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31 August 2017


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Speaking of multi-confessional, Col, there's a post up at lawfare blog complaining once Assad wins the civil war will restart because he hasn't accommodated the grievances which led to mass violence.


How exactly do you accommodate a confession which wants to kill the other confessions?

It seems to me when the Arab and Turkic elites were thinking about how to function as independent entities in the modern world, they understood certain proclivities within the population would have to be suppressed. That's why the Turkish military played a constitutional role in Turkish politics. Likewise, the Syrian military has had to suppress the anti-secular ideas of the more traditionalist Sunnis in Hama and Idlib, who can be easily incited by organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood.


Bend over, here it comes again!


I saw last night on PBS "Dick Cavett"s Vietnam." Again, as always, our motives were damned rather than our strategy criticized. But note that it's the other way around when our Syria policy is criticized.


Update: According to the Syrian Civil War Map, which is generally the most accurate, the SAA are now just 37 kms from Deir Ez Zor.

The Porkchop Express

As far as the Middle East goes, the extremists are usually eliminated or politically neutered. The rest you accommodate with repression, money, and political patronage or a combination of all three--more or less.

The social contract in the middle east, (at least politically and I am of course generalizing) is a strictly top-down affair: stay out of meddling in state affairs and keep the takfiri/jihadist/salafi political agitating to a minimum--or better yet, take it elsewhere. In cases like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Egypt they use(d) state sanctioned violence and repression through more traditional means like the "all powerful" mukhabarat (secret police). The Gulf states generally maintain lavish welfare regimes to keep the populations from getting "uppity", lavish media outlets with financial largesse, or roll some imam or mufti off the bench to issue a fatwa (usually with implied state approval and funds) calling for either blind obedience to X,Y,Z potentate or for jihad but always OUTSIDE of the state in question. If neither of those work, they turn to more traditional means.

I can't see Assad being dumb enough to not address some of the grievances, if even superficially. I'd wager the majority of the population will tolerate, more or less, a return to the status quo. As long as they can make a living and lead a relatively normal life, I'm sure the majority of Syrians prefer relatively secular Baathist repression to rigid, cumbersome, strict and ideological takfiri repression. An open, pluralistic, tolerant, and transparent democracy Syria will never be, though--barring some completely unforeseen and massively unlikely circumstance that changes the nature of either the culture of the region or Islam on a grand scale. The Syrians are aggressively and I think sincerely talking keeping out most Western governments/firms that sided with the rebels from what will eventually be a reconstruction bonaza and to prevent them from establishing beachheads inside Syria.

The piece read more like a desire than reality. I know Heydemann both personally and as a former professor at my alma mater. He had a reputation as something of a sophist for parroting Izzie talking points to students, especially prior to and during the height of the Iraq war. He's a neocon, through and through.


Don't know that I'd place much weight on the Lawfare blog article. Author is a member of the Rafik Hariri Centre Advisory Board, so may have an axe or two to grind on Syrian issues.

Saudi-connected entities are unlikely to get favoured treatment when the reconstruction contracts are being handed out. While there's an element of common sense in what the author says (minimising corruption etc), there's likely some unrealism and sour grapes too. I'd like to hear the author's assessment of the construction going on in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

iowa steve

With the experience of the past 15 or so years of US policy I expect nothing else--one round of insanity after another. Just when I think that someday the madness will stop, it keeps rolling on.


iowa steve

The madness in this is to have ever supported the FSA at all. We do not control them. We just enable them. The possible gas attack to come will have been their own genius at work. pl


But what are the grievances of the people? The post stated: "political exclusion as the most significant factor contributing to the recurrence of mass violence."

Political exclusion? Imho most people aren't interested in politics (or religion or the purpose of life). The want to provide for their families and as long as they are not exploited or discriminated too much, they don't care.

Political participation is a luxury for most people in poor(er) countries. Its something the middle class cares about, but they usually don't have the mass on their own. They need participation of the lower classes for this.

I always thought that the main catalyst of the social unrest in Syria was because of water which hit the agricultural sector very hard. Because of this a rural to urban migration which causes pressure on the social structure of the society.

The water shortage in Syria has 2 causes:
1. Global warming. "the most intense drought ever recorded in Syria, which lasted from 2006 to 2011"

2. The dams in Turkey:
"Since 1975, Turkey’s extensive dam and hydropower construction has reportedly reduced water flows into Iraq and Syria by approximately 80 per cent and 40 per cent respectively."
When Turkey closes the tap, Iraq and Syria suffer drought. I think Erdogan (or his successors) will use this as a tool.

Similar water issues also explain why Afghan farmers keep growing poppies as a cash crop. A poppy only needs 1/6 amount of water that grains need. Accidently I'm reading a book now on drought and just finished the chapter on Afghanistan. It stated that the unrest in Afghanistan also started because of drought which caused famine. 1969 to 1972 and in 1973 this caused the Daud coup.

For the interested: Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence / Christian Parenti (2011)

iowa steve

Yes, I understand that we don't control them, I just noting the self-evident fact that any false flag gas attack will be heralded by the US blob foreign policy establishment as proof of Assad's evil. That is the madness I referred to. I wouldn't have any clue if Trump would take the bait once again. He appears somewhat battered domestically, so perhaps he will be pushed to appear "presidential" one more time and order up another missile strike to get the media establishment off his back--for a week or so.


"I just noting the self-evident fact that any false flag gas attack will be heralded by the US blob foreign policy establishment as proof of Assad's evil."

Which is why the Russian Foreign Ministry made this public statement beforehand. It looks like the Russian's are improving their game in playing the Western style info wars.

