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28 December 2017

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Heros

http://www.newsweek.com/russia-says-us-military-training-isis-return-syria-760664

"General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military's general staff and deputy defense minister, said Wednesday that the U.S. was gathering defeated ISIS fighters in order to regroup the militants under a new banner and challenge the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad"

Just as with the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, if Trump is acting on his own accord, it won't have anything to do with "America First". It looks to me like once again the US is being set up as a dupe for another war for Israel. Syria seems to be a diversion for now, the real cross hairs having always been on Iran.

nard

...maybe got a dose of reality after the Russians just painted our F-22's with SA-300 batteries in eastern Syria? (almasdar report)

turcopolier

Sid Finster

They don't get to decide and that is why you don't tell them what you intend to do. pl

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;

I wonder what the ziocons want with such an abbreviated enclave. It will be very hard to supply. Unless this kurdish enclave gets a path to the Med, and has the means to buy the Arabs and Turkomans in the area -both rather unlikely scenarios- they might be unable to sustain themselves. The economic position of Iraqi kurds is one data point.
Ishmael Zechariah

The Twisted Genius

pl,

I don't see this announcement as a change in US policy, just a logical step in the changing nature of the war in Syria. That changing nature is dictated by R+6 actions rather than anything the US has done. The US and Russia have been working under a deconfliction regime for quite a while now with the goal of preventing any US-Russia incidents.

The difference in the US approach is our recent announcement of dropping support for the FSA. Unfortunately, I fear we are just replacing one unicorn herd for another. We seem to be still organizing, equipping and directing the New Syrian Army around Shaddadi and Tanf as an armed opposition to Assad. That was one of the main points of Gerasimov's latest interview.

In another report by A. Dunon, a long time reporter of Kurdish news, I see that a "YPG commander Sipan Hamo is in Moscow on an official visit to participate in a ceremony where he will be given medal by Russia for being commander during YPG’s fight against ISIS. Hamo is expected to take part in a series of meetings while in Moscow." This appears to be another step by Russia to woo the Kurds over to an accommodation with Assad.

Bottom line is that I doubt the US or Trump's position has fundamentally changed. We still insist that Assad must go as an appeasement to Israel. With the current Israeli effort to appeal to Trump's ego by naming stuff in his honor, I don't see Trump changing this long standing US policy.

Hood Canal Gardner

Pat..is it a "wait and see" or a pretty much "given" that DT is in way over his head in cleaning-out the cold war librarians and their benefactors. Ie where would they go to play monopoly "if."

Fredw

"They probably would try to foist some fancy-pants theory off on him.."

Syria is one area in which I have a lot of sympathy for this attitude. If Trump were to argue that the US military and intelligence professionals have repeatedly pursued utterly incompetent programs, then I would be forced to agree. Since it was established (at the start) that there was no consensus on an outcome acceptable to us, US actions have been increasingly unhinged from the actual balance of forces. Why did we put resources into schemes so obviously doomed to failure?

Sylvia 1

Colonel--I noted you stated above "and they have Putin". I don't know if you would be willing to share, or to take the time to respond--but I what is your assessment of Vladimir Putin?
I understand if you chose not to respond. I ask because we read and hear lots of what can be called meme's, factoids, and "permanent lies" designed to demonize Putin and Russia. Most of this seems contrary to what I have gleaned from reading his interviews, speeches, and and from extensive reading focusing on the period after the fall of the USSR. I have just become involved in an organization that sponsors people to people contacts between the US and Russia in hopes of improving US/Russian relations. Talking with people who have traveled extensively in Russia and who have had contact with thousands of Russians--I don't see much support for all this demonization.
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
BTW--here's a brief history of the organization I referred to above. https://ccisf.org/brief-history/

ann

Lavov insists the U.S. must leave: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-28/russian-foreign-minister-us-military-must-leave-all-syria

robt willmann

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had an interview published by the Interfax group today (28 December) in which he basically repeats Russia's position on Syria. He does mention having more talks about Syria in Sochi, Russia, and that the U.S. should leave when "the remnants of terrorist activities are fully eliminated there - which really shouldn't be long in coming." --

http://interfax.com/interview.asp?id=801512

"Q.: The United States has said it is not thus far planning to leave Syria. Is Russia prepared to get along with the Americans in Syria and successfully interact with them to completely destroy the terrorists and maintain peace and security in this country in the post-conflict period?

"A.: We've reaffirmed repeatedly and at different levels that if the goal the Americans are pursuing in Syria is fighting terrorism, as they have declared themselves, then we objectively have opportunities for cooperation with them in this field.

"Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump made a joint statement at the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11, which indicates the two countries‘ common determination to continue working together on Syria. Furthermore, Russia, the U.S., and Jordan on November 8 signed a trilateral memorandum on principles of de-escalation in the south of Syria, which is intended to consolidate the success of the ceasefire initiative in this region. The de-escalation area that has in fact functioned there since summer has fully proven its efficiency.

"We presume that the Americans must leave Syrian soil as soon as the remnants of terrorist activities are fully eliminated there - which really shouldn't be long in coming. I'd remind you that the UN Security Council has not authorized the activity of the U.S. or the coalition it leads in Syria, and the legitimate Syrian government also did not invite them.

"In this context, Pentagon chief James Mattis's statement on the intention of U.S. military units to remain in Syria until progress is made in the political settlement process looks surprising - as if Washington has claimed the right to determine the degree of such progress and wants to hold part of Syrian territory until it has achieved the result it needs. That‘s not the way it works. In keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, the adoption of which the U.S. championed, only the Syrian people can make a decision on Syria‘s future arrangement. We will keep adhering to this understanding in our contacts with the Americans."

