informed in advance and the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff described Syrian air defense radar as "passive," i.e., unresisting, during the operation. The Children's Crusade (NSC and State staffs) continues to insist that there was no coordination with the SAG. Well, boys and girls, what occurred is called "de-confliction" among the adults and that is undoubtedly coordination. Semantic BS does not change reality. It just makes you look childish..."

Monday, September 22, 2014

'We’ll have to ally with Bashar al-Assad'

"... If our failure to build an army capable of stabilizing Iraq after our departure looks like a pure tragedy, then the arm-the-rebels gambit in Syria has more than a whiff of farce. But really it’s a studied evasion, a way for this administration to pretend that we don’t face a set of deeply unpleasant options in our quest to contain or crush the caliphate.
The first realistic, non-farcical option is the one that the president seemed to choose initially, when he launched limited airstrikes to rescue the embattled Kurds last month. This would basically be a strategy of containment and attrition, oriented around the current lines of battle in Iraq, in which we see if the Kurds and those Iraqi Army units that didn’t collapse can push the front westward, see if a post-Maliki government can woo local Sunni leaders, and use our air power to degrade the caliphate’s fighting capacity while letting its internal weaknesses degrade it from within.
The trouble with containment is that it would leave the Islamic State in control of a great deal of territory (with more beheading videos, no doubt) for months and years to come. Hence the administration’s pivot to Syria; hence the strategic dream palace that is our arm-the-rebels strategy.
The cold reality, though, is that defeating ISIS outright in Syria will take something more substantial than dropping a few bombs in support of a few U.S.-trained moderates. Either the American military will have to intervene in force (including with substantial ground troops) or we’ll have to ally, in a very un-American display of machtpolitik, with Bashar al-Assad...."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Iran!

"... He said: "It raises the big question about air strikes. Are we doing them for diplomatic reasons, to remain friends with the US, or because they will make a difference to the situation on the ground?
"Unless you get a clear sense of what difference they make on the ground,
we shouldn't just be doing them because we are embarrassed that the French have started."
Sir John said there was also the possibility of reaching "some form of accommodation" with Iran, especially with the chaos in its neighbouring countries.It appeared to be stronger language than David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who told the Sunday Telegraph in August that Britain might "perhaps even" work with Tehran as he urged a coalition of nations to tackle the growing threat...."

'To topple or not to topple, that is the question!'

"... Sir John told the Financial Times that the lesson of Afghanistan and Iraq was that a government can be toppled in months but it then takes years to rebuild the country.He said: "If you decide not to [rebuild], as we did in Libya, partly because of the scars from Iraq, then you topple the government and you end up having nothing in its place."And if you don't intervene at all, you end up with a situation like you have in Syria. These are real dilemmas."..."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

CIA: '"Ramping up Syrian rebels is a 'fool's errand' while many of the arms we provided ended up in the wrong hands"

"... One Democratic member of Congress said that the CIA has made it clear that it doubts the possibility that the administration's strategy could succeed.
"I have heard it expressed, outside of classified contexts, that what you heard from your intelligence sources is correct, because the CIA regards the effort as doomed to failure," the congressman said in an email. "Specifically (again without referring to classified information), the CIA thinks that it is impossible to train and equip a force of pro-Western Syrian nationals that can fight and defeat Assad, al-Nusra and ISIS, regardless of whatever air support that force may receive."
He added that, as the CIA sees it, the ramped-up backing of rebels is an expansion of a strategy that is already not working. "The CIA also believes that its previous assignment to accomplish this was basically a fool’s errand, and they are well aware of the fact that many of the arms that they provided ended up in the wrong hands," the congressman said, echoing intelligence sources...."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eureka! Kerry found 'one'!

'WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In what Secretary of State John Kerry described as a significant foreign-policy coup, the U.S. claimed, on Tuesday, that it had successfully located a (hehe) moderate Syrian rebel.Though Kerry did not elaborate on how the U.S. did so, he said that locating the rebel was “the culmination of a months-long effort.”The Secretary of State said that the Syrian had been appropriately vetted and was deemed “moderately rebellious.”

If 'moderate' does not work for you, try "appropriately vetted"!!

"... The White House formally submitted its $500 million request to Congress on June 26. The money would go to train and equip "appropriately vetted" members of the Syrian opposition. That's a lot different from "moderate rebel forces", and it is yet another indication that we simply do not know who the "moderates" are in Syria. This little detail continues to be shoved aside by those who stubbornly insist on this strategy..."

