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10 May 2017

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Annem

At least in terms of protecting the Kurds from further Turkish assaults, Russia is helping the US protect the Rojava folks, by their presence in the Western Kurdish areas. The impetuous sultan goofed this time.

Is there any info on the strength of the forces the US is putting forward out of Jordan towards Deir ez Zor? Would they dare tackle the R+6 when they get close to that target or back off?

The Twisted Genius

Annem,

I've seen numbers like 2,000 or so rebel fighters. A small group of under 100, Magwahir Al-Thawra, was the former New Syrian Army which got its ass handed to it by IS shortly after it was armed by the US. That small group is now the funnel to arm the other groups in the area. The main opposition forces are the Ahmad Abdo Forces, Jaysh Osoud Al-Sharkiyah and Jaysh Ahrar Al-Ashaer. I don't think they'ed do very well against the SAA and Russian/Syrian air support. It's all a matter of getting there first.

The Twisted Genius

Thanks, Colonel Lang, for the heads up on the needed edits. I think I got them now.

Matthew

TTG: Thanks for the fascinating analysis.

Anonymous

With palm of hand face down level with ground (north/south)you slowly make a fist.and squeeqe till the juice comes running out the sides(east /west).called the grip of tyre fitters hand.movements east and west are a result of north to south pressure.

Jony Kanuck

Annem,
According to Al Masar of a couple days ago: The Syrians overflew a drone & saw 200 vehicles parked just over the border. Apparently that has Damascus excited. I looked at the photos but couldn't tell much...

kooshy

TTG a very well done comprehensive, reasoned analysis, thank you

The Twisted Genius

Jony Kanuck,

Those vehicles belong to US, French and Jordanian forces in the ares for a joint exercise. Having those forces there obviously is a cause for concern. An exercise would be a convenient cover for an invasion, but it does not mean that an invasion is imminent.

BraveNewWorld

I also suspect this will open the door for Egypt and possibly others to send more man power to keep an eye on the safe zones so that Syrians can be redeployed to do the heavy fighting.

Babak Makkinejad

Egypt? They cannot even maintain law and order in Sinai.

Babak Makkinejad

Are the Gulfies paying for any future invasion?

Is US being rented by the Gulfies?

Just like Egypt and Jordan are rented by US?

Castellio

On this we agree. They will, however, hold Cairo.

charly

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/06/syria-kurds-raqqa-mediterranen after Raqqa the Kurds will conquer Idlib because now we notice that it is occupied by Alqaeda.

FB Ali

TTG,

Thank you for these detailed postings on the situation in Syria.

I find them very illuminating.

plantman

This is brilliant analysis. Really brilliant.

You say: "In the last few days it has become clear that the de-escalation zone plan is the first stage of a major strategic shift in the conduct of the war in Syria..."

Yes, and the arab media has created a plausible excuse for the shift, that is, the possibility of an invasion from the Jordan-Syria border.

Does Putin really think there will be an invasion?

Probably not, but it justifies the shifting of troops to the east.

It looks to me like the R+6 is going to let the SDF capture Raqqa while the SAA tightens their grip on Deir Ezzor.
Deir Ezzor is the key. It makes it impossible for the SDF to establish a no-fly zone over all the territory east of the Euphrates.

I think that might be the gameplan. Turn the Euphrates into a modernday Berlin Wall and launch attacks on the Assad regime from a US-protected safe zone.


b

@TTG - no the tanks seen in those drone pictures (first published in Al-Akhbar) are old M-60s and alike. It is a depot/junk yard of the Jordan army and most of the equipment there has been standing at the same place since 2010. Its some 45km from the Syrian border. If serviceable (dubious) it is enough stuff to equip a full armored brigade.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/pictures-syrian-drones-spot-hundreds-us-jordanian-armored-vehicles-border/

The Twisted Genius

b,

Thanks for the clarification. I just assumed Jony Kanuck was referring to the buildup of forces for the EAGER LION annual training exercise going on in Jordan now.

