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02 November 2015

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Trey N

Here is some timely food for thought on the current background of your wargame scenario, Colonel:

http://thesaker.is/andrew-korybkos-interview-with-serbias-geopolitica-magazine-english-exclusive/

toto

- Syria: After ensuring immediate survival of the government, the Russian-led alliance concentrates its strongest efforts on Aleppo, in order to first eliminate the last significant bastions of non-jihadi rebels.

The calculation is that once this happens, all remaining opposition will be jihadis, preventing any strong support from the US (I'm being optimistic here and assuming that the "reconcilable Al Qaeda" meme will not take hold in the White House).

- Washington livid. Putin : "Deal with it". Washington's highly complex objectives of supporting only SOME rebels, and only to SOME extent (because they don't actually want the regime to crumble altogether) is a strong handicap in comparison to the simplicity of Russia's objective (just fight any opposition to Assad).

- Diplomatic efforts obviously go nowhere as long as the military situation remains dynamic. "Talk talk fight fight".

- Iran: keeps providing manpower and intermediate-level officers.

- Israel: no significant outside actions, except for occasional strikes. Israel-Palestine situation keeps getting worse. No side has any incentive for, and very strong incentives against, switching to "peace" in the context of the other's side current leadership.

- Kurds maintain their positions, but fail to link their enclaves and close the corridor, due to both IS and Turkish attacks.

- Turkish situation becomes increasingly deleterious. The Turkish majority remains behind Erdogan. PKK's highly counter-productive (IMO) resumption of violence continues.

Valissa

Here is the best overview I found so far of the recent talks on Syria held in Vienna end of last week. Some might find this helpful for making forecasts. Especially his comments on US-Russia relations.

MK Bhadrakumar... Syria peace talks a small step, but leans forward http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/11/02/syria-peace-talks-a-small-step-but-leans-forward/
It does not need much ingenuity to figure out that the stance of Russia and Iran has been vindicated to a very great extent. How could this have happened? The short answer is that the United States has begun distancing itself from the position of its so-called ‘allies’ in Syria – Saudi Arabia, in particular. The body language at the Vienna talks suggests an overarching US-Russia amity. The US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sat side by side and frequently consulted each other. The friendly atmosphere was evident also during their joint press conference after the talks in Vienna.

... During the Kerry-Lavrov press conference, it transpired that Moscow has proposed more cooperation with Washington for a coordinated fight against the Islamic State. Kerry said he would seek President Barack Obama’s approval for the Russian proposal. Meanwhile, it is to be noted that the Russia has only perfunctorily disagreed with President Barack Obama’s decision to deploy around four dozen military advisers to Syria. (Iran’s reaction, too, is notably low-key.) Of course, Obama’s detractors in the US have gone to town to vilify him by claiming he has gone back on his word that he will not put ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria. But it stands to reason that this is not a ‘mission creep’, as made out to be by Obama’s critics.

Of course, there is a dichotomy in the Obama administration’s overall approach on Syria following the Russian military intervention. Clearly, Obama is figuring out his way forward and is unsure of the downstream repercussions of the Russian military operations. The tantalizing question is whether the US isn’t, after all, edging closer to the original Russian proposal for a concerted effort to fight the IS? Indeed, if a nation-wide ceasefire takes hold in Syria between the government and the ‘moderate’ opposition concurrent with the political process (which is what has been envisaged in the joint statement), it opens the door to a Russian-American coordinated military effort against the IS. Obama cannot be oblivious of that. The text of the joint statement is here.
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Babak Makkinejad

R+5 will have established a bridgehead to Euphrates - East of Al Kuweirse Air base as well as having stabilized a front stretching North-South along a jagged line between Al-Baba & Manbidj in the North and West of Palmyra in the South.

Having reached their military objective of controlling the portion of Syria that is most productive and most populous (well-within Old Seljuk lines), a cease-fire is declared to test the willingness of NATO states in helping crush ISIS.

When that would not be forthcoming, R+5 would engage in a phony war against ISIS - hoping that ISIS would move against others.

ISIS will move South into Jordan and Saudi Arabia which causes them to abandon their war in Yemen.

Commodity producers will continue to suffer as China retrenches further - Brazil, Russia, OPEC, Indonesia, Canada, Australia will face a period of belt-tightening.

Tunisian equilibrium is lost and the last vestige of Arab Spring will become memory as the military intervenes to save the remnants of the Tunisian state.

