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15 November 2011


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William R. Cumming

PL and TTG wondering what Turkey's Special Forces and COIN specialists number?

judith weingarten

Didn't we do this with the mujahideen heros in Afghanistan?

Yeah, and it worked out great for us.

Why go down that road again?


This is wouldn't be an effort to overthrow the USSR but an effort to "....allow the opposition groups to coalesce and strengthen."

What's the alternative?

Charles I

Hmm interesting about the refugee camp of military deserters.

Erdogan again very firm warnming against bloodshed in today's reporting, eg the BEEB


". . .Tragedy foretold

On Monday, Mr Erdogan - who once cultivated close ties with Syria - said Ankara had abandoned hope that Bashar al-Assad would respond to international demands to stop using violence.

"Bashar Assad should see the tragic ends of the ones who declared war against their own people," Mr Erdogan told MPs of his AK Party. "I want to remind him that future cannot be built on the blood of the oppressed."

History, Mr Erdogan added, would "will mark these leaders as the leaders who feed on blood".

Turkey just seems to be going from strength to strength.

But in reply to your previous question, a wonderful, but terrifying and fraught opportunity.

Does Syria have deterrent or retaliatory capacity w/r/t any discernible imagined Turkish UW involvement?

FB Ali


UW is already in operation in Syria! Or at least a reasonable facsimile of it. It is being sponsored by the Saudis as part of their anti-Iran campaign. See:


It is true that a significant portion of the Syrian populace is sick and tired of the Assad regime (which has behaved quite stupidly in dealing with the unrest), but the majority still does not appear to support the dissidents.

I doubt that Turkey would enable a Saudi-backed UW campaign against the regime.

The West would be well-advised to await the outcome of its Libyan intervention before launching into another one in Syria. These things can have all sorts of unintended consequences (as Judith Weingarten alludes to in her comment).


It's a safe bet that this administration will do nothing versus a hostile dictator/Iranian satellite.


I wonder what the IDF would say about shipping a bunch of semi-modern manpads to bearded guerillas in Syria.

The Twisted Genius

Judith, good point, but I would argue that things went to hell in a hand basket when we decided to occupy Afghanistan rather than arm the mujahideen.

The Twisted Genius

Of course they'd scream holy murder and call out the friends of Israel to stop it at all costs. They'd probably kill our trainers if they could. All the more reason to do it, as far as I'm concerned.

The Twisted Genius

Brigadier Ali, I'm no more keen on Syria becoming a Saudi satellite than having it remain so closely tied to Iran. Saudi exportation of salafist jihadism has not done the region nor the US any good.

G. Hazeltine

" I know precious little beyond what I see in the headlines, but what I'm seeing, I like… especially the news article that Colonel Lang just pointed out. ?

Or..."(sub text: I know a lot about a lot, but...) I am completely, in this instance, totally (fill in your modifier of choice) ignorant. But I think guerrilla warfare is a great idea."

Maybe Alastair Crooke is a better guest blogger, re Syria?


One has to imagine, to echo Brigadier Ali, that all sorts of factions are already trying out their own brands of UW in Syria--Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Iranians, even without us getting involved, seem to have much interest in Syria. I suppose, in the end, this is actually an argument in favor of US involvement than against--we probably don't want the future being shaped without us in it. It does seem to caution us to be extremely vigilant on possible consequences of our involvement, whom we lie in bed with, so to speak. Overthrowing the regime, I think, would be rather less important among the goals we'd need to pursue in Syria.


Joshua Landis has blogged about Syria for years. Minus the military matters, he's pretty thorough:


G. Hazeltine

Or FB Alil


As far as military defectors go (or armed gangs, for that matter), I haven't seen any video or photo evidence of there being anything more than disconnected platoon strength formations. Nor have I seen evidence of vehicles or heavy weapons in the hands of defectors or deserters.

A lot of info on the Syrian situation is being put forward by so-called activists. I would urge caution in accepting everything they say as being true or accurate.

The Twisted Genius

jr786, thanks for the pointer to Joshua Landis. His blog does look like a good source of info.

The Twisted Genius

Pirouz, I wouldn't expect to see anything more than small units of lightly armed defectors. I certainly haven't heard of any major unit defections. Guerrilla operations usually rely on these small lightly armed units that engage in ambushes, raids and sabotage against soft targets. Taking on government security forces at this stage just leads to high casualties. The keys to eventual success are patience and security. Just stay alive. There could even be a political solution in the offing.

The Twisted Genius

The Telegraph reported that Iran opened a channel to the National Coordinating Committee about a month ago. No signs of support being offered, but Iran seems to be keeping its options open rather than doing a "Thelma and Louise" style drive off the cliff move with their old ally, Assad. The Persians did invent chess.

Mark Logan

TTG, just more like what jr786 provided. Al-Jazeera had a write-up on the various sects in Syria a few months back that might be of interest.



Col Lang are Turkish and US interests with regard to Syria sufficiently in alignment that the US should follow the Turkish lead on Syrian intervention?



If they think clearly i believe it is true that Turkish and US interests are close on Syria. Both countries want regime change and an end to an iranian alignment. It is actually not in the interest of either to see Salafi Wahhabi power become the answer under the aegis of Saudi Arabia. pl


judith weingarten

So, what's your answer to developing history, to sit on your hands and bemoan the situation? The Afghan situation went astray because the US stopped playing any role at all in the post-USSR withdrawal period and Pakistan had its own "fish to fry" vis a vis India in Afghanistan. passivity is not an amswer to the world's problems. pl

Green Zone Cafe

If you're talking about the muj in the 1980s - I agree with Zbig Brezinski - even if arming the muj helped to create Al Qaeda, it was worth it to bring down the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, which were existential threats to the USA and W. Europe.

robt willmann

Off topic, but someone got what appears to be WRC's e-mail address and sent a scamming e-mail to me dated early this morning. It's one of those that says we are stuck in foreign country X and got robbed and need money to get home, etc.


I am very skeptical in regards to Alastair Crooke’s article. He seems to be focused on big power games.

These power games were probably valid when there were solid dictatorships and governments playing them with different proxy groups. But the uprisings we have seen have in my opinion changed the environment.

I don't see how any government can successfully manipulate or control all of the different fractions. They may try but it would be futile, and probably only lead to a backlash. All they might do would be to pour weapons into a conflict. They would have no meaningful control over how the weapons are used and against who.

I think Crooke’s article is an example of how things worked before, and I doubt his thinking is up to date in this current situation. I saw him as part of a discussion panel on the Empire program on Al Jazera English discussing the Arab spring with a big focus on Syria, and he was totally off on Libya in my opinion. Hence I’m skeptical about his assertions. Also Syria appears to be the most complex country in the region. I don’t see how anybody from the outside could understand the internal dynamics to the degree necessary to manipulate events.

On the Unconventional warfare bit, I would think Syrians would have some of the skills within the ranks of the defectors. They have been allied to Iran and Hizbullah so they should have learned some tricks from them?

I think any US involvement should be based on Turkey taking the lead. The Turks are likely to have more knowledge of Syria, and they will also have to live with any unforeseen consequences of any actions they take. Also what kind of influence would Israel have on US Syria policy? I personally don’t think Israels interest in Syria is aligned to the rest of the world.

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