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05 May 2017

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ancient archer

This development comes back to the point about concentration of forces that the good Colonel published a few days back.

The rabid jihadis will be all penned in nicely with a firm line of fire drawn around them. R+6 will take them out one by one after dealing with the urgent issue of reestablishing control over Eastern Syria, with the start being with Deir Ez Zor as pointed out by the Colonel. Things are going swimmingly from all accounts.

I am not sure that the American govt is not in on this strategy. While outwardly Trump is making noises against the Syrian govt, nothing much has happened after the 'huuuuge' missile strike.

A lot of fighting is still to be done but things are moving in the right direction. The only fly in the ointment is a potential 'chemical attack' organised by the neocon controlled govts in Europe, that of UK, France and Germany.

zk

And some "completely unrelated" piece of news...

https://www.rt.com/business/387260-russia-gazprom-turkish-stream/

LeaNder

Still bad with maps.

What is the specific story about the minor spot of blue?

English outsider


"James" - you link to a Daily Mail article that states Assad has been using chemical weapons and that the UK might attack him as a consequence.

But then there's the first page of comments. If they're genuine they show universal scepticism that it's Assad who's been using such weapons and no support for further UK action against Assad.

There's also this, taken from that first page of comments:-

"I believe, London, United Kingdom, 2 days ago

"The Tories have destroyed our Armed Forces manning now stands at a 200 year low. The pension has been robbed (No longer able to collect after 22 years service), historic barracks sold off to property developers, catering privatised (Now sub standard and more exspensive), housing for the Forces in dire conditions. Why risk another war. I have seen too many mates lose their lives or legs and arms. Perhaps you MP's should send your sons and daughters to fight rather than sending off all the working class lads. That way you would think long and hard about it."

That comment may or may not be genuine - the wording resembles that of the BNP publicity people a while back though that may be just coincidence - but it does point up the undeniable fact that UK forces have spent a long time deployed in such areas. I know little about it but I sometimes read those who know more and it does seem that our soldiers are under-equipped and over-stretched at present.

Unfortunately, or rather it's unfortunate in these specific circumstances, our and the French Air Force seem up to the mark provided, one assumes, that the US nursemaids them on supply again. But it would surely look bare-faced, us backing the Jihadis against Assad so openly.

Perhaps Mrs May just has a copy-cat PR missile attack in mind. It worked for Trump, they say.

My default protest vote used to be Green but after a brief flutter on UKIP I had intended to vote for Mrs May this time round, in the hope that if lots of us did it would stiffen her spine for Brexit. Can't now. Damn. I've often wondered what it would be like, voting Conservative. Probably no big deal. Like voting Labour but just a touch more oligarch thrown in, I'd imagine. Maybe, in return for my forced loyalty, the Greens will come up with a half-way decent set of policies one day.

Eric Newhill

Ancient Archer,
I like entertaining the thought of the jihadis being penned up with a solid line of fire all around them. Icing on the cake if Trump knows this and is in on it.

However, do you not think the jihadis can see what is being done to them? Do they not have a choice? Why do they go along with it?

LeaNder

Sounds like a non-committal rollover with a poke at Iran

Not sure, Stumpy. Judged from fast scan, they may only blame Iran only based on its involvement in matters post Arab Spring. Weren't the Iranians the first supporting Assad against the Arab Spring Syrian variance? ...

and Iran’s unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians.

The opposition must also live up to its commitments, with Turkey as the guarantor, to separate from designated terrorist groups, including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, which continue to hijack the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for a representative and accountable government.

left pretty undefined is of course "the regime" versus the "aspirations of the Syrian people".

J

Colonel,

Breedlove's successor General Scaparrotti addressed the Senate Appropriations saying that he needs more troops to goad even further the Russian Bear. He uses the canard of Russian 'agression' just like Breedlove did, when all is said is done ignoring the fact that the Russians have been taking 'defensive' not aggressive moves on the Europeans. It was the Ukraine Nazis (Stephen Badera Nazis) who by their persecution of Russian enclaves in the Ukraine provoked Russia into protecting its own. The Ukraine Nazis haven't been helping their own in the Ukraine, instead they've been acting in destructive behaviors.

How many American military personnel must die to satiate Scaparrotti's psyche? Scaparrotti's bio says that he has never had first hand combat experience, but academic and behind-the-lines positions.

