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28 June 2016


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Barish - Sidorenko is NOT so reliable. He typically calls American, Brit or French airstrikes on Daesh in Fallujah (and previously in Ramadi) as being done by the Iraqi air force. The guy is at best a dupe of his own sources, or worse a propagandist.

All - Don't know about the new AC-130's. But in Nam I only saw them at night. They lit up the sky with the tracers of their gatling guns streaming down like fire breathing dragons. Which was why we called them 'Puff' like the Peter Paul and Mary song. Same for their predecessor the AC-47, the original Spooky.


Looking forward to it. May I add one further observation, purely because it's one that I think might not be obvious unless one's been looking at the same sector of the front over the course of a few months?

The issue for the SAA is very often presented as one of "force generation" and individual unit quality, but I think something that's at least as damaging is a question of command structure, namely:

1) Parallel or "siloed" formations
2) Unit churn (to call it something).

On (1) I can do no better than to refer to this **excellent** blog post on the failed Tabqa offensive, which, in spite of its title, could actually stand as the best (if in some small ways a shade over-hostile) single summary of the state of the SAA as it exists today, http://spioenkop.blogspot.com/2016/06/no-end-in-sight-failed-tabqa-offensive.html

But perhaps the most serious problem with the different forces fighting for the regime is that some units have become so powerful that these are now essentially private armies. Many of these elite units consist mainly of Alawites originating from Syria's coastal region or minorities (mostly Druzes) and are extremely sectarian as a result. These units make up much of the regime's offensive capabilities, and received the largest share of Russian-supplied weaponry in the past year, including T-90s. The now infamous Tiger Forces, led by Suheil 'The Tiger' al-Hassan and Suqour al-Sahraa' (The Desert Falcons) are the best-known examples of these private armies, and appear to be neither under SyAA or NDF command, but rather taking orders straight from the Syrian High Command or President Bashar al-Assad. This means that if one of these two units operate alongside SyAA or NDF units, different commanders from different branches of the regime's military are issuing different orders while both pursuing the exact same objective. It does occasionally happen that either of the two units take command and issues orders to forces of other branches, but this creates a whole host of other problems as many of the (semi-)independent militias are anything but keen to receive orders from a different branch (which was indeed a common complaint heard during the offensive on Tabqa). This proved to be less of a problem at Tadmur, where the Russian Armed Forces had considerable influence upon the whole operation.
The force tasked with capturing Tabqa airbase and the town of Tabqa itself consisted of no less than eleven different branches and factions out of three (technically four) different countries, comprising Suqour al-Sahraa', the Syrian Arab Army (further divided into at least two regiments, at least believed to have been part of the 4th Armoured Division), the Syrian Arab Air Force, the National Defence Force (further divided into the Golan Regiment and several smaller regiments), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the Ba'ath Brigades, the Arab Nationalist Guard, the Republican Guard, Hizbullah [I think oryx might be wrong about these last two, G.], the Russian Army and the Russian Air Force, each operating its own tanks and equipment. In addition, the Syrian Navy Seals also took part in the operation, although it remains unknown under what branch this unit serves. No Shiite militias are believed to have taken part in the fighting, likely due to their preoccupation with holding the front in Southern Aleppo.

(2) is a little more difficult to show from a single source, but you can an idea of it the reports of the forces accompanying the Tiger forces in their latest push. Now, everyone knows about variable combat effectiveness of militia units (NDF, al Bath battalions, etc.), but Tiger Forces worked successfully with some of them in breaking siege of Kuweires airbase, then advance northwest. However, instead of keeping these units and their commanders (who've gained some experience of working together in spite of their units institutional affiliations) together, SAA command then sent the Tiger Forces to Palmyra, etc., and they seemed only recently to have assembled to launch the al-Malah offensives. Militia and paramilitary units unavoidable in this kind of war, but it remains something of a mystery to me why the regime does not at least "marry" them to different first-line units, so that they become used to working together.

Only historical parallels to this wild indifference about command stability (?--afraid I don't know the correct military term) I can think of at the moment are the Union Army (very esp. AoP) and the French of the Second Empire.

As in above parallels, I suppose a good deal of the answer about why the regime insists on doing this is political--any cohesive unit above weak-brigade potentially dangerous, but even with that in mind I find this constant mixing-and-matching of units across fronts baffling. Coup-proofing, OK fine, but I'd have thought these the silo'd force structure oryxblog discussed in (1) would've taken care of that, at least well enough until a key campaign of the war has actually been won. To repeat, this is an aspect of SAA (and/or Iranian and Russian) current strategy I simply wished I understood better.

(As usual, however, all this from someone who's about as far from being a professional as it's possible to get, so I present it purely as someone who's been following the day-to-day Syria fighting for purposes that involved trying to get a sense of the oob of the actors in play.)



