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objectivist1
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« Reply #150 on: September 03, 2013, 04:16:08 PM »

And note well that the media, other than Fox News, is praising McCain for "shaming" Kilmeade.  How sickening.  If we can't even identify the enemy, we are toast.  Sadly, this administration is in sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood - as I mentioned earlier.  McCain seems to be a useful idiot in my estimation.  There are reports claiming that Obama is secretly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.  This wouldn't surprise me at all - but neither does it really matter.  He is acting as if he is one of them.

www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/09/03/McCain-allahu-akhbar
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #151 on: September 03, 2013, 09:36:29 PM »


FIWIW, Ret. 4 Star General Jack Keene, of whom I have a favorable initial impression, speaks well of the FSA.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #152 on: September 04, 2013, 07:39:27 AM »

Boehner’s Syria Surrender

Posted By Matthew Vadum On September 4, 2013 @ frontpagemag.com

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated yesterday he trusts President Obama to carry out military strikes against Syrian government targets as punishment for that government’s alleged use of poison gas against its own citizens.

“The use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the U.S. has the capability,” Boehner said after President Obama feted him at the White House. “I’m going to support the president’s call for action and I believe my colleagues should support this call for action.”

Boehner’s decision is already hurting his standing in his own political party, further embittering rank-and-file conservatives who accuse him of being a weak leader. Boehner’s action amounts to siding with the same administration that lied its way into war in Libya, tried to cover up the deadly fiasco in Benghazi, Libya, and that even now sides with the Islamofascist terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

On Aug. 31, with his approval ratings and second-term agenda in tatters, President Obama said ”after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.”

It will not be “an open-ended intervention” and there would be no “boots on the ground,” he said. “I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.”

“What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”

After Obama described himself inaccurately as “president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy” –the U.S. is a constitutional republic, not a democracy– he said he would ask Congress for authorization to use force overseas.

Although Obama said he believes he already possesses “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective.”

“We should have this debate,” he said, “because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy. ”

After months of heel-dragging, the administration said several weeks ago that Syria’s government crossed the much-vaunted “red line” President Obama laid down for U.S. action in that regime’s two year war against opposition forces. Obama said last summer that if Syria used chemical weapons such an action would be a “game-changer” for the United States.

Pundit Charles Krauthammer said Obama isn’t seeking congressional approval now because he holds lofty principles:

His respect for the separation of powers and for the role of Congress is rather minimal, as he showed with suspension of provisions of health care, the creation of the DREAM Act and one executive fiat by suspending half of the immigration laws.

Look, this isn’t a sudden stroke of constitutionalism. This is simply expediency and delay. The problem is not that he’s not selling his strategy. It’s that he doesn’t have a strategy. And that’s the reason everybody, left, right, and center, has no idea what he’s doing. He zigzagged left and right. He telegraphs he’s going to strike, he does nothing. He calls on the Congress and then goes off and plays golf when his secretary of state had given a speech the day before with remarkable urgency and passion.

More likely Obama is trying to divide the Republican Party internally and get the GOP associated with what promises to be a disastrous foreign policy move.

As Obama adviser David Axelrod gloated on Twitter, “Big move by [president of the United States]. Consistent with his principles. Congress is now the dog that caught the car. Should be a fascinating week!” Obama knows that throwing the issue to Congress should take the GOP’s focus off the much more important legislative battles of the weeks ahead.

Obama and his advisers also know they can count on friendly media outlets to spin whatever transpires overseas in the administration’s favor.

Obama’s determination to win congressional approval comes after British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. Considering how badly Obama has treated the British since taking office, it’s not all that surprising that a resolution authorizing the use of British military might in the proposed U.S.-led Syrian adventure was defeated in Parliament last week in a vote of 285 to 272.

Meanwhile, Obama’s plan to assault Syrian government targets was also embraced yesterday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Despite the endorsements, Obama still faces an “uphill battle” for congressional support, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

That there will be much of a battle in Congress is difficult to believe. According to Bloomberg News, “no U.S. president has ever been turned down by Congress when asking to use military force.”

Boehner’s entirely predictable move is just the latest in a long series of unnecessary capitulations by the famously conflict-averse lawmaker. It very likely foreshadows Boehner’s approaching cave-ins on raising the national debt ceiling, Obamacare funding, and immigration reform.

Some conservatives have offered half-hearted endorsements of the enterprise. Others say Obama must attack Syria to maintain U.S. prestige.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says the U.S. must hit Syria to remain credible as a superpower, an argument rejected by foreign policy veteran Andrew McCarthy. “No matter how wrong [McCain] is, the Republicans seem to line up behind him,” McCarthy said on Mark Levin’s radio show last night.

There are always going to be plenty of double-level, Realpolitik, chess-player justifications for intervening in a place like Syria but in the end it is unclear how attacking the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will serve America’s national interests.

Assad is aligned with the Islamists in Iran and the opposition to his regime consists largely of Islamists themselves. There is no silver lining to U.S. involvement in Syria. The Middle East is a mess as it more or less always has been.

And it is unclear how bombing government targets in Syria will serve any larger purpose — political, strategic, or humanitarian.

At a congressional hearing yesterday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey was unable to explain what the administration hoped to accomplish by attacking Syria.

“What is it you’re seeking?” asked Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

“I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking,” Dempsey said.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #153 on: September 04, 2013, 07:49:52 AM »

John McCain and ‘Allahu Akbar’

Posted By Robert Spencer On September 4, 2013 @ frontpagemag.com

Tuesday morning, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) got a bit hot under the collar when Brian Kilmeade of Fox News noted that the Syrian rebels whom Barack Obama and McCain want to aid militarily were shouting “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!” as rockets hit Syrian government offices. McCain’s response to Kilmeade demonstrated not only his ignorance of Islam, but his abysmal misjudgment of what is happening in Syria. And on the basis of that ignorance, he is aiding Obama’s rush to yet another war.

“I have a problem,” Kilmeade said, “helping those people screaming that after a hit.” That incensed McCain, who shot back: “Would you have a problem with an American or Christians saying ‘thank God? Thank God?’ That’s what they’re saying. Come on! Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.”

Wrong on all counts. In the first place, it does not mean “thank God,” as McCain seems to have affirmed when he said, “That’s what they’re saying.” Allahu akbar means “Allah is greater” – not, as it is often translated, “God is great.” The significance of this is enormous, as it is essentially a proclamation of superiority and supremacism. Allah is greater – than any of the gods of the infidels, and Islam is superior to all other religions.

Al-Islam.org states this obliquely: “Allahu akbar implies that God is superior to all tangible and intangible, temporal and celestial beings.” This may seem to be an innocuous theological statement until one recalls that Islam has always had a political aspect, and Islamic jihadists always shout “Allahu akbar” when attacking infidels. It is a declaration of the superiority of their god and their way of life over those of their victims. 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta also stated that it was meant to make the infidels afraid. He wrote instructions to jihadists that were found in his baggage: “Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.”

In equating this war cry, which we recently saw Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members shouting as they destroyed a church and tore off its cross, with “thank God,” McCain was manifesting the moral equivalence that is not only fashionable these days, but required for acceptance into polite society. Only wretched “Islamophobes” don’t accept the mainstream media and government dogma that Christianity is just as likely as Islam to incite its adherents to violence. That there aren’t any Christians anywhere shouting “thank God” as they fire rockets at anyone doesn’t deter McCain from making this equivalence. Religious dogmas, and that’s what the idea that Christianity and Islam are equally violent is, are not subject to the same standards of evidentiary proof as are more mundane realities.

And he guarantees that the Syrian rebels are moderates? This is the John McCain who, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star, “was unwittingly photographed with a known affiliate of the rebel group responsible for the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims one year ago, during a brief and highly publicized visit inside Syria” in May.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers later tried to do damage control for this disastrous photo-op, saying: “A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the Senator complied. If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour [the kidnapper], that is regrettable. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible.”

Fair enough. Accidents will happen. Mistakes will be made. But at the time that the picture was taken, McCain didn’t treat it as if it had been some random and meaningless photo-op with people he didn’t know. Instead, on May 28, he tweeted out the photo and added: “Important visit with brave fighters in #Syria who are risking their lives for freedom and need our help.” Accordingly, it is ludicrous for McCain to be insisting now that “they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates” when he and/or his staff were so out of touch in May that he may have been photographed with a Sunni jihad terrorist. He has already demonstrated his inability to distinguish Syrian “moderates” from “extremists.” So why should we trust him now?

What’s more, while McCain is guaranteeing that the Syrian rebels are moderates, the New York Times reported months ago that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” The situation of the secularists has not improved since then. And the Long War Journal reported on June 29 that the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, which is “al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria,” has “cooperated with Free Syrian Army units to establish sharia, or Islamic law, in Aleppo and in eastern Syria.” What is the Free Syrian Army? McCain’s moderates: “the US government is backing the Free Syrian Army despite the group’s known ties to the Al Nusrah Front.”

McCain’s appalling ignorance and Obama’s ongoing enthusiasm for all things Muslim Brotherhood, including the Syrian opposition, are leading the U.S. into disaster. McCain, as a leader of the Republican Party, ought to be articulating a coherent and rational alternative to Obama’s potentially catastrophic adventurism and rush to intervene in Syria despite lacking a clear goal and genuine allies on the ground within the country. Instead, he and John Boehner and the rest of the Republican establishment are falling over themselves to see who can say “Me too” to Barack Obama fast enough.

What America needs most in these dark days of fantasy-based policymaking is a loyal opposition. But that is the one thing we do not have. Not in any effective sense, as our warships wait in the Mediterranean for the signal to start firing on Syria, with enthusiastic bipartisan support.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
DougMacG
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« Reply #154 on: September 04, 2013, 10:14:28 AM »

"And is it personal relationships or Russia..." [ that may be keeping us from killing this genocidal dictatorship at the head]?

Good question.  If that is the right policy, either way we are not doing it for the wrong reason (IMO).  What do we gain from appeasing Putin?  He will attack us?  (doubtful)  He will blackmail us and expose Snowden secrets?  (already happening)  We will lose his cooperation on other matters?  (what cooperation?)

My reason to not intervene is that I see no good outcome with or without intervention.  Don't inject America and anti-Americanism into an Arab-Muslim vs. Arab-Muslim * conflict without a good outcome possible or likely.  (* More precisely, Sunni, Arab, Kurdish, Turkoman, Shia, Alawite, Imami, Ismailis, Shafi'i Madhhab, Hanafi, Hanbali vs. same or similar)

If one side truly wished to be a permanent ally of the US and Israel in exchange for our support, and offered genuine peace, stability and containment upon victory, then we should negotiate our help.  That is not the case.

