Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 30, 2015

U.S. Stopped Syria Air Strikes While Nusra And IS Prepared Attack On Government Supply Route

During the last days a large attack on the Syrian government supply line to Aleppo city was carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State seemingly in coordination with the U.S. military.

During September the U.S. anti-IS coalition carried out an average of 4.2 airstrikes on IS in predominately east Syria. This after an average of 6.8 per day in August. The rate in October was about the same as in September until Thursday October 22. Then, according to the U.S. Military Times, the strike rate decreased markedly:

~4 strikes per day up to Oct 20
4 - Oct 20 Tuesday
8 - Oct 21 Wednesday
1 - Oct 22 Thursday
0 - Oct 23 Friday
0 - Oct 24 Saturday
0 - Oct 26 Sunday
1 - Oct 27 Monday
0 - Oct 28 Tuesday
0 - Oct 29 Wednesday

The Islamic State used the lull in airstrikes in east Syria to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment towards the supply line that connects Damascus with the government held areas (green) of Aleppo.


bigger

After two days of no U.S. airstrikes in east Syria the Islamic State (purple) attacked the government supply corridor from the east while at the same time and at the same main point Jabhat al-Nusra (orange) attacked the supply corridor from the west. The attacks started with suicide car bombs against Syrian army checkpoints which suddenly had to defend themselves to the front and the rear.

On Saturday October 24 Almasdar news reported:

For the first time in three months, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) main supply route along the Khanasser Highway was closed due to an obstruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS); this chaotic situation forced the pro-government forces to call on hundreds of reinforcements from the Aleppo Governorate to help push back the encroaching terrorists.

Initially, the Syrian Armed Forces were successful in repelling both ISIS and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” after they attacked from different axes in the Hama Governorate; however, ISIS regrouped near the Al-Raqqa Governorate border in order to launch another massive assault on the Khanasser Highway.

ISIS’ second assault on the Syrian Armed Forces’ defensive positions proved successful, as they cutoff the Khanasser Highway and pushed further west towards the strategic city of Ithriyah in east Hama.

The Islamic State fighters killed about a dozen government troops and captured several armed vehicles (gruesome photos here).

The Syrian army send reinforcements from the Palestinian resistance militia Liwaa Al-Quds to help clear the road. This was only somewhat successful as bad weather and a sandstrom on the 25th prevented air support.

The operations room in Damascus was not too unhappy with the situation even though the road was still cut. The thought was that having IS and Nusra fighters concentrated in an otherwise wide open rural area would help to eliminate them. On the 26th and 27the Russian and Syrian air forces flew some 90 attacks within 24 hours against the enemy held parts of the road.

These attacks cleared the IS held parts of the road but the Islamic State concentrated more forces on another part of the road further north and on October 27 it suicide-bombed another government checkpoint and again blocked the road. Additional support from Hizbullah arrived during the next days and the road is now mostly cleared though still endangered.

The closed supply route led to hardship for the nearly two million people in the government held parts of Aleppo as prices for produce and gasoline exploded.

The operations room in Damascus where Syria, Iran, Russia and Hizbullah coordinate the intelligence and operations in Syria suspects that the attack on the supply corridor was coordinated at a higher level than just between Nusra and the Islamic State.

The total cessation of U.S. air attacks on east Syria allowed the Islamic State to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment like tanks and cannons from its stronghold in Raqqa city to the west of Syria. At the same time Jabhat al-Nusra brought hundreds of fighters from other fronts south-eastward for its part of the attack. It is difficult to believe that these were just unrelated coincidences.

Posted by b on October 30, 2015 at 05:51 AM | Permalink

Comments
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The US and its allies Turkey,Saudi Arabia,Qatar and others think that regime change is the priority, that being the case it would be illogical to attack [in a serious way] any group of terrorists [good or bad] which shared the same goals. That is why the US was not serious about bombing Islamic State in Syria for the past 18 months, and why the US satellite surveillance [they claim to be able to read a number plate from space] could not see thousands of white Toyota trucks crossing the Syrian/Iraq border on main roads during daylight hours on route to capture Iraqi cities. The US said.."we saw nothing" "we know nothing" yeah right. They must take the Russians[and the rest of us]for idiots. Mike Whitney has it right here http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43281.htm

Posted by: harry law | Oct 30, 2015 6:57:17 AM | 1

Thanks for delivering the news, b. I appreciate it very much.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 30, 2015 7:28:05 AM | 2

Could one argue that the US tricked its 'moderate rebels' into clustering fighters and hardware in open ground? Or was it just another Yankee clusterfuck?
90 airstrikes in 24hrs, at 1 or 2 locations, sounds like a target-rich environment.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 30, 2015 8:01:31 AM | 3

The Caliph at the Gates of Vienna
By Pepe Escobar
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43290.htm

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 30, 2015 8:01:48 AM | 4

'Adil Jubair, now sitting in the Saudi FM's chair has made it clear. SA wants to defeat Iran and Shiism in Syria so that its long term project of re-Sunnifying the Levant can be fulfilled.
Patrick Lang is beginning to get quite definite. It's an ideological project on the part of the Saudis (not that we didn't know it, but the situation is getting clearer and clearer).

US policy is getting so convoluted that it's not surprising they are fighting on both sides at once. I don't think fighting on the side of the head-choppers is going to help the US approval rating in the West, to read the endless blood-curdling anti-Islamic comments which flood all over the media comment columns these days.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 8:21:18 AM | 5


Iran signaled on Friday that it favored a six-month "transition" period in Syria followed by elections to decide the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, an apparent concession ahead of the first peace conference Tehran was permitted to attend.

Although sources who described the proposal said it amounted to Tehran dropping its insistence on Assad remaining in power, it was not immediately clear whether it would actually include steps that would remove him.

Assad's government held an election as recently as last year, which he easily won. His opponents have always rejected any proposal for a transition unless he is removed from power and barred from standing in any election that followed.

Nevertheless, a commitment to a defined time limit for a transition would amount to an important new undertaking by Assad's closest ally, providing a potential basis for future diplomacy at a time when Assad's position has been strengthened by Russia's decision to join the war on his side.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/30/us-mideast-crisis-syria-iran-idUSKCN0SN2Z620151030

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 30, 2015 9:03:11 AM | 6

Any guess where the orders to eliminate journalists and activists came from? (it was a rhetorical question)
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/162219/World/Region/Beheaded-bodies-of-Syria-antiIS-activist,-friend-f.aspx

Posted by: Mina | Oct 30, 2015 9:13:28 AM | 7

@6 If that is a reflection of iran a position they need to stop fighting now and let ISIL take over.
But then the report cones from Reuters who report Russia has bombed 25 hospitals - something the Red Cross knows nothing about

Posted by: James lake | Oct 30, 2015 9:15:45 AM | 8

The lying times says:Syria tells Saudis;You don't belong here and shut up:I guess they were trying to get us to defend the Saudis,the idiots not realizing the American public does not like the Saudis one bit.
Iran accuses Saudis of kidnapping their pilgrim.I read that awhile ago,I guess the MSM just caught a whiff?