3 fiefdoms emerge in Libya and all attempts at the restoration of a unitary state there fail.

Cease-fire lines in Yemen are declared - essentially along the old North-South boundary - all the while the war of all against all continues there.

South Sudan disintegrates into two tribal territories - the way it was before Europeans showed up on the scene.

The civil war in Turley between Kurds and Government of Turkey will continue to escalate - with occasional bombing raids against YPG and PKK inside Syria and Iraq.

Refugees will continue pouring into EU - another 1 million souls by February 2016 with attendant resentment against both the refugees as well as the political leaders who seem to be devoid of ideas to address the situation.

Economic malaise in Southern EU states will continue as standards of living are reduced by another 5-6 % across the board.

The implementation of Iran-P5 nuclear deal will proceed in steps and everyone loses interest in it.

turcopolier

J Vilain

"... in the second half of 2016." you are outside the turn time parameters and will not be posted unless you correct this and comment again. pl

pA

my 2cents.
aside from wildcards that cant be predicted(eg large scale violence in egypt, significant Taliban gains, another major offensive from isis)


one way of looking at things is that the other players in the region are all going to dig in to secure "facts on the ground" before the next us president gets elected. and who knows what the us will do then.

so no real change on any fronts.

Laguerre

I have two comments, which might or might not have value.

Turkey - to my mind the Turkish election was a classic fear-mongering operation, much as Netanyahu carried out, or Cameron in Britain. In order to get the anti-PKK vote, Anatolian Turks and the anti-PKK southeasterners. Only Erdogan went so far as actually to attack PKK. Attacks on the PKK could well lighten off. It's stasis anyway. Turkey is no better off for acting in Syria.

Syrian offensives - I have continuing doubts about the viability of the Syrian army for offensive work, even the 4th Mechanized Division, which carries all the load. They're tired out. Unwilling to go in with the bayonet as it were, unless perhaps carpet-bombed in, which the Russians have not yet done. The problem is of course the rebel (and ISIS) tactic of hiding out in towns, creating a series of mini-Stalingrads. No doubt learnt from Falluja. Nobody has found a solution other than completely to destroy the town, as in Kobani. They'll get the airbase, but if PB's strategy of pulverizing in place doesn't work, not a lot of progress towards retaking Aleppo.

Chris Chuba

My premise is that Putin planned this out carefully, R+6 makes it a priority to link up with the Kurdish territory on the north to close the border with Turkey. This sets up a drive to Raqqa which will proceed relatively easily because ISIS is a second rate force now with a trickle of new supplies.

Unknowns:
Will Turkey invade northern Syria to keep supply lines open to Jihadists? Unlikely, this is hard even for them to justify as the Kurds didn't cross their red line. It was Assad's forces that sealed the border.

Will the U.S. take advantage of ISIS being on the run to have surviving Arab rebels capture Raqqa and be a blocking for for R+6 and setup a default partition of Syria? I'd put this at 75%, it saves face for the U.S. being a 'power broker'. It would be unfortunate because it would allow Jihadists to stay in control of eastern Syria because we are psychotic morons. (sorry for the unprofessional tone, I have no military training but I have some vague understanding that war games are supposed to be dispassionate)

BabelFish

China:

China resembles Japan of the 30's and of WW2. It's most important import is oil. That plus outgoing trade requires SLOCs to be maintained out to the Horn of Africa. Other than that, it has no direct dog in the fight but views any potential to decrease MENA oil production as a threat to its well being. It will diplomatically work to push towards a peace settlement, with the shortest route and the longest potential settlement being its goal.

MartinJ

SYRIA
As R+6 continues to gain territory and bleed the opposition of fighters, equipment and morale, jihadi fighters will move back to strong holds in eastern Syrian and western Iraq to lick their wounds. R+6 will then take the fight to the areas around Damascus and to the south, seeking to secure the LOC to the Jordanian border and to relieve forces in Dara'a.

JORDAN
At that point (December) Jordan will enter southern Syria in accordance with their agreement with Russia to create a buffer zone to protect infiltration of jihadi fighters into Jordan. The king calculating that it is safer to align with Russia against the jihadi menace than to follow the Israeli/US policy of supporting jihadi forces against Assad any longer. Dissent inside Jordan will be minimal.

