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18 January 2018


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thanks, Patrick Bahzad. Highly appreciated.

One early paragraph reminds me of comments by Pat concerning Afghanistan. Another one towards the end I have to take a second look at. ;)


That will be the end of the Syrian civil war and something entirely new, the premises of which we are witnessing today, is going to take over.

Let me guess. I am sure I will fail. But here goes anyway: A failed enclave within the not managed to fail state?

Ishmael Zechariah

Very glad to see you back. Excellent analysis as usual. Hope someone with decision-making powers will read and understand the real reality.
Ishmael Zechariah


Seems like the opportune moment to Make Istanbul Constantinople Again (or at least create a safe space for the inevitable repatriation of African migrants/invaders from Europa:

(1) Start sending the "refugees" back overland through Greece.

(2) As the Ottomans attempt to block, encourage Kurds in Turkey to engage in, uh, "civil disobedience."

(3) Declare a humanitarian crisis and cross the Greek border area to "protect human rights."

(4) - optional - Maybe as a sweetener we can get someone on the inside to fake a gas attack (maybe against the Ottoman's transgender Jewish population) and then we just start calling Erdogan "Hitler." It didn't work last time in Syria, but that's no reason to abandon the playbook.


Welcome back to posting!
Listening to Tillerson one could be forgiven for thinking the US had defeated IS and the SAA & Russia were not involved. He also seemed convinced that any free election in Syria would automatically eject Assad but it was unclear who or what he thought would replace him. I am having a problem thinking of anyone who might win who the US would not set about trying to regime change.

Jonathan House

Welcome back! And thanks for this post.


All of the predictions that the naysayers made with regard to Iraq in 2003 have since come to pass, along with none of the neocons' predictions.

What makes anyone think that they have learned anything since then?



the Tillerson manifesto requires a defeat of Assad by electoral mean since evicting him by force has not proved possible. I think he would win a fair election. pl


If the corporate media presented anything near the kind of analysis found on this site, Moon of Alabama, and one or two others--doubtless soon to be rendered practically inaccessible by our new and improved throttled internet--the American populace would have months ago begun to demand the withdrawal of our troops in Syria, an investigation into the US/UK funding and training of the very ISIS we those governments claimed to be fighting, and a thorough rethinking and questioning of the entirety of our post 9/11 foreign policy, particularly insofar as driven by a narrow but powerfully influential strain of political Zionism and, dare I say it?, the agents of a foreign state (not, ahem, Russia). But this is doubtless why Col. Lang and the few others worth reading on foreign policy are never given editorial columns in the Post or Times, or invited to debate on CNN, or awarded with cushy posts at Beltway think tanks.

The analysis they would offer, the arguments and disagreements they would have among themselves, the range of recommendations they would make--all these would be much too grounded in reality to allow for their wide dissemination among the American public. Our current political culture is after all propped up on the venal party tribalism of the pseudo-elite and the ignorance and stupefication of the masses. If that were to fail we might risk approaching something like a functional republic.


Mr. Bahzad,

Pleasure to see you back. Always enjoy your analysis.

IMO, our foreign policy is not necessarily adrift, as it is lacking any coherence or discernable strategy, which may be what you are implying. This again IMO has been the state of affairs since Jimmy Carter was president. Or maybe even Johnson.

I have never heard a clear articulation of what these "experts" believe is the national interest and a strategy to accomplish it.

Patrick Bahzad

Agree, which is why I think it's adrift. Andrew Basevich's book "America's War for the Greater Middle-East" points out many of the strategic shortcomings that have been observed since Carter.

Account Deleted
Our current political culture is after all propped up on the venal party tribalism of the pseudo-elite and the ignorance and stupefication of the masses.

Yup - so much for an "alert and knowledgeable citizenry".

And yes you may dare say it, in fact it is vitally important that you do; the foreign state is Israel and it has acquired vast unwarranted influence on US foreign policy in the ME.

Patrick Bahzad describes US FP in the region as "adrift". IMO we should expect it to remain so, until its formulation more accurately represents the interests of Americans - and less so those of a small nation thousands of miles away.


