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02 May 2013


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Hagel today: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Thursday that the Obama administration was rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels in Syria’s civil war, although he said that no decisions had been made."

I would be much appreciative if one of you veteran Washington hands explained to me the purpose of the Secretary opening his mouth and saying nothing. The present culture seems addicted to the precept: I talk, therefore I am.

I have proposed inaugurating 'Shut-up Wednesdays - one day a week with no official or politico uttering a word. With luck, the practice might spread to Tuesday and Thursday.

Babak Makkinejad

What I do not comprehend is King Abdullah's involvement in this; does he not understand the danger to the Monarchy in Jordan?

Does not he have a distant claim to parts of Arabia?

And does he not understand that the Takfiris have no use for a (self-styled) "Modern" Arab such as himself?


Sunni minority did rule Shia majority/plurality Iraq for decades, after all....

William RAISER

This is an analysis that ought to be more widely heard. Unfortunately the US press seems off in another world.

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, indeed. Saudi's Wahhabintern (plus Israel) to rule.

US policy since little Bush/Cheney is: Saudi plus other Gulfies and the MB plus Israel versus Iran (and Syria and Lebanon). Thus established US policy is to work with the Wahhabintern and its ally political Zionism to dominate MENA. Obama is just continuing the policy.

London is in this mode particularly with its special relationship....to Bandar who is up to all manner of things behind the scenes from his perch.

Using the Wahhabintern and the MB as a tool of policy reaches back into the British Imperial era. In the Cold War, the Wahhabintern was mobilized by "The West" against the pagan Soviet Empire. The Carter Administration worked with the Wahhabintern in Afghanistan and it would seem in the Caucasus with a little recent blowback in Boston.

In this context, it is to be expected that the White House is step by step increasing overt US involvment in Syria and the newest weapons for terrorists meme is indicative.

Does the latest move of Istanbul focusing on Kurdish communities in Iraq, Syria, and Iran suggest planning for the broader war starting with Syria and moving to Iran that some desire? A lot of Saudi and Gulfie money in Turkey these days.

For the politicians in Washington the truth is irrelevant as are realistic intelligence assessments. Policy is all and POTUS two years ago said Assad must go. That is the policy per Syria. Will POTUS back away from that commitment to regime change?

Evidently, POTUS has garbage for advisers as his MENA and Afghan policy demonstrate daily to the world. I recommend he spends more time with Mrs. POTUS is the White House garden in contact with earth.

Clifford Kiracofe

Some think his February trip to Moscow and his oil deal with Iraq indicate he is attempting to adjust his policy some and buy some insurance....we shall see...

Press reports indicate Jordan as a training center for US sponsored anti Assad terrorists. The press seems to avoid reporting the Israeli role in this...


You need a scorecard to tell the players. The government supporters are a varied group. Is the similarity an affinity toward secularism? Does this differentiate the pro and anti Shiites for example?


I suspect given the post WW2 history of Jordan that King Abdullah knows quite well the danger but his country is not sitting atop a sea of oil.


Colonel, you have given the answer to the question that too few are asking- "what would likely happen if Assad is toppled?" And what would the effect of Saudi-backed Sunni rule in the Levant? That might even be a worse situation. It is frustrating to see and hear all these calls for Assad's ouster and assitance for the rebels, with no thought at all at what the outcome would be.

Babak- Prince Mired Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan is actually the titular King of Irak- the royalty was toppled by a coup in 1958. So there are ties to other lands.


Doubtful he has much of a choice. If he tries to stop the Jihadis, or even tries to stay out, chaos will likely strike Jordan as well.

Norbert M. Salamon

It appears that even Dr. Haas of Foreign Policy fame has some second thought on what is important for the USA. please peruse Time Magazine May 13, 2013.
This is definitely a major divergence of opinion from the past by the famed Dr.

Norbert M. Salamon

Foreign Policy has a map indicating approx. 18 USA military bases under African Command. The hegemony is getting over stretched.

The beaver

Mr Salamon

If I may:


A possible face-saving about face for President Obama would be for him to suddenly realize the value of the cosmopolitan Syria. This would fall in with the notion of Israel's value as the bastion of Western Civilization in the Middle East. A brokered peace taking into account the plight of impoverished Syrian Sunnis could suit.

Charles I

Turkey's in a total lose lose position here, a general war would turn the PPK back on in a second.


Re Richard Haass. It's known as the weathervane version of intellectual leadership

Mark Logan

I recall the Saudi's were very unhappy with Jordan during the 1990 war.


Newbie here: is this an "uh-oh..." development?



Its not so distant. There is an argument that the Hashemites are legitimate and the Sauds just people who had a "good" relationship with T E Lawrence.



I think the opposite is true. the Hashemites were the people that Lawrence and the Arab Bureau in Cairo favored. Lawrence was a liaison officer to them in coordination with the conventional forces advance northward in the Hijaz. there was some fairly minor contact between Ibn Saud's Nejdi tribesmen and the Government of India as well but the Saudi victory after WW1 was their own doing. pl

William R. Cumming

Question? Premise--We seem to have a world dominated by the RPG and Kalisnikof[sic] and the limits of their [those weapons] authority to conduct organized violence at the level of the nation-state or below.

Given my ignorance of modern weaponary is there another weapon system outside of the IED that could in fact influence world events starting at the local level?

Clifford Kiracofe

Some suspect Turkey is trying to make some deal behind the scenes with Kurds in the region. Would a general war break up not only Syria but also Iraq and Lebanon? Would such a Balkanization be on the desired outcome list of Bibi and Israel and the Neocons?


Col. this interview on Al-Jazeera was pretty interesting.
A question for you. Is there or has there been a diplomatic back channel between the US and Hezbollah? As unappealing as that may be I wonder if it is not necessary? As bad as the situation is in Syria, one can argue that it could always become much worse and I'm not sure if any party benefits from that. Your thoughts would be appreciated.



If there is not a channel of communication between the US Government and Hizbullah the US government is derelict in its duty towards the security interests of the US. the ability to communicate with adversaries or potential adversaries is essential in attempting to control escalation. as an example of that the US has long served as a sub rosa channel of communication between Israel and Syria for the purpose of preventing unwanted escalation of tensions through misunderstanding of events on the ground. this channel has existed because the Israelis wanted it. pl

William R. Cumming

Do any of the rebels in Syria have body armor and/or night vision equipment?

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