This in fact has turned into a big political diversion over a nothing policy - a proverbial "shot across the bow".  The President over his Presidency has taken bigger shots at Fox News and Rush Limbaugh than he has at the al-Assad regime.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #155 on: September 04, 2013, 11:36:28 AM »

This from a friend:

=======================

One of the accusations against Assad on the part of the "rebels" is that he is a traitor, who was allowed to keep his job because he cooperated with the West and with America - and also, hadn't fired a shot against the "Zionist entity" in 40 years.  

To the extent that this is true, and to a large extent it is, we should think that our interest should be in supporting Assad - rather than volunteering to serve as an al Qaeda Air Force, and fight against him.  We should be interested in stopping - or slowing - the wave of Islamist revolutions, NOT in encouraging them (leave alone fighting on their behalf).

The real issue in the region is that Iran is about to join the nuclear club.  If that happens, some of the Sunni states will follow - among them, quite a few crazy and half crazy ones.  The world will be a mess.  

What we need to do is to make a deal with the Russians and the Chinese, and to give them their "victory" in Syria -- in return for cooperation in applying pressure on Iran.  THIS is where our focus needs to be.  In comparison, the entire Syrian thing is just a side show and a distraction.  Once Iran is brought under control, Assad will toe the line.

But - it will never happen.  Our political leaders are idiots.

==========================================================

The Syrian Political Charade


A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. attacking Syria: Barack Obama decided to seek congressional approval. Such is not his usual wont. Since occupying the Oval Office, Obama has made a practice of issuing executive orders and other decrees about all manner of policy preferences without bothering to go to Congress. He attacked Libya without Congress, but now with Syria he's seeking an accomplice -- though he still insists he doesn't need one.

Columnist George Will notes that, ironically, the British Parliament's rejection of military action prompted Obama to go to Congress. "If Parliament had authorized an attack," Will wrote, "Obama probably would already have attacked, without any thought about Congress' prerogatives."

The outcome of a looming congressional vote on military action is uncertain -- the sides don't break along party lines. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) support Obama's call, as does Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But significant numbers of the rank-and-file aren't convinced, despite assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that we won't be "going to war in a classic sense."

The issue for many in Congress -- as well as grassroots Americans -- is whether a limited strike will achieve any clear policy objective that serves vital U.S. interests. Kerry warns that "we cannot allow Assad to be able to gas people with impunity." But will a strike eradicate Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons stores now that he's had time to move and protect them? If we weaken or remove Assad, will al-Qaida rebels come out on top? Will a limited strike sufficiently chastise Assad for crossing the "red line" Obama now ridiculously asserts he "didn't set"? And if a strike is strong enough, what reaction can we expect from Syria, Iran or Russia?

In short, Obama has turned this into a political charade. Any principle governing our response was lost as soon as he opened his mouth.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 11:58:39 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #156 on: September 04, 2013, 01:04:42 PM »

Russia claims that they have evidence that it was the Syrian rebels that used the chemical weapons. What if they use that as justification to strike the rebels? What would our Nobel Peace Prize winning president do? Sent the US Navy to square off with the Russians?
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G M
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« Reply #157 on: September 04, 2013, 01:26:53 PM »

Conan: Syrian's Assad called Pres Obama “weak.” Obama was so angry he plans to ask Congress for permission to think up a good comeback.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #158 on: September 04, 2013, 07:00:24 PM »



http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics-live/the-senates-syria-hearing-live-updates/?id=ed01ca14-222b-4a23-b12c-c0b0d9d4fe0a
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G M
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« Reply #159 on: September 04, 2013, 07:41:24 PM »


John McCain, war hero, political zero.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #160 on: September 05, 2013, 08:34:39 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130905
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #161 on: September 05, 2013, 10:27:59 AM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/05/us-syria-crisis-usa-rebels-idUSBRE98405L20130905
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DougMacG
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« Reply #162 on: September 05, 2013, 11:16:28 AM »

This could go under a number of different topics, but I haven't noticed the gratitude expressed by this administration, the media or U.N. that Israel took a much more serious action 6 years ago than what is contemplated now.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/washington/14weapons.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 Israel Struck Syrian Nuclear Project, Analysts Say

By DAVID E. SANGER and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: October 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #163 on: September 05, 2013, 07:45:13 PM »

The only just reason to attack Syria’s chemical weapons facilities is to prevent them from being used against us or our allies.  Their use in the Syrian civil war gave us the cover to do so; but that would have required Obama to use the same rationale as Bush 43 used in 2003 to justify invading Iraq.  The President could have invoked the War Power Act when he announced the strikes after they had already occurred.

However, Obama has mishandled completely the situation.  He has given Russia time to move naval forces into eastern Mediterranean.  He has given Iran and its proxies time to prepare.  He has given Assad time to prepare.  By his dithering, he has made things worse.  And, now, he has subjected an otherwise justifiable pre-emptive strike to prior Congressional approval where some are trying to authorize more overt involvement in the civil war.

The proper way to have handled this situation was to have denounced the gas attack and propose a UN Security Council resolution to authorize UN action against Syria.  Do not announce our military intentions; but use the diplomatic dithering at the UN as time to prepare quietly the air strike.  Once the Russians and Chinese announced their intent to veto the resolution, bring it to a vote and have it vetoed on the record.  Thereafter, state your disappointment with the result and stop talking.  Then, order the air strikes on the Syrian chemical weapons targets and go on TV once they have occurred and announce your decision and reasons for it.  During the same address, announce your intention to seek Congressional approval for additional air strikes if they are needed.  A real leader would have done something like the scenario proposed above.  His actions would have received bipartisan support.  The first strike military objective of degrading Syria’s chem weapons abilities would have been achieved.  Putin and Russia would have been neutralized to post facto complaining.  The G-20 meeting would have been a non-event.

Unfortunately, we just re-elected a blabbering fool as Commander-in-Chief.  We and our allies must now survive 40 more months of his “leadership”.  Unfortunately, for us and our allies, the Russians, Iranians and their proxies are now certain of his administration’s incompetence.  It is now much worse than Carter.
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G M
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« Reply #164 on: September 05, 2013, 07:58:20 PM »

Well, this is his first real job.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #165 on: September 05, 2013, 08:03:12 PM »

Aint't that the fg truth!

What do you think of my friend's analysis?

=========================

http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/iran-managing-us-military-action-syria?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130905&utm_term=FreeReport&utm_content=readmore&elq=84feada3b3fb46f2aebdcd8d19f0fb14
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G M
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« Reply #166 on: September 05, 2013, 08:10:31 PM »

Spot on. Sadly people like your friend tend to not run for office while people like Lurch, Hillary, Carlos Danger and Buraq do.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #167 on: September 05, 2013, 08:41:41 PM »

As usual I too was impressed with him.

Next, here's this:  Reliability unknown:

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2013/09/05/alan-grayson-syria-intelligence-manipulated
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #168 on: September 06, 2013, 12:00:07 PM »


Summary

The United States clearly does not want to act on its own in Syria -- doing so would leave it solely responsible for whatever happens in the absence of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. And yet there are indications that Washington may be planning a comprehensive campaign meant to degrade the Syrian regime and its military capabilities. This kind of campaign differs markedly from the limited strike option, a more symbolic, punitive measure that would target command and control or leadership targets but would not remove al Assad from power. Comprehensive strikes would benefit the Syrian rebels, who want to topple al Assad by any means necessary, but ultimately Washington does not want to give the rebels too decisive an edge.
Analysis

On Sept. 4, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution that provides for broader military action. The resolution would give the military up to 90 days to intervene and contains a clause allowing it to degrade the al Assad regime's chemical weapons capabilities. There have also been indications from government officials and U.S. lawmakers that the White House may indeed try to alter the balance of power in the Syrian civil war. Most notably, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the planned military operation would involve "a significant strike" that would in fact weaken the regime.

But public statements are not always the best indicators of how nations will act. Ultimately, deployed assets and military operations will reveal the extent to which Washington will act against the regime itself. The extent of the damage and the target sets will also determine whether U.S. military action will be merely symbolic or have an appreciable effect on the civil war.
Syria: How U.S. Military Action Could Alter the Civil War

The movement of certain assets, particularly the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group to the Red Sea, is particularly interesting. But the strike group has not yet been committed to a potential strike, and more important, Stratfor has not yet seen the deployment of other units needed to support comprehensive strikes. Indeed, degrading Syria's chemical weapons capabilities would require more military assets than the United States has in the region. However, moving the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and tactical aircraft to the region would only take a few days. If the United States wanted to expand the scope of this mission, it could do so very quickly.

Notably, the United States could hybridize its strike options. It could tailor a set of ongoing strikes to hit a number of air bases, aircraft and facilities critical to the regime's air power. Otherwise, it could damage the regime's ballistic missile force and overall inventory of tube and rocket artillery through attrition. While such actions fall within the scope of a limited operation -- they could hardly be considered comprehensive -- they would nonetheless give the rebels the advantage in their own fight against al Assad.

The White House will have to walk a tightrope between demonstrating a credible response to the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons and the fear that their response against the regime will be too powerful. Given that al Assad has controlled Damascus during the two years marked by civil war, he could probably weather a limited U.S. strike. But in war, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and even the best plans are susceptible to miscalculation, escalation, mission creep and unintended consequences. Any of these outcomes could shape the course of Syria's civil war beyond Washington's intentions.

Read more: Syria: How U.S. Military Action Could Alter the Civil War | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #169 on: September 07, 2013, 01:41:43 PM »

Kerry & McCain using paid lobbyist as source expert on nature of FSA.

