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03 August 2016


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Send in the lawyers! See https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/760537176144621568

Sometimes, fortune is unkind. Imagine if the "moderates'" plan to use jihadis to destroy Arab secularism merely leads to the dreaded "Shia crescent" and a much larger Iranians presence in the Med protected by a huge permanent Russian military presence in Latakia.

Somewhere, an as-yet-obscure 21st Century Richard Nixon will rise to prominence with the cry, "Who lost Turkey?" and "Who gave the Middle East to Iran?"

michael brenner

Developments within Syria, and in Turkey, may be rendering these pleadings from the usual suspects and their allies irrelevant in policy terms - if not in American political terms. By time Hillary gets sworn in, won't the questions of armed intervention by the U.S. be moot? The Israeli propagandists, neo-cons, etc will continue to exhort her to "do something.' But: she quickly will realize that there are no viable options; that she must concentrate on dealing with a country that is unravelling; and confront the implications of what likely will be Executive-Legislative deadlock for the next four years. Besides, a major international crisis would jeopardize Bill's plans for a fun-filled return to the White House.

Sadly, we have no contingency plans. Washington is locked into its Obama-Kerry fantasy strategy of manipulating all seven moving parts to get rid of Assad, marginalize the Salafists, wear down ISIL, keep Erdogan at bay, placate the Saudis by helping them kill Houthis, and equip the Israelis on the Netanyahu-Liebovitz illusory march to the Euphrates. The only variation under consideration is the neo-con one of bombing Assad and daring Putin not to start WW III. Both are pipe-dreams that soon will have to be recognized as such.

Then what? Since nobody in and around official Washington has done any serious thinking about all of this, Hillary will be forced to start from Square One. That means convening a task force of her little chicks and Mother Hen Madeleine Albright - and that what's his name young guy who carried her purse when Hillary "ran" State. Pray!


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this bit:

"Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have long said there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. Unfortunately, Russia and Iran seem to think there is"

Killing so many jihadis that they're no longer a threat is definitely a solution. In fact I'd say it was the optimal solution.


From Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister:

"Going back to the statements made by US officials, including those who are actively serving in government and bear responsibility for their actions. We noted that by and large, their political outlook and manner of conducting international affairs betray that they lack a basic understanding that everything is interconnected in the modern world. Therefore, they shouldn’t count on trust-based and close cooperation with Russia after saying what they said about us, the people with whom they cooperate. Or, they have to be much more careful in what they say publicly. After such escapades, further cooperation with Russia will not necessarily be smooth sailing. All the more so, since Washington continues its sanctions policy.

We have already told the US administration that we draw certain conclusions from this situation. Whether they want to or not, the Americans are changing the international reality in which they are accustomed to operating. This will negatively affect the atmosphere of their dialogue with us. Such excesses always have consequences."


IMO, it would appear that the Russians feel they have played along with the US for long enough. I would seem that the above article discounts the fact that the Russians aren't going to roll over at this point. The Tu-214R arrived in Syria prior to the Aleppo offensive and I'm sure it was put to good use.

"One of the most advanced Russian spy planes has arrived in the coastal province of Lattakia, the Fars news agency reported on Friday, citing military sources. As reported, the Russian Tupolev Tu-214R has arrived to the Hmeimim airbase outside the Syrian coastal city of Jableh in Southern Lattakia. Most likely, the aircraft will track terrorist movements around the country.

“The aircraft is known to carry sensor packages to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions: the antennae of the Tu-214R can intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) so as it can build the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy forces: where the enemy forces are operating, what kind of equipment they are using and, by eavesdropping into their radio/phone communications, what they are doing and what will be their next move.”

Last week, the spokesman for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskhov, announced that sending more soldiers to Syria remains in place.

“When the decision was made to cut the number of personnel of our aviation contingent in Syria, you remember the statement of both the Russian president and the military, who said that the temporary infrastructure in Syria remained and therefore the contingent could be increased very quickly, if necessary. This will be done in accordance with the relevant tasks,” Peskhov said.