I'm tired of seeing our kids die and be put in harms way all because of some perfume prince's ego.

J

Pat,

I really miss Hack and his levelheadedness. He had a way about him effectively slicing and dicing the perfume princes and their inflated egos.

Thomas

"If MKB is correct in his interpretations, then it looks like Trump has not yet been fully assimilated and is still trying to accomplish some of the foreign policy goals he campaigned on."

Which raises the inner courtier question, who is playing whom?

jld

I am not disagreeing with any of the Criminally Stupid postures you cite, I do STRONGLY disagree with the method of using videos which could be confused with real events and/or subverted for nefarious purposes.
OTOH it is very unfortunate that realistic but unambiguous nuclear war movies like Threads have been "scrubbed" from Youtube while a few years ago there were several copies of the full movie.
It is even more worrying to realize that this is not a random happenstance but more likely a deliberate censoring!

b

Nothing wrong with me. But you were calling for an Idleb campaign even though Turkey hadn't shut down the weapon and jihadi flow. I disagreed with that.

Now you write that Idleb probably can be held like this for a while and a run to Deir Ezzor may be a good idea.
I agree with that.

Hope you are feeling all right.
:-)

different clue

Eric Newhill,

Perhaps they trust that their supporters/backers in the GAJ ( Global Axis of Jihad) are handling it and will rescue them and send them back to all their own countries to await further opportunities.

turcopolier

b

It would have been much better to wipe out the Idlib pocket and cloese the border to Turkish re-supoply and sanctuary. Under this "agreement" the AQ insurgents in Idlib will become stronger and atronger and the inevitable effort against them will ne much harder. pl :)

Valissa

Excellent question Thomas!

The answer to which remains to be seen. Though I'm not sure how objectively that question can ever be answered... as even when the eventual books are written by some of these inner courtiers, those will be biased by the writer's own opinion of their experiences and observations, which in turn will be effected by their tribal affiliation(s).

Jackrabbit

pl: "The Astana process proposal for "de-escalation zones" in Syria has something for everyone"

You can add restoration of US-Russian de-confliction:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/06/top-us-general-affirms-pledge-to-de-conflicting-operations-in-syria-with-russian-counterpart.html

Jackrabbit

It's questionable whether "De-escalation Zones" (DZs) are really workable. The opposition didn't sign the "agreement" and Russia-Syria-Iran reserved the right to attack ISIS & al Queda.

b calls it a "ploy" but lauds Turkish involvement (see above). Yet failure of the DZs ploy will play into the hands of 'Assad must go!'/head-choppers. For example, USA could use DZs failure to push harder for their own plan for Safe Zones or another round of bombing. What can we really read into Turkish support for a dead-on-arrival plan that may ultimately advance the 'Assad must go!' camp?

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-deescalation-zones-20170504-story.html

IMO, the 'De-confliction Zones' are an attempt to make lemons out of lemonade. R+6 has to reduce operations in some areas if they are going to focus on Deir al-Zor. A clever ploy? Yes, but with potential to backfire.

Account Deleted

LeaNder - re "minor spot of blue" if you mean the smallest of the zones marked, this is the East Ghouta suburb of East Damascus. The even smaller Qabun pocket next to it appears to be excluded - given the action there today.

mauisurfer

Not everyone is in accord on the meaning of this agreement.

quote
"We're further forward than we have been for a long time," said Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former chemical weapons expert for the British army and founder of Doctors Under Fire.

"The key thing is grounding Assad's air force, that is fundamental, as it's the air force that is attacking hospitals and schools," he added.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/will-putins-desire-prestige-ensure-astana-deal-succeeds-1742340288

ex-PFC Chuck

Jimmy Dore interviews Eva Bartlett, the Canadian journalist who actually has reported from Aleppo.
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/jimmy-dore-show-reporter-actually-in-s-y-r-i-a-exposes-media-lies-about-everything/

Mark Logan

Eric Newhill,

The press is reporting many of the rebels are leery of these save zones, which may translate in Russian as "roach motels". Somebody who knows Russian can straighten me out that.

Puts the neocons in a bit of a pickle, hard to turn down something you've been demanding for years.

FkDahl

I do not see how the Russian deescalation zone proposal will stop supply into the jihadist pus bilge in Idlib. Like you say, it will fester. The jihadists will probably attack out of there at a point of maximum complication for SAA.
I sort of wish our friends from Pskov would drop in on the border. It would form a nice kesselslacht!

b

I agree that it would have been better to take Idleb first.