Posted by: dahoit | Oct 30, 2015 9:37:29 AM | 9

Iran Just denied the Reuters news ( probably Saudis are paying for these news to muddy the waters )with regard to agreeing Assad leaving,

http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/81818215/
Irna in Persian

Posted by: kooshy | Oct 30, 2015 9:58:07 AM | 10

Based on this post we can assume that

1---The US is in direct communication with al Nusra and probably ISIS
2---The US is providing strategic and logistical information to these terrorist organizations.
3--That the US probably has special forces deployed among these groups to oversee operations and to conduct the counteroffensive
4--That the US has intensified the fighting on the ground to give Kerry more leverage at the negotiations in Vienna
5--That the Vienna meetings are part of a broader calculation to regroup by implementing a temporary ceasefire that will save US jihadi mercenaries on the battlefield.

The objective remains regime change

Posted by: plantman | Oct 30, 2015 10:19:37 AM | 11

Boy, I hope this wasn't deliberate.

Who is on the ground doing the target selection for US air force in this area of Syria?

If this is true, then there are two radically different factions within the US fighting this war. One directing the military activity in NW Syria as you have described and another working the political end where supposedly we've come to our senses in realizing that Assad govt has to stay in place for some period of time to maintain stability and then some transition negotiated.

But how can both of these positions be true? I'm not saying both aren't true but what the heck is going on? Who is leading these 2 conflicting activities/strategies? It's possible that Obama is leading both, I guess, but if so, why? And if two different people are leading two different campaigns then who are they?

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 30, 2015 10:36:22 AM | 12

And by the way, after all the bombing and fighting for this road, is there any road left?

I hope somebody has some construction equipment and supplies nearby.

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 30, 2015 10:39:19 AM | 13

gemini33:

There are not "2 conflicting activities or strategies".
The only strategy the US is interested in is regime change.
Kerry is seeking regime change just like the war planners.
Kerry's job in Vienna is to stop Putin from killing Washington's jihadis on the ground.
It doesn't matter if these guys are just pay-as-you-go soldiers of fortune. You always get your own guys out. That's just how it is.
Kerry does not want peace. He wants to buy some time to fallback and regroup for the next round.

Just remember: The US doesn't "do diplomacy". The US does smashmouth confrontation.

Posted by: plantman | Oct 30, 2015 10:43:56 AM | 14

In the negotiations going on in Vienna, the Syrian government has the upper hand in view of its military successes on the ground.
Saudi Arabia is isolated in its insistence to remove any chance that Bashar al Assad be re-elected. The USA wants to show that they support Saudi Arabia. Therefore it is not surprising that a massive attack is going on in Syria to decrease Russia and Syria's importance in the negotiations. The USA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are part of it coordinating their militias on the ground and supplying weapons. They want to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to win. If the Syrian army and Russia win that battle, the USA can always tell its allies that it did in utmost.
I expect Yemen to inflame in the next few days and many Saudis soldiers be killed. The two battle are now running in parallel.

Posted by: virgile | Oct 30, 2015 10:44:20 AM | 15

I figured the US was behind the big surge against Syrian government positions holding the supply route to Aleppo. But b's post makes it crystal clear my government was indeed aiding and abetting its sworn enemies. Of course, the US governing powers hate the Syrian secular government even more than they hate Al Qaeda and its spawn. All because the Syrian government is not one of its puppets. And they do so want to keep Saudi oil flowing...to the West.

I was eating breakfast while reading this and began to feel sick to my stomach. Then recalled this opinion piece which appeared in the NYTimes in 2010: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/this-is-your-brain-on-metaphors/?_r=0

Ah, yes, the insula reaction---

A single part of the brain processes both physical and psychic pain.

Consider an animal (including a human) that has started eating some rotten, fetid, disgusting food. As a result, neurons in an area of the brain called the insula will activate. Gustatory disgust. Smell the same awful food, and the insula activates as well. Think about what might count as a disgusting food (say, taking a bite out of a struggling cockroach). Same thing.

Now read in the newspaper about a saintly old widow who had her home foreclosed by a sleazy mortgage company, her medical insurance canceled on flimsy grounds, and got a lousy, exploitative offer at the pawn shop where she tried to hock her kidney dialysis machine. You sit there thinking, those bastards, those people are scum, they’re worse than maggots, they make me want to puke … and your insula activates. Think about something shameful and rotten that you once did … same thing. Not only does the insula “do” sensory disgust; it does moral disgust as well. Because the two are so viscerally similar. When we evolved the capacity to be disgusted by moral failures, we didn’t evolve a new brain region to handle it. Instead, the insula expanded its portfolio.

The rub is how to have any effect on my government and its actions.

Posted by: jawbone | Oct 30, 2015 10:46:26 AM | 16

The comments here are great...

Good call, Virgil, you say: " it is not surprising that a massive attack is going on in Syria to decrease Russia and Syria's importance in the negotiations. The USA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are part of it coordinating their militias on the ground and supplying weapons. They want to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to win."

That's how I see it too, but, guess what? Mr Putin had a little surprise for Uncle Sam. Here it is:

Breaking: Syrian Army and Hezbollah Advance to Khan Touman in Southern Aleppo

http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-syrian-army-and-hezbollah-advance-to-khan-touman-in-southern-aleppo/

Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division – in coordination with Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary), the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Aleppo City, and Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions) – carried out a successful mission to capture the farms located between the strategic towns of Khan Touman and Qarass in southern Aleppo.

According to a field report from southern Aleppo this morning, the Syrian Armed Forces and Lebanese Resistance surprised the Islamist rebels from Harakat Noureddine Al-Zinki, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Liwaa Suqour Al-Sham, and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” with an assault at several locations after taking a brief hiatus from this offensive in order to repel the encroaching Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) fighters at Al-Safira and Ithriya."


They thought they could outfox Putin and got burned!

Posted by: plantman | Oct 30, 2015 11:03:37 AM | 17

Yes, but surely Russians saw the same movement with their sats and drones; so, why didn't they fly interdiction flights? Was the sandstorm that bad?

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 30, 2015 11:14:02 AM | 18

Can someone explain the legal basis for this U.S. invasion of Syria?

U.S. to deploy small number of special forces to Syria in advisory role: sources

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to deploy a small number of special operations forces to Syria to advise moderate rebels, U.S. sources said, a step he has long resisted to avoid getting dragged into another war in the Middle East.

The number of special operations troops was likely to be in the range of 20 to 30, said one U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A second source confirmed the plan but declined to provide a number.

Presumably these are to support a Kurdish attack on Raqqa.

But the Kurds have no interest at all to go to Raqqa. It is not their turf.

New allies in northern Syria don’t seem to share U.S. goals

The stated U.S. aim is to oust the Islamic State from its de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. But if the Shammar tribal militia, the biggest in Hasaka province, is any example, many Arab forces on the ground have a different agenda. For that matter, so does the Kurdish People’s Protection Force, or YPG, which dominates this area and has worked closely with the United States since the siege last year of the border town of Kobani. ...

Mission creep ...

Posted by: b | Oct 30, 2015 11:23:13 AM | 19

And why this escalating announcement when at the same time a peace conference is convened in Vienna?

