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08 March 2016


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Interesting ....


The Twisted Genius


I'm more inclined to take Peter Van Buren seriously because of his background, but the talk of a new regional agreement is premature. The R+6 has set things in motion and we must wait until those things come to fruition. I'm not willing to accept IS as a legitimate actor. They should be hunted and killed until they are impotent. Then the regional actors can sort out what the map will look like.

Chris Chuba

This is good news of course but now the Borg are clamoring for the U.S. to play spoiler in Syria despite the obvious impending collapse of ISIS in Syria ... http://www.newsweek.com/now-time-us-boots-ground-syria-434326
Frederic Hof was the former U.S. ambassador to Syria. Why do we assign people to positions where they obviously hate said govts?
[btw I hope this doesn't count as a political post, I assumed that the ban had to do with U.S. elections and/or partisan politics]

In any case, it looks like there is reasonable collaboration between Assad's forces and the Kurds. A concerted drive to Deir ez Zor both increases the effectiveness against ISIS and it will relieve the suffering of the citizens of that city; a noble cause.

The tiger forces may end up being a storied unit in these modern times. They are certainly getting a lot of practical experience.

The Twisted Genius

Fred Hof chairs the Atlantic Council Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. That says a lot. One interesting point in his diatribe lays out what might be the Borg plan to save the head choppers in unicorns' clothing.

"Time is of the essence in routing ISIS from eastern Syria and enabling the Syrian opposition to move from Istanbul and Gaziantep to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor to help locals establish reliable and effective administration."

I think the R+6 is going to beat them to it. Forget plan B. They better start ginning up a plan C.

different clue


I read that article earlier from its link on Naked Capitalism. My feeling is that the ISIS is so nasty and dangerous that leaving it alive is like leaving a virulently metastatic cancer alive inside a human body. It is not like other ordinary geopolitical power players. As long as an IS is allowed to exist, it and its would-be sponsors will be searching for ways to re-support it for another breakout towards jihadi conquest. At the very least, shouldn't we hope the R + 6 can wipe it out of existence within Syria and force it all the way back into Iraq? And then seal the Syria-Iraq border with something stronger than an earthen berm? Before international pressure to give ISIS a permanent state to play with becomes irresistable?

different clue

I am assuming that the Arabic word "suqur" means falcon and that somehow "suqur" entered various European languages and became "saker" for a certain kind of falcon. Does anyone here know which EuroLanguage first adopted "suqur" and changed it to "saker" and then applied it to the one particular kind of falcon that "saker" now names?

FB Ali

An interesting piece on the latest R+6 strategy:




Fred Hof is full Borg. In 2012 Obama appointed him Ambassador as Special Advisor for Transition in Syria. Ambassador is a misnomer since he sides with the rebels and not the sovereign government. He also worked in State under Hillary. He has worked closely with Israel and I can't say for sure that he's a hardcore Zionist, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Some more info on Hof:


The Twisted Genius

Brigadier Ali,

That piece is illuminating. The R+6 (primarily Russian) strategy is frighteningly brilliant. The work with the local sheiks is pure Green Beret, but the difference is that this piece is fully integrated with every other aspect of the R+6 strategy. When this is all over, we better study the hell out of this and learn.

The negotiations with the local sheiks reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite movies.




I know Hof well. IMO he a Hofist and nothing else. The Hariri Center is a thinly disguised center of Saudi influence. Rafik Hariri was a wholly owned property of Saudi Arabia and the center is the same. Therefore... With regard to "Plan B," the idea of a US sponsored Sunni force intervening in Syria from a base in Lebanon is silly. Don't you think Hizbullah would have something to say about that? pl


According the German wikipedia Zucker (sugar) comes from the Sankrit sakara which became in Arabic sukkar and then sugar and its derivatives. No falcon.


Here are answers:


So the usual stuff: Arabic => (Spanish, French) => English.


Suqur is the plural of saqr which means falcon.

Seamus Padraig


saker (ˈseɪkə) n

(Animals) a large falcon, Falco cherrug, of E Europe and central Asia: used in falconry

[C14 sagre, from Old French sacre, from Arabic saqr]


I am assuming this helps:


It makes a lot of sense context in relation to Spanish and French history.