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/09/06/new_york_times_issues_correction_on_syrian_rebel_story
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #170 on: September 07, 2013, 02:13:51 PM »

Michael Yon posts:

Syria: Russia Bolstering Naval Presence

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-russia-putin-syria-20130906,0,1054459.story

In addition to supplying arms, Russia can supply Syria with intelligence. For instance, when any attack begins, Russia can provide them advanced warning. Cruise missiles are slow. Israel must be thinking of ways to sink Russian ships with plausible deniability.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #171 on: September 07, 2013, 03:10:19 PM »

 Syria: A Renewed Focus on Arming the Rebels
Analysis
September 6, 2013 | 1706 Print Text Size
A rebel fighter carries homemade mortar rounds in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 3. (MEZAR MATAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

With the U.S. military preparing for a possible intervention in Syria, most of the debate around whether the U.S. Congress should authorize military action against the Syrian regime has focused on a potential strike. However, some lawmakers and White House officials are pushing to dramatically increase the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels as well. The United States already has such a program in place through the CIA, but the Obama administration has proposed shifting responsibility for arming and training the rebels to the Pentagon, which has units specifically designed for this type of operation and the logistical capability to pull it off in a timely manner.

While such a program would likely put the rebels on more equal footing with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it could have long-term repercussions. A rapid, massive increase in the flow of weapons into Syria would inevitably result in guns falling into the hands of fighters who Washington fears would use them against U.S. interests in the future. Because to this risk, the imperative to keep the Syrian civil war and its long-term consequences manageable will frame U.S. decisions about whether and how to more forcefully intervene.
Analysis

Throughout Syria's civil war, the rebels have been outgunned by forces loyal to al Assad, which have access to a much wider spectrum of weapons. This imbalance has prompted continual pleas from rebel groups and their representatives for access to advanced small arms, including anti-tank guided missiles and man-portable air-defense systems, capable of offsetting the regime's armor and air power.

However, the West has resisted efforts to heed such calls. The Syrian opposition consists of hundreds of groups espousing a variety of ideologies, including secularism, nationalist Islamism and radical jihadism. The fear is that arming the wrong group would mean that, say, a man-portable air-defense system supplied initially for use against al Assad's air force could be used months or years later to attack an airplane full of civilians elsewhere in the world.

Syria: How U.S. Military Action Could Alter the Civil War

Approving a faction and supplying it weapons that would make a difference on the battlefield but could not be transferred to another group is difficult. The West wants to control exactly where the weapons go, but that is nearly impossible to achieve considering the number of third-party fighters involved in the war. Already there is considerable video evidence that weapons provided by foreign sponsors to the Free Syrian Army, an approved group, have ended up in the hands of jihadist groups.

After an alleged chemical weapons attack in June, the United States agreed in principle to arm the rebels. Since 2012, the CIA has overseen the vetting and arming of rebel groups with assistance from other countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. As a clandestine organization with responsibilities across the globe, it has been necessary to outsource much of this operation to third parties and manage it from afar. Weapons have indeed made it to Syria and been used to some effect, but the arming process has been slow and the volume delivered has been so small that their battlefield impact has been minimal. Presently, there is no evidence that the United States has provided any arms directly to the rebels.
Impact of Pentagon Control

Shifting oversight of the operation to the Pentagon and making it overt would leverage various assets that could rapidly accelerate the flow of weapons to the rebels. The Pentagon already has units that are designed for this type of task, specifically the U.S. Army Special Forces (known commonly as the Green Berets), though other special operations forces could also be utilized. One of the Green Beret's main unit missions is training foreign personnel in weapons usage and basic tactics. Moreover, the U.S. military's strategic logistics network is peerless and equipped to rapidly move huge amounts of material and numbers of men into theaters. The Pentagon simply is better able to move large volumes of weapons, along with soldiers who can teach rebels how to use them.

Done effectively, this effort could have positive effects on the ground for the rebels over a short time frame. Nonetheless, the risk of long-term repercussions would remain. Even if rebel groups could be vetted quickly enough to keep up with the influx of weapons, it would still be impossible to fully control the movements of weapons once they are in theater. In a combat zone, it must be assumed that a certain percentage of weapons will be sold, traded, stolen or simply given away.

These weapons would be operational for decades, and even ones with tracking chips or wired to fail after a certain amount of time could be modified by enterprising fighters or merchants. Some could be used against Western interests throughout the region once the focus shifts away from the al Assad regime. As demonstrated by the flow of arms away from Libya after the Western intervention there in 2011, such weapons can be used in unintended ways over a large geographic area.

Thus, U.S. planners will be weighing the option of arming the rebels in balance with the depth and scope of whatever strike operation in Syria, if any, is chosen. It is impossible for the United States to fully manage the Syrian civil war, but it will make every effort to contain the fallout.

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bigdog
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« Reply #172 on: September 07, 2013, 05:46:34 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/sunday-review/the-hands-tied-presidency.html?hp&_r=0

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/09/06/you_got_a_better_idea

http://www.theonion.com/articles/poll-majority-of-americans-approve-of-sending-cong,33752/?ref=auto
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #173 on: September 08, 2013, 10:47:50 AM »

http://nationalreview.com/corner/357646/mccains-moderate-rebel-army-well-quit-if-you-take-al-qaeda-away-andrew-c-mccarthy

AQ to kill Christians

http://frontpagemag.com/2013/raymond-ibrahim/al-qaeda-vows-to-slaughter-christians-after-u-s-liberates-syria/


Mission creep
http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-syria-strikes-20130908,0,6708714.story
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 10:54:56 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #174 on: September 08, 2013, 11:55:21 AM »

Watching the talking head cable shows this AM has slews of arguments for military action.  Every single one is illogical and basically is so confusing one can only conclude we should not get involved.

Just face it.  One cannot predict the outcome of war or guarantee results.

You go to war to defeat an enemy.  Not to manage outcomes around the world.

Now Drudge is suggesting Brock, Nobel peace winner is going to tie Syria to Iran.   All of sudden he is in a political jam and NOW he makes a case for action against an Iranian proxy?

This rational is even more crazy.

I don't believe the ineptitude.   This is all about the ONE.
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« Reply #175 on: September 08, 2013, 01:10:47 PM »

I was waiting for this.  It's about the Israel lobby.  It's the Jews again:

"The dirty little not-so-secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all. It’s about Iran—and Israel. And it has been from the start."

Quite the contrary Dreyfus.  Obama has done everything he can to do the opposite from the "Israel" lobby.

****Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

News of America's misadventures in foreign policy and defense.
.

Obama's Syria War Is Really About Iran and Israel

Bob Dreyfuss on September 5, 2013 - 12:25 PM ET

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The dirty little not-so-secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all. It’s about Iran—and Israel. And it has been from the start.

By “the start,” I mean 2011, when the Obama administration gradually became convinced that it could deal Iran a mortal blow by toppling President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a secular, Baathist strongman who is, despite all, an ally of Iran’s. Since then, taking Iran down a peg has been the driving force behind Obama’s Syria policy.

Not coincidentally, the White House plans to scare members of Congress into supporting the ill-conceived war plan by waving the Iranian flag in their faces. Even liberal Democrats, some of whom are opposing or questioning war with Syria, blanch at the prospect of opposing Obama and the Israel lobby over Iran.

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

Item for consideration: a new column by the Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the chief think tank of the Israel lobby. Andrew Tabler headlines his piece: “Attacking Syria Is the Best Way to Deal with Iran.” In it, he says:


At first glance, the festering Syria crisis seems bad news for diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. In actuality, however, achieving U.S. objectives in the Syria crisis is an opportunity to pressure Iran into making hard choices not only in Syria, but regarding its nuclear program as well. More U.S. involvement to achieve its objectives in Syria will inevitably run counter to Tehran’s interests, be it to punish the Assad regime for chemical weapons use or to show support for the Syrian opposition in changing Assad’s calculus and forcing him to “step aside” at the negotiating table or on the battlefield.

Many in U.S. policymaking circles have viewed containing swelling Iranian influence in Syria and preventing Iran from going nuclear as two distinct policy discussions, as the Obama Administration only has so much “bandwidth” to deal with Middle East threats. But the recent deepening of cooperation between Tehran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime, combined with their public acknowledgement of these activities, indicates that they themselves see these activities as furthering the efficacy of the “resistance axis.”

Like every alliance, its members will only make hard policy choices if the costs of its current policies far outweigh the benefits. U.S. strikes on the Assad regime, if properly calibrated as part of an overall plan to degrade the regime, would force Tehran to become more involved in Syria in order to rescue its stalwart ally. This would be costly for Iran financially, militarily and politically. Those costs would make the Iranian regime and its people reassess aspirations to go nuclear.

Needless to say, such a strategy is bound to be counterproductive, since—by slamming Syria, never mind toppling Assad—Washington is likely to undermine doves and bolster hawks in Tehran and undermine the chances for successful negotiations with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who’ll be speaking at the UN General Assembly later this month.

In fact, both Russia and Iran have signaled recently, in the wake of Syria’s obvious deployment and use of sarin gas and other deadly weapons that they might be getting ready to join the rest of the world in condemning Syria’s chemical warfare, and that makes it far more likely that the much-postponed US-Russia “Geneva II” peace conference on Syria might work. The hawkish Washington Post today notes Rouhani’s new administration in Tehran is softening its tone on Syria, and it reports that the new Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has acknowledged the Syria has erred, saying: “We believe that the government in Syria has made grave mistakes that have, unfortunately, paved the way for the situation in the country to be abused.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, while issuing scathing denunciations of the coming U.S. attack on Syria, has dropped broad hints that he might be willing to join with other nations if and when the United Nations weapons team concludes that Assad used nerve gas, suggesting that Russia might not block a UN Security Council resolution against Syria. In his much-reported interview with the Associated Press, Putin insisted on waiting for the UN report:


“If there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council. And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by intelligence agencies through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”

Then, according to the Washington Post, Putin declared that he might join a UN-sponsored coalition on Syria:


He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without U.N. approval, saying it would represent an aggression. Russia can veto resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

But a change in tone on the part of Russia and Iran—the latter of whom the Obama administration still refuses to invite to Geneva II if and when it occurs—won’t mean a thing if the object of war with Syria is to send a message to Iran. As Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg, says, for Israel it’s all about Iran:


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would prefer that Obama enforce his red line on chemical weapons use, because he would like to see proof that Obama believes in the red lines he draws. From Netanyahu’s perspective, Israel isn’t unduly threatened by Assad. Syria constitutes a dangerous, but ultimately manageable, threat.

Netanyahu believes, of course, that Iran, Syria’s primary sponsor, poses an existential threat to his country, and so would like the Iranians to understand very clearly that Obama’s red lines are, in fact, very red. As Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me last night, the formula is simple: “If the Iranians do not fear Obama, then the Israelis will lose confidence in Obama.”