A win by Assad would be, by definition/declaration, not a fair election.

(But agreed, Assad would probably win.)

A threshold question or two, tho, to Patrick Bahzad: on what legitimate grounds is US in Syria anyway?

Isn't it a violation of UN Charter to involve oneself in another sovereign, UN Charter-nation's domestic affairs?
Did US Congress debate and declare war on Syria for some legitimate cause?
Does this sound childishly naive?



I don't see another looming disaster coming for the US in Syria.

The most likely thing I foresee that Turkey's relationship with NATO will be complicated further, if Turkey doesn't leave NATO altogether, and the US will have to withdraw from Syria due to a lack of a reliable LOC.

The grand US objectives in Syria as stated by Tillerson were fully in line with what the Neocons wanted: roll back Iran. However, what Trump promised his voters in his election campaign was to smash ISIS and then pack up and go.

I foresee that Trump's Syria strategy "accidentally" will accomplish what Trump promised his voters. That maybe a disaster in the eyes of the Neocons, but I would see it neither as a disaster for the US, for Trump and his voters or for the region and - in more general terms - the world as such.


I don't really think a society like that of the contemporary West (with the exception of Russia and maybe Eastern Europe) has the will to fight a real conflict or cold war where our superior technology is not a decisive factor. Look at the sheer amount of kinetic force the various powers had to bring against the aspiring Sunni Caliphate. Multi-million dollar warplanes dropped hundred thousand dollar precision guided munitions on Technicals worth no more than $30,000 max. Were our technical resources evenly matched but social and political attitudes remained the same respectively, ISIS would have established a strong and enduring order. Absent the technological factor, spiritual acuity and collective self-belief will trump an ethos dedicated to servicing the preferences of individual 'choice' (selection between trivial options) construed as (lol) 'freedom'.


Camilla Paglia talks about it here (time stamp linked).



The SAG has told the Turks that they will defend Syrian air space over Afrin and Kurdish reinforcements for Afrin are passing through Aleppo city en route to Afrin. This indicates to me that the Syrian Kurds and the SAG are going to kiss and make up. Bad news for the Borg and sultan Tayyip. Paraphasing - "Springtime for Assad and Syria, winter for Tayyip and Rex." pl

Account Deleted

Great to see you back Patrick

I used to try and divine the clever underlying plan that must surely lie beneath US 'strategy' in Syria. But the Colonel and others, including now yourself, are increasingly persuading me that it really is as dumb as it looks.

This is a liberating and at the same time, profoundly worrying realization. Was the Border Security Force announcement really a genuine mistake? If one monumentally crass and thoughtless communication can be a casus belli for Turkey, what can we expect next. Analysis accounting for irrational actors is one thing, but allowing for this level of sheer stupidity takes some getting used to.


Mr. Bahzad glad to have you back at SDT. You are absolutely on the mark saying preventing reconstruction and economic improvement in Iraq and Syria will provide the fertile breading ground for new terrorist groups like ISIL and AQ. But, don’t you agree, according to SOS Tillerson, that the reemergence of terrorists in these countries would be the raison d'être for keeping the US mission in Syria and Iraq, and keeping US troops in the region indefinitely. Like a vicious cycle?

Just like the Iran agreement (JCPOA) by keeping it hanging, inconclusive, and unstable, as you suggest, will prevent any domestic or foreign economic reconstruction investment (in Iran’ case to make a economic unsatisfied base for a possible regime change uprisings) and provide a fertile ground for terrorism, which provides a good excuse for US’ domestic audience to keep US troops in the region indefinitely, and to keep the region even more unstable for the sake and safeguard of the Israel project.



Thanks. Great Post.

With Israel and Saudi Arabia as allies, who needs enemies? The end of the Caliphate in a realistic world would signal that it is time to get out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. Instead the elites will double down. Russia and Iran have shown that nation states can still defend their borders and their national interests. Let Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia and China deal with the Daesh. It is the West that should be securing its borders and governing for the benefit of its citizens. Instead, the oligarchs will double down on more war, continue using paid proxy forces, end democracy, enforce austerity, enslave workers and get richer. Greece is a tragedy today that highlights the West’s future.