A snub to Russia and Iran? To what purpose?

Posted by: b | Oct 30, 2015 11:26:41 AM | 20

I'm the friend in the post above , I think this is more to signal to demonic allies USA, they are on your side . "In diplomacy things happen in the subtleties of words and careful actions. "

Posted by: Carlos Eduardo | Oct 30, 2015 11:33:59 AM | 21

on October 21st b said:

There is either a deal in the making ... or the war on Syria will escalate further

i said, "or both"

it's really, REALLY incomprehensible to me that anyone could expect 'diplomacy' to seriously degrade the American Imperium's agenda of reducing Syria to another basket case. i mean, grandma was slow, but she was old...

p.s. this one's for you, Penelope.

Posted by: john | Oct 30, 2015 11:36:03 AM | 22

re b 19

Presumably these are to support a Kurdish attack on Raqqa.
I would have thought the point was to sow them publicly among the rebels (rebel HQ?) so that the Russians couldn't bomb those targets. Or something like that. At least we may get to discover which rebels the US thinks most important. The gloves are beginning to come off.

I'm certain the US can't want to get rid of ISIS. That would be forbidden by the Saudis.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 11:40:08 AM | 23

b, Rhetorical question about legality? There's none. Illegality? Plenty!

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 30, 2015 11:55:21 AM | 24

thanks b.. i think you and others (harry law @1) are correct to think the usa continues to focus on regime change.. they aren't interested in taking out isis as they say they are..

yes - mission creep.. there is no legal basis for the usa's presence in syria, but the bully will be as the exceptional bully has always been since the advent of 9-11 (or before) where you are either with them, or you are against them and screw any form of international law.

gemini33 - i agree with plantman @14 and john @22.

Posted by: james | Oct 30, 2015 12:01:02 PM | 25

Where are the Hessians when we need them?

Posted by: Curtis | Oct 30, 2015 12:05:57 PM | 26

I am reposting this. It's 3 hours, but you can scan forward, it's well worth watching parts of it, especially Graham getting pipping mad and McCain questioning who got bombed, with him telling Carter that he has to "correct the record":

October 27, 2015
U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Joseph Dunford testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee… read more
http://www.c-span.org/video/?328955-1/secretary-carter-general-dunford-testimony-middle-east-strategy

Posted by: shadyl | Oct 30, 2015 12:18:40 PM | 27

i tend to always focus on the usa's role in all this, but i wonder what the uk's role is? are they just a regular poodle for the usa in all of this? i note from an article that drew my attention in the new york lying times : "Saudi Arabia is Britain’s most important trade partner in the Middle East and its biggest market for arms exports. Mr. Hammond is on a regional tour to discuss the crises in Syria and Yemen and the conflict with the Islamic State and will fly to Vienna this week for further talks about Syria." i am sure britians interests are all about human rights and the well being of the people of syria and yemen - after they first seal more arms export deals with saudi arabia of course..

Posted by: james | Oct 30, 2015 12:39:37 PM | 28

b@19 Can somebody explain the legal basis for this US invasion of Syria?
The US would say "We don't need no stinkin basis" Which as one of the five veto wielding members of the UNSC they can [and their friends] indulge in aggression whenever they like, safe in the knowledge that should any other member of the veto wielding powers tries to put up a resolution condemning the aggression, it is immediately vetoed and consigned to the memory hole. Dr David Morrison explains the origins and uses of the veto in this excellent article mainly about the Iraqi war resolutions 'The Attorney General's advice was sound' http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/iraq/ags-legal-advice.pdf
"Academic lawyers in their thousands may protest that taking military action against Iraq was illegal because it lacked proper authorisation by the Security Council, but it is of no consequence in the real world when there is no possibility of the UK, or its political leadership, being convicted for taking such action. It is meaningless to describe an action as illegal if there is no expectation that the perpetrator of the action will be convicted by a competent judicial body. In the real world, an action is legal unless a competent judicial body rules that it is illegal".

Posted by: harry law | Oct 30, 2015 12:41:01 PM | 29

@28 Not to mention the money Saudis stash in the City of London and property prices in Knightsbridge.

Posted by: dh | Oct 30, 2015 12:44:52 PM | 30

No. It is not "regime change" that is the goal but the full implementation of the Yinon plan endorsed by the neocon architects of the Iraq invasion. The Yinon plan requires Syria to be dismembered into Batustans statelets. This would allow Israel to take full control of the Golan resource wealth and for Hezbollah to loose its supply route via Syria from Iran. When the Beltway expressed concerns about Russia's "true intentions" they were not concerned about the future of Assad. Assad is a unifying figure in Syria. His wife is Sunni. Most of his constituency is Sunni. He easily won the last election. Most of the population in Syria lives in Assad government controlled territory. The jihadis and takfiris fighting Assad are mostly imported from the Caucasus, Iraq and Lybia. This explains why Washington decried loudly that Assad visited Moscow and met with Lavrov and Shoigu in addition to Putin. Russia will not sit idle with any steps to implement the balkanization of Syria.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 12:46:44 PM | 31

i tend to always focus on the usa's role in all this, but i wonder what the uk's role is?
British policy is not identifiably different from US, although it is widely different from public opinion. The government policy has completely abandoned bothering with public opinion. Astoundingly, well-known Jewish Labour MP, Gerald Kaufman, even dared accuse Government of being swayed by 'Jewish money'.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 12:57:13 PM | 32

Lawfare Blog: comments on legal basis of fight against ISIL

Obama Administration uses 2001 AUMF as legal basis for operations against ISIL. AFAICT they seem to believe that this trumps any other law.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 1:08:09 PM | 33

shadyl:

I saw that video the first time you posted it. Fascinating to see the dance around ME allies (termed "America's interests in the region") and covert ops.

=

Thanks for you many links.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 1:15:03 PM | 34

23 It's just a question of time before a) the special forces shoot down a Russian plane or b) the special forces get bombed and Russia gets blamed. Then what?

Posted by: dh | Oct 30, 2015 1:17:01 PM | 35

'John Kerry attempts to broker Syria ceasefire in Vienna talks'

You can only broker a ceasefire if you're the boss of IS.


http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/john-kerry-attempts-to-broker-syria-ceasefire-in-vienna-talks/


Posted by: From The Hague | Oct 30, 2015 1:22:27 PM | 36


/U.S. Special Operations Forces To Invade Syria: Official/
Obama in 2013: /‘I Will Not Put American Boots on the Ground in Syria/
https://youtu.be/uQ9CcxQjM5A
- This will be painful to the American people, that American soldiers will die as a symbol of shame on the silence of the American people.
not respect anymore
Just a flock of ewes

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 30, 2015 2:09:13 PM | 37

Putin quite correctly asked why the US never stopped the flow of stolen oil from Iraq and Syria, since they knew the routes from which the oil was transferred and who was buying it.
"Earlier this year, ISIL made about $40 million in one month from the sale of oil…that equals close to $500 million a year."

Earlier in the day, Iraqi's Oil Ministry told Sputnik that the ISIL has cost the nation’s oil industry up to 400,000 barrels of oil every day and billions of dollars by selling oil abroad at low prices on the black market. http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151029/1029305714.html#ixzz3pzlY4BoU IS are US.

