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27 November 2017

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ISL

Dear Colonel,

True, which always made me wonder whether it was just extreme narcissism that underlie Obama's drinking the koolaid, as opposed to a weak personality. It so often seemed he just didnt give a damn.

Dubhaltach

In reply to Will.2718 27 November 2017 at 11:51 AM

> The Lebanese Sunna apparently don't want them to return home citing it's yet unsafe for them. Whereas the others say that is just a pretext because they want their dwindling numbers bolstered.

I very much doubt both statements. I did a lot of my growing up in Lebanon and Syrians were both despised and hated. That hasn't changed. As to boosting the numbers while it's true that you can acquire Lebanese citizenship by naturalisation the reality is that the process is fraught with bureacratic traps and essentially is only available if you're rich.

Lots and lots of luck trying to change that situation in the current political climate in Lebanon.

Fred

Harry,

How about the choice of all those voters who sent those electors to the electoral college?

Dubhaltach

In reply to turcopolier 27 November 2017 at 01:17 PM

Sir, Only Syrians resident in Syria are allowed the vote.

I'm open to correction on this but so far as I know this whole refugees voting talk came about because President Assad did make some remarks that he might be consider allowing Syrians who were refugees to vote in future plebisicites but there's been nothing either heard about or done about this since.

A politician blue-skying and making throw away remarks! Oh how shocking!

Richardstevenhack

I believe the Colonel's assessment is correct.

However, with regard to Israel's "softening position", Bibi just repeated his threat to strike in Syria if Iran builds any bases there.

To my understanding, Iran is already building or has built a missile factory somewhere close to the Russian air base in Syria, presumably to fall under the Russian AA umbrella. Although those missiles will putatively be for the Syrian military, my guess is a number will end up in Hizballah hands in Lebanon.

And given the Israeli agitation for US action against Hizballah, I think any "softening" of the Israeli position is just acceptance of the fact that the original plan to take out Syria first has fallen apart. They still want Hizballah - the main threat - taken out and want the US to help them do it.

Trump may have decided to go along with leaving Assad in power, but his anti-Iran stance means he's likely to go along with an Israeli attack on Hizballah. The Syria crisis was never anything but a way station to that end, and an Iran war, anyway.

Peter AU

I notices articles in AMN and Muraselon about the Kurds/SDF announcing something along these lines. Trump allowing Centcom to do their thing over the last six months or so just a play to create leverage to negotiate a good position for the Kurds, allowing the US to then pull out?

Joseph Moroco

Trump may not be the greatest POTUS, but he is, hands down the best this century.

turcopolier

richardstevenhack

A softening of position does not mean a change of heart. I didn't say it did. Israel is not going to attack Lebanon any time soon. they are deterred. pl

turcopolier

dubhaltach

According to this wiki refugees voted in the presidential election of 2014. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_presidential_election,_2014 pl

turcopolier

Annem

IMO. he does not tell them what his intentions are. pl

jsn

If one is to believe David Talbot's biography of Allen Dulles, "The Devil's Chessboard", there is a long history of treasonous insubordination at the top of the CIA.

It began with Allen and John Dulles pursuing the interests of Krupp and I G Farben in the lead up to the war and carrying those business interests with them into the war time OSS up to and including Allen Dulles attempt to execute a separate peace with the Nazis in direct contravention to orders from the President. It's a fantastic story in every sense and paints a very dark picture of the CIA.

I claim no real expertise here, just critical thinking, and the story as told in the book maps over historical reality as I've come to understand it pretty well. I don't believe for a moment the generals will try to remove Trump, but it won't surprise me at all to see the CIA try again to force his hand and/or undermine his efforts.

Bill Herschel

I have a single question that is a follow-on to my belief that your analysis is correct on all points, a belief based in no small part on the tenor of your remarks, namely that they are based on hard incontrovertible knowledge.

My question. The whole thing seems to come down to the fact that Russia was never challenged in the air. The Turks ambushed two Russian fighters, apparantly with the direct and crucial aid of the U.S who knew the Russian's flight plan. But that was that. After that, nada. The Russians flew thousands of sorties and successfully turned the tide of battle in favor of the SAA.

Now, there are a great many possible explanations for that kind of dominance, the great majority of which I have absolutely no knowledge of or even the ability to conjecture about. But it's damned interesting.

When was the last time the U.S. yielded complete air superiority to another nation in a war zone that it was very heavily implicated in? I would say, never. WWII? Korea? Vietnam? The Iraq's? There are no examples.

What is more, the U.S. wasn't the only air power in the region. The Israeli air force, by its own admission perhaps the best air force in the world, was right next door. What did they do? Nada.

And let's look at Afghanistan. In the Russian Afghan war, the Russians were being successful with helicopters. Next minute, stingers show up and no more helicopters. So it's not like the U.S. is afraid to participate in the shooting down of Russian aircraft.

What happened this time? The U.S. had an overwhelming advantage in numbers. Why did it not just wipe the Russian air force off the face of the map? I have no idea.

Frank

Trump's over-riding take on the Middle East is that it has cost the US six trillion dollars and counting. In his view, that has to stop. Little else matters.

