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26 September 2016

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turcopolier

wisedupearly

You think the IDF is stronger now than it was in 2006? I do not. They remain incapable IMO of breaching Hizbullah's defended belts of fortifications in south Lebanon and are unable to deal with the threat of Hizbullah rocket and missile fire against their populated areas from Tel Aviv north. The battlefields are far away? No. Damascus is forty miles from the crest of the Golan Heights and Israel's Nusra allies are fighting IS on the slope leading up to the Golan heights crest. This is "far away? I assure you that after the possible victory of the jihadis the jihad will be on Israel's doorstep. pl

different clue

Jack,

I really wish/hope he had/has people reading this blog and reporting back to him in condensed detail. If he does what you say he needs to do in the debate, that might be enough. I just think it would be even more if he were to do what I hoped for in my comment above, because most of the hundred million people who are expected to be watching do not read SST or Southfront or even Professor Cole or Professor Landis. And if he could back Clinton into a corner of no retreat with an overt promise of what he will do and why he will do it, he could have her looking worse in current real time.

different clue

Eric Newhill,

Ahh yes. The fact - checkers. One has to thread the needle between making something clear enough to understand in a few-couple minutes as against describing every single grain of sand on the beach to the satisfaction of the fact - checkers.

Since I have never played in that league ( or any league) at all, I really don't know how Trump could or should thread that needle. I hope it can be done. I hope he can do it.

Well . . . its the first of three debates. If he has secret reserves of Deep Smartness that I know nothing of, he is thinking three debates down-trail. And he is already thinking of how to trick Clinton in this debate into taking the trail he wants her to take next debate where he has already prepared a bear-trap with ricin-tipped teeth waiting for her.

JohnsonR

"do the Israelis believe that when that is done the basic jihadi impulse against Zionism will have disappeared in an aura of good feeling created by Israeli support for the jihadis?"

Clearly the Israelis are actively trying to ensure that there is a regime change in Syria, and they know full well that means a jihadi state. So the question is why they think that, when it is clearly correct that a jihadi state in Syria will be a bitter enemy of Israel. I believe there are two elements that must be significant in Israeli thinking on this, for them to have reached that conclusion.

First, they are obsessive about Iran and Hezbollah. That is, their thinking is not entirely rational when it comes to anything involving those particular groups. They genuinely think that breaking the link between Iran and Hezbollah is worth almost any price. While that might be understandable, given the history, it still leads them away from competent analysis.

Second, they presumably take the view that a jihadi state in Syria will never amount to more than a ragtag terrorist organisation without the kind of state backing that makes Hezbollah effective by providing access to sophisticated weaponry and the training and logistics to use it, and without any international diplomatic backing that would prevent Israel from treating jihadist Syria as even more of a free fire zone than it does already. For sure, the prospect of an ISIS style suicide bombers in trucks attack across the Golan getting anywhere is nil, they'll be reduced to lobbing over whatever missiles they can cobble together, under complete Israeli air interdiction backed fully by the US. And of course, it will guarantee US political, and therefore diplomatic, economic and military support for Israel for the foreseeable future. The states that might think about backing Syrian sunni jihadis are ones the Israelis probably assume the US can in extremis effectively pressure - Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, unlike obstinately resistant Iran. (The fact that the US has previously proved incapable of ending such support merely imo reflects the reality that the US regime is conflicted on ISIS and large parts of it have seen regime change as the main priority - it will no longer be nudges and winks when ISIS or Nusra is attacking Israel, it will be: "stop supplying them or else").

To the rest of us this might seem like an insane and corrupt gamble, considering the possibility that a jihadist triumph in Syria could well spread murderous jihadist chaos to the very countries that Israel is depending upon remaining under the US thumb. Or perhaps they think these countries will just be added to the murderous, chaotic Israeli/US free fire zone if their governments are overthrown. Questionable judgement? See point one.

If we are reduced to saying: "surely the Israelis can't be that crazy", we must bear in mind that we know significant parts of the US regime and establishments, and of the same groups in the European countries that are within the US sphere, have evidently also come to the conclusion that overthrowing the Syrian government is a worthwhile risk.