Posted by: harry law | Oct 30, 2015 2:10:39 PM | 38

36 Will be fun waiting for the definition of terrorist

Still, terrorists must not be given a chance to seize power in the country, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference, adding that this understanding is shared by all 19 parties attending the talks.

The truce is not going to be applicable to Islamic State extremists and other terrorists, Lavrov said. A comprehensive list of terror groups operating in Syria will be defined during a separate meeting.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 30, 2015 2:19:18 PM | 39

Thanks for the posting and follow up comments b.

I feel for the people in the ME that are pawns in a much bigger battle for ongoing social control. If we don't terminate ourselves, the negotiations at the end of these power moves by nations will result in some sort of evolution of our species in the way finance and power sharing among nations operate.

We may get a real UN instead of the US bought kabuki that operates now under that title.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 30, 2015 2:37:19 PM | 40

Posted by: dh | Oct 30, 2015 1:17:01 PM | 35

US special forces in Rojava are more in danger to get shot at by Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 30, 2015 2:37:27 PM | 41

@Sun Tsu.

I told you there was a good chance the US would insert troops into Syria, and two days later, he we are.

The real Sun Tsu would have seen it coming.

And that conference between the parties is just a fraud and a set up, to make the US look more reasonable than they are, while they are at the same time inserting US troops. It's a plan has been used over and over to keep their enemies off balance with lies and contradictions.
When the US announced this conference I assumed that something was soon to be revealed, because that is the record and their history.

And if you're sick of me being right most of the time, I also mentioned weeks ago that how soon and in what degree will Russian intervention unify ISIL, Al Qaeda and the rest of the US's terrorist jihadis.
That is part of the US special operations mission in Syria, make no doubt about it. Even if unifying in the face of a greater force would be its own reason to unify. It's just a matter of how much the jihadis are willing.

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 2:50:23 PM | 42

Shaker Aamer Released from Guantanamo

Release coincides with Obama Admin decision to send troops to Syria. Guides MSM reporting: fighting ISIL = continuing the fight against al Queda. No doubt meant to underscore Obama Admin rationale that the troop deployment is legal under 2001 AUMF.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 2:52:21 PM | 43

tom - sun tze... inserting us troops seems insane.. is this some form of craziness a branch of the usa is hoping to benefit from? pb has another great article up you and others might want to check out..

@30 dh.. ditto that too.

@32 laguerre. thanks.

Posted by: james | Oct 30, 2015 3:00:56 PM | 44

@41 Maybe putting US special forces in Rojava is just a case of 'doing something'. Or maybe it is supposed to send a message to Turkey. Either way I suspect there are special forces active in other parts of Syria and have been for some time.

Posted by: dh | Oct 30, 2015 3:46:00 PM | 45

I think it is safe to say that the level of air strikes by USAF is too small to make a difference. I am not sure how many flying days were lost to the sandstorm which is deadly to helicopters and renders airplanes blind (it helps to see the ground when you bomb). However, nothing happened on the ground when USAF got a closer base in Cilicia and was supposedly able to aid the creation of a "safe zone" that would extend from Azad eastward, toward Euphrates. US trained moderates came, Turkish "Turkoman brigade" came, "moderates" lined the contested zone from northern Aleppo to the Turkish border and ... less than nothing. I understand that the "boots" had a bunch of problems, but the air support did not save the day.

Back of the envelope amateur calculations suggest that for either air force or artillery have to shoot many times and use a lot of tons of ordnance to make a significant battle difference. It would be interesting to know how intense was the air support for YPG during Kobane and Tel-Abyad campaigns, but I would guess that in recent months we did not see anything close to it.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 30, 2015 3:48:27 PM | 46

james @ 44

It is mad, but I don't know how much more mad it is then sending a US warship to the South China Sea at the same time to threaten or intimidate China.
The Chinese are far more Conservative, but I wondered what would happen if they would launch a Dong Feng 21D - carrier killer -, A few hundred metres off port. The Empire only really understands violence and a demonstration of power.

The evil US Empire is a crumbling empire, and I can almost guarantee that is gonna lash out in a lot of directions.

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 3:51:06 PM | 47

Tom @ 42 I told you that there is no insertion per se when the troops are already there and have been there for a while. I told you that most likely small teams will be doing search and rescue of assets with helicopters and air coverage. What you need to prove before, you crow, is that there are much more coming as INSERTION. The MSM is telling us whether deceptively or not, that these 50 troops will remain by the northern border. Is that your idea of INSERTION? Please think before you crow, until next time.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 3:57:35 PM | 48

This is a very informative thread. I noticed that b and Patrick Bahzard are currently debating these points over at turcopolier

Over the past few months MoA and Bahzard have been presenting some of the most intelligent analyses on this whole Syrian war. The above exchange is very interesting.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 30, 2015 4:00:21 PM | 49

Oh, and that special Ops rescue mission that got so much planned publicity this week, that's also evidence that they were setting up a PR avalanche to use that to send more troops in. When have you ever seen camera footage of a US soldier during an operation ? It's just too obvious a PR scam.
I also wonder who they rescued and for what purpose ? Was it a US asset ?

A rescue mission will be in the mind of the public as a con to get tem thinking of the benevolence of sending more US troops in to Syria. Add to that the fake conference, and this whole thing has been a gigantic set up.

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 4:02:06 PM | 50

b, @44, and @49:

I can't seem to get my comment on turcopolier:

We can't find any targets to hit from the air (for days) but we are ready to commit to troops on the ground?

=

While I understand the argument that statistically 0 isn't much different than 2, there are other factors at play that create an expectation of INCREASED strikes such as proving to the Iraqi government that US is serious about fighting ISIS and public relations: have we done all we can BEFORE sending troops?

I think b's case can not be dismissed so easily.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 4:27:28 PM | 51

It appeared lately as if the Kurds were going to be the hook where the US was going to anchor its "boots on the ground" in Syria, but now it is official. "A small contingent" of US special forces will "advise and assist" the so-called "moderate rebels" from Kurdish territory. As many posters, and b himself pointed out, the deployment of US troops in Syrian territory is completely illegal according to international law. It is an invasion of a sovereign nation, and a blatant intervention in Syria's internal affairs.

After the confusion the Russian support of Syria created at all levels of the US political-military establishment, the warmongers are bouncing back putting together some responses to the Russian move. Spurred upon by the warmongers at Congress, Pentagon, WH and the Tank-Thinkers, the US won't abandon their bastard children to be slaughtered without a fight. The fight, however, can go different ways, depending on whatever happened on the ground. Russians are not making a difference between "moderate" and "extremist" head-choppers, and a mistake could happen while USSF are "advising and assisting" their bastard children. Obviously, the US is looking for a fight, and they might find it. Spetnatz is waiting in the wings.

Russian's entry into the Syrian meat-grinder has to be opposed by any means, and that's the principle that guides the US warmongers. We have seen Graham/McCain foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs, demanding support for those who oppose Assad. All they care is to take Assad down, the legality of their actions don't come into question even for a bit. The 4+1 will have to walk on the tiger's tail, keeping their focus on the task at hand, emptying Syria of takfiris of any kind, getting the Syrian army into a strong position, then negotiate with the Kurds and other groups trying to carve out a piece of Syria for their foreign supporters.

