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16 February 2016


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Hood Canal Gardner

Excellent read + thoughtful. Thanks..pretty much on target re the Turks. However, IMO the mindless "basement crew" will 'engineer/shoehorn/EU-membership bribe' sizable contingents of the regularTurkish army into Syria possibly (even) on a second front. Just a thought.

Medicine Man

Thank you for once again reading the tea leaves for us, Mr. Bahzad. You and your fellows on SST are an invaluable resource for us civilians who are trying to parse through all the misinformation that abounds.


Would it be better for the Syrians and Russians to complete the destruction of the terrorists in the west before turning their main attention to the Raqqa area, or the reverse?

Considering the importance of preventing the Americans and their assorted riff-raff from taking control of an economically and politically important slice of Eastern Syria, which they would hope would enable them to continue the "Assad must Go!" mantra; would it not be better to turn attention to promptly winning sufficient in that area to preempt that possibility? Might tidying up in the west now risk losing the east?

The 'Green' terrorists in the west seem to be on the ropes. Allowing some respite now will not prevent their ultimate defeat. If it will take the Americans, say a couple of months, to move sufficient forces into the area of Raqqa and re-badge ISIS as newly enlightened democratic rebels against the tyranny of Assad, could the Syrians win enough in that time to make the Americans reluctant to intervene, and then turn back to complete their victory around Idlib and Aleppo?



Great work. pl

William R. Cumming

Except for moving the Kerry chess piece around, FP is about to be in the rear view mirror by the Obama Administration. Budget hearings and effort and the replacement for Scalia about all the energy the Administration can muster. Scarey IMO since the world never stops as to its crisis management.

Thanks for another terrific post!


Col: PB & TGG's recent posts have been incredibly informative--and a great rebuke to the cocktail party reporting from the MSM. BTW, the "crazies in the basement" crowd is not limited to DC: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/15/syria-ceasfire-fails-isis-russia-iran-saudi-arabia-vengeful-assad

Why would it be objectively bad for the USA if Assad remains in power? Bad for some R2P careerists, sure. But strategically bad for the USA?


followed by an increase in operational tempo aimed at exploiting any weakness appearing in the adversary's posture or following through on any opportunity of tactical gain.

Yesterday's appearance of TU-214R is, possibly the sign of things to come. It has massive recon capability, both air and ground, including ability to create real time picture of the underground. It also maps real time signals' picture.


Outstanding work. Very thorough.

While we can always count on first class work and coverage here on SST, elsewhere laughable work is presented as analysis. Finding this article on National Interest , touching on the same subject was a shocker for its sheer lack of any basis in reality. The comments following the article make it abundantly clear that even the regular readers cant swallow what is being dished out there!


Syrian helicopters have reportedly dropped leaflets demanding surrender over Jihadi-held districts of Aleppo.


We'll find out soon enough whether it really means something big is about to go down in Aleppo or if it's a ruse to misdirect the enemy's efforts. An impending move to create an Idlib-Aleppo pocket looks more likely with the fall of Kinsibba looking imminent. But if I had a dollar for every time I misprognosticated the SAA's next move.....

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think they will, as already stated by the Turkish PM earlier today. Mind you, Erdogan might have other ideas in mind, but for the time being I'll stick with my estimate ;-)

Patrick Bahzad


Some of this "analysis" is just common sense, nothing to do with military experience alone. Don't think it is a question of civilian vs military, more like "thinking" individual/citizen vs gullible MSM crowd (which doesn't mean buying into conspiracy BS either, I may add) !


IMO the neocons in the State Department saw an opportunity to install a "pro-western" government that would deny the Russian Navy use of its port at Latakia. It was of a piece with the attempt to deny the Russian Navy the use of Sebastopol with the pro-NATO coup in Ukraine.

Israel has a parallel interest in isolating Hezbollah, the main stumbling block to complete domination of Lebanon by Israel. Plan A for Israel was to foment war with Iran over the nuclear issue, which would inevitably have repercussions for Syria and Hezbollah. Plan B is to eliminate any Syrian government that co-operates with Iran and Hezbollah.

It's an open question as to whether Israel's agenda for Lebanon or the US/NATO agenda against the Russian Navy was paramount in the action against Syria.



Great post. Thanks for the injection of sanity. I for one need it.