US
Will continue to insert special forces to assist Kurdish fighters against the jihadis but more as part of a PR damage limitation exercise with the global public to insist that it is not left isolated and embarrassed by Russian actions. In doing so the orders will be to minimise troop exposure so more bad news is not forthcoming. The effect will be minimal in terms of territorial gain by YPG forces but will possibly prevent any ISIS advance until February.

YEMEN
The naval siege and air bombardment campaign will continue and ensure that Yemen advances towards a famine that will kill many thousands. Houthi/Saleh attacks on the Saudi border forces will continue at the same pace. Taiz and some of the Red Sea coastal cities will be taken by the Saudi coalition by February. False flag attacks by both sides attributed to Al Qaeda and ISIS will remain a constant in Sanaa and in Aden. The world will continue to ignore the unfolding tragedy.

SAUDI ARABIA
As the bad news mounts up in Syria, the Gulf countries will double their efforts to establish some kind of face saving "victory" in Yemen for their public. As Iran is seen to gain ground in Syria, so the efforts to destroy Iranian allies in Yemen will grow in proportion. The US will continue to offer political support and under the table intelligence/targeting support in order to shore up the increasingly shaky Saudi regime. There will be no meaningful talks in public or in private for a political solution throughout the timeframe.

Amir

Iran:
Iran acts as conduit for volunteers of all background, to protect the holy sites in Syria, but no conscripts are provided, although the government has lengthened the tour of duty for conscripted solders by 25%, thus increasing the number of readily available soldiers. They are not planning to pull the chestnuts out of the fire by eliminating the Jihadists all together, knowing that at the end of the day, the latter will be U.S.'s and E.U.'s problem as well. They merely concentrate in saving the Western rump state of Syria, along the coast, Damascus and some extension to Aleppo.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar:
They increase their oil and gas production further, driving down the price of petroleum, causing worsening of the budged imbalance in non-GCC oil producers, including Russia, US and Iran. US government is placated by Saudi's agreeing to give a low interest rate longterm loan to Ukraine and the provision of gas by Qatari tankers to help Ukraine survive the winter in 2016.

Egypt:
The Nasr al-Khalif group, manages to smuggle a bomb inside a Russian airliner, via a catering front company in Egypt and succeeds in killing hundreds of Russian nationals. The funding is traced back to a non-governmental charity, based in UAE but funded by Qatari and Saudi donors.
The Egyptian tourism industry is in tatters again. The youth unemployment balloons further, swelling the rank of Jihadists.

Russia:
The Russians respond patiently but steadfast and ruthlessly. A few weeks later, "several accidents happen in Ras Laffan LNG Terminal, Ghawar pumping stations and a few crude-oil pumping station in the Abqaiq progressing area are damaged due to inexplicable accidents". The oil price hikes to 100$ a barrel again, thus nixing the Saudi-Qatari plan to flood the market. The supplies were temporarily interrupted but longer that the expected few days. There is further speculation about future tit for tat attacks, maintaining the price momentum.

Turkey:
The Turkish army gets into several skirmishes with PKK and looses several tanks. There are rumors that someone had provided (the on the battlefield captured) French-made Milan and American TOW to PKK, who were fighting the Turkish army. Thinking that the items are not in in the Syrian inventory, President Asad's government thinks that can not directly be blamed for it.

U.S.
The Obamites hopes for a change of mentality of the Salafi Liver Eaters and counts on them being restrained in their zeal by their Saudi and Qatari paymasters. They calculate that as the latter two is dependent on USG for their survival, they will do their utmost effort to deflect the Jihadists towards Iran, China and Russia. However, the direct attack on their export capabilities by a hidden hand, has affected their ability to bribe their own population. The Jihadist elements manage to gather momentum and export their expendables to North Western Frontier to combat the remainder of ISAF and US forces there as well as Sinai to fight the Egyptian government as well as launch a few unsuccessful attacks at Eilat. They also commit terror attacks against some Western Expats in Dubai and in Khobar a Mumbai style attack is organized. These are all blamed by Obamites to have been facilitated by the Syrian government, contrary to the evidence. There is another push in the US congress to attack Assad, despite presence of Russia ahowever, cooler heads prevail.