In his round-robin television appearances on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry—now the administration’s über-hawk—repeatedly said that bombing Syria would send a message to Iran. As he told Fox News on Sunday:


“The fact is that if we act and if we act in concert, then Iran will know that this nation is capable of speaking with one voice on something like this, and that has serious, profound implications, I think, with respect to the potential of a confrontation over their nuclear program. That is one of the things that is at stake here.”****
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 02:34:27 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #176 on: September 08, 2013, 02:39:16 PM »

Some interesting action footage , , ,

http://www.mrcolionnoir.com/news/crazy-footage-of-syrian-resistance-fighters-getting-vaporized/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #177 on: September 09, 2013, 08:10:28 AM »

As quoted in the Huckabee e-newsletter:

75,000 Ground Troops

One big concern about a strike toppling the Syrian government is that if Bashar al-Assad has chemical weapons – and nobody seriously doubts that – what happens to his weapons?... ….The possibility of al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel groups gaining access to Assad’s chemical weapons is already keeping planners at the Pentagon awake at night. The British newspaper, the Daily Mail, claims that an anonymous Defense Department official told them of a secret report on Assad’s chemical weapons program. It was prepared for President Obama last year, at the request of the NSA. According to the source, US Central Command estimates that it would take more than 75,000 ground troops to go into Syria and secure the chemical weapons factories and stockpiles. So if you wonder why Obama keeps talking about striking Assad but not doing enough to drive him out of power, it’s easier to understand once you know what the alternative would be.

Question:  What if Baraq backs off (e.g. Congress votes no and he uses that as an out) and the civil war continues leading to the risk of capture of the chems by FSA forces?  By AQ forces?  Do we go in and take them?

« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 08:25:05 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #178 on: September 09, 2013, 08:41:22 AM »

second post

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/8/rep-buck-mckeon-obama-can-win-syria-votes-undoing-/
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« Reply #179 on: September 09, 2013, 11:51:55 AM »

Third post

WSJ

Syria 'Welcomes' Russian Call to Give Up Chemical Weapons
Foreign Minister Is Cagey About Compliance After Rare Russian Push
By  JAMES MARSON And NICHOLAS WINNING


Russia backed a demand by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Syria put its chemical weapons under international control and then destroy them—a proposal that, according to Russian media reports, Syria said it welcomed, without saying whether it would comply.

Mr. Kerry said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government could prevent U.S. military action in response to what the U.S. said was a chemical-weapons attack on Aug. 21 by handing over its chemical weapons to the international community. Syria has denied using chemical weapons and blamed Syrian rebels for the attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday echoed that narrative on Friday, saying the attack was a provocation by the opposition to win international military aid.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, one of the strongest supporters of the Assad regime, urged Syria to comply with Mr. Kerry's call.

"We are calling on the Syrian leadership not just to agree to put chemical-weapons stores under international control, but also to their subsequent destruction, as well as fully fledged accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention," Mr. Lavrov said.

Mr. Moallem didn't provide any specifics, other than to say that Syria welcomed the Russian proposal.

"The Syrian Arab republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the concerns of the Russian leadership for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Moscow, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

He said Syria agreed to the proposal "out of our faith in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is striving to prevent American aggression against our people."

Mr. Moallem didn't provide any further details of how soon Syria might agree to the Russian proposal or whether Damascus supported both turning over its chemical weapons to international monitors and ultimately destroying them, as Mr. Lavrov proposed.

Mr. Moallem didn't address Russia's call for Damascus to accede to the global convention banning chemical weapons.

The Russian proposals were a rare sign of apparent agreement between Moscow and Washington, as President Barack Obama mounts an intensive campaign to convince Congress and the American public that a military strike on Syria is necessary in response to what the U.S. said was the killing of over 1,400 people with chemical weapons on Aug. 21.

Russia has supported Mr. Assad in the country's civil war and has opposed U.S. plans for a strike against Mr. Assad's forces

Mr. Kerry, who has been traveling through Europe in recent days on a diplomatic push, said earlier on Monday in London that it was clear the Syrian government was unwilling to relinquish control of its chemical weapons.

Enlarge Image
image
image
European Pressphoto Agency

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague speak to the media in the Foreign Office in London on Monday.
Related Articles

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    Kerry Says Arab League Condemns Assad Regime

President Obama, in a week poised to define his second term, will press his case in coming days to Americans wary of opening a new military front in the Middle East, including a nationally televised address Tuesday evening. He also is sending aides to hold closed-door intelligence briefings for members of Congress about the alleged gassing deaths of more than 1,400 Syrian civilians by Mr. Assad's forces.

At a joint news conference in London with his British counterpart, Mr. Kerry said there was no question the Assad regime was responsible for the Damascus chemical attack. It has a "huge stock" of chemical weapons, and the movement and use of them was tightly controlled by Mr. Assad himself, his brother, and a general, whom he didn't name, he said.

Asked whether there was anything the Syrian government could do to stop U.S. strikes, Mr. Kerry said, "Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week ... without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that, but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done, obviously."
Timeline: Punitive Strikes

U.S. military action against Syria likely would join a growing list of instances in which the U.S. has fired Tomahawk cruise missiles.

View Graphics

Mr. Kerry said he understood the legacy of the Iraq conflict, but that the U.S. administration wasn't "going to war" in Syria.

"We will be able to hold Bashar Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war," he said.

A broad international coalition is central to the U.S. administration's efforts to persuade American lawmakers that military action has international support before they vote on the issue this week.

Mr. Obama's top challenge, as Congress returns Monday from summer recess, will be to find backing from enough lawmakers for a resolution authorizing a strike. The president faces an unusual alliance seeking to block military action, one comprised of the president's closest allies among liberal Democrats—including members of the Congressional Black Caucus—and his most strident critics among Republicans.

The administration's argument is that the U.S. case that Mr. Assad's forces used chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack is now settled—an assertion that Mr. Assad denied in an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS and CBS.

"We are no longer debating whether it happened or whether it didn't happen," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on CNN, part of a blitz of television interviews Sunday. "Congress has an opportunity this week to answer a simple question: Should there be consequences for him for having used that material?"

Mr. Obama will also go to Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with Senate Democrats, a Senate Democratic aide said.

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a resolution authorizing Mr. Obama to use force in Syria. The current resolution, which could be amended, backs a military mission designed, in part, to change the momentum of the Syrian civil war and set the stage for Mr. Assad's departure.

But it isn't clear whether Congress—particularly the House, where Mr. Obama faces a more difficult battle—will back such a measure. Many lawmakers have said they oppose the resolution as too broad, and their contention likely was bolstered during the recess as they heard constituents back home voice concern. The House isn't expected to vote before next week.

After a week of intense White House lobbying on Capitol Hill following Mr. Obama's surprise decision to seek authorization from Congress for a military strike, some lawmakers say they remain unsure who was responsible for the alleged chemical-weapons attack or remain unconvinced a strike would be the appropriate response.

White House officials, including Mr. Obama, have argued that if Congress fails to pass a resolution the U.S. will be seen as less credible on the international stage and adversaries such as Iran and the Lebanese-based militant political group Hezbollah would be emboldened.

The White House has left open the possibility that Mr. Obama would proceed with military action if a vote in Congress fails. Administration officials also haven't ruled out presidential action if the House and Senate pass different resolutions yet are unable to agree on a compromise measure, but say it is too early to consider such a scenario.

In Moscow on Monday, Russia's Mr. Lavrov said—after talks with his Syrian counterpart—that military strikes on Syria could cause an "outburst of terrorism" in the region and trigger a new wave of refugees.

But Mr. Kerry said the risk of not acting in Syria was greater than the risk of acting. "I don't believe we can shy from this moment," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron had been a strong advocate of international military action to target Syria's alleged chemical-weapons capabilities, but he was forced to rule out British involvement after failing to convince the U.K. parliament to back his plans in a vote—a setback for Washington's efforts to build support for a show of force in Syria.  British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Mr. Kerry devoted a sizable part of their opening remarks at their joint news conference to expressing how U.K.-U.S. relations—the so-called "special relationship"—remained strong.  Mr. Hague said Britain supported the U.S. work toward Syrian peace talks in Geneva, addressing the humanitarian crisis from the Syrian conflict, supporting the moderate opposition in the civil war, and getting strong support for a response to Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.  Mr. Kerry said the relationship between the two longtime allies was described as special and essential because it was so, based on shared values on freedom, opportunity and rights.

"Our bond ... is bigger than one vote, bigger than one moment in history," he said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #180 on: September 09, 2013, 01:44:08 PM »

4th post

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/01/21/saudi-inmates-fight-syria-commute-death-sentences/1852629/
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rickn
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« Reply #181 on: September 09, 2013, 04:40:18 PM »

The Russian offer is a good way for Putin to get back those chemicals, delivery mechannisms and other agents that he and the USSR sent to Assad's father and to the late Saddam Hussein.  We would not want to find that a permanent member of the UN Security Council had been trading those items in violation of the 1993 UN Treaty - would we?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #182 on: September 09, 2013, 07:08:58 PM »

Rick:

That is a very interesting thought!

Question:  What chance was there of the West getting its hands on the physical evidence?  Wasn't Baraq just talking purposeful misses and goodness! we would NEVER do anything to actually go get the chems!

What chance do you think there is of this actually coming together?  At the moment it looks like it could sure get our CiC partially out of the corner into which he has painted us and himself.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #183 on: September 10, 2013, 09:35:22 AM »

"The Russian offer is a good way for Putin to get back those chemicals, delivery mechannisms and other agents that he and the USSR sent to Assad's father and to the late Saddam Hussein.  We would not want to find that a permanent member of the UN Security Council had been trading those items in violation of the 1993 UN Treaty - would we?"

Yes, interesting to wonder what motivates Putin; he is certainly not concerned helping the US our Pres. Obama or the our best interests of the civilized world.  I was wondering if we will ever know what part of Assad's stock came from Saddam. 

Another post mentioned horse trading.  If Putin helps Obama save face here, what is he expecting in return?  ("Please tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility to [unilaterally disarm] after my reelection.")
---------------------------
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/10/politics/us-syria-obama-solutions/

(CNN) -- It's a stunning turn of events that could change everything on Syria.

Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons.
--------------------------

Nothing scares a nation into pleading guilty and giving up its arsenal like "facing the threat of a U.S. military strike" that is "unbelievably small".  Something else is going on here.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #184 on: September 10, 2013, 10:07:22 AM »

After we kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait with The Gulf War, the deal was that he would turn over his WMD.  In 1997 SH drove out the UN inspectors.  With his impeachment President Clinton "wagged the dog" and , , , then did nothing.  President Bush 43 then came in with SH's WMD whereabouts still unknown-- and these ten years plus where with Iraq at peace.