Monday, September 15, 2014

'Work with Assad, Iran & Hezbollah'

"... First, it is imperative to find a way to work with the most effective forces on the ground: Mr. Assad’s Syrian Army and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters. All of the West’s differences with the Syrian regime should be postponed until the tide of battle has turned. Indeed, an anti-ISIS coalition that includes Syria, Iran and Russia may be the only real key to a political engagement with Mr. Assad that could help bring about a peaceful resolution of the three-year-old Syrian civil war..."

'Turkey, the 'non-ally', is trotting its way out of NATO...'

"... Turkey is trotting its way out of NATO, out of its relationship with the US and ultimately out of its prospects for membership in the EU. There is also the matter of its once good relations with Israel.Erdogan, Davutoglu and all that crew have turned their backs on the old, Kemalist, secular, Turkish Republic and opted instead for what they seem to think is possible in realizing a leadership role in the Sunni Muslim World.  
- They have denied the US the use of air base facilities built in Turkey with American money and occupied by US forces for at  least 50 years.  That denial is a great boon for IS in both Syria and Iraq. 
- They have made it clear that the Turkish Army will not participate in operations against IS, al-Nusra or any other Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq.  That is a crippling blow to Obama's hopes of an effective Sunni coalition against IS.  Turkey has the largest and most effective Muslim state forces in the region.
As people here know, I like Turkey.  We lived there a lifetime ago in Izmir on the Aegean Sea.  The people were mostly friendly, the food was delicious, the art was exquisite.  Life was good and now I can see that the life we lived in Turkey is disappearing as a prospect for Turks, let alone  ifranj like us.   It is unusual for me to agree with the WSJ editorial board but I must say with sadness that the US (and NATO) should stop thinking of Turkey as an ally.  pl  "

Unlike the Senior geography dimwit, Ryan Crocker is honest: 'We are clueless!'

"... Current and former American officials acknowledge the government’s lack of deep knowledge about the rebels. “We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”..

Of 'vital importance'

"(Reuters) - Syrian special forces on Monday destroyed a bridge over the Euphrates River used by Islamic State to move supplies in eastern Syria, media run by Hezbollah said, a blow to the group in the swathe of Syrian territory it controls near Iraq.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war, said an explosion had destroyed the bridge in Deir al-Zor city that is of vital importance to Islamic State as the only way for it to move into parts of the city it controls...."

Syria is 'trickier'

"... But a statement after Monday's conference made no mention at all of Syria - the other country where Islamic State fighters hold a wide swathe of territory. Iraq attended Monday's meeting but Syria did not, nor did its main regional ally, Iran..."

Senior White House Official: 'I am clueless, but it doesn't matter!'

'... SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I guess I would just add one thing on the coalition question -- and I think this is important to really focus on, which is to say, in discussions with governments in the region, notably the Saudis and the Jordanians, what is clear is that we have a very common view of this threat.  And this is really quite unusual. ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region.  They view it as an existential threat to them.  Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.  The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region. ...'

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"US delivery of weapons to the FSA will be just a way station in delivering this materiel to ISIS"

"... "... Some parts of the Free Syrian Army have now made agreements with IS that will call a halt to fighting between them so that the FSA can concentrate on fighting Assad's forces.  The Nusra Front (AQ) brokered the deals.  US delivery of weapons to the FSA will be just a way station in delivering this materiel to IS. "

Just say it: 'Moderate Syrian rebels' is a fantasy!!

"... In his remarks to reporters, Ricciardone described extremist rebels such as those in Nusra and the Salafist group Ahrar al Sham as “beyond the pale.” But he suggested that the Turks didn’t take the U.S. concerns seriously. Ricciardone balked at assisting an Islamist coalition that includes the ultraconservatives of Ahrar al Sham, which the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition coalition has described as moderate, because there was no telling “what might become of those weapons." 
“The short version is: We agreed to disagree on a number of specific cases,” Ricciardone said of the U.S. talks with the Turks...."

ISIS finds thousands of recruits in Istanbul & across Turkey

Newsweek:
"... In June, Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper reported that as many as 3,000 Turks have joined the group. “No other Nato country is as exposed to the threat of Isis jihadism as Turkey is,” says Sinan Ulgen, a former diplomat and head of Edam, an Istanbul-based foreign policy think tank. In the past, Western diplomats have accused Turkey of indirectly facilitating the flow of arms and foreign fighters to Isis ..."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

'Moderate' Syrian Revolutionaries Front continues to support al Qaeda

"... The only problem with this example of a possible US ally in the fight in Syria is that Maarouf has already stated that he has no problem with al Qaeda's Syrian branch, the Al Nusrah Front, and has admitted to sharing weapons with it. And this example of cooperation between "moderate" and radical Islamist groups is not an isolated one..."