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20 June 2016


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David Habakkuk


Two previous statements by prominent Israelis on these matters are worth bearing in mind.

From a report in the ‘Times of Israel’ by the then Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, in January:

‘Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday that Iran poses a greater threat than the Islamic State, and that if the Syrian regime were to fall, Israel would prefer that IS was in control of the territory than an Iranian proxy.

‘“In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State. They don’t have the capabilities that Iran has,” Ya’alon told a conference held by the Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.’

(See http://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-i-would-prefer-islamic-state-to-iran-in-syria/ .)

From a report in the ‘Jerusalem Post’ of remarks by the then outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, in September 2013:

‘“Bad guys” backed by Iran are wore for Israel than “bad guys” who are not supported by the Islamic Republic, Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post in a parting interview …

‘“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said.

‘This was the case, he said, even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaida.’

(See http://www.jpost.com/Syria-Crisis/Oren-Jerusalem-has-wanted-Assad-ousted-since-the-outbreak-of-the-Syrian-civil-war-326328 .)

An interesting question is how far there is significant dissent from this ordering of priorities in Israel, in particular in parts of the military and security élite.


I found nothing in JPost's piece you presented that confirms that Israeli Intel Chief said what was stated he said. The piece is a classic grand strategy speculation from the point of view of one nation (Israel that is) and have said nothing that wasn't known before. Moreover, the article clearly states:

If Israel's interest in the war in Syria can be summarized in brief, it would be: That it should never end. No one will say this publicly, but the continuation of the fighting in Syria as long as there is a recognized authority in Damascus, allows Israel to stay out of the swamp and distance itself from the swarms of mosquitoes that are buzzing in it. (c)

While it sounds cynical (were Israel's policies not cynical ever?) it clearly states:

"the fall of Damascus to the hands of Islamic State or a contiguous territory linking ISIS in eastern Syria with its supporters in the southern Golan Heights. These scenarios would threaten Israel's borders and would would drag us into an unwanted altercation in Syria". (c)

I am playing devil's advocate here for a single purpose: situational awareness (I know where my enemy is) and, especially, tactical awareness (I know what my enemy will do) should be developed based on as much factual as possible. I doubt that Israel "supports" ISIS and the fact that Bibi lives today between Moscow and Jerusalem is an indication of this--he needs guarantees (or help) from Russia on containing Shiites. Plus, the article is from September 2015, things changed since. In case of Israel, and call it a hunch;-)) we have a situation which transcends the war in Syria and is tectonic in a sense of Israel's looking for other significant "other". Reading Russian media one gets this impression and not without justification but where it will all lead? This is beyond my extremely limited powers of foresight. I understand clearly anti-Israeli sentiment and I largely share it and for a good reason, especially when dealing with Israelis' baneful, and often criminal, influence on US foreign and internal policies but when speaking about nations one also should not forget that all nations, if to recall Samuel Huntington's magnum opus:"States define their interests in terms of power but also in terms of much else besides... States respond primarily to perceived threats".(c) The sentiment should not obscure facts and I still didn't read confirmation of Israeli intel. chief saying what he purportedly said. But this is my opinion and I definitely could be wrong.


Well, lets make it simple, say you have 2 enemies, that they have a deep deep problem with each other would you rather to keep them at each other' neck or keep them becoming united against you, or eliminate one? obviously the safest and cheapest way is to keep them continue going after each other. Isn't that balancing the powers? if some US client Arab government have started to have secret or not so secret relation with Israel against Iran, this actually is more of a problem for themselves then it will create for Iran,
since it will further distance their legitimacy in the Arab streets. To be an Arab country and have a secret relationship with Israel is a sign of desperation ( like Shah). Iranians know why their scientists were martyred, just in the same way they know why they are fighting in Syria. After all isn't politics art of possible? by hook or by the crook.
I am sure through here and there we have read enough of each other comments to know how we feel and where we stand.

Babak Makkinejad

Kooshy is not completely wrong; Iranians have made themselves the Knight of Palestine and wrapped themselves in flag of Islam. It confers certain amount of immunity on Iran and Iranians although it does not alleviate the Islamic malice towards them.