E.U.
Has no clue what to do. They absorb Ukrainian and Syrian refugees and put their social contract under severe strain by providing care to group of people who, at least for a few years, will not be contributing to the government coffers. The E.U. citizens understand that even when the newcomers start being productive, the overwhelming part of the gain will go to the oligarchs while the pain of supporting them on their arrival had been socialized. A rightwards swing in political spectrum leads to election of xenophobic parties in France, Netherlands and Belgium. In Germany, as they struggle with their past, the swing is less visible but still powerful enough to unseat Merkel. In Italy and Greece, Neo-Fascists become the biggest parties although they don't get absolute majority yet.

bth

Syria – Russia begins heavy use of civilian shipping to move munitions and equipment to Syria. Insufficient docking facilities in Syria take their toll on the pace of the offensive as do winter fuel shortages. Manpower remains a problem as it becomes evident that a high percentage of immigrants into the EU are draft dodgers avoiding conscription. Tension increases between prominent military leaders and the Assad family as the strain of a long war rubs against natural suspicion creating intrigue.

Turkey – Initial enthusiasm for the Erdogan victory begins to fade as underlying weaknesses in the Turkish economy shows up. Unemployment begins to rise. A major debt refinancing scheduled for early 2016 is achievable only at significantly higher interest rates than Erdogan is prepared to pay. Foolish statements by the Erdogan government weaken the currency in international markets. Turkish trucking routes through Russia influenced countries, Iran, Iraq and Syria constrain the economy. Iran and Russia begin to coordinate their economic muscle relative to Turkey. Further rumor of political corruption are met with firings of police and prosecutors and a pre-emptive arrest of military officers.
Iraq – With strong US air support Kurds push further west from Kirkuk. Mosul remains untouched.

Iran – Domestic pressure to see a post treaty dividend continues to build. Iranian government demands the end of sanctions by 2015 and escalates the seizure of western journalists and businessmen on specious charges. At Christmas, Russia negotiates a release of prisoners and Obama announces an acceleration in the release of Iranian embargoed funds and accelerated phase out of economic sanctions.

Nigeria – Continued low oil prices and historic levels of corruption lead to substantial unrest. Similar issues emerge in Indonesia.

Saudis – It is noted that Saudi and UAE forces are abandoning their damaged but otherwise recoverable armor in the field in Yemen. The Saudis increase their defense purchases especially of expendables but do so with borrowed funds.

United States – The Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Emerging markets experience relative currency weakness. General economic weakness in China and excess capacity begins a slow deflationary spiral into labor markets from commodities. The shale industry and high cost land based oil recovery collapses at year end. Budgetary battles between the military branches lead to a series of perceived crises in the Pacific (Navy), near misses in Syria (Air Force) and Army.

Russia – Despite record high popularity for Putin, economic weakness and increased defense expenditures begin to take their toll on the economy. Bread and butter issues are met with increased government crackdowns. Black market vodka sales increase. Russia and Germany find renewed interest in economic trade and a desire to move beyond the recent unpleasantness in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine - The Ukraine remains quiet, desperate, corrupt and substantially unchanged.

Babak Makkinejad

MartinJ:

About Jordan - not going to happen.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The next six months will see the Syrian Arab Army and allies on the offensive but hindered by winter weather. The question is logistics. Which side achieves a superiority in armament and manpower? The forces of chaos will resupply the Jihadists and radical Imams will exhort the faithful to go fight the infidels. Russia has technical superiority but if their allies cannot penetrate the Jihadi defensive lines to form cauldrons there will be pressure to send more Iranian troops and Russian planes.

The key is the Islamic State supply lines to Turkey along the Euphrates River. If the Kurds cross it and if the Syrian Army can force a salient to join them; there is possibility of a peace settlement; otherwise, this is the prelude to a world at war.

Tyler

*cracks knuckles* Let's play this game.

TURKEY - Buoyed by the twin laurels of his electoral victory and Mutti Merkel paying the jizya, Erdogan starts feeling his oats. With the prospect of an actual Kurdistan in striking distance (carved out of Syrian territory willingly and Turkish territory unwillingly), Turkey redoubles both its support to the jihadis and its offensives against the Kurds. Turkey uses Incilrik as a bludgeon against the US, making demands about airstrikes and pushing for a more robust counter to RuAF air strikes. This does not happen, however a Turkish air strike on a Kurdish position hits an SF A Team...