Point one applies to much of the US regime and establishment as well, it appears. The European and British political and media establishments either know better and are just subservient to Washington on this, or are genuinely so stupid they actually believe in all the R2P "humanitarian" nonsense they've been spouting for so long on Syria.

wisedupearly

should have been more expansive.
the quote does apply to the IDF as they did not face an "existential" threat. In Lebanon the IDF was not motivated, was poorly lead, and got beaten, 180 or so IDF casualties? Nothing to challenge Israel's very existence.
Lebanon was defended by the Hezbollah who had been digging in for many months if not years.
Not sure that IS will be able to replicate the tunnels and hardened bunkers of Hezbollah, not sure that IS will be received and supported by the locals.
IS on the move is a quite different enemy even if the distance is relatively short.
but the basic facts remain true. For Israel to support religious fanatics in Syria does not appear to be a viable tactic.

turcopolier

Johnson R

"stop supplying them or else." Or else what? I don't now what your background is but it is a profoundly mistaken fantasy to believe that the US still has that kind of leverage in any of these places. As I have said I was head of DoD intelligence liaison to the IDF general staff for seven long years. In my experience, the Israelis always act against enemies upon whom their fears and insecurities are focused. Iran, Syria and Hizbullah are their enemies of choice. To destroy them they are willing to make common cause with irreconcilable enemies. the idea that wide spread jihadi activity centered in a jihadist Syria would not be dangerous to Israel or would be easy to defeat by invading Syria is, IMO, simply mistaken. pl

Bill Herschel

The only bad things that happened to the "Coalition" during this war were 1) the vote against military involvement in Syria in the House of Commons and 2) the passage of Security Council resolutions naming jihadist factions in Syria as the enemy.

Following on Number 1) there has been Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Just think how much those events have made the "Coalition" dependent on ISIS. ISIS is all they have now. So the U.N. must be trashed and trashed it is.

ISIS is all the U.S. has now. C.f. Deir el-Zor.

Pundita

First, a few words about the Free Syrian Army. From Thierry Meyssan's mind-blowing article, "Why does France want to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic?" - Sept 12, 2015:

http://www.voltairenet.org/article189006.html

[...]

France’s colonial ambitions in Syria since 2011

When, in 2008, President Nicolas Sarkozy invited his Syrian opposite number, Bachar [Bashar] el-Assad, to the 14th of July ceremonies on the Champs-Élysées in order to celebrate his democratic progress, he was also busy negotiating the remodelling of the « Greater Middle East » with the United States and the United Kingdom, set for 2009-10. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, convinced him to re-launch the Franco-British colonial project under the guidance of the United States – this is known as the theory of « leading from behind ».

On the 2nd of November 2010 – in other words before the « Arab Spring » - France and the UK signed a series of documents known as the Lancaster House Agreements. While the public part of these documents indicated that the two states would blend their « projection forces » (that is to say their colonial forces), the secret part of the Agreements anticipates the attacks on Libya and Syria, on the 21st March 2011. We now know that Libya was attacked two days earlier by France, causing the anger of the United Kingdom at having been double-crossed by its ally. The attack on Syria never took place, however, because its commander, the United States, changed its mind.

The Lancaster House Agreements were negotaited for France by Alain Juppé and General Benoît Puga, a hot-headed partisan of colonisation.

On the 29th of July 2011, France created the Free Syrian Army (the « moderates »). Contrary to the official communiqué concerning its commander, Colonel Riyad el-Asaad, the first elements engaged were not Syrians, but Libyan members of al-Qaïda.

Riyad el-Asaad is no more than a cover, supposed to give the affair a Syrian veneer. He was chosen because he bears a similar name to President Bachar el-Assad, to whom he is in no way related. However, ignorant of the fact that the two names are not written the same way in Arabic, the Atlantist Press chose to see in him a sign of the « first defector from the régime ».

