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08 November 2019


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Thanks for the update, but the situation in Syria is now more complicated than ever. (at least, to me)

How will Russia counter Trump's determination to hold onto the oil fields? And who will control the vast area between the Turkish-held safe zone and the oil fields near Deir Ezzor?? Will the SAA move into areas unoccupied by Turkey (to the north) and the US (to the south??

This is a real mess! It seems like the probability of an unexpected clash between the US and Russia is now greater than ever...

And now Dunford is gone and (from what I read) he was honcho who controlled the deconfliction issues.

JP Billen

Much of the SDF resistance in Tell Tamr is by troops of the Christian Assyrian/Syriac MFS. They have long been allied with the YPG and are a key component of the SDF. The Syriacs call the town Til Temir. It is a gateway to the Khabour valley whose farms and villages are mostly Syriac Christian.


Agree with your Jisr ash-Shugur opinion. Although it will be a tough go coming from the west. Rugged terrain and both TIP and HTS (al-Qaeda) are deeply dug in. Lots of caves and tunnels, it's a battle against trogdolytes, or maybe H.G. Wells' Morlocks. May need thermobarics to dig them out of there.

They are mostly foreigners in that part of Idlib. Many Chechens and Uzbeks in al Qaeda and of course the TIP is predominately Uighur with some Turkmen. Erdogan is arming and resupplying these rats via Hatay. The SAA knows it. The Russians are aware of it also.


Elora Danon

Remarkable analysis for a young Catalan girl.


Elora Danan

i have asked people NOT TO use my blog as a bulletin board to post other people's stuff. If you cannot think for yourself do not post anything.



Trump is not "determined" to hold on to Syria's little oil deposits. This is just the latest thing shoved at him by the neocons. He will tire of it.


I am genuinely puzzled Col (and this certainly may be due to own analytical limitations) as to WHO Trump is taking advice from. Or can depend on. He seems highly isolated to me. I can't say as i blame him for this given, my perception, anyway, that he is surrounded by spies, snakes and snitches. However, you can't run Maine alone, never mind the US. He seems harried, harassed, and a bit overwhelmed. I would readily understand, if that were so. But this not Shakespearean Drama where we simply concern ourselves with moral dilemmas. You have to be able to govern. And I am starting to have my doubts. I no longer know who is ACTUALLY in charge at DOD. Or at Homeland Security. Or at the NSA....Oh, I know the names alright. But I have no clue who these people are. Pence seems worse than useless to me. Mick M is in the process of having his legs amputated. Rudy has been sidelined. Perry is on the way out at Energy. China? Who know who has the President's ear on that front. Lighthizer or Navarro? And Don Jr, Ivanka, Jared et al seem pipsqueak morons to me. To be frank.



He is trying to run the US government single handed with everyone else being some kind of flunky. that is the way he ran his business. He has has no ability to absorb complex thoughts and will not read anything given to him. I am surprised he has gotten this far. I suppose he is tolerated by the Deplorables because th alternatives are so awful


My understanding is that the deplorables considered a narcissist president as less bad then a sociopath president who explicitly hates them. This is a fairly reasonable position to take.

Having worked under people who are perhaps a bit like trump, they can be handled, even without kissing their rear ends.

Narcissist like having options and making decisions. They dislike details, unless they are micromanaging narcissists (who are far more annoying to deal with then the general variety). The best way to get anything out of Trump is probably this: We have options A, B and C, put the main pros and cons on one page, ask for a decsion. As long as neither of the options is garbage, and as long as the narcissist sticks with this decision (which they tend to be inclined to do) you get a reasonably quick awnser out of him and then implement it. Implementing a good option quickly is often better then implementing a better options slowly and by comitee, perhaps even more so in a military setting.
You can go around the risk of selecting a garbage option by not having garbage options on the menu, and honestly, the impact such decisions make is actually fairly overstated most of the time. If he asks why the presention has like, one slide, you awnser that it boils down to this and why would you be wasting his time?

This is far easier then dealing with sociopaths. Basically, a sociopath will consider you a threat to be controlled or destroyed if you show any sign of being more intelligent, knowledgeable or in any other way shape or form ahead of him. This can get really annoying really quickly. You can get by by specifically displaying a weakness so that the psycho considers you less threatening.
Narcissists consider themselfs superior by default and thus do not require such displays.



What has happened with the White Helmets? Are their true colors coming out with Turkey (apparently their training base) invading border areas? The only thing I've seen are some Kurdish sources saying the WH's are moving into areas now occupied by Turkey and it's surrogates. I've marveled at how the White Helmets were portrayed in glowing terms in most of out media though it's always seemed more of a propaganda effort than anything.


It may be that someone that Trump listened to, at least once, got him excited about the oil in order to undo the departure of our troops, a sudden move after talking to Erdo. It is unlikely that he asked or figured out how much [or little] oil was involved. Meanwhile, Erdo will come roaring into DC screaming about the Armenian [and Assyrian and Greek] Genocide bill and hear the folks in Congress referring to his invasion of northern Syria as the beginning of a genocide against the Kurds.

