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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #200 on: September 13, 2013, 11:24:36 AM »

third post

Arming the Rebels in Syria
 


Syrian rebels

After months of delay, the CIA began delivering weapons to Syrian rebels over the last couple of weeks. The deliveries themselves mark an escalation of U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war, even without our own planes dropping bombs. Some may naïvely hope those arms are going to all the friendly good guys John McCain keeps telling us about, but the reality is that jihadis continue to make up a growing part of the opposition.

The Free Syrian Army is the largest rebel force, and McCain and John Kerry estimate that just 10-15% of its 100,000 fighters are al-Qaida affiliates. Senior U.S. military officials disagree, however, with one saying that Islamist groups now constitute "more than 50%" of the anti-Assad force, "and it's growing by the day."

Khaled Saleh of the Syrian Opposition Coalition says the support is welcome, "But if you compare what we are getting compared to the assistance Assad receives from Iran and Russia, we have a long battle ahead of us." Indeed, even as Vladimir Putin mocked Barack Obama and the U.S. in his bit of New York Times sophistry, and as Putin offered the phony deal on Syrian chemical weapons, he continues to aid his client, Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, to add insult to injury for Barack Obama, Assad tacked on a new condition for turning over his chemical weapons stockpiles: "When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized," he told Russian state television. On the other hand, Obama threatens to strike if Assad doesn't turn over his weapons.

This sad saga just keeps getting worse for our feckless commander in chief.

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

The rebels at work:  http://benswann.com/al-qaeda-backed-syrian-rebels-decapitate-young-boy-warning-graphic/
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 12:11:15 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #201 on: September 13, 2013, 03:43:17 PM »


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYsB8cL8_UU&noredirect=1

but Glenn Beck demurs , , ,

http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/09/13/glenn-christiane-amanpour-is-biggest-fraud-i-have-ever-seen/?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2013-09-13_256855&utm_content=5054942&utm_term=_256855_256867
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 03:59:32 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #202 on: September 15, 2013, 07:58:56 PM »

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324755104579071330713553794.html?mod=trending_now_3
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ccp
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« Reply #203 on: September 15, 2013, 08:51:33 PM »

What did Murdock call Amanpour - the "war whore"?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #204 on: September 16, 2013, 07:48:00 AM »

This piece makes a number of cogent points, but I diverge in some important respects.  As the piece notes "a happy outcome , , , requires a finely calibrated strategy from the beginning. The Bush administration did not have one in Iraq, evinced by the absence of post-invasion planning."  I agree (See Thomas Ricks's "Fiasco" for a serious history of what went wrong-- and it is from this that the problems in Iraq arose.  Had Bush-Rumbo handled things with competence (and had they not had to fight destructive, unpatriotic, and sometimes treasonous headwinds from major players in the Congress and the pravdas) then the other factors discussed here by Kaplan would not have kicked in.

How Syria Is Like Iraq
Global Affairs
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 04:00 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
Stratfor

By Robert D. Kaplan

I supported the war in Iraq. It was an agonizing mistake. I made the mistake because I did something a serious foreign policy thinker should never do: I allowed my emotions to affect my thinking. My emotions were stirred by several visits to Iraq I had made as a reporter in the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq with the machinal, totalitarian intensity employed by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania. Iraq under Saddam was like a vast prison yard lit by high wattage lamps, in which everyone was watched all the time, and everyone lived in absolute fear. I had my American passport taken away from me by Saddam's secret police for ten days in 1986 while I was reporting on the Kurds in the north of the country. I had tasted the fear with which Iraqis themselves lived.

I thus assumed for years thereafter that nothing could be worse than Saddam's rule. Following 9/11, I did not want to forcibly spread democracy in the Arab world like others did; nor did I want to topple dictators per se. I wanted only one dictator gone -- Saddam -- because he was so much worse than a mere dictator. He was a tyrant straight out of Mesopotamian antiquity.

I was wrong.

I was wrong because of the following reasons:

    I did not adequately consider that even in the case of Iraq, things could be worse. Though, in 1994, I had written extensively and in depth about the dangers of anarchy in the Third World, I did not fully consider how dangerously close to anarchy Iraq actually was, and that Saddam was the Hobbesian nemesis keeping it at bay. Saddam was cruel beyond imagining because the ethnic and sectarian differences in Iraqi society were themselves cruel and bloodthirsty beyond imagining.

    I was insufficiently cold-blooded in my thinking. I did not fully consider whether it was in the American interest to remove this tyrant. After all, President Ronald Reagan had found Saddam useful in trying to contain neighboring Iran. Perhaps Saddam might still be useful in containing al Qaeda? That is how I should have been thinking.

    I was thinking only two steps ahead, not the five or six steps ahead required of serious analysis when the question concerns going to war. I wanted to remove Saddam (step one) and replace him with another general (step two). As I said, I had serious misgivings, in print, back then about democracy in the Arab world. But I should have been thinking even more about the consequences of such a newly empowered general not gaining control of the Kurds in the north, or of the Shia in the south. I should have been thinking more of how Iran would intervene on the ground with its intelligence services. I should have been thinking more about how once Saddam were toppled, simply replacing him might be a very complex affair. I should have been overwhelmed by the complexities of a post-Saddam Iraq. I wasn't sufficiently.

    I did not consider the appetite for war -- or lack thereof -- of the American public. The American public was in a patriotic frenzy following 9/11. I should have realized that such a frenzy simply could not last. I should have realized that there would be a time limit regarding how long public support could be sustained for having boots-on-the-ground in large numbers in the Middle East. World War I for the United States had lasted less than 20 months. World War II for the United States lasted little more than three-and-a-half years. Americans tired of the Korean War in about that same time-frame, and revolted against the Vietnam War when it went on longer. The fact that I was emotionally involved in toppling Saddam did not mean the public would be so.

    Finally, I did not consider the effect of a long-term commitment in Iraq (and Afghanistan) on other regional theaters. The top officials in any administration -- the president, secretary of state, and so on -- have only a limited amount of hours in a day, even if they work 70-hour weeks. And if they are spending most of those hours dealing with the Middle East, America's influence in the Pacific, Latin America, and elsewhere must suffer. America, therefore, must be light and lethal, rarely getting bogged down anywhere: in fact, I wrote and published exactly this -- but in mid-2003, after the invasion of Iraq had already commenced. I just did not foresee American forces getting bogged down as they did. That was a failure of critical thinking. For the truth is, nobody seeks a quagmire: a quagmire only occurs when people do not adequately consider in advance everything that might go wrong.

On its face, Syria resembles Iraq in much of the above. The supporters of robust military intervention are not sufficiently considering how things could become even worse after the demise of dictator Bashar al Assad, with full-scale anarchy perhaps in the offing; how Assad might still serve a cold-blooded purpose by containing al Qaeda in the Levant; how four or five steps ahead the United States might find itself owning or partially owning the situation on the ground in an anarchic Syria; how the American public's appetite for military intervention in Syria might be less than they think; and how a long-term commitment to Syria might impede American influence in other regional theaters. The Obama administration says it does not want a quagmire and will avoid one; but that was the intention of the younger Bush administration, too.

Of course, each war or intervention is different in a thousand ways than any other. So while I have listed some similarities in the ways we can think about these wars, Syria will unfold in its own unique manner. For example, it is entirely possible that the Obama administration will not get bogged down, and that its intervention, if it still ever comes to that, will pivotally affect the situation for the better by serving as a deus ex machina for a negotiated cease-fire of sorts. For the very threatened use of power can serve as its own dynamic, revealing, in this case, the limitations of Russia and Iran which were obscured as long as America did relatively little to affect the situation.

The problem, however, is that such a happy outcome in Syria usually requires a finely calibrated strategy from the beginning. The Bush administration did not have one in Iraq, evinced by the absence of post-invasion planning. And, at least as of this writing, the Obama administration seems to lack one as well. Instead, it appeared until recently to be backing into a military action that it itself only half-heartedly believes in. That, more than any of the factors I have mentioned above, is what ultimately gives me pause.

Read more: How Syria Is Like Iraq | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #205 on: September 16, 2013, 08:48:14 AM »

second post

Inside White House, a Head-Spinning Reversal on Chemical Weapons
How the U.S. Stumbled Into an International Crisis and Then Stumbled Out of It
By ADAM ENTOUS, JANET HOOK and  CAROL E. LEE
   

When President Barack Obama decided he wanted congressional approval to strike Syria, he received swift—and negative—responses from his staff. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned he risked undermining his powers as commander in chief. Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer pegged the chances of Congress balking at 40%. His defense secretary also raised concerns.

Mr. Obama took the gamble anyway and set aside the impending strikes to try to build domestic and international support for such action.

He found little of either. Congress's top leaders weren't informed of the switch until just an hour or so before Mr. Obama's Rose Garden announcement and weren't asked whether lawmakers would support it. When the president's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, announced the decision on a conference call with congressional committee leaders, some were so taken aback they seemed at first to misunderstand it.


Outside the U.S., Arab leaders privately urged the U.S. to bomb, but few backed Mr. Obama publicly. The United Kingdom pulled the plug on a joint operation two days after indicating to the White House it had the votes to proceed. Compounding the confusion, the same day a potential breakthrough emerged via a diplomatic opening provided by Russia, the administration sent a memo to lawmakers highlighting why Russia shouldn't be trusted on Syria.

This account of an extraordinary 24 days in international diplomacy, capped by a deal this past weekend to dismantle Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile, is based on more than two dozen interviews with senior White House, State Department, Pentagon and congressional officials and many of their counterparts in Europe and the Middle East. The events shed light on what could prove a pivotal moment for America's role in the world.



Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.'s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Obama saw the unintended outcome as better than the alternative: limited strikes that risked pulling the U.S. into a new conflict. It forestalled what could have been a crippling congressional defeat and put the onus on Russia to take responsibility for seeing the deal through. U.S. officials say the deal could diminish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical stockpile more effectively than a strike, though it leaves Mr. Assad and his conventional arsenal in place.

"I'm not interested in style points," Mr. Obama told his senior staff in a closed-door meeting Friday, according to a participant. "I'm interested in results."

Not everyone is pleased. Mr. Obama infuriated allies who lined up against Mr. Assad and his regional backers Iran and Hezbollah. French officials, who were more aggressive than the U.S. in urging a strike, feel they have been left out on a limb. And Russia has been reestablished as a significant player on the world stage, potentially at the expense of the U.S.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) joined a chorus of Republican lawmakers critiquing the deal, calling it a "Russian plan for Russian interests" that leaves Mr. Assad in power. "Putin is playing chess, and we're playing tick-tack-toe," he told CNN.

Mr. Obama was first briefed on the chemical-weapons attack on the morning of Aug. 21. As intelligence agencies began tallying the dead and reviewing intercepted communications that they say made clear Mr. Assad's forces were to blame, White House officials knew the incident was a game changer. Later, the U.S. would say the attack killed more than 1,400.

Key U.S. allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia, started applying pressure. Saudi Arabia's influential ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir, and other diplomats raced back to Washington from their August vacations to advocate strikes, according to officials and diplomats.

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Mr. Obama initially appeared to be receptive to arguments for acting forcefully. Meeting on Aug. 24 with his national security advisers, he made clear he leaned toward striking.

"When I raised the issue of chemical weapons last summer, this is what I was talking about," Mr. Obama said, referring to his "red line" declaration in August 2012. The Navy positioned five destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean, each armed with about 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) was in a car en route to a GOP fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyo., when he received his first high-level White House contact. His staff had earlier put up a blog post chiding the White House for not consulting Congress. A few hours later, White House Chief of Staff McDonough called to explain the options. No mention was made of asking Congress to vote.

The next day, Mr. Obama spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Both leaders made clear they were ready to strike and agreed on an approach designed to deter Mr. Assad from using chemical weapons again, not bring down the regime. "They were ready to go," said an official briefed on the call.

Mr. Cameron rushed politicians back from vacations. While parliamentary approval wasn't legally required, he was conscious of the damage invading Iraq had done to one of his predecessors, Tony Blair. The U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff and British forces already had hammered out details of a "combined contingency operation," a senior U.S. official said.

Late in the day before the parliamentary vote, Mr. Cameron was forced to change tack. Under pressure from politicians, he split the process in two: an initial vote on the principal of intervention, then a second on whether the U.K. should become directly involved.

At that point, Mr. Obama's advisers concluded the U.K. would end up bowing out.

On the night of Wednesday, Aug. 28, Mr. Obama called House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to talk through the options. Ms. Pelosi later told colleagues she didn't ask Mr. Obama to put the question to a vote in Congress.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, the U.K. Parliament shot down Mr. Cameron, a major embarrassment to the British leader that raised pressure on the U.S. to seek other support. Opposition came from not only Labour but from Mr. Cameron's own Conservative Party. Mr. Cameron threw in the towel, saying the British Parliament had spoken and the government would "act accordingly."

The vote shocked Mr. Putin, who later told Russian state TV he thought legislatures in the West voted in lock-step, "just like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union." Moscow's alarm and frustration was growing as the move toward military action advanced, bypassing the U.N. Security Council where Moscow had veto power.

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The U.K. parliamentary vote happened as National Security Adviser Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were beginning a conference call with congressional leaders. During the call, Mr. Hagel, who was traveling in Asia, raised the question of U.S. credibility. He said South Korea was concerned U.S. inaction would make North Korea think it could get away with using chemical and biological weapons.

On Friday, Aug. 30, signs of congressional unease were mounting. Some 186 Democrats and Republicans signed letters asking the president to seek congressional authorization.

That day, Mr. Kerry made an impassioned speech defending the president's decision to consult with Congress as the right way to approach "a decision of when and how and if to use military force."

Five Navy destroyers were in the eastern Mediterranean, four poised to launch scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria, according to military officials. Officers said they expected launch orders from the president at between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. To make sure they were ready to answer reporters' questions, Pentagon officials conducted a mock news conference.

Around 5 p.m., Mr. Obama went on a 45-minute walk with Chief of Staff McDonough. Mr. Obama summoned his top advisers to meet in the Oval Office at around 7 p.m.

"I have a big idea I want to run by you guys," Mr. Obama started. He asked for opinions on seeking congressional authorization. Everyone was surprised, except Mr. McDonough, a consistent voice of caution on getting entangled in Syria.

Ms. Rice expressed reservations. From a national-security perspective, she said, it was important the president maintain his authority to take action, according to a senior administration official. Mr. Pfeiffer, the senior adviser, gave his assessment of the political odds and the consequences of failure.

Mr. Obama called Mr. Hagel, who, like Ms. Rice, raised concerns. He thought "the administration's actions and words need to avoid the perception of swinging from vine to vine," according to a senior administration official.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, sent a draft of an announcement to the president at 1 a.m. Saturday, and it was reworked until shortly before being popped into the teleprompter. Mr. Obama also worked the phones to notify congressional leaders—but not to seek their advice.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was preparing a turkey sandwich in his Louisville, Ky., home when he took the call. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was called in Nevada. Mrs. Pelosi was in San Francisco.

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Mr. Boehner was in a hotel in Steamboat Springs, Colo., when the president called. According to an aide, they discussed the logistics of a House vote. Mr. Boehner told Mr. Obama it would be hard to call lawmakers back to Washington quickly, and that he would need time to sell it.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) was on a treadmill in a Los Angeles gym and watched the news on Fox television. When a friend asked what was going on, Mr. Waxman replied, "He's going to Congress, and I'm sweating."

Mr. Obama also alerted French President François Hollande, who had been waiting for Washington to launch strikes. Mr. Obama now told his French counterpart he needed to build support in Washington, from Congress, according to a senior French official.

It swiftly became clear the White House faced a fight. On Sunday, Sept. 1, members of both parties were questioning the White House proposal.

That day, the administration convened its first of several classified briefings for lawmakers. Dozens of House members and senators showed up in the middle of a congressional recess and on Labor Day weekend.

That night, the president called one of his closest friends in Congress, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) at home in Springfield, Ill., and talked to him for more than a half-hour. Like many liberal Democrats, Mr. Durbin was torn. The situation had echoes of the war in Iraq, which he had opposed. He hung up still unsure what he would do. (He ended up approving the strikes in a Senate committee vote.)

In an effort to sway House Democrats, the administration held a conference call briefing the House Democratic Caucus. One Democrat on the call was openly critical: Rep. Rick Nolan, a freshman from Minnesota who said an isolated strike could escalate.

"Have we forgotten about the lessons of Southeast Asia and a president who said we need to have our boys fight there," Mr. Nolan said, according to an official familiar with the exchange.

Mr. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, shot back: "No, I haven't forgotten that. I know it pretty well. And I fought against that war. That's not what anyone's talking about."

After the briefing, Mr. Nolan said he was more convinced that military strikes were a bad idea.

After a Sept. 3 meeting Mr. Boehner, Ms. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) gave strong statements of support for the administration's resolution. But both Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner said they weren't going to "whip" the vote—Congress-speak for making the vote a test of party loyalty.

Mr. Obama hoped to use the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg to shape international consensus for a military assault. He left the conference with half the members unconvinced.

While Saudi Arabia and Turkey voiced support for the U.S. position, other Arab allies were silent, reinforcing Mr. Obama's worries about going it alone. Diplomats from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates told lawmakers they would like to help win votes in the House. But they made clear that they weren't prepared to endorse the idea publicly because they feared for their security if the U.S. strikes sparked a backlash or reprisals.

By the time Mr. Obama got back to Washington, his aides thought the resolution could make it through the Senate, but felt the House was lost.

The way out of the impasse came by accident during a news conference in London on Sept. 9. Secretary of State Kerry, in response to a question, ad libbed that Syria could avert a U.S. attack if it gave up its chemical weapons.

Minutes later, his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called him. "I'd like to talk to you about your initiative," Mr. Lavrov said from Moscow, where he was hosting a delegation of Syrian diplomats.

"I don't know what you're talking about," the American diplomat jokingly replied.

Even though both sides had previously discussed such an idea, State Department and White House officials were skeptical. How would inspectors do their work in the middle of a civil war? Also, working with the Russians seemed implausible. The same day Mr. Kerry made his fateful remark, the State Department sent Congress a memo detailing: "Russian Obstruction of Actions on Syria."

Things changed quickly once the White House realized Mr. Kerry's inadvertent remark may have provided a way around the political impasse.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a supporter of the Syrian strikes, was lunching in the Senate Dining Room with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., who persuaded her the Russians were sincere. Other lawmakers also saw hope for a new diplomatic initiative—and for avoiding a vote they were dreading.

While prepping for a series of TV interviews, Mr. Obama told his senior aides of the proposal and said, "Let's embrace this and test it."

U.S. and French diplomats said there was an early push by the allies to seek a binding U.N. Security Council resolution that could authorize the use of force if Syria didn't meet its obligations. French diplomats drafted a resolution with muscular language.

Russia rejected the language outright and U.S. diplomats worked behind the scenes to pull France into line with a compromise that Moscow could accept.

Hours after Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov's London phone call, the American and Russian bureaucracies mobilized, say U.S. and Russia officials involved in the process.

Mr. Obama's speech to the nation on Sept. 10, initially intended to sell lawmakers on supporting strikes, instead called for postponing action in Congress to explore the Russian proposal.

It infuriated Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), one of the few vocal GOP supporters of the Syria strikes, for not making the case about the risk to U.S. credibility. He snapped at Mr. McDonough in an email: "You guys are really hard to help, OK?"

