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25 April 2016

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William R. Cumming

Apparently I was wrong in suggesting President Obama placing all his bets on Iraq!

Tigermoth

Well that didn't take long. The part not mentioned here is but was apparently in the WSJ is the "safe zone":

The U.S. based publication “The Wall Street Journal” reported on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered 250 additional soldiers to be deployed to Syria in order to bolster the U.S. Army’s numbers inside the country. The report claimed that the 250 additional soldiers will be deployed to Syria as part of a force that will oversee the implementation of a safe-zone in the northern countryside.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-army-deploys-250-soldiers-syria/ | Al-Masdar News

I think if the US coalition gets settled in northern Syria they aren't going to go anywhere soon. Hence the splitting up of the country as planned. The SAA needs to move east quickly!

Seamus Padraig

"He sees the IS as just the latest version of Wahabbism championed by the house of Saud which his tribe has fought since the 19th century."

That's exactly how ex-MI6 man Alistair Crooke sees it, too: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Ishmael Zechariah

TTG,

A few points:
1-tayyip's position w/ respect to the PKK/PYG and other kurdish separatists had to evolve over time. Until the next-to-last elections, he was pursuing a different agenda.
2-The kurds are trying to be play both sides against the middle-their declaration of autonomy, against Russian objections, is one indicator. It will be interesting to see what accommodation they will reach with the SAA.
3-I am waiting to see what the grand bargain w/ Russia is. Her goals in MENA and Ukraine are orthogonal to those of the BORG.

In the end, consummating one's marriage with someone else's tool should be unsatisfying. Perhaps we will see how these heroes fight on their own one of these days. We have been having a preview in Turkey for the past six months with PKK. They are having a hard time.

Ishmael Zechariah

LeaNder

Thanks, TTG, to the extend I followed news around Obama over here, images or top talking points, without to be honest without taking a serious look. And definitively and always as the nitwit I am.

One talking point caught my attention. The German military is supposed to put more money and staff into defending its Eastern frontiers. Didn't check whatever he really said, but aware of the larger and from my perspective justified US debate. Not in line with Clinton in this context.


But, are European Eastern Frontiers already in the Ukraine? Or is this about Poland and the more fearful Baltic states, never mind residents with Russian background in the the latter?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Russian_sentiment

The Twisted Genius

LeaNder,

I doubt those in Washington give a rat's butt about Poland, Ukraine or the Baltics. This is all about Russia. I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone mouthing the words "Putin must go" yet.

BraveNewWorld

Well I guess King Saud, or more likely his idiot nephew, told Obama how it was going to be when he was there bowing. Now that the Americans are upping their forces in Syria how long until the Sauidis, Turks and Qatar follow?

I know two things for sure. The first is what ever the US has planned for Syria it has nothing to do with helping the Syrian people. Second if one one of those SF members is captured and handed over to Daesh it will be president Trump in 2016.

BraveNewWorld

Then you haven't been listening hard enough.

JJackson

Re the France24 video.
The commentary said it was the anti-tank weapon which destroyed the suicide truck (26:26) but who fired it? It looked, to me, like they were SFs not locals in that group trying not to claim credit or get filmed.

thepanzer

Just to make sure I have this all straight. The CIA is supposedly funding Daesh. The Pentagon is funding the unicorn army,which means most of the arms also go to Daesh (when all is said and done). The US has SF on the ground fighting Daesh (?), who are the main recipients of our arms programs in the area.

So we're fighting the same people we're arming?

This ties to my main issue with the Bacevich article from last week. It seemed his main issue was lack of will in the public to join the military and force level issues. I don't remember him tackling the fundamental issue of "why are we fighting in the ME in the first place and should we even be there?" We don't seem to have any clue why we're actually there or what we're actually doing when you move beyond the slogans. It reminds me of the world war I mantra, "we're here, because we're here, because we're here" or similar.

The Twisted Genius

JJackson,

I agree. I cannot fault a Green Beret for taking the shot despite his advisor capacity. I am familiar with the situation.

The Twisted Genius

thepanzer,

I don't know about the CIA funding Daesh. Playing a little fast and loose with defining who can join the unicorns is more like what they're doing. I agree that arming and funding the unicorns is just flat stupid. Helping the YPG/SDF defeat is a good policy which I fully endorse. We're doing that the right way. However, I do fear we'll try to push the YPG/SDF to be the new "Assad must go" force. That would be stupid.

I would get a warm sense of satisfaction if the Green Berets had a hand in letting the YPG/SDF work out their own accommodation with the Assad government without Borg interferance. If some punk-ass Neocon whiz-kids show up trying to push their Borg agenda on the Kurds and Arabs, they should end up in shallow unmarked graves in the deserts of eastern Syria. That would also give me a warm sense of satisfaction.

turcopolier

thepanzer

CIA is not arming IS. They are arming all the other squirrels in western Syria. I think DoD gave up on the unicorn army some time back. You do know that there is a difference between Nusra + associated Islamists and IS? You do know that, right? Bacevich's point and mine is that the US ground forces are too small for the tasks being given and are unlikely to be larger in the absence of the draft and changes in American society. For the record I will say that there is nothing in the ME worth fighting for if you are not a local, but the minimal effort being made in support of the Kurds is appropriate to the needed job of screwing up IS and ALL the other jihadi groups. GBs sign up for this kind of work. This is what they do to self-actualize as they say in California. OTOH we made such a mess of Iraqi society and government that little will be accomplished there unless IS simply collapses. pl

oldjack

With the Kurdish/NDF shenanigans in Qamishli over the weekend, I'm not sure everyone is buying into the "Rojava" enterprise. I follow various Assyrian social media sites and several of them called for their people to get out of the Syriac Military Counsel. Sootoro did so awhile back and has cast its lot with the government side.

