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05 June 2016


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Yes though there was a rumor that he had sent business partners and financial assets there last year has a hedge. I think Russia much more likely.



the Emiris ae a mercantile and scurvy lot. They would eventually sell him and his. pl


True and points well made. I don't know the answer to your question, but we have some general parameters to think about. There would need to be sufficient intervention to specifically defeat JAN and IS both in separate theaters on the ground. Not necessarily the others less extreme players, but certainly these two utterly. And we can say that that would not only involve a crushing air assault that is sustained, but also boots on the grounds as we now know the Syrian army and Iran plus Hezbollah don't have sufficient men on the ground to gain and hold swaths of land in either NW Syria or eastern Syria. So we are certainly talking about special force types, some armor and artillery that could concentrate in specific areas in two separate theaters and an entire supply chain run through that crappy little port. Oh and bring lots of cash because the regime is broke and the Iranians failed to finance. So we can say it is going to be a pretty darned big step up in Russian forces if it were to occur. It is unlikely that air alone can occupy a population as determined as JAN or IS.

David Habakkuk


You give me no information I can crosscheck – no links for example.

So your contribution appears to me, to be frank, absolutely valueless.

Babak Makkinejad


Babak Makkinejad

Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Majlis, stated last year, after the Russian intervention, something to the effect that the war will go on for another 5 years. I imagine that he is very well informed and is expressing the assessment of Iran's military & political leaders.

Eastern Syria and Western Iraq is populated by similar Arabs, I read that even their dialect of Arabic is distinct. That gives ISIS popular roots from which it draws nourishment.

Likewise, I have heard that the Al Nusra enjoys some level of succor and support from Syrians within its line of control.

I imagine that the Will of these 2 populations to wage war has to be shattered for the war to end.

The remnants will flee to Turkey and elsewhere or learn to remain quiescent - just like the defeated in the Spanish and Greek Civil Wars absorbed that lesson.


Smoothie12 I don't respond to trolling techniques.

Babak Makkinejad

There is no ideology in the sense of post Enlightenment Europe. - it is just Islam or rather a particular island of the Muslim Archipelago of Practice.

As I wrote to bth above, the supporters of Al Nusra and ISIS will be either dead, or in exile, or regurgitating bitterness in what is left of their cities and hamlets when the war ends with SAR victory.

Assad, even if he loses the coming post war election, will likely live in a secure compound in Damascus; he is a hero for certain to all sorts of people, and not all of them Alawites.

Babak Makkinejad

This rumor, did you by chance come across it in the same place that you picked up how Iranians are buying up land in Syria?

alba etie

Ghost Ship
Is JAN still fighting with ISIS? I have second hand reports from Syrian ex pats here in Austin that JAN & ISIS have made their peace with each other during the February cease fire. And yes Lavrov's statement can only be read as " kill 'em all and let God sort them out " . God Speed to the R + 6 , ..


Yes I had seen a couple of statements with such long time horizon out of Iran in the last year. Whatever else can be said about the Iran regime, it is willing to embrace the long view of this struggle.


I never thought that asking pointed questions on some OSINT specific issues is a trolling technique, but if you say so. Judging by your numerous posts on Russia, it seems that you redefined situational awareness into something that it is not. I would suggest you start with studying Russia's internal analytical scene which provides a superb insight into Russian view on Syria, which, I can assure you, has very little in common with Russian "nationalism", unless one, of course, conflates it with Russia's massive and acute first hand experience with Islamic terrorism.


You don't respond. Period.


bth sounds like "damage control" from The Borg, and AS SUCH he is a very valuable contributor.

different clue


Under a Federalized structure, would one or more of the United States of Syria be permitted to be a jihadi emirate-state? An "Isisota" or a "Jihadikota"?


It's that particular commenter's SOP



Your use of probability distributions is enlightening (even if its provenance is the suspect Social Sciences). So, let's try it to estimate the chances of the US achieving its objectives in Syria (+Iraq). Admittedly, the exercise is complicated by the Obama people's failure to state what those objectives are.

