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28 February 2016

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Medicine Man

Col.: Could the splitting of jihadi and rebel resistance have been the goal of Lavrov and Kerry from the outset? It certainly speeds the conflict towards its resolution, as it strips foreign jihadis of their local allies, and if you aren't paying too close attention to the shifting definition of "moderate" it gives the US administration cover to say they've accomplished their goal of brokering a peace with the moderates in Syria.

Charles Michael

You are a brillant analyst, one more time
Hat off.

nothing to add on Lebanese SA deconfiture: just maybe to signal the bankrupsy of the Hariri camp (pro Saoudis) and the total loss of France influence due to their non sensisical MO policy.

Chris Chuba

The splitting of the FSA from the Jihadists has been a consistent goal of the Russians from day 1, this was stated in Putin's 60 minutes interview with Charlie Rose, "There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism and, of course, at the same time encourage them to start a positive dialogue with the "healthy" part of the opposition and launch political transformations."
http://www.sott.net/article/302911-Sott-Exclusive-Full-unedited-text-of-Vladimir-Putins-interview-with-Charlie-Rose-What-CBS-left-out

The U.S. has always been behind the curve. IMO when the Russians started this campaign, everyone would be a lot better off now had we acknowledged that the FSA was intermingled with Al Nusra and its spinoffs and encouraged them to separate themselves from those groups. We could have worked on a separate truce for them much like the one that Assad and the Kurds obviously have. Instead, we convulsed between anger and denial (the Russians are going to lose, they are only bombing moderates and not ISIS).

In November, the Russians endorsed the Geneva plan which called for multi-party elections and only asked that Assad be included in those elections. The plan acknowledged the existence of valid non-Jihadist opposition groups.

I just don't get how we can keep getting this wrong, 'Assad must go', 'Army of Islam is a moderate group', 'no fly zone', 'Turkey is a valuable ally against ISIS (cough)'. It's crazy. Are the powers that be in this country stupid or is everyone on the Saudi payroll? I have no idea.

Liza

Col. Lang:

Fascinating analysis, as always. The Turks still have 1,500 troops in Iraqi Kurdistan. Russian deputy prime minister Dmitri Rogozin visited Baghdad recently, and called for Turkish forces to withdraw. They're staying put. Do you think Erdogan's objective is to seize the oil fields around Mosul ? If so, could the US permit this ?

Barish

I speculated that this process of disengaging "moderate" insurgent forces from jihadi crews, as even laid out by State Dept briefings recently serves as a tacit form of weeding out such insurgents that may still be presented as "moderate" forces on the ground, while the rest that has become useless, the majority jihadi ones are thrown to the Syrian, Kurdish and Russian wolves. Or wolves in league with the Russian "bear", if you insist on that metaphor.

Meanwhile, Padişah Erdoğan's Gri Kurtlar are left to wail their own litany of sorrow as their precious designs that tried to utilize said jihadis for their ends crumble to dust.

PS: I abstain from including the squeaking of the likes of al-Jubeir and other GCC-minions in this picture.

Mishkilji

It is surprising that more ink is not spilled over the Saudi Crown Prince's thrashing around the region and its impact on Saudi internal dynamics. After setbacks in Yemen and Syria, Riyadh is now losing ground in Lebanon--Justice Minister resigns, no money for the Future Movement, a list of Presidential candidates that Hizbollah could have written, and a severed aid package for the LAF.

How long before there is a palace coup?

Prem

The amphetamine captagon is doled out to jihadi cannon fodder to get them hopped-up for battle:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/20/world/syria-fighters-amphetamine/

Bill Herschel

Correct. With luck it makes them easier targets and easier to exterminate.

Bill Herschel

Slightly, very slightly off-topic.

"Something cataclysmic is going to have to happen — and soon, such as on Tuesday — to keep Trump from exceeding or being very close to the 1,237 delegates he needs to be the Republican Party’s nominee when the primaries end June 7."

Something cataclysmic...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-is-well-on-his-way-to-the-1237-delegates-he-needs-to-be-gop-nominee/2016/02/28/09a599ca-de3b-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html

We're in Crazy Joey Gallo territory now. When Crazy Joey was gunned down, on his birthday, in Umberto's Clam Bar, a mob guy was interviewed by The Daily News. His quote, "It had to happen." That will be the chorus when something cataclysmic happens.

Trey

" Are the powers that be in this country stupid or is everyone on the Saudi payroll?"

The answer is "Yes."

aleksandar

An interesting POV

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-civil-war-state-of-the-art-technology-gives-president-assad-s-army-the-edge-a6898741.html

Chris Chuba

Here is a graphic of the cease fire zone ... http://russia-insider.com/en/military/russian-map-showing-syrians-areas-covered-ceasefire-agreement-marked-yellow/ri13082

The small areas pictured in blue, as safe zones for the FSA, certainly give the SAA plenty of room to control the border with Turkey which is what they really wanted to accomplish in any case. It will allow them to take Aleppo and Al Shigur in Northern Syria and even areas in the south if they choose to do so.

Bob

Of course the #SaudiCables have put a real dent if the effectiveness of Saudi bribe money in Lebanon.

http://hummusforthought.com/2015/06/20/saudicables/

Babak Makkinejad

Nah, that would require too much cohesion from Saudis.

