« SHORT AND SHARP: SHOWDOWN AT ALEPPO | Main | "U.S. Fortifying Europe’s East to Deter Putin" - TTG »

02 February 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Reminds me of Bismark and Napoleons III "negotiating" after Sedan.


A farce indeed...

May the Farce be with you!

Yoda speaks to the jihadis and their enablers http://bit.ly/1PQvOho


I had to know one of the leaders of the HNC delegation who is in Geneva, a woman who was their spokes personback in 2011-12 and a member of the Executive Board. She is a sophisticated tri-lingual French academic whose father, a diplomat, was forced out of the country for his liberalism back in the 70s and resettled in London. Although I've pretty much lost touch with her, we did speak briefly in Paris last year.

It's a classic case of hope dashed by a cold bath of realism. Not that she is lacking in political awareness or skills. She has no illusions about the various Salafist groups, and is herself wholly secular. Rather, it is the inability to give up an aspiration and a cause to which much of one's life has been devoted. That is reinforced by a deep, brooding anger and contempt for Assad et al. Some of those like her have faded back into the woodwork. The military defectors to the cause and the more cynical political wheeler dealers are playing the game for personal gain - the ugly details of which I heard from a former deputy head of French Intelligence who spent many years in Syria. Those are the guys who deal with the CIA and US Army. A few worthy souls are fated to suffer mentally and emotionally for their beliefs and conviction - and stamina. How many thousands were there like that across Europe in the 1930s and 40s? It's an old story.


I believe the so-called Syrian Peace Talks are in Geneva, not Vienna. UN facilities in both places, but Vienna usually for nuclear-related talks.
If the HNC aren't going to take part in the talks unless their demands are met- then they won't be taking part in the talks. Looks like the talks will go nowhere....if they even start.



Thanks. pl

Chris Chuba

Oh the cries for a cease fire to stop 'bombing civilian territory' which are occupied by rebel forces of course.

I don't recall any of this carrying on when Assad's forces were getting battered and on retreat in 2014 and the first half of 2015. If anything, I remember the satisfaction and pride that many took in noting that TOW anti-tank missiles were responsible for this turn around. The rebels who are crying now had a charming name for the TOW's, something like the 'lion tamer'.

If the FSA wanted a cease fire, all they had to do was to separate from Al Nusra, the Turkmen, and the Islamic front groups instead of fighting along side them. The Kurds never made common cause with the Islamists and they have never been bombed or attacked by Assad's forces, just the Turks. It was Russian S400's that finally put a stop to that.

In 2015, the only negotiation was, 'you step down and turn the country over to us without an election'. No one elected the Saudi/Turkish backed rebels and they never occupied more than 15% of the population. For U.S. commentators to proclaim that 'the Syrian people have rejected Assad' betrays ignorance.

Okay, my rant for the day. I hope I don't sound sanctimonious like the people I am referring to. The numerous links to the Borg twitter feeds that people have posted to this site have gotten to me. Yikes, some people are always on their game :-) The Borg never sleep.


Diplomatic farce or casus belli?

Kerry and Dagvutoglu said that they would move against ISIS if diplomacy fails. I imagine that this statement is likely to be supported by others in the Assad must go! Coalition. The twisted logic is:
R+6 is propping up Assad - not eradicating terr0r!sts. Proof of that is R+6 unwillingness to agree a cease fire. As a result, there is no end in sight to the Syrian Civil War. That means more terr0r against the West, more hardship for civilians, more anti-immigrant civil unrest in Europe.

The Assad must go! Coalition makes the case that Sunni's will prevail in any free and fair election because they are a majority of the population. I think they have always been suspicious that R+6 only gave lip service to peace talks. Leaving aside how valid this concern is (the Russians had made it clear that anyone picking up arms is NOT a moderate), UNSC 2249's open "call" for all countries that are capable to act against ISIS created a legal means of acting if R+6 deviated from a path that would lead to an Assad must go! victory.

Attacking and securing ISIS territory would be a way to secure the gains of the proxy forces, creating a 'safe zone' for civilians (and probably extremists as well). It would mean a de-facto partition, but fighting ISIS and returning refugees would be popular in the West.


To hear the Jihadi side tell it, they aren't getting slammed on the ground north of Aleppo. The skies are filled with Russian and Syrian crews bombing "civilians and critical infrastructure" because they got out of bed feeling mean.


(click "view content" to get to the good stuff)

Maybe somebody is thinking that there can be a "diplomatic solution" like with Vietnam in 1954. But something tells me that the kind of horse trading between the great powers that turned defeat into stalemate isn't in the cards this time around.



I know a few ancien regime types from before the rise of the Alawis and Assads to power. The level of their bitterness is quite understandable. the Alawis were the running dogs of the French and widely looked down on. The Sunni aristocracy ruled Syria. that all went away. It was gone with the wind. I sympathize with their pain. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Indubitably, the parents of this person did a huge disservice to her (and likely her siblings as well) by passing to them their own anger and frustrations when their world died.

