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09 March 2017

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Keith Harbaugh

Bravo!

Norbert M Salamon

Thank you for the clear exposition!

You, Sir, have stated that in your opinion Russia wishes to have better relations with the US primarily to escape the possible junior status vis-à-vis China.

However, IMHO, the US does not understand equal status among nations vis-à-vis herself, thus your analysis leads to Russia having to be subservient to US.

There is another ointment coloring the possible relation between the US and Russia and that is Mr. Putin's view [reflected by most Russians, it seems] the need for the old Christian Morality for the state, for in his view the extreme views of neo-liberalism versus the individual is destructive to the organization of humanity, be it within Russia or within the world.

Finally the most important issue facing realists, such as Mr. Putin, that any mistake due to the hyperventilation of neocons, Israel-Firsters, Hillary/Democratic party stalwarts might lead accidently to the end of Humanity - he must take all reasonable measures to foreclose this outcome, as long as the Mother Russia is safe and independent --- ERGO Mr. Putin MUST try to ease relationship[p with the other power beside herself which can destroy humanity. FOR WITH RESPECT TO ATOMIC WEAPONS THE US IS EQUÆĿ ŦO RUSSIA and the converse is similarly true.

Lars

There have been fighting over that patch of real estate for at least 10 000 years. Is there anything different with the current action? I know the actors have changed over the centuries, but have that made a difference?

Is a containment policy possible and just let them wear themselves out?

Ishmael Zechariah

Colonel,
The goals of the USA and Russia are orthogonal in the ME, and will keep on being so as long as the USA/Fortress West plays vassal to the izzies. The situation at this juncture requires either USA or Russia to blink. It will be interesting to watch this game of chicken and see the endgame. Perhaps a wargame on SST would be useful.
Ishmael Zechariah
P.s: I thought that the Golden Horde was Mongol. The Mongols detest the Chinese.

turcopolier

IZ

In the Russian mind, they are all the same. pls

turcopolier

lars

So, you do not accept Syria's status as sovereign status at as lord of this territory? pl

TV

"The Russians want better relations with the US."
Which is why they buzz USN ships?
Off-topic:
The latest massive loss of data by a so-called "intelligence" agency.
YOu seem like a smart guy and spent a lot of time in the intelligence world.
Are they really that stupid and incompetent?

turcopolier

TV

Buzzing ships is a minor matter of signaling. Are you that stupid as to not know that? Are there a lot of people in the IC as stupid as this? Yes. pl

TV

I guess that I am that stupid.
What is their possible gain from buzzing our ships?

Ghostship

"This, IMO is obstructed by the mindless insistence of the US on the overthrow of the Syrian government."
I reckon that Trump has dumped this in favour of liquidating ISIS, and I suspect that Al Qaeda will be next, so Syria will survive although it'll probably be left to the R+6 to clean the FSA and their Turkish supporter out.
A lot of what is happening in Washington is, I suspect, a smokescreen to prevent the neo-cons, liberal interventionists and Qatari/Saudi PR from disrupting Trump's plan.
Meanwhile, AMN announced the capture of the Al-Kibar military base, which was the supposed location of the alleged Syrian reactor the the Israels allegedly bombed. As far as I could make out it was nothing more than a warehouse.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/kurdish-forces-seize-military-base-isis-amid-massive-offensive-deir-ezzor/
And there's a nice map of SDF/YPG positions around of Raqqa here:
https://twitter.com/EmmanuelGMay/status/839932654082535424

YT

The late Harrison Evans Salisbury wrote about this [Russian] hatred for the asiatics.

different clue

Lars,

If the fight between the Coalition Of Lawful Authority and the Global Axis of Jihad is over opposing visions of governance and society, then it is not "over" the "real estate", and it matters which side wins and loses.

The DC FedRegime has supported the Global Axis of Jihad. Many readers here prefer to see a victory by the Coalition Of Lawful Authority. Some of Trump's voters voted Trump in part hoping that Trump would force the DC FedRegime to drop its alliance with the Global Axis of Jihad. It makes a real difference who wins this.

