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05 August 2016


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michael brenner

We often have bemoaned the failure/inability of the Obama people, and the Washington foreign policy establishment generally, to think through the implications of their failed plans for Syria (+Turkey, + the Gulfies)or to do any contingency planning. Instead, life on fantasy island goes on impervious to real world events. This judgment is based on the complete absence of evidence to the contrary. Yet, it does defy the most elementary logic.

Therefore, this open-ended question. Does anyone know of, or seen signs of, serious reassessment anywhere in or around official Washington?

Patrick Bahzad

Just a short comment on the Aleppo battle, because getting into all the ins and outs would call for a piece in its own right.

"Jabhat Fatah al-Sham" (JFS, i.e. AQ) and friends may have mobilized a large number of fighters for the counter offensive, which aims at breaking the siege and actyally reversing it, i.e. encircling regime held Western Aleppo.

this sounds not just ambitious, but quite adventurous actually. For a couple of days, they've been announcing a "big surprise", or even the "biggest surprise in the war yet". Well, it's been 3 days now and still no surprise.

The truth is, the balance of power in and around Aleppo is such that a rebel victory is highly improbable. On the contrary, looking at it from a bit of a cynical perspective, one might consider that the 10 000 men gathered for that offensive by JFS actually represent a "target rich environment" more than anything else.

Regardless of the latest hype and its outcome, the battle for Aleppo is far from over. If the regime prevails, as I expect, it would still take weeks or months to empty Eastern Aleppo from the many groups who've chosen to hide among the civilian population there.

Now as far as the renewed calls for striking Assad are concerned, one can only hope that the "crazies" who dare uttering such demands will remain in the basement they belong, after this year's presidential election.


"Defending against an enemy that is using lots of suicide vehicle bombs to breach fortifications and death-seeking Jihadis to storm field positions is difficult."

This seems to be an understatement but clearly points to the problem of front line defense with militia units. The civilian equivalent was the terror attack in Nice. That would be very easily repeated in any US city.

The comments from Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei were also starteling.
".... acknowledged that the nuclear agreement with the U.S. is a failure. The U.S. did not deliver on its end. Iranian money is still blocked in U.S. controlled accounts and no international bank wants to do business with Iran because the U.S. is threatening to penalize them."

No wonder Obama wants to talk about the $400 million instead of his duplicity. Not a word from Hilary or our press corps on that.

Babak Makkinejad

Presently, foreign embassies in Tehran, have to import cash to pay for their day-to-day operations.

The South Korean Ambassador to Iran confirmed this 2 weeks ago; 7 months after JCPOA.


Russia no longer believe in #USA will of cease-fire or peace process. Aleppo is important 4 everybody

Wrong wording. Russia (that is real Russian decision-makers) doesn't really believe USA since August 2008. After February 2014 the term "believe" doesn't apply altogether. Algorithm of Russia's actions in Syria is directly connected to Ukraine and European affairs in general.


"Does anyone know of, or seen signs of, serious reassessment anywhere in or around official Washington?"

Yes, from final article:

"The Obama administration wants to reduce the violence and suffering in Syria and, at the same time, quash jihadist groups there. This is why the White House is now pushing a plan for the United States to cooperate with the Russian military in Syria, sharing intelligence and coordinating airstrikes against the Islamic State and the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front."

This is what the captain of the ship would like to do.

"But the Obama administration’s plan, opposed by many within the C.I.A., the State Department and the Pentagon, is flawed."

"There is an alternative: Punish the Syrian government for violating the truce by using drones and cruise missiles to hit the Syrian military’s airfields, bases and artillery positions where no Russian troops are present."

This is what the cruel crazies that commandeered the engine room are trying to get done.

different clue


Are the CIA, State Department and the Pentagon all in a state of veiled mutiny against Obama? If he ORders them to do things in furtherance of "Crush the jihad, live with Assad", will they OPENly mutiny and carry out their own "punish Assad, support the Jihad" plans?

Ken Roberts

@ SmoothieX12 ...
Can you please clarify what August 2008 represents, in terms of Russia - USA "belief" relationships? I think of financial crisis, but you are perhaps referring to something else?

different clue

Patrick Bahzad,

If Clinton wins the election, the Clintonites in Authority will bring all the crazies back out of the basement and put them back in overt charge of planning and executing the Prime Clintonite Directive of "Assad must go." In practice, this will mean full support for all the jihadists, including undercover support for ISIS if the Clintonites think they can get away with it.

different clue


Is the duplicity Obama's, or does he face an underground mutiny from all the Borgists and Clintonites wormed and buried into all the different agencies which affect the carrying out of the US side of the Iran deal?

