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10 June 2011

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Camille Twal

Your suggestion sucks.OK Assad is not the role model among leaders,Yet turks are not as well.
i really don't have a ready made alternative,but the idea of Ottoman occupation is totally unaccepted.
I think the best way to get out of this mess in Syria is to study the revolting groups and find out which one is the most suitable and can be accepted internally and to the neighboring countries,strengthen them and give them authority.It might take some time but still better than occupation

Lysander

"What is the alternative?"

The alternative is to let the Syrians fight this out for themselves. Just because the Syrian security forces have not broken up does not mean they wont. It was 13 months before the Shah's forces lost control. But be that as it may, it must be managed by the Syrians. I would love to see Assad fall, just as I wanted MQ to fall. But not at the expense of a foreign power(s) invading and occupying yet another Arab country, quite possibly breaking it up into several pieces (was this the plan all along?) Because there is simply no such thing as a "humanitarian" war.

Libya?? It is in a civil war that will last god knows how long and kill god knows how many. Quite possibly, indeed quite likely, more that MQ would have killed had he retaken Benghazi. Yes, eventually he will be thrown out, but the cost only seems mild to those not paying it.

The Syrians are now being killed by there own army. They do not need another army to kill them too.

The main problem with foreign intervention is that the interests of foreign nations are simply not those of the target nation.

I hope Erdogan is smart enough to avoid putting himself into a quagmire in Syria. Right now he is playing it just right: dissociating himself from Assad and speaking out in favor of the people.

Redhand

"The Turks are quite capable of dealing with this situation."

But why would they want to? Would they act more forcefully than we and NATO have in Libya? I know there is international law precedent for intervention when chaos occurs on a country's borders, but the only "fix" I see is a Turkish land invasion.

Admittedly, they have made incursions into Iraq to curb the Kurds, but I think the Ottoman shadow is just too long for them to invade a country where they have no clear territorial interest.

Of course, I would like to see Assad get taken out just like Quaddafi, but look how long the latter is taking. It still isn't done.

When you say the Turks have the capability, are you speaking about SF killing Assad and taking care of his more militant power-behind-the-throne brother?

Please elaborate.

William RAISER

I have gained much from your comments and insights over the years, but your suggestion that Turkey invade Syria goes too far for me. Fortunately the Turks are more diplomatic than that. I can't imagine the UN making such a suggestion or the Turks following through.

I find the situation in Syria complex. Don't know what I'd do. For the moment, I most inclined to side with China and Russia. I think this is one for the Syrians to work out on their own, even though that will be bloody. (Kind of like the US war of secession?)

eakens

And the Argentines into the Falkland....

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100091346/another-slap-in-the-face-for-britain-the-obama-administration-sides-with-argentina-and-venezuela-in-oas-declaration-on-the-falklands/

William R. Cumming

An interesting idea! But Syria
is probably going to stew in its own juices for a while! No chance the UN would authorize Turkey to intervene in Syria.
Perhaps unbelieveably the world is astir in many unusual ways, including the US. The UN has worse situations than Syria where it should be taking action now. A complicated picture but personally I think it might be clearer if there was no US participation in NATO!

J

Colonel,

I agree with your suggestion to have the Ottomans 'handle' the current Syrian situation and deal with al-Assad in their 'gentle' Ottoman manner. The Turks have proven they can finesse when they want to. Plus it would give the Turk blue berets some good on-hands training somewhat different from their current Mossad-backed PKK problems.

FB Ali

I believe that the situation in Syria is not as bad as the media is making it out to be. And not just the Western media ‒ Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are much worse (pushing the policies of their owners).

There is undoubtedly fairly widespread dissatisfaction with the Assad regime, expressed in regular protest marches, but there appears to be also a darker side to this movement, with external players fomenting violence. This has hardened the regime’s natural bent to suppress dissent forcefully. However, the repression is nowhere as widespread or brutal as is being made out in the media. It also appears that the bulk of the Syrian population, even the urban population, is not participating in the agitation.

As for Turkey, I think Erdogan and Davutoglu are too smart to intervene in Syria, except through diplomacy.

