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20 May 2016


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Two interesting things recently. The first is that AMN is reporting that the Russian airforce is about to up it's game. Awesome news if true.


But even more interesting is the reports that the Americans are dropping leaflets over Raqqa. Can't grantee it is true but certainly a major development if it is. Is there protocol for how long before an attack they should drop leaflets?


Bill Herschel

What keeps going through my head is that pl said at the very start of the Russian intervention that Russia would need to deploy about 6,000 ground forces (my memory may be wrong) to defeat the various mercenary jihadists invading Syria (i.e. the "opposition"). Wikipedia says that Russia deployed about 80,000 troops in the start of Chechnya II. They know how to do it.

It would be great to know what their goal in Syria is.


The ZioCons will broke no criticism: Even the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei has been banned from exhibiting there, apparently for promoting a culture of "tolerance".



So now Israel has even banned the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.

Forward to Zionist Realism comrades!



I mentioned some months ago the remark that my Syrian (Alawite) student made that now it is only the Alawite troops who are fighting in the Syrian army. At the time, you didn't like it, but I suspect it is true.

If it is the case, you have to ask for what are the Alawites willing to fight and die. Aleppo? Raqqa? Or just their frontiers?

Even if they are ready to fight, they are few, and will need months between offensives to recuperate.

The Russians seem ready to provide air support, whatever the situation.



"At the time, you didn't like it, but I suspect it is true." It is not a question of my liking it or not. Your statement is simply untrue. Even ISW knows that. pl


Bill Herschel

I believe I said two motorized rifle divisions which with a slice of necessary logistics would probably come to around 25 thousand men. pl


"Your statement is simply untrue. Even ISW knows that."

Happy if i'm wrong. Where is the analysis of the Syrian army today? I've never seen one, even from ISW (whose emails I receive).


"Your statement is simply untrue. Even ISW knows that. pl"

As you like. Frankly we need to analyse who is fighting for Asad.



We have analyzed it. You simply refuse to accept our analysis. pl


I would add that unlike western armies looking at just the SAA is is a bit deceptive. Even if you subtract the Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Russians, Palestinians and any other foreign groups, there are still numerous other groups from Syria that fight alongside the SAA. Call them local militias, local defence forces, committees, reserves or what have you they do add up.
Not all of them are useful on the front line but often are used to guard captured territory freeing SAA personal to do the heavy lifting.


I wonder if Assad is able to currently pay his army and militia? This might be one explanation for what we are seeing.

Mark Pyruz

GEN Votel on 21MAY16 spent 11 hrs. in Syria meeting with SDF.



My theory which I have been mulling for some months now: First, Putin is in a pickle at home. The economy is bad and he has many of his top generals are nipping at his heals dissatisfied with his economic and foreign relations policies. They see him as way too close to what they regard as the fifth column. Second, if Putin caves into the nationalists, things will only get much worse with more severe sanctions and giving NATO the pretext to extend more aggressively. Third, his sponsors are oligarchs who would stand to lose fortunes as much of their money is stashed in capital markets outside of Russia. Finally, Obama/Kerry throw Putin a lifeline. Russia gets to intervene in Syria only to the point of leaving Assad not quite able to finish the job. It's a win/win. Putin gets his critics off his back or at least buys time, he keeps the oligarchs holding on their wealth, and the US gets to land the Syrian plane as a divided Syria -- which has been the goal all along. Putin stays in power which is much better than the nationalist hawks. Everybody wins, except of course the Syrian people. The other loser: the EU. But as Nuland said: "Fuck the EU."

FB Ali

Your theory is plain wrong!


Your first sentence may, indeed, be right.


I'd be grateful, FB Ali, because I respect your views, if you'd explain why.


I don't think he is too worried about the financial aspects of assuring he and his kinsmen are not exterminated: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-06-09/iran-spends-billions-to-prop-up-assad
Especially as others are footing the bill for him:


The only "dissident" issue Ai WeiWei ever had with the Chinese government was his reluctance to pay taxes on the huge $$$ income he made with selling his trash to gullible westerners.


In reply to LJ 21 May 2016 at 11:50 PM

My theory which I have been mulling for some months now:

Your theory is complete and absolute twaddle from start to finish. Let's take a look at some facts instead of made up nonsense shall we?

First, Putin is in a pickle at home.

