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05 October 2015


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Babak Makkinejad

Likely the King figured out that his throne was in danger.


Ishmael, to what extent does the Army in general and the officer corps in particular remain Kemalist? Didn't Erdogan carry out a small scale purge a while back?


FB Ali,

I agree. I would say that the US and IS kicked over a hornet's nest and now they have reaped the whirlwind with Russia entering the fray in force.



So what is IS' strategy from here? Do they try and hold what they have in Syria and hope for outside rescue from SA/Turkey/US (it kills me to write that but them's the facts) or do they buy as much time as possible before withdrawing to redoubts in Iraq and hoping that Russia, Syria, and the rest will not pursue them into the Sunni heartland?

Does IS even realize the degree to which the game has changed for them with this, or do they think they're dealing with another bumbler like President Gay Urkel?

robt willmann

A recent article about Syria and Russia in the British Independent newspaper by Patrick Cockburn, who is trying to be a foreign correspondent by going to some areas about which he reports, is here--


robt willmann

FB Ali,

You note that, "The Saudis and their Arab stooges have threatened to provide military support to 'their' rebels".

That is pretty funny, since the Saudis and their Arab stooges do not exactly design, engineer, and manufacture reputable military weapons. So they are saying that they are going to use some oil and gas money to pay for weapons that other people have manufactured. I wonder whose weapons they are going to buy and then pay to transfer or smuggle into Syria?


Tyler, overall I was impressed by the Russian military during the Georgia war: without a clear edge in equipment the Russians counterattacked very quickly and routed the Georgians. The 58'th army was on heightened alert but it had not been training in the field for months like the 2003 US led Iraq invasion force. Civilian casualties inflicted by Russians were low.
The Russian losses were higher than they would have liked, of course, and it seems that an artillery ambush decimated the HQ of the lead MRR. Our friend Omar the Chechen was there ...
Interesting essay:

Since then I am sure they have improved - and Ukraine has been taken car of by "vacationers" - we all know how long Ukraine would last in a war against Russia.
I get the impression that the training US/CIA forces give insurgents/vassal nations is quite stereotypical and too much reflects US doctrine and warfighting strengths- with ample support implied. I read that the Ukrainians with their US trainers were impressed by the Russian EW capability to immediately disturb any radio communication. Who in their right mind expects to be able to use radio against Russia?
The hardest working men in my battalion were the (telephone) cable guys - but they made it possible to have wire where the front company was (and of course to the mortars, constantly regrouping as they were). But this was in 1990 .. old school perhaps!



The NYT story this morning refers to advanced planning in the White House (if that is not an oxymoron) for a major campaign aimed at Raqqa. Its two main troop components would be: 25,000 Kurds and 5,000 'Arabs.' The former seems to imply a very large deployment of Peshmega. Question 1: would the Iraqi Kurds be prepared to win back a big part of Sunni Iraq for the sake of the Baghdad government - at what possible price?

Question 2: who exactly are the "Arabs?" remnants of the INA that fled Mosul?

Any insights appreciated


A wider perspective. Anyone's thoughts on this?


"Russia, meanwhile, wants to avert a worst-case scenario in which Turkey does gain effective control over Syria – however Turkey might manage it (e.g., through factions inside Syria). Russia’s concerns here are geographical as well as political. These concerns have been held in a tense stasis since Harry Truman proclaimed the Truman Doctrine, and Soviet Russia understood that she would be blocked in military-strategic terms at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea – but the United States would administer a status quo in which Russia would have access for non-military purposes.

Russia has never been satisfied with an outside power exerting ultimate control over the regime of access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. But for nearly 70 years, she has not thought it worth fighting over, because America’s power has ensured that the regime of access doesn’t change. Russia has been able to count on it.
She no longer can. Obama’s America is behaving like a geriatric in an advanced stage of dementia, squandering our legacy on the nutty projects of radicals. That’s how strategists in Moscow see what we’re doing by joining forces with Turkey in Syria, and then standing by as Turkey ignores American intentions, and simply pursues her own.

Patrick Bahzad

Well, it still is in danger and will be for a while, judging on the popularity of AQ and now JaN/Ahrar al-Sham within Jordan.

The king probably thanks God everyday for his GID - rightly so.

FB Ali

My estimate is that the "25,000 Kurds" is just window-dressing. The Kurds will not advance beyond their areas of interest; they wouldn't mind gobbling up some 'Arab' territory next to their enclaves, but that would be about all; they are not going to do any serious fighting against IS. BTW, Raqqa is in Syria, not Iraq; so we're talking about Syrian Kurds here.

The "5,000 Arabs" are likely a Turkoman Arab force that Turkey has set up. If the latter, they are also not going to fight IS, but instead will likely aim to take over some territory near the Kurdish enclave. In which case, we can expect some confrontations between the Kurds and the "Arabs". While IS watches the fun.

If my estimate is correct, the whole Raqqa scheme is just a US PR stunt. To take the spotlight off the Russians doing real damage to the Jihadis, instead of the Kabuki show that the West has put up so far. Also to score some political points at home, and blunt some of the criticism that Obama is doing nothing.



Secular humanism masquerading as Protestantism, I'd say. Most of those faiths have been rotted from the inside out by Frankfurt School/CultMarx and are vehicles for useful idiots now.