Another example of the Western and Arab media’s spin is in the reporting on Libya. A report in my local paper by its correspondent from Tripoli makes for interesting reading:
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1006741--dimanno-in-tripoli-war-feels-far-away

William R. Cumming

Tomorrow's Turkish election may be of interest!

bill roche

P.L. I know you know the Turks. But tell me, would they want to reinsert themselves into the "old Ottoman Empire"? Maybe just northern Syria? I dont think so. No, not with 2mm Kurds up there. The Turks dont need to deal with more Kurds. More broadly, why should we concern ourselves with the violence imposed on Syrians by Assad any more than the violence imposed by the Turks on "their" Kurds? Or the violence imposed by S. Hussein on "his" Kurds? Or, why is it in our interest to stop M.Q. from committing violence on Libyan civilians? NATO airstrikes on M.Q.'s H.Q. were necessary to protect Libyan "civilians"? This is just silly double speak to justify NATO imposing regime change in Libya...for which many Europeans criticized Busch II for doing more directly in Iraq. Why was the NATO/USA imposed "nation change" on Serbia/Kosovo in the best interests of the U.S? That little clam bake is not over. If it were then the US/NATO troops could have all gone home. As you have pointed out many times, at the end of any international activity, diplomatic or military, there must be a direct advantage to us or we should not do it. In my humble opinion this entire region has never settled in b/c the League of Nations (read Britain and France) imposed its will on the area after WWI. The United Nations (read U.S. and Britain) imposed its will on Palestine after WWII. Absent the League, presented with an ineffective and increasingly bizarre U.N. and a withering NATO, this region is addressing the questions left unresolved since 1918. Pat, I disagree with you. The Islamic fanatics will use the opportunity to reassert D'Ar al Islam". Maybe not monolithically (it never was was it?). I think Huntington has it about right in his "Clash"
best
bill roche

Kieran

Colonel, I do not think most Syrians would welcome foreign intervention at this point. The situation is bad but probably an order of magnitude less bad than the media portrays it. We would have to see what happens in Aleppo and Damascus. But as a last resort, it may be worth thinking about. Bashar seems to have lost control (in what manner exactly I am having trouble figuring out), and we can expect things to get worse.

Putting that threat on the table alone might accomplish something - the Syrians have been known to back down when the Turks get serious (in contrast to their habitual defiance-to-the-end attitude vis a vis other countries.)

Would the Turks do it? I always thought Libya would be best done by Egypt, but...

elkern

Poe's Paradox, anyone? I hope this is a particularly desicated example of your dry sense of humor, sir.

Is there a word for trolling on your own blog?

Please confirm my theory. If I'm wrong, I'll have to actually take the idea seriously, based on well-earned respect.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

Afghanistan invasion was necessary but was screwed because American emotions demanded the troops kick some ass. The Iraq Invasion and subsequent occupations are collapsing due to a combination of hubris, stupidity and lack of resources. NATO and Libya is a Bridge Too Far.

Syria will boil in its own stew. Israel will start the Iran Bombing Campaign before they, Turkey or the USA intervenes to overthrow the Assad Family. Arab Spring is turning into the Arabian Nightmare.

America in the last twenty years has transformed itself into a military corporate empire intent only on punishing those that do not kowtow to its hegemony (thus, the recent references to the Ottoman Empire). It cannot win wars because the only intent of the oligarchs is to enrich their overseas bank accounts.

Meanwhile back home, Baby Boomers can’t retire since they lost their 401K pensions and home equity. Youngsters can’t find jobs. The elites and pundits are pushing austerity which will crash the struggling economy.

jerseycityjoan

I am an a Windows computer at the library. I hit FB Ali's link below and suddenly I found myself away from this page and onto the computer's security page.

There were at least a dozen viruses and trojans picked up, most marked critical.

I had two other active tabs open.

Don't know what's going on but want everybody warned. I will send this message in email to Col. Lang.

Tyler

Looks like the rest of the world will have to pick the slack in dealing with their 'troubles'.

Perhaps the unemployment rate for US veterans will be dealt with by hiring them out as mercenaries.

Patrick Lang

kieran et al

"DAMASCUS (six hours ago) // Violence continued across Syria yesterday as the government fired on protesters with tanks and helicopters. On the diplomatic front, key ally Turkey condemned Damascus for the "savagery" of its crackdown.

Human-rights monitors claimed at least 30 demonstrators were fatally shot and dozens more wounded by security forces in protests scattered across the country after Friday prayers.