Those Assyrians who settled along the Khabour river in villages for individual tribes, did so under the French mandate. They are the remnants of the Assyrians of Hakkari in Turkey who fled first to Urmia in Iran, then to the Nineveh Plain and finally to this safe and fertile spot. I wonder whether Erdo's Congressional or WH interlocutors are aware of the backstory. The Armenians in Hassakeh and the rest of Syria are also descendants of survivors. Erdo is getting criticized back home by the opposition for his failure to carry through with the full takeover he planned.


It's hard to believe that any thought was given to this US/SDF plan for eastern Syria. The mainly Kurdish SDF rule after ISIS fled was a source of anger and frustration by the Arab tribal majority in the area. It is hard to imagine their putting up with it much longer, especially with the goal of taking the nation's oil. ISIS escapees have likely found a safe haven with the ISIS sleeper cells and other disgruntled jihadis from the area. And then we have the Turkish-backed jihadis from Jaysh al Islam and the others. It looks like we are setting up a perfect storm.

Babak Makkinejad

This is not new or unexpected.

Both East and West in the Cold War were offshoots of the Enlightenment Tradition. And both carried out and maintained that God did not matter.

But He did matter, and a civil war was fought in Spain over that.

Babak Makkinejad

What are your policy recommendations for US and Europeans in the Near East?


I continue to hold that President Trump is attempting to return the US to a pre-1945 dispensation of 33% tariffs -- with minimal imports of raw materials the nation did not truly have -- and a domestic economy funding wages 33% higher than that of Europe. In this dispensation, the US had no need to patrol the world's oceans, nor maintain military bases in 110 countries.

Of course President Trump's dispensational return challenges the MIC, the State Department, industrial globalists of all sub-sets, from the EU, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Senator McConnell's wife and the Vindman twins busily transferring Ukrainian aid into their bank accounts. Mindful of what has happened to other, like-minded "heretics," the President never articulates his agenda clearly, and has no real lieutenants in the White House.

On the other hand, President Trump reports to his Deplorable rally goers just how many factories and jobs have returned to their States in the last 18, 24, 30 months, with a believable promise to deliver yet more. Fortunately for him, our national elite does not tune into these rallies and his promises of manufacturing job return, increased employment and higher wages. Our national elite also does not register the extraordinary boom of "MAIN STREETS" in fly-over country.

Should he be re-elected and manage the US economy for a further 4 years, we may know whether President Trump's dispensational return has succeeded and whether his Deplorable followers have developed resistance to elite sabotage.


John le Carre is an old man but his despair has turned to anger.

His books over the last ten years are furious excoriations of the Western elites - their betrayal and destruction of all Western values and moralities.

Like some old Lear or desert prophet, his recent writings have been a joy to read.

Peter AU 1

Trump, Iran and his fixation on oil go back at least to 1980.

1980 interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAgJAxkALyc
1987 interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8wJc7vHcTs

Trump's hatred of Iran may stem from the Tehran embassy hostage drama that he speaks about in the 1980 interview. Hezbollah because they are linked to Iran and the Beirut barracks bombing.


Sorry to pop your wicket boss.



Jisr all shughour.where all debts are settled.




Round and round they go.where nobody know.



She said she had named herself for this character, boss



What goes around comes around. Payback is a bitch.

Brad Ruble

I don't know if I will phrase this properly. Viewing the map, I read it as the Hajin Pocket at Al Bukama. I did not know we have had soldiers captured by ISIS. Is this accurate or do they mean people other than U.S. personal.


Brad Ruble

I think they mean other than US.

JP Billen


There have been Assyrians living in the Khabur Valley for millenia, since the time of the Assyrian Empire, long before they converted to Christianity in Roman times. Syriac Arameans have also lived there with them. I'm sure they welcomed Hakkari refugees. But most refugees that fled to that valley from the Assyrian Genocide in Turkey were survivors from the massacres in Diyarbakir and Mardin. There have also been some Armenian refugees there for the last hundred years or so.

As for the oil, The SDF, or rather their civilian counterpart the SDC, is still sharing oil with the Assad Government via Raqqa middlemen. So Trump ends up guarding the oil to keep it from Assad, yet he ends up unknowingly facilitating its transfer to Assad despite American sanctions?

English Outsider

Isn't it a question of what options he gets?

If Dana Stroul of the Syria Study Group is anything to go by the options presented to Trump are uniformly disastrous. Sanctions, cutting off access to oil and cropland, preventing reconstruction and diplomatic isolation.

I watched the House Committee hearing. As far as I can recollect none asked how these measures against the "Assad regime" would affect civilians. None contested the picture put forward by Dana Stroul and Michael Singh.

A ZH video (3rd down, short) shows Dana Stroul setting out her case elsewhere -


If these are the sort of options being presented to the President, and being presented by experts he'll presumably trust as being well-informed, it's difficult to see how any useful Presidential decisions can emerge from the process.

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