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07 December 2015


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William R. Cumming

IMO the Russian intervention in Syria is open ended but wonder what others think?

Babak Makkinejad


This is very fine and I agree with much of what you have written.

I think something happened during JCOPA negotiations which caused Ayatollah Khamenei to forbid discussions with US on any other subject.

I think what you have left out is EU states, specifically France.

France has been attacked twice this year yet she is not cooperating with Russia - let alone Iran.

She seems to be conforming to US position.

Since my French friends call me a Gaullist, I would pose the question:

"What would De Gaulle have done?"

I have no doubt it would have been different than M. Hollande's course of action.


And to think, once upon a time (before 911) it was illegal for our U.S. Government apparatus to turn propaganda inwards. 911 has been used as the excuse as the encroachment by both the Executive and the Legislative against the citizenry. Too bad that today's U.S. populace and youth in particular don't know when they are being propagandized against by their own government.

Now my 64 dollar question, how do we reverse this governmental travesty against the citizenry and once again make it illegal for the U.S. Government to turn its propaganda (I/O) which includes its lying about Syria and ME inwards? After all, its the citizenry who are paying the tab for this encroachment against them.



36 year NSA veteran William Binny has proposed the following:

Top NSA Whistleblower: “Every Time There Is a Terrorist Attack, What We Really Need to Do Is Demand that They CUT the Budgets of All the Intelligence Agencies”


I could just see Clapper and Brenner both screaming over it.

FB Ali


Thank you for 'resurrecting' my post from the other thread. (Since I had put it up late in the day, I thought it would not be seen by many people visiting SST).

On 'aborted' US air sorties in Iraq, US pilots returning from the ME said that figure was about 75%.


David Habakkuk


Thanks for that.

One observation regarding the role of the 'Israeli Lobby' in all this.

For a number of years, it has been my view that a critical driving force in American – and also British – policy, has related to Israeli fears of the steadily increasing range and accuracy of missiles available to Hizbullah.

This view was reinforced by an analysis published back in October on the site of 'The Institute for National Security Studies', entitled 'Russia's Involvement in Syria: A Strategic Opportunity for Israel'. Its authors, Amos Yadlin and Carmit Valensi, argued that:

'Analysis of the threats against Israel reveals that the Islamic State – currently far from Israel's borders and with limited military capabilities – does not represent a direct military strategic threat at this time. By contrast, Hizbollah – armed with advanced operational capabilities and long range missiles and rockets that reach the entirety of Israel – can be strengthened by the Russian move, should Russian arms trickle into its arsenals or be intentionally supplied to the organization.'

(http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=10813 .)

The fact that Yadlin is both 'Executive Director' of the Institute, and a former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, made this particularly interesting. And it was actually all the more interesting because Yadlin clearly did not think that it was wise for Netanyahu to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal in the way he did.

(See http://www.timesofisrael.com/yadlin-israel-now-has-five-years-to-ensure-we-can-stop-iran/ .)

But precisely because of this, if the view taken by sober elements in the Israeli 'national security élite' is that the 'Shia Crescent' poses a far more radical threat to their country than the jihadists, then we have a completely new situation.

It was, until very recently, a widely accepted belief in the British 'national security élite' that jihadists could be used against our adversaries, without risking potentially catastrophic 'blowback' against ourselves. But dramatically publicly visible events have now shown that this belief was, all along, delusional.

I can think of two previous occasions in recent British history when something similar happened. One was when Hitler occupied the rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, the other when the public sector employees' unions destroyed Callaghan's 'incomes policy' in the 'winter of discontent' in 1978-9.

In both cases, a pivotal assumption which many people had been prepared to accept became untenable – and the intellectual landscape was transformed fundamentally and irreversibly.

In this new situation – and I think what is happening in Britain is also happening through much of Europe, and to a lesser extent the United States – Yadlin's position represents an immense hostage to fortune. If Israeli interests are defined by its 'national security élite' is ways diametrically opposed to those in which most of the populations of its traditional allies define them, the ramifications are liable to be extraordinary.

However, another recent article here needs to be brought into the picture.

