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20 July 2012


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Dear Pat,

From the heart of the Levant, we salute you, you have been
spot on with your Analysis.
The fight will go on for 15 years if need be, and those
who would like to "Absorb" Lebanon will be cut to pieces,
should their Ziocon follies materialize, now or in the near

Best to ALL SST contributors and lurking Public at large.


"Chemical weapons are not a serious factor in any of these scenarios."

Thank you for saying it so clearly. The chemical weapons issue is pure distraction.


Dear Col Lang,

I don't understand how "chemical weapons are not a serious factor"? I've read over the years that the Syrian regime has large stockpile of chemical weapons. Do you foresee a scenario where jihadi/salafist groups could get a hold of these stockpiles after a gov't collapse? Could Hezbollah ship these chemical weapons out of Syria?




the effects of chemical weapons are vastly over stated in the media and in the minds of the public as a result. The outcome in Syria will not be determied by such weapons. people can be killed by chemical weapons. Wars cannot be won by them. The effects are too local for that. Don't confuse a few casualties with masscasualties. Iraq used chemical fires in the war with Iran. the result was not decisive at all. pl

Medicine Man

Col.: The 2nd-last sentence of this topic is key, I think. I do wonder if the neocons and their allies are aware of how much worse the alternatives to Alawi could be for their favorite ME country? I get the impression that many of Israel's most fevered defenders are so fixated on Iran that they imagine shattering Persian influence on the Levant is worth any cost. Could this kind of myopia be a motivating factor behind the enthusiasm for regime change in Syria?

r whitman

PL- your opinion as to how, if at all, this might affect the Palestinians.


r. whitman

The Palestinians are trapped in the unloving embrace of the Israelis. This will not change that unless there is an eventual successful general onslaught by the surrounding countries under salafi governments. pl


@Medicine Man;

You are absolutely right. The crux of this saga lies in the
Kingdom of Wahhabism, the KSA, and USA obliged. Period.
The worst part is that NO ONE in the West in concerned at all with the plight of the Christians in the Levant, who risk the ultimate price of being massacred or thrown out in droves, ALL of them, and that would please Israel immensely...Just witness the latest episode of an Israeli MP tearing up a Bible, because he received one in the mail from a US source i believe... Shame


And the Turks. What will they do in the scenarios outlined?


A possible outcome in Syria is the division of the country, if Assad is convinced that clearing rebel taken areas of Damascus is of no use, since the rebels already demonstrated that they can attack, withdraw and show up in a different neighborhood. One possibility that I have heard being discussed by retired Turkish diplomats on Turkish TV is that Assad may decide to withdraw to Tarsus-Latakia area for his last stand, and not go down in landlocked Damascus. Damascus maybe considered surrounded already, even the mighty 4th Brigade is having difficulty deploying to Damascus.

The Western Mediterranean shore of Syria from Lebanese border all the way up to north Turkish border is predominantly Alawite. This is the area Syrian air defenses are concentrated, with access to sea and the Russian base Tarsus is in this area. Assad may choose to go to exile in his own safe zone and establish his own enclave with Russian support. Anyway, Kurds are planning to the same in their area north east.

A massive exodus of Alawites living in other areas may happen, towards Assad's own safe zone, since there will be a lot of bad blood between Sunnis and Alawites after Assad's exit anyway.


From The New York Times circa 2010:

" Damascus
The next Marrakesh? Perhaps mindful of the way that renovations of historic riads have drawn upscale travelers to Marrakesh, Damascus hoteliers are trying to mine tourism gold in the rundown buildings of the Syrian capital’s Old City. These 18th-century homes — many with inviting courtyards and rooftop terraces — are now boutique hotels, like the nine-room Old Vine (www.oldvinehotel.com) and the Hanania (www.hananiahotel.com), which doubles as a hotel and a small museum."

From McClatchey 19, July, 2012
Austin Tice reports from Al Tal, a suburb of Damascus, where he witnessed an FSA operation:

"A fighter said that the prisoners were well-known in the city and that rebels had individual files on each man. He said that those accused of war crimes would be executed and the others released, but he expressed an expectation that most would be executed."