This cargo was likely for the domestic consumption of Saudi Arabian nationals.

Jose

most Christians, Sunni Muslims, Hizbullah and all the other associated Shia forces in Lebanon are determined to remain free of Saudi political control. - pl

Forgive me for going of topic, what the hell is happening in Yemen?

How long can the Saudis last?

ex-PFC Chuck

OT but likely of interest to SST folks. Tulsi Gabbard, the Congress memeber from Hawaii and a reserve Army officer, has resigned as a member and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.
"I think it’s most important for us, as we look at our choices as to who our next commander in chief will be, is to recognize the necessity to have a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment," Gabbard, a U.S. representative for Hawaii, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/02/httpsouthfrontorgsyria-battlefields-survey-february-27.html

alba etie

exPFC Chuck
Austin Texas is an essential "LOC " for the Clintonista cohort for fund raising and other support . It is remarkable to hear the buzz about the infighting happening within the Democratic Party . The neocon wing of the party VS the Sen Sanders realist view of where the Democrats need to be on non interventionist foreign policy . IMO Congresswoman Gabbard's resignation from the DNCC is just one more clear example of the growing loathing & discontent within the Democratic Party for Mrs. ' We came , we saw , he died " Clinton 's neocon agenda. There are now credible murmurs here that Congresswoman Duckworth will be the next defection from Big Grandma's cohort . We shall see.

alba etie

Liza
Its being reported that many ISIS fighters are fleeing Syria for northern Iraq - I wonder if the Turkish forces are in Iraq to protect not only the oil fields but Daesh as well . If so what then ?

Valissa

Not sure which new site you meant to link to... some of the many articles on the topic focussed more on DNC politics, but this article has the most complete quote from Gabbard regarding the need to stop all the interventionist wars. http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-dem-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/02/tulsi-gabbard-bernie-sanders-endorsement-219955

ex-PFC Chuck

Couldn't agree more about loathing & discontent within the Dem party. There's a generational aspect to it, however. The wife of one of my oldest and best friends is a 60s/70s feminist and vehemently for Hilary. She's very much of the "women should support woman candidates" school, but she's not amused when I ask her where Hilary was when law professor Zephyr Teachout ran in the primary against the dodgy incumbent Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. As I read them her two 30 something daughters support Sanders but don't talk about it except indirectly.

I see I pasted the wrong link in the comment above about Tulsi Gabbard. Here's the Reuters link I thought I was offering:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-sanders-gabbard-idUSMTZSAPEC2S9JDNKG

Thomas

"PS: I abstain from including the squeaking of the likes of al-Jubeir and other GCC-minions in this picture."

You shouldn't. It was Peninsular Prince Bandit who gave birth to the Daesh Beast by providing bullion to the embryo of Al Qadea's Iraqi Jihadi Gangster Group allowing them to grow into competent military force. Like poor old Dr Frankenstein's creation, maybe the motley monster will finally return to its maker.

Thomas

An interesting point:

"Intriguingly, since the start of the war in 2011, a far higher percentage of Syrian police and political security personnel have gone across to Bashar al-Assad’s enemies than have soldiers in the regular army. There have been 5,000 security personnel defections out of a total force of 28,000 police."

The cruel and brutal always looking after number one.

different clue

Thomas,

Are they coming back? They are the people one would want to bring back. I wonder how much of ISIS's success so far has been due to all the old Baathist and old Iraqi Army thinking-brain dogs who give ISIS advice and guidance and planning/execution leadership. They were "driven away" by the Bremer Occupation and given no chance to "come back" by the Shia regime in Baghdad. One suspects the Assad group is smart enough to learn from that and not do the same thing . . . with Russian advice if necessary.

Matthew

CC; The ISW also has this graphic. See https://twitter.com/TheStudyofWar/status/704422895158562816

The Cessation of Hostilities allows the Russians and Assad to hit Nusra and ISIS everywhere that matters and "cauldron" the "moderate rebels."

Thomas

different clue,

The whole paragraph reads:

"In an army that has lost well over 60,000 dead in almost five years of hard fighting, Syria’s officers have suddenly discovered that the new Russian technology has coincided with a rapid lowering of their casualties. This may be one reason for the steady trickle of old “Free Syrian Army” deserters back to the ranks of the government forces, depleting even further David Cameron’s 70,000-strong army of “moderate” ghost soldiers. Intriguingly, since the start of the war in 2011, a far higher percentage of Syrian police and political security personnel have gone across to Bashar al-Assad’s enemies than have soldiers in the regular army. There have been 5,000 security personnel defections out of a total force of 28,000 police."

As you can see Army personnel are returning. My point was the "secret police" types who were quick to sell out, almost 1 in 5 taking a hike in order to be on the perceived winning side, to score Saudi cash, or to save their skin.

As for the Assad Group, I would disagree that they would be smart enough to implement lessons learned. They should thank God that the Iranians (they politely removed political and incompetent military leaders) and Russians are capable and decisive in statecraft. Both will provide the new social construct of the Syrian State with the proper advisement necessary.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have to deal with the Borganism that believes it is clever and wise supporting the Liver Lovers Legions, and still wants to double down on the Syrian Civil War.

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