Tanks shelled the town of Maaret al Numan, close to the flashpoint town of Jisr al Shughour, after thousands of protesters overwhelmed security officers and burnt the courthouse and police station. Government forces inside the town fired into a large crowd and killed at least 11 people, a rights activist said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that helicopters also fired on crowds, the first reported use of air power to quell protests in Syria's uprising.

Elsewhere in the country, six people were killed in the port city of Latakia and another two died in the Bosra al Harir area of southern Deraa province, said Abdel Rahman, the head of the rights observatory.

Three civilians were reported killed in the Qabun district of Damascus, where protesters burnt a portrait of the president, Bashar al Assad, according to a video posted online by human-rights activists."

"Poe's Paradox?" No. I really am that extreme. How many dead in Syria will it take for you to think that turkish intervention would not be "extreme?" pl

markfromireland

"I am an a Windows computer at the library. I hit FB Ali's link below and suddenly I found myself away from this page and onto the computer's security page."

Well that's your problem right there. You were using a computer that you don't own (except in your capacity as a taxpayer), so you don't know what software is on it or how it's been (mis)configured, and that's only the start of what you don't know. YOu also don't know who used it before you. What they used it for, what sites they visited etc.

Any shared computer in a public setting has a high risk of being "infected" with malicious software.

Whatever caused the problem it was on that machine in your local library Rather than the webpage that you visited. (If a site as large and heavily visited and well-known as that one had been hacked believe me it'd be major news.)

All of those unknowns that I mentioned above could have an impact on you however if you were using it to create, download, or edit files.

(For example saving an image or a word-processor file onto a flash disk or similar for later use).

If you do have any files on a flash disk or similar from that computer for your own sake scan that disk with anti-virus software before you use them.

markfromireland

mbrenner

All conflict entails a psychological element. Often, it determines the outcome. It may be in the form of internal psychology - individual or collective. Or it can be the psychology of interaction between the antagonists. The psychological element is more prominent when there is a strong political component to conflct, when the situation is one of revolutionary challenge, and/or when there are external influences at work - whether tangible or intangible.

In the Middle East today, the psychological factor should not be underestimated, it is necessary to that into account the above propositions. The will to rebel, the will to resist, and the will of members of the ruling elite to break from the master are all susceptible to that influence. Of course, there are cases where the survival instinct can be an independent factor - personal as in the case of Gaddafi, group as in the case of the Alawite political class. Even in those instances, the regime is not monolithic. So the degree of susceptibility to intangible, external influences can be considerable among both those who give the commands and those who pull the triggers.

Relevance to toady's situation? The entire Arab Middle East is experiencing an unprecedented upheaval by forces that transcend boundaries of all kinds. Common culture, languag, religion and history faciltate that. Every political leader and his satraps are sensitive to those forces - at the level of logical calculation and at the level of emotion. Consequently, what happens in other countries registers inordinately in ways both practical and psychological. What the outside world does, with what effect, too, registers in ways both practical and psychological.

Tunisia and Egypt figured in the equation in a manner that moved the balance in the direction of the revolutionary forces. What happened in Bahrain (Saudi) moved the balance in the other direction. American and western equivocation on Libya and Yemen, and its tacit acceptance of repression in Bahrain, further moved the balance toward the side of resistance/suppression. The supreme ineptitude of the US/NATO military actions in Libya had an additional reinforcing effect.

The United States, a status quo power, has become a reactionary power by logic of circumstances. The Obama people seem incapable of understanding this. They fail as well to understand that a finely tuned policy of discrimination on a case by case basis has far reaching negative consequences that such a policy did not have in the 19th century. At the moment, they do not apprehend these truths or their application to the situation in Syria.

TamBram

How many dead in Syria will it take for you to think that turkish intervention would not be "extreme?"
_________________

Great question, and difficult to say. On the one hand, you have historical examples like Bangladesh '71, where the deaths were well over 100K (and maybe much more) before India went in; on other hand you have Libya 2011--certainly with more widespread media coverage the number has come down a lot in the past 40 years! Which is good for humanity.
Still, I'm guessing allegations of a major slaughter will be necessary with respect to Syria. I don't think the "slow bleed" will do it.

mo

Colonel,

Support for Assad, if not the regime, is still huge in Syria; Especially among the poorest.

Turkish intervention would lead to a very bloody war. More people would die every day than are dying now. The solution would be bloodier than the problem. And that's not even taking into account how the likes of Iran and HA become involved.

