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21 January 2017


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James -

I am not following? Are you saying that the Assad forces in Deir ez-Zor should be buying oil and fuel from Daesh? That just funds terrorism and allows them to buy more weapons, more recruits, and more time.


"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."

I take it that is supposed to read as "the Syrian Brotherhood seems to have disappeared after the_1980s uprising_", right?
At any rate, one does wonder how much overlap in terms of personnel there is between the ikwhan of those times and the insurgents that torment the country today. Do recall that those fellows were already all about wiping out Alawites - the Artillery School massacre at Aleppo in '79 comes to mind -, so a good number of those cadres migrating to the various AQ-outfits doesn't seem far-fetched.

"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."

In that case one would have expected them to clearly renounce the "opposition" in Syria in '13 at the latest. Incoherence may have been more a product of various parts of the apparatus steering the wheel towards where each one thought it in their best interest for it to go, not helped by Obama abstaining from taking clear charge here as well. Mr Bahzad in the comments-section of this post here by the Colonel:


phrases the type of attitude at the core of this half-pregnant policy the now former PotUS pursued as regards the MENA-area rather nicely: "Actually, more a mixture of self-delusion combined with unwarranted arrogance and intellectual autism."



"Memes?" You think I am a propagandist? pl


" And there have been many other US attacks against al Qaeda and their allies in Syria "
Let me complete our sentence: " in the last 3 months ".
This war has begun in 2011.

FB Ali

You don't need a crystal ball. Just read today's post on Moon of Alabama!


James -

The US led coalition started hitting al Quaeda in Syria and their allies back in September/October 2014. You have not been paying attention.

Regarding diesel, I am sorry for the people of Dei ez-Zor if true. But that is no reason to allow Daesh to profit and grow from selling oil that belongs to the Syrian people.


It's interesting to note how you are able to read Putin or Assad minds. Or general Flynn who according to you " want to stab kurds in the back".
A crystal ball, maybe ?
Sound more propaganda than facts.
Putin want Turks to leave NATO ?
Surely not, It's a lot better to have the Turks in NATO and work with them
Demanding the coalition to leave Incilrik ? Should be stupid, better know where is your ennemy to monitor him.
Will Putin allow Assad to deal with the Turks ?
Typically a" empire syndrom " question.
Suggest that Putin will behave like an American President and says what someone has to do or not.
And so and so............

Mark Logan


I have seen cases where the press has been deliberately distracted, but am unconvinced this administration is in complete control of this weapon.

TTG, Forgive me for putting this here, but the post I am replying to is now 300 posts long and I feared this will be missed. I think it might be helpful in Trump analysis:

His raising of the FHA interest rates on day one:

I know something of development. The banks, even on my tiny level, are acutely aware they are not lebders, they are partners. They ride herd on their investments. I strongly suspect Trump's partners are unhappy, even fuming. They know contingencies crop up but now there will be hell to pay in fronting any new money to Trump Inc. His buildings around the world are now targets. There is highly likely to be a loss of tenants and it is likely those buildings will have a difficult time getting insurance as well. I suspect that is behind his odd decision to make throwing them a sop a Day One item.

Chris Chuba

I have stated that our politicians are in a state of cognitive dissonance. I have no doubt that they believe that if we oppose Iran, Russia, 'tyrants' like Assad, assist rebels who are strongly allied with Al Qaeda, and simultaneously hit some Al Qaeda targets that it will all somehow all work out in the end.

However, if you put all of this mess on a scale, our intervention in Syria has materially helped Al Qaeda more than it has hurt them. This is not propaganda by Assad and I don't blame him for having a bee in his bonnet. We are supporting rebel groups in his country, rebels who are supporting Al Qaeda and Salafists.

Al Qaeda in Iraq moved into Syria and split into two groups, Al Nusra and ISIS. Of the two groups, the Al Qaeda coalition is (or was) at least as the strong as ISIS because they had the most foreign backing and the most allies. Regarding ISIS I can find a nice presentation from the U.S. claiming that over 30,000 ISIL targets have been destroyed https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0814_Inherent-Resolve where they call out that over 6,300 airstrikes have been made in Syria.

Now my question to you is this Mike, what is the total number of Al Qaeda targets the U.S. has attacked in Syria?

I'll give anyone who can find this number $50, I'll send it a paypal account. We document how many ISIS targets we hit in Syria, but why do we only hear about a few random attacks against Al Qaeda and only in the past 6 mo's or so?