Here the country is in the middle of a vicious civil war.  Only last week, the UN inspectors were shot at and had to retreat.  So exactly how is this to play out?

Peering into my very murky and very cracked crystal ball, I'm thinking Putin-Assad's play will be to call for a cease fire (i.e. Assad gets to stay in power) and then, with only an "incredibly tiny" attack by an incredibly-grateful-for-getting-his-ass-bailed-out-by-Putin Baraq to fear, Putin-Assad will stall and dither forever. 
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DougMacG
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« Reply #185 on: September 10, 2013, 10:25:30 AM »

"Assad gets to stay in power... Putin-Assad will stall and dither forever."

Bret Stephens, WSJ, has a similar view:

"All Americans are reduced when Mr. Kerry, attempting to distinguish an attack on Syria with the war in Iraq, described the former as "unbelievably small." Does the secretary propose to stigmatize the use of chemical weapons by bombarding Bashar Assad, evil tyrant, with popcorn? When did the American way of war go from shock-and-awe to forewarn-and-irritate?

Americans are reduced, also, when an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Kerry becomes the basis of a Russian diplomatic initiative—immediately seized by an Assad regime that knows a sucker's game when it sees one—to hand over Syria's stocks of chemical weapons to international control. So now we're supposed to embark on months of negotiation, mediated by our friends the Russians, to get Assad to relinquish a chemical arsenal he used to deny having, now denies using, and will soon deny secretly maintaining?"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323623304579059571477464750.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #186 on: September 10, 2013, 09:33:22 PM »

A friend with a strong military background comments:

I'll start, but probably not finish, the list of why Russia wins:

1) Russia got inside our OODA loop in on of the most elegant moves you're likely to see.  Kerry blurted out an option that wasn't really on the table for Syria.  Russia called his bluff.  Russia acted brilliantly and decisively when the world has watched our leadership flail like the amateurs they are.

2) Russia has control of the situation/timing in Syria, not us.  We certainly aren't going to act against Syria while Russia keeps giving us smiley face reports on how Assad needs just a bit longer to turn over his chem.  You have to cut them some slack, my American friends, they're in the middle of a civil war. Blah, blah, blah, until they win. 

3) Russia stepped back up to the big table in the Middle East.  The last time anyone really gave a damn what the Russians thought about the Middle East was in 1973 (apart from when they sent that message to the kidnappers in Beirut in the early 1980s).  Now they're driving the train.

4) Russia keeps its warm water port and ally in the region.  Because Russia controls the timing of our operations, it can keep us from tilting the odds against Assad. 

5) If we gripe about how the Syrians are taking too long to live up to their end of the deal, we look like whiners and the Russians look like the mature ones.

6) Russia will have a freer hand in helping Syria with troops and advisors.  After all, they'll need folks operating on the ground to facilitate the Syrians' transfer of the chem.  If you're into realpolitik, this is probably in our interest and that of the Israelis, but makes us look even more impotent.

7) There is no downside for Russia as far as "pressure to be a good international citizen." Who, exactly, is going to hold them to account?  And what would holding them to account even look like?

Cool Do we really believe that Assad is going to turn over weapons he denies he even has? I seem to recall similar WMD inspection efforts in the Middle East taking quite awhile and not ending particularly productively.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #187 on: September 10, 2013, 10:31:18 PM »

"A friend with a strong military background comments..."

Yes, all very well put.  Outmaneuvered is an extreme understatement on so many levels.  We are settling in to watch a puppet show.  Putin shows the type of influence we once wished we had.  He snapped his fingers and people responded - events turned his way.  We snap ours and things turn the opposite way.

Reagan said trust but verify, but no one said we could control them.  Putin will be in control of timing and process and will be a wimpering puppy. 

The only way to deal with a power like Russia is to know they will act in their interest, and we are their rival, if not enemy.  Even Kerry and Obama must know they are not going to act in ours.  Watching them rely on Putin and get their strings pulled in not going to be pretty.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #188 on: September 11, 2013, 12:17:36 AM »

What could be worse for America's standing in the world than a Congress refusing to support a President's proposal for military action against a rogue regime that used WMD? Here's one idea: A U.S. President letting that rogue be rescued from military punishment by the country that has protected the rogue all along.

That's where President Obama now finds himself on Syria after he embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to take custody of Bashar Assad's chemical weapons. The move may rescue Mr. Obama and Congress from the political agony of a vote on a resolution to authorize a military strike on Syria. But the diplomatic souk is now open, and Mr. Obama has turned himself into one of the junior camel traders.

What a fiasco. Secretary of State John Kerry, of all people, first floated this escape route for Assad on Monday in Europe where he was supposed to be rallying diplomatic support for a strike. The remark appeared to be off-the-cuff, but with Mr. Kerry and this Administration you never know. In any case before Mr. Kerry's plane had landed in the U.S., Russia's foreign minister had lept on the idea and proposed to take custody of Assad's chemical arsenal to forestall U.S. military action.

The White House should have rebuffed the offer given Russia's long protection of Assad at the United Nations—a fact noted with scorn on Monday by Mr. Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice. Instead Mr. Obama endorsed the Russian gambit as what "could potentially be a significant breakthrough." The Senate immediately called off its Wednesday vote on the military resolution. By Tuesday Assad had accepted the offer that he hopes will spare him from a military strike.

France will press for a U.N. Security Council resolution supposedly for U.N. inspectors to supervise the dismantling of Syria's stockpiles, though Russia will no doubt try to put itself in the lead inspecting role. On Tuesday Russia was even objecting to a French draft that would blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons. Mr. Putin also insisted the U.S. must first disavow any military action in Syria, even as he and Iran make no such pledge.

On second thought, fiasco is too kind for this spectacle. Russia has publicly supported Assad's denials that he used sarin gas, but we are now supposed to believe it will thoroughly scrub Syria of those weapons. We are also supposed to believe Assad will come clean about the weapons he has long denied having and still denies using.

Oh, and we can be confident of this because U.N. or Russian inspectors or someone will be able to locate the entire chemical arsenal, pack up arms that require enormous care in transport, and then monitor future compliance in the continuing war zone that is Syria.

Even if you believe this will happen, or is even possible, Assad will emerge without punishment for having used chemical weapons. He can also be confident that there will be no future Western military action against him. Mr. Obama won't risk another ramp-up to war given the opposition at home and abroad to this effort.

Assad will also know he can unleash his conventional forces anew against the rebels, and Iran and Russia will know they can arm him with impunity. The rebels had better brace themselves for a renewed assault. At the very least, Mr. Obama should compensate for his diplomatic surrender by finally following through on his June promise to arm and train the moderate Free Syrian Army. Otherwise he runs the risk of facilitating an Assad-Iran-Russian triumph.

The alacrity with which Mr. Obama embraced Russia's offer suggests a President who was looking for his own political escape route. His campaign to win congressional support has lost ground in the week since he needlessly blundered into proposing it. His effort to rally international support foundered last week at the G-20, where Mr. Putin looked dominant, and Mr. Obama's approval rating has been falling at home.

In his Tuesday speech, Mr. Obama tried to put his best face on all of this. He took credit for it by claiming that his threat of "unbelievably small" military force, as Mr. Kerry advertised it, induced Assad to see the light. He claimed that he had personally floated the idea of international monitoring of Syria's weapons. But this admission merely underscores how eager Mr. Obama is to find a Syria exit short of having to follow through on his military threats. His speech amounted to a call to support a military strike that his actions suggest he desperately wants to avoid.

The world will see through this spin. A British commentator in the Telegraph on Monday called this "the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began," and that's only a mild exaggeration. A weak and inconstant U.S. President has been maneuvered by America's enemies into claiming that a defeat for his Syria policy is really a triumph.

The Iranians will take it as a signal that they can similarly trap Mr. Obama in a diplomatic morass that claims to have stopped their nuclear program. Israel will conclude the same and will now have to decide if it must risk a solo strike on Tehran. America's friends and foes around the world will recalculate the risks ahead in the 40 dangerous months left of this unserious Presidency.
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« Reply #189 on: September 11, 2013, 06:32:35 AM »

crafty -

The risk to Putin would have been more thorough UN inspections after the strikes.  At that time, a Russian link to the chemical weapons could have been discovered.  So, Syria (with Russian support) agrees to turn over the weapons.  Note - that does not state permit inspections before turning over the weapons.  Both Assad's father and Saddam Hussein received Soviet military aid.

Also, I don't think that Kerry's comment was a throw-away.  I think that he was urged to make that statement - and make it seem a throw-away. 
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« Reply #190 on: September 11, 2013, 07:37:15 AM »

Obama's Successful Foreign Failure

The president may look incompetent on Syria. But his behavior fits his strategy to weaken America abroad.
By NORMAN PODHORETZ - September 8, 2013

It is entirely understandable that Barack Obama's way of dealing with Syria in recent weeks should have elicited responses ranging from puzzlement to disgust. Even members of his own party are despairingly echoing in private the public denunciations of him as "incompetent," "bungling," "feckless," "amateurish" and "in over his head" coming from his political opponents on the right.

For how else to characterize a president who declares war against what he calls a great evil demanding immediate extirpation and in the next breath announces that he will postpone taking action for at least 10 days—and then goes off to play golf before embarking on a trip to another part of the world? As if this were not enough, he also assures the perpetrator of that great evil that the military action he will eventually take will last a very short time and will do hardly any damage. Unless, that is, he fails to get the unnecessary permission he has sought from Congress, in which case (according to an indiscreet member of his own staff) he might not take any military action after all.


Getty Images
President Obama on Friday at the G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Summing up the net effect of all this, as astute a foreign observer as Conrad Black can flatly say that, "Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and before that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States."

Yet if this is indeed the pass to which Mr. Obama has led us—and I think it is—let me suggest that it signifies not how incompetent and amateurish the president is, but how skillful. His foreign policy, far from a dismal failure, is a brilliant success as measured by what he intended all along to accomplish. The accomplishment would not have been possible if the intention had been too obvious. The skill lies in how effectively he has used rhetorical tricks to disguise it.

The key to understanding what Mr. Obama has pulled off is the astonishing statement he made in the week before being elected president: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." To those of us who took this declaration seriously, it meant that Mr. Obama really was the left-wing radical he seemed to be, given his associations with the likes of the anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, not to mention the intellectual influence over him of Saul Alinsky, the original "community organizer."