On Sept. 11, Mr. Kerry spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he believed Russia wasn't bluffing and that a deal was possible, according to American and Middle Eastern officials briefed on the exchange. Israel shared U.S. concerns that strikes could strengthen rebels linked with al Qaeda and allow them to seize Mr. Assad's weapons.

Rebel leaders based in Turkey and Jordan were angry about the unfolding diplomacy, but were told by U.S. and European diplomats not to publicly reject the plan. But several spoke out. "To hell with America," said Brig. Gen. Adnan Selou, a Syrian defector who used to head a chemical-warfare program in Syria and now is based in Turkey. "We don't recognize this plan."

Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov arrived in Geneva Thursday afternoon without even a broad outline of a plan. Both sides agreed on the extent of Mr. Assad's stockpiles and began discussing next steps.

Mr. Lavrov and his deputy surprised the Americans by sticking to their position that Syrian rebel forces, rather than Mr. Assad, were behind the chemical-weapons attack, and spinning conspiracies about how Saudi Arabia and other Arab states played a role in overseeing it.

In a blow to the French, Messrs. Lavrov and Kerry hashed out a framework agreement omitting any mention of who was to blame for the chemical attacks. The agreement also made military intervention an increasingly remote possibility.

Mr. Putin celebrated with an op-ed in the New York Times, lecturing Americans on the failings of their government's policies.

A senior administration official said Mr. Obama felt—even more so after Mr. Putin's op-ed—that "if Putin wants to put his credibility on the line in supporting this proposal," then the White House would make sure he owns it.

Having given up on prospects of a U.N. Security Council resolution that threatened force for noncompliance, the U.S. told the Russians it reserved the right to take military action if Mr. Assad doesn't meet the agreement's terms.

On Sunday, Mr. Assad's warplanes again bombed the Damascus suburbs after a short-lived lull in air attacks after Aug. 21.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #206 on: September 16, 2013, 09:57:34 AM »

Shocking, yes.  Who could have seen that coming?  I suppose anyone alive and awake the last time we fought this battle.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #207 on: September 16, 2013, 11:06:52 AM »

The problem IS a terrible one and in fairness we need to note that many of the criticisms leveled at Baraq are as quite inconsistent with each other as Baraq has been with himself.  

What do WE here advocate?

Ignore the chem attacks?  What implications flow from this?

Do something?  What specifically?  Bomb it?  Seize the chems?  

WHAT EXACTLY DO WE ADVOCATE?

I will go first:  

1)
a) Achieve a status of forces agreement with Iraq upon coming into office.  Whoops! Baraq blew that one.
b) Have done nothing in Libya or go to the Congress or do what we did but go in to snatch Kaddafy's weapons
c) have defended our folks in Benghazi, have avenged our folks in Benghazi
d) Support the military, or at least not opposed in it Egypt in responding to the people's will in overthrowing the MB.
e) spoken up for religious tolerance e.g.the Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Syria
f) something coherent in Afpakia
g) not neuter our military's budget
h) not demonstrated weakness for five years
i) genuine ongoing conversation with Congress over the years
j) not having made regime change a policy or if it were, then having acted upon it by supporting the rebels before AQ got involved
k)not have made a red line without thought of being called on it

2) OK so much for hindsight.  

WHAT SHOULD BARAQ HAVE DONE WHEN HIS RED LINE WAS CROSSED?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #208 on: September 16, 2013, 03:20:07 PM »

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2013/09/14/syria-obama-backed-fsa-rebels-storm-chrisitan-holy-sites-warning-christians-to-convert-or-be-beheaded
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #209 on: September 17, 2013, 12:33:29 PM »

I would note that many of us were/are quite content with the idea of letting AQ and Assad kill each other.

===============
By DOUGLAS J. FEITH

Bashar Assad may have pulled off the most successful use of chemical weapons in history. For the two years leading up to the Aug. 21 Damascus sarin gas attack, President Obama was saying that the Syrian dictator "must go." No longer. In one month, Assad has risen from outlaw butcher to partner in disarmament.

America's Syria policy today focuses not on mass murder, or on the metastasizing humanitarian and refugee crisis, or on combating the interests of Iran and its Hezbollah proxies in keeping Assad in power. Rather, with Russian President Vladimir Putin's help, U.S. policy under President Obama is concentrating on chemical-weapons disarmament.

Secretary of State John Kerry labors to enlist Assad in an arms-control project even while alleging that the dictator has used nerve gas in violation of Syria's obligations under the 1925 Geneva Protocol. U.S. policy is not to oust the Assad regime or even to encourage the Syrian people to do so. President Obama has now created a U.S. interest in preserving Assad in power.

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Reuters

Pigeons lie on the ground after dying from what activists say is the use of chemical weapons.

This means Assad must stay, not go, for he is needed to negotiate and implement an arrangement to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. The arrangement, if successfully negotiated, will take years to implement. Arms control evidently means never having to say you're sorry.

Meanwhile, the Syrian rebels are exasperated and mistrustful, having seen Washington dangle the prospect of U.S. military strikes, only to back away. The Iranians are drawing comforting lessons about the lengths that the Obama administration will go to avoid military action in the Middle East. The Russians have been promoted from reprehensible accomplices in Assad's evil to indispensable peace negotiators—while they remain accomplices to that evil.

What lesson will dictators around the world derive from all this? They will see that there is enormous utility in creating a chemical-weapons arsenal, and even in using such weapons. Sarin gas, VX, anthrax and the like can be valuable for intimidating one's enemies, foreign and domestic, and for killing them. They can then be traded away at a very high price under the right circumstances. They can serve as a lifesaver for a dictator on the skids.

Clever dictators will realize that they can barter their chemical-weapons arsenals to buy time to crush an insurrection and then rebuild the arsenal after the population has been pacified.

This is what comes of focusing on what Mr. Obama legalistically calls the "international norms" barring chemical weapons use. By choosing not to tackle the difficult strategic and humanitarian challenges posed by the Syrian civil war, the president is now rewarding the very offenses that he said he wanted to punish. In the name of arms control, he is incentivizing the proliferation of chemical weapons. In the name of international law, he is undermining respect for treaties. In the name of U.S. interests, he is emboldening America's enemies.

Bashar Assad must be blessing the sarin gas that killed all those men, women and children on Aug. 21. If he did order that attack, it was a master stroke. The victims of chemical weapons shake in agony. Assad, Vladimir Putin and Iran's Ali Khamanei shake with laughter.

Mr. Feith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served 2001-05 as U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #210 on: September 19, 2013, 11:22:58 AM »



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324807704579082924138453120.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories
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« Reply #211 on: September 25, 2013, 09:22:03 PM »

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303796404579096782311389904.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories
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« Reply #212 on: September 28, 2013, 07:10:04 PM »



Assad's U.N. Partners

Syria's chemical weapons declaration is far from complete..



After over two years of doing nothing to stop Syria's civil war, the U.N. Security Council has finally agreed on a plan for Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons. The U.S. and its allies as well as Assad's patrons in Russia hailed a diplomatic breakthrough at Turtle Bay, but this resolution still does nothing to hasten the conflict's end.

The resolution adopted on Friday evening obliges the regime in Damascus to fully declare its arsenal of chemical weapons and to dismantle them by the middle of next year. It commits Syria not to share its mustard and sarin gas stocks and other munitions with friends at Hezbollah and elsewhere.



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Assistant books editor Sohrab Ahmari on the U.N. resolution to eliminate Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons. Photo: Associated Press
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If you choose to believe in the power of arms control over rogue actors, this is progress. But for realists the early signs aren't good. Last weekend Syria submitted its declaration of its chemical weapons and delivery systems. The declaration hasn't been made public but our sources say it isn't complete. The Syrians disclosed 32 sites, while U.S. intelligence believes there are about 50.

Some of the munitions are mobile, and while the Syrians did admit to eight such mobile sites, the Syrians hid them when President Obama threatened to bomb in response to the August 21 sarin gas attack outside Damascus. The U.S. and Israel have a good idea of what the Syrians have and may still be hiding. The trick will be to compel Assad's cooperation.

The resolution's most notable weakness is its lack of teeth. There's not a word about holding anyone in Syria accountable for last month's or the 13 or so other chemical attacks. As for compliance with the disarmament clauses, Assad can breathe easy.







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A photo made available by the Syrian Arab News Agency showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an interview with the Chinese television station CCTV, in Damascus on Monday.
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Under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, the Security Council can approve punitive measures such as sanctions or air strikes if Syria doesn't comply. Except that's not in this resolution. The British ambassador at Turtle Bay called it "binding and enforceable," and America's ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power warned of "consequences for non-compliance."

But read the fine print. Assad can play cat and mouse with inspectors or even launch another chemical attack. The only U.N. recourse is to call another Security Council meeting. Then we're back where we started.

Russia has vetoed three resolutions intended to sanction Assad since 2011, and the Obama Administration was reluctant to act without U.N. approval even before this agreement. Assad knows the threshold for American intervention is even higher after President Obama asked Congress for permission to strike Syria but then grabbed Russia's diplomatic lifeline rather than act on his own.

The U.N. deal caps a successful few weeks for the Syrian dictator. He faced down the world's last superpower. His regime may or may not have to give up its chemical weapons, but he's bought himself time to continue to use Iranian arms and Hezbollah fighters to defeat the opposition. With U.S. Tomahawks taken off standby, Syria's fighter jets and helicopters have been redeployed against the rebels. Conventional weapons have killed the vast majority of the more than 100,000 dead in Syria.

Administration defenders say this chemical deal may be a diplomatic bridge to a larger Syrian peace. A negotiated peace is desirable, but it's hard to see how sparing Assad from the fear of a Western attack will make him any more likely to negotiate. He and his Iranian patrons think they can win.

