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11 December 2017

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aleksandar

So the US will have some FOB in Syria, like those in Afghanistan ?
Good luck guys !

turcopolier

aleksander I completely agree with you. A FOBbed up pattern of small unit forts is an invitation to defeat in detail. pl

robt willmann

The Wall Street Journal article quoted above in the main post states--

"The military says it has the legal authority to remain there. 'Operating under recognized international authorities, the U.S. military will continue to support local partner forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory,' Col. Manning said.”

Notice that the Pentagon spokesman claims that the U.S. presence in the "sovereign" country of Syria is justified by "recognized international authorities".

A person should be curious about what those claimed "authorities" are.

Tyler

Hoo boy. We need less of this.

steve

Where are McMaster and Mattis on this? I can see Trump and family deciding that this is a good idea, but do those two really think this is smart? I think it would be a dereliction of duty on their part not to make it clear what the problems are with this plan. (Granted, this could just be for public consumption and they really do plan on getting out.)

Steve

The Twisted Genius

robt willmann,

That claim about "recognized international authorities" is absurd. It's become more absurd as Putin talks of pulling his forces out of Syria. That whole line of reasoning offered by Colonel Manning is the work of what we called shithouse lawyers.

robt willmann

Also, in a display illustrating that he is starting to catch on even more about the factor of mass media in the operation of politics, Vladimir Putin showed up in Syria today to announce that some of the Russian soldiers are going to be withdrawn. Bashar al-Assad went to the airbase to greet him, of course. With some set up photo and video ops, the announcement was made.

Here is a short one including Assad--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fRHKkWsV-M

Another video has some parade ground marching for about the first half, then Putin appears with some Russian Air Force personnel, and Assad gets into the photo with Russian pilots--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viJ_lyEw9oc

A story in the RT media outlet, which did recently register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, is here--

https://www.rt.com/news/412690-putin-syria-comes-khmeimim/

Compare and contrast -- as used to be said in college literature courses -- the U.S. statement about staying indefinitely with what Russia just did. Of course Russia will be there indefinitely, but with the full and effective consent of the Syrian host.

The Twisted Genius

steve,

McMaster and Mattis are shaped by their experiences, especially those experiences in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. They and the DOD as a whole see our military as an expeditionary force rather than a home defense force. I don't see that changing.

GeneO

Erdogan has not hinted of any withdrawals of Turkish troops or Turkish backed FSA from Syria. IMHO that is one of the reasons for non-withdrawal of most US troops, they are a warning to Erdogan to keep him from trying to overrun the SDF. A warning to Solemaini also perhaps, but mainly to Erdogan.

Putin appears to be the only Meister of Foreign Policy in the room. He immediately announced the draw down of some of the 4300 Russian troops in Syria, except of course for the Hmeymim Airbase and the Tartous Naval Base.

Despite al-Nujaba's threats, it seems the US-backed SDF and the Iraqi Army have met on the border and are cooperating to secure it to prevent Daesh remnants from moving into and across the region as they flee the battlefield.

eakens

In business, you sign the agreement and put it away. If you have to read it again, you are generally screwed. As a result, we are very quickly becoming the party nobody wants to enter into an agreement with.

The lawyers should familiarize themselves with the other party's remedies: IED and EFP.

Matthew

Col: I am a late viewer to Ken Burns series on Vietnam, but have been very impressed by the soldiers featured in the series.

Emad

TTG,

IMO U.S. forces remaining in Syria are a tripwire force paving the way for bombing Syria at will when domestic policy dictates a la post-1991 Iraq, or hitting Iran directly, because "they're killing our boys in Syria".

PS. I know you've simply quoted Magnier here, but Soleimani's rank is either MG or LTG, depending on how you look at general officership at the IRGC.

GeneO

Emad - Solemaini was reportedly promoted to Major General six years ago:

http://iranbriefing.net/the-islamic-republic%e2%80%99s-13-generals/

My understanding is that the rank of LTG and full General were no longer used in Iran after 1979.

Serge

One of the many great Tyson quotes. Does anyone have an opinion on the future possibility of an Iraq style insurgency in SDF areas, refugee populations of the arab cities that lie in ruin or as literal minefields serve as a great base for such.

LondonBob

Trump is the one who wants to withdraw. We have been over this, it shouldn't need repeating. It seemed as if Trump had overruled Mattis and agreed on a withdrawal as per his agreement with Putin.

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/11/27/trumps-line-on-syria-prevails-in-washington/

Whether there has been renewed push back on this I don't know.

Richardstevenhack

It's called "self-fulfilling prophecy".

1) You keep your troops in a country where they're not wanted.
2) Because they're not wanted, they eventually get attacked.
3) Now you have justification for keeping the troops there, cuz "terrorism."
4) PROFIT!

Plus, as Emad said, they can be used to justify almost anything one wants to do, such as continuing to try to overthrow Assad, or justifying aggression against Iran, as the US tried to do in Iraq by constantly claiming Iranians were behind all the attacks on US forces there, and that Iran was making sophisticated IEDs for Iraqi insurgents, etc.

Unlike anything Russia did during the 2016 election, this is what "meddling" actually looks like.

It will be interesting to see how Assad and Putin will address this continued presence in Syria. Since the US goal is to prevent Assad from ever being in complete control of Syria ever again, at some point Assad will have to address this situation.

