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11 November 2015


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"and much of Iraq including Ramadi and Aleppo."

That would be Ramadi and Mosul


General critic of the game so far. I don't expect Russian troops will come in division size numbers. More planes and maybe FACs but not much more unless there is an immediate emergency. I do expect Iranian regular units in much higher numbers.

Babak Makkinejad


I would like to remind every one that I suggested a two-step, two-constitution transition for Syria on this forum years ago.

My thinking was influenced by the two-step/two-constitution process in South Africa and (imperfectly) in Iraq.

See, even I could be right at times.



I will take notice of actual Russian numbers when writing the scenario for the turn in September. pl

different clue

The Shia-supremacist government in Baghdad still refuses to countenance any sort of "fair deal" for the Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq. So even those Sunni tribes which don't much enjoy ISIS governance have nothing to "defect to" and hence no reason to take the risks involved in making ISIS rule difficult in their areas. So ISIS control of Eastern Syria and Western Iraq remains firm and secure.

The re-consolidating SARgov plans to reconquer whatever parts of Syrian Jihadistan have any prospective economic/demographic value. If/when the SARgov decides it can create and maintain a sealable border between itself and IS, it will let IS have the "worthless" parts of Desert Syria and tell any unacceptable Syrian refugees that if they want to "come back", they can go to ISIStan. Syria only accepts back the refugees they feel very confident will be reliable long into the future. The SARgov really doesn't want to risk going through this all over again for at least another few decades. They will use the best "psychographic analysis" methods they can get from Iran, Russia, etc. to combine with their own secret police expertise to decide who may be permitted back in.
Perhaps a sort of post-Assad Baath government ends up being Constitutionally founded and as many Assad family members and retainers as feel uncomfortable in a post-Assad Baath SAR may all retire to Russia to live nice lives there. If that happens, perhaps a greater number of refugees might feel okay to go back. But they will still be vetted for reliability and potential future Islamist rebels will still not be let back in.

Syrian intelligence combined with a sealed off border with ISIStan make invasion or infiltration into Syria very unlikely and difficult. So ISIS refocuses on Iraq yet again. They will focus on infiltration and car bombing and so forth for the time being while their Iraqi Baathist/former Army thinking-brain dogs study the situation and decide what to do next.



I found this game was very helpful in looking forward to the possibilities. It seems the SST consensus is that R+6 will be able to grind down the Unicorns on the battlefield. And that by and large the Saud, Qatar, Israel, Turkey and the CIA will not have too much impact on the course of war in Syria.

Its clear the establishment candidates (Hillary, Jeb, Rubio, Cruz) are filled with hubris and are easily manipulated by vested interests. Currently, I suspect the bruising Republican primary campaign results in the nomination of Ted Cruz creating a massive schism between the Wall St and MIC establishment who back Rubio and the social conservatives that back Cruz. Hillary romps home early in the Democrat campaign and continues to amass cash from big money donors from Wall St to Healthcare. I expect both Hillary and Cruz to turn super hawkish and keep trying to outdo each other who can be more of an Israeli Firster. Only Trump has articulated a vision of benign neglect of all the machinations in the ME. If he were to win the Republican nomination it will be a game changer as it implies the primary voters are no longer buying the establishment snakeoil.

If as it seems now that Hillary and her coterie of Wall St, neocon & R2Pers gain the Presidency what can we expect in terms of our relationship with Russia and our actions in the ME and the East?


Interesting article about desertions in FSA http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/free-syrian-army-decimated-desertions-151111064831800.html


the kicker in the article you posted was for me this bit:

"Matoh, 27, recalls other friends leaving as well. One of them, he said, "was forced to leave as a result of the inadequate salary, which was at best 18,000 Syrian pounds [$95] a month". Matoh himself claims his salary started at only 8,000 Syrian pounds ($36) a month, before rising slightly.

Ahmad Jalal, 21, a field commander in the FSA, admitted that the salaries "can be as low as $50 a month, and sometimes salaries are not paid due to [lack of] support".
"The fighter needs to feed his family and the amount [of his salary] is sometimes not enough to do so or live on."

For one, iirc when the uprising began Syria had endemic underemployment as a result of a drought. Many farmers had moved to the cities and were looking for ways to support themselves and found few. Such a climate is ripe for unrest and exploitation.

In this situation it can only have made it attractive for many young men to 'work for the FSA' to support themselves and their families financially. Arguably, blowing up shit and killing Syrian army soldiers by itself isn't productive work and in fact notoriously bad at generating a profit. It gets outright unattractive when the shooting back gets serious.

So, 'liberating government property', black marketeering and extortion as means of financing rebel groups aside, where was all that that money for these salaries coming from?

What was the source of funding? What about the US, Turkey and the Gulf providing that now so lacking 'support'?

That the salaries for FSA fighters dried up suggests several reasons - most likely either graft with commanders keeping the money to themselves (and/or running paper soldiers), and/or donors cutting back in face of lack of battlefiend success and/or the funds being moved to fund Jihadi groups instead, who had proven themselves to be better fighters.



