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19 September 2015

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turcopolier

PB

In re ISW analysis. I have yet to see the neocon bias of the owners/proprietors (Kagans, etc.) of ISW reflected much in the analysis. When I do I will let it be known here. Secondly, I do not know that the flow of data to ISW analysts is somehow restricted. I would welcome a statement here from ISW about that. pl

turcopolier

All

Just had the unpleasant experience of listening to Broadway Joe Scarborough and the Little Old Lady from South Carolina discuss Syria. These people are driven by the imperative to back Israel (Bibi) in all things and to see all the world from Bibi's point of view. pl

LeaNder

I may be completely wrong, but I like "the Jesuits", at least to the extend I had/have to do with them. They are pretty education minded, more generally, but they no doubt may have had their human limits or outside observed limits over the centuries.

Anything about the Jesuits in France, I should know? ;)

Or what you mean by: Jesuit style dialectic. ;)

******
Apart from that, Patrick, I am pleased you found your way here. In spite of the fact I do not always comment on your contributions. ;)

turcopolier

All

Scarborough is so clearly "sucking up" to Zionist interests and money that is painful to watch him. As for Graham, his views of the ME are similarly painful in their primitive ignorance of the nature of groups and politics. He, too, is a servant of the Likud. pl

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

I think the "bias" is not so much in the analysis of developments on the ground. In that regard, ISW does a good job at describing what is going on, on the tactical/operational level. They also give fairly sound assessments about likely enemy actions/options (ISIS/JaN).

However, when it comes to suggested COAs regarding US/Coalition, it is a different matter, as you will notice overlapping between ISW recommendations and action called for by proponents of the Neocon school of thought. In several instances, it also turned out that the options laid out by ISW were those actually implemented by agencies or governments bodies known to be on same wavelength as the Kagans.

Regarding restrictions to the intel flow that is being analyzed, again there isn't necessarily a deliberate instruction being issued forbidding certain data to be assessed. Nevertheless, the ISW "ethics guidelines" specify that only open source data is taken into account, for obvious reasons I recognize that.

This means that Jihadi social media is dissected and carefully analysed, which is a good thing (but the Jihadis know this, so there could be a inherent flaw there if the necessary safeguards aren't built-in).

There is also the question of human sources used by ISW for first hand accounts on ISIS. In that regard, if you trace back some of their statements, you'll find out they are only based on a couple of individuals, most of them linked to the Iraqi government when it comes to ISIS (the name "Hisham al Hashemi" comes to mind) or Syrian "opposition figures" when it comes to JaN. At the same time, ISW is barred from conducting their own interviews with a number of other sources that could be of potential use in the analysis of certain trends, or could at least shed another light on them.

Those are implicit/inherent restrictions to the ISW analysts' work. Of course, a statement by ISW explaining their policy in this regard would be very welcome and helpful.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Amir!

Babak Makkinejad

You are entitled.

Babak Makkinejad

You are entitled.

For myself, I cannot see any restoration the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq and their sovereignty without the cities of Raqqa and Mosul being reduced to rubble.

The experiences of Afghanistan from 1989 to 2001 and Somalia and Rwanda are instructive; one side has to crush the others.

Babak Makkinejad

The wars in Somalia and Afghanistan dragged on for years - have been dragging on for years.

Likewise the perennial wars of Kurds against any and all central government - and internally as well.

"Toto, I have a feeling we are not West of the Diocletian Line any more."

Yeah, Right

"We have a couple of people here recently who do not seen to have any real knowledge of military affairs or experience doing anything."

I accept that. Which is why I am asking questions, but I was not aware that I am required to accept all answers as being self-evident truths.

"You are correct that Iran would certainly not use Russian military airlift to move anything to Syria."

I'm sorry, but I do not understand that answer in light of the aggressiveness and paranoia of the Israelis.

If the Iranians move into Syria via Russian military aircraft then they can at least hope that Netanyahu is not so crazy that he'll give the order to shoot.

That's a very strong incentive to choose that option.

"Charter airlift or sea would be the means of transport."

Again, I do not understand that answer in light of the inevitable response from the Israelis.

If Iran attempted to move troops into Syria as you suggest then the Israelis would simply demolish the seaport before the ships arrive, or destroy those airfields before the planes can land.

After all, absent the Russians what's to stop them?

PB: "As for airlift capabilities., how did the US send troops to KSA during Desert Storm ? They chartered commercial airliners !"

And, again, I don't understand how you believe that to be any sort of answer.

Sure, the US used commercial airliners in the buildup to Desert Storm. They did so because..... they could.

Both the USA and the charter operators knew perfectly well that the Iraqis would neither intercept those commercial planes nor attack those Saudi airfields.

Left to their own devices the Iranians have no such luxury.

So the likelihood of anyone chartering commercial aircraft to them for that purpose is zero.

And even if they did then the chances of those planes arriving over anything other than a bombed-out airfield is less than zero.

Moving in under a Russian umbrella means No Israeli Attack.