The point is that the U.S. has, in general, avoided attacking Al Qaeda in Syria because they didn't want to hurt the rebel coalition that was attacking Assad. I don't blame our military, I blame our politicians who live in their own reality and our incompetent MSM for not pressing them on this issue. I am hopeful that this will change but we need to acknowledge this as well.


It's warming up in Idlib and Aleppo. If this goes on for much longer then there will only be JFS and al-Din al-Zenki which will make deciding who to bomb far easier.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham launches a general offensive against rebel groups in Aleppo, Idlib CS
Tensions within the Jihadist-rebel alliance throughout northwestern Syria (Idlib and Aleppo provinces) have reach a boiling point with Jihadist militants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) terrorist group launching a campaign of conquest against rebels of the Ahrar al-Sham (Muslim Brotherhood Franchise) Islamist group and the Jaish al-Mujahadeen wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) armed opposition faction. There are rumors that the Harakat Noor al-Din al-Zenki jihadist group is siding with JFS in this operation.
So far the JFS offensive has seen the Jihadist group conquer the towns of Anadan, Hayyan and Kafr Hamra from the latter mentioned Islamist-opposition groups, who were forced to retreat from these population centres. In addition to this, JFS has laid siege to the rebel held town of al-Dana in Idlib province.



As a nation state, Turkey is susceptible to a range of pressures that can't be applied to jihadi groups, eg the sanctions that Russia put on Turkey after turkey downed a RuAF aircraft. There is usually scope for negotiation with a nation state- not so much for extreme jihadis for whom martyrdom is something positive.

The only practical way to clear out jihadis is to defeat them militarily, and given R+6 limited resources, that will take time. Once that is done, attention can be turned to Turkey.


Brigadier Ali, thank you for letting me know. I see b has done a fine bit of reasoning, but it does leave a few threads hanging. I found this remark at the Daily Beast's analysis of the muddle:

American commanders can urge their Russian counterparts to avoid certain areas while U.S. planes are overhead. Russian commanders can make the same request of the Americans. But in “banning” certain coordinates, the Americans aren’t actively contributing to a Russian air strike—to say nothing of sending U.S. or coalition jets to join the Russian attack.

Of course, that depends on your definition of “[international] coalition.” Turkey has allowed the U.S.-led coalition to use its Incirlik air base, but Turkish air strikes in northern Syria do not fall under the coalition’s command structure. They are Turkish missions with Turkish objectives.

Turkish warplanes have bombed rebels and militants in Syria alongside Russian planes several times since Moscow and Ankara boosted their cooperation in mid-January.

The first joint air raid on targets in Al Bab on Jan. 18 reportedly involved nine Russian planes and eight Turkish ones. On Jan. 21, three Russian fighters and four Turkish ones reportedly struck Al Bab again.

The air strike the following day—the one where U.S. officials “banned” certain coordinates—was carried out by two Russian jets and two jets from the “international coalition,” according to RIA Novosti. In context, it’s clear that the jets in question are Turkish.


I don't think that would exclude the conjecture that the US intended the Russians to read the 'banned' coordinates as discreetly pointing out exactly where to bomb IS in the Al Bab locale. And if this was the first time the 'banning' had been issued for the specific locale, then the Russian MoD would, in a world without prickly people, be justified in announcing that "Russia has received coordinates of Daesh targets in Al Bab, Aleppo Province, from the US for the first time."

But as General Mattis was just settling into his office, I venture the better part of wisdom for the MoD was to have waited for the Pentagon's starting pistol. Although I could see why they wouldn't want to wait. Much is riding for the Russians and Syrian Army on the Astana talks, which launched yesterday -- on the same day Sputnik breathlessly announced to the world that the US had given the MoD coordinates for IS targets. That would certainly give Alloush pause, in particular if his Saudi paymasters had already told him the party was over and that he'd better try to work out something at the Astana talks.


There is a difference between the Iranian and the Arab and Turkish relationship with the Kurds. The language of the Kurds (in fact they have four different mutually not intellible dialects) and the Persian is quite closely related. A Kurd will learn Iranian in no time as they belong to the same language group. Furthermore both celebrate Newroz. That festival (new year) is closely related to the founding myth of both peoples. Whereas Arab culture and language as well as Tourkish culture and language is much, much more removed. Case in point is that in Turkey the celebration of Newroz was forbidden for many years. Things only started to change under Erdogan but now he is heading back towards the bad old days.
I know that cultural similarity doesn´t necessarily result in an easier relationship between different peoples but it certainly helps. Which it undoubtedly does in the case of Iran and the Kurds as the relationship between the Kurdish minority and the cantral government is not nearly as bad as in the neighbouring countries. Furthermore it would be a mistake to regard Iran as a "nation state" in the classical European fashion. (Turkey fits the bill much more. The identity of Syria and Iraq is more shaky) Iran is a multinational state with an ideology that transcends national identities. Therefore it is not surprising that Iran can tolerate Kurdish schools but not the Bahai religion which is an erhetical offspring of Shiism. Finally let me say it woudl be a bad mistake to underestimate the internal coherence of Iran. The only really restive minority are the Beluchs near the border to Pakistan. Not surprisingly they happen to be Sunnis.