Peter AU

ISIS country vs Idlib... in my MSM media reading lately I see that apparently a limit was set on the number of US boots in Syria at 503.
More boots have now been shipped in. Apparently approaching the 900 to 1000 mark. This has been justified by saying the 503 limit is for permanent boots whereas the extras are temporary.
I do not know if this is correct or not. If this is correct, there are now permanent US boots on the ground in Syria. What is the definition of permanent?

If Russia Syria are also looking at it in this way, then they may be looking at the US in the east as a bigger threat than the headchoppers in Idlib. It would be much easier to remove the Idlib headchoppers at a later date than the US military.

My take on Russia's aims for what its worth. To defeat the US Russia must provide a better product. I call current Russia Putin's Russia as the executive seem to be very like minded. To sell his product he must deliver on his word. Syria is a showcase. When the job is completed and if they think it is a good job, they will also buy.
The stated vision of Putin,s Russia is for a multi polar world. A world that if any one country goes rogue, be it US or Russia or China or India and declares it wishes to gain full spectrum dominance over the others, all other countries will join forces to prevent this.
I have read a lot of history, mainly on war as that is what changes history, but Putin's Russia seems to be different than anything I have read. The nearest I see is early America.

ToivoS

pl says: Is Russia screwing the Syria government in their own interest?

No. Russia is most definitely pursuing its own national interests. As it turns out Russia's interest and those of Syria happen to be congruent at this point in time. Should their interests diverge in the future then it might happen that Russia will screw Syria. But it has not yet happened.

ToivoS

pl says: To that end the Russians have (IMO) dragged Syria to a climactic battle in the east at Raqqa .

I have to disagree with that. It is in Russia's national interests to preserve the Syrian state in those areas along the eastern Mediterranean. The current Assad government wants to preserve its boundaries in the east of the country and Russia is supporting him in that goal. I think Russia is supporting Assad in this region in order to maintain its influence. If they betray Assad they will lose all influence in what remains of Syria.

Willybilly

If any entity in this crazy world comes close to the utter destruction of Humanity, it will be the Izzies. Period.
Everything we see today happening since 2006.... has been feverishly planned by the Izzies, and the centerpiece of all this planning is cutting Iran territorially from Syria/Lebanon.... and the attempt again at destroying Hizbullah. Period. The US is utterly and completely subservient to the Izzies In this maelstrom. The US and the Izzies will loose big, No matter what they throw in this theater.... You can take that to the bank.
Most people still do not understand Putin's mind... your analysis of Russia is still lacking and narrow in its scope...

kooshy

Apparently according to CNN, General Flynn got $500k from Erdo’ Turkey to lobby for them (while he was on payroll of US government?), and he forgot to mention it, till couple of days ago, when he got time off of the NSC. One wonders if he knew Turkey is a Muslim country? if he did, he must than like the Muslim’ money, but not their religion, or maybe he thought if he gets the money they may change their religion on their own, without needing him to put them on notice. This is since, earlier it was reported, that he is infected, with the rapidly spreading islamophobia, and we all know that Turkey’s ruling party, is an islamist party, close to Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder if in DC there is a difference between the consultants and the lobbyists or if everybody wears two hats.

Peter AU

Russia screwin Syria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oErqCG-igfE
Syrian, Russians, Kurds and Chechens dance together

Pundita

Dodged that bullet:

Flynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey
BY MEGAN R. WILSON - 03/08/17 08:02 PM EST
The Hill

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/323087-flynn-discloses-lobbying-that-may-have-helped-turkey

Michael Flynn, who was fired from President Donald Trump’s national security team last month, has retroactively registered with the Justice Department for work he did that may have benefited the government of Turkey.

His now-defunct firm, the Flynn Intel Group, notified the government on Wednesday that it had done work for Inovo BV, a privately owned consulting firm in the Netherlands run by Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin, beginning in August 2016.