Moving in outside of that Russian umbrella guarantees that Netanyahu will shout "Red Line! Self-Defense!" so loudly that you'd be able to hear him even over the sound of the IDF bunker-busters going off.

I'm being serious here: how can you think that the Israelis would just sit back and watch while the Iranians moved combat troops into Syria via commercial charter aircraft?

turcopolier

Yeah, right

The Israelis are not mad. They are not mad. Your belief that the Israelis would attack shipping on the high seas and commercial air is just childish. You should go somewhere else to study the basics of international affairs and military operations and logistics. This is not kindergarten. pl

Patrick Bahzad

@ Yeah Right,

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and try and explain a few things to you. But first of all, you gotta think a little bit outside the "hysterics' corner", which claims Israel could and should destroy anything that is in its way. Doesn't work like this, especially not with Russian aircraft and SAMs on the ground in Syria now:

- "If the Iranians move into Syria via Russian military aircraft then they can at least hope that Netanyahu is not so crazy that he'll give the order to shoot. That's a very strong incentive to choose that option": wrong, as it would show the Russians are actively involved in such an airlift. If they're not, they can always claim not to be aware about Iranian moves, which makes it harder to apply pressure on them.

- "If Iran attempted to move troops into Syria as you suggest then the Israelis would simply demolish the seaport before the ships arrive, or destroy those airfields before the planes can land": wrong again, as this would mean (as you said yourself) confronting Russian air force and SA-systems over Syria. Furthermore, who says the Iranians might send their fighters directly to Damascus, Lattakia or even Aleppo airport ? If they are any clever, and they definitely are, they might as well chose a low profile option and send individuals, dressed as civilians, on commercial flights to Tripoli, or Beirut, possibly after transit through a third country. Is the IAF gonna shoot down a commercial airliner, coming from a third country ? I think not ! AS fore destroying airports, I don't think - again - that Israel would take such a risk, not even in Lebanon, especially not Tripoli. Same goes for transfer on civilian ships. The IDF/IAF is going to go after civilian vessels now, disembarking at Lattakia or Tartus ? I really don't think so !

- "Left to their own devices the Iranians have no such luxury. So the likelihood of anyone chartering commercial aircraft to them for that purpose is zero": I guess you're not very familiar with commercial airlines and charter companies ...

- " Moving in under a Russian umbrella means No Israeli Attack. Moving in outside of that Russian umbrella guarantees that Netanyahu will shout "Red Line! Self-Defense!" so loudly that you'd be able to hear him even over the sound of the IDF bunker-busters going off. I'm being serious here: how can you think that the Israelis would just sit back and watch while the Iranians moved combat troops into Syria via commercial charter aircraft": because they have done so repeatedly in the past, that's why ! Read a book about the past conflicts in the ME for a change, instead of whatever else they've been feeding you. I think you're either very naive, very misinformed, or very gullible in your beliefs about Israeli ability to disrupt anything that moves in the ME !

Patrick Bahzad

you're certainly right in the sense, that these countries will never again (at least not in mu lifetime) be governed again by a Central government whose sovereign power will extend all over the country, unless of course the 'Jihadis' win the war ...

Doesn't mean that war is the solution, does it ?

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad,

The basic methodology is familiar – it is precisely how a good old-school television or radio current affairs producer used to operate: a largely dead world now, I am afraid. And I learnt long ago that if one wants to make sense of what is actually happening, it is foolish to ignore information and opinions from sources one does not naturally find congenial.

It is actually the question of what one can infer about COA's being contemplated by the Kagans and others which I find of particular interest.

In general, neocon prescriptions for Syria, as for other places, have tended to operate at a high level of generality, not to say vagueness – the 'secular Shia' in Iraq, the 'moderate Islamists' in Syria, as elsewhere.

If one operates at such a high level of generality, key questions as to whether it is possible to conceive of some possible reconfiguration of political forces which would replace the current system, without playing into the hands of jihadists, don't have to be faced – indeed, one might say, they cannot be faced.

However, once people are involved in producing highly detailed analyses of what is actually happening on the ground, then it must be necessary, to some degree at least, to come down to earth. Their condition then becomes closer to that of people with actual experience of and knowledge of the politics of these places – very many of whom, in Britain as elsewhere, have been sceptical all along about the notion that there existed strategies that could somehow enable us to 'modernise' the Middle East.

For a British example, see an article published by the former British Ambassador to Syria, Sir Andrew Green, in April 2013, entitled: 'Arming the Syrian rebels is pouring petrol on the fire', at

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10022576/Commentary-Arming-the-Syrian-rebels-is-pouring-petrol-on-the-fire.html .

At the same time, there is clearly a sea-change in opinion in Britain. Two days ago, the chief foreign affairs commentator of the 'Financial Times' – an amiable but imbecilic neocon called Gideon Rachman – produced an article entitled 'We must compromise with evil in Syria'. More interesting than the shift in view represented by the article, however, were the comments – which show a very strong move towards the kind of hard-headed sceptical view put forward by Green.

(See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/96bf7e48-6041-11e5-a28b-50226830d644.html#axzz3mTnPqwoA .)