As for the Syrian opposition, they see all of this as an Assad victory and a Western betrayal. Earlier this week, 13 rebel groups broke with the Turkish-based, moderate Syrian Supreme Military Council and are expected to align with the Islamist fighters affiliated with al Qaeda. Far from leading to a larger peace, the chemical weapons diplomacy seems to have radicalized both sides.
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« Reply #213 on: October 08, 2013, 12:27:15 PM »

IMHO the following piece by a man with genuiine background in the region makes many valid and uncomfortable points, even as there are substantial flaws in what it proposes.
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Reuel Marc Gerecht: The Next Breeding Ground for Global Jihad
Washington may have already helped create the deadliest Islamic movement since the Taliban merged with al Qaeda.


    By
    REUEL MARC GERECHT

When President Obama declared that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad must "step aside" two years ago, many believed that it was only a matter of time before the U.S. intervened on behalf of the rebels battling the regime. Now that seems increasingly out of the question. The growing power of hard-core Islamic radicals among the rebels has made the White House, and many in Congress, look upon the Syrian opposition with little enthusiasm. Instead, Washington focuses on the charade of trying to relieve Assad of his chemical weapons, as if that will have any effect on the civil war.

America ignores the rebels at its peril. Yet on the left and right, anti-interventionists argue against American airstrikes, or any serious military aid, because such assistance would abet al Qaeda-linked jihadists. Perhaps what these anti-interventionists don't realize is that the president and Congress may have already done their part to create the most deadly Islamic movement since the Taliban merged with al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Social order in the Muslim world depends, as it so often does elsewhere, on older men keeping younger men in check. In Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban's medieval mores—a zealously crude form of village Pashtun ethics—gained the high ground because older men and their moderating social structures had been obliterated over three decades by Afghan communists, Soviets and civil war.

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AFP/Getty Images

A Sunni Muslim imam from the Liwa al-Tawhid rebel group talks to his comrades in Aleppo in September.

Urban culture—the core of Islamic civilization—was wiped out. The elites of the country's primary ethnic groups, who had been based in the bustling, literate, Persian-speaking culture of Kabul, went into exile or became brutal warriors. Heartless men bred by battle embraced Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born Sunni militant. Bin Laden's vision of jihad against the United States easily melded into the Taliban's localized jihad against Ahmad Shah Masoud, the Sunni Tajik commander who formed the Northern Alliance and kept the Taliban from conquering all of Afghanistan.

To be sure, Syrian Sunni culture is vastly more cosmopolitan and urbanized than Afghan Sunni culture. Syria is where Arab Bedouins first became polished men of arts and letters and transformed Byzantine architecture into a Muslim motif that defined Islamic elegance for centuries. But the shocking satellite photos of a constantly bombarded Aleppo, the center of Sunni Syria since the 10th century, ought to warn us how quickly society can be transformed—no matter how sophisticated.

Though Arab Syrian nationalism is more solid now than when it was born 90 years ago, it isn't nearly as deep as Syrians' Muslim identity. And in times of tumult in the Middle East, Islam—and the ancient divide between Sunnis and Shiites—comes to the fore. Shatter Syria into fragments, and radical Islamists who appeal to a higher calling, just as they did in Afghanistan, are guaranteed to attract young men who yearn for a mission beyond their destroyed towns and villages. There may be as many as 1,000 Sunni rebel groups scattered across Syria, stocked with such fighters.

The Taliban played on tribal sentiments while always appealing to a post-tribal, Muslim conception of state. The Islamist fighters in Syria appear to be following the Taliban's playbook. Loyalty among these men isn't ultimately based on family, tribe, town or even country, but on the supremely fraternal act of holy war.

We don't know what the recuperative power is for Sunni Syrian society. We do know that whatever the power is now, it will be much reduced in six months. If Assad's manpower reserves can hold out for another year and a half or two years, Syrian Sunni society could be beyond help.

In such a Hobbesian world, radical Sunni groups that promise "stability"—of security, home and private property—could win over a popular base that would be very difficult to dislodge. This was how the Taliban were initially welcomed into Pashtun towns that were shellshocked by war.

Right now, the three seriously radical, armed outfits in Syria—Jabhat al-Nusra, the Ahrar al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—likely have no more than 15,000 fighters among them, according to a study of the Syrian opposition by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That's less than 15% of the opposition's forces—too small a number to consolidate power and rule a post-Assad Syria.

That may be the only good news out of Syria: It's not too late for the U.S. to influence the war in favor of the rebels who are not bent on establishing an Islamist state.

Right now, Washington seems paralyzed by fear of U.S. weaponry getting into jihadist hands, which is why it has held off on doing more than having the CIA train rebels in Jordan. To make a real difference, the CIA will have to get involved inside Syria, but it won't take a lot of men to monitor supply lines and figure out who is using U.S. weaponry.

If the U.S. is able to save Syrian Sunni society from the cancer that Assad has created, Western air power will be required to neutralize the regime's huge advantage in artillery and chemical weapons, which Assad will surely keep in reserve, despite any pledges he makes to the United Nations. The weapons provided through CIA covert action will unlikely be sufficient to knock out the regime's huge inventory of Soviet and Russian heavy weaponry.

But if the U.S. continues to do nothing other than entertain the chemical-weapons disarmament theater orchestrated by Russia, the West will surely rue America's passivity. Hard-core holy warriors won't leave Americans alone because the U.S. has declined to fight. That's the painful lesson of the 1990s. Contrary to what the president has suggested, the U.S. doesn't get to declare the battle against Islamic radicalism over.

One thing is certain: The anti-American Sunni Islamic militancy in Syria is now hotter and more magnetic than the latent jihadism that came to power with Mullah Omar and the Taliban in 1996. In the early 1990s, when the Taliban's ideology was gestating in Pakistani religious schools and the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, hardly a soul at CIA headquarters paid any attention to the region. It was far away, the Soviets were gone, and Americans, it was said, were "fatigued" from their Cold War exertions.

Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA operative, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is the author of "The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East" (Hoover, 2011).
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« Reply #214 on: October 13, 2013, 11:05:44 AM »

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2013/10/12/syria-obama-backed-jihadist-rebels-doing-what-they-do-best-beheading-warning-very-graphic-images/
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« Reply #215 on: October 13, 2013, 06:53:54 PM »


Is Andrew going to go there to teach them that jihad means fuzzy bunnies?
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« Reply #216 on: October 31, 2013, 07:43:31 AM »

WSJ:

Watchdog: Syria Destroys Chemical-Arms Equipment
Organization Had Set Nov. 1 Deadline
By Naftali Bendavid
Updated Oct. 31, 2013 5:51 a.m. ET

Syria has completed the destruction of all its chemical weapons production equipment, an international disarmament agency announced Thursday, bringing an end to the first phase of a high-profile program to eliminate the country's chemical weapons.

Syria was tasked, under a U.S.-Russia agreement, with dismantling all equipment used for the production, mixing and filling of chemical arms by Nov. 1. The next, more elaborate stage involves destroying the chemical stockpile itself—an estimated 1,000 tons of chemicals and components—in the first half of 2014.

"The Joint Mission is now satisfied that it has verified—and seen destroyed—all of Syria's declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment," the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said, referring to its joint mission with the United Nations. "Given the progress made in the joint OPCW-U.N. mission in meeting the requirements of the first phase of activities, no further inspection activities are currently planned."

The OPCW had said Monday that it could not reach two of Syria's 23 chemical weapons sites because they were in contested areas not under the government's control. On Thursday, officials said they were satisfied that those sites were no longer in use.

"Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons program items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected," OPCW said.
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« Reply #217 on: November 06, 2013, 06:27:12 AM »

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/syria-journey-into-nightmare-war
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« Reply #218 on: November 15, 2013, 09:46:14 AM »

Much cynicism was expressed here over the possibility of the gas actually getting destroyed, but at the moment it looks like quite a lot of it (most? all?) is about to be destroyed.


Members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) met at The Hague on Friday to discuss a plan to destroy Syrian chemical munitions. Syria and the OPCW agreed that the deadly nerve agents should be destroyed outside Syria, and on Thursday the United States requested that Albania host the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile in its domestic facilities. The 41-member Executive Council of the OPCW adjourned its deliberations while the Albanian government considers the plan, which will rid of 1,300 tons of sarin and other nerve agents confiscated from Syrian weapons facilities. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is expected to announce whether his government will agree to the U.S. request later on Friday, but some Albanian lawmakers have raised objections over the plan's environmental and political risks. On Thursday, hundreds of Albanian citizens protested outside the parliament chanting "no to chemical weapons." Last week, international inspectors confirmed that they secured 22 of 23 chemical weapons sites inside Syria and that the Syrian government met the November 1 deadline to eliminate or "render inoperable" all chemical weapons facilities.
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« Reply #219 on: November 15, 2013, 10:46:57 AM »

second post

 People with Kurdish flags sit in the back of a truck as they celebrate what they said was the liberation of villages from Islamist rebels near the city of Ras al-Ain in the province of Hasakah, Syria on Nov. 6. Reuters

NUSAYBIN, Turkey—When Hussein Cemo fled with his family to this dusty border town from Syria's ethnic Kurd-dominated northeast to escape attacks from radical Islamist militia, he feared being marooned for years.

Three months later, after a series of battlefield victories by Kurdish militia and a strengthening of Kurdish political power across Syria's northeast, the 44-year old mechanic is hoping to soon take his family home.

"We fled because our town was attacked by Islamists, but now Kurdish fighters are taking territory rapidly and setting up new administrations," said Mr. Cemo, in the living room of a three-bedroom apartment housing 15 of his extended family, all Kurds. "God willing, the area will soon be totally safe, and we will be able to return home," he said.