It's a pickle, because some of the Assyrian villages need American weapons to fend off ISIS -- weapons they receive if they give a courtesy nod to the FSA.

I still suspect some form of partitioning under "Plan B" is part of the YPG/SDF/U.S. push for Raqqa.

Laguerre

In spite of all this optimism about the Rojava Kurds, I'm still waiting to see if they are capable or wish to carry the battle forward to territories not mainly occupied by Kurds. This seems to me the critical issue. It's always been said of the Syrian Kurds (or indeeed the Iraqi) that they are mainly interested in establishing control of Kurdish territory. Thus not in taking Raqqa in solidly Sunni Arab territory. Back after 2003 the Iraqi Kurds were fine with occupying Sunni territory. But then they got a bloody nose from ISIS, and I rather think they are more cautious now.

However, to be the US puppets they are supposed to be, they need to move forward to Raqqa. Or even close the gap with Afrin. I'm still waiting to see that happen. There's somewhat of a dissonance between US and Rojava Kurdish interests here.

VietnamVet


BNW

Last night, PBS NewsHour turned the son of the Saudi King into a silk purse.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/saudi-arabia-rethinks-dependence-on-oil-revenue/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_bin_Salman_Al_Saud

This documents the power of the House of Saud’s billions of dollars; no cognitive dissonance; no endless wars. A reason why only six percent of American trust the media.

toto

"The narrator describes the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK. Although that coincides with Erdogan’s position, I don’t buy it. Nor is that the position of the USG, much to the chagrin of Erdogan. "

Well, the USG officially regards PKK as a terrorist group. At the same time, the USG funds, trains and assists YPG. Clearly they have strong incentives to disregard any link between the two.

elaine

Colonel, Nothing worth fighting for in the ME unless you're a local?
I guess the Christians of that region are chopped liver? The U.S. & Europe
don't seem to be doing much to even give them refuge...absence of a draft?
The U.S. has about 36, 691 troops in Germany (22,031 Army, 499 Navy, 1070
USMC, 13,091 USAF) these numbers are the most current I found & I have no idea what they're doing there & ditto for a number of other places.

I lament the invasion of Iraq & yes we did screw it up really bad, however
genocides, especially of a population whose belief system is my own is
intolerable & if that makes me a R2Per I can live with it.

bth

First, thanks for referencing the excellent documentary.
Second, I didn't hear anyone in the video talking about leaving Syria and the sunni arab sheik interviewed was explicit about staying within Syria. Sounds more like a confederation emerging or some sort of autonomous region.
Third, I wonder if there are any Syrian military forces embedded with the group shown?

Peter

There is hardly any difference between Nusra+affiliates and IS. If you remember back to earlier in the conflict before IS was even in Syria, Nusra and other groups were already cutting people's heads off, then there was the one guy who cut the enemy's heart out and ate it on camera, as well as the use of chemical weapons in civilian areas...

It's not like there is one group that is SO much worse than the others. They all have almost the same exact ideology. About a year ago it seemed every other day there was a report on the news about 'X group of rebels joined IS', or 'Y group of rebels retreated and had all of their weapons taken by IS'.

I'm not sure why such a distinction between groups that are almost identical is so important. Does it make US actions in Syria look more acceptable because we helped one group of head choppers and definitely 100% not the other group of head choppers?

ISL

TTG:

Its a little too late unless US wants to directly risk WW3 for a safe zone to include NATO aircover (as opposed to politicos vomiting into the news media). So what happens with US boots on the ground request NATO aircover and a S-400 missile takes it out? The US has no legal leg to stand on in Syrian Airspace. Or is the SOP - you are on your own?

Hard to see if a large group of SF were being over-run with the potential for prisoners, Obama would not attempt to ensure they were rescued. Then I guess we could see whose jamming system wins - based on priorities in military spending recent years I would not bet on the US.

Thanks for the piece!

The Twisted Genius

ISL,

The US has been providing plenty of air cover to the YPG/SDF for quite some time now. The film shows an A-10 in action above Shaddadi. This is no problem for the R+6. Killing IS jihadis is a shared desire. Unless US aircraft start targeting R+6 forces, they don't have much to fear from the S-400. We'll have to see what happens when the Kurds and Damascus start discussing a post-IS Syria. Our best COA is to STFU. Unfortunately, that has not been our style.

SF teams have assisted and unassisted extraction plans. That's true even with MTTs where no combat is anticipated. Under current conditions in Syria, assisted extraction is no problem. In our war plans for Eastern Europe, the assisted extraction plan was always marked TBD. In other words, they promised to get us in, but getting out was up to us.

Dubhaltach

Poland, Ukraine, & Baltics are all currently starring in roles as "useful fools" in a production by NeoCons R Us.

Fred

TTG,

Thanks for the link to the France 24 documentary, it's very informative. They made a point of showing the bank documents showing ongoing pay for oil refinery staff. It seems like a prudent policy to me since they (refinery workers) didn't start the war. I'm not surprised ISIS didn't kill them off since if they retook the town they'd have no one to run the place and thus no income. What is surprising is that any of them are still there voluntarily.

ISL

Thanks, that helps me sleep easier.

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