Peter in Toronto

Hmm, the Russians appear to want to settle this thing on the cheap. It has a very strong chance of backfiring given the strangely fortuitous timing of offensive operations between the Idlib Jihadists and their ideological cousins just west of Aleppo in the past.

The narrow Khanasser route linking Aleppo to the rest of Syria is going to be pressed by IS, and it is staffed by flaky NDF militias. Fire force units of the SAA will have to be diverted once again, when the route gets cut.

The Jordanians are conspiring with the southern "rebels" and US advisers to concentrate a force of unknown size and intentions.

IMO, this will not be settled without a significant Russian ground force.

Peter AU

This seems the location. Matches the pics and location in the almasdarnews article b has linked to.
http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=32.032473&lon=36.188986&z=16&m=b

Account Deleted

Great analysis, but I have a question re "and Putin" in the final sentence.

Russia entered the Syrian war only at the last minute to safeguard it's vital security interests there. The DEZ plan seems to be a low risk strategy to further that aim (given proximity of the zones to it's bases) and to achieve the goals described. What I am not seeing is the logical leap to Russia calculating that it's vital security interests now justify further commitment with ground forces to territory far the the East. Assad & maybe Iran, sure, but I cannot see the reward that justifies the increased risk of it's enemies engineering another Afghanistan for Russia? Alternatively, if Syria *as a whole* has always been judged vital to Russian interests, why did it not intervene much earlier?

All insights most welcome, many thanks.

Account Deleted

Right on cue; Patrick Armstrong on the perils of underestimating Russia:

https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2017/05/10/underestimate-russia-and-be-surprised/

Peter Reichard

The SAA victory at Aleppo ought to have been followed up by an aggressive pursuit of demoralized rebels into Idlib but that victory and the imminent collapse of ISIS altered the thinking of the outside powers arrayed against Assad. Accepting his survival for now they seek to hand over the eastern half of Syria to Western proxies after the ISIS defeat. The cease fire in the west lets the SAA effectively deal with this new and more immediate strategic threat to the integrity of their country. Idlib has to wait for now but the cease fire will not last and Al Qaida's day of reckoning will come.

The Twisted Genius

Barbara Ann,

If anything, I should have added Khamenei's name to the list. The US-Saudi plan for a safe area is a plan to break the Shia crescent and to provide a base for further Wahabbi adventurism. This directly threatens Russia's southern flank. The US-Saudi plan threatens Iran even more directly. I'm sure Russia and Iran would prefer a tier of friendly or at least neutral countries in this region. A warm water port in a rump Syria would be a small consolation if Syria was partitioned in this way.

Russia's reticence to commit forces to this war remains intact even today. Both Colonel Lang and I have lamented the resultant shortage in forces to crush the jihadis once and for all. I don't think Russia has the same appetite for military adventurism that the Borg seems to relish.

NB Peterson

Here's a take on the situation...the unrest in the area is a continuation of the Sunni-Shia conflict ongoing since 634AD. IMO, we (Russia, US) need to step back from this tar-baby and let them fight it out. Shut down any and all oil sales from the ME...let's see them finance their sectarian war without oil revenues. Barring that, we ought to leave Syria to Russia (they've been their client for an eternity), and concentrate on Iraq. We broke it, we fix it...but be prepared for a lengthy occupation. (Imagine that we left Germany after a year or two after the end of WW2...imagine the outcome) Neither side complains about how the other is handling the action (poison gas etc)..the rest of the world will scream loud enough. Plenty of opportunity for cross-border cooperative ops. The US-Russian relationship does NOT have to be an adversarial one.

The Twisted Genius

NB Peterson,

I disagree. It's more a matter of Wahhabi jihadists against all. I think we should largely pull out of the region militarily including Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf. We should stop our foolish policy of trying to destroy Iran and seek amicable,or at least neutral, relationships with all. The one exception is that we should tell the Saudis to pound sand up their asses. Their support of jihadists is a festering sore on the face of the Earth.

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