Across Syria's oil-rich northeast, the country's long-repressed Kurdish community is capturing territory and taking increasingly bold steps toward autonomy.

On Tuesday, Syria's leading Kurdish party, the People's Democratic Union, or PYD, announced it would form an interim administration to govern northeastern Syria. It is the clearest signal yet that Syrian Kurds view the civil war as an opportunity to carve out a self-governing enclave—similar to their ethnic kin in neighboring Iraq.

The move comes after Kurdish militia fighters seized more than 20 villages and strategic towns across the region, capitalizing on infighting among radical Islamist groups, including those affiliated with al Qaeda.

Analysts said Kurdish moves toward self-rule underline how war-torn Syria is balkanizing along ethnic lines in ways that will be difficult to reverse.

The moves could also have seismic consequences beyond Syria's borders, where neighboring states, such as Turkey and Iran, have long suppressed nationalist sentiments among their own sizable Kurdish populations.

"Kurds are becoming considerably more powerful and foreign governments have been surprised by how rapidly their strength has grown. But the question is now whether they have the capability to build institutions without resources or major income," said Henri J. Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

More than 30 million Kurds live across an area that includes parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran as well as Syria. Kurds speak multiple dialects and are represented by a plethora of often opposing political parties and organizations. Yet they have also managed to maintain a separate identity, partly because of the lines Arabs, Turks and Iranians have drawn to separate themselves from Kurdish communities.

Driving the military gains is the PYD's rapidly expanding militia—The People's Defense Units, or YPG—which claims to have 45,000 armed members, who also do police work, preventing civil disorder.

Militia spokesman Redur Xelil said in a telephone interview that the militia launched a broad offensive last month in response to repeated attacks on Kurdish communities by Islamist fighters. Some 2,500 Islamist fighters and 210 Kurdish militia have been killed since the groups started clashing sporadically in July, he added, a claim that could not be independently verified.

"We now control 70% of Syrian Kurdish territory…We have prepared plans to take control over all of it," Mr. Xelil said.

Growing Kurdish assertiveness in Syria has been watched nervously by neighboring states. Turkey, which is engaged in delicately balanced peace talks to halt its own conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a close PYD ally, has said the moves risk breaking the country apart and sowing further instability along its border.
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Syrian Kurds wave flags as they gather on the border with Turkey, near Mardin's Nusaybin district, on Nov. 7 to protest against the construction by the Turkish government of a 2.5-kilometer-long wall along the border between Turkey and Syria. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Ankara is fortifying sections of its border that separate Turkish and Syrian Kurds; a move that has provoked furious reaction among local Kurds. Turkish Kurds say it is to divide Kurdish communities as Syrian Kurds become emboldened. Ankara says it trying to prevent smuggling and protect Turkish territory from Syria's war spilling over.

The PYD's rise has also alarmed political leaders in Kurdish-run northern Iraq, who are wary of the group's militant links and Marxist philosophy.

Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government, warned on Wednesday that the PYD was "dividing Kurds" and accused the group of arresting and killing its opponents, a charge the party denies. His caution came before a meeting Saturday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally.

Syrian Kurds themselves are also divided over the party's rising power, with some factions aligned with the western-backed opposition Syrian National Council. The region's other main party, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), didn't sign the plan for self-administration and has declined to comment on the declaration. The KDP is also aligned with western-backed opposition, which has a separate plan.
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Kurdish Democratic Union Party head Saleh Muslim speaks during a conference in Paris on Nov. 13 Reuters

Despite Kurdish gains, the power they have amassed remains diffuse and precarious. In Kurdish-controlled towns, the apparatus of the Syrian state still operates in tandem with the new administration, fueling accusations from Sunni-dominated opposition groups that the PYD is colluding with the regime. Damascus still collects taxes and pays the wages of most state employees. Christian mayors and bureaucrats loyal to President Assad still ply their trade, while the portraits of Syria's president remain on the walls of some state buildings.

The PYD has repeatedly denied colluding with Damascus stressing that Kurds were seen as second class citizens by the regime, often denied passports or government jobs.

The Syrian government hasn't made any public statements on Kurdish autonomy. It still pays some public sector employees, while the PYD has set up a separate tax system to fund its militia.

"It's true that the regime is still present throughout the region, but they are not leaving their bases or interfering as the Kurds build their power. They will have to leave or adapt to the new reality," said Ramzia Mohammed, a Kurdish councilor from the Syrian city of Qamishli.

Yet expanding Kurdish self-governance has failed to stem a growing humanitarian and economic crises in the region, with shortages in electricity, water and basic foodstuffs sparking a surge in cases of diseases such as polio and Tuberculosis, according to the Red Crescent RCB.T 0.00% humanitarian relief agency. Neighboring states that object to expanding PYD power have closed border crossings, placing the region under an effective embargo, Kurdish officials say.

"These policies risk turning Syrian Kurdish areas into the world's largest refugee camp," said Ayse Gokkan, mayor of Nusaybin, who has repeatedly criticized Ankara's stance against Syrian Kurds. "We need to deliver drugs and other supplies to help these people urgently."

But many of the thousands of Syrian Kurds who have fled across the border to this Turkish frontier town back the PYD as the guarantors of security and the party best placed to build institutions to secure Kurdish rights.

Syrian residents, analysts and refugees say that feeling is reflected on the ground in Kurdish Syria, where the PYD's dominance has been consolidated by recent battlefield victories.

Red, green and yellow-banded Kurdish flags now fly above municipal buildings. The PYD party's militia police Kurdish towns and cities. The party controls the distribution of food, water and fuel, and have set up their own makeshift courts.

PYD leaders say this week's declaration of an interim administration—a blueprint for a hundred-strong general assembly set to govern the region after elections next year—will be followed by a new constitution and the ejection of remaining regime forces from Kurd-controlled territory. The constitution would replace the existing Assad-era constitution, which still nominally prevails in the Syrian Kurdish regions.

"While others have been fighting, we have been establishing institutions in finance, public services and defense. Our transitional government is to run this area comprehensively and we are preparing for a new constitution soon," said Alan Semo, a PYD spokesman.

Meanwhile, in the Turkish border town, Mr. Cemo says he hopes he can soon cross back to Syria, inspect the family home and visit his two eldest sons, who are fighting with the YPG militia.

"They told us not to come now, because they are still clearing the area, but soon. We're still waiting but now we have more hope," he said.
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« Reply #220 on: November 17, 2013, 07:56:14 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/world/middleeast/syrian-governments-forces-gain-but-a-siege-war-goes-on.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131117
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« Reply #221 on: December 10, 2013, 12:12:32 PM »

Obama "Cherry Picked" Intel on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike
http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/obama-cherry-picked-intel-on-syrian-chemical-attack-to-justify-u-s-strike?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Obama+%22Cherry+Picked%22+Intel+on+Syrian+Chemical+Attack+to+Justify+U_S_+Strike&utm_campaign=20131210_m118254818_12%2F10%3A+Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Obama+%22Cherry+Picked%22+Intel+on+Syrian+Chemical+Attack+to+Justify+U_S_+Strike&utm_term=Obama+_22Cherry+Picked_22+Intel+on+Syrian+Chemical+Attack+to+Justify+U_S_+Strike

Click here to watch: Did Syrian rebel group have sarin?

A US investigative journalist has charged President Barack Obama with knowing that a Syrian rebel group had the capability to produce chemical weapons - but ignoring it and placing blame on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime instead, according to the Business Standard. Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh published a scathing article in the London Review of Books this week accusing the President of "deliberate manipulation of intelligence" in the chemical weapons case to justify intervention in the conflict. The United Nations investigative teams examined the attack site and wrote a report following the news, eventually confirming that sarin gas had been used but not blaming either side for the attack. While Hersh states that Assad's forces are still responsible for the August 21 chemical attack, which left at least 1,400 dead outside of Damascus, he maintains that the US government purposely obfuscated the facts for its own reasons. "[Obama] had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons," writes Hersh, toward the end of the article. "It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans."

According to Buzzfeed, Hersh's reports are based on a secret cable sent to a senior official at the Defense Intelligence Agency in July, allegedly stating along with later documents that the Al Nusra Front had the ability to produce sarin gas. Hersh's claim are detailed, describing how the knowledge moved up the entire chain of command in the US government, how the US allegedly conducted studies determining the best way to clear both sides of their chemical weapons stash, and declared that a full-blown initiative into Syria would be too costly - both financially and for the war-weary US public. He cites a number of top military and government officials, confidential documents, and suspicious excerpts from Obama's speech in August regarding the attack. Hersh also notes that the government has preyed on public ignorance on the nature of Sarin. "You don't store sarin - you store the chemicals to make Sarin," he stated, in an interview with Democracy Now. "It's far too volatile to store." He claims that a warning system is in place in Syria - a covert surveillance network - which allows the US to monitor chemical weapons production, and that Israel is also privy to that information. Administration officials denied the charges and said there was no evidence to support Hersh's claims. "The suggestion that there was an effort to suppress intelligence is simply false," said Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to the Huffington Post, Hersh originally sent the article to The Washington Post, but was rejected for "not being up to standards." Hersh is a Pultizer-Prize winning journalist who exposed the 1969 My Lai Massacre and cover-up, as well as the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Gharib in 2004. The report surfaces as the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) begins preparations to destroy most of Assad's chemical weapons stash later this month.