He can't afford to directly attack US forces in country because that will give the US an excuse to destroy his military, which was the goal of the Syria crisis all along. He could covertly support some "militias" to attack US forces, but that will just aggravate the situation and result in more US forces entering the country.

He might possibly go the UN with Russia and China supporting him and demand their removal. The problem there is the US will veto any UNSC Resolution ordering that.

I dismiss the Iranian general's threat, because the same applies to Iranian forces in Syria. If they attack US forces, they risk war with the US and Israel - as well as dragging Syria into that war, so Assad will not be supportive of any unilateral Iranian military action. So they are likely to keep a low profile while building up their support for Syria and Hizballah in Lebanon - and Hizballah in Syria.

They allegedly already have a missile factory set up near the Russian air base presumably to benefit from Russian air defense systems - which will remain even after Russia pulls out most of its ground forces. Israel presumably will find this utterly unacceptable. The question is will Israel risk confronting Russia over it by attacking said factory or other Iranian positions.

So while ISIS may be "defeated" - or at least reduced back to a "terrorist group", rather than a conventional army - and while Syria's forces are now moving on Idlib, the situation in general remains tense and ripe for starting a new Middle East war involving Syria, Iran and Hizballah vs the US and Israel.

Bill Herschel

TTG, who benefits? Who benefits from the Global War on Terror? The American people? Israel? Saudi Arabia?

The answer to this question is going to become clearer and clearer as the Trump administration (but it might just as well be the Clinton or Obama administration) rides quietly into the sunset and forgets about North Korea.

North Korea today might have the ability to put a hydrogen bomb on Los Angeles. Sounds like terror to me. In a year they will probably definitely have the ability to put a hydrogen bomb on any square meter in the U.S. That's got to be terror, particularly if you believe that Kim Jong-Un is a deranged hater of the U.S.

Let's see how many forward bases the U.S. puts in North Korea.

The Global War on Terror is a fraud that benefits someone. After all a lot of money is changing hands. Hundreds of billions of dollars.

And there are other reasons. The Republicans want to gut Medicare. The Defense Budget? Sacred.

Annem

This step is dumb beyond belief. I think our leaders are hoping to find an excuse in the reactions of Iran to our forces in Syria as a rationale for an expanded conflict with Iran.

Our continuing control over former ISIS strongholds in Raqqa and elsewhere through Kurdish administration of their communities is leading to rising anger among the Arab majority area, of the sort that could cause another outbreak of violence, and bring in any of the other jihadis in the country, among them HTS. The Arab tribals who sought to fight in the reconquest of their region were rebuffed by the Kurds doing the fighting. This will do wonders for inter-communal reconciliation in Syria and make it harder for the Kurds to come out of the civil war with something.

turcopolier

richardstevenhack

"4) PROFIT!" Refers to what? pl

Emad

GeneO,

You're right about 4-star generals. However, there were two Army LTGs in Iran after 1979: LTG Gharani and LTG Sayad Shirazi.

Gharani had been promoted to MG during the Shah, but was dishonorably discharged and spent a few years in prison (He'd sought to stage a coup against the Shah). He was recalled; promoted to LTG, and appointed CJCS after the revolution, but was assassinated shortly thereafter.

MG Sayad Shirazi was assassinated in 1999 by the MEK. He was posthumously promoted to LTG.

dsrcwt

I expect the Russians will isolate the US pocket, the way they did Al Tanf. With the cooperation of Turkey and Iraq who can at least agree that they don't want a Kurdish state, they will make re-supply expensive if not impossible. They will extract most of the profits from oil exports from the Kurdish enclave. As the occupying power, the US would be responsible for rebuilding Raqqa et. al. which the US will not want to pay for. When the locals see reconstruction in the Syrian government zone, and waste and destruction in the US zone, they will start cutting deals with the Syrian gov't or vote with their feet.

Brunswick

The Underpants Gnome theory of Business,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnomes_(South_Park)

Yeah, Right

james points out that the UNSC 2249 "requires action against ISIS to be 'in compliance with international law.' "

Sure, it does, but that's easily fixed: Colonel Manning need only stand up at the podium and pronounce that US forces are "Operating under recognized international authorities,"

There, done.

No need to name who those "international authorities" are, any more than UNSC 2249 names the international laws that it is referring to.

Indeed, Manning must at all costs avoid naming that source of authority, lest those authorities shout back: Whoah! Hang on! This wasn't us!

Dabbler

That was my reaction - Occam‘s razor. As if the marines in 1983 Beirut had been exposed intentionally, as sort of a tripwire. Over time, attacks on the troops to be left in Syria would seem to be inevitable. It might be well to remove any planners and decision-makers you don’t see this, as well as any who do.

Kooshy

My impression is, the Syrians and thier allies will first attend to clean up Idlib Provence before they go after SDF and pay any attention to force US out of eastern banks of Euphrates. IMO the Syrians and thier allies simply know that US and SDF don’t have enough ground forces to secure the entire eastern side of Euphrates River to Iraqi border unconditionally. Considering the Iraqi side is also controled by hostile PMU forces. IMO that stretch of land is even more dangerous to US forces then Iraq ever was back in 03/4 since this stretch of land is much narrower, in addition this time unlike in Iraq the hostile forces on both sides are of one fabric and mentality, and perhaps operate under one joint command center. I would think it will become a down to dusk war of IEDs on ground, and drones on the air. IED and drones are not much vulnerable and effected by air superiority as was evidenced in Iraq war. A new asymmetric gurilla warfair which classic top down command armies are incapable of fighting.

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