So far as domestic affairs were concerned, it soon became clear—even to some of those who had persuaded themselves that Mr. Obama was a moderate and a pragmatist—that the fundamental transformation he had in mind was to turn this country into as close a replica of the social-democratic countries of Europe as the constraints of our political system allowed.

Since he had enough support for the policies that this objective entailed, those constraints were fairly loose, and so he only needed a minimum of rhetorical deception in pursuing it. All it took was to deny he was doing what he was doing by frequently singing the praises of the free-enterprise system he was assiduously working to undermine, by avoiding the word "socialism," by invoking "fairness" as an overriding ideal and by playing on resentment of the "rich."

But foreign policy was another matter. As a left-wing radical, Mr. Obama believed that the United States had almost always been a retrograde and destructive force in world affairs. Accordingly, the fundamental transformation he wished to achieve here was to reduce the country's power and influence. And just as he had to fend off the still-toxic socialist label at home, so he had to take care not to be stuck with the equally toxic "isolationist" label abroad.

This he did by camouflaging his retreats from the responsibilities bred by foreign entanglements as a new form of "engagement." At the same time, he relied on the war-weariness of the American people and the rise of isolationist sentiment (which, to be sure, dared not speak its name) on the left and right to get away with drastic cuts in the defense budget, with exiting entirely from Iraq and Afghanistan, and with "leading from behind" or using drones instead of troops whenever he was politically forced into military action.

The consequent erosion of American power was going very nicely when the unfortunately named Arab Spring presented the president with several juicy opportunities to speed up the process. First in Egypt, his incoherent moves resulted in a complete loss of American influence, and now, thanks to his handling of the Syrian crisis, he is bringing about a greater diminution of American power than he probably envisaged even in his wildest radical dreams.

For this fulfillment of his dearest political wishes, Mr. Obama is evidently willing to pay the price of a sullied reputation. In that sense, he is by his own lights sacrificing himself for what he imagines is the good of the nation of which he is the president, and also to the benefit of the world, of which he loves proclaiming himself a citizen.

The problem for Mr. Obama is that at least since the end of World War II, Americans have taken pride in being No. 1. Unless the American people have been as fundamentally transformed as their country is quickly becoming, America's decline will not sit well. With more than three years in office to go, will Mr. Obama be willing and able to endure the continuing erosion of his popularity that will almost certainly come with the erosion of the country's power and influence?

No doubt he will either deny that anything has gone wrong, or failing that, he will resort to his favorite tactic of blaming others—Congress or the Republicans or Rush Limbaugh. But what is also almost certain is that he will refuse to change course and do the things that will be necessary to restore U.S. power and influence.

And so we can only pray that the hole he will go on digging will not be too deep for his successor to pull us out, as Ronald Reagan managed to do when he followed a president into the White House whom Mr. Obama so uncannily resembles.

Mr. Podhoretz was the editor of Commentary from 1960-95. His most recent book is "Why Are Jews Liberals?" (Doubleday, 2009).
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« Reply #191 on: September 11, 2013, 09:05:12 AM »

Rick:

I was not aware that UN inspections after Baraq's threatened strikes were part of the equation.  I thought it was more "shoot & scoot".

Marc
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« Reply #192 on: September 11, 2013, 10:52:56 AM »

"Obama delivered the clearest, the most concise and the most morally compelling foreign-policy address of his presidency.
This observation is not designed as cheerleading for Obama."

Me:   The problem is, Mr. Shapiro, once one is a known outright serial liar there is nothing one can say that has any credibility.  Just wait till Iran has a few dozen nuclear devices.  If you think we have trouble now just we wait.  And wait we are doing.

****Obama’s message on Syria: Look the other way or accept moral duty?

President Barack Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. President Obama blended the threat of military action with the hope of a diplomatic solution as he works to strip Syria of its chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Walter Shapiro
Walter Shapiro 2 hours ago  PoliticsBarack ObamaSyria
 
As a long ago White House speechwriter (Jimmy Carter) and a devoted student of presidential rhetoric, I have spent the past 24 hours searching for a historical parallel to Barack Obama’s address to the nation on Syria.

We are used to presidential speeches on war (Vietnam, the Gulf War, the 9/11 horrors, Afghanistan, Iraq and the many smaller struggles along the way). Occasionally, we have reveled in presidents announcing breakthroughs for peace, whether it was the end of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis or the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian accords.

But never has a president — down in the polls and stymied in Congress — spoken to the nation in prime time about an unpopular attack that he may not launch against a nation that is not a direct security threat to the United States. Just to add to the degree of rhetorical difficulty, this punitive bombing lacks the support of the United Nations, NATO or even our most loyal ally, Great Britain.

But Tuesday night — after a day of diplomatic flurries that may have averted the immediate crisis — Obama delivered the clearest, the most concise and the most morally compelling foreign-policy address of his presidency.

This observation is not designed as cheerleading for Obama. The president blundered into the crisis with ill-thought-out threats about “red lines” over chemical weapons; he waited too long to go to Congress; and may have only been rescued when the Russians — up to now, Bashar Assad’s enabler — seized on what may have been an accidental comment by Secretary of State John Kerry.

In short, misjudgments by the Obama national security team have made the selling of an air war over Syria even more difficult than it otherwise would have been.

But in many ways, Obama redeemed himself Tuesday night with a powerful invocation of American exceptionalism. “When, with modest effort and risk,” the president said, “we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer in the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes America exceptional.”

Critics have suggested that since Obama has postponed congressional votes that he appeared likely to lose, the speech was a wasted interruption of prime-time programming. That interpretation is simply wrong. Ever since Obama decided to go to Congress for approval of what he regards as the least-bad policy in Syria, we have been treated to a fascinating preview of foreign policy debates in the age of social media.

In prior crises, the president’s meetings with leading figures in Congress have been shrouded in secrecy. Now there are endless live interviews and immediate Twitter feeds summarizing closed sessions. There has, in fact, been more transparency on Syria than on, say, the Obama-John Boehner budget negotiations.



..View gallery."
Syria - History of politics and conflict from 1920 …
March 8, 2005 - A Syrian soldier riding on top of a tank gestures after leaving his position, in Dah …

Maybe what we are seeing here is how foreign policy gets made in a post-Iraq environment. Even as the polling turned against Obama, the American people also expressed comfort with the notion that a president has to go to Congress for permission to bomb another country when American lives are not on the line. A recent Pew Research Center/USA Today poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe that Congress — not the president — needs to authorize air strikes over Damascus.

This is as it should be. Even though Obama has repeatedly said that he believes that he has the authority to act on his own, most constitutional experts from both the right and left say that it would be a dangerous over-assertion of presidential power.

Obama acknowledged the historic belittling of Congress’ constitutional powers in Tuesday night’s speech when he talked about “a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president … while sidelining the people’s representatives from critical decisions about when we use force.” Of course, Obama himself contributed to this dangerous growth of the Imperial Presidency when he declined to go to Congress for authorization to wage the 2011 air campaign over Libya.

But Obama now has turned to Congress — and set an important precedent for the future. As he put it, “I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take the debate to Congress.”

As a result, we are discussing Syria in the open with all the messiness that comes with democracy. Advocates of unbridled presidential power may not like it, but this approach comes a lot closer to what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

We have also learned in recent days that the American people are rightly skeptical of military operations solely designed to make a point. That’s why the hardest argument for Obama to make is explaining the national security benefits that would flow from an air strike designed “to deter Assad from using chemical weapons” and “to degrade his regime’s ability to use them.”

“Deter” and “degrade” are not normally fighting words. And once again Tuesday night, Obama repeated his promise, “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.” In fact, the pledge of no boots on the ground has been made so often by administration officials that it almost seems that we are more likely to invade Denmark than Syria.

Hypotheticals are always tricky, but I wonder how the American people might have reacted if Obama had ever followed through on his initial resolve that Bashar Assad must go. There was a hopeful moment, back in 2011, when Islamic militants represented only a small portion of the uprising against Assad. Even then our aversion to foreign military operations probably would have prevented majority support for actively aiding the Syrian rebels. But that goal would have, at least, given a strategic coherence to what Obama and Company were trying to achieve.

But no American should minimize the barbarism of chemical weapons. In a world where civil wars are raging and terrorism is an ongoing threat, it may seem prissy to talk about the rules of war. But the horrors of a chemical warfare attack are a century old. Wilfred Owen, the British poet who died in the final week of World War I, captured the soldier’s-eye memories of a gas attack:



.Crisis In Syria: Presidential Address to the Natio ….Play video."
Crisis In Syria: Presidential Address to the Natio …
“Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling and stumbling,

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…”

The truth is that we are by choice and by fate the only nation in the world that can enforce the rules of war and, yes, take steps to prevent atrocities. It was our decision as a people to remain the greatest military power on the face of the earth both after World War II and the American victory in the Cold War. We have become the indispensable nation, and the other countries of the world are free riders when we offer to take the risks and bear the burden of preventing a dictator from gassing his own people.

After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are understandably war weary and gimlet-eyed realists about what can happen when the pronouncements of politicians collide with the realities of 21st-century combat. There are no slam-dunks and not everything that starts “limited” ends up “limited.”

But we also can go too far in the other direction as we flee from any course of action that has even the flicker of military risks. Syria is a charnel house, an inferno of despair — and America is the only nation on the face of the earth that can do anything significant to limit the suffering.

After our history of ill-fated wars and hyperbolic claims, we may not choose to take up that burden. We may decide that our problems are too grave at home for another bout of international altruism. We may decide that the evidence of Syrian chemical attacks is too ambiguous, or we may distrust Obama too much to believe that a military operation would change things for the better.

But no American should be blind to the reality that we have made a choice. We have decided to stay on the sidelines and hope for the best. Hope that maybe a United Nations resolution or Russian intervention or Syrian fears can succeed in eliminating Assad’s chemical arsenal.

As Obama declared Tuesday night, “When dictators commit atrocities, they depend on the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory.”

This is the choice facing America this morning: Do we avert our eyes or do we sadly and grimly accept our moral duty?****
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« Reply #193 on: September 11, 2013, 11:36:17 AM »

Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries
By Dmitry Chen
10 Sep 2013

“And when, on a gentle spring morning after several days of siege, that host streamed through a breach in the walls of Damascus, murder and pillage ensued that scarce abated with the sunset.”