From August through mid-November, the Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 from Inovo, according to the forms filed with the Justice Department. Flynn shut down his firm in November.

[...]

Pence: Flynn's Turkey ties 'affirmation' of his ouster
BY JORDAN FABIAN - 03/09/17 05:44 PM EST
The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/323295-pence-flynns-turkey-ties-affirmation-of-his-ouster

Michael Flynn’s newly disclosed lobbying ties to Turkey bolster President Trump’s decision to oust him as national security adviser, Vice President Pence said Thursday.

“I think it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News.

[...]

Wunduk

In terms of Russian-led coalitions this reminds me of the signing of the agreement in Kumanovo and then the Russian Pristina dash in 1999. Not necessarily to the benefit of junior partner Serbia, but brought home to all the idea that Russia was 'back' on a global level.
Also, I suspect that there was an agreement by Russia with Turkey that rendered Idlib and in particular the Syrian Turkmen areas North of Dabiq towards the Turkish border and North of Idlib as a lower priority for the re-establishment of SAR authority. Maybe this was with a view of resettling there the up to 300,000 Syrian Turkmen who fled Latakia. As long as this agreement with Erdogan holds, I would not expect the SAA to push for Idlib or Dabiq.
The Russian and Syrian effort towards Raqqa is likely aiming to beat the US in being the only player in the Euphrates valley.
Looking at the agenda of the Russian DoD's annual international conference (http://eng.mil.ru/files/6_MCIS_booklet.pdf), I think they'd like to come out on a global stage with a significant trophy in the fight against ISIL by end-April.
Maybe this will include a presentation how to achieve reconciliation and reintegrate the 'dissatisfied Sunni Arabs'.
Also I think it is likely that the SAA and the Syrian intelligence agencies are probably as the only force with the knowledge, contacts and operational ability to control the Sunni Arab majority Euphrates valley, re-knit the web of social control. Hmaymen airbase reconciliation center would act as the guarantor. Ready to discuss the hypthesis that this could be done by a re-established US 'Sahwa' team, but I don't see that in existence. The US' Kurdish allies have fought heroically. I see it as unlikely that how SDF will be able to control Arab villages, given that the YPG ideological baggage is already difficult to swallow for Kurdish communities.

LondonBob

So the big Putin-Netanyahoo meet yesterday. From the press reports seems that the Netanyahoo BFF routine met with failure.

From various media reports it seems that Trump listens a lot to Mattis. Mattis might not be a friend to Russia and Iran, but he certainly isn't to Israel either and suggestions are he is the big driver of Trump's hard line on Israel. Clearly Trump calls the shots ultimately and he is pushing for cooperation with Russia whilst he is not interested in pushing on Israel.

I will go with the US military and the Trump administration aren't that bothered by borgist dreams towards Syria and the reality is that the US won't be in a position to determine the ultimate settlement anyway. The real question mark for me is if I have underestimated the number and influence of Iran obsessives out there, although that seems to have gone quiet now. I think Trump is more concerned about domestic issues than to allow Iran to become the dominant focus of his administration that some would love.

English Outsider


Lars - It's a bit late for a "containment" policy. It is also difficult to see how it can be implied that the Syrian War is some sort of local dispute with which we should not get involved. The Syrian War happened because we got involved.

The fight the Jihadis have been putting up requires weapons and men.

Some of the weapons the Jihadis use came through Turkey, a NATO ally. They seem mostly to be paid for by the Saudis and Qataris, also Western-friendly countries. They are sourced from Eastern Europe, allegedly from post-collapse Libya and, one hopes inadvertently or indirectly but the Syrians don't believe it, from the West. The Jihadis are ingenious in devising improvised weapons but there's no doubt the bulk of the weaponry comes from outside Syria. At the height of the conflict in the Ukraine it was said that around a train load of ammunition could be used in a single battle. I don't know how that would scale across but the ammunition used by the Jihadis has to come from somewhere also

I think the Syrians need "containment" from us as far as weaponry and ammunition goes.