Wholly and completely false any politician whose support is over 80% is not in a pickle: Even The Economist which has consistently been hostile to him admits this:

"VLADIMIR PUTIN, it seems, is impervious to the woes that afflict normal leaders. Four years ago, chants of “Russia without Putin!” echoed through Moscow as thousands took to the streets in reaction to Mr Putin’s choreographed return to the presidency and vote tampering in parliamentary elections. His approval ratings at the time fell to 63%, his lowest in over a decade. But after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, those ratings soared to nearly 90% and have not come back to earth since. Even a recession, falling real wages and rampant inflation have barely dented Mr Putin’s numbers. For his fans, Mr Putin’s shock-resistant ratings serve as proof of his righteousness. To some Russian liberals and Western observers, they are evidence that something is wrong with the polling. The practices of state-backed sociologists have been questioned. A fear of sharing political opinions, a legacy of Russia’s totalitarian past, may taint results. But the independent Levada Centre records approval levels for Mr Putin similar to those of state pollsters; so does the in-house sociological service of Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader. "


By the way did you notice how even The Economist had to admit that those results are from an independent polling organisation. Once you've finished trying to make up stuff and doing a bad job at it you might like to note even Putin's opposition admit that the polls which show him consistently over 80% approval ratings are accurate.

There's a pretty picture for you to comtemplate here:


Oh and by the way you might also like to note that in the last year Putin's international popularity has soared:

"Russian President Vladimir Putin is the biggest riser since 2015, moving from 11th to fifth overall."


I mention that only to prevent you making up more blather.

"The economy is bad:"

They've just paid off 30% of their external debt. Furthermore the vaunted sanctions have been a boon for Russian producers and devastated the incomes of farmers in the EU countries and Turkey that previously profited from exporting to Russia. "The economy is bad" my ass.

"And he has many of his top generals are nipping at his heals dissatisfied with his economic and foreign relations policies. "

Did you make that one up all by yourself? There isn't a single shred of evidence to support your bullshit. Putin's top generals as you put it are delighted with how his reforms have revived a moribund military and have made that crytal clear repeatedly.

"They see him as way too close to what they regard as the fifth column."

More made up bullshit. Many of the Russian High Command personally approached you and over a few glasses of Vodka they told you that they see Putin as being close to a fifth column? OK fine we're awestruck at your access to the Russian High Command so perhaps you'd like to tell us which "fifth column" they think he's too close to.

Every single one of his policies is aimed at restoring Russian power and you're trying to pretend he consorts with traitors. That's what a fifth column is or didn't you know a group of traitors in service to a foreign power.

Allow me to point out that you're full of it.

"Second, if Putin caves into the nationalists, things will only get much worse with more severe sanctions and giving NATO the pretext to extend more aggressively. "

The key word in all of that ludicrous codswallop is "if". You've constructed a hysterical scenario based on nothing other than your fevered imaginings. Back in 2010 when he was Prime Minister he made it clear that he'd continue to suppress extremists of all kinds.

"During the session Russia's prime minister addressed for the first time the ethnic tensions that have shook the country since the weekend, as far-right nationalists take to the streets calling for the death of immigrants.

"It is necessary to suppress any extremist actions, on all sides, regardless of their origin," Putin said, before praising Russia's long history as a multi-ethnic state. He quickly moved on to play up the role of the security services in restoring order, issuing a harsh warning to those who would question their tactics. "Our society, including the liberals, must understand that there must be order."


That's a commitment he's followed up on. Did you really think the people who read and comment here would fall for your half-baked thrash. Did you really think that anyone here would take one look at the career of a man who started out in the KGB and whose career ever since shows that he loathes the instability that extremism always brings and fall for your nonsense.

"Third, his sponsors are oligarchs who would stand to lose fortunes as much of their money is stashed in capital markets outside of Russia."

The oligarchs starting with Mikhail Khodorkovsky are terrified of him.

"Putin also gave strong indications that Mikhail Khodorkovsky would probably receive a second jail term, a day after the jailed tycoon faced a delay in hearing the verdict for his second trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

"Thieves must sit in prison," Putin said in response to a question, quoting Russia's most famous folk singer, Vladimir Vysotsky. "We must proceed from the fact that Mr Khodorkovsky's guilt has been proven in court.""

Same source as above.

By the way perhaps you'd like to try explaining how as well as what happened to Mikhail Khodorkovsky the fates of Vladimir Gusinsky, Boris Berezovsky, Anatoly Chubais , and Roman Abramovich square with your wholly counterfactual (that's a nice way of saying "false") statement that Putin's "sponsors are oligarchs". Putin's sponsors were fellow KGB men and he's long since outgrown any sponsorship of theirs.

"Finally, Obama/Kerry throw Putin a lifeline."

Other way around.

"Russia gets to intervene in Syria only to the point of leaving Assad not quite able to finish the job. "

Because the president of a resurgent power with an efficient and effective military is going to obey the half-arsed incompetents running the USA to the detriment of his own country. Yeah right.