But the resources for that were not and are not available. A campaign would bog down as long as AQ in Idelb is able to resupply without troubles.

AQs campaign against Hama used an unprecedented amount of TOWs. There is no way to make huge combined armor moves, with limited resources, against such a front.

Heros von Borcke

You have Turkish AQ puppets in Idlib, Israeli AQ puppets in the south and along the Jordanian border, and Saudi AQ puppets in the east.

If Assad tries to clean out Idlib then Erdogan will get uppity and likely bomb and rocket eventually forcing a retaliation. Russia has Tartus and Lakatia right there and is not likely to let the Idlib pocket to get out of control anyway.

Israel will get Trump to send in another 66 cruise missles if Syria really goes after the Israeli sponsored terrorists or shoots down another F16, so for the time being attacking south is very risky.

Of the 3 invading terrorist armies, the Saudi AQ puppets have the longest lines of communication and are supported by the weakest of Syria's enemies. The US is ostensibly attacking these same enemies. The biggest issue would be US airpower and their propensity to mistake Syrian army positions for AQ, but apparently Russia is going to clear these skies for Assad's invasion.

It seems to me that push to Del Ezzor and the Euphrates first while damping the flames in the de-escalation zones makes the most sense.

confusedponderer

AA,
re ... "nothing much has happened after the 'huuuuge' missile strike."

First, actually IMO a salvo of 59 missiles IMO isn't 'huge'. 'Huge' is a thousand and some missiles, a barrage like what Iraq once got.

The 'huge' Syria salvo wass iirc fired by ... one destroyer ... the USS Barry (DDG-52).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Barry_(DDG-52)

Secondly, then there is report that the 'huge attack' was actually not all that successful as claimed by the US, or as suggested by the general enthusiasm over the 'great hugeness'.

That's interesting and worth looking at closer.

"The cruise missile attack was chosen by U.S. commanders and approved by President Trump because it “carried least risk for Americans,” Martin said."

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-missile-strike-syria-shayrat-airbase-accuracy-pentagon-one-went-astray/

Ah yes.

More interesting is the russian take on the 'huge' US missile strike.

"A Russian defence ministry statement, read on state television, said the US attack had been “ineffective” and claimed Syrian authorities were looking for 36 Tomahawk missiles that fell outside the base and missed the target. The statement also confirmed Russia would stop cooperation and communication with US forces in Syria."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/07/us-airstrikes-on-syria-donald-trump-what-we-know-so-far

36 Tomahawks missed? Really? That's quite interesting, if the Russians are correct.

* Usually, the Tomahawk is said to be rather acurate and rather reliable.

* Is the Tomahawk getting old by now and becoming less reliable?

* Are the US getting dumb in properly targeting them? Have they gotten used to always hit when shooting at 'second class' countries like Syria?

* The Russians didn't sleep during the Iraq wars when the US liked to use the Tomahawk a lot.

* Perhaps the Russians have in the time come up with a solution to US cruise missile happiness? Assuming the report is correct on this, only 36 of 59 missiles hit the airbase? They are looking for the rest?

So 36 cruise misiles didn't hit? That's, what, 61% OF US MISSILES MISSED the airbase? ONLY 39% HIT?

* That would be an embarassing failure for a US preference 'invincible' weapon. So, why only so few hits? What happened to the 23 other missiles?

* Where did they fly to? Have they been shot down or did they just crash? Were there other targets than the airbase that the US or the Syrians preferred not to mention? Did they hit there or did they crash or miss?

* Perhaps the apparently small number of hits of an 'invincible' cruise missile of that 'huge' strike at the airbase was the effect of effective Russian air anti-cruise missile defences?

* If it was the effect of a counter cruise missile defence it likely originally came from Russia and not from Syria. If so, it was in any way an effective air defence.

* After all, the Tomahawk went to service 1983. The US were so happy about it that they even want to fire them from trucks, not just ships.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BGM-109G_Ground_Launched_Cruise_Missile

* With the Tomahawk the Russians had mere 34 years time to think about it as a threat. These 34 years are a time to come up with solutions.