WATCH HERE

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« Reply #222 on: December 11, 2013, 10:29:50 AM »

U.S. Suspends Non-Lethal Aid into Northern Syria
________________________________________
 
The United States has suspended all non-lethal aid to the opposition in northern Syria after forces from the Islamic Front seized bases and warehouses belonging to the Western-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC). The announcement came from a U.S. Embassy spokesman in the Turkish capital of Ankara, who added that humanitarian assistance would not be disrupted. The Islamic Front is a new coalition of six major Islamist rebel groups. Last week, it severed from the SMC and Free Syrian Army and on Friday took over FSA headquarters in Idlib province at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. According to the U.S. Embassy spokesman, the situation is being investigated to "inventory the status of U.S. equipment and supplies provided to the SMC." The United States has committed $250 million in non-lethal assistance to be delivered to the Syrian National Coalition, local opposition councils, and the SMC. The aid has included food rations and medical supplies, but under U.S. code, could additionally consist of communications equipment, intelligence assistance, and body armor. Meanwhile, one of the most prominent figures in Syria's peaceful protest movement, human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, disappeared from her apartment in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus with her husband and two other activists overnight Monday. Zaitouneh was a founder of the opposition Local Coordination Committees. Colleagues said that she began receiving threats after she started investigating abuses by rebels with another organization she founded, the Violations Document Center.
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« Reply #223 on: December 12, 2013, 09:42:35 PM »

It is interesting reading the flow of thought in this thread. My church is based in Damascus and we have a number of Middle-Eastern immigrants to the United States in the congregation. The current government did a pretty good job of protecting members of minority religions withing its borders. The result of which is that many Syrians seem to have a very different view of Assad than what the administration has put forth. Not an angel by any means, but maybe one of the few options to maintain a secular state in that region?
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« Reply #224 on: December 13, 2013, 08:52:27 AM »

Woof Al:

Great to see you here-- welcome aboard!

Marc
========================


http://www.mintpressnews.com/censored-on-syria-the-new-yorker-washington-post-decline-to-publish-hersh-story/174825/
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« Reply #225 on: December 15, 2013, 07:08:18 PM »

http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/plundered-syrian-torah-scrolls-said-held-by-al-qaeda-linked-rebels?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Al-Qaeda+Holding+Holy+Torah+Scrolls+in+Syria%2C+Demand+Release+of+Prisoners&utm_campaign=20131215_m118325305_12%2F15%3A+Israel+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Al-Qaeda+Holding+Holy+Torah+Scrolls+in+Syria%2C+Demand+Release+of+Prisoners&utm_term=Plundered+Syrian+Torah+scrolls+said+held+by+Al-Qaeda-linked+rebels
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« Reply #226 on: December 19, 2013, 11:21:45 AM »

The Obama administration's policy in Syria has been such a muddle as to hardly qualify for the word "policy." First it was "don't cross this red line," and then it was, "I didn't say anything about a red line." Now, the administration can't decide whether to back only "moderate" rebels, just throw money and support to anybody holding an anti-Assad sign, or go along with other Western nations in throwing up their hands and supporting Assad. Foreign Policy reports, "On Monday, the State Department confirmed its openness to engaging with the Islamic Front following the group's seizure of a Free Syrian Army headquarters last week containing U.S.-supplied small arms and food. 'We wouldn't rule out the possibility of meeting with the Islamic Front,' State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said." In other words, "We support whoever occupies that building."

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

The civil war in Syria took a strange turn this week as General Salim Idriss, leader of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), reportedly fled for Qatar. Or maybe it was Turkey. Or, actually, Idriss later claimed he didn't flee at all but had left the country before the Islamic Front took over his headquarters. Only the Islamic Front was supposedly helping the general. The FSA is the focus of Western efforts to arm, train and support some semblance of moderate resistance to Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime. But as you can see from this bizarre telling of events, it's difficult to distinguish between groups and to tell what's actually happening in Syria.

Over the last year, so-called moderates have been losing ground to al-Qaida and its ilk, and anti-Assad forces have become ever-more dominated by radical Islamists. Those jihadis now hold most of the northern Syria territory under rebel control, and have seized numerous stores of weapons and supplies belonging to the moderates. In other words, the West has ended up supplying the Islamists because they're inseparable from any “moderates.” The Obama administration still says it plans to attend the Geneva peace talks in January and may, in fact, decide to support Islamist groups – provided their not allied with al-Qaida. (No, we're not kidding.)

Some may argue that the U.S. was too slow and insufficient in arming moderate rebels, and that this delay allowed jihadis to overrun the opposition. It's more likely, however, that this was only a matter of time. The “Arab Spring” has turned out to be nothing but a Middle East-wide radical Islamist uprising, replacing lousy, murderous, secular leaders with fanatical Muslims. Pick your poison.
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« Reply #227 on: January 03, 2014, 10:09:29 AM »



http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/31/the_rise_of_syrias_islamic_front_al_qaeda?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Flashpoints%20Complete%2010%2F7&utm_campaign=Flashpoints%2001-02-14#sthash.PTnyrt9Z.dpbs
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« Reply #228 on: January 03, 2014, 10:11:22 PM »


Summary

Despite Ankara's growing desire to seek a negotiated solution to the Syrian crisis and avoid a confrontation with Iran, the risk of clashes between Turkey and the Syrian regime remains as Turkey continues supporting the Syrian rebels.

Analysis

The Turkish General Staff announced Jan. 2 that Syrian air missile batteries used their radars to lock onto two Turkish F-16 jets conducting a sortie to monitor Syrian aircraft close to the Turkish border. Given the harassment of the radar lock and the already elevated tensions between Syria and Turkey, the incident could have escalated into a skirmish.

Turkish media also reported Jan. 2 that a truck heading from Kirikhan in Turkey's Hatay province toward the Kilis province and onward to Syria was stopped briefly on the road between Kirikhan and Reyhanli in Hatay province. However, due to intervention from local government officials, it was not searched and was allowed to continue on its way. Speculation that the truck was carrying weaponry has not been confirmed; Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala simply stated that the truck was carrying "aid" to Turkmen in Syria.


While the Turkish government consistently has denied supplying rebels in Syria and is actively hunting down Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant cells, there is plenty of evidence that significant flows of weapons (as well as foreign fighters) cross the Turkish border and find their way to rebels. It is therefore entirely plausible that the truck was indeed carrying weaponry to Syrian rebels. Turkey has ties with Turkmen rebels -- a small subset of the Syrian insurgency -- and with the Free Syrian Army, and Ankara even selectively supports certain Kurdish and Islamist factions in its efforts to play different sides of the rebellion against each other.

With the rise of jihadist activity in northern Syria and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's advances near Turkish border crossings, the Turks have greatly toned down their calls for Bashar al Assad's ouster and have increased monitoring of their border crossings. At a time when the United States is pursuing negotiations with Iran, Ankara has incrementally moved toward involving Tehran in seeking a potential approach to the Syrian crisis that favors stability over the complete overthrow of the regime.

However, the Turks have hardly stopped supporting rebels in Syria and continue to be heavily involved -- along with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the United States -- in transferring aid and materiel to rebel camps, particularly the beleaguered rebel Supreme Military Council. Having committed itself publically to the demise of al Assad's regime, Ankara would like to avoid the humiliation of seeing al Assad stay in power, particularly since his regime would be unlikely to forget Turkey's involvement against him. Turkey likewise will be hard pressed to forget Syrian-sponsored militant attacks that have taken place in Turkey's borderland with Syria. To have a stake in the game as well as to achieve a negotiated solution that is at least somewhat favorable to Turkey (however unlikely), the rebels need to get enough support not to be annihilated, and they are getting at least some of that support from Ankara.

Moreover, Turkey is also very concerned about the emerging power of both the jihadists and Kurdish militia forces in Syria. By maintaining a direct connection to amenable Syrian rebel groups, Ankara can try to play different rebel factions against each other in an attempt to mitigate the jihadist and Kurdish separatist threat. 
Syrian Air Defense Network
Click to Enlarge

The Turks have also greatly expanded their air patrols close to the Syrian border since the Syrian military shot down a Turkish military aircraft on June 22, 2012. The increased tensions on the border have since resulted in numerous exchanges of artillery fire, as well as the destruction of a Syrian helicopter by Turkish aircraft after it allegedly violated Turkish airspace on Sept. 16, 2013.

Domestic considerations, foreign policy initiatives and greater wariness about the growing presence of transnational jihadist forces in Syria have curbed Ankara's enthusiasm for a violent demise to the al Assad regime. However, Turkey continues to funnel aid to the rebels through various programs -- whether by sending in mostly nonlethal aid in collaboration with a hesitant West or by cooperating with the more proactive states of the Gulf Cooperation Council in dispatching weaponry to rebel groups.

As operations intensify across the length of the Turkish-Syrian border, the risks of clashes between Turkey and the Syrian regime, transnational jihadists or the advancing YPG Kurdish militia remain very real. Indeed, sharing a vast border with a destabilized Syria, Ankara cannot hope to completely isolate itself from Syria and can only take measures to diminish the risk.

Read more: Turkey's Role in the Syrian Rebel Landscape | Stratfor
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« Reply #229 on: January 10, 2014, 01:21:45 PM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/01/09/breaking_the_reign_of_terror_syria_al_qaeda
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« Reply #230 on: January 23, 2014, 08:56:35 PM »

 The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 03:59 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By Reva Bhalla

International diplomats will gather Jan. 22 in the Swiss town of Montreux to hammer out a settlement designed to end Syria's three-year civil war. The conference, however, will be far removed from the reality on the Syrian battleground. Only days before the conference was scheduled to begin, a controversy threatened to engulf the proceedings after the United Nations invited Iran to participate, and Syrian rebel representatives successfully pushed for the offer to be rescinded. The inability to agree upon even who would be attending the negotiations is an inauspicious sign for a diplomatic effort that was never likely to prove very fruitful.