SmoothieX12

Any aircraft, F-22, F-35, what have you, has been painted and not for once by most AD systems Russia deployed to Syria, once they were in range, this is not to mention during air contact with RUAF which are regular. This is not the news, what is the news and huge ones at that is a double failure of Saudi Patriot to intercept even in 5-missile salvo Yemeni (Iranian) obsolete Scud knock-offs. That is by far more important and telling than well-known fact that SU-35C Irbis radar can see F-22 (let alone F-35) just fine, not to talk about something of S-300, let alone S-400 caliber.

turcopolier

TTG

That would be a reasonable assumption by a reasonable man, but I happen to know that the policy directive to stay away from R+6 held territory was a surprise to CENTCOM. pl

turcopolier

ann

I am told that timing is flexible depending on levels of cooperation. pl

ann

This reminds me of the young lady who wrote a letter to Gorbachev, I believe it was in 1988, and then went to Russia to meet the man. Was she with your organization? She died in a plane crash in the late 1980's. Do you remember or was she with your organization?

turcopolier

Sylvia 1

IMO he is a hard hearted empath in the way that skilled HUMINT people either are or become. He was an officer of the 2nd Main Directorate of the KGB. IOW he was a CI type but at the more sophisticated levels of the CI world, as opposed to the espionage world (1st Main Directorate) much the same skills are sought and developed. After watching him for some time I think he is a very sophisticated thinker who finds many American leaders to be childishly unsophisticated people who see the world in black and white terms. IMO he is a Russian patriot who would like to have better relations with the US but if that is not possible he will nail us to the wall if he thinks it necessary. To put someone like GW Bush in contact with him and expect that Putin will not take advantage of him if the opportunity presents is just silly. pl

turcopolier

ann

No. pl

Alaric

The Russians have no intention of fragmenting Syria, of creating an SDF/YPG autonomous zone. That would give the US and Israel a vehicle/platform to repeat the war that just occurred. They certainly will not allow the Kurds to control 20% of Syrian land and numerous vital oil resources nor will Iran.

The particular path they will employ to restablish gov control is going to consist of stopping US flights in Syria, cutting off US supply routes to Syria, and negotiations but the heavy lifting will be done via proxies (Turkey, Iran affiliated Shi’a militia in Iraq and Iran, Assad affiliated Arab tribes and Kurds, etc). The SDF/YPG cannot defeat the R + 6 and that will become especially evident once they are cut off from the US aid and air support.

Putin celebrated the defeat of ISIS a month ago to tell the US it needs to leave. Lavrov was more direct today in an interview with Interfax. The Russians are not idiots and they have the stronger position in Syria. The US will be forced out and the SDF/YPG will have no choice but to accept Assad though maybe with some semi autonomous rights.

turcopolier

alaric

"going to consist of stopping US flights in Syria, cutting off US supply routes to Syria, and negotiations but the heavy lifting will be done via proxies (Turkey, Iran affiliated Shi’a militia in Iraq and Iran, Assad affiliated Arab tribes and Kurds, etc)." Tell me king of the Visigoths, how the Russians are going to cut off US supplies to our forces in Syria. pl

The Twisted Genius

pl,

What was CENTCOM thinking? Did they really think they were going to start operating on R+6 held territory? Since they have not done so up to this point, except for that suspicious air attack on SAA positions in Deir Ezzor a while back, I don't see where they would start taking on the R+6. I would see closing the training base at Tanf and turning over that territory and the nearby refugee camp as evidence of a real policy change.

turcopolier

TTG

As we know a lot of these ops guys are not deep thinkers. They are essentially SJ (MB classification)types and they assumed that they would wage war against the "regime forces." pl

Richard Armstrong

Wow. What good news.

The Angry Staff Officer wrote https://angrystaffofficer.com/2017/12/15/what-is-worth-fighting-for/

It's a good question to ask. Service members take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. I cannot recall any existential threat to the U.S. Constitution since WWII.

Left alone, the Sunni and Shia will work things out one way or another. ISIS poses no existential threat to the U.S. Constitution.

Should they actually form a Caliphate that picks a fight with the U.S. then based upon our history I don't think we'll hesitate to use nuclear weapons should they attack us militarily.

Christian Chuba

A timely link on Drudge
Scoop: U.S. and Israel reach joint plan to counter Iran
https://www.axios.com/scoop-u-s-and-israel-reach-joint-plan-to-counter-iran-2520518565.html
The only reason I think it is worth posting is because of its claimed source ... "A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region"

I don't know the lingo for anonymous sources, what type of person is a 'senior U.S. official', Congressman, aid, cabinet member, ...?

Some of the more interesting claims ...

"The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program. "

I hope this doesn't mean espionage since there is no indication that Iran has a weapons program, espionage is an act of war even if it against a country you don't like.
" Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian "precision project" aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war. "

Is this a greenlight for arbitrary bombing in Lebanon and Syria? Again, this is an act of war, there are only so many times you can do this without provoking a retaliatory strike.

"Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza."
I can understand Gaza but how is Lebanon our business? What, if Hiz wins an election or is accused of doing something nefarious there what are we and Israel going to do, assassinate someone. I probably shouldn't make too much of this one since it is rather vague, just don't like the tone.

If Axios is notorious for producing junk stories, I apologize ahead of time. Just posting because of the claimed source and it sounds plausible.

The Twisted Genius

pl,

Yes, I know the type. CENTCOM has been full of them for as long as I remember. They just can't stand being confined to their HQ in Tampa.

The Twisted Genius

pl and Sylva 1,

I couldn't agree more with that description of Putin. He wants to have a cooperative relationship with us. Barring that, he'll settle for a US lacking the capability to pursue an aggressive and expansionist policy towards Russia. From a Russian point of view and even a worldwide point of view, that's a reasonable and prudent policy to pursue.

Babak Makkinejad

Samantha wrote to Andropev.

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