A small contingent of US special forces to be deployed to Syria - reports

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 30, 2015 4:50:42 PM | 52

The deployment is also illegal (actually, unconstitutional) under U.S. law. Congress has not authorized it.

Posted by: lysias | Oct 30, 2015 4:56:34 PM | 53

@Sun Tzu@31

No. It is not "regime change" that is the goal but the full implementation of the Yinon plan endorsed by the neocon architects of the Iraq invasion.

In case you haven't noticed, the Yinon plan is history, as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Entered the Russians, and the US/ISraIL et al are now improvising and devising new plans to confront the new threat to their creation of chaos. Syria/Iraq can no longer be balkanized, Iran and Russia won't allow it. Period.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 30, 2015 5:15:56 PM | 54

During the hearings posted above, a congressman [Martin Heinrich] questioned the legality of our excursions, the justification has been to root out the architects of 9/11 where ever they might be. He also questioned our mission creep. [Ya think].

Starting at about 1:03.22.

Posted by: shadyl | Oct 30, 2015 5:23:59 PM | 55

re 52

It appeared lately as if the Kurds were going to be the hook where the US was going to anchor its "boots on the ground" in Syria, but now it is official.
If that is really the case, they're going to run into some difficulties. Neither Saudi, nor the Turks, are going to agree to the Kurds being boosted.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 5:28:02 PM | 56

yeah, Sun Tzu, our bambino warrior...

with his fucking Yinon plan, when everyone's chirping about the Yinon plan, essentially spawned from the dregs of British colonial strategy, congealing more recently into some fucktard project for a new american century, and finally messily aborted notwithstanding wolfowitz's deluded blatherings. it's called AMERICAN IMPERIALISM and it ain't quite going according to plan.

Posted by: john | Oct 30, 2015 5:43:30 PM | 57

Crazed US Senator Attacks Defense Secretary for not Planning War With Russia!
https://youtu.be/mC7Fz0d9H8M

Posted by: ALAN | Oct 30, 2015 5:44:28 PM | 58

There are two Kurdish forces at work in Syria.

First, the Rojava Kurds (who live there) and *THEIR* YPG. They seem beholden to nobody - they fight for their farms and homes, not more territory. The U.S. tried to influence them for other schemes, but failed. The Rojava know better than to trust a country that is also supporting ISIS.

The second Kurdish force is one from outside Rojava/Syrian Kurd territory. This is primarily the Iraqi Kurd Peshmerga, but they seem to want to distance themselves from Syrian operations by calling themselves YPG (even though they are not Rojava YPG).They basically have nothing to do with the Rojava and answer to the corrupt Kurdish Regional Government, or more specifically to the Western bought-and-paid-for Barzani and the KDP.

The Peshmerga today fully support Barzani and all the U.S./U.K./Israeli scheming in Iraq - that's where all Peshmerga arms, training and paychecks come from. The Peshmerga Senior Commander Sheikh Jafar Mustafa is basically owned by the same U.S./U.K./Israeli cabal that own Barzani. The KRG (and Western cronies) have turned the Peshmerga into a kind of Stazi for the Barzani mafia. That was necessary because Iraqi Kurds (in general) don't trust the U.S., the U.K. or Israel. The Iraqi Kurds are not stupid - they know they're being used for the oil. Unfortunately, the little people Kurds don't matter. The Barzani clan and Mustafa's Stazi Peshmerga run the place with an iron fist.

The U.S. has apparently given up trying to bribe or influence the Rojava YPG, who refuse to do anything but defend their own land. The U.S. has turned to the Peshmerga instead to create an 'alternate' (and more obedient) Rojava army. It's unclear exactly who is in this fake Rojava army, but it seems to be various Kurdish mercenaries gathered from refugee camps or Turkish enclaves. The point is that they answer to Mustafa, not the Rojava. The Rojava know what's going on and don't want these guys anywhere in or around Syrian Kurd territory. They're pissed off that this fake alternate army even exists and are even more pissed that they call themselves YPG or Rojava. The confusion is intentional - Western media never touches Iraqi Kurdish corruption and couldn't possibly explain a fake Rojava army. On CNN, they're all just 'Kurds'.

b said: "Presumably these are to support a Kurdish attack on Raqqa. But the Kurds have no interest at all to go to Raqqa. It is not their turf."

Which is correct, except the Kurds lining up to attack Raqqa are not the real Rojava YPG. They're the fake Rojava YPG obedient to Mustafa and Barzani. The end-game is to have the fake Rojava army recognized as the real one to (eventually) control the Rojava Kurds in Stazi-like fashion. The Raqqa campaign is a good starting place for inserting those troops.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Oct 30, 2015 5:47:41 PM | 59

After the confusion the Russian support of Syria created at all levels of the US political-military establishment, the warmongers are bouncing back putting together some responses to the Russian move
I quite agree, Washington panicked, and is now searching for solutions. The first solution was the combined JaN/ISIS attack upon the corridor to Aleppo. Unfortunately this attack revealed the level of cooperation between JaN and ISIS.

It takes time to come up with reasons why the US should cooperate with al-Qa'ida.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 5:55:56 PM | 60

shadyl | Oct 30, 2015 5:23:59 PM | 55

Didn't have time to watch all that, maybe first 45 mins. Hard to watch: almost every premise McCain laid out in his opening statement, just factually wrong. Most all questions of panel afterwards, based on all this blather. His statement that Putin's actions guarantee ISIL expanding in Syria > ME > Africa... wow. Also his statement Assad barrel bombs primary reason for Syrian mass refugee exodus.

Not too encouraging.

NOTE: Heinrich amongst dem Senator's "wettest noodles"... don't expect much from him other then "go with the flow". He's one of our Senators: everything he does is in support of further empowering DOD operations no matter what (USAF here, his biggest by far local economic "driver".)

Posted by: jdmckay | Oct 30, 2015 5:56:17 PM | 61

@jdmckay 61, at least he asked. I was going to comment on his demeanor, but you nailed it. Wet noodle, no conviction, like one of his donors demanded he ask, but his heart was not in it.

This is what I think. That McCain and Graham are running some kind of undercover special ops, a la Oliver North days, and Whitehouse does not know or is unable to stop it. Clinton state dept might have fingers all over it, too.... Clinton thinks she is the next POTUS, and no one can stop her.

Posted by: shadyl | Oct 30, 2015 6:10:25 PM | 62

@Laguerre@56

If that is really the case, they're going to run into some difficulties. Neither Saudi, nor the Turks, are going to agree to the Kurds being boosted.

The Kurds' aspirations for an autonomous region/nation-state, has long complicated the history of the countries where they have a presence. Despite the contradictions between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, all of them are on the same page when it comes to the Kurdish question: no Kurdish region will be allowed out of any of them.

Iraqi Kurds took full advantage of the central government weakness, and aided and abetted by the US and Israel, were on the way to create a Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, until IS came in to put their plans on hold. However, the same model has been used with the Kurds in Syria, where despite Turkey's protestations, the US has been propping up the Syrian Kurds, supposedly in their battle against IS, but in reality the goal is to use them as tools in the breaking up of Syria.