By inference, they are:

1. Thwart Russia's ambition to be a major player in determining the eventual outcome.
2. Unseat the current regime
3. Install a Western-friendly government.
4. Crush ISIS
5. Greatly reduce al-Nusra & Assoc
6. Maintain good relations with Erdogan and the KSA
7. Reduce Iranian influence in Iraq to where it was in 2010
8. keep the Israelis happy
9. Maintain political unity of Iraq
10.Keep Syria more-or-less intact


1. Construct military alliance adequate for purposes without engaging American combat forces on significant scale
2. Marginalize the Shi'ite militias in Iraq
3. Coerce Assad into stepping down and Ba'ath relinquishing dominant position
4. Curbing Turkish support for al-Nusra & Assoc.
5. Persuade Erdogan to seal border with ISIS controlled areas
6. Prevent R +6 from gaining significantly more ground
7. Strengthening considerably "moderate" opposition
8. Persuade Kurds in both countries to take military lead in non-Kurdish zones
9. Heal differences among factions in Baghdad government
10. Lay the basis for reconciliation of Iraqi Sunnis with current set-up

Odds On Requisites

1. 0.8
2. 0.3
3. 0.5
4. 0.3
5. 0.6
8. 0.2
9. 0.8
10. 0.3

Multiplication: 0.0000078336 That is: one chance in 12,500 - if my arithmetic is correct

Of course, that is a measure of the odds in achieving a FULL success. Things look better if the goal is just a partial success - less complete and not re. all objectives. Let's say one in a couple of thousand.

Finally, enough of a success that the outcome can be spun into an acceptable chapter in the Second volume of Obama's memoirs? Sure - 100%!

Chris Chuba

"Russia is in a real budget bind."
This is overstated. With oil close to $50 their deficit is only 3% of their budget (spending vs revenue + spending) as opposed to almost 25% for us (the U.S.). They have been able to increase their foreign currency holdings as well as gold. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/foreign-exchange-reserves
I am not saying that Russia is swimming in money but they are not at death's door. Whatever they decide to do will be decided based on strategic decisions, good or bad, not because finances dictate it.

"And as bad as things are, the rebels aren't going to expose their families to the regime's retaliation without some negotiated assurances."
Of course, it is always a bad idea to force people to fight to the death when there is an alternative. Back in the day, Arafat and the PLO were able to retreat from Beirut to Tunisia. ISIS will get cut down or pushed out of Syria but the others can be dealt with as appropriate. The whole Geneva plan and Putin's words acknowledge the existence of a 'healthy portion of opposition'. As to the Islamists like Al Nusra and Army of Islam, I'd like to see them forced to retreat into Turkey. I wonder if Turkey will suddenly discover that they can control their borders in that scenario?


Some interesting interviews with Senator Richard Black of Virginia, back from Syria:




At least Obama got us out of Iraq in his first term.... Oh wait... But there were our victories in Afghanistan and Libya in his second term... Never mind.




It is possible that the Kurds and the Syrian government might form a federal structure with US and Russian support. I do not think it is possible in NW or eastern Syria with IS or JAN. There it seems all or nothing for the regime.


The Russian federal budget has been in double digit tailspin for several years and will have to be adjusted again downward midyear. Financials are definitely a constraint though one has to admire Putin's willingness to adjust fiscal spending and devalue his currency as necessary.

The difference between a US deficit and a Russian one is that the US can print money and the Russians cannot.

We need to think about what a military of defeat of IS actually would look like. It would have to be comprehensive and in both Iraq and Syria simultaneously. Certainly that will take great cooperation between the US and Russia if it were to happen and probably require Iran and Turkey's support as well. Hence my low assessment of probability.


Let’s take another tack by asking what the probabilities look like if we posit that Washington’s paramount objective is to thwart Russian ambitions. This is not unrealistic since a succession of high officials have declared Putin’s Russia in fact to be America’s No 1 security concern.

The Requirements (strictly stated)

1. Allow Erdogan, KSA, et al to continue material and political support for jihadists opposition groups
2. Concentrate military effort on ISIS
3. Undermine Geneva talks by not pressuring “moderates” to participate actively and fully
4. Continue to insist that Assad must go
5. Restrain Kurds in Northwest Syria from pressing attacks on al-Nusra & Assoc
6. Keep Ukraine crisis at fever pitch as distraction

Odds On Requisites

1. 1.0
2. 1.o
3. 0.9
4. 1.o
5. 0.8
6. 1.0
Multiplication: 0.72 (72 % chance of success)
I believe this helps understand what we’re doing. Of course, the odds change if the level of Russian military engagement rises to the point where the seeming stalemate on the battlefield is oversome.


why should president Assad go anywhere? esp toa resort? your thinking of a Hollande or Cameron.

what role have Turkeys Saudi and US to play on who rules syria? thats up to syrians. Turkey sauds and US are main backers of the terrorists groups

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