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is supervised by French legionnaires, detached from their services and placed at the disposition of the Élysée and General Benoît Puga, President Sarkozy’s own private chief commander. The FSA now fights under the French colonial flag.

Currently, the FSA is no longer a permanent army. But its trade name is used from time to time for operations dreamed up by the Élysée and carried out by mercenaries from other armed groups.

France persists in making a distinction between « moderate » and « extremist » jihadists. Yet there is no difference in terms of personnel or behaviour between the two groups. ...

[...]

At the beginning of 2012, French legionnaires escorted the 3,000 combatants of the FSA to Homs, the ancient capital of French colonialism, in order to make it the « revolutionary capital ». They moved into the new area of Baba Amr, where they proclaimed an Islamic Emirate. A revolutionary tribunal condemned to death more than 150 inhabitants who had stayed in the area, and had their throats cut in public. The FSA held out for a month against a siege, protected by fire stations of Milan anti-tank missiles offered to them by France.

[...]

______________

As to whether anything has changed since Meyssan's article -- from Tony Cartalucci's mind-blowing article for NEO, "Syria: Phantom "Rebels" Return from the Dead," March 7, 2016:

French colonial green, white, and black banner of Syria adapted by the West's proxy 'Free Syrian Army' FSA) had long been forgotten in the sea of black banners held aloft by Washington and Riyadh's more extreme ploy to gain leverage upon and more direct access to the battlefield.

However, as Syrian forces backed by its regional allies and Russian air power overwhelm these forces while building alliances with other factions, including the Kurds, the West's entire regime change enterprise faces ignominious collapse.

It appears that -- having exhausted all other options -- the West has decided to change as many of those black banners back to the "rebel" green, white, and black as possible, before the conflict draws to a close, giving the West the most favorable position achievable ahead of "peace talks."

[...]
______________

Why are French machinations in Syria not discussed in the American press? Because we've been blinded -- or more precisely, deafened, by all the noise in the system.

BraveNewWorld

I agree with the colonel that Israel has not gotten stronger since the last war with Lebanon. In fact I would say the IDF has weakened some what and the population considerably. Hezbollah is undeniably stronger.

But I agree with you that for AQ or Daesh to be as strong of a threat they would need the backing of a local government. The problem there is that all the countries that rage at Assad are now in bed with Israel and wouldn't back any terror group going after the Israelis.

What AQ and Daesh do have though is staying power. They can survive at some level on next to nothing and it doesn't take that many people to plant a bomb when explosives have been so readily available. With all the ATGM and manpads the reckless have been handing out Ben Gurion airport will be jihad central if Assad falls.

Sam Peralta

Jack

Trump played the debate as you were suggesting.

My immediate reaction after watching the debate is that Hillary, the more experienced debater, did not knock Trump out. In fact I think he helped himself a lot by framing it as status quo vs change. Hillary took the low road by trying to go after the women vote with her making the charge that Trump is sexist. I think that will backfire.

Overall I think Trump did well relative to Hillary. He gave the impression that he'll get stuff done and Hillary has had decades to fix things but instead has created a gigantic mess. He also looked presidential and showed enthusiasm. While Hillary was putting me to sleep with her droning.

I think the momentum that Trump has in the polls in the battleground states will continue after this debate.

Dubhaltach

In reply to Bill Herschel 26 September 2016 at 09:25 PM

"Following on Number 1) there has been Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Just think how much those events have made the "Coalition" dependent on ISIS. ISIS is all they have now. So the U.N. must be trashed and trashed it is."

I'm simply breathless waiting for you to explain that statement logically.

Explain to us how the British vote to leave the EU has "made the "Coalition" dependent on ISIS".

Once you've done that I'd love to read your explanation as to how the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour party - and therefore the opposition in parliament has made "made the "Coalition" dependent on ISIS". There's no prospect of an election at present and even if there were there's no prospect of Labour winning it.

It'd be nice if you'd also tell us how much of our portfolios we should switch into the tinfoil headwear manufacturing sector.

Earthrise

Listening to Ziad Fadel at Syrian perspective, he has always blamed the British. Maybe he knows what I am growing to suspect, that the Americans are really just overseas English. If you believe the discourse that the Fed is run by the City of London, maybe they are right.

http://syrianperspective.com/2016/09/30-american-british-and-zionistsaudi-intel-agents-fried-in-aleppo-by-russian-kaliber-cruise-missiles.html

robt willmann

If you want to know how the tragedy, horror, death, and destruction imposed upon the people of Syria has come about, read Title 50, United States Code, section 3093, "[Secret] Presidential Approval and Reporting of Covert Actions"--

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/3093

"(a) Presidential findings. The President may not authorize the conduct of a covert action by departments, agencies, or entities of the United States Government unless the President determines such an action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States and is important to the national security of the United States, which determination shall be set forth in a finding that shall meet each of the following conditions:...."

Notice the initial two requirements: it is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States, and, is "important" to the national security of the United States. It would be interesting to read what the presidential findings by (probably) both Bush jr. and Obama say about those two requirements.

Look at subpart (a)(5): "(5) A finding may not authorize any action that would violate the Constitution or any statute of the United States."

That presents a problem for the U.S. covert action in Syria. A war is going on. The U.S. is doing all sorts of things to initiate, support, advise, and see that the war happens and continues. There is the big euphemism, "communications equipment", which is not used by the "jihadis" to call their families and girlfriends. It now seems clear that the U.S. is helping supply and is directly supplying arms and powerful weapons. All the conduct of the U.S. in Syria demonstrates that it is a participant in the war. Such participation, according to the constitution, requires a declaration of war by Congress. No such declaration has been made.

Furthermore, the whole question of under what circumstances the U.S government can try to kill a person who has not been found guilty of capital murder and given the death penalty by a jury, or when war has not been declared, is raised in the problem of covert action.

Look at subpart (a)(4). That part of a "finding" would really be intriguing to read, as it shows that the operation is wide open for any co-conspirators and co-actors, the sky is the limit, and some other person or country can supply some money: "(4) Each finding shall specify whether it is contemplated that any third party which is not an element of, or a contractor or contract agent of, the United States Government, or is not otherwise subject to United States Government policies and regulations, will be used to fund or otherwise participate in any significant way in the covert action concerned, or be used to undertake the covert action concerned on behalf of the United States."

Carefully read part (e) which defines "covert action". That completely open-ended definition means anything nefarious and nasty that the U.S. and its enablers want to do. But subparts (e)(1) through (e)(4) say what is not included in the meaning of covert action. You can see that everything required to sustain a country is not part of a covert action. You can do all the information gathering, espionage, law enforcement, counterintelligence, "traditional" diplomatic and military activities, etc. that you want to, and none of that is a covert action.

Last, but not least, is part (h): "Plan to respond to unauthorized public disclosure of covert action. For each type of activity undertaken as part of a covert action, the President shall establish in writing a plan to respond to the unauthorized public disclosure of that type of activity". Here, the U.S. Congress is openly saying that they all need to get their lies lined up in advance to tell the public in case the rotten scheme is exposed.

You can now understand how the dirty business is done.

Outrage Beyond

Regarding the Israeli support for the headchoppers in Syria. Is this shortsighted? Very likely; but myopia is an Israeli specialty. Just look at how they nurtured Hamas as a counterbalance to the PLO. But with that said, there is more to consider as part of the larger picture.

Who funds the headchoppers? Saudi Arabia, along with Kuwait and Qatar. Of these three, the Saudis are the most powerful and very likely supply the largest amount of cash. Cash buys influence, to a degree.

The next dot to connect: the blossoming Saudi-Israeli alliance, which began covertly, but has become ever more overt in recent years. During the 2006 Israeli war against Hezbollah, the Saudis publicly supported Israel. More recently, high-level Saudi-Israeli visits have taken place. The Saudi public is mightily displeased, but they have no say in the matter. They were wildly enthusiastic about Nasrallah in 2006, while the Saudi government denounced him as a troublemaker.

With the Saudi-Israeli alliance in mind, what happens if the headchoppers should somehow take over Syria? (Unlikely, but let's consider it as a thought experiment.) The Saudis will likely continue supplying cash. If the headchoppers turn against Israel, the Israelis will find leverage via their new best friends, the Saudis, and attempt to use that point of influence to cut off the cash flow and smack down the troublemakers. Of course, Israel will also have freedom of action via air power.

Is it all dumb and evil on the part of the Israelis? Of course. But it would seem to fit into their doctrine of strategic balancing.

Thinking about it further, imagine the headchoppers form a new Syrian government. This entity, likely to be highly fractious, will surely face a massive insurgency from the remains of the old Syrian government, along with Hezbollah and the various militias. Not to mention bombing by the Russians, assuming the Russians manage to carve out a zone around their bases. (Which seems more than likely in this scenario; although the Russians could also bomb from afar.)

So how much external force would the headchoppers be able to project against Israel, when considering these limitations they'd face? Probably not very much. It would be a situation somewhat comparable to the late Taliban government in Afghanistan, which was recognized by only the Saudis and Pakistan. A weak government; a government mostly in name. In any jihadi takeover, a likely scenario would seem to be continuous fighting in Syria for decades, which would very likely please Israel very much.

Pundita

Free Syrian Army Unicorns, the Voice of the People, have gone holy roller:

"Religious and military leaders of Jeish al-Fatah coalition are fleeing the battlefields in Aleppo. It is a long time that they have been trapped in Aleppo districts. They are hopeless. They are fleeing to Turkey with the money they received from the backers of the terrorist groups and the money they took by force from civilians in Aleppo," the General Staff the Syrian Armed Forces said.

In the meantime, one of the commanders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), in an audio file, disclosed that a number of commanders of the terrorist groups have left their forces alone and have escaped to Turkey.

"You commanders, who stole a large amount of people's money and fled the battlefields, you have been trading the Syrian people's blood," the audio file said, adding, "Where are the religious leaders of the militants fleeing now, those who once claimed they were close to the God?"

_______

I thought the Syria-Turkey border had been sealed. Obviously not to outbound traffic.

The above is from FARS report today, "Syrian Army Urges Remaining Civilians to Leave Eastern Districts of Aleppo City," which also reports on another large-scale SAA coalition offensive on E Aleppo being prepared.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950706000405

Will this be the coup de grâce? Not if they don't get those tunnels and the veritable underground city cleaned out with bunker busters. It looks as they're going to have absolutely flatten the eastern part of city, with the International Community looking on and screeching Barbarians.

JohnsonR

turcopolier

We agree that the Israelis are dangerously mistaken in their support for the overthrow of the Syrian government. Whatever we might think about the realism of the notion that Israel will be able to manage the aftermath of a defeat of the Syrian government, it's difficult to see how Israel can possibly have come to the conclusion that overthrowing said government is a viable policy and a desirable outcome without taking the view that they can manage the aftermath, is it not?

So what is your guess as to how they see themselves achieving that? I am interested because I have no doubt you are far better informed and in a better position to speculate on the topic.

One factor imo is that the Israelis probably intend to settle militarily with Hezbollah at the first opportunity, and they probably expect such an opportunity to arise in the aftermath of any overthrow of the Syrian government. Unless they expect the installation of a sunni dominated regime in Damascus to allow for the commencement (or rather renewal, in far more favourable circumstances) of a long process of strangling a more isolated Hezbollah.

LeaNder

plantman, that's a bit of an simplistic approach.

True, Jürgen Todenhöfer was a member of the Christian Democrats. I wood have even put him into the right fraction of his part for most of the time. But a while ago, I had a second thought about some matters in this context. Salvador and Evita versus Pinochet? I guess everyone who talked the to latter while denying support for the former was highly suspicious for me at the time. But, you could consider it as some type of continuity too. No matter who, you try to talk with them, try to find out what's on their mind. But yes, there was his position on Apartheid too ...

Post 9/11 much to my surprise he surfaced as a staunch critic of the GWOT. Even skeptical about the war in Afghanistan. As I was. The Taliban weren't behind 9/11. Were they? I had similar fears aoubt the GWOT then..It's a bit odd if you meet a former adversary suddenly on your side. He knew Afghanistan before and strictly supported the US' proxy mujahedin approach against the Russian.

He traveled to Afghanistan, wrote a book about it, which again he knew before. Mind you with his critique against the Iraq War he converged for a short time with the German general mood. Remember, we were part of the unwilling, Old versus New Europe at the time.

Todenhöfer traveled a lot in the ME, Iraq already under Bush, Lybia, Syria... the whole ME, Gaza too. In Syria he spent 10 days with his son among ISIS. Wrote a book about it. It caused a bit of uproar over here. He was accused of simplifying matters. Or spreading ISIS' propaganda.

this is a short BBC interview from 2015. There is a much longer CNN interview in 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRCPRKgAaTg

LeaNder

He left out Clinton's Balkan war, including his low intensity activities in Iraq. That's not completely unimportant in the overall chronology. Not least since it may well have been the start of some type of "proxy confrontation" with post Cold War Russia.

turcopolier

JohnsonR

Contrary to the mythology Israel does not generally have a good grasp of realities in the surrounding countries. They have built both emotional and physical walls around themselves and in general have very little contact with the locals including within Israel itself. I used to deal with them at the top of the IDF general staff on issues concerning the surrounding countries and often found that they did not understand the dynamic underway anywhere in the ME. In general the Israelis conduct their affairs in the region on the basis of a desire for hegemonic domination of enfeebled anarchic neighbors. To that end they seek to sow theanarchy and when Lebanon, Jordan and syria are reduced to poverty stricken jihadi strongholds they will rue the day. pl

Ulenspiegel

"Is it possible that it represents a divide in the German political establishment, some of who (like Merkel) are joined at the hip with the Borg, while others would like to patch things up with Putin, open Nordstream, and go back to making money instead of saber rattling all the time??"

Here you miss the important nuances of the situation:

1) It never has been a unified position of the German political establishment. E.g. not only the SPD but also some parts of the CSU around Gauweiler were against the Iraq war in 2003.

And a few days ago, Gauweiler has had no problems with reminding "his" Bundeskanzlerin Merkel that she was pro-war as opposition leader 13 years ago. :-)

2) Merkel usually does not make the same mistake twice. Thereforee, there is no real possibility that she will pro-war in case of Syria.

3) The Nord Stream expansion was not opposed by Merkel, where did you get this impression from? IMHO Merkel is simply not willing to give the guys in Ukraine leverage against Germany. The expansion allows to shut down the pipeline through Ukraine and Poland in 2018.

4) With the shit hitting the fan in Turkey nobody is longer proposing alternatives that are under control of Erdogan.

FourthAndLong

Thanks for the link. Nearly as jaw dropping at same site is this treatment of the Clinton email scandal. Man, if people had even the vaguest idea:

http://www.voltairenet.org/article193385.html

LeaNder

The Nord Stream expansion was not opposed by Merkel

I booked that under: did the German's ever had a different chancellor then Merkel? North Stream, Russia, Schröder, Putin?

Didn't Putin already then join the coalition of unwilling Germany and France from the East, I wonder now?

FourthAndLong

And Thierry Meyssan's French/Anglo re-colonization thesis linked to above by Pundita allows for further post Assad scenario speculation.

Matthew

Col: That, to me, is the real risk of our Syria policy. If Russia sustains Assad and Russia and China rebuild the country. Israel's Arab neighbors will see an alternative to American leadership.

AS I wrote yesterday, having a loyalist like King Abdullah of Jordan basically begging us for help speaks volumes.

LeaNder

sorry: lately I seem to heavily have stopped to check, following my babbling brand, as it flows out of my fingers.

I am here English to learn:

did the German's ever had have ... maybe I should have substituted chancellor with leader too?

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