The intentions are clear, take a piece of Syria here, a piece of Iraq there, and given the tribal social fabric of these societies, expect it to snowball into a full balkanization. With so many forces interacting in the Levant region as we speak, it's very difficult to foresee the end of the Kurdish question. However, it is clear the Western powers will take full advantage of the Kurdish aspirations for self-determination, legit as they might be, to further create mayhem in the countries they attempt to destroy.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 30, 2015 6:18:17 PM | 63

re 59

There are two Kurdish forces at work in Syria.
I'm not too surprised to see a Kurdish defence here. What is new is the condemnation of Barzani. I'm not too surprised. Barzani has done little in the last year. Even without mentioning the fact that he has passed the limits of his mandate, without giving a date for new elections, KRG has the problem that without the Baghdad subsidies, the Kurdish economy doesn't work. According to the oil agreement, KRG should receive 17% of Iraqi oil revenues. Unfortunately KRG cheated on the agreement, and so the subsidies stopped. Today Iraq couldn't pay even if it wanted to. Government salaries are not paid in Baghdad, as they are not in Erbil

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 6:28:11 PM | 64

jdmckay@55:

If you only watched 45 min then you missed Tom Cotton (R) confirming that US asked Bulgaria and Iraq to close their airspace to Russia, then demanding to know if US is prepared to interdict Russia flights over Iraq (if the Iraqis can be convinced to close their airspace).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 6:28:55 PM | 65

@PavewayIV@59

Kudos!

Thanks for that detailed clarification of the Syrian Kurds issue, which the MSM intends to keep within the "Kurds" mix bag.

Right on time.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 30, 2015 6:29:20 PM | 66

@51 jackrabbit.. your comments are there now..

@ 59 PavewayIV.. that is a very insightful post. thanks.. the kurd issue is a very complex one.. my own simplistic thinking here is that they are being used to help further larger self interests that have little to nothing to do with them.. it would seem from your post that some of them are hip to this, while others - barzani - don't give a flying f*k and will use what they can to further there own self interests. your comments support my viewpoint. will be interesting to see the results from turkeys sunday election.. i am not sure how erdogan and turkey work into this story line, but they seem nutso from a different angle, over the issue of the kurds, not to mention any idea kurds would control a section of land next to turkey. any insight on erdogan and companies craziness is welcome.

Posted by: james | Oct 30, 2015 6:37:14 PM | 67

jdmckay: forgot to add, Tom Cotton is about 50 min in.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 30, 2015 6:37:17 PM | 68

re 63

I'm not against the Kurds having their own country. The problem is defining it, within a continent where there are many other peoples intermingled. Why should the Kurds be privileged, when the Assyrians are not?

The best solution for the moment is that KRG should have its independence. Baghdad doesn't object. But curiously enough, Barzani doesn't want it. KRG will lose its rights to subsidies.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 6:51:55 PM | 69

Sun Tsu has reading comprehension problems, and a doubtless-ness ego to match. I guess being so wrong after only two days really hurts.

Obviously there's probably troops already there, but it was never publicly announced. Annocement seems to be brand-new troops.
You called that they wouldn't be announcing troops, contrary to my possibility, and only two days later, you are proven wrong. Ouch.

I don't need to prove more are coming whatsoever. Trying to create a distraction ? not gonna work.
When US announces troops like this into Syria, they are not going to announce whole divisions, they going to do it small at first and see what they can get away with. That 101 tactics Sun Tsu.

You deliberately create a limitation of search and rescue as the purpose, which is just absurd. The Empire doesn't see it as limited to search and rescue, they see it as also a possibly trying to gain a foothold, or organising their proxy terrorist resistance, or using it for a possibly growing no-fly zone area where they see the Russians might not want to be confrontational - but that is a huge risk as a tactic.

After search and rescue is completed, do you expect withdrawal of US troops ? Please answer.

I try to not make claims on what will happen and limit options as an act of wistful thinking desperation, I try to read what's on the evil US empires mind.
Thats the difference between you and me, is that I don't make my own wishes and try to project them onto reality. because only two days later, you could be made a fool of.

You're so limited in your thinking that you're abusing Sun Tsu's name. Please choose a new one because it doesn't sit well at all. But I guess someone so egotistical would HAVE to choose that name.

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 6:51:57 PM | 70

My guess is the purpose of US special forces is for one of them to get "captured" by ISIS and then to be executed in some horrendous way so as to justify a larger US intervention. 50 guys really wouldn't be good for much else.

Posted by: Lysander | Oct 30, 2015 7:08:38 PM | 71

Oh Sun Tsu, this from the Guardian:

The Pentagon has also been “consulting” with the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to establish a special operations taskforce to fight Isis “leaders and networks” across the Syrian border in Iraq, a senior administration official told the Guardian on Friday.

But the White House insisted that its overall strategy to combat Isis remained the same and said the special forces troops would be helping coordinate local ground forces in the north of the country and other non-specified “coalition efforts” to counter Isis rather than engaging in major ground operations.
----

Where's the search and rescue ????

This is an insertion plan ACROSS Syria and Iraq. And notice I said "plan", and not 'will' happen, for those with comprehension disabilities. Just how big it will be is too early to tell. And if The Iraqis or the Russians in Syria will let it happen ???

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 7:10:58 PM | 72

re 63

Iraqi Kurds took full advantage of the central government weakness, and aided and abetted by the US and Israel, were on the way to create a Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, until IS came in to put their plans on hold
It was not ISIS which put the Kurdish economy on hold, but rather the stop on the Iraqi subsidies. Unfortunate that the Kurds cheated on the agreement, and expected everything to continue as before. It didn't.

Today, even if it wanted to, the Baghdad government cannot pay the Kurdish subsidy.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 30, 2015 7:17:13 PM | 73

Lone Wolf @ 54 & John @ 57 In case you didn't notice, the people behind Genie Energy with interest in the Golan Oil find are: Murdoch, Cheney, Woolsey, Rothschild. These people don't give up that easy and they are not all american.


Tom @ #70. I do not come here to make crystal ball predictions or to launch ad hominem. I leave that to you as this is clearly in your alley.

I will say that "the announcement" was not unexpected and is seen just a sound byte to officialize what was largely suspected to be operating clandestinely in Syria. Your INSERTION mission creep prophecy is unproven. Time will tell as these 50 troops deployed "along the border" in the quality of "advisors but not on the front lines" according to Ashton Carter. Think before you crow! OUCH!