Your thoughts mirror my own. That was what, seven years ago? Quite enough time for Russians to learn from that, incorporate those lessons, and continue to build.

People also tend to forget that Russia had been fighting a very nasty little counterinsurgency war for some time.

Its funny you mention telephone lines - I only saw them once when I was in the Army (2002-2006), and it was at a JRTC rotation at Ft. Polk where our mortar section sergeant wanted an alternate set of comms. The signals section looked at him like he was insane but dug out a few field telephones and the line to lay it with and said "have at it".


The Israelis always talk about "their" Leviathan offshore gas field. But the maps show a lot of it is off Lebanon. And gas fields off Gaza. On second look, a bigger map says maybe it's all Israel's?



Babak, that is how you would like it to be, not how it is.

I realize you may not want facts to get in the way of a good story: but confessional stereotypes in lieu of analysis have a way of stoking emotions without doing much to clarify.

The nations with the largest Catholic populations in the world, in order, are Brazil, Mexico, USA, Philippines, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Columbia, Argentina, Germany. None of these countries are aligned with Russia (or particularly welcoming of the Orthodox).

And the foreign policies of those countries with the highest percentage of Catholics, Poland and Italy, at the top of the list at 95% or higher, are among the most vociferously anti-Russian.

It's a mug's game you are playing.



Honestly the Krasukha-4 seems ideally designed to knock the hell out of our impressive remote gathering devices and reliance on drone warfare. I think there's going to be a lot of "redrawing the map" on what the Russians are capable of now, or at least there should be.

I'd say that the appearance of that thing on the battlefield should cause some people to sit up and take notice that the Soviet Union ended 30 years ago and we are facing a serious army who possesses some very capable people in it with serious skill sets.

However the hubris of this administration leads me to believe that those in charge will simply think being on the "right side of history" will carry the day and the Perfumed Princes who should know better will nod and say "Very good Sir" so they don't get a name as someone who rocks the boat.



My friend, I am not trying to burden you with a thesis, more of your personal observations of the players. Are Recep underlings freaking out? How is Recep in public, cool, calculating or concerned? Especially since he played the Syriac Refugee Gambit?

When Erdogan visited China this summer he gave an interview CCTV, which I use for international news, and I saw a determined, dedicated, power player at the Global Game Table. A focused man striving for his goal though also rational.

I am just wondering how you are seeing it up close and personal.



FB Ali

I don't think IS is the Russian's immediate or primary target. They won't become one unless and until they threaten to topple the Syrian regime; they are not doing that at the moment. The JaF and JaN jihadis are, and that is why Russia is bombing them.

In the next stage, Russia will support an advance by SAR forces against these jihadis, and roll them up so as to clear the threat to Damascus and the Alawite areas (as well as the routes to Lebanon).

It is only after the regime has consolidated these captured areas that it will consider tackling IS. I don't think IS will be able to stand against a reinvigorated Syrian army supported by Russian air support (and advisors). It will likely withdraw into towns like Palmyra and Raqqa, since the SAR is unlikely to want to get bogged down in urban combat.

In any case, the threat that IS also poses to the Syrian regime will be blunted.

Yeah, Right

Well, I suppose it wouldn't just be "Israeli incursions" - by which I am assuming you mean "Israeli overflights".

The Israelis have a track record of attacking arms shipments that they insist were destined for Hezbollah. That's indisputable.

When they have launched those attacks they have done so while those arms were still inside Syria which, obviously, they can't do that any more.

The only options left to Israel is to:
a) let those shipments go (ggggrrrrrr), or
b) attack those shipments after they have crossed into Lebanon.

Wouldn't it be worth the Russians effort to deter Israel from choosing Option (b), seeing as how they make such a fuss about ol'd fashioned ideas of "sovereignty" and "not going where you aren't invited"?


The ultimate prize for Russia would be to complete Catherine the Great's Greek project of regaining Constantinople. There is a deep yearning among the Eastern Christians to undo the work of the Osmanli (Ottoman) Sultan Mehmed II on 29th May 1453. Erdogan is a fool for stirring the pot. I used to think him so reasonable with the "zero problems" approach. Like the Col. was telling me when i was sticking up for Morsi, an Islamist is an Islamist, and the MB is bad news.




Thanks for the link. I hope others will comment too. I agree with his points. This explains why Russia sent armed forces into Syria when only “vacationers” traveled to Ukraine. A regional Middle East Religious War has commenced that has nuclear powers on opposing sides. Unless the dementia is shaken off and radicals removed from power, we are witnessing the start of the lights going out across the world.


FB Ali,

Excellent point. How willing do you think the Syrians and Russians are to repeat the end game of the Hama Uprising (flattening the place)?

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for the lecture regarding IAF missions over Lebanon. Appreciate the expertise.

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think so. In Iraq, they have almost reached their maximal territorial extension.


Italy?! That's quite a stretch. Poland? A given, though catholicism would be far down the list of factors driving Rusophobia there. Brazil? The B in BRICs stands for what, Bangladesh? OTOH, if one is to consider the origins of Rusophobia during The Great Game, one can argue that it is indeed protestants vs orthodox & catholic (the Brits had to overcome catholic Spain and Portugal before they could build themselves an empire).

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