On 1 December, an article appeared in the 'Guardian' entitled 'Russia is right: fighting Isis is the priority for us all.' Its author, Giora Eiland, is, apparently, a 'senior research associate' at the 'Institute for National Security Studies', as well as a former head of the Israeli 'National Security Council'.

(See http://tinyurl.com/j28ulot .)

A key paragraph:

'About a dozen years ago, the head of a Russian thinktank visited Israel. As head of the National Security Council, I met him, along with several other senior defence officials, and we heard him say that the greatest threat to world peace was Islamic State. True, the name ''Isis'' wasn't mentioned then, but the phenomenon that it represents was predicted with astounding accuracy. The Russian official warned about the formation of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, which was in the process of disintegrating; he warned that this caliphate would try to take control of the Middle East and, from there, would send its long arms northward, via the Islamic former Soviet republics. At the same time, it would try to take advantage of the weakness of the west and would turn its attention to Europe. His conclusion was that Russia, the western powers and Israel shared a common enemy and it was in their utmost interests to join forces to defeat it. I heard similar messages when I met other Russian officials over the years. They also criticised the US’s war in Iraq – which they described as ''imbecilic'' – and which they said would only accelerate the arrival of a caliphate.'

Actually, I have been aware for some time that there are some American Zionists – examples would be Gordon Hahn and Yossef Bodansky – who have have long held essentially this view, and have been deeply unhappy with what they see as Western naivety about 'jihadists'.

However, I had always assumed that this perspective was a marginal one, both among American Zionists and in Israel.

My instinct is that it remains so, but then in a time when opinions are changing rapidly, one needs to keep an open mind.


You're most welcome. I fervently hope my additional musings didn't ruin it.

The Beaver

@ Babak

Three names for you :
Nicolas Galey "Bashar al-Assad must fall and he will fall,” circa Spring 2011

Jacques Audibert formerly political adviser of Sarko at Quai d'Orsay now diplomatic advisor of Hollande at the Palais de l'Elysee.

Simond de Galbert, formerly a diplomat at Quai d'Orsay on Middle East nuclear nonproliferation issues, in particular on Iran’s nuclear program, P5+1 negotiations with Iran, and EU sanctions on Iran and now a visiting Fellow at CSIS

FB Ali


You raise an interesting point about Israeli fears re the 'Shia Crescent'. In that connection I sense an interesting development.

It appears that Russia is building up the (largely Sunni) Syrian Army, and giving it a bigger role in the war against the jihadis. This inevitably diminishes the role of Iran and Hizbullah. If the Syrian Army, with Russian air and ground support, defeats the jihadi invaders, its status in the future Syrian state will be very considerable. Assad (and his Alawi adherents) have no inherent loyalty towards Iran or Hizbullah; they were compelled to turn to them when all other doors were shut in their faces. With his newly powerful Sunni Army, backed by Russia, Assad will be able to distance himself from Iran, thus pulling Syria out of the old 'Shia Crescent'.

For a considerable time, Russia and Israel have had good relations. They may well be on the same page in this matter.



I'm reading with interest the comments by Sigmar Gabriel in Germany and Boris Johnson in the UK. They don't follow the Borg script. Add to what Trump and now Ted Cruz is saying.

We'll have to see if this catches on. I think Erdogan is getting desperate as his long years of work may be getting marooned in Putin's gambit.


Brig. Ali

That would be some serious sticking the knife in the back on the part of Assad considering the amount of blood and treasure invested by Iran and Hezbollah in saving his ass from the liver-eaters.

Babak Makkinejad

And what does Israel offer to Russia for, in effect, getting her chestnuts out of fire?

More names of US agents in Russia?

FB Ali


Re your comment on Assad sticking a "knife in the back" of Iran and Hizbullah.

I doubt if he would become anti-Iran or anti-Shia. Just quit the axis. As you know, in international relations and politics, moral considerations seldom count; the 'practical benefit' is all that matters.

BM has raised the interesting issue of the relationship between Russia and Israel. I think there is a considerable convergence of interest, quite apart from the connections with Russian Jews who play important roles in Israeli politics and policy.

While Israel is currently a (secret) ally of the Saudis and Gulfies, they are ultimately mortal enemies. Russia, too, has no love for the Wahhabis and their jihadi allies, and their attempts to subvert its Muslim population.