The crazies in the basement brought us the Iraq Invasion and Occupation. The Secretary of Defense is one of them. Only Bernie Sanders is against setting up a Syrian no fly zone. Donald Trump would let Russia do the fighting. All the rest of the presidential candidates are mad dogs in the tradition of Senator John McCain and want to establish a Syrian no fly zone. Saudi Arabia’s mercenaries can’t make it pass the Jordon border without air superiority. This is impossible without an agreement with the Russians or a full blown air and naval campaign to destroy the Russian Air Force in Syria.

The Saudis cut the Shiite Crescent with the financing of the Islamic State. They will spend as much as the can to keep it severed. Turkey needs money, wants to kill Kurds and rescue fellow Turkmen. Unless the USA explicitly tells them to stand down, the Sunni nations may perceive that they have gotten a green light to invade. If the crazies get their way, all hell will break loose.

Patrick Bahzad

Can only say that the R+6 has identified the mix of Salafi/Jihadi groups as the maint threat, and they will consistently pursue until they have destoyed that threat.

In a conflict with multiple actors, you try and go for the main opponent, while at the same time trying to mend fences with the one who can be brought "on board".

After that, you focus on the secondary threat. That's the basics. In practise, things may look more confused, but the principles are there

Patrick Bahzad

Depends what the US administration has defined as its strategy and interest in the region.
That is not to say that this would be in the interest of (majority of) the American people.

Patrick Bahzad

Hope the author of that piece was given a large paycheck for his very successful attempt at creative writing !

Patrick Bahzad


I'm not saying this as a criticism, but I don't work and make estimates based on twitter feeds. There is some info that could probably be used, but would need a lot of processing before being turned into useful intel. That being said, nothing wrong with following Twitter accounts (I do as well).

Just a reminder, military operational tempo has nothing to do with Twitter TLs !

Trey N

Good question, cynic. I've been concerned about the same issue -- and I'm sure the R+6 are also very well aware it. Perhaps the recent move towards the Tabqa dam reflects a redirection of attention towards the "eastern problem." There are only so many assets to go around, but I sure would like to see the R+6 preempt a Borg attempt to steal eastern Syria.

Trey N

"...the Sunni nations may perceive that they have gotten a green light to invade."

Hmmm, another "April Glaspie moment?" ("We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.")


Ashton Carter started "predicting" Saudi and Turkey would become involved against Syria shortly after Russia began its activities there ---

Russia will pay price for Syrian airstrikes, says US defence secretary
Ashton Carter predicts reprisal attacks on Russian soil over Vladimir Putin's military campaign to prop up Bashar al-Assad's regime 08 Oct 2015

Carter Outlines Strategy to Counter ISIL at Senate Armed Services Hearing 27 Oct 2015

Carter: Russia 'Doomed to Fail' in Syria; ISIL Must be Defeated 30 Oct 2015

'Great partners': Pentagon rejects Russian evidence of Turkey aiding ISIS 02 Dec 2015
"A Pentagon spokesman rejected Russia’s evidence of Turkey’s involvement in oil deals with Islamic State militants, calling Turkey a “great partner” just a day after his boss complained to Congress that Ankara was not fighting ISIS enough.
“Let me be very clear that we flatly reject any notion that the Turks are somehow working with ISIL,” said Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). “That is preposterous and kind of ridiculous. We absolutely, flatly reject that notion.”"

'We want them to do more' - US defense secretary asks Turkey to seal Syria border 15 Dec 2015


I agree about the pitfalls of Twitter feeds. Siderenko seems to be one of the more careful ones about vetting the claims and presenting different views from different sources - government, Kurd, and Jihadi. Right now there's a great deal of uncertainty whether Marea is/isn't in Kurdish hands and what the differing claims mean. There's also a lot of uncertainty about whether or not the Aleppo power plant is actually captured or not.

Given that the SAA does a lot of moves to keep the enemy off balance and guessing, it no doubt works on war-watchers as well.


"Nawaf Obaid is a visiting fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government."

Holy cow.


I forgot to mention that the gulf states want pipeline routes for gas and for oil, as an alternative to shipment from the Persian Gulf, to the Mediterranean. They want to be assured control of those routes. The preferred possible route is through Syria. The other is through Yemen. So there's a convergence of three sets of interests, US, Israeli, and Gulf-Wahhabi, in trying to gain control over Syria.

Bill Herschel

Apparently Turkish artillery can reach 25 miles into Syria. Given that artillery is a pretty potent weapon (cf. Joan of Arc), how does that affect the pockets?


Patrick, brillant as usual !
I would have liked to have you as COS !

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