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21 October 2015


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The Twisted Genius

Bill Herschel,

I've never been on Peconic Bay. I bet it is nice. There are so many places I want to sail just along the East Coast. Moosehead Lake, too. I want to sail that badly. Don't sell the canoe short. You should look at some of the canoe sailing rigs out there. I've seen videos of an older couple coastal sailing in an open canoe. A lot can be done with a canoe. Here's a sampling.



internal feuds could have erupted within Jaish al-Fath, as one of its most radical components - the Jihadi "Jund al-Aqsa" - stated it was not willing to confront ISIS if called upon to do so.
I realize that Col Lang detests social science research, but I happened on something the other day that is intriguing:


Prediction 1. Dysphoric rituals produce more tribal warfare, intra-elite conflicts, military revolts, and separatist rebellions.
For each polity coded in [our incredible huge new digital database that we are building in an effort to produce research that's actually based on data, rather than the bogus ideology of the past], we are collecting information on the most dysphoric (e.g., painful or frightening) ritual and details of the group(s) performing it. We predict that any tribes, elites, military organizations, or movements in the polity that have highly dysphoric rituals will be more prone to engaging in inter-group conflict than groups lacking such rituals. Drawing on the largest batch of data that anthropologists and 'digital historians' (ie., makers of really big data sets) have yet assembled, it would be a reasonable prediction that the liver-eaters and be headers will be turning on one another sooner, rather than later.
Here's hoping.


I found on MEMRI this little gem about whom Erdogan's safe zone was aimed at protecting, whichs give some background to PB's point on jihadi infighting and the split in the rebel groups as a result of attempts to 'moderate them'. MEMRI translated an article by Turkish columnist Fehim Tastekin, titled "Do Not Touch Al-Qaeda and Friends!":

"He argued that Turkey and all other parties who had expressed surprise at Russia's attacks in the vicinity of Lattakia, Hama, Homs and Aleppo, and at its targeting of the FSA, should have realized from Russia's clear statements that it meant to fight not only ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra but all terrorist organizations, including those supported by the West and the Gulf. Tastekin wrote: "When the FSA is mentioned, Russia has a ready response: 'There is no FSA left. They have all joined ISIS and Al-Qaeda.' Therefore the [anti-ISIS] coalition uses the term 'Syrian Opposition' instead. [But] who is this Syrian Opposition? Other than some small ineffective groups that still [operate] under the FSA umbrella, the real forces in the field are jihadi-Salafi groups such as Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, The Islam Army and the Conquest Army. What is the game plan of those [i.e. Turkey, the West and Gulf States] who are telling Russia to focus on ISIS? The only cards they have in their hands are Al-Qaeda and the new Middle Eastern Taliban, whose dangerous nature they try to minimize. The area [in Western Syria] where Turkey is providing air security by means of its 'rules of engagement' is fast becoming Talibanized. This area, dominated by Al-Nusra and Ahrar [Al-Sham], is being flooded by Taliban-affiliated Uygur militants coming from Central Asia, as well as by Khazak, Uzbek, Tacik and Kirghiz fighters.

"Since the coalition of the hopeless did not have at hand any trustworthy moderates, it tried to cast the jihadist Al-Nusra and Ahrar as moderate and make them acceptable to the international community. Qatar pressured Al-Nusra to cut its ties with Al-Qaeda in return for more money and arms, and even banned its Al- Jazeera channel from describing Al-Nusra as linked to Al-Qaeda. Despite these marketing efforts, Al-Nusra keeps reiterating its allegiance to Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Ahrar, being more pragmatic, agreed to declare that its aims are not 'global' jihad but are limited to Syria, thus making it easy for support to flow [to it] from Turkey and Qatar. While Al-Nusra attached itself to Al-Qaeda to avoid losing its militants to ISIS, Ahrar's veteran Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants became a magnet for Islamists who failed to join the other two organizations. As part of the plan to make Ahrar seem 'moderate,' Abu Yahya Al-Hamawi was brought into its leadership as a 'moderate Salafi'. Lebanon's Al-Safir daily wrote that Hamawi's appointment was an attempt to adapt to the changes taking place in Syria, and claimed that the new leader was affiliated with MIT [Turkey's National Intelligence Organization]. Ahrar's support of Turkey's plan to establish a safe zone also indicates that it acts in coordination with Ankara. The region where Al-Nusra and Ahrar are dominant is precisely the area where Turkey wants [to establish] a safe zone."



A textbook demonstration of the neocon pathology from that Katulis fellow. The rest of the speakers were quite pragmatic. There's no total military victory over Assad to be had now that the Russians and Iranians are in the field so he or at least his regime has to be included in negotiations. For the neocon in high moral dudgeon however "How can you ask the opposition to sit down with the barrel bombers of civilian neighbourhoods ?" Presumably the response to anyone on the regime side who counters "Well, we have to sit down with guys who committed atrocities, too." is "Suck it up, don't you understand that we're the good guys and you're the BAAAD guys."

Patrick Bahzad

The only thing I agree with is that the killing will continue, until a negotiated settlement is found. Nobody said anything about imminent by the way, quite the opposite if you had bothered to read previous pieces published on SST.
I've heard all this talk of yours before anyway, in libya, so not gonna comment on it. But it's your opinion and you're free to have it. Time will tell ...