There are good reasons for deep skepticism. As Syrian President Bashar al Assad's forces continue their fight to recover ground against the increasingly fratricidal rebel forces, there is little incentive for the regime, heavily backed by Iran and Russia, to concede power to its sectarian rivals at the behest of Washington, especially when the United States is already negotiating with Iran. Ali Haidar, an old classmate of al Assad's from ophthalmology school and a long-standing member of Syria's loyal opposition, now serving somewhat fittingly as Syria's National Reconciliation Minister, captured the mood of the days leading up to the conference in saying "Don't expect anything from Geneva II. Neither Geneva II, not Geneva III nor Geneva X will solve the Syrian crisis. The solution has begun and will continue through the military triumph of the state."

Widespread pessimism over a functional power-sharing agreement to end the fighting has led to dramatic speculation that Syria is doomed either to break into sectarian statelets or, as Haidar articulated, revert to the status quo, with the Alawites regaining full control and the Sunnis forced back into submission. Both scenarios are flawed. Just as international mediators will fail to produce a power-sharing agreement at this stage of the crisis, and just as Syria's ruling Alawite minority will face extraordinary difficulty in gluing the state back together, there is also no easy way to carve up Syria along sectarian lines. A closer inspection of the land reveals why.

The Geopolitics of Syria

Before the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement traced out an awkward assortment of nation-states in the Middle East, the name Syria was used by merchants, politicians and warriors alike to describe a stretch of land enclosed by the Taurus Mountains to the north, the Mediterranean to the west, the Sinai Peninsula to the south and the desert to the east. If you were sitting in 18th-century Paris contemplating the abundance of cotton and spices on the other side of the Mediterranean, you would know this region as the Levant -- its Latin root "levare" meaning "to raise," from where the sun would rise in the east. If you were an Arab merchant traveling the ancient caravan routes in the Hejaz, or modern-day Saudi Arabia, facing the sunrise to the east, you would have referred to this territory in Arabic as Bilad al-Sham, or the "land to the left" of Islam's holy sites on the Arabian Peninsula.

Whether viewed from the east or the west, the north or the south, Syria will always find itself in an unfortunate position surrounded by much stronger powers. The rich, fertile lands straddling Asia Minor and Europe around the Sea of Marmara to the north, the Nile River Valley to the south and the land nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers to the east give rise to larger and more cohesive populations. When a power in control of these lands went roaming for riches farther afield, they inevitably came through Syria, where blood was spilled, races were intermixed, religions were negotiated and goods were traded at a frenzied and violent pace.


Consequently, only twice in Syria's pre-modern history could this region claim to be a sovereign and independent state: during the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, based out of Antioch (the city of Antakya in modern-day Turkey) from 301 to 141 B.C., and during the Umayyad Caliphate, based out of Damascus, from A.D. 661 to 749. Syria was often divided or subsumed by its neighbors, too weak, internally fragmented and geographically vulnerable to stand its own ground. Such is the fate of a borderland.

Unlike the Nile Valley, Syria's geography lacks a strong, natural binding element to overcome its internal fissures. An aspiring Syrian state not only needs a coastline to participate in sea trade and guard against sea powers, but also a cohesive hinterland to provide food and security. Syria's rugged geography and patchwork of minority sects have generally been a major hindrance to this imperative.

Syria's long and extremely narrow coastline abruptly transforms into a chain of mountains and plateaus. Throughout this western belt, pockets of minorities, including Alawites, Christians and Druze, have sequestered themselves, equally distrustful of outsiders from the west as they are of local rulers to the east, but ready to collaborate with whomever is most likely to guarantee their survival. The long mountain barrier then descends into broad plains along the Orontes River Valley and the Bekaa Valley before rising sharply once again along the Anti-Lebanon range, the Hawran plateau and the Jabal al-Druze mountains, providing more rugged terrain for persecuted sects to hunker down and arm themselves.
Syria's River Systems
Click to Enlarge

Just west of the Anti-Lebanon mountains, the Barada river flows eastward, giving rise to a desert oasis also known as Damascus. Protected from the coast by two mountain chains and long stretches of desert to the east, Damascus is essentially a fortress city and a logical place to make the capital. But for this fortress to be a capital worthy of regional respect, it needs a corridor running westward across the mountains to Mediterranean ports along the ancient Phoenician (or modern-day Lebanese) coast, as well as a northward route across the semi-arid steppes, through Homs, Hama and Idlib, to Aleppo.

The saddle of land from Damascus to the north is relatively fluid territory, making it an easier place for a homogenous population to coalesce than the rugged and often recalcitrant coastline. Aleppo sits alongside the mouth of the Fertile Crescent, a natural trade corridor between Anatolia to the north, the Mediterranean (via the Homs Gap) to the west and Damascus to the south. While Aleppo has historically been vulnerable to dominant Anatolian powers and can use its relative distance to rebel against Damascus from time to time, it remains a vital economic hub for any Damascene power.
The Greater Levantine Region
Click to Enlarge

Finally, jutting east from the Damascus core lie vast stretches of desert, forming a wasteland between Syria and Mesopotamia. This sparsely populated route has long been traveled by small, nomadic bands of men -- from caravan traders to Bedouin tribesmen to contemporary jihadists -- with few attachments and big ambitions.
Demography by Design

The demographics of this land have fluctuated greatly, depending on the prevailing power of the time. Christians, mostly Eastern Orthodox, formed the majority in Byzantine Syria. The Muslim conquests that followed led to a more diverse blend of religious sects, including a substantial Shiite population. Over time, a series of Sunni dynasties emanating from Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and Asia Minor made Syria the Sunni-majority region that it is today. While Sunnis came to heavily populate the Arabian Desert and the saddle of land stretching from Damascus to Aleppo, the more protective coastal mountains were meanwhile peppered with a mosaic of minorities. The typically cult-like minorities forged fickle alliances and were always on the lookout for a more distant sea power they could align with to balance against the dominant Sunni forces of the hinterland.
Sectarian Divisions in Syria and Lebanon
Click to Enlarge

The French, who had the strongest colonial links to the Levant, were masters of the minority manipulation strategy, but that approach also came with severe consequences that endure to this day. In Lebanon, the French favored Maronite Christians, who came to dominate Mediterranean sea trade out of bustling port cities such as Beirut at the expense of poorer Sunni Damascene merchants. France also plucked out a group known as the Nusayris living along the rugged Syrian coast, rebranded them as Alawites to give them religious credibility and stacked them in the Syrian military during the French mandate.

When the French mandate ended in 1943, the ingredients were already in place for major demographic and sectarian upheaval, culminating in the bloodless coup by Hafiz al Assad in 1970 that began the highly irregular Alawite reign over Syria. With the sectarian balance now tilting toward Iran and its sectarian allies, France's current policy of supporting the Sunnis alongside Saudi Arabia against the mostly Alawite regime that the French helped create has a tinge of irony to it, but it fits within a classic balance-of-power mentality toward the region.
Setting Realistic Expectations

The delegates discussing Syria this week in Switzerland face a series of irreconcilable truths that stem from the geopolitics that have governed this land since antiquity.

The anomaly of a powerful Alawite minority ruling Syria is unlikely to be reversed anytime soon. Alawite forces are holding their ground in Damascus and steadily regaining territory in the suburbs. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is meanwhile following its sectarian imperative to ensure the Alawites hold onto power by defending the traditional route from Damascus through the Bekaa Valley to the Lebanese coast, as well as the route through the Orontes River Valley to the Alawite Syrian coast. So long as the Alawites can hold Damascus, there is no chance of them sacrificing the economic heartland.

It is thus little wonder that Syrian forces loyal to al Assad have been on a northward offensive to retake control of Aleppo. Realizing the limits to their own military offensive, the regime will manipulate Western appeals for localized cease-fires, using a respite in the fighting to conserve its resources and make the delivery of food supplies to Aleppo contingent on rebel cooperation with the regime. In the far north and east, Kurdish forces are meanwhile busy trying to carve out their own autonomous zone against mounting constraints, but the Alawite regime is quite comfortable knowing that Kurdish separatism is more of a threat to Turkey than it is to Damascus at this point.

The fate of Lebanon and Syria remain deeply intertwined. In the mid-19th century, a bloody civil war between Druze and Maronites in the densely populated coastal mountains rapidly spread from Mount Lebanon to Damascus. This time around, the current is flowing in reverse, with the civil war in Syria now flooding Lebanon. As the Alawites continue to gain ground in Syria with aid from Iran and Hezbollah, a shadowy amalgam of Sunni jihadists backed by Saudi Arabia will become more active in Lebanon, leading to a steady stream of Sunni-Shiite attacks that will keep Mount Lebanon on edge.

The United States may be leading the ill-fated peace conference to reconstruct Syria, but it doesn't really have any strong interests there. The depravity of the civil war itself compels the United States to show that it is doing something constructive, but Washington's core interest for the region at the moment is to preserve and advance a negotiation with Iran. This goal sits at odds with a publicly stated U.S. goal to ensure al Assad is not part of a Syrian transition, and this point may well be one of many pieces in the developing bargain between Washington and Tehran. However, al Assad holds greater leverage so long as his main patron is in talks with the United States, the only sea power currently capable of projecting significant force in the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt, the Nile Valley power to the south, is wholly ensnared in its own internal problems. So is Turkey, the main power to the north, which is now gripped in a public and vicious power struggle that leaves little room for Turkish adventurism in the Arab world. That leaves Saudi Arabia and Iran as the main regional powers able to directly manipulate the Syrian sectarian battleground. Iran, along with Russia, which shares an interest in preserving relations with the Alawites and thus its access to the Mediterranean, will hold the upper hand in this conflict, but the desert wasteland linking Syria to Mesopotamia is filled with bands of Sunni militants eager for Saudi backing to tie down their sectarian rivals.