They owed it to their children, in my view, to isolate and insulate them from the past and let them have as normal a life as they could in England and participate in healthy manner in the life of their new country.

I recall seeing young people in Toronto distributing MKO leaflets - the parents using their children for a lost cause, runing their lives as they had their own.

Ghost ship

The Syrian government offered and implemented an Arab League-brokered ceasefire back in November 2011. Perhaps the rebels and their supporters should have taken that offer and respected it instead of continuing to attack government forces with backing of the Washington Borg who continued to call for Assad to step down. Responsibility for all the casualties after November, 2011, should be placed squarely with the Washington Borg and the poodles in London, Paris, Riyadh and Ankara.
The Washington Borg may have deleted all record of that ceasefire from their collective memory but the R6+1 have not.
BTW, Al Arabiya is a Saudi-owned newspaper

Charles Michael

The imperative demands for a ceasse-fire is a great classic of the loosing side and its West friendly interventionists.
We will never know (or agree)what would be the situation in Syria without foreign meddling; in fact we can even doubt if there would have been much more than some protests and riots without those foreign interventions.

The often repeated mantra "you can't win military against a guerrilla " bears some exceptions. In 2009 the defeat and extermination of the LTTE leaders in Sri Lanka was made possible for two major structural reasons and one human;determination:
- the LTTE got a cease-fire and thus some kind of territorial recognition, thus stopeed being purely a guerilla (albeit keeping being a terrorist organization)
- facing them the SL army was a national (locals, adjusted to climate, food, mosquitoes and swamp and land), even if somme foreign observers might have been embedded.
- And of course they had a strong and determined General in Chief, with a strong military strategy even if predictable and a strong government backing.

These 3 conditions, since Russia rebalancing actions, are in full play now in Syria.

Geneva is sure a show of impotence and more so in the context of the Borgs narratives; but one must remember that the official purpose is the after war organization of Syria.
Face saving "democratic rules" for the Natos, abomination for the SA & GCC, hopefuly sobering for Turkey. I don't expect anything out of it. But it gives the R+6 a nice delay to finish most of the job.



On Monday, the head of the British Foreign Office, Philip Hammond, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of undermining international efforts to end the Syrian civil war by bombing opponents of President Assad who are countering Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“The Russians say they want to destroy Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] but they are not bombing Daesh: they are bombing the moderate opposition… supporting Assad,” Hammond told Reuters in Jordan, where he was meeting with his counterpart Nasser Judeh.

“It's a source of constant grief to me that everything we are doing is being undermined by the Russians,” Hammond said, claiming that “less than 30 percent” of Russian strikes are aimed at Islamic State targets.


“Since the Russian intervention in Syria, the dribble of people who were perhaps going back from these camps to Syria has stopped dead, and there is a new flow coming in because of the actions the Russians are taking - particularly in southern Syria along the border just a few kilometers from here,” Hammond said at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marina Zakharova also commented on Hammond’s statement, describing it as “dangerous stove-piping of disinformation.”


Charles Michael

Guerrillas have often been defeated but not by using the colonial doctrine pf COIN. Vigorous counter-guerrilla operations have been the usual key to success in suppressing guerrillas. You are French. You know that in fact the nationalist revolts against French rule in Algeria and Tunisia were defeated by French forces. IMO the political decisions made in France to free these places were the correct decisions but these decisions were made AFTER the guerrilla forces had been defeated. In the US the endless Indian wars that began in the 1630s were all won by European settlers even though there were some rocky patches in the process. The Indian tribesmen were altogether guerrillas and they always lost in the end. And then, there is the Philippine Insurrection... I was school trained as an counterinsurgent. I can give you many other examples. pl


"We see, then, how vain the faith and promises of men who are exiles from their own country. As to their faith, we have to bear in mind that, whenever they can return to their own country by other means than your assistance, they will abandon you and look to the other means, regardless of their promises to you. And as to their vain hopes and promises, such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe, they will fill you with hopes to that degree that if you attempt to act upon them you will incur a fruitless expense, or engage in an undertaking that will involve you in ruin....A prince therefore should be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury."

Machiavelli, Discourses, Book 2, Chapter 31


You see similar in any Northern European capital. Copenhagen is home to a seemingly endless parade of embittered exiles ranging from prosperous Iranians nostalgic for the Pahlavis (have I spelt that correctly?) to Kurds from Iran, Syria, or Turkey (not so prosperous most of them are from impoverished villages and fled poverty not war).


In reply to turcopolier 03 February 2016 at 12:15 AM

Sir I would add Northern Ireland - Gerry Adams said recently that PIRA was 'undefeated' (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/adams-says-ira-undefeated-comment-to-mark-ceasefire-1.2300832) he was responding to the British Prime Minister's remark that "British resolve saw off" Hitler, communism, and the IRA. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-extremism-speech-read-the-transcript-in-full-10401948.html - right at the end of his speech).