Fitzhugh, I am afraid this will get worse. Sunnis and Alawites of Syria can/may no longer live together. I see a 1923 style, "mubadele", an agreed upon exchange of religoethnic populations as had happened between Turks and Anotolian Greeks after Turkish War of independence. It was then very obvious to the leaders of both countries, Venizelos and Ataturk, that Turks and Greeks of Anotolia, after many atrocities on both sides during the war, despite the fact that they existed peacefully for centuries, no longer can live together.


Col, with the advent of the internet it has become possible for us to find expertise around the globe with some diligent searching. For example, if you want to understand current events in Pakistan, so far as it is possible, one can simply read their papers online or watch their politicians interviewed.

In the case of Syria, who are the leading policy experts or those with the ground sense to be called experts? I want to start following them, but I'm having a hard time finding them. Do you have some recommendations? Turkish papers? Beirut Star?



I like t eBeirut Star. Kunuri can recommend a Turkish Paper. the Asia Times is an excellent paper. pl



This article in the Star says chem weapons on the move for some reason and 100K if 320K Syrian forces have defected.

Paper also says 30K refugees moved to Lebanon in last few days.

Weren't there over 1 million Iraqi refugees in Syria at one point? I wonder if they have already gone back to Iraq? Or are they combatants?



"100K of 320K Syrian forces have defected." i don't believe that. more log-rolling. pl


bth, for factual information on the ground in Syria, down to individual company commanders of all the rebels, their weapons organizational structures etc I reccomend http://www.understandingwar.org

For well informed and sane commentary Prof Juan Cole's blog, The informed Comment http://www.juancole.com Juan Cole speaks and screens all Arabic and Farsi sources everyday before posting, Middle Eastern scholar that he is.

for some amazing info, but Israel slanted comment, Debka Files http://debka.com when nobody knew how many people were killed in recent Bulgaria bus bombing, they knew.

Yes, Asia times are good. Unfortunately, on Turkish papers factual information is very poor and slow. But commentary by those qualified is incredibly perceptive, unfortunately mostly in Turkish. Sometimes I wish the good Colonel could have been in the audience on those discussions. Or one of the commentators...

Journalist Andrew Finkle is good on Turkish insights, but a bit slanted. Turkish daily Zaman English version is up to date and well sourced. And Al Jazeerah has a lot of competent correpondants in place, and French TV "France 24" in English is up to par.

For info on the ground in Syria, legwork on iternet is the best way to get the picture, Utube, independent bloggers and tweeters, especially as can be accessed through The Guardian and Independent, English dailies...Forget NYT and WSJ and the rest of mainstream US media. I can provide more later but I have not the time for a screen for now.


bth, please refer to research papers on Syria military situation compiled by one Joseph Holliday for http://www.understandingwar.org


Joshua Landis at Wilson Center said "Assad is a loser and must go." He later said, "Christians are protected by Assad; they will be losers in the inevitable downfall of Assad, which will take a long time & cost many lives. But Christians will just have to suck it up." http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/syria-what-lies-ahead

A few days later, Michele Flournoy appeared on C Span Washington Journal to proclaim that Assad is a loser and must go; his downfall will usher in democracy for Syria and the protection of the rights of minorities. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/307174-4

Back in February 2012, Ephraim Sneh, a key player in the Israeli vendetta against Iran, told a panel chaired by Aaron David Miller that "Syria is part of the Arab Spring; it will fall & spill over into Lebanon." http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/IsraelIra

The assessment is dead center that Israel is so blinded by Iranophobia that it does not recognize how its manipulations of the region are harming its own future -- and the future of my kids in the USA.




Pat thanks for a word of sanity on the chemical weapons hysteria. They are not WMD.

I think the best illustration of this is the Aum Shinrikyo sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995. This was a complex operation involving many individuals and considerable resources. The result was that 13 people died. Those injured but who survived had no long lasting injuries. If the goal of Aum Shinrikyo was to kill and injure large numbers of people they should have invested their resources and personal into rapid fire assault weapons or high explosives which would have killed hundreds of times more people as well as leaving probably thousands of more people with permanent injuries.

The batman killer all by himself with a total investment of less than $10,000 killed 12 and injured another 71.

Chemical weapons as horrible as they seem are more a symbol of fear, not a meaningful military option.



Thanks for reminding me 'bout these Jap nutjobs from 17 yrs. ago.

What I heard was that the sarin attack was a diversion to attract the attention of the authorities from their real intentions, viz. the Diet among other statutory boards.

Good thing their other maneuvers didn't work out.

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