No, this isn’t a prediction. It is from a novel I wrote about eighth-century Syria, Iran and Iraq.

I hate being a prophet.

If we (Europe, Russia, the U.S.) all stick our military hands into Syria, there will be plenty of quiet chuckles echoing through the Arab world: “Welcome, you idiots, to exactly where we wanted you. Now do the dirty job for us.”

To understand what is happening in Syria, one must look at the larger picture. And that larger picture is the ancient and bitter Arab-Iranian rivalry, today manifested in the Arab world’s attempts to nip off bits of the Iranian sphere of influence, this particular bit being Syria.

When the conflict began, there was no America. There was no Europe, not really (we have to wait for Charlemagne to be born). The eastern Roman Empire was half alive, half gobbled up by the Arabs. And Iran -- well, it had been wiped out as an enlightened, ancient empire a century before, in 651. After that, the Arabs took a long rest on the borders of Sogd (modern-day central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand), which they began to conquer only in 712.

Why the rivalry? Why did the conquerors (the Arabs) so loathe the conquered (the Iranians)? That’s where the eighth century comes in. A hundred years after the Arabs destroyed Iran, their own empire, which stretched from Spain to the Chinese border, was a teetering wreck, being devoured from the inside by rivalries and bad government.

Then, in 747, a revolt began in Iran that would eventually overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, replacing it with the Abbasids. The Abbasids would go on to build Baghdad and rule the huge Islamic caliphate for 500 years -- until the arrival of Genghis Khan and his Horde.

Yes, the Abbasids were Arabs, but their scribes, builders and literati were Iranians and the Arabs who cared to learn from them. As a result, the Iranians gradually all but took over their conqueror’s empire from the inside.
What an exquisite revenge -- an ancient nation that refused to give in, even when it was impossible to hold on.

Are there echoes of this stubbornness in current Iranian negotiating behavior regarding nuclear proliferation? There are. One needs to understand the roots of this ancient nation to appreciate how the Iranians negotiate against all odds -- just as they did in the eighth century, refusing to believe they were finished. And no, they won’t give in today.

Here is the crucial bit: The Arab-Iranian divide is far more than cultural. In the eighth century, subjugated Iran was also abandoning its ancient religion -- Zoroastrianism -- and creating its own, unique strand of Islam, Shiite, that stood in opposition to the dominant Sunni strand favored by the Abbasids.

A historian would tell us to remember that today’s conflict in Syria can be traced back to an Arab-Iranian -- Sunni-Shiite - - rivalry that is 13 centuries old.

This novelist can tell you that he has been there, back in eighth-century Damascus, and the streets were drenched in blood.

One thousand two hundred sixty-six years have passed. Unfortunately, little has changed.

Dmitry Chen is a Russian-born author of eight novels, including The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas, which has just been published in English. It takes place in eighth-century Syria, Iran, Iraq and Sogdia.
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« Reply #194 on: September 11, 2013, 06:40:08 PM »


Analysis

Editor's note: Periodically, Stratfor publishes guidance produced for its analysis team and shares it with readers. This guidance sets the parameters used in our own ongoing examination and assessment of events surrounding Syria's use of chemical weapons as the crisis evolves into a confrontation between the United States and Russia. Given the importance we ascribe to this fast-evolving standoff, we believe it important that readers have access to this additional insight.

In the wake of President Barack Obama's change of tack from a strike on Syria, the threat of war has not dissolved. It has, however, been pushed off beyond this round of negotiations.

The president's minimalist claims are in place, but they are under serious debate. There is no chance of an attack on chemical weapons stockpiles. Therefore, the attack, if any, will be on command and control and political targets. Obama has options on the table and there will be force in place for any contingency he selects. Nothing is locked in despite public statements and rhetoric in Washington, London, Paris or Moscow.

Remember that all public statements now are meant to obscure real plans and intentions. They are intended to shape the environment. Read them, but do not look at them as anything more than tactics.

The issue has morphed into a U.S.-Russian confrontation. Russia's goal is to be seen as an equal of the United States. It wins if it can be seen as a protagonist of the United States. If it can appear that Washington has refrained from an attack because of Russian maneuvers, Moscow's weight increases dramatically. This is particularly the case along Russia's periphery, where doubts of American power abound and concern over Russian power abides.

This is not merely appearance. After all that has been said, if the United States buys into some Russian framework, it will not be seen as a triumph of diplomacy; it will be seen as the United States lacking the will to act and being pushed away out of concern for the Russians.

The Russian ploy on weapons controls was followed by the brilliant move of abandoning strike options. Obama's speech the night of Sept. 10 was addressed to the U.S. public and Obama's highly fractured base; some of his support base opposes and some -- a particular audience -- demands action.

He cannot let Syria become the focus of his presidency, and he must be careful that the Russians do not lay a trap for him. He is not sure what that trap might look like, and that's what is unnerving him as it would any president. Consequently, he has bought time, using the current American distaste for military action in the Middle East. But he is aware that this week's dislike of war can turn into next week's contempt on charges of weakness. Obama is an outstanding politician and he knows he is in quicksand.

The Russians have now launched a diplomatic offensive that emphasizes to both the Arabs in the Persian Gulf opposing Bashar al Assad and the Iranians supporting him that a solution is available through them. It requires only that they ask the Americans to abandon plans for action. The message is that Russia will solve the chemical weapons problem, and implicitly, collaborate with them to negotiate a settlement.

Obama's speech on Sept. 10, constrained by domestic opinion, came across as unwilling to confront the Russians or al Assad. The Russians are hoping this has unnerved al Assad's opponents sufficiently to cause them to use the Russians as their interlocutors. If this fails the Russians have lost nothing. They can say they were statesmen. If it succeeds, they can actually nudge the regional balance of power.

The weakness of the Russian position is that it has no real weight. The limit on American military action is purely domestic politics. If the United States chooses to hit Syria, Russia can do nothing about it and will be made to look weak, the tables thus turned on them.

At this point, all signs indicate that the domestic considerations dominate U.S. decision-making. If the Russian initiative begins to work, however, Obama will be forced to consider the consequences and will likely act. The Arabs suspect this and therefore will encourage the Russians, hoping to force the U.S. into action.

The idea that this imbroglio will somehow disappear is certainly one that Obama is considering. But the Russians will not want that to happen. They do not want to let Obama off the hook and their view is that he will not act. Against this backdrop, they can appear to be the nemesis of the United States, its equal in power and its superior in cunning and diplomacy.

This is the game to watch. It is not ending but still very much evolving.

Read more: Analytic Guidance: The Syria Crisis | Stratfor
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« Reply #195 on: September 12, 2013, 09:59:47 AM »

A friend comments:

=============================================

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/11/pro-syrian-opposition-analyst-fired-for-lying-on-resume/

I saw this earlier and was not surprised.  What concerns me is that the "powers that be" know this is going on. They know the facts, and choose to ignore the facts.

What are the real agendas behind O and Kerry (BTW, I was in Vietnam)? 

This is not about the use of Chemical Weapons at all. If it had been, action would have been taken over a year ago. Instead, they wait until now, even though there is no actual evidence to link Assad to the use of the weapons.

Is the real reason the desire for Saudi Arabia and Quatar to put a natural gas line to Europe through Syria, which had been denied by Assad?

Is the real reason simply support for Sunni over Shiite, even though Sunni has a large AQ element?

Is the real reason to create a situation whereby Iran would attack Israel?  After all, O and Kerry are not really supporters of Israel?

Is the real reason to hide the fact that Benghazi was all about supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels prior to the attack?

Our leadership is not being truthful with the American public about their motivations. 
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« Reply #196 on: September 12, 2013, 10:44:32 AM »

"This is not about the use of Chemical Weapons at all. If it had been, action would have been taken over a year ago. Instead, they wait until now, even though there is no actual evidence to link Assad to the use of the weapons."

No one really knows what goes on "behind the scenes".  True.  But it does appear the administration doesn't really know what to do.   Stay out of it.  Inject ourselves into it?

There is political pressure on both sides.   Doesn't it seem that Obama's history suggests he would rather stay out?

Several concepts need to be re - evaluated such as:

1)  "managing" events in foreign countries.

2)  supporting "democracy" in regions where there has never really been any such thing.

3)  promoting *our* interests and re-evaluating what those are exactly.

4)  supporting friends of the US who may not be otherwise admirable ie; Mubarak  ( was better than what we have now in Egypt )

5)  expecting to be able to foretell the outcome of every military intervention (not possible);  (We went into Iraq in 1992 with overwhelming force and achieved a better than expected outcome - but who knew in advance.)
     (We can thank Powell for backing us into this corner - prudent but not realistic)

6)  do "limited" military interventions make sense

7)  should not military interventions be with the purpose to *win*.

Cool  seeking international approval for everything we do - forget about Congressional approval.  (we can thank G H Bush for this one as predicted by some including George Will, and myself, 20 yrs ago)

9)  Why do we seek international support for everything then we are the ones thus responsible to carry it all out and do the dirty work?

Surely people can think of many more questions to which this administration has no coherent approach.

 

I don't buy a conspiracy theory per se other than it is all about politics for the One and his liberal agenda.  I do buy the administration is confused as to how to approach this.  In the context of "transforming" America.  In the context that American/European capitalism/colonialism viewed as "white" policies of the past were bad for the world.   
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« Reply #197 on: September 12, 2013, 11:01:09 AM »

Most of those questions (which are very good) can better be discussed on the Foreign Policy thread.
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« Reply #198 on: September 13, 2013, 08:31:36 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/world/middleeast/listing-demands-assad-uses-crisis-to-his-advantage.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130913&_r=0

 WASHINGTON — Not long ago, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria seemed a remote and embattled figure, with the United States threatening airstrikes and other Arab leaders denouncing him for having used chemical weapons against his own people.



Yet in recent days, he appears, paradoxically, to have turned the crisis to his advantage, making clear to a global television audience that he aims to use President Obama’s own “red line” against him.

In exchange for relinquishing his chemical arsenal, Mr. Assad said Thursday, he will require that the United States stop arming the Syrian opposition — a demand that might seem wishful from the leader of a devastated country where civil war has left 100,000 dead, two million living as refugees and large swaths of territory beyond his control.

Mr. Assad outlined his demands on Thursday, telling a Russian TV interviewer that the arms-control proposal floated by his patron in Moscow would not be finalized until “we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists.”