And so the fighting will go on. Neither side of the sectarian divide is capable of overwhelming the other on the battlefield and both have regional backers that will fuel the fight. Iran will try to use its relative advantage to draw the Saudi royals into a negotiation, but a deeply unnerved Saudi Arabia will continue to resist as long as Sunni rebels still have enough fight in them to keep going. Fighters on the ground will regularly manipulate appeals for cease-fires spearheaded by largely disinterested outsiders, all while the war spreads deeper into Lebanon. The Syrian state will neither fragment and formalize into sectarian statelets nor reunify into a single nation under a political settlement imposed by a conference in Geneva. A mosaic of clan loyalties and the imperative to keep Damascus linked to its coastline and economic heartland -- no matter what type of regime is in power in Syria -- will hold this seething borderland together, however tenuously.

Read more: The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War | Stratfor

« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 08:58:14 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #231 on: February 04, 2014, 11:21:46 AM »

Obama's Syria Policy Has Failed
Secretary of State John Kerry is evidently not overly pleased with his boss's policy regarding Syria. Kerry reportedly told a gathering of 15 senators that Obama's policy isn't working because Bashar al-Assad's regime is not keeping its promises regarding chemical weapons, because peace talks in Geneva are failing, and because the Russians are doing the entirely expected -- propping up their man Assad. It's encouraging to hear that Kerry may be aware of the failure, but it's too much to hope that he's seen the light.
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« Reply #232 on: February 04, 2014, 12:23:04 PM »

I'm sure Israel will get blamed.
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« Reply #233 on: February 14, 2014, 10:48:16 AM »

 
Syria

Following a deadlocked second round of talks, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is reportedly advancing Syria peace talks between regime and opposition actors into a third round Friday. While the United States and Russia, co-sponsors of the peace talks, have promised to pressure their respective Syrian allies, disagreement among the powers has sharpened. On Friday Russia lashed out against the United States, accusing it of pursuing "regime change" in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarked, "The only thing they want to talk about is the establishment of a transitional governing body." Disagreement also surrounds draft UN resolutions on Syria's humanitarian crisis. Russia has stated its rejection of a Western-Arab draft resolution calling for greater humanitarian access, and has proposed its own resolution focused on combatting "terrorism." In a strongly-worded statement, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos urged the UN Security Council to use its "levers" to ensure humanitarian access to Syrians, calling regime and opposition attempts to obstruct aid delivery "flagrant" violations of humanitarian law. On Friday, the United Nations voiced concern over a possible "major assault" by regime forces against the opposition-held town Yabroud, noting a concentration of military forces in the area. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that President Barack Obama has requested new policy options for Syria as the country's crisis worsens.

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« Reply #234 on: March 04, 2014, 10:32:44 PM »

http://shoebat.com/2014/03/03/muslims-force-christian-convert-islam-brutally-behead/
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« Reply #235 on: March 05, 2014, 05:51:57 PM »



U.S. Funded Syrian Relief Flowed Despite Radical Elements

Steven Emerson, Executive Director

March 5, 2014

Articles by IPT | IPT in the News | IPT Blog | Profiles | Multimedia | Donate |
Contact Us

U.S. Funded Syrian Relief Flowed Despite Radical Elements

by John Rossomando
IPT News
March 5, 2014

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4307/us-funded-syrian-relief-flowed-despite-radical
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« Reply #236 on: March 20, 2014, 11:02:14 AM »



Nearly Half of Syria’s Chemical Stockpile Has Been Removed
________________________________________
 
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that nearly half of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal has been removed from the country for destruction abroad. The OPCW issued a statement Wednesday saying 45.6 percent of Syria's chemicals have been exported so far in 10 shipments, including two over the past week that included some of the regime's most lethal chemicals. The Syrian government has asked to be given until April 27 to remove its complete stockpile, which is two and a half months after the initial deadline. It remains unclear if a dispute over Syria's 12 chemical production facilities has been settled. Syria has proposed sealing the facilities, keeping them intact, which the United States has demanded Syria destroy them. Meanwhile, Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fighters ambushed dozens of wounded rebel fighters as they attempted to flee the besieged area of al-Hosn in Homs province. The attack came as part of a regime offensive working to reclaim territories along the Lebanese border, and after Syrian troops recaptured al-Hosn. Eleven armed men were reportedly killed in Thursday's ambush, and 41 wounded Syrian rebels crossed over a river into Lebanon. The intense clashes provoked Syrian troops to close the Bqaiaa border crossing into the neighboring country.
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« Reply #237 on: March 28, 2014, 08:43:32 AM »


Syria

The United Nations on Thursday warned of increasing militant links between Iraq and Syria. U.N. Special Envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov told the U.N. Security Council, "The ongoing conflict in Syria has added a regional dimension to sectarian tensions and is affording terrorist networks the occasion to forge links across the border and expand their support base." In addition to security challenges, the World Health Organization has described the polio outbreak in Syria as "arguably the most challenging outbreak in the history of polio eradication" as there have been 38 cases reported in Syria, and one confirmed case in Iraq. Ninette Kelley, regional representative for Lebanon for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees warned of the threat posed to Lebanon from the almost one million refugees that have poured into the country from Syria. She noted, "If this country is not bolstered, then the very real prospect of it collapsing and the conflict of Syria spreading full force to Lebanon becomes much more likely."
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« Reply #238 on: April 01, 2014, 10:23:31 AM »


The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 150,344 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. According to the group, the figure includes 51,212 civilians, 37,781 opposition fighters, and 58,480 regime forces. On Monday, Syrian government forces recaptured Observatory 45, a strategic position in the regime stronghold of Latakia province, countering recent opposition gains in the region.
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« Reply #239 on: April 09, 2014, 10:25:15 AM »

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304441304579479500649988892?mod=WSJ_article_EditorsPicks
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« Reply #240 on: April 19, 2014, 02:18:53 PM »



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626304579509401865454762?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj
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« Reply #241 on: May 06, 2014, 11:29:13 AM »

The United States said it will recognize the offices of Syria's main opposition alliance, the Syrian National Coalition, as diplomatic missions. The State Department also pledged $27 million in nonlethal aid bringing the total U.S. assistance since the beginning of the Syrian conflict to $287 million. The moves have come ahead of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry, and other senior U.S. officials, and a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders, including SNC President Ahmad Jarba. While granting the opposition coalition diplomatic status does not mean the United States is recognizing the SNC as Syria's government, it will make it easier to facilitate banking and security services. Jarba said it was a "diplomatic blow against Assad's legitimacy and demonstrates how far the opposition has progressed." 
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« Reply #242 on: May 09, 2014, 04:19:46 PM »

FSA Cooperation With Al-Qaida Continues in Syria
by John Rossomando  •  May 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4380/fsa-cooperation-with-al-qaida-continues-in-syria
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Cooperation between the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, continues even as the FSA tries to obtain more American arms.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, an FSA element, has teamed up with Jabhat al-Nusra in recent weeks in attempts to capture strategic hilltops in Syria's southwestern Quneitra province overlooking the Israel-held Golan Heights.

"The FSA and Nusra Front are cooperating on the front line," Abu Omar Golani, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front's media coordinator, told the Journal.

FSA forces have struggled over the past year to seize the hills in the area from government forces. Cooperation between the FSA and Jabhat al-Nusra has included "military operations rooms" where they jointly planned strategy before battles and helped coordinate unit activities, according to Golani.

FSA leaders denied that such coordination was taking place even though Jamal Maarouf, head of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, has previously admitted to fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra.

"It's clear that I'm not fighting against al-Qaida. This is a problem outside of Syria's border, so it's not our problem. I don't have a problem with anyone who fights against the regime inside Syria," Maarouf told the U.K.'s Independent newspaper last month.

Maarouf also expressed his support for Jabhat al-Nusra in a January Twitter post, saying all of the anti-Assad forces – including the al-Qaida affiliate – were fighting together against the regime.

The news comes as Ahmed Jarba, president of the rebel Syrian National Coalition (SNC), is in Washington this week and is slated to meet with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Jarba publicly appealed to the Obama administration to provide the FSA with more advanced weapons, especially shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles such as the Stinger. He vowed that advanced weapons systems would only be used by select "professional" fighters to ensure that they do not fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Videos surfaced in the Internet over the past month showing FSA fighters using U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles. Rumors in the Israeli press suggest that the CIA has moved weapons to Jordan and plans to start arming small groups of "vetted" Syrian rebels within a month.

Fears that such weapons could fall into Jabhat al-Nusra's hands have spurred reluctance on Capitol Hill to arm the FSA rebels, who have experienced a recent spate of defections.

Numerous FSA Supreme Military Council officials have expressed support for Jabhat al-Nusra, or had their brigades fight alongside the al-Qaida franchise, since Syria's civil war started in 2011.
Such developments may serve to further reinforce reluctance in Washington to arm the FSA.
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« Reply #243 on: May 15, 2014, 09:50:35 AM »

I wonder if this is what the explosion of the "crater" at the battle of Petersburg, Virginia in 1864 looked like:

http://news.yahoo.com/massive-tunnel-bomb-hits-syrian-army-video-095628015.html
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« Reply #244 on: May 18, 2014, 07:55:56 PM »

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/05/al-qaeda-militants-destroy-3000-year-old-artifacts-in-syria/?PageSpeed=noscript

http://news.yahoo.com/jihadists-execute-seven-syria-two-crucifixion-202451027.html
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« Reply #245 on: May 27, 2014, 10:50:05 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/27/obama-deploy-us-military-advisers-syria/
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« Reply #246 on: August 30, 2014, 03:47:38 PM »

I have been trying to read up on what our options might be in Syria.  Thought this might be aprpeciated around here. 

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/moderate-syrian-rebel-application-form

 
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« Reply #247 on: August 30, 2014, 04:50:40 PM »

But but but supporting the FSA proves Hillary is harder than Baraq!

Good to see you posting here again Mike.
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« Reply #248 on: September 05, 2014, 05:06:03 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/09/05/would-you-believe-it-looks-like-assad-hid-his-chemical-weapons/
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