Will.2718

Ya gotta read b/n the lines bro. at one time Aoun was fiercely anti Assad, ditto Jumblatt. things have changed for one and are starting to change for the other. As far as Gaga and his ilk, it depends on who wrote their last check?
"Aoun told the envoys there were areas of Syria not currently at war and areas where calm has returned, a media office spokesman said.
...
"The return of displaced to stable and low-tension areas must be carried out without attaching it to reaching a political solution," the president's Twitter account said, describing what Aoun said in the meeting.
............
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has said there can be no forced return to Syria. The U.N's refugee agency has said it does not yet conducive."
http://www.businessinsider.com/r-lebanon-president-calls-for-return-of-syrian-refugees-from-lebanon-2017-10nsider conditions in Syria conducive for safe refugee returns."
yet hundred of thousands have already returned to Aleppo.

For sure, the point that refugee vote can be manipulated by petrodollars easier out of country is obvious. But Assad won the last refugee vote in Lebanon anyway, though the antis skewed the results by their boycott.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/28/syrians-lebaanon-vote-assad-embassies-refugees-boycott


Walrus

If we are not careful, the Borg is going to create the meme that "Trump stabbed us in the back". "Our operations in Syria were going really well. However President Trump withdrew American support of our plucky allies just as victory was within our grasp".

I expect to read something in the MSM like this soon.

"Someone" needs to pre-empt this by writing an epitaph for our middle east policy now.

JohnB

Annem

Assad will win any election in Syria. But i would expect the new constitution will include term limits for the Presidency. Plus I don't think Assad has any dynastic ambition but he probably has the job for say ten years. In the short term only Assad is able to unite the majority of Syrians together, he is the glue that holds everything together.

Your right many Syrians did suffer under Assad family but the majority have always supported him. When I was in Syria in 2008. It was told to me that 25% of the population hated him about 30% worshiped the Assad family
and the rest saw him as the best option to provide them with security and best protector of the multi-confessional state

I would hazard a guess that Assad is even more popular now then he was back then. However. there will always be a significant minority of the population who want a Sunni dominated MB style state.

Keith Harbaugh

For comparison, here's what some people are telling WaPo is going to happen:

"U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed"
by Karen DeYong and Liz Sly, 2017-11-22
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-moves-toward-open-ended-presence-in-syria-after-islamic-state-is-routed/2017/11/22/1cd36c92-ce13-11e7-a1a3-0d1e45a6de3d_story.html

The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State
to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war,
a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment
that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.
...
U.S. officials say they plan to maintain a U.S. troop presence in northern Syria —
where the Americans have trained and assisted the SDF against the Islamic State —
and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas.
...
The Islamic State’s original expansion was enabled by the vacuum of authority left by the Syrian civil war, [an] official said.
“That vacuum was created by the lack of a legitimate political process,” and the militant group, or its successors, will fill it again if the “political aspect” is not resolved.

Asked last week how long U.S. troops would stay in Syria,
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said:
“We’re not just going to walk away right now”
before a political settlement is reached between Assad and the Syrian opposition.
“We’re going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution. . . .
Not just, you know, fight the military part of it
and then say good luck on the rest of it.”

Sure sounds like SecDef Mattis is not in favor of a pullout.
Note the perceived need for "we" to set conditions for a political settlement.
Sure sounds like you're right, Colonel, about the (unfortunate) views of some of the generals.

VietnamVet

Colonel

I pray that you are correct. I am far more pessimistic. In many ways, today is similar to the first wave of globalization during the Gilded Age that ended in World War I with Germany defeated but not conquered. The second wave is wrecking the Mid-lands in the West.
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/11/the-end-of-dreams-and-the-saving-of-appearances/

I agree with Walrus. If this withdrawal is framed as a surrender to Russia; cosmopolitans, military contractors and Israel-firsters will say that Donald Trump stabbed America in the back. If the economy continues its decline, inequality increases, and politics deadlocks; the USA will replay the rise of a Tyrant just like the Weimer Republic in Germany between the World Wars.

GeneO

Why would Assad incorporate the SDF into the SAA? Then he would have to arm them. Better to let them be, and consider them to be similar to those militias under the umbrella of the NDF.

Riad Darar is Arab, not Kurdish. He is from Deir ez-Zor, not sure what tribal affiliation. He claims to be independent and not part of any of the different political parties that are members of the SDC. He spent five years in a Damascus prison, was released in 2010 and has spent most of the past seven years in Germany. He has a blog but it is in Arabic.

Sylvia 1

Maybe it wasn’t possible to do without suffering unacceptable losses? Perhaps this vaulted “air superiority” isn’t there?

turcopolier

VV

You are a bit boring in your everlasting pessimism. pl

different clue

Bill Herschel,

Russia has the atom bombs and the multiple ways to deliver them to deter any rival government from trying to destroy Russian freedom of air action in a situation very important to Russia.

Maybe ten thousand big and little atom bombs is all the reason needed.

Babak Makkinejad

I am cosmopolitan.

Fred

Walrus,

Why worry about a meme when we've already had more than one assassination attempts on elected Republicans.

The Porkchop Express

You should never discount the complete idiocy of Hariri and the M14 coalition, either.

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