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a blunt response to Mr. Assad’s comments after meeting Thursday with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, saying the standard procedures for identifying and securing the weapons were too slow in Syria’s case. “There is nothing standard about this process,” Mr. Kerry said. “The words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough.”

Mr. Assad, sounding relaxed and confident, hinted in his interview that the Russian proposal — which requires Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention — could become a lever for endless negotiations and delays, much as Saddam Hussein delayed arms control inspectors during the 1990s. “It doesn’t mean that Syria will sign the documents, fulfill the obligations, and that’s it,” Mr. Assad said.

The state-owned Syrian newspaper Al Watan put it bluntly in a headline on Thursday: “Moscow and Damascus pull the rug out from under the feet of Obama.”

Mr. Assad’s comments on Thursday were the latest chapter in a rhetorical offensive by the Syrian president and his surrogates, who seem to feel that global perceptions of the Syrian opposition — with its strong component of Islamic radicalism — have shifted in their direction. Mr. Assad has granted interviews to American and French reporters in recent weeks, and has brought back the media adviser who had largely disappeared from public view for the past two years, a Western-educated interpreter and author named Bouthaina Shaaban.

Ms. Shaaban is a skilled interlocutor who helped Mr. Assad shape his image in the West as a reform-minded leader during the years before the uprising in 2011. Her re-emergence has “signaled a coherent determination to launch a media blitz,” said Jon Snow, a veteran anchor for Britain’s Channel 4 news.

In recent weeks, thousands of Syrians have recorded personal appeals to members of Congress and the American public urging them to oppose an airstrike, though it is not clear whether those efforts are coordinated with their government.

For the rebels, who could often use a tip or two in the area of public relations, all of this is unqualified bad news. “It is disappointing,” said Najib Ghadbian, the main Syrian opposition group’s special representative to the United States. “If the regime wants to play with this, it could take months or years. This is why we need accountability.”

A rebel brigade commander named Moaz al-Yousef, reached by telephone, spoke bitterly of Mr. Obama’s interest in the Russian proposal — and the delay of the Congressional votes — as a betrayal.

“We had hopes, it was a dream, and now it’s gone and we feel disappointed,” he said. “We should completely cut off our relationship with him — Obama has completely lost his credibility.”





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The rebels’ foreign backers were almost equally derisive. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, dismissed the Russian proposal in a speech in Istanbul on Thursday, saying that Mr. Assad was merely buying time for “new massacres.”


In his interview with Russian television, Mr. Assad hinted at another possible stumbling block in the prospective chemical weapons agreement by saying Israel should ratify it first. Israel has signed the accord but not ratified it, and is extremely unlikely to do so in light of the difficulty of verifying Syrian compliance in the midst of a civil war.

For Mr. Assad, the Russian proposal comes as a welcome reprieve. Even before the chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, his military was effectively locked in a stalemate with the opposition, despite the intervention of militia fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement, in recent months. Although Mr. Assad won a few important victories, he has still not pushed the rebels from the Damascus suburbs. That, many analysts say, was the goal of the chemical weapons attack, in a rebel-held part of the eastern suburb of Ghouta.

After the attack, Mr. Assad was clearly bracing for an American strike, with the military moving key units and the capital largely emptied out. But the Congressional debate over military intervention suggested — to the Syrians — a lack of American resolve, and the Russian proposal bolstered Mr. Assad’s confidence, even at the cost of admitting for the first time the existence of Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“Assad appears to have the impression that the Americans may want him to go, but not now,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “So you can now expect him to go on the offensive.”

Some analysts cautioned that Mr. Assad could be overplaying his hand.

“The Syrian regime swings between nihilism and triumphalism; there’s nothing in between,” said one Damascus-based analyst who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “The chemical weapons deal — there is no deal, it’s very impractical, and if that becomes clear, it could put Obama in a stronger position vis-à-vis airstrikes.”

The analyst added that Mr. Assad’s comments on Thursday could be less a reflection of his own thinking than of what the Russian leadership wants him to say. “Syrian foreign policy has been contracted out to Russia, and Assad was speaking to Russian talking points,” the analyst said. “That is troubling in itself.”

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Chem Weapons being dispersed

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/world/meast/syria-rebel-leader-accusation/index.html
 http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/13/us-syria-crisis-weapons-report-idUSBRE98C03U20130913

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 09:22:45 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #199 on: September 13, 2013, 09:54:00 AM »

second post


Summary

The U.S.-led military strike in Syria has been delayed by Russia's diplomatic proposal, but Syria knows the danger is not over. With the threat still looming, Syria is trying to limit the scope of a potential strike by ensuring that its northern neighbor, Turkey, is sufficiently intimidated so it remains on the sidelines of the operation. The most effective way for Syria to accomplish this is through the Kurds.

To that end, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has already launched a diplomatic effort to make peace with the Kurdish leadership in both Syria and northern Iraq in order to drive a wedge between Ankara's relations with the Kurds. At the same time, he is trying to forge an alliance with Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria against Sunni rebels. There are limits to al Assad's strategy, but the move comes at an opportune time since Ankara is seeing its own peace negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey derail.

Analysis

Omer Ose, a Kurdish member of the Syrian Parliament, traveled this week to northern Iraq with an important message for the Kurdistan Regional Government leadership from al Assad. Ose told Kurdish media outlet Rudaw on Sept. 10 that al Assad had instructed him to communicate to the Iraqi Kurdish leaders that the Syrian government is not against them and that he would like to invite Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani to Damascus for an official state visit.  Ose said that al Assad is also aware of Barzani's pledge on Aug. 10 to use all capabilities to defend Syrian Kurdish civilians against jihadist attacks in Syria and that he would allow the Kurdistan Regional Government to send its peshmerga fighters to Syria to fulfill that pledge.

Ose appears to be an ideal emissary for al Assad to reach out to the Kurds. Based out of Damascus for the past three decades, Ose has maintained close relations with the al Assad clan even through the civil war. At the same time, Ose has a strong relationship with the region's main Kurdish groups, including the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey (Ose's brother was a member of the group before he was killed in action) and the Democratic Union Party, Syria's largest and best-organized Kurdish organization. Ose has been on a mission to convince the region's main Kurdish organizations to reach a peace settlement with the al Assad government. Quiet security cooperation has already taken place between government forces and Syrian Kurds, and Democratic Union Party members are able to come and go through government checkpoints. Stratfor has received indications that most of the Kurdish parties are seriously considering the government's proposal for further cooperation, though the Democratic Union Party has so far rejected the idea of holding a news conference with Ose to publicly unveil a peace settlement with the Syrian regime.

Al Assad's strategy behind this outreach to the Kurds is based on three critical goals: deterring Turkey from military action in Syria, counterbalancing Turkey's attempts to expand influence in Syria and recruiting allies in the regime's battle against Sunni rebels.

Problems in Turkey's Strategy

Turkey is already facing growing complications on the Kurdish front. The Turkish government prided itself on pursuing a grand strategy to resolve its Kurdish separatist problem by pursuing an ambitious peace deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK, while simultaneously strengthening economic linkages with energy-rich northern Iraq, a refuge for Kurdish fighters. This strategy was already facing a number of hurdles, but the power vacuum that developed in Syria's heavily Kurdish-populated northeast only compounded the problem for Ankara.

Under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party and in the footsteps of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, Syria's Kurdish leadership is now trying to carve out its own autonomous zone while battling jihadists for territory in the northeast. Already dealing with an active battle zone next door -- fighting that will serve as prime recruiting ground for both Kurdish militants and jihadists with potential interest in attacking Turkey -- Ankara now must also worry about Syrian Kurdish autonomy derailing its integration efforts with Kurds in Turkey.

Turkey has tried forging a relationship with Syria's Democratic Union Party with little success, as rumors abound of Turkey backing local Sunni fighters at the same time to keep Syrian Kurdish fighters occupied. Meanwhile, as Stratfor predicted, Turkey's peace track with the PKK is derailing. Alleging that the Turkish government has stalled in fulfilling its end of the first phase of the peace process (the passing of judicial reforms to free Kurdish prisoners and grant Kurdish cultural rights), the PKK has announced that it is halting the withdrawal of its fighters from Turkey. Internal Kurdish communiques are calling for popular demonstrations against the Turkish government to pressure Ankara to fulfill its pledges. Notably, the group is not calling for a resumption of attacks, which would erase the progress made thus far on the peace track, but is instead taking advantage of the protest culture that formed this summer with the Gezi park demonstrations to apply a different kind of pressure on the Turkish government.

Common Interests

Syria can try to take advantage of Turkey's multifaceted Kurdish problem by splitting Turkey and the region's main Kurdish groups through its own diplomatic outreach. Turkey is already wary of Syrian and Iranian efforts to strengthen covert ties with Kurdish militant factions using Syria as a staging ground for attacks in Turkey.

Syria's Kurdish leadership will be especially wary of publicly aligning itself with the pariah of the region, but there is a precedent for a working relationship between Damascus and Syrian Kurds. Ose, the Syrian Kurdish emissary, illustrates the patronage networks the Syrian regime relied on for decades to contain Kurdish separatism. The current, polarizing civil war conditions obviously complicate those arrangements, but the Kurds and the regime are, for now, facing a common threat from Sunni rebel fighters, including a growing number of jihadists who have made their way to Syria and are unwilling to cede control over a sizable share of Syria's energy resources to the Kurds.

At the same time, the Kurds are well aware that a strong Alawite regime in Damascus with consolidated control over the country would find common cause with Sunni Arabs to contain Kurdish separatism, as it did before the civil war. Surrounded, the Kurds often have to make deals with their adversary to make the most of their current condition. For now, the Kurdish imperative is to advance Syrian Kurdish autonomy and insulate Kurdish territory in both Syria and Iraq from a growing jihadist threat. With the country already deeply fragmented, al Assad will be willing to pay the price of recognizing Kurdish autonomy and empowering the regional Kurdish leadership in exchange for allies on the battlefield.

The region's Kurdish groups -- from Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government to the PKK in Turkey to the Democratic Union Party in Syria -- will all try to use this offer from al Assad as leverage in their own negotiations with Turkey while keeping public distance from al Assad. Turkey will not be able to prevent quieter cooperation between the Syrian regime and the Kurds, however, and that will add yet another significant complication to a Kurdish containment strategy already fraught with problems.

Read more: The Syrian Regime Reaches Out to the Kurds | Stratfor
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