Ulenspiegel, what is your associative line of thought leading to this response? Is your intention somewhat ironic?


Clarification- the population center/modern town is Tadmur. The remains of Palmyra lie immediately south of Tadmur.

While Palmyra is a significant archaeological site, it should be recognised that much of the architecture that tourists saw was actually the result of reconstruction work by the French in the early 1980s.


different clue, interesting. Thanks.

Not for one second I wondered why you would ask this question in this context. ... only about a silly answer.

Send me back to a point where I thankfully stopped babbling, or responding. ;) In hindsight.


French archaeologists independent of Versailles, or funded by the French govt.? Either way it goes to show the absolute lack of will to put political differences aside and work towards saving the site from iconoclasm, when ISIL was left largely unmolested by "Inherent Resolve" to pursue its offensive against the place last year.

One thing that has to be noted about Tadmur, the actual inhabited town, is that it apparently wasn't that large. The general census from 2004, cited by wiki, puts the number of inhabitants at some 50.000. Doubtful it significantly surpassed the 6-digit mark, especially after the war began.


thanks, Henshaw, interesting hint. Maybe even etymologically related to an off-topic question above. Vaguely. Although, I doubt I want to descend into whatever types of hypotheses. ;)

I'll look into that. Strictly reconstructions happened all over the place. ...

Ghost ship

"And then seal the Syria-Iraq border with something stronger than an earthen berm? "

What makes you think one will be needed? Are the R+6 really going to stop at the Iraqi border? Bear in mind that Iraqi militias are heavily invested in the liquidation of jihadis in Syria. There must be a reason for this and initially it was because the Syrian government was so vulnerable. Now that it is secure, the militias are staying on to cut ISIS's supply line from Turkey. Once that is done, ISIS's only options for resupply will be by air or over the roads that run west into Jordon or Saudia Arabia assuming the Iraqi Kurds can't be bought off. The Russians and the Iranians can deal with any attempts by air, while the SAA and militias with Russian support could probably create successful roadblocks on the routes into Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Without the possibility of resupply, ISIS;s days in Iraq will be numbered. The final cauldron of this war will be centred in north western Iraq. Well, at least, that's my best guess.

raksh wah

how many people think ISIS is a state of mind as opposed to being only a military force? Is vnquishing them militarily (critical in my mind) be enough, medium term say two to three years?

The Twisted Genius

The goal of IS is a physical caliphate on the ground rather than just the philosophical/religious idea. Defeat IS and you end up with angry men sitting around the hookah. That would be far less dangerous than the organized, armed and funded Islamic State we now face. It will take more than two or three years for those angry men to try to establish the next caliphate.

different clue

Ghost ship,

I think a permanent border sealoff ( and not just an earthen berm) would be necessary because because even if this ISIS is killed off inside Iraq as well, the continued anti-Sunni oppression and persecution within Iraq by the Shia-supremacist government in Baghdad will keep the Sunni Anbari tribes in such a permanent state of dissatisfaction that eventually some other kind of ISIS will arise again and may try another breakout into Eastern Syria. I would like to see such a future breakout rendered hopeless ahead of time.

And in Iraq itself, something will have to be done about all the "former Baathists" and former Iraqi Army people and former Iraqi secret police who gave ISIS strategic and tactical direction.
I don't know what that "something" should be, but I know they will still be there, waiting for the Shia supremacist regime in Baghdad to drive the Sunni Arab tribes into rebellion yet again.

If Iran has such control over the Shia government in Baghdad, perhaps Iran could get the Shia Baghdad government to show some basic fairness towards the Sunni Arabs and extend to them enough real power and dignity and respect that they will see no need for further rebellion.

different clue

FB Ali,

The Russians will want to take the time needed to do this right and make it irreversible. How fast can the Russians "take their time"? Can the R + 6 make Syria entirely unsubvertible and impenetrable before the next American President takes office? Because if the next President is Clinton, she will try her hardest to fan the least remaining ember of rebellion into a resumption of civil war all over again in hopes of destroying the Syrian Arab Republic despite everything. Hopefully the R + 6 members all understand this.

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