THE KURDS - ...and for a moment there's a hope that the US will have the scales knocked from its eyes and see Turkey as the monster it is. However these hopes quickly crash and burn as the USG spins the attack as a Russian air strike, then an IS suicide bomb, and finally a brush out. While the Kurds respect the SF teams with them, they realize that any country that would let its own soldiers die without a response isn't going to stick out its neck for a bunch of wogs. The Kurds approach the Russians, seeking to join the Russian coalition...

THE US- and the USG and its Borg/Cathedral elements collectively lose their sh-t. The GOP Establishment (GOPe) uses it as a bludgeon against Obama, declaring that his weakness and fecklessness in foreign policy is the reason why the Kurds have turned to the Russians. The usual questions are asked about "Is this good for Israel?" by the hasbara agents in the MSM while simultaneously bashing Russia as a KGB thug and trying to push the narrative that the Russians bombed the SF A Team. Many radio shows stop taking callers as their listeners aren't buying what the GOPe is selling. Comment sections in many online news sites follow suit. Trump, still leading by double digits, promises to work with Russia as a "fellow Christian fighting evil". President Putin remarks that he looks forward to working with a respected businessman and negotiator. The GOPe goes even more insane, pushing boy wonder Rubio able to "handle" Putin. A close race with Carson in Iowa leads commenters to initially describe Trump as vulnerable before he crushes the competition in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, setting the stage for the bloodbath on Super Tuesday. Trump crushes, winning by double digit leads in most states. Karl Rove has to be talked out of committing suicide live on air with a nail gun. Trump announces Jim Webb as his running mate, and early polls show him winning the presidency by over 350 electoral votes against HRC.

During all this, the Left blames the Kurds for turning against the US, citing the Kurdish treatment of gays, women, and transsexuals as the reason they weren't really "allies" of the US, and how they're actually not that different from IS after all. However this gets short shrift as they are more concerned with the series of actions outgoing President Obama performs in regards to domestic policies - actions seemingly designed to take wind out of HRC's sails as to what she will do if elected as well as send the nationalist base into overdrive. A series of riots strikes major cities in the US, led by Black Lives Matter and the Hispanic counterpart, Migrant Lives Matter. The DOJ sends orders to major departments to stand down, some comply, others do not, based primarily on party control. Los Angeles burns for days while a robust response from citizenry and police in Phoenix ends the riot in one night as looters are shot in the street. Trump sides with the police while HRC says she will open investigations into any agency which ignored DOJ orders if so elected. HRC's numbers sink even further.

RUSSIA - After the Kurds reach out to Russia, select SPETNATZ teams are inserted with the Kurds in their HQ and in the field. The US refuses to recall its A teams, saying only that "the two sides will avoid each other". What begins as an uneasy peace blossoms into unexpected comraderie as a the "polite green men" telemetry with RuAF CAS and a surrounded SF A Team w/ Kurdish allies to provide air support to the embattled US soldiers. Gracious, the two sides coordinate ops in direct contravention of orders from higher higher.

These ops result in Russia seizing the Kuwereis Airbase. Pictures of SF SPETZNATZ commandos fighting side by side are leaked out, and war nerds orgasm at the sight. The USG denies the pictures are real, while more orders are given, and ignored. The seizure of Kuwereis results in a trebling of air power as the airbase is quickly improved by Russian engineers, aided by SF 18C know how.

As the RuAF air presence steps up on the border, elements of the Turkish AF in the middle of a bombing run on Kurds are surprised by the appearance of RuAF fighters. Unprepared for what turns into a fatal conflict, the Russians bag three Turkish jets while the fourth flees across the border...

EU - ...Europe rattles a pathetic saber, overwhelmed as it is by the millions of so called "refugees" from across the world fleeing to the generous welfare benefits offered there. A NATO convention is convened, with Turkey demanding its rights under Article V. Europe wrings its hands, unwilling to go to war with Russia in the face of one of the worst winters on record and its budgets already strained trying to deal with the Camp of the Saints. Putin is denounced by the leaders of the West, but in traditional European fashion very little gets done except to schedule more meetings about having more meetings.

MartinJ

I think Jordan is between a rock and a hard place. They have established ties with the FSA groups in the immediate region to the north. But when the R+6 start pressuring the areas around Damascus I believe the jihadis will have little choice but to escape southwards towards the Jordanian border.

That border is difficult terrain and indefensible for the Jordanian military. The border guards can barely cope with the small numbers of unarmed civilians, mostly women and children, that come through. There will be a collapse if sufficient numbers of armed men start pushing through.