In the light of Syria's pre-existing sectarian/political mosaic taken and also in the light of a weakened central government such a "structure" is inevitable. The whole drive of the post colonial government was to unify these factions no matter what it took. That was always one of the main complaints the factions had against the central government. pl


Again you play dumb when faced with an annoying question.
The "point" is that non secular muslims (but not "Radical" either Eh?) WOULD NOT TOLERATE that the Kemalists live a secular life, so my question:
Where are they supposed to go?


every Muslim country would have followed Turkey and copied her

Weasel words, you are contradicting yourself from one comment to the next, you stated precisely that muslims would not abide by secular values, I know, I know, Taqiya oblige...

Babak Makkinejad

I do not understand what you mean by secular values; it must be a Diocletian thing - these "Secular Values", no?

Do not presume to debate with me on Taqqiyah - the aim of which is not the preservation of the individual but the preservation of Islam.

The task that Kemalists failed in accomplishing was the creation of Conceptual, Institutional, and Legal structures for Freedom in a Muslim milieu - a milieus in which the Call of Mua'zan, 5 times a day, indicates the privileged Speech of God in a there.

They failed to amalgamate the Principle of Freedom with the Principles of Islam which is, in my opinion, the only conceivable way to safeguard Freedom within a Muslim society.

Babak Makkinejad

There is no such thing as a secular Muslim either; but I did not take it to task because I do not wish to belabor all these things.

They do not refer to themselves as such either; the best analogy in Christendom for them are them are the members of the Anglican Communion: "Where are all Christians and we are all saved. Now let us move on to other more pressing issues." The other analogy for them are the so-called "Secular Jews" - they oppose fundies and not Judaism.

Babak Makkinejad

"Where are they supposed to go?"

Don't you see, that is the problematic of Muslim societies - it is "Either/Or" with not one whiff of accommodation.

I think, recently, in Iran, at a personal level, the less religious and the more religious are making adjustments to one another.

To be concrete: in some weddings, the men's and women's parties are separated to accommodate the bride or the grooms side of the family.

But this is a long process and in Iran, specifically, the initial attitude of the victorious revolutionaries had been a very explicit invitation for the more Europeanized Iranians to decamp to the West. Which many proceeded to do at great capital costs to the Iranian society.

Regrettably, today, also many people find it more congenial to live outside of Iran because of its imposed religiosity.


My impression was that he's preoccupied with the Syrian theatre (as well as fooling around). Some footage and messages from Iraq are relayed in his feed, true, but it's clearly not a focus.

And, as I said: Twitter's not exactly the most detailed nor thorough of platforms. Regarding the matter at hand, though, reports have come in throughout the day that Nusra and colleagues were driven off the positions held by SAA in Mallah farms. So the word of mouth he received about SAA holding on may have had some truth in it.


I didn't presume that Taqqiyah was for preservation of the individual.
Yes, the Kemalists' "error" was not to submit to an unacceptable dictum.
You are now expanding a lot of words to defend the indefensible: the pretense to rule over non muslim people lives.
I see why you think the Chinese are the "worst", Islam may destroy Western Civilization but it will not destroy the Chinese.


The rebels are moving back into Latakia.


Ishmael Zechariah

Would you care to guess what your precious AKP, or Iraniam Mullahs would have done to Aziz Nesin? Please try to be terse.
Ishmael Zechariah

Babak Makkinejad

The fact remains that for over 60 years, the Kemalist, the self-proclaimed modernizers, failed in adopting the indubitably Western practices of individual autonomy and liberty in the new Turkish state. They did not supply a credible and functioning example of how Liberty could be practiced in a Muslim society nor created the space for it.

Kemalists and the AKP crowd have one thing in common: "My Way or Highway."

Babak Makkinejad

The Iranian equivalent of Aziz Nasin would have been dead under the Shah and likely in jail under the Islamic Republic. Tolerance for dissenting views in Iran is even less than in Turkey. That is not in dispute here.

The dispute, or disagreement really, is the assignation of responsibility to Kemalists that for more than 60 years practiced "garrison secularism".

Where was Liberty during their rule?

For Kemalists - indeed many of their counterparts in other parts of Muslim world - "secularism" meant drinking alcohol and having their womenfolk outside of hejab. It was the obverse program of the more religious-minded Muslims (no alcohol, women in hejab).

But when it came to tolerance of dissenting views, freedom of speech and assembly etc. - they were uniformly AWOL.

I repeat again my views in regards to Iran:

The significance of the Islamic Revolution in Iran is that it brought forth a social revolution of the Iranian society - akin to that of the French Revolution - under the motto of "Freedom, Independence, Islamic Republic".