According to Dmitry Peskhov, “such prospects increasing Russian personnel in Syria were declared by the president rather long ago.”



Slightly off topic: looks like Erdogan's son is being investigated for money laundering.


Babak Makkinejad

Iranians also say the same thing: "There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict...".

rakesh wahi

an op ed can only be refuted by a more fact based op ed. (not sure it would be accepted - maybe if Gabbard wrote it)


The Ross/Tabler screed is a milder version of this Israeli pamphlet demanding that ISIS is kept alive to hurt Hizbullah and Iran. Who cares about a few dead in Europe ...

Comment: The destruction of Islamic State is a strategic mistake

The Russians are said to beef up their air force in Syria very soon. Expect some 30+ new planes arriving to smash the opposition for good. The Jihadis shooting down the helicopter and desecrating the pilot bodies give the perfect excuse.

Babak Makkinejad

This is what goes for serious thinking:


I think what this policy prescription is meant to achieve is to prolong Syria's agony for as long as possible.


They'll probably get their wish if HRC wins the election.

Robert C

I just want someone to tell me why I should lose sleep over an Iranian presence in the Med.


This is worth a read for the Iranian POV.


The differences between the Iranian and Russian approach, with their respective merits and disadvantages, is an interesting discussion.


Robert C: I certainly don't.


The reason the current battle in Aleppo is so critical is that if opens the chance that the Jihadists militias will be decisively defeated (at least as armed forces controlling defined territory, they will persist for some time as underground terrorist organizations).

If those terrorists control well defined regions inside Syria when Hillary becomes president it means that she can turn those into "safe zones" and hence no fly zones. This will be the opening for her and her neocon backers to expand the war in Syria. So to your question: "then what?" Without borders (or "safe zones") then there is little she can do. With borders then it becomes a base for further US intervention.


How much Iranian support for Assad can be funded with the $400,000,000 extortion payment made by the Obama administration?

michael brenner

Speaking candidly, I find it impossible to imagine what such a zone might look like. Hemmed in on all sides (both before and after ISIS is reduced to a rump terrorist group), how could it be anything but a Gaza strip for Salafists and camp followers? They would be totally depend on the good will of a mercurial Erdogan (himself fleeced of ambition) or under international supervision. Can we visualize al-Qaeda, al-Ahram and various other jihadis submitting to retina scans every time they wanted to venture beyond barbed wire borders?

The complete failure of the O'Hanlon's and Kerrys and Obamas to think through any outcome other the Assad's fall and the triumphant arrival of "good guys' into Damascus helps to explain why the Establishment will remain locked into a sterile policy under admission into an assisted living home liberates them from the ordeal of explaining yet another embarrassing failure.


O'Hanlon is a hack of the first order. It's been some years since I read reports from Brookings "scholars" with any regularity, but I recall him being consistently wrong on every prediction or policy proposal he put forth.


I hope that things don't get so bad with Hillary that we begin to look back on Obama's foreign policy as an era of restraint and reason by comparison. Though I suspect she will be that bad.


This is an old publication (2008) but it is still quite relevant:
"Russian-Israeli Mafia:McCain & Clinton Connections," by WAYNE MADSEN


With what we now know from Wikileaks about Obama's and Clinton's refusal to enter into negotiation over Assad's future back in 2012, I wonder if a good case could be made to prosecute them. As it is, until the United States pays Nicruagua $17 billion, the Washington Borg daren't go near the ICJ.


It's the Iranian's money, "stolen" by the US in 1979.

What makes "you guy's" think you can steal and keep anything from anybody, anywhere?

James Loughton

The $400 million has been owed by the US to Iran since the fall of the Shah. The Shah's government had prepaid for American aircraft and parts which they have never received.

So no, insisting that the US pay its legitimate debt to Iran simultaneously with the prisoner release was hardly extortion.


That's plenty crazy, but as the Israeli papers keep telling me, what ever the Americans can do the Israelis can do better.


michael brenner

It's THEIR money which he have illegally impounded for many years.

Robert C

Best 400million spent in a while if it goes to defeating ISIS.

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