Welcome back. Can we stay in Iraq long enough to make a difference? Should we? I am not convinced that we can find and keep in place people who understand this area of the world well enough to commit troops in the area for very long.



"But the most basic question as to what the United States wants to do with Syria, and what it wants for the Middle-East in general, remained unanswered."

I'd say it's been very clear for the last eighteen years at least: war with Iran.

First there was Iraq - but Israel wanted Iran to be the target and only came on board with the Iraq war when the neocons assured them Iran would be next after the Iraq "cakewalk". Unfortunately Iraq wasn't the cakewalk they were looking for. And then the 2007 Iran NIE shot down Bush and Cheney's intentions and the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah was a dismal failure.

Then came the "Arab Spring" and then Libya. Someone got the bright idea to reproduce Libya in Syria, a necessary precondition for a war with Iran and also for dealing with Hizballah in Lebanon.

Except after Russia and China vetoed THREE UNSC Resolutions justifying a US/NATO war on Syria, and after Russia forced Obama to back down THREE TIMES over imposing a "no-fly zone" - read: war on Syria - that plan came a cropper. And Hizballah is stronger than ever and Assad is still standing.

Now things are up in the air. The US wants to remain in Syria apparently solely to try to "meddle" and find another way to start a war with Syria. After all, eventually Assad has to try to get rid of those troops and if one SAA soldier shoots at one US soldier, the US will have its war with Syria. If Assad doesn't, well, the US will think of something...

Turkey is another wild card. No one knows whether Erdogan will attack the Kurds, whether the Kurds and Assad will fight back, justifying a US/Turkey/NATO war on Syria which was the original plan all along.

Israel continues to bomb Syria every other week just to keep its hand in trying to get Assad to strike back in some serious way so Israel can attack Syria, as it's being doing since the Syrian crisis started. Meanwhile Israel is trying to get the US on board to attack Lebanon. Israel also justifies its attacks on Syria as being "anti-Iranian" to keep the US interested in attacking Syria.

As Rambo said, "Nothing is over! You just don't turn it off!"

The US and Israel definitely want that war with Iran and they're going to get it if they have to wait another twenty years.

At least, that's assuming we don't spend the next twenty years fighting in North Korea.

different clue

If the Bitter Baathists and the Former Iraqi Army people are still in place and in touch with eachother in and beyond Anbar Province, won't they bide their time till they can organize an ISIS 2.0? And an ISIS 3.0 after that? And then an ISIS 4.0 and so on?

Isn't the only way to deprive the Bitter Baathists and etc. of an ongoing opportunity to keep on insurging and insurgine . . . a serious and sincere reconciliation between the Sunni Arabs and the Shia Arab government of Iraq leading to a reasonable measure of power and respect for the Sunni Arab elites and people of Iraq?

And if that is the only way to relieve the pressure leading to more ISISes in Iraq, isn't Iran the only government capable of forcing an unwilling Shia government in Baghdad to reconcile with the Sunni Arabs in order to make them uninterested in supporting more such Bitter Baathist insurgencies?


I yesterday read that Turkey sent Hawk air defence missiles to Syria "to cover the airspace" and to "defend turkish troops from airstrikes" and not to deny the said air space to Russian and Syrian use and/or air strikes.



Wow, that post deserves a thread of its own.

A game changer!

Peter Reichard

The Tillerson plan ought to be the final piece of evidence for even those in denial that the Trump administration has now been fully assimilated into the Borg. The defeat of ISIS represented an opportunity to declare victory and gracefully disengage from Syria, instead "having learned nothing and forgotten nothing" as Talleyrand remarked about the Bourbons, fully believing our own delusional propaganda and unable to see the failure of our regime change gambit for what it truly is we are intent upon marching ever deeper into the Syrian quicksand. The incompetent imperialism of the past three presidents continues now with a forth.

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