The Jihadis themselves come from all over. Any true policy of "containment" would have kept most of them out, not in. They enter Syria in various ways, some again through Turkey. Those from China, for example, are smuggled through to Turkey, via routes the Chinese aren't too happy about incidentally, and then in to Syria. Some, allegedly, are sold on to the Jihadis at so much a head. Yes, there's a lot of "allegedly" and "seems" around, nothing you can put forward as rock solid proof, but there are a whole lot of Jihadis and weaponry around too and they didn't come from nowhere. Nor did most come from inside Syria.

Then there are the "moderate rebels". Here we can dispense with all the "allegedlys" and "seems" and go to solid fact. The West has been recruiting, training and arming insurgents with the explicit aim of overthrowing the Syrian Government. You will recollect that we came close to going further than that and considered destroying the Syrian armed forces, Libya style, in order to ensure victory for the insurgents.

This was no policy of "containment" or even of non-involvement. This was a policy of deliberately overthrowing a government we didn't like. An opportunistic policy at that, poorly conceived and executed, that could not have caused more distress and destruction to a very large number of people had it been designed to do so. Future historians will shake their heads in amazement that a small group of Western politicians could, in pursuit of this or that "Geo-strategic" fantasy, have caused so much damage to the Syrian people and to the peoples of the West itself.

They will also note that in an age when communication has never been easier those politicians contrived to so manage the various means of communication that they could ensure that very little of what was happening was known to the Western populations themselves.

Those historians, when assessing how much the Western peoples knew of the events in Syria, will probably conduct a debate much like that debate over the involvement of the German people in the Holocaust. "To what degree were the people as a whole complicit?" "How much did they know and how much did they understand?" In the course of that debate, who knows, they might read a copy of this thread here and might come across this comment:- "There have been fighting over that patch of real estate for at least 10 000 years. Is there anything different with the current action? I know the actors have changed over the centuries, but have that made a difference? Is a containment policy possible and just let them wear themselves out?"

If the historians do come across that comment then, in answer to the question "how much did the peoples of the West know of and understand what was happening in Syria?", they'll probably say - "Not much, it seems. It was strangely difficult to get at the facts."

Lars

I was not being specific about any part of the area. I just wondered what is different today compared to the very long historical record. There may not be much of one. But I am open to a different take.

This is not just about Syria, regardless of their current problems. This is the cradle of our civilization and the constant turmoil there does not bode well for the rest of the world.

LeaNder

IZ, I somewhat agree with Pat from my own field. I was pretty astonished when I stumbled across the "Yellow Peril" in Russia's 'mental history'. Maybe in the larger context of literary Dystopia at the turn of the 19/20th century. Made me look up its military history, that I recall.

https://tinyurl.com/Russia-the-Yellow-Peril

Peter Reichard

Syria faces a two front war with insufficient forces to simultaneously engage both decisively. Which one first? While the Idlib based rebels represent the more proximate, immediate and dangerous threat they are for the moment contained, their offensive operations in abeyance. Meanwhile events in the East are moving quickly, ISIS appears to be on the verge of a total systemic collapse which would usher in a power vacuum in the eastern half of the country that Turks, Kurds and Americans would be sure to fill. For this reason I believe the East first strategy is the correct one. The drive from Aleppo to the Euphrates blocks the Turks from moving further south and finally halts any supplies that might be leaking through the presumed Turkish cut off. (Who knows what double game the Turks might still be playing?) Raqqa itself is relatively unimportant, let others take the casualties. The goals are 1) Secure the waters of Lake Assad. 2) Secure the oil and gas fields. 3) Relieve Deir-i-Zor. 4) Secure the Iraq border to prevent ISIS movement in both directions. 5) Trap and kill as many retreating ISIS forces as possible. 6) Occupy as much territory as is possible. 7) For international consumption the SAA be seen as a major factor in the ISIS defeat. Then the final battle in Idlib can take place.

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