That will be the point of Turn 4 (a&b). pl


I rarely agree with b, but yes I wondered about the Russian numbers.

On the other hand:
"I do expect Iranian regular units in much higher numbers."

Ironically enough, as lover of transparency, I wish the Iranians dealt delicately with the issue. If they are really envisioning or preparing for a bigger increase of troops on the ground.


b & Leander

Time will tell but the force structure for the Russians that I mentioned would be around 50,000 men. That is not a lot. pl

William R. Cumming

There are many reasons for Russia to keep several divisions in Syria for the indefinite future IMO!

William R. Cumming

IMO the interest of Iran in foreign adventurism has waxed and will now wane as it attempts to deal with internal initials. Many younger Iranians would like to emigrate and understand Iranian FP distracts from that objective.

William R. Cumming

IMO this extract from your comment highly accurate as well be clearer by the end of next year:

"So ISIS control of Eastern Syria and Western Iraq remains firm and secure."

William R. Cumming

IMO HRC's policies will be benign neglect of FP which she never understood anyway. Bill [husband] will remain her key FP adviser. And she will serve only one term.

Babak Makkinejad

You do not understand the perspective of Iranian leaders. They have modeled themselves after the leaders of the United States; having concluded that Iran cannot be defended from within her own borders and thus must expand her influence in order to develop the capacity to defend her self abroad.

In Lebanon, specifically, you are dealing with a historical religious relationship that goes back almost 500 years.

In Syria, you are dealing with the legacy of Iran-Iraq War in which the Syrian Arab Republic was the only Arab country that stood with Iran - going as far as foregoing hundreds of millions of dollars of transit fees by cutting the oil flow from Iraq.

None of it is adventurism.

US war against Iraq in 2003 was a better example of adventurism.

And later the NATO war against Libya.



If the Sunni tribes do not fight ISIS their leadership will be killed off by the ideology and they will turn into Saudi Arabia North, minus all the money.

The Beaver

@ CP

Remember that back in 2013, it was published in the Financial Times that Qatar was paying $50K to each rebel to fight Assad: they spent $3B in 2013.
The reason:
Assad refused to let Qatar run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets.
KSA wanted to put their own puppet in Syria- BandarBush's threat to Putin after he tried to bribe him to disavow Assad (summer 2013).
Afterwards, we saw the abdication of the Emir in favour of his son in Qatar that same year and Bandarbush was pushed out the following year.

different clue


Fighting/rising-up against ISIS would be very risky for these tribes and their memberships. Without credible promise of a fair deal from the Shia supremacist government in Baghdad, why would they take the risk? How could they?

So your end-state prediction could be very sadly correct. If it turns out that way, would it be possible to freeze its borders and keep fighting it along those borders for as long as all the jihadis of the world want to keep coming to ISIStan and getting killed fighting on the border?

different clue


Perhaps Wall Street-MIC and the socons (social conservatives) could paper over their differences in the shared cause of gaining power by nominating Rubio to be Cruz's Vice President. That would scare a lot of embittered Sanders supporters into voting for Hillary. Whereas a Nominee Trump would scare rather less of the Sanders supporters into voting for Hillary.



In my first turn I prediceted a development quite in the direction the later givens of the game were done. However, my feeling was, and partly is, that the real world will be a lot slower than the world in game time. The reason is, as I believe, that while the R+6 have no problem to clear terrain, the task of "hold and build" after clearing would limit the speed of clearing.

However, the last three days in real world went at breathtaking speed in Syria:

Kuwaiyres Airport was liberated from ISIS, and ISIS seems not to have a real front in place anymore to stop further advancements of the SAA from Kuwaiyres after it was liberated from siege. Today's message on Syrian media was that the SA liberated much of the perimeter of the airport and even the thermal power plant 10km west of Kuwaiyres Airport.

A similar message came today from the battles of the SAA against Al Qaeda and friends at the south-western front of Aleppo province. First the SAA managed to ga far south from Kafr Abid, than Al Qaeda and friends fled from their stronghold Al Hader, and in the evening Al Qaeda and friends also fled from Al Eis and Tel Bajir. It looks like the front of Al Qaeda and friends south of Aleppo seriously crumbled today at breathtaking speed.


The French zionist wahhabi jihadi outlet AFP seems to recognize that these are "key victories", but they seem still in denial about the true scale of defeat of Al Qaeda and friends:


So, all in all, while I'm still holding my breath and think the collapse of Al Qaeda and friends seems to be quicker than it really is done, I also see a breathtaking speed currently emerging.



Do you think any Democrat would vote for Trump? I think the partisans will mostly vote their party. The question is which way independent voters swing to in states like Florida and Ohio. And of course who can energize their base more to turnout in those states. Our presidential election is determined by just a few states. NY and CA will vote Democrat whoever they nominate. And TX and AL will vote Republican.



What we have seen is the collapse of my metaphoric wall after the grinding had progressed far enough. pl

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