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 7:17:34 PM | 74

Laguerre@64 - Erbil is making a ton of money directly from illegal oil sales. They should be swimming in a sea of money, but instead lose a good portion of it to bribes, kickbacks and outright theft. The money that does make it to the KRG coffers is subject to it's own layers of embezzlement, waste and outright theft. There's nothing left to go to the cantons. Let's just say the Barzani clan lives rather well. The reason Erbil can't pay salaries isn't because of the suspended Baghdad 17% share - that's easily made up from the illegal Kurd oil sales. It's because Barzani's corrupt government drains off so much of what they do make that there's nothing left at the end of the month to cover payrolls. Millions still sit in Turkish banks for no good reason - the Kurds will never see that money.

james@67 (and to your point, Lone Wolf) - The Turkish elections are largely immaterial relative to the Kurdish drama. The Kurdish desire for their own country (while a legitimate one) is being usurped to further the same goals that the U.S. and cronies had all along for Lebanon, Iraq and Syria: a state of constant chaos and instability. It doesn't matter what the little people Kurds want right now. The only thing that matters to the U.S., U.K. and Israel is that the KRG and Barazani serve as a tool for their interests and Erdogan is kept in a state of continuous paranoia. They are acknowledged as the voice of all Kurds when they are nothing of the sort. As such, they will (under their master's orders) agitate for Kurdish independence because it is destabilizing for all the countries involved. Whether they ever gain autonomy or independence from the respective host countries is irrelevant - that can be exploited if it happens. In the meantime, instability and chaos are the desired outcomes.

It's no accident that the U.S. supports psychopathic, tyrannical nut-jobs like Erdogan (or the CIA's boy Al-Malaki in Iraq) - they are also part and parcel of destabilization. Their easy to bribe and influence, and when they become inconvenient they can be disposed of through internal or external forces. Assad would have fit the bill perfectly - he could have been a billionaire and eternal ruler of Syria if he had only agreed to live on his knees to his U.S. and Israeli masters. Gaddafi and Hussein were 'problems' like that, too.

I am ashamed to be an American. Without an enforceable constitution, the U.S. is pure evil. We should have seen this coming - those old dead guys that wrote the constitution warned us this could happen.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Oct 30, 2015 7:34:27 PM | 75

Tom @ 72 If you care to listen or read and believe what they say, then search the news and find where the recent raid that was filmed in Iraq for PR Purposes and where one Delta Force master sergeant was killed is being used as an example of what the mission is supposed to be for. Would that be the only mission? I doubt it. But this is how it is being sold for now with this PR. Delta Force KIA in Iraq

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 7:35:52 PM | 76

Posted by: Lysander | Oct 30, 2015 7:08:38 PM | 71

I think they are needed to keep Turkey in line. Two guys from https://twitter.com/Raqqa_SL who are probably US assets were killed in a Turkish "safe house" "by ISIS". It makes you wonder.

Everyone seems to have proxies on the ground except the US.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 30, 2015 7:41:28 PM | 77

Tom @ #72 "Where's the search and rescue ????"

Here

Wheeler, a 20-year Army veteran with 14 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was part of a Delta Force troop that had been training Kurdish commandos in hostage-rescue techniques.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 7:43:39 PM | 78

Of this rottenness which is not Denmark..a casting.
:Poor Kerry, as Rosenkranz.
:Ash Carter; a more than perfect Polonius
:Obama in the title role.
:Putin as Fortinbras.
Remaining some female roles to cast.
(without slipping into the obvious one for Lady Macbeth)
Ms Powers perhaps as Hamlet's mother!.
And then the Uncle...

Posted by: apol | Oct 30, 2015 7:51:36 PM | 79

Tom@70

Please stop attacking other posters. Just say what you have to say.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 30, 2015 7:59:23 PM | 80

PavewayIV @75

The constitution the old dead guys" wrote made today's situation possible and predictable. I've met a few guys like me who swore to defend that constitution from all enemies. I'm ashamed I haven't done more.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 30, 2015 8:02:38 PM | 81

tom at @72.

I should have said, " or the Russians in Syria will let it pass unchallenged ???"

But what can the Russians really do ?

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 8:08:36 PM | 82

Here's the State Dept transcript from the Kerry/Lavrov presser today. Either Kerry and Lavrov are superb actors or they are definitely working together on this.

http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/10/249019.htm

I don't know if this plan will play out or not but it lays out specific ground rules. Syria stays intact, stays secular. Those things alone are a big deal. Then they say the UN Security Council plus the Vienna participants (notable disclaimer) define who the terrorists are, and everyone agrees those terrorists are the enemy. That's a pretty big deal too depending on what the terrorist list ends up looking like. I don't see how the Vienna participants can agree on a list.

Then the big ones -- from here the UN facilitates talks between Syrian govt and Syrian opposition but it's already decided by Vienna that they will
1) adopt a new constitution
2) hold elections
3) set up a ceasefire while these negotiations are happening

Again, I don't know if these things will end up happening but the terms laid out sound a lot more like Russia's demands than anything else. They did not specifically say Assad would be ousted. So I'm not sure where the news about Iran agreeing to oust Assad in six months is coming from.

Lavrov said this:
" I did not say that Assad has to go or that Assad has to stay. I said that Assad’s destiny should be decided by the Syrian people, as well as all other aspects of further development of the Syrian state."

Kerry said that Russia and Iran disagree with the US on the fate of Assad:
"Sergey Lavrov and Prime Minister Zarif and I and others agree to disagree. The United States position is there is no way that President Assad can unite and govern Syria. And we believe that Syrians deserve a different choice, and our goal is to work with Syrians from many factions to develop that choice."

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 30, 2015 8:26:37 PM | 83

@Laguerre@73

It was not ISIS which put the Kurdish economy on hold, but rather the stop on the Iraqi subsidies.

My point was not about Iraqi Kurdistan economy, which I didn't mention in my post, it was about the military threat created by IS.

Though the Kurdish leadership has said it will not move forward on the question of independence until the ISIS threat has been quelled, Barzani has promised an eventual referendum on the idea in the face of U.S. opposition to it.

@PavewayIV@75

Just FYI.

Crisis Brews Among Kurds In Iraq, Threatening Fight Against ISIS

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 30, 2015 8:33:55 PM | 84

Mike Whitney Putin makes an offer that Obama can not refuse

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Oct 30, 2015 8:35:58 PM | 85

@83 gemini 'our goal is to work with Syrians from many factions to develop that choice.'

Sounds like a Syrian Maidan.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 30, 2015 8:37:33 PM | 86

Since there are not going to be American boots on the ground, we cam
now conclude that CIA operatives wear sneakers. Ha!

Posted by: Curtis | Oct 30, 2015 8:47:48 PM | 87

Joint statement, adopted on the results of multilateral meeting on #Syria


Meeting in Vienna, on October 30, 2015, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran,Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States ["the participants"] came together to discuss the grave situation in Syria and how to bring about an end to the violence as soon as possible.

The participants had a frank and constructive discussion, covering major issues. While substantial differences remain among the participants, they reached a mutual understanding on the following:

1) Syria‘s unity, independence, territorial integrity. and secular character are fundamental.

2) State institutions will remain intact.

3) The rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination, must be protected.

4) It is imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war.

5) Humanitarian access will be ensured throughout the territory of Syria, and the participants will increase support for internally displaced persons, refugees, and their host countries.

6) Da‘esh, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the U.N. Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants, must be defeated.

7) Pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118, the participants invited the U.N. to convene representatives of the Govemment of Syria and the Syrian opposition for a political process leading to credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance, followed by a new constitution and elections. These elections must be administered under U.N. supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, free and fair, with all Syrians. including the diaspora, eligible to participate.