Patrick Bahzad




Lol no. A sustained air and ground campaign looks something like this.

2/10 weak troll plz try harder in the future.

Patrick Bahzad

All depends about what arsenal rebels have in that area, in particular AA (manpads), and ATGM.

Patrick Bahzad

I think caution is always a good thing. Anybody who thought this would be a walk in the park should get their head examined. I can't comment more as I have no idea who saker is and whose interests he defends.

It should also have been clear from the outset that this Russian force is not able to repel ISIS. It was never about totally defeating ISIS anyway but statements by Russian officials created a narrative that is not in line with operational reality.

Patrick Bahzad

Agree with TTG, this kind of battle is not decided overnight by some brilliant tactical move.

Patrick Bahzad

Very well said ! Totally approve

Patrick Bahzad

Thx CP ... And what is described above is the reason why groups such as Jund Al-Aqsa are now exchanging Fire with their Ahrar al Sham buddies !

Patrick Bahzad

As long as they want to keep their north Hama defenses, they can't leave Ghab plain. Usually, in any battle, it's mostly through the flanks that your defensive posture is compromised. If you consider Aleppo to be a large flanking move, that is where the danger comes from right now. Could also be something happening on the northern flank (Latakia province).

William R. Cumming

I remain confused over the Russian zone of OPS! Any chance of updated maps? It also appears the Russians have not attacked Kurds whatever the labels! Is this accurate?

And is it accurate few Kurds in refugee flows?


"And is it accurate few Kurds in refugee flows?"

No, there are a lot. The case of the 3 year-old boy who drowned was a Kurdish family from Kobani. In the plane to Istanbul last week, I was seated next to a Syrian Kurd from Afrin, who'd just settled in Germany, after three years in Turkey. I could go on.


Can we tell if it is a shortage of TOW teams or TOW ammunition?


Patrick B, this report discusses refugee levels and origins. It is probably a solid near-term indicator of anticipated fighting by neighborhood. http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/35000-people-displaced-aleppo-russia-air-strikes-continue-unabated-976256390


Curious to note that two Predator drones have gone down. One in Turkey and another in Iraq. http://news.yahoo.com/two-us-predator-drones-crash-iraq-turkey-165246325.html A hacking or jamming event will often look like a systems failure. Timing is curious. http://news.yahoo.com/two-us-predator-drones-crash-iraq-turkey-165246325.html

ex-PFC Chuck

I've been surfing the Saker's blog for the past 2-3 years and would categorize him as a strong supporter of Russian and of Putin. He has hinted that he was an intelligence or policy analyst for some state closely aligned with Russia but not Russia itself, but it's not clear to me whether or not that was before or after the collapse of the USSR or perhaps both. He has alluded to having been pushed out of his job for refusing to sing the words to the company song when they conflicted with his assessment of the truth. (Sound familiar to anyone here?) The scope of his blog, and its availability in various languages, has expanded considerably in the three or so years I've been following it. When I first found it it focused almost exclusively on events in Ukraine and environs. The blog is now hosted out of Iceland but the proprietor lives on the east-central coast of Florida.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

In this piece below, the author suggests that United States fully fund and accept terrorists:

"QUALIFYING STANDARDS for opposition fighters wishing for U.S. training, equipment and battlefield assistance would be relaxed under this approach. Requiring that they are untainted by past associations with extremists and that they swear to fight only ISIL would no longer be central elements of the vetting process. To avoid American legal issues, the subject could simply not be raised the way it is now."


Bill Herschel

You know, I think you're right. These Scotsmen are canny devils. I am amazed, but I think you're right.

Bill Herschel

That's a hell of a video. I wonder how easy it is to do the conversion... rudder, some kind of center board?, mast etc. Great thing about the sunfish is that you can turn it over again and again and it doesn't really matter. Not that I want to have to right it again and again, but you don't really care about it. If I had one I would go out in progressively stronger and stronger winds until it was impossible.

Bill Herschel

He worked for Nitze. He did Sitreps for the U.S. It's in his blog early on.

David Habakkuk

Ex-PFC Chuck,

I could have got this wrong, but I am not clear that the state for which 'the Saker' says did intelligence or policy research was aligned with Russia.

He portrays himself as born in Europe to an ultra-reactionary émigre monarchist family, and having grown up bitterly anti-Soviet, but as having found unexpected common ground with people from the KGB, and specifically the 'Vympel' special forces unit, particularly at the time of Yeltsin's attack on the Parliament in October 1993.

This would 'gel' with what we know of the activities of the 'Vympel' and 'Alfa' special forces units at the time – critically, they had refused to be made the instruments of the August 1991 coup attempt, but they also weren't keen on the attack on the Parliament. So although one cannot assume that 'the Saker' is telling the truth, he may well be.

(For his account, see http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/1993-2013-is-twenty-years-long-pas-de.html .)

I am more sceptical about the notion that he is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about his current location and contacts. He dwells on Florida a little too much, and in the light of his account of his intellectual evolution, it would not surprise me at all if he had good contacts in sections of the Russian intelligence apparatus.

But that does not mean that one should discount what he says as disinformation. And if anything, his analytical weakness seems to me a marked propensity to romanticism.

Patrick Bahzad

As a sidenote, who says "the Saker" is a "one man" venture ?

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