Then too, does the deal call in detail for unfreezing all the different things that Khamenei says it does on the timetable that Khamenei says it does? Or is Khamenei also creating a narrative here?


Not a surprise to many in Iran at all: US did not respect tha Algiers Accord, the very first arrangement with IRI. Everyone remembers the double dealing during the Saddam's invasion of Iran. This duplicity was only repeated when Iran was branded as Axis of Evil after assisting US in Afghanistan against the Taliban/Al Qaeda. The Syrian & Libyan backstabbing, when their government opened up to the west is also a testimony to this habit of braking treaties. An agreement between unequal partners is a recipe for broken promises by the stronger of the two partners.

As I told before, Iran have up a non-existent nuclear weapons program for a recognition, it will not receive.

The only benefit Iran received, is exposing the hypocrisy and peeling off the sanction by working with third countries.

The Beaver

After some have decided that AQ are the good guys to fight ISIS, now others are saying ( the author is NOT alone) "that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East."

Guess some have drunk that Kool Aid the path for Peace in the ME is thru Tehran :( ( didn't work for Baghdad nor Damascus but...)

Just have to wait for Mama Albright to advise HRC who to put at Foggy Bottom and Pentagon

The Beaver

Oops forgot the source on IS:

The Beaver


How can you forget Mikheil Saakashvili- the darling on McCain and Palin back in August 2008 after the diplomatic crisis between Georgia and Russia wrt South Ossetia and Abkhazia


I believe he´s referring to the Russia-Georgia war.


Russian-Georgian War of 08-08-08 and McCain's "We are all Georgians now".


In reply to Ken Roberts 05 August 2016 at 02:09 PM

August 2008 Russo-Georgian war.


It could also mean that the US administration turns its limited resources to Mosul and Iraq and simply let's Assad and friends deal with the rebels in Syria.


I think Diff Clue has this right (Obama really wants the deal with Iran to work, but moles in the bureaucracies don't). The Cheney-Bush Neo-Cons did a particularly good job of stacking the Treasury Dept with their spawn. What's the word/phrase for that? "burrowing in"? - when political appointees get reassigned to "civil-service" positions just before a new administration throws them out.

I just hope that the Pentagon is more resistant to this kind of infiltration. The Military would have some defenses that other departments don't: the Moles all wear Suits, not uniforms. CIA might be a different story - I'd love to hear more about that here.

Treasury has been leading the fight against Iran for a decade now. That's much more fun than trying to collect taxes from people who can afford good lawyers.


Khamenei will always blame the US. He can hardly say that there are better investment opportunities around the globe than in Iran. So easier to always blame the great Satan.


No question there is linkage between Syria, Ukraine/Crimea and sanctions. I would speculate there is also linkage to low oil prices but that is just a guess. Wasn't July 31 the date the Russian economic sanctions also rolled over? I think that is one reason August 1 was a key decision date in Russia and the US with regards to Syria.


Georgia-Russian War


So a few developments.
US sent today 400 more soldiers to Qayara air base south of Mosul for logistical support. Note to keep official headcount down the US military is not counting troops on temporary duty.
ISIL leadership and their families are leaving Mosul heading mainly toward Syria and also selling their houses. Offense date is planned for September. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/31/isil-leaders-begin-to-flee-mosul-as-us-backed-iraqi-army-closes/
ISIL destroyed housing and land deeds for the area which will effectively mean minorities will have difficult time establishing property rights after the conflict.


the darling on McCain and Palin back in August 2008

Actually, this nutjob is epitome of MO of US foreign policy consensus. The guy worked as Senior Statesman at Tufts U. School Of Law and Diplomacy (I am not kidding) after a disaster he engineered. Now, look at Petro Poroshenko--another shining example of.... You can easily fill the blanks.


Wasn't July 31 the date the Russian economic sanctions also rolled over?

Majority of Russians (with the exception of hacks from Moscow's High School Of Economics) applauded it--the reasons for that is a separate topic. Still, today, overwhelming majority of Russians support sanctions on themselves. I am not being facetious and do not exaggerate.

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