Adams can say truthfully that there was no surrender ceremony and no document signed by PIRA surrendering. But to my mind that doesn't matter because it's what happens on the ground that's important not some ceremony of dubious symbolic importance:

If you look at how the PIRA campaign ended and what happened afterwards:

PIRA was forced to accept disarmement - the British insisted that PIRA disarm, PIRA agreed and the decommissioning process took place, slowly and with hiccups but it did happen.

PIRA failed in their war aim of overthrowing the Northern Ireland state and in fact Sinn Fein now partcipates in governing "The North" they'll also participate in governing the Republic should an election give them enough seats in the Dail to do so.

Sinn Fein has acknowledged the legitimacy and given political support to both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Gardai.

Last but not least in May 2014 the PSNI arrested Gerry Adams and treated him as a common criminal suspect by detaining him in a holding centre for four days and questioning him about his alleged part in a murder committed by PIRA during the course of its campaign against the British. They made it crystal clear that if they could garner enough evidence to charge him they would do so, have him put on trial, and if found guilty sentenced to imprisonment.

Give up your war aim + Give up your weapons + Give up your leadership's demand to be treated as anything other than an ordinary citizen = you lost

Apologies for the long windedness but I think the point is an important one and that it needs to be hammered home relentlessly in the face of borgite obfuscation.

Losers don't get to dictate the peace terms.

Charles Michael

Of course I fully agree with you, and that is why I was refering to a "repeated mantra".
Still in most of this successful antièguerilla campaign the collaboration of indigenous troops was an important factor.

the case of Sri lanka bring some similarities with Syria because of the West interventions and LTTE support:
- Hilary Clinton did receive in 2007 a donation from a Tamil lawyer (linked to LTTE) and when exposed had to reject it
- David Milibrant (UK Minister of FO) supported them, same with Bernard Kouchner.
- the cease fire agreement (CFA) was brokered by a Norvegian diplomat, Eric Soldheim (ortho ?)on a partition principle, as usual.


"The "rebels" are a mish-mash of some 1500 jihadi and other anti-government groups"

Even an average of 50 men per group leaves 75,000 'fighting' men; assuming they don't cart along a mass of support personnel. Is it me, or has there always been something of the old PLO about the rebels? Always firing off guns in the air and talking a lot of shit while standing with one foot on the plane for Tunisia.

The rebel con is an old one.


I have met the MKO collectors over here, twice, really ... The seem to have given up on the Cologne citizen, or more generally in Germany, maybe after the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution started to look into them in 2007.

What do you think about his question concerning the European 1930's and 40s? To not circle in on Germany at that time, which strictly is outside your Diocletian line anyway, for the most part.

Babak Makkinejad

My understanding has been that when it came to fascism, fear of socialism, and desire to get rid of Jews in Europe, there were tens of millions of Europeans who shared that program.

Outside of England, I cannot think of a major European state in which liberalism prevailed.

Seamus Padraig

"Give up your war aim + Give up your weapons + Give up your leadership's demand to be treated as anything other than an ordinary citizen = you lost"

Don't agree with your assessment of NI. While it's true that the IRA did not achieve their ultimate, maximum goal of unification with the Republic, both the nationalist movement specifically, as well as the Catholic population of the North more generally, ended up measurably better off politically and economically than they were when the troubles started up again in 60s.

The old 'Ulster' government had been expressly founded as a 'Protestant state for a Protestant people', and for years the Catholic minority had been treated as something LESS than ordinary citizens by the local government. For the Catholics then, equality and political power-sharing definitely represented an improvement over what they had before.

Oh--and any time they like, the nationalists are now legally entitled to call for a referendum on the nationalist question. That would have been unthinkable before the Good Friday Accord.

All of these were key concessions extracted from London by the nationalists in exchange for laying down their arms. I think the main idea of the above post was that losers are in no position to extract concessions, so if we abide by that standard, it would be hard to say that the nationalists lost in NI.


Col: About 15 years ago, I discussed the Assads with my wife's late uncle in Amman. He told me that before Assad the Sunnis thought that Alawi women were "fair game" and treated them like prostitutes.


Thirdeye: Same song, different stanza. See https://twitter.com/KenRoth/status/694843522218901505

Maybe the best way to help civilians is to actually to defeat the Head Choppers.


Yes, no doubt England had more power--do I honestly want to write this--no doubt at one specific point in time considering the object of desire or chosen collective problem. Which may well make it a champion of liberalism.

Maybe that is why England with its no doubt great history, from the Magna Carta on to juridical reforms in the 18th century, may well be the European oasis of liberalism or was it France? Due to the revolution, which no doubt helped to get the more "spiritually and less pecuniary oriented" into power in Iran?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad