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21 January 2017

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mike

Babak Makkinejad -

Don't blame me, I did not vote for Trump. Convince your fellow Trump voters that he should back off, not me. However I am willing to listen to the positive proposal that you mentioned that might be better. Could you let us know what that might be?

If your positive proposal is workable, great! If not, and if Trump keeps providing support to the Kurds in Syria I might change my mind about the man. You and I have discussed this previously. But I have seen no reason to change my mind that the Kurds in Syria should not have federalism. If that makes the IRGC nervous, so be it.

Trump & T-Rex will get in much deeper trouble in the Middle East if they move the American Embassy to Jerusalem as promised during the campaign. That would be a much more serious irritant than support for the Kurds.

trinlae

It was a restaurant lobby paper i saw in travels and can't check eithe but indeed wonder if I am recalling to correctly. But my recollection of seeing it was perhaps in western Iraq as was mentioned above (Mosul?), although I still feel like name Syria was mentioned in the same quip.

Still, it looks like a transitional move courtesy of outgoing Obama team that is more complementary to ground realities and s shift from contentious rhetoric of last October, and profound illustration of general illiteracy of US foreign affairs by an otherwise passionate public.

elaine

trinlae, I did read something about a couple of U.S. bombing raids against
AQ in Sirte, Libya & another one closer to the Tunisian border. It was around January 19th.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I think it will be a good idea for US to cut and run; it is best for US and best for the people of Iraq and Syria.

In regards to the "Federalism"; you cannot give Federalism to Kurds or anyone else; it is not a thing to be had. They are incapable of running a Federal Structure - who do you think they are, Anglo-Saxons?

You are just going to cause more death and mayhem.

In regards to the possible move of US Embassy to Jerusalem; it will cause discomfort and embarrassment to all the Muslim governments that are friends of US - but not much else; a storm in a teacup at best.

wtofd

Babak, in your estimation, is the importance of Jerusalem as first qibla/third shrine overstated? In another framing, would total Israeli sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa complex rally the Muslim world in any coherent way against Israel?
I see the Muslim governments as disjointed. Are you sure it would be a tempest in a teapot?

robt willmann

mike, elaine,

After many years of maneuvering around with city councils, zoning commissions, and so forth, in order to get approval for business projects, Trump immediately got ahead of the curve and appointed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, to be the Secretary of Transportation. This guaranteed that Trump's cabinet appointments would be confirmed by the Senate. The senate majority leader for the most part decides what bills the senate will consider and the scheduling for them. The Republican party's senate conference group has a part in deciding which Republican senators get on which (desirable and plum) committees, and Senator McConnell has a lot of stroke in that conference group.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Senator John McCain and his partner Sen. Lindsey Graham (yesterday), and Sen. Marco Rubio (today), said that they would vote to confirm Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

Sure, McCain and Graham would bloviate some, and Rubio would read the loaded questions prepared for him to ask the well-mannered Tillerson (who you could tell was attentive and listening), but they will not dare to irritate McConnell about the cabinet appointees. I think that Mike Pompeo will be confirmed to be the CIA director, although in my opinion he is not a good choice.

James Mattis was confirmed and sworn in as Secretary of Defense after the inauguration on Friday the 20th. We will now see what happens in Syria.

Babak Makkinejad

There are 2 mosques on that site: one built on the spot where the Prophet, according to Islamic Tradition, ascended to Heaven during his Night Journey and the other, on the site that during the same Night Journey the Prophet had led the prayer of all the previous prophets - who had been assembled there by an Act of God.

In my opinion, Muslims will never accept political control of those sites by non-Muslims. However, I do not expect Muslim governments to rally collectively against such a US move; Muslim countries are too weak, too divided, too incoherent to be able to exert collective action at this juncture - in my opinion.

Presently, Israelis currently have total control but they are not considered to be having legitimate authority, not even by the United States. US could confer her own recognition of the legitimacy of their authority - by moving her embassy there. That would be, in my opinion, an unproductive act of provocation against Muslims on behalf of Israelis and Jews.

In effect, a nominally secular government of a largely Christian country would be adjudicating among religious claims of Jews and Muslims by taking side with Jews.

It makes no sense to me, but evidently it does to many in US - both Christian and Jew.

mike

Trinlae -

I believe the Special Forces raid you are referring to was against Daesh in eastern Syria. It was reportedly a joint op with YPG/SDF allies. They hit a Daesh convoy traveling from Raqqa in eastern Syria towards Deir ez-Zor.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/01/09/US-special-forces-target-terror-leaders-in-Syria-25-killed/9281483988411/

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-special-forces-launch-successful-raid-against-syria-1974663397

But there have been many American airstrikes against al Qaeda in western Syria. The Jund al-Aqsa strike I mentioned above is a case in point as they are part of al Qaeda, although they try to disguise their association by frequent name changes.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/01/09/US-special-forces-target-terror-leaders-in-Syria-25-killed/9281483988411/

And there have been many other US attacks against al Qaeda and their allies in Syria despite Russian/Assad propaganda saying the opposite.

mike

Babak Makkinejad -

Thank you for your answer. I do not believe in your 'cut and run' proposal and I hope that Trump, T-Rex, and Mattis do not either. If we did that then who would take out Daesh? The R+6 has been helpless against them. They are only capable of agitprop and making backroom deals with Daesh funder and supporter Erdogan. He will disappoint them. The only way to defeat Daesh that I see is with American and Coalition support to the YPG and their many Arab/Assyrian/Armenian/Circassian allies in eastern Syria.

You have kept repeating for many months now that Kurds are not anglo-saxons. So what, neither am I, and neither are the vast majority of Americans. The fact that Kurds are not anglo-saxons is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Kurds are human. They deserve to be able to speak their own language without fear of being attacked for it. They deserve to be able to elect their own local leaders instead of having some political crony or hatchetman from Damascus appointed over them. Again, they are not asking for independence from Syria. They are not asking for total autonomy. They only want a voice in their own affairs. Why is that too much to ask?

Regarding Jerusalem: I and millions of other Americans do NOT believe that our embassy should be located there. I am hoping that circumstances prevent that. When you said it would be a "storm-in-a-teacup" you admitted that it would be the reaction of "the Muslim governments that are friends of US". But there are many Muslim governments or even militant groups and political parties that are not friends of the US and would take it as an act of war.

mike

Robt Willman -

Yes I saw that Rubio backed down on his opposition.

I agree with you that Pompeo is a bad choice for CIA.

Mattis was a great choice. But I assume Trump made that choice for the wrong reason when he fell in love with Mattis's nickname. General Mattis was never a mad dog, but just the opposite. He got that handle or nickname for the same reason my high school buddy Jimmy Maddox did, or the old Mad Max movies, or the many Mad Mikes - we like alliteration. I would opine that Mattis is more well read than many university deans and professors and certainly more than any other of Trump's cabinet picks.

I have heard good things about Lighthizer, who will be the US Trade Rep.

But IMHO all the rest of Trump's picks would be better off out of government.

Pundita

BREAKING NEWS
US GIVES RUSSIA COORDINATES ON ISLAMIC STATE LOCATION FOR FIRST TIME AND CONDUCTS JOINT STRIKES WITH RUSSIA, TURKEY

BREAKING NEWS
Russia Receives Daesh Coordinates in Al Bab From US
19:50 - 23.01.2017 (updated 20:03 23.01.2017)
Sputnik

Russia has received coordinates of Daesh targets in Al Bab, Aleppo Province, from the US for the first time, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.

The United States has provided coordinates of the terrorists' targets in the city of Al Bab in Aleppo province for Russia-coalition airstrikes. After the reconnaissance check, Russia and Turkey conducted joint airstrike on the Daesh targets in the region. [See second report, below]

"On January 22, the Russian command center at the Hmeymim airbase has received coordinates of the Daesh targets in Al Bab, Aleppo province, via 'direct line' from the US-led coalition headquarters. After further data verification with unmanned aircraft assistance and space reconnaissance, the Russian air forces and two jets of the international coalition have conducted airstrikes on the terrorists' targets," the statement said.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

[END REPORT]

BREAKING NEWS
Russian, Turkish Warplanes Conduct Joint Op Against Daesh in Syria's Al-Bab
19:52 - 23.01.2017 (updated 20:09 - 23.01.2017)
Sputnik

Russian and Turkish warplanes conducted a joint operation against Daesh in Al-Bab in Syria's Aleppo province on January 21, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

"On January 21, the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Turkish Air Force conducted a new joint operation striking Daesh group near Al-Bab in the province of Aleppo," the ministry said.

Three Russian attack aircraft: two Su-24Ms and a Su-34 bomber, as well as two Turkey's F-16 and two F-4 participated in the aerial campaign.

A total of 22 Daesh targets have been struck. A day later, Russia received Daesh's coordinates in the area from the United States and struck them jointly with the US-led coalition aircraft, the ministry said.

This was the second joint operation by Russian and Turkish aviation in Syria. On Wednesday, the first joint airstrikes have been launched against Daesh in Al-Bab.

The news comes amid a nationwide ceasefire in Syria backed by Russia and Turkey which came into effect on December 30 and was later supported by a UN Security Council resolution.

Turkey is currently conducting an operation in Syria dubbed Euphrates Shield. On August 24, Turkish forces, supported by Free Syrian Army rebels and US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed the Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group. As Jarabulus was retaken, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian rebels continued the operation to gain control over Al-Bab in the Aleppo province.

Al-Bab is one of Daesh’s last remaining strongholds near the Turkish border. Capturing the city is of strategic importance to Turkey in order to prevent the Syrian Kurds taking it and unifying their own territories.

[END REPORT]

Frank

There is nothing to even suggest that Assad want's the Afrin Kurds to be overrun. He has cooperated with them to take higher ground for better security that the Kurds benefit from as well.

Your baseless assertions always seem to say something negative about Assad or Syria in general - it's telling.

mike

Trinlae -

Or perhaps the US Special Rorces raid you spotted in the WSJ was the raid on Abu Khashab west of Mosul northeast of Baaj just a day or so ago. Iraqi rumors have been circulating that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other top members are located in the Baaj area, which might have led to the operation.

Babak Makkinejad

In my opinion, the United States has no dog in that fight over al Quds, none in the war against ISIS, and none in regards to the disposition of Kurds in the Near East.

Nor does the United States have the power to materially affect any of that.

US participation opens her up for manipulation by all these foreign people with whom she has neither civilization affinity nor religious one.

mike

Frank & Aleksandar -

I hope you are both right in your assessment of Assad.

But Frank, if what you say is true about Assad benefiting Kurds - then why does Assad not stop constant Turkish shelling and bombing of the Kurds in Afrin? Why does Assad not stop infiltration of Turkmen jihadis into Afrin? Why has he allied his country with Erdogan who has been the major funder and enabler of Daesh and of al Qaeda in Syria? Why has he allowed Turkey to conduct direct military intervention into Syria and establish an Islamist enclave? Why does he allow that Turkish enclave to be re-populated with Turkmen proxies of Erdogan led by Turkish Gray Wolves? Why has he allowed Turkey to establish Hisbah police in that enclave?

mike

I agree with your point on al Quds.

As far as the war against Daesh - George W Bush was responsible for Daesh taking over in Iraq. So we do do have some responsibility there.

As for the Kurds, we Americans do have an affinity with them. I do not believe we should abandon them to Erdogan's murderous intentions. I hope we help them negotiate the same degree of federalism that Texas and Rhode Island have.

The Twisted Genius

mike,

There's a fairly simple answer to your questions. Assad and the entire R+6 lack the strength to take on every adverse situation that arises. They have to pick their fights. Eventually they will have to deal with Turks on Syrian territory, but that will have to wait for another day.

Frank

Assad doesn't have control over a lot of those things for obvious reasons. I'm sure he would have dealt much more forcefully with Turkey if that were possible but it isn't. Assad has done a remarkable job of recognizing the dangerous position he's in and carefully trying to maneuver his way out.

Babak Makkinejad

Behind Texas and Rhode Island stand generations of men and women steeped in traditions of states West of the Diocletian Line.

There is nothing you or anyone else could do to live Kurdish history for them and transform them into that which they are not - and may not wish to be.

I am spending more time with you in this because there are so many do-gooders in Western Diocletia that wish to confer on the rest of mankind the benefits of their own societies.

That wish is a nightmare when put into practice; I am endeavoring to rebut that forlorn hope.

Look no further than Algeria and the abject failure of France to alter the Arabs and Berbers there in over a hundred years.

The only way you can materailly help Kurds is to try to end the wars in Syria, in Iraq, and in Turkey by working with the governments of those countries.

Everything else is just another dance with the Widow Maker.

robt willmann

mike,

The worst selections by Trump for major governmental posts are Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury, and Jay Clayton for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for around 17 years and became a partner there, worked for George Soros, and led investors who bought IndyMac, which they renamed OneWest, that was a lousy and huckstering mortgage company---

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3250383/OneWest-Package-Memo.pdf

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/01/mnuchin-nomination-for-treasury-shines-harsh-light-on-u-s-politics/

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/01/is-your-corporate-pension-benefit-safe-under-the-trump-administration/

Jay Clayton, nominated to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm which has represented Goldman Sachs for a long time.

A few courageous Republicans, joining with Democrats, could block the appointment of Mnuchin to be treasury secretary, except that the Democrats stupidly made Senator Charles Schumer of New York the minority leader of the senate, and he does what the banksters and financial companies tell him to do.

mike

TTG -

That is true. But Putin seems very happy with the current situation. He has Erdogan on a string and very close to leaving NATO. Perhaps getting Erdo to demand the Coalition to leave Incirlik. The question is whether or not Putin will allow Assad to deal with the Turks later.

Pundita

Here we go.....

US military is 'not coordinating airstrikes with Russia in Syria', Pentagon says
By Spencer Ackerman
Monday 23 January 2017 14.19 EST
Last modified on Monday 23 January 2017 14.40 EST
The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/23/us-denies-russia-airstrikes-syria

The Pentagon has flatly denied a Russian government claim that both nations’ warplanes conducted a joint combat mission in Syria.

On Monday, the Russian defense ministry claimed to have received coordinates of Islamic State positions via a US-Russian communications channel, and that two jets from the US-led coalition participated in a strike alongside Russian aircraft.

But the Pentagon, now helmed by Trump’s appointee James Mattis, issued a round denial of the Russian account.

“The Department of Defense is not coordinating airstrikes with the Russian military in Syria,” said spokesman Eric Pahon, who added that he was not aware of any coalition member aiding Russia in this instance.

The White House, however, signaled it was open in principle to joint military strikes with Russia in Syria.

The press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Trump would “work with any country that shares our interest in defeating Isis”, saying the inclination applied to “Russia or anyone else”.

[...]

***

Sputnik has carried, without comment, a report on the Pentagon denial.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201701231049932240-syria-russia-us-airstrikes/

My crystal ball is in the repair shop again so I have idea who's telling the truth.

ToivoS

ttg: The possibility that special forces and/or Syrian agents inside the jihadists forces are responsible for the fighting that is breaking out between the "moderate" and jihadists rebels seems very plausible.

I had a similar thought when those jihadists killed the four Americans including the US ambassador in Benghazi in 2012. It seems clear that Ambassador Jeffries was in Benghazi that day to coordinate the rat line supply channel between Libya and Syria. The Benghazi jihadists were certainly fanatics but they couldn't be that stupid. It turned the US against them. What if Syrian agents had infiltrated those forces in Libya and influenced the decision to attack the US? It seems well known that many of those fighters received their training fighting US forces in Iraq in the 2004-2007 and returned to Libya. In addition, it seemed obvious that they traveled to and from Iraq via Syria. After the Homs rebellion in the 1980s it would seem only obvious that the Syrian government must have planted agents in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. As we all should recall the Syrian Brotherhood seems to have disappeared after the Arab Spring but their cadre ended up somewhere. Twenty years later these guys would be in position of serious influence.

What ever the case is, the 2012 attack in Benghazi caused serious doubt in the Obama administration on the wisdom of providing aid to the Islamist. This has resulted in the seemingly incoherent policy that Obama and Kerry have displayed over last four years in Syria. This has without much doubt opened the door for Russian intervention that looks like is going to finally defeat those Islamist forces.

mike

Robt Willman -

Blame it on Soros and Schumer all you want. The fact remains that Mnuchin and Clayton were nominated by Trump. If Mrs Clinton had won the election and nominated Goldman Sachs folks to her cabinet then a few hundred million Republican heads would be exploding with rage. Where is the rage now? Or is it OK if you are a Republican?

mike

Babak -

Thanks for spending your time on this with me. I do appreciate many of your insights despite our disagreement on this issue.

From Pundita's comment and reference below regarding the US providing intel tips to the Russians in Syria, perhaps we are now working (indirectly) with the government in Syria. Plus long before Trump took over here, we were fighting against Assad's enemies Daesh and al Qaeda in Syria.

I believe we are working with the government in Iraq to end the war there. And in Turkey, we have long declared the PKK to be a terrorist organization and have passed intel to the Turks regarding PKK locations.

As for the Kurds, by calling us do-gooders, I think you misunderstand our political system. The Kurdish diaspora mostly went to Europe, but there is a small community of Kurdish-Americans. Not too many, perhaps 20,000 or less. But they, like most other immigrants in America tend to settle into their own neighborhoods. At least half of those 20,000 went and settled down in or near Nashville Tennessee. They are a powerful voting bloc there. They will be supported by both Tennessee Senators and by the two Congressmen (one D and one R) who represent both urban and suburban Nashville. Those are powerful friends who have seats on Defense Committees, Appropiations Committees, and one (Bob Corker) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I do not believe they will go against the wishes of their constituents.

I realize that the Kurdish identity is anathema to Turkey and Iran. They would much prefer the "melting pot". Erdogan and Rouhani should stop denying Kurdish heritage in their countries and stop forcing them into becoming "mountain-Turks" or "carbon-copy-Persians". Iraq does not have that same attitude. I am not sure about Syria? But using one of Colonel Lang's favorite memes about Syria, that country has been "multi-culti" in the past. Hopefully that will continue in regard to the Kurds and the many other ethnic and religious groups there. Peace will follow.

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