* The Russians are good at air defence. Their S-300, S-400, S-500 are iirc excellent, probably better than Patriot. The old russian SA-8 TELAR was so good that the greeks (cheaply) took them over from the communist german german army arsenal after the DDR was united with the west.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9K33_Osa
https://wn.com/greek_airdefense_sa_8_gecko_system

* The rusians have considerable electronic experience, they have developed effective intelligence and countermeasue capabilities.

* That's to say that if you are getting too happy on a single weapon, there eventually will be a reaction to that 'user happiness' that ... 'carries least risk for Americans'.

* The Russians had a lot of interest to think about and to work on such things - if only to survive accidental, foolish or merely habitual, casual and unthought cruise missile attacks.

* If there by now is a Russian counter Tomahawk tactic or weapon, the US made them develop it by using it happily a long time.

* Assuming the reported low percentage of hits was the result of an effective countermeasure: For the US any effective defence against that 'huge', 'invincible' cruise missile strike would have been quite embarassing.

* It would have been even more embarassing if they had used manned aircraft. That with 61% or larger 'misses'? Oh dear.

* Well, even silver or golden bullets are no longer new if they are used with happiness in large numbers for a long time, 'because it carries least risk for Americans', with the usual US enthusiastic rhetoric about it.

* Probably goldening the Tomahawk missile will not help to solve the issue, maybe someone ought to tell that Trump.

And what about not using them? That is beyond the fact that the US attack against Syria likely violated international law and US law. Not using them, because you have them, or just thinking before just using them 'because it carries least risk for Americans', all that's likely worth the effort.

Pundita

From studying a score of news reports I venture the de-escalation plan is actually a battle plan.

The plan I discern is for the armed 'rebel' groups in certain zones to take on the lion's share of fighting Al Qaeda groups in those zones. The obstacle to this has been the air raids, especially in Idlib, where the U.S. has been heavily bombing Al Qaeda. But the more they've bombed, the more that Al Qaeda has taken control of Idilb. That's because the bombing raids have forced the rebels into retreat, and have often inadvertently hit them instead of AQ.

So, suspend all the air raids -- except ones that rebel leaders can call in on AQ positions.

(Of course if this really is the agreement, it hasn't been spelled out on paper as yet or at least not announced in public.)

In short the 'deconfliction' could actually be aimed at the rebel groups. There have always been enough local fighters in Syria to rout the foreign-based groups. It's just that the local groups have been fragmented, disorganized, and always spinning their wheels in fighting each other on one day and government forces on the next.

Meanwhile, AQ is walking off with the store. All the rebels surely know this by now.

If I'm in the ballpark about the plan, then the rebels can expect to see weapons and ammo squirreled among the food and medical supplies being trucked to them in the 'deconfliction' zones.

If all that sounds something like the Anbar Awakening battle plan, it does to my ears. The question is whether the U.S. would go along with such a plan. I think the answer depends on how much the White House wants to take at least some of the credit for bringing peace to Syria. The battle plan as I see it would be the best shot they've got.

As to the plan's acceptance by the locals: of course the rebel groups that are fronts for Qaeda are refusing to go along with the de-escalation agreement. But several groups have already signed the agreement. One leader said that this time he believes the Syrian government is on the level. I think the six-month timeframe the government has given for the plan clues the rebels that SAA is going to make serious efforts to support them if they focus on fighting AQ.

And there would be nothing like truckloads of ammo to help seal the deals.

As to whether the Syrian government would really be behind giving the rebel groups that much power -- does it have a choice? Patrick Cockburn is reporting on the criminalization of society in Syria (and Iraq) that has taken hold during the years of war.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-mosul-iraq-raqqa-syria-fall-of-strongholds-battle-latest-end-of-beginning-a7716111.html

Things can't go on like this before "Syria" disappears. What can unite the people now is the Syrian government getting solidly behind everybody banding together to throw out the dastardly foreigners.

Then -- well, Centcom can show the Syrian government how to take a page from the Pashtuns' Loya Jirga. Once the foreigners have been routed, set up a convocation in which all the rebel leaders and pro-government ones can spend weeks hashing out a government everyone can live with before they head to the voting booths.

And the convocation could also serve as a victory celebration for the Syrian people. It could become an annual national holiday during which bards tell the (somewhat edited) story of how the Syrian people together drove a terrible darkness from their land.

Where was I? Anyhow, that's my reading of the de-escalation agreement.

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