"It's a win/win. "

Yup it is a win/win demonstrating that the Russian military is not to be trifled with and that the Russian state has some cooly calaculating realists at its head is a win for Russia. Lots of dead jihadists is a win for Syria.

Putin gets his critics off his back or at least buys time,

Somebody with over 80% approval ratings of his performance in government can tell his critics to stuff it.

"he keeps the oligarchs holding on their wealth, "

See my rebuttal above - you might at least _try_ to come up with new material the way you recycle the same old half assed nonsense is very boring and doesn't argue well for your abilities.

"and the US gets to land the Syrian plane as a divided Syria -- which has been the goal all along. "

Except that the US and their proxies have lost rather heavily. Plainly you're dim enough to imagine that op-eds from people whose careers have been marked by one catastrophic failure after another constitutes achieving of goals. I've news for you the defeated party in a conflict doesn't get to dictate the terms of the settlement. A fact which has been pointed out here repeatedly.

"Putin stays in power"

Because the Russian electorate admire him and approve of him and like the fact that his policies are successful yes. The desires of a foreign fantasist such as you don't actually get a look in.

"which is much better than the nationalist hawks"

Here's a little exercise for you - do some research on what the levels of support for those "nationalist hawks" is and come back to us be aware that I've already done so and that if you try to pretend that support for those hawks is anything over 2% that I'm going to jump up and down all over you again. Seriously, are you really trying to pretend that a wildly successful nationalist like Putin has anything to fear from other nationalists?

"Everybody wins, except of course the Syrian people."

You don't give a sh*t about the fate of the Syrian people you never did and you never will spare us please the disgusting spectacle of your trying to pretend otherwise.

"The other loser: the EU. "

The EU is losing as you put it because of its leadership's supinely following along with the failed and dangerous policies of the failed and dangerous Obama administration such as Neuland and its shills such as you.

Have a nice day.


Incorrect. Fighters, particularly militias, have not been receiving enough to pay for food for themselves much less support a family. The currency devaluation just experienced makes matters far worse. And five years of war have consumed most individual financial reserves.


When you told us how good the Russian economy was I knew you had reached the propaganda point. Agriculture is up because food prices have skyrocketed relative to average incomes. Also Russia reduced its foreign debt because it couldn't refinance and the currency collapsed. Putin and the oligarchs are fine but the plight of the average Russian has been a financial disaster.


Sorry for OT, but I think US elections to all

IMO, if Bernie agrees to run as HRC’ VP democrats will win, with BS of first women pres. first jewish vp etc. And I think, that’s the reason he will continue till the convention, it is to keep the liberal democrats engaged and tied to vote.

Babak Makkinejad

If you read the WSJ report that I had posted under the "Open Thread", you would note the general dissatisfaction of Eastern Europeans with their condition; that they do not wish to be ruled from Washington DC, that EU (Germany) is a colonial construct of US (or Germany) and that they wish to have better relations with Russia.

I know this last one is even shared by Lithuanians through personal conversations.

I raise the point that I had raised before: "Who will fight and die on the steppe?"


In reply to bth 22 May 2016 at 09:22 AM

LJ gave no evidence whatsoever in support of his statement "The economy is bad" having the wherewithal to pay off foreign national debt is not the sign of an economy in collapse however much you might like to pretend that it is.

The Ruble was artifcially high so its collapse is in fact good news for the Russian economy as an overvalued currency is guaranteed to choke indigenous economic growth. Russian farmers now have an incentive to produce and have risen to that challenge. Too bad about the foreign farmers whose underpriced produce had previously choked them out of their domestic market. That applies throughout their economy not just agriculture.

"The slide in the currency boosts the Kremlin’s spending power. They now get more rubles per barrel of oil exported than they did. Sure, the falling oil price is working in the other direction but this currency fall mitigates that. That’s why it’s so good.


"Well, yes, but it also means that there will be more domestic production of those very same consumer items. Which is, in these times, just what that economy needs.

Think of it this way. For a country, like Russia, which lives largely off oil and gas exports (at least the government does) the falls in prices of those exports is a disaster. Suddenly huge holes appear in budgets and so on. And what is needed is some manner of turning the economy around, to make it produce more of what was previously imported and which can no longer be afforded as export income collapses. Well, what achieves that? A fall in the value of the currency achieves exactly that. It makes imports more expensive, lowering the amount imported. It makes domestic production more profitable, thus boosting that. It also makes exports of other goods cheaper, thus boosting non-oil exports. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for that economy. So, it’s great that it is happening.


"the plight of the average Russian has been a financial disaster"

Yeah sure:



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