8) This political process will be Syrian led and Syrian owned, and the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria.

9) The participants together with the United Nations will explore modalities for, and implementation of, a notionwide ceasefire to be initiated on a date certain and in parallel with this renewed political process.

The participants will spend the coming days working to narrow remaining areas of disagreement, and build on areas of agreement. Ministers will reconvene within two weeks to continue these discussions.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 30, 2015 9:27:44 PM | 88

jfl @ 86

Or he's saying that many factions of the Syrian opposition will come up with candidates in the elections. I didn't read every word of the transcript but I didn't see or hear anything about the transitional govt that was proposed in the interim. That has been discussed a lot as a possibility. Leave Assad in place but add some opposition figures to the govt. Civilians, not jihadis, I assume. Or exiles from that Syrian National Coalition that can't agree on the time of day for the past four years.

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 30, 2015 9:29:11 PM | 89

And this offical sending of US troops into Syria - which is a huge deal - has another supportive reason to it, and that is the beginning of another way to attempt to stop Russia from greater co-operation and influence in Syria and Iraq in the political and military arenas, which will naturally exclude the US.
The US is trying to stop the completion of an alliance arc, that goes not only from Hezbollah in Lebanon and all the way to Iran, but across the sea to an Anti-US empire geographic arc alliance that Russia is crucially involved. Including the geographic arc of the Caspian sea which links Iran with Russia, which also counts.

The shrinking evil US empire is desperate. They are sending more troops in, not only to help their proxy terrorists, but also to try to stop Russia from extending it's influence.

This is the great chessboard people. Some need to wake up. Or rather, when in continual denial, they should just go back to sleep.

Posted by: tom | Oct 30, 2015 10:14:46 PM | 90

You know, that joint statement on Syria could be applied - change Syria to Yemen, Syria to Palestine - elsewhere. Enhance the 'productivity' of the participants. I'm sure they're all great fans of productitivity. Lavrov noted that they defined more than one point/hour in Vienna ... they could now easily adopt one statment to more than one country.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 30, 2015 10:56:18 PM | 91

@63 Lone Wolf
@75 PavewayIV

Can you please define what is a 'Kurd'?

That question has to be answered before creating a 'legitimate' Land of the Kurds.

Because in that Land non-kurds will be second-class citizens.

Posted by: From The Hague | Oct 30, 2015 11:43:32 PM | 92

The US can't "save" the rebels in Syria without completely exposing the policy it has been desperately hiding since 2012, as many have pointed out here,

The US has to manage these two incredible facts:

1) that the USA, which started the "Global War on Terror" to "destroy al Qaeda" is now allied with it.
2) that the USA's main global competitor, Russia (and probably China), has now accepted the leadership in the war against terrorism, taking from the US the impression of moral credibility that goes along with it.

This is a sad state of affairs for the "Exceptional Nation". The US leadership seems to have gotten us into an overall situation where it lacks the initiative. The USA now finds itself engaged in military actions - both direct and covert - in E. Europe to Af/Pak and all over Africa as well as the several potentially explosive flashpoints in Asia. Many of the situations emerge from policies which are impossible to honestly explain (see Syria). Some are barely even known about (the troops in Africa for instance). Yet were any of these actions to suddenly to intensify (as things have in Syria) the US will be scrambling to not only fight the battles but to explain them to a war weary and skeptical public.

The USA seems to have lost the initiative at this point. It appears rudderless and overextended, yet its competitors are flush with confidence. The US is left with few options aside from this dangerous moves such as getting even more deeply involved in its various efforts.

A very dangerous situation indeed.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 30, 2015 11:52:53 PM | 93

@93 guest77

You want 'regime change' in the USA?

Maybe give it -legitimate desire/aspiration- to the Indians?

Posted by: From The Hague | Oct 31, 2015 12:03:04 AM | 94

"You want 'regime change' in the USA?"

Haha, I honestly can't imagine for a second who would want to take over the reigns at this point. There is no appealing personality in US politics anymore - not that I can see, anyway. This isn't the 1970s where you have two parties (and in them active competing sections) fighting it out for power. Now we just have a bunch of bought off douchebags. Douchebags of such low caliber that if they faced the challenge of actually having to govern and not just rubber stamp policy and cash checks ... they would simply run away.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 31, 2015 12:25:17 AM | 95

@94 - haha. I can't imagine who'd want to take the reigns.

There's no active competition for power like their was during, say, the 70s. Now we just have bought off pols who, if they faced the challenge of actually governing and not just cashing their checks, going to dinner w/ lobbyists, and rubber stamping policy, would simply turn tail and run.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 31, 2015 12:27:27 AM | 96

oops, sorry for double post.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 31, 2015 12:27:41 AM | 97

From the Hague@92 - I get your point. I'll only offer my conviction that most 'little people' ethnic Kurds are damn decent and tolerant people that have been living in mixed communities for an eternity. Their flavor of Sunni Islam is the polar opposite of Wahabbism and their communities always were diverse. They would have no reason to create a Kurd-only Kurdistan, which is impossible in Iraq, at least, without widespread ethnic cleansing.

A Rojava Kurd will die defending his farm AND his neighbor's farm - whether that neighbor is Arab or Turkmen or Assyrian or another Rojava Kurd. The Rojava YPG/YPJ is made of all community members, not just ethnic Kurds. Their idea of home and community is not simply tied to Kurdish ethnicity.

Foreign influences will ensure that the average Kurd will have little to say about how a unified, independent Kurdistan will eventually emerge. The current Kurdish powers that be (or their foreign enablers for Iraqi Kurds) seem obsessed with repeatedly expanding 'Kurd' borders to take as much land (and oil) as possible and ethnic cleansing all but ethnic Kurds from their 'territory'. It's disturbing to see that happen, but only emphasizes that the 'average' Kurd probably isn't running things there anymore. If they are able to force an independent Kurdistan on the Kurds now, it will look and act a lot more like Israel then anything the Kurds would have eventually created for themselves.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Oct 31, 2015 1:04:42 AM | 98

9) The participants together with the United Nations will explore modalities for, and implementation of, a notionwide ceasefire to be initiated on a date certain and in parallel with this renewed political process.

I have a flashback of Minsk 1.0... I hope Resistance axis wont be THAT stupid to allow ceasefire at this moment to allow terrorists to regroup and reinforce positions to continue war against Syria. Such ceasefire would only be possible if all non-ISIS groups officially renounce their goal of overthrowing government, and exclusively fight against ISIS, also return occupied territories to Syria's state. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Harry | Oct 31, 2015 1:09:49 AM | 99

@71 "My guess is the purpose of US special forces is for one of them to get "captured" by ISIS and then to be executed in some horrendous way so as to justify a larger US intervention."

Nah.

The rationale behind this "deployment" is much simpler:
a) The USA wants the Kurds to strike south towards Raqqa
b) The Kurds have other ideas: they want to strike west towards Afrin
c) The USA therefore wants to make sure that the Kurds are sticking to the script, and so it wants 50 sets of eyes inside "Kurdish HQ" who report back to the Pentagon.

Or, in short: