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24 April 2013


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William R. Cumming

Thanks Dr. Silverman for this post and analysis. Who outside of Syria benefits now or continues to benefit from the civil war [?}? It seems to me that the US is one large beneficiary because until Syria resolved gives the Administration an excuse to avoid dealing with other hard choices in MENA! And is there any good article or book tracking the success or failure of the USA in what some might label a civil war?


“As the Syrian Civil War continues into its third year, there are several potential outcomes that we need to look out for and be concerned with “

By radicalizing the Chechen extremists to aggravate Russians, did we not promote the Boston bombers? Should similar policies be avoided in Syria?

“One of the two most likely outcomes to the dispute is 'stalemate' “

Is dual containment not a policy favored by certain FP centers? Applying that line of thinking in the 80's between Saddam and Iran, what was the end result? Should those lessons be learned?

“The …... potential outcome is …..“

For any potential outcome, one “may” consider the 'locals/regionals' who are most concerned with the events impacting their well being. These locals may have very well learned the characteristics of US dual containment approach and have planned accordingly. Is that not a possibility? Or do we simply consider those locals as not that sophisticated?

The one potential outcome we can count on, the US FP thinking, is obviously out of touch with the reality of our times.. but who wants to look back at the last 30 years and learn?



"If the outcome of the Syrian Civil War is not handled correctly," IMO it is a delusion to think that something like this can be "handled." pl

The Twisted Genius

An interesting analysis, Adam. Thanks. You're right about Jordan. I doubt anyone meddling in this area has really thought that one through.

However, I agree with PL on our ability to handle these events. I'm reminded of Cousin Eddie's advice to Clark about his dog Snots:



Mr Silverman has the refuge migration out of Syria been quantified recently? My question is how it stacks up to similar humanitarian crisis? Is it in fact a crisis?

Adam L Silverman

BTH: if you click on the hyperlink sentence right below the sub header "The Levant" it'll take you to the UNHCR's website, which has the most up to date data and numbers. Last time I looked, last week, showed a little over a million refugees and/or at risk Syrians. About 80% divided almost evenly between Lebanon and Jordan.

Adam L Silverman


Handful is the result of poor wording on my part. Perhaps "resolved as positively as possible" would have been better. 3rd party involvement, by us or anyone else, might stabilize thing for a while, but eventually as we saw in Iraq, the Syrians will settle their own scores and reorder things however they want. And as we've all discussed here before in regard to Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, etc that the initial resolution of this will not be the resolution of the Syrian Civil War. That's going to result from a number of different attempts, many of which will likely be quite violent.

The Twisted Genius

Very informative, Adam. Thanks. Jordan is an interesting part of this whole Levant puzzle. It seems like the stable linchpin, but as you said, events could change that. I doubt if any of the parties have thought out those possibilities.

However, I agree with PL's assessment that any thought that the outcome of the Syrian Civil War can be managed is delusional. I'm reminded of the advice Cousin Eddie gave Clark Griswold about his Mississippi leg hound of a dog Snots:



This "analysis" is weak.

It is based on a view that the Assad government is tribal Alawite and fighting a Sunni majority. That view is false. Major parts of the government as well as the army are Sunni and with Assad. Some 30,000 takfiri insurgents, many of them foreign, do not make a majority of the Syrian people.

The part on Iran and the idea that it needs a land route to Hizbullah is false. For two decades there was Saddam and later the U.S. army and thereby no viable land route between Iran and Lebanon. Despite that Hizbullah was able to stockpile Iranian deliveries.

In Iran Ahmedinejad is on his way out. There is no problem for Khamenei holding his position even if Syria should fall. The system of the Islamic Republic is not contested within Iran itself.

It is arrogant to think that the U.S. can influence anything that will happen around Syria. How did that work in Iraq? It didn't.


Thanks. That data was exactly what I was looking for. So the current Syrian refuge problem is about the size of the Iraq Sunni refuge problem around 2008 or so with that out flow heavily directed to Syria. Now the Syrian migration bulge is disproportionately straining Jordan and Lebanon.

On a common note, the Syrian economy both for the government and for the rebels must be in total collapse.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree with your assessment/observations.


b: I would note that the we are quite capable of the bull in a china shop type of influence.

So far, I have seen little evidence that our influence in general has been positive for the overall US interest, although certainly some sectors of the US Society have clearly benefited enormously. In fact, that is why I think much of recent decades interference has been so ineffective - too many cooks in the kitchen without the Soviet empire to keep focus.



I completely agree with your observations about the nature of the two sides in Syria. pl

Mark of Ohio

There are estimates that that two to four million Iraqis were displaced by the US invasion and its aftermath. Estimates are that one million of the Iraqis fled to Syria. How, does the population of Iraqi exiles play into the Dr. Silverman's analysis of possible outcomes of the present fighting in Syria?


Breaking news re chemical weapon use in Syria. BHO's red line has been crossed. What happens now ?
(Leaked Britam defence emails forecasted this development months ago as some sort of false flag operation)



"This would, unlike the actual Thirty Years War, not end in the creation of a secular state, as the Syrian Sunni majority is conservative and devout even though it is not Salafist. So do not expect a secular Sunni majority Syria to emerge."

This seems to be internally self-contradictory? pl

The beaver




So the PKK is withdrawing from Turkey to Northern Iraq.


How many rebels are there? What percentage of the population is resisting the regime, either in an active or tacit role? What percentage simply want's to provide for their family, and survive for tomorrow?

If this is like any another civil war there should be a soft middle.

"Breaking news re chemical weapon use in Syria. BHO's red line has been crossed. What happens now?"

Are we talking about tear gas? Or nerve gas? Both are considered chemical weapons under Soviet doctrine.


They say Sarin, 'with varying degrees of certainty'.
Though not a conspiracy theorist but for a PMC (Britam Defence) to be discussing this very same scenario being sponsored by Qataris many months ago and for the secDef to be asserting whilst in Qatar ........I dunno.


Somewhat of topic, but I have been reading lately of the great damage done to your former agency by Ana Belen Montes. There seems to be a calculated release of information suggesting this was a major breach. Did you come across her in your time at the agency ?


tunde et al

"with varying degrees of certainty" means there is disagreement among the agencies of the IC. pl

r whitman

Are the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon pro-Assad or pro-rebel?


Col., do you think the Syria govt would ever transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah perhaps into Lebanon? I'm not asking if they have, but rather, from your knowledge is it even a consideration they would make?



Only in extremis. pl

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