It is not clear to me how far a similar shift is happening in the U.S., but I suspect that perhaps to a lesser extent it may well be.

If then the Kagans are going to find it increasingly difficult to maintain the fiction that there is a 'Third Force' – (shades of the 'Quiet American') which can defeat both ISIS and the Assad regime, which way will they jump then? Are there any clues in the ISW materials?

Patrick Bahzad

DH,

Regarding your question about clues in ISW material, the answer is 'yes'. And I can tell you already in broad lines what agenda they might push for: it would be something like empowering a post-Assad "government of national unity" that is "representative" of Syrian diversity, while at the same time avoiding any endorsement of political or militant groups whose views would be seen as too close to that of JaN or AQ.

This would be another feeding ground for ISW expert analysis, because they would then be drafting assessments (again) about which group can be considered "reconcilable" and which not. Or they may even make recommendations as to which COA might need to be implemented to make a group "reconcilable". Like for example, suggesting the composition of group X make it a good candidate for offers of cooperation with a "national unity" framework, based on the nationalities of its fighters, narrative and messages published and the religious/social/ethnic background of its 'middle management'. they may also add, that a change in group X' top leadership might be necessary however to allow for such cooperation, in which case, expect suitcases full of money to change hands and some people being blown up. this in turn, will feed the analytical machine even more, so plenty of work left, whatever the outcome !

The "blue-print" to look for would be something along the lines of Libya after Gaddafi, with no blood-feud after the revolution, and basically Islamist 'nationalists' (as opposed to the 'Jihadi' internationalists) in charge in Damascus, and the Alawis and other minorities turning into Syria's Kurds.

Look for a Syrian version of Libya's Khalifa Haftar and you'll get an idea. There are several individuals that fit the profile.

turcopolier

PB

Other than things stated in broad terms, i.e., "defeat ISIS" or n Beverly Kimberly's testimony before Congress, I don see a lot of recommendations for US COAs in ISW intelligence analysis. Pls point out where you find that. I suppose that you can find it in implied COAs. pl

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad,

'a post-Assad "government of national unity" that is "representative" of Syrian diversity'.

At first sight at least, this sounds to me like the kind of 'multiculturalist' cant with which I have a very extended familiarity, going back decades – which usually comes from people who think that, as it were, 'culture' is tinsel.

It may well be that I am jumping to conclusions. If not, I expect the worst.

Babak Makkinejad

In Rwanda we have the dictatorship of a minority ethno-linguistic group that is maintaining social peace.

In Somalia we have an effective partition of that country into a working part - the former Puntland - and the non-functioning former Somaliland.

So, yes, one can argue that in the case of Rwanda, war was the answer and in case of Somalia partition was the answer.

For Iraq and Syria, acceptance of partition would mean acceptance of ISIS - a new country and its expansionism into Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia.

Since that is not acceptable to many, it follows then that war is the only answer - if I am correct in my assessment.

Babak Makkinejad

Expect the worst.

William R. Cumming

P.L. and ALL: What are chances that US writes off Syria over objections of Israel?

turcopolier

WRC

Not sure what "writes off Syria" means. pl

Fred

Ken,

"... best counterexample is eastern Germany..."
So as a member of the Warsaw Pact East Germany was Muslim? When did that happen?

What "metro" policy necessity of Detroit are you talking about? The folks in Grosse Point didn't destroy the infrastructure of Detroit nor burn the city during the riots of the '60s nor run it further into the dirt during the corrupt Kwame Kirkpatrick days.

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

You're right in calling them "implicit" COAs, in so far as it means reading in between the lines.

One good example though is their December paper on JaN in which one suggested option for breaking up JaN is to support those groups that are on the fringe of JaN, what the ISW calls "tier 3" Islamist insurgents, meaning groups that are salafi in creed but not internationalist Jihadis.

This, in the ISW view, would be the best way to drive a wedge between the most extremist groups and those that have been labelled as "reconcilable" by Petreaus. It is the sort of suggestion that is a mix of what Petreaus and Co. did in Iraq with the Awakening, which basically meant turning former associates of AQI against the foreign fighters around Al-Zarqawi, combined with the type of support, training and equipment we gave an already vetted Islamist insurrection in Libya.

The thing is, the U.S. was implementing exactly that strategy at the time ISW published its recommendations, which raises a few questions. Furthermore, the groups mentioned in the ISW paper of December 2014 turned out to be empty vessels, and have been either destroyed by JaN, have dissolved themselves or were cut off CIA funding as early as December 2014 because they were deemed unreliable. The fact ISW was still advocating for such a strategy may have had an influence of the continuance of this logic, which ended finally with the "division 30" disaster.

It's all just a variation of the tactics used by Petreaus and his COINISTAS since 2007 in Iraq and 2010 in Afghanistan and it has been a failure in both cases. The fact the Kagans and even some analysts of ISW were among the proponents of these failed strategies but still continue to present them as ways out of the Syrian quagmire tells me there still is an ideological component in ISW prospective analysis. The descriptive part however is very interesting, except for the fact they may not consider certain sources which might have changed their conclusions.

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