It further ushered in a new state that was based on the amalgamation of the Principles of Islam and that of Republicanism and remains the longest existing constitutional order among Muslim polities.

Lastly, this Platonic republic established a Jurisprudential Authority on the rulings of Islam and removed them from public domain - disabling the anarchic autonomy of individual Muslims.


How cute!
Remind me how Liberty practised in western countries (Belgium, UK, Germany, Nordic countrie, etc, etc...) does so well with the fringe Muslims (not Radicals, not Radicals...) in their middle?
The Kemalists, not being idiots KNEW VERY WELL what to do and not to with these "fringe cases" like Assad, Saddam, Gaddafi, El Sisi, BTW.
You are blatantly disingenuous, good Taqqiyah, good Taqqiyah...

Babak Makkinejad

You are entitled to your ignorance, of both the Western Diocletian and Muslim states.

But it behooves the ignoramus to take notice when someone with deep insight addresses himself to their ignorance.


LOL, the self-proclaimed world expert on Diocletian and Islam resorting to low key ad hominem.
What I was refering to were CURRENT EVENTS known to everybody not crackpot theories about history.

Babak Makkinejad

Not at all, I shared with you my estimation of your level of understanding so that you may seek to remedy it - if you so chose. It is an old habit, from the days I was an instructor.

As for my "crackpot theories of history" - you do not need and are not required to read my comments and responses; you can continue to live in your fantasy world, or the world that was bequeathed to you by other fantasists.

Ishmael Zechariah


What has been under discussion is the mess your dear AKP made of Turkey in all spheres, foreign and domestic. They have been an unmitigated disaster-and the only "good" you have been able to claim is to "AKP, domestically, empowered those Muslims whom the Kemalist were suppressing for the better part of 60 years in Anatolia; both in economic and in cultural arena - thus helping to ameliorate one of the schisms inside Turkey." Do you realize how wrong this is? Do you know the unemployment rate, the trade imbalance, the lost industrial production, the nepotism and placement of religious morons in positions they are ill equipped for-leading to all the disasters so far, and truly polarizing society? Do you know of the sharp increase in clashes between seculars and islamist vermin? Some amelioration! These same vermin hate and target the Alawaties and the Shia. If they get you, I am sure they will ameliorate you. Care to dispute it?

You then make nonsensical claims: "For Kemalists - indeed many of their counterparts in other parts of Muslim world - "secularism" meant drinking alcohol and having their womenfolk outside of hejab. It was the obverse program of the more religious-minded Muslims (no alcohol, women in hejab)."

Arrant nonsense, betraying complete ignorance of what Ataturk's Republic was all about. Can you show me a credible reference for this twaddle? Perhaps you could point us to a list of books which you base your conclusions on, with sections and pages? Do you think the successful foreign policy of the secular republics were due to "women and drink"?

Then kindly discuss the actions of your "Morality Police" in light of "disabling the anarchic autonomy of individual Muslims.". Do not forget those filth who throw acid on women they deem immodestly dressed. Some Platonic republic! Yet another islamic hellhole run by zealots purporting to represent God. And you find it regrettable that " many people find it more congenial to live outside of Iran because of its imposed religiosity.".

Your propaganda is reprehensible.

Ishmael Zechariah


Yup, when cornered declare victory, that's the cheapest solution!
As Ishmael Zechariah said your fellow muslims will "ameliorate you", but if you are unjustly beheaded that counts as martyrdom and you can claim your 72 virgins, right?
Good luck "instructor". :-D

Babak Makkinejad

I have answered your questions.

I have also stated my opinions; regarding Kemalists, AKP, Islamic Iran, etc.

You have not stated anything so far that would cause me to revise my opinion of the Kemalists failure in cultivating Freedom and Liberty during their long reign in power.

And I will not repeat my other criticisms of Kemalists.

I understand that you consider Islamic Republic a Hell-Hole. That is fine. That Hell-Hole still remains, in my opinion, the only positive path forward for Muslim people; Shia or Sunni.

I also think a common political, religious program between Islamic Iran, together with Turkey, against Jihadists is the only path forward to fight scourge of terrorism among Muslims.

You and the Kemalists think you can do better, let us hear your program.

Babak Makkinejad

You have implied and insinuated that I am a liar and charlatan. Unless and until you publicly apologize to me on this forum I will never respond to you.


LOL, new heights in pretentiousness and ego inflation world records.

Ishmael Zechariah

You have answered nothing. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but, sadly, you refuse to discuss facts. Forget what could be, talk about what "is". Your dear AKP and Iran are supporting the same groups in the Syrian war, right? The Shia and Sunni love each other, right? They cannot be played against each other, right? AKP politicians are decent people, right? KSA is the "pinnacle" of Islam, right, or is that tayyip? Sigh...
Ishmael Zechariah

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