As I stated to Walrus, there is no such thing called "Radical" Islam or - by implication - "Radical" Islamist.

What is there is a Sunni World which pines to live in a dream world tranquility that supposedly exited hundreds of years ago.

That Sunni World, to a very large extent, is with Saudi Arabia; the OIC condemned Iran in its Istanbul meeting a few months ago. And no Muslim country, save Iran, has asked for a fact-finding mission and a commission of inquiry to determine the cause or causes of the stampede that killed so many thousands of pilgrims in Mecca last year at Mina.


>The playbook is being written in Israel

No, it is not writing a playbook. In order to write a "playbook", whatever that means, Israel should have weight, both geopolitical and military, at least comparable that with Russia and US. Israel is in a state of negotiation with Russia (and with it--impersonally with Iran) on a configuration of the region's security once the ISIS is largely done. Judging by statement from Chief Of General Staff Valery Gerasimov couple of days ago--much broader military options are being considered. I wrote about it for months now--I would love (of course it is impossible) to hear the chat du jour among military men of some of Russia's Paratroop Divisions;-)) I kid, I kid:-)

Babak Makkinejad

The only place on this planet, excepting two villages in Palestine, in which there has been continuous Jewish presence over the last 2500 years has been the Iranian plateau.

Zionist Judaism has sacrificed a lot for the sake of that sliver of land in Palestine, this is one of those things.


Our actions in supporting Christian/Yizidi-/Shia-slaughtering jihadis in Syria, starting trouble in Ukraine, economic sanctions against Russia, Olympic ban of Russia, et al. It's all related. The indetagibility of the Borg in working for death and division and destruction is amazing. One would think these actions-- theological textbook definition of the demonic-- had the full backing and support of the Devil. In fact, I think it does. Watch this talk from the Venerable Fulton Sheen on the Devil: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FuCw8UT5y6c

Btw, here's another great piece by Pat Buchanan:
Trolling for War with Russia

Babak Makkinejad

This is what I have read as well in Persian sources; Russia and Iran are strengthening their forces in Syria for a resumption of intensified war.

For Iranian leaders, I think, the war against SAR is viewed as a war against Iran & the Shia.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think that the Iranian leaders are pursuing any sort of "Balance of Power" strategy in the Middle East.

I think they are playing for keeps and their position is something like this - as far as I can determine it from their pronouncements: "We have carved out our sphere of influence. Accept our position or leave us alone."

I also do not think that Iran's problems are confined to the Arabs; just look at the volume of trade between Iran and Pakistan - a country of 190 million - I think it is only a few hundred million dollars annually.

there is no such thing called "Radical" Islam or - by implication - "Radical" Islamist.

Exactly, I find it "curious" that you emphasize this...


TTG: To use the Colonel's phrase, the "log rolling" continues. Both former diplomat R. Nicolas Burns and CFR President Richard N. Haass were on "Charlie Rose" last night explaining why the US should strike Syrian government targets. When Charlie Rose asked about the likely Russian reaction to these strikes, Burns basically said, "They won't do anything."


The Borg's operating assumption is the Russians will back down. This appears to be an article of faith. Like the Serbs won't mobilize after Austro-Hungary's diktat....


Bill Herschel


I would only add that the Russians do not appear to be very nonplussed by the "stand off" weapons. I believe that they have defenses against cruise missiles.


Col Lang,

Regarding the State Department "Dissent Letter".

At the URL below there is a group picture of the
51 "dissenters".


I was struck by the racial and gender and age makeup
of the group. By my count 38 of them are black or female
or both and for the entire group all but a handful
appear to be very young [OK, I'm class of '65 so most
employed people appear young, but even allowing for that].

I served as an Attache in a US diplomatic post overseas
in the 1990s and the USDS staff, while perhaps a bit more
"We Are the World" than my Service, did not appear anything
like this.

Is this a representative sample of the current Foreign
Service, the next generation of diplomats?

USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96

Babak Makkinejad

I am repeating myself in the interest of the Confucian Rectification of Names:

"...If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. ..."

The next video was even better:


Thread on this path at your own risk...


smoothie, is there a related term for I know who my enemy is?