I do agree with you, the inner Borgian Blob will keep doubling down until they finally lose with no hope to resume their ways. One day it will happen.

Jony Kanuck

Some more details on 'how it got started': My main source is Ehsani2, who describes himself as a Syrian/American banker. I've found him really good on recent Syrian history. As well as twitter, he has articles on Joshua Landis' website. Ehsani2 tweeted that postwar Syria was a full welfare state with admirable family support. The state apparatus grew large & employed many. The population exploded (same as the Saudis). Around the same time as the drought got started the oil started running out. Assad reached for the neoliberal toolbag slashing govt. ranks & opening up the border, which allowed big Turkish manufacturers to eat their smaller Syrian competitors.
So there was a 'perfect storm' of unemployment, a broke government & population largely consisting of young men.


So, which “oldie” is going to explain BOHICA?



You missed it. Several explained it. "Bend Over Here It Comes Again." pl


the insanities are also of hysterical character. This is the latest senescent fit of rage on a "home front:"
"American intelligence agencies set out on September 2 to conduct a search at the Consulate General in San Francisco , including in the apartments of employees residing in his building and having immunity, for which they ordered that they and their families, including minors and even infants, vacate within 12 hours.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reported that US security services including the FBI intend to search and possibly strip the facilities at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco as well as the residences of Russian diplomats living in the US. The statement accuses the United States of a gross violation of the Vienna Convention which defines the property of foreign embassies and missions abroad as the sovereign territory of the nation whose embassy is on the property."
Am I the only one sensing a strong "rabbinical" flavor of this story? -- Before the Labor Day? In complete disregard to the national holiday?

Babak Makkinejad

15 years of neo-liberal policies resulted in poverty for 70% of Venezuelans, followed by Chavez.

Peter AU

A video here that b put up in a post a few days ago.
It appears to have been produced on 2/8/2013, two days before the Ghouta "gas attack"

Who is team purple and who is the adult female in team purple? She is the only adult female in the room, and in the Ghouta videos as with white helmet video, no adult females are present in the so called casualty rooms or seen being heroically rescued.

Here she is again

And I think again here. At the start of the video is a brief glimpse of a person in a full length long sleeved garment in the Syrian summer. if this is her, than it will be the only video I have seen of an adult female walking through one of the so called hospitals or what I now think are merely studios for film the last moments of their victims.

The video of the purple team I believe was taken in a room in what has been called the KB complex. The short video that shows a glimpse of a group walking through a "hospital" was taken in the basement of the KB complex.

In the Ghouta videos I have looked at adult women only appear in videos of survivors recovering where a few women are lying fully dressed on beds.
In any image search of the Ghouta incident, there are many of her "looking for loved ones" amongst the victims.

Who is this woman?

Peter AU

I should have added this link to my last comment. Some of the internal layout and also the location of the Kafr Batna hospital has been put together from the many videos put out by the jhadi's.


Thanks for the laugh.


"Assad reached for the neoliberal toolbag slashing govt. ranks & opening up the border, which allowed big Turkish manufacturers to eat their smaller Syrian competitors."

That's in accord with what another ME writer, Vijay Prashad, has written. It does make me marvel at Erdogan's apparent indifference to the opportunities this opened up for his bourgeoisie.

The Twisted Genius

"What should we call the Tiger Forces now, a division, an army corps?"

That's still a damned good question. I've seen recent estimates that there are only 1,000 or so and one as high as 80,000. The later sounds absolutely bogus to me. All videos I've seen show reinforced company-sized units in action, a few tanks, a few BMP-1 or 2s, a few pickup mounted ZSU-23-2s, a platoon of light infantry working in conjunction with the armor and other vehicles and a heavy dose of assorted artillery and MLRS. This tactical unit seems to be the building block that makes up the Tiger Force. These units are balanced combined arms forces with a far heavier dose of artillery/MLRS than one would see in a US force of this size. Suheil and his subordinate leaders also seem to be able to integrate tactical air support and additional supporting fires into their maneuvers.

Another major attribute of the Tiger Force is its ability to integrate local militias into its operations. I see this as a uniquely Syrian way of implementing the force multiplier function of our Special Forces. There's obviously more than one way to do this. Russian advisors are integrated into the company sized tactical units, but I doubt these advisors are absolutely critical to the effectiveness of the Tiger Force. They certainly help in integrating Russian air and fire strikes into Tiger Force operations.

Organizationally, the Tiger Forces consist of two major subordinate elements, Cheetah Force and Panther Force. The Cheetah Force if further divided into, at least, Team 3 and Team 6. I have no idea how these teams are sized or if this means there at six teams in the Cheetah Force. This could be like our early Special Forces. Aaron Bank designated the first Special Forces group as the 10th Group just to confuse and screw with the Soviets. The SAA could be doing the same. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually learn the Tiger Force is closer to the smaller 1,000 size estimate.



IMO the Tiger Forces don't act like stiffening cadres for other forces of lesser quality. For me they act more like fire brigades that can be dispatched to hot spots to piss on the highest flames. I would say that something more like 5 to 10 K is more like it. pl



To return to the subject of Tiger Force strength I would reduce my estimate to a maximum strength of around 5,000. pl

The Twisted Genius


That figure of around 5,000 sounds reasonable to me. My perception of how the Tiger Force uses militias is similar to how Hezbollah used the village militias in southern Lebanon. They were assigned largely defensive missions within their capabilities while the Hezbollah pros handled offensive actions. This method enhanced the effectiveness of Hezbollah units rather than enhancing the lesser units. Like I said, it's a different approach, but it seems to be effective.



There is an article on SF that gives the 1,000 man figure. If that is true, my hat is off to these men for their accomplishments. pl

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