Tom Cafferty

Meme could imply propaganda, doesn't have to. Your comment to mike caused me to check the dictionary. That's always good. Thanks!


The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood faction responsible for the cadets' massacre 'al-Tal'a al-Muqatila' (the Fighting Vanguard) later merged directly into Al-Qaida. There's a book arguing that this vanguard acted alone, and that the main stream of the Syrian ikhwan remained committed and peaceful democrats (Raphael Lefevre, Ashes of Hama, 2013). Lefevre is good on providing names and members, from where you can see a continuity to the 'moderate opposition' but he did not submit his interview partners of today to the same historical critique prevalent in the first half of his book (history from Ottoman period through mandate period until 1960s). Lefevre seems to shy away from being too hard on his interviewees in order to maintain his access. This in my mind confirmed implicitly Barish's assumption when I read it back in 2013.
But it's probably less the transfer of actual people, more the transfer of ideas. Lefevre also recently wrote this up, where he points to the things I missed in his book:


There appears to be all kinds of propaganda circulating in all directions, but the relational dynamics are probably more of interest to me than the minutae of ground operational details, other than my empathies and sympathies to victims of misadventures and my related exasperation over those that might be avoided. Awareness must be the first step to possibly preventing the latter so appreciate the committee correspondence in that light, thanks.


All hell is breaking loose in Idlib between Al-Nusra Takfiris, their cronies of ISIS and the other Jihadistes conglomerate who were present in Astana and have signed onto the process taking place there and later on in Geneva.
It seems like the Al-Nusra thugs initiated the hostilities in a preemptive effort, knowing that Idlib is about to turn into a "Kill Zone" for Nusra&Co. soon after...
Meantime, Deir El-Zour is taking a pounding by strategic bombers and advances are taking shape on the ground by SAA and Co.


Aleksandar -

Speculation and NOT a crystal ball.

Your other points are well taken.

Babak Makkinejad

There are a few tens of thousands of Baluchis who are Shia Muslims. The rest are, as far as I know, Deobandis.

Now, there are two types of Deobandis; Hard Deobandis and Soft Deobandis.

The Hard Deobandis believe that Shia should be killed immediately. The Soft Deobandis, while agreeing that Shia are not real authentic Muslims, are not in a hurry to kill them.

The population of Baluch in Iran is estimated to be around 1.5 to 2 million souls; let us say about 2% of the Iranian population.

So you are sitting in a restaurant in Zahedan, wondering if the man who is serving you and your family wants to murder you, rape your wife, and sell your daughter into slavery or not - "How is his inner Jihadi feeling today?".

Babak Makkinejad

Kurdish identity is not anathema to Iran; just look at the large number of books published in Kurdish, Kurdish music broadcasts etc.

There many other Iranic people in Iran; Lors, Gilack etc. In what way are Kurds different than say, Lors? Or the Qashqai?

The US-friendly Azerbaijan Republic, where they actively suppress Islam, oppress the ancient Iranian people called Taleshi, expel Armenians, and generally promote the lie of the Great Turkic People, does not rise your ire - I wonder why.


Babak Makkinejad -

Thank you for your answer. I am pleased to hear that Iran allows Kurdish language books and Kurdish music.

I admit I do not know much of US/Azerbaijani relations. We did give diplomatic recognition to many of the former Soviet republics when they declared independence in the early 1990s, not just Azerbaijan. But I thought we had sided with the Armenians during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. As for me personally, my ire rises when any country or group oppress minorities, and that would go for Azerbaijan also.

You say the Azerbaijanis suppress Islam. My understanding is that it is a Muslim majority country, mostly Shia. I do not possess your insight into that part of the world. But from what I have read they allow some religious proselytizing by Azeri citizens but not by foreigners. They have suppressed Salafis (that must be driving Erdogan crazy), Hare Krishna, and Seventh Day Adventists. So I suspect they are probably also suppressing attempts by Iran to espouse a political Islamic Republic. They are probably extremely nervous about being outnumbered three or four to one by Azeris in Iran.

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