Better the Jords establish advanced checkpoints to strengthen their FSA partners there than sit and wait for the deluge. Its not a good option but the lesser of two evils. I'd argue this is about regime survival, not about pursuing Israeli policies or offering support to Assad.

ex-PFC Chuck

Angela Merkel is ousted from her party leadership position in the CDU and replaced by Sigmar Gabriel, leading to disarray within the European Union and NATO.

ex-PFC Chuck

Upon assuming the German chancellorship Gabriel openly breaks with the US-driven NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine. Italy, France and Portugal support Germany in this and most other countries in the EU waver except those bordering Russia (i.e. Poland, the Baltics, etc.) and Britain under Cameron. The Labour Party gains traction by shrilly urging support of Germany.

esq

Syria: R+6 makes steady progress (aided by Russian airpower and numerous MLRS) against jihadis in countryside. Progress slower in urban areas. Main weakness in SAA is manpower, but Iranian volunteers and Iraqi militias top off enough to maintain some momentum. By early January SAA has sealed off parts of northern border not controlled by Kurds. Aim is to strangle jihadis in/around Aleppo. Fighting is fierce on front lines (with numerous reports of Russian air-controllers on ground). Two Russian helicopter crew members are beheaded in video released online after their copter is shot down, but Putin's domestic support only strengthens. As January progresses reports of jihadi munition shortages and defections/desertions increase in number and credibility. Little changes in ISIS controlled eastern Syria or in the South.

Egypt: Despite Gulfie grumblings, Egyptian cooperation with Russia intensifies. Numerous reports of Russian air-controllers on ground in Sinai and that Russian aircraft involved with "training exercises" with Egypt have conducted ground attacks vs. jihadis in Sinai.

Afghanistan: Creeping Talibanization of countryside continues, but pace slows as Pakistan devotes more attention and money to its eastern border. Modi rattles saber, demands extradition of Mumbai massacre "mastermind" Dawood Ibrahim; Indian armed forces conduct numerous "Cold Start" exercises. Pakistan yields, but sends Ibrahim to Hague, not Delhi.

Ukraine: Only area of Russian setbacks, as Gulfie loans propel modernization of Ukie armed forces. Ukies use restraint on the ground, but send message to Moscow by delivering several sharp if modest defeats to separatist forces in the Donbass.


DeWitt

Game option / Talking point:

Israel: Orthodox / Nationalists take advantage of the situation and temporarily but spectacularly occupy the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The West Bank and Gaza erupt, but both are effectively suppressed/marginalized by Israeli security forces. Bibi's coalition government fractures internally, with Beiteinu and its associated right fringe groups, settlers and Orthodox rabbis supporting the Temple Mount occupation. The Israeli government publicly pushes back on the O/N faction, launches a media counter-offensive and downplays the situation to temporarily avoid the international backlash, fearful of the prospect of an international Boycott of Israeli goods and the perception of being globally marginalized a la South Africa.

How do the Muslim people and states respond, do they unify and rally around the sacred cause, or to what extent do they fracture, allowing sectarian and political concerns prevail? What is the tipping point between unity on either/any side, and where (and how) do perceived gains for any ruling clique override this calculus?

Pirouz

IRAN: Syrian and Iraqi theaters of war

- Continue to shift PMF from one theater to the other, where military and even host political conditions warrant or provide advantage.

- Gain experience as a ground force partner among allied IRGC-QF, LH, PMF and NDF in the RuAF application of CAS.

- Generate a more capable combat and logistical supporting role towards allied forces in both theaters of war, expected to be realized with the rescinding of sanctions.

- Adroitly maintain levels of political, religious and social integration with Iraq.

- Continue to translate military renderings into tangible diplomatic results; building on the recent Iranian success at Vienna. Achieve a recognized, invaluable status towards conflict resolution efforts in the region, looking beyond towards the conflict in Yemen and beyond that Palestine/Israel. This while pursuing levels of Iranian and Iranian-backed interests in the region.

- Gain full membership status in SCO.

BabelFish

""Karl Rove has to be talked out of committing suicide live on air with a nail gun.""

I'd pay good money to see that.

Ulenspiegel

Angela Merkel is CDU, Sigmar Gabriel "Der Dicke" is SPD, therefore your scanario is not possible.

Or you actually mean somebody starts a palace revolt within the CDU and as a result Merkel is replaced as Bundeskanzlerin, too, this is to a certain extend possible.

