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20 April 2016


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Chris Chuba

Col. your wall street journal reference was quite interesting. I am posting it as a google search result because I don't think that you need a subscription to read it if you go in that way, realclearpolitics uses that trick and it seems to work.

In any case, the wsj article is extremely irritating.
1. They put the full blame on Assad for the failure of the ceasefire and make absolutely no reference to the FSA violations. We are not talking about a few violations like artillery or mortar fire, we are talking about full scale offensive attacks in Latakia and Aleppo, even the Dailybeast acknowledged this and they hate Assad. The WSJ completely ignored this.

2. The tone of the article made it sound like the U.S. was the adult in the room who brokered and is trying to keep the ceasefire against a somewhat shady partner, the Russians. That is a gagfest of an assertion. The Russians have been asking the U.S. to identify and separate the FSA rebels in Aleppo so they could stay out of the way of the SAA. The Russians are serious about the Geneva peace plan, the Assad must go fixation is not an essential component as it is portrayed in the article. Finally the U.S. promise to deliver brand new shiny weapons 'if' the peace plan fails strongly encourages the rebels to back out.

IMO it is the U.S. who is less serious about the cease fire and who has been less active in the enforcement of it.



I am not going to post instructions as to how to bypass the WSJ pay wall. pl






Here's a worrying development to add to the mix:


"Ceasefire falls apart as Kurdish, government forces clash in Qamishli

By Leith Fadel - 21/04/2016

The Syrian government and PYD (Kurdish regime) negotiated a truce on Wednesday night to cease the hostilities taking place inside of Qamishli.

However, the truce only lasted a mere three hours before the Asayish (Kurdish police) and National Defense Forces (NDF) clashed again near the Qamishli Security Box.

As a result of these firefights, the Asayish and NDF have accumulated a dozen casualties each, making this one of the bloodiest clashes to take place inside of Qamishli.

In addition to the fighting taking place between the NDF and Asayish, the latter has also engaged in a series of clashes with the Assyrian paramilitary forces (Sootooro and Hamiyah Al-Jazeerah).

This entire debacle began when a group of Asayish officers refused to stop at an NDF checkpoint; this prompted the latter to open-fire on the vehicle.

Firefights are still ongoing tonight, despite repeated attempts by both the PYD and Syrian government to intervene and halt the fighting."

In addition to that going on, ISIL claim to have carried out a bombing in the selfsame city:


Local fancies of fully taking the city aside - it is noted that PYD/YPG do not have an interest in this turf war -, I can't see anyone truly benefiting from this other than ISIL itself, as shown, or Turkish MiT. How (un)likely would the latter's involvement in events in Qamishli be?


He also has a talent for misdirected interference and insulting arrogance.


Slightly off topic but not really;

There's an #InsultErdogan hashtag making the rounds on Twitter. Far be it from me to encourage people to join in the pillorying of a fascist autocrat.


The "bust out" continues. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/04/20/whats-really-wrong-with-the-u-s-saudi-relationship/?postshare=7881461252353995&tid=ss_tw

When the Gulfies are primarily "nervous" because they fear their own people, you know this story will end badly.


There's a nice wordplay in one of the comments here:

It notes that Obama bowed to the waste.

different clue


The problem is that Obama is only continuing the Cheney/bush Administration policy on Saudi Arabia. No hope for change from Obama on that score. And no hope for change from Clinton either, if she gets elected.

Mark Logan


re: Simultaneous offensives puzzle.

Another WAG: As resources get tight the people who fight will get the most, perhaps a parallel condition within the two organizations? They are enemies but they share a few patrons.

robt willmann

The news above that Suhail al Hassan is to help R+6 make a move from Tadmur (Palmyra) to Dayr az Zawr (or Deir al Zor, or however it is spelled), is good news and should be at the top of the list. The Syria-Iraq border is to the southeast of Palmyra. Pushing northeast to clear Dayr az Zawr and then east to the Iraq border will then allow R+6 to take back the area south and southeast of Dayr az Zawr which has oil fields and pipelines and oil and gas infrastructure, as well as the Euphrates River all the way to Iraq. Then Syria, Russia, Iran, et. al. can control more than half of the Syrian-Iraq border starting at Jordan. When that is accomplished, they can pick and choose from what places to push north to take back the rest of the country.

Aleppo is "contained", so to speak. The large expanses of the eastern part of Syria are the important thing for R+6 to get, along with the oil and gas infrastructure there.


I am usually loath to post a link to any thing over at the National Interest but this article was written by a Military history prof at West Point and is right up the ally of many here. It starts out a little slogan heavy but it definitely builds. I



MP: Can anyone explain this? The Iranians fight in the open; the Gulfies slither around in secrecy. See https://twitter.com/SamTamiz/status/723304614058033152


New book by Hersh, "The Killing of Osama bin Laden"
"We had a ship, it was called the Cape Maid, it was parked out in the Med. The Syrians would let us destroy this stuff [the chemical weapons]… there was 1,308 tons that was shipped to the port…and we had, guess what, a forensic unit out there. Wouldn’t we like to really prove—here we have all his sarin and we had sarin from what happened in Ghouta, the UN had a team there and got samples—guess what?

It didn’t match. But we didn’t hear that. I now know it, I’m going to write a lot about it.

Guess what else we know from the forensic analysis we have (we had all the missiles in their arsenal). Nothing in their arsenal had anything close to what was on the ground in Ghouta."


I nominate that Wapo article for Worst Headline of the War:

"Pro-government warplanes bomb a rebel town that hates al-Qaeda, killing scores"

Phil Cattar

A quick answer off the top of my head without any deep analysis is that the men of these countries are soft physically and not particularly radicalized.They live a soft life and not really motivated to go to war in Syria.Qatar has the highest income per capita in the world......................Most of the difficult work in these countries,if not most of the work period,is done by foreigners........They will pay someone else to fight or be the weapons supplier.

Chris Chuba

It took the Russians about 3 weeks to deactivate almost 3,000 mines in Palmyra.

Over the same period, over a 100 Iraqi's have been killed or wounded returning to Ramadi while a U.S. company was contracted to remove mines there. The original number of mines was estimated in the hundreds but I did not find any stats given on the number of mines that they actually did remove during that time period.

Okay, I get that Ramadi is a city buried in rubble while Palmyra is just a large town but I am having some doubts about our use of private contractors for military operations. I suppose that a better test for the efficiency of the Russian operators will be to see how effective they are when they have to deal with the aftermath of a city such as the ISIS held portion of Deir Ezzor, Ramadi, or Aleppo. It just seems like we don't get anything close to the same value for the expense that we invest in these operations. Oddly enough there was even less transparency.

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