The current friendly relations between Russia and Iran are largely a marriage of convenience. Neither fully trusts the other. Russia would like to have a counter in the region in case Iran starts getting any funny ideas. (It is probably such considerations that have led to the Russian policy of supporting the Syrian Sunnis. Which means that Assad is dispensable; an added reason for him to go along with the Russian policies).

And then there is the benefit that BM mentions, ie, passing on information about the US (where Israel has unmatchable intelligence coverage) as well as on the latest US weaponry it acquires.

mistah charley, ph.d.

NY Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi tweeted yesterday, after Pres. Obama's speech. She mentions Kurdish troop reluctance to enter non-Kurdish territory. She wrote, and the rest of this is quoted from her:

Obama: A more "sustainable victory" will involve airstrikes, special forces & helping groups on ground take back their own land in Syria. And will not involve "sending another generation" of Americans to die on the battlefield.

Obama has done his homework when he says ISIS wants us to start a ground war, and will use our occupation of a foreign land to recruit. ISIS propaganda is rife with references to scriptural prophecy regarding the last great battle of our time which will begin when the "Romans" (us) invade Dabiq, a town that still exists today in Syria. In scripture that battle sets the stage for the end of times leading to a showdown between "Muslims" (they think this refers only to them) and their enemies, in which the enemies are vanquished. Remember it was in Dabiq that ISIS killed US hostage Peter Kassig, a former U.S. Army Ranger, as a way to underscore this pointx. While it's hard to get our heads around this, I have spoken to enough ISIS fanboys & members by now to believe that they mean this.

Question is: Can fight against this group be won from the air & via proxy forces on the ground, ones which are divided ethnically? Here is what I saw in Hasaka, Syria in July where I was embedded with YPG militia fighting ISIS & what I saw in Sinjar, Iraq last month where I was embedded with the PKK and with the Peshmarga, two more local forces fighting ISIS: In both places ISIS folded quickly. In Hasaka, I saw frontline jump several miles in a few days; In Sinjar, I saw airstrikes & local forces take city in 48 hours.

But here's the rub: The proxy forces *only* succeeded because of heavy U.S. air support & air support will need to continue indefinitely. If we let up the freed areas will be reinfiltrated. Already there are reports that Hasaka, which was declared liberated when I was there has been re-infiltrated by ISIS cells.

Second big problem: The proxy forces fighting ISIS are nearly all Kurdish (YPG, Peshmarga, PKK). And they will only fight for historically Kurdish areas. Last month, I went to a sandbagged position overlooking the city of Mosul, Iraq. Mosul was so close, were I wearing running shoes I could have jogged there and back. But the Peshmarga commander holding the position explained to me that when invasion of Mosul occurs (believed to be many months away) he would only fight to roughly halfway in to city. Why? Because that is the ethnic faultline, and as a Kurdish commander he did not think it would be appropriate to go further in. The cities that need to be taken back (Mosul, Raqqa etc) are mostly Sunni, not Kurdish, and the U.S. has yet to find a Sunni proxy force.

Larry M

David Habakkuk

I pray you are right, but general Giora Eiland may just represent what used to be the basic strategic view of the Israeli Labour Party which was that victory for Israel consisted in making peace from a position of strength with the existing Arab states, not blowing them to bits. However, that view has been losing influence since the coming to power in 1977 of the Likud bloc and its allies. They have dominated Israeli policy for most of the time since then, although I certainly share your hope that Eliand's statement could be a sign of a break with that trend.

The Likud thinks that the real long-term threat to Israel can only come from states strong enough to handle and use advanced weapons on a massive scale. Therefore, such states have to be destroyed or broken up (Iraq), if they don't agree to be reduced to relative powerlessness and passivity (Egypt). On the other hand, and compared to the Israeli Labour Party, the Likud takes a much more sanguine view of Islamist movements. The Likud sees Islamists as the lesser threat even if their hostility to Israel seems even more deep-seated than that of secular Arab nationalists.

Babak Makkinejad

Russia a step-child of the Western European Enlightenment Tradition and its leaders also share the same attitude towards religions.

Furthermore, historically they fought many wars with both Shia and Sunni countries - and for 200 years they always won.

They loath Islamic Iran as much as EU loathes her but I hope that they have understood a corollary of the Makkinejad Thesis; that the structures that the Soviet Union has bequeathed to the Central Asian states will decay in less than 50 years and they would be left not with secular democratic formerly-Islamic countries but by the same sort of instability that currently afflicts the Levant and has been afflicting Pakistan.

That is the conundrum that they face; help the Iranians whom they loath or wait for the Jihadists to move into Central Asia in the ripeness of time.

Faced with the same choice, NATO states have evidently chosen the Jihadists.


You mean he might join "the West" in the same way that Qaddafi and sons did, thinking that a LSE diploma will guaranty you a place at the table? I think, he had a very harsh lessen in tenants of democracy with the Arab Spring.

Babak Makkinejad

I would pose a number of more elementary questions.

In Iraq, who or what is the Legitimate Authority?

On behalf of what Legitimate Authority would the United States be exerting herself militarily?

To which Legitimate Authority would the control of the conquered territories be handed?

In the Levant, YPG are not the Legitimate Authority; SAR is.

I doubt very much that US would give control to SAR.



The recent lone wolf or pack of wolves’ attacks are a result people being placed in untenable circumstances and lashing back. In the early 20th century it was the anarchist attacks against capitalists.

Today the cause is the drone/bombing campaigns against Islam. The wars are also the direct cause of the European refugee crisis. The Muslim terrorist attacks can only be ended by addressing the root issue; how to forage a peace so that the three monotheist religions can live together in the Middle East. As long as the USA is supporting Jihadists in order to destabilize Russia and Israel pushes for perpetual war, people will be collateral damage. Only by allying with Russia, can the West’s war against the Islamic State end.



I agree. Cut the profit out of warfare.

Kim Sky

Incredible Interview... best analysis and understanding of ISIS presented in this interview I've yet heard.

Jihadi Archipelago: Blood and joy in the Islamic State.
Anthropologist Scott Atran explains the revolutionary context of the Islamic State



Paris: The War ISIS Wants

FB Ali

No, I don't mean that.

If things work out as I have suggested, the new Syrian regime (whether with Assad or without) likely to be established, after the R+6 destroy the jihadis in Syria, will be a multi-faith one, backed by a strongly Sunni army (very similar to the Baath regime of Hafez al-Assad).

It will be allied to Russia. It is likely to be friends with Egypt and other non-Wahhabi Sunni states. It will not by any means be antagonistic towards Iran or Lebanon.



We carpet bombed Vietnam and Cambodia into stone ages and never experienced any terrorist attacks. Same experience with Germany and Japan during WWII.

Terrorism is a side effect of uncontrolled immigration. Our elites have been importing masses of people from every exotic and backward corners of the world into the West for the past 40 years. Until that problem is addressed, we'll be experiencing terrorism for a long time to come.

Trump has the right idea:

I think this is a first good step in the right direction. Sadly, this might be too little too late though. We'll see what happens.

As for stopping the drone/bombing campaigns, I support you 100%. My foreign policy preference would be for us to stop melding in the affairs of foreign countries.

There is a strong and organized community of neocons and neoliberal interventionist professionals that control our foreign policy. Until that issue is addressed, these annual bombing campaigns of various random Muslims countries in the ME will not stop.

You can't solve a problem if you are not allowed to identify it.



"We carpet bombed Vietnam and Cambodia into stone ages" Rubbish. You obviously were not there. The B-52s worked on enemy troops out in the jungle. The rest of the air attacks were quite selective. WW2 I would agree with you on. pl


thanks to fb ali and confused ponderer's comments here.

the usa was responsible for iraq.. that didn't work out so well from where i sit.. it seems to me obama was using ISIS to help get a certain result in iraq - replacing maliki.. i think he was also hoping that ISIS could do the job on assad as well. unfortunately my impression is the usa is using ISIS and are on the side of the terrorists for a cluster of reasons.. i don't think it bodes well for the world in the short term... i don't live in the usa, so i might be seeing this differently then some here.. for the time being i continue to see ISIS as a mercenary force that's useful for a geo-political agenda.. it is like letting the genii out of the bottle hoping to get it back in.. it started with the usa war on iraq and there is no end in site.. works great for some things, but not great for the planet or people who just want to get along..

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