Here the only candidate who could survive a revolt is Schäuble, but it would be hard to convince the SPD to make him Bundeskanzler.

Will

Syrian Arab Army (“SAR”)
Having lost 100,000 casualties since the start of the war, potential recruits balk at being processed into a meat grinder. The government of Syria (“regime”) addresses this. It offers Syrian citizenship to any Palestinian in a refugee camp anywhere if they are willing to fight. A regime spokesman says they “can make a soldier of any man that has two arms and two legs.” Further, they use a carrot and stick approach with the mostly pro-regime but cowardly Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The SAR adopts the Israeli Dahiya/Gaza doctrine. Airdrop leaflets on contested urban areas advising residents to flee or they will be considered combatants. Afterwards the areas will be pulverized. The people will have to take it seriously considering what al-Assad pere had done to Hama. Alas, the refugees have nowhere to go.

The regime recognizes Kurd sovereignty and starts to arm Turkish Kurds. Further, military intelligence resumes covert operations in KSA, UAE, and other gulf states.

Lebanon
The Maronite presidency continues to be vacant, and the Sunni prime minister is bankrolled by the Saudis. However, the Lebanese start to wake up and realize that, similar to the Palestinian refugees, that the million Syrian refugees are here to stay. They begin to co-ordinate with the regime to put pressure on the draftable refugees to join the SAR. Billboards are put up with the message “Don’t weep for the loss of your country as a woman, when you won’t defend it as a man.”

Greece and Bulgaria
The EU now fully apprised of the treachery of RT Erdogan offers cash incentives, debt forgiveness for one, to Greece to entice it to build a border fence observed with fire on the short Turkish border. Similar incentives are offered to Bulgaria. Turkey can kiss the EU membership hopes goodbye.

Turkey
The Russians continue screwing around at the border with Turkish goods destined to Central Asia. Further, gas deliveries experience pipeline problems. Civil war with the Kurds expands. Having rigged the ballot boxes, and the false flag attacks, takeover of the media, have discouraged a peaceful transition to an accommodation with the mountain Turks (aka Kurds). A cell of Turkish Colonels begins plotting the overthrow of the Sultan and the rescue of their country.

Russia
Putin decides to surge. He explains in the German language he speaks so well: Nicht Kleckern sondern Klotzen! (Boot 'em, don't spatter 'em!) He doubles down to 100K men, the same number the Soviets had in Afghanistan. This gives enough resources to establish an NFZ over Syria and Lebanon. He explains again that the Ta-Kafiri Jihadists are an existential threat to the Russian Federation and it’s better to fight them in “Сирия” rather than in the “Россия Федерация.” He also says that it will be a long slog. He orders covert special operations against the Gulf medieval states. There are rumors of a foiled attack of a huge LNG terminal explosion.

Ulenspiegel

-Germany

Likelyhood of an ousting of Angela Merkel is quite low:

1) The most vocal opponent,the Bavarian Ministerpräsident Horst Seehofer,has in principle the potential to lead an anti-Merkel campaign, however, this would come with a high price - declaration of war with CDU - as he has to operate in all federal states and as retaliation would get CDU operaring in Bavaria. Most likely outcome: He lose the CSU majority in Bavaria for being leader of an federal opposition party with 15%. Not attractive result, therefore, he as good populist only barks, but will not bite, especially as he has no solution for the problem.

2) The refuge crisis has improved the situation of the SPD, which is coalition partner of Merkels CDU, from completely hopeles to acceptable in respect to the election in autum 2017. The best for Sigmar Gabriel is an long-term problem during the Bundestags campaign in 2016/17, a problem that is attributed to Merkel. Therefore, he will not break the coalition but let Merkel and the CDU/CSU simmer at low temperature.

3) The only real contender today is somebody who has power in the CDU and can at the same time be sold as genuine candidate for Bundeskanzler, this is IMHO only Schäuble. My guess is he will not lead the revolt (10% chance).

4) As the economic situation allows the German government to pay additional 15-20 billion EUR per year without new debt or taxes, Merkel can simply avoid internal issues and still has money to bribe the Turks.

Conclusion: Merkel will be Kanzler until the next federal election in autum 2017. No realistic chance of a crisis in Germany with ugly results in EU or NATO.

It is political suicide in Germany to suggest a military engagement in ME, neither there will be any support for a NATO operation in Syria.

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