Shoigu's recent visit to Damascus was precisely about coordination of efforts and, my gut tells me, something much more.


NS, the image is not of The Dissidents, caption at source says it is a class picture at a swearing in ceremony.


PL described the make-up perfectly in an earlier post.


I count over 60 people in that picture. One of them looks like a high school student.


Nightsticker- I doubt very much that is actually a photo of the group of 51. It is a formal photo in one of the State reception rooms of a group of some sort- perhaps a group of bureau officers. Very doubtful if there was a group photo of the signers- some of whom might be overseas. It is difficult to get access to those rooms, and I can't imagine a group of dissident signers getting permission to take a picture there. Nowhere in the article does it state that that is a picture of the 51.

A note- not all of the signers would be FSOs- Foreign Service Officers. Many country desk officers are Civil Service State Dept employees. They may have had experience in the country of which they are the desk officer and might know the language.


There are 40 posts here and not one actual transcript or video of the speech. I would like to read it in context. If someone has it, please post.


The Charlie Rose interview with Haass and Burns is worth the watch. https://charlierose.com/videos/28256?autoplay=true
I happened to disagree with the speakers conclusions. For one thing it flies in the face of what is militarily accomplishable and prudent. Also the speakers believe that the Assad government is as bad as IS and hence we should weaken the Syrian Government militarily and diplomatically despite the total lack of American public willingness to become embroiled in the Syrian civil war beyond current levels.

Moreover, I contend that the IS is far worse that the Assad regime from an American perspective because IS DOES in fact represent a direct danger to the continental US and has in fact fielded at least 4 attacks in the US in the last year. For that reason alone, leaving aside that there may be others, we need to focus our limited military resources in Syria on destroying IS first and foremost.

If we then look at the Israeli statements - or alleged statements since no one can get a transcript or video - their fear is that IS would be crushed and the western powers would leave the area with a direct land corridor from Iran/Iraq to Damascus and Hezbollah. If that is in fact the Israeli overriding concern, then it seems to me we could put a military outpost along the highway route from western Syria to Damascus that would make this Shia land corridor an impossibility. Perhaps it is a small US air base with a Jordanian contingent controlling a bridge across the Euphrates. The land corridor can be addressed without engaging the regime or the Russians. Such a move would weaken the Iranian/Hezbollah position within the Assad government's sphere and increase the Russian relative influence on the Syrian government vs say the Assad-only stance of the Iranians.


Israel is no friend to anyone and could be defined, to a certain degree, as a geopolitical freeloader. But it should not prevent us from sober unemotional assessment of Israel the way she is--with all her flaws, some of them critical, which derive from Jewish self proclaimed exceptionalism and with all her interests. The fact that Israeli lobby became so powerful in US testifies not so much to some of its exceptional talents--for the most part it is a collection of incompetent demagogues engaged in self-aggrandizement 24/7--but also to "something is rotten in the state" of the US. The climb of this cabal of pathologically arrogant hacks to the top of American political power structure did happen not only with the tacit approval but cheering of US non-Jewish elites, who turned out to be as desperate for flattery as those from whom they heard it. It was a consensual f.ck up and a marriage of the convenience.


"own risk"???

I fail to see how a flavor of religious nutcases is an excuse/justification for another one.
If I properly understand your Confucian Rectification of Names neither of them are "Radicals".

Perhaps it is a small US air base with a Jordanian contingent controlling a bridge across the Euphrates. The land corridor can be addressed without engaging the regime or the Russians.

Wouldn't this small base be located right in the middle of Syrian territory?
Besides, "controlling a bridge"?
There are many bridges on the Euphrates...

Babak Makkinejad

So, in effect, you are suggesting a Fort Apache in the middle of the desert?

I suppose augmented by a contingent of fast attack airplanes to interdict ostensibly civilian air traffic between Syria and Iran?

And, on top of that, you are positioning the United States to adjudicate among the incommensurate and incompatible religious doctrines of the Shia, the Sunni, the Druze, the Jews, and the Alawites - with the adjudication performed by whom, Baptists?

You cannot be serious.

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