The Syrian opposition is hampered by three things:

a: It has not garnered the critical mass of support that the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen (and even Bahrain) managed. In a country of some 23million, only a few thousand have ventured out, so far.

b: It is being taken advantage of by various groups who are looking to get even with Assad or take power or install a puppet regime. These actions are undermining the legitimacy and support for the movement.

c: The opposition has no real and credible plan with what happens next. Without the mass support, and/or the army it is also in no position to make such a decision.

d: Unlike the rest of the Arab world, I do not think anyone on either side really thinks they can control the consequences of the collapse of the regime. And Syria's geographical and political position is far too critical for such ambiguity. As a result no one really wants to be seen as the catalyst for the unknown.

e:Finally, the Russians will not be brought on board any UN decision to take action in Syria, in my opinion.

Honestly, if were advising the Syrian opposition I would suggest that their best course of action to get the reforms they want is to stop protesting. Syria's world standing has been poisoned to such an extent that all the gains it has made to "come in from the cold" in the last few years have been burned and any attempt it makes to re-engage with the world community can be could-shouldered until it makes those reforms. It has neither the advantage of hosting the fifth fleet or having the support of Saudi money.

I have one question though Colonel. Would you be as supportive of Iran invading Bahrain to protect those being murdered? Or lets get really radical: Should Jordanian troops be tasked with invading the West Bank to protect Palestinians?

William R. Cumming

Tyler! You describe the current system. DOD trains the forces for privatized military. Even now the absolutely huge para-military planned by DOD and State for Iraq will make all realize that organized violence is no longer the perogative of the nation-state in the USA. The only open question is will it be used by the USA in the forthcoming riots and civil disorders forthcoming between now and the Presdidential elections. Even now anti-war demonstrations of significant size are being planned for later this summer in Washington, DC and the DOD has continued to update its procedures and processes for assistance in riots and civil disorders but has not made clear what units will be used or what contractors. Nor has DOD made use how those veterans of the violence of Iraq and Afghanistan have been given sensitivity training to make them understand the civil population of the USA is not the enemy.
Additionally DHS has given NO consideration to its role in riots and civil disorders but is totally reliant on the NG and the active military.

Patrick Lang

mo

You should know by now that I do not support lost causes unless they are my own. If the Syrian people support Assad, what is it they are supporting, secularism against Islamism? the game of nations is just that. It would not be to the advantage of the US for Iran to intervene in Bahrein, quite the opposite. Nor would it be to the advantage of the US for the Jordanian Army to be destroyed in a quixotic effort to help those who do not even like them. You know that is true. If what you say is true about the Syrians and Assad's government then they have what they want. Sado-masochism? pl

Patrick Lang

MB

"All conflict entails a psychological element." You appear to be quoting Bonaparte's "Maxims." He said that that the "moral" (psychological)is to the physical as "three to one." IMO that is correct. There are instances in which combatant countries, etc., are defeated simply because the means to resist are destroyed and resistance is no longer possible. Germany in WW2 would be an example. Nevertheless, in most cases defeat is in the head. Example, the US was defeated in that way in VN. pl

FB Ali

I think Mo's analysis and estimate of the situation in Syria is accurate, as is his recommendation to the opposition.

Re Col Lang's closing remark, I think what the bulk of the Syrian population want is the stability of the present, in spite of its restrictive nature, rather than the undoubted turmoil of an unknown future.

mo

Colonel,
You know the history of Syria from independence to 1970 was just one coup after another. One should not underestimate the effect that has left on the thinking of the people. The youth of todays Syria are probably the first who did not grow up with that constant apprehension making up part of their lives, either directly of from their parents. But the rest of Syria is well aware of its politically unstable past.


Supporting Assad is not done out of fear of an Islamist takeover (even though the MB in Syria is believed to be now a wholly Saudi owned franchise of Wahabism).

To many and especially the poor, who in Syria are a very large group, stability is far more important than political freedom. Assad is a reformer but one that is hamstrung by his fathers legacy, his family and a very wide circle of corruption that extends to the political, business and military world.

And so my original statement that the protesters are best served allowing the international community to force through reforms is the best way forward, for the sake of their lives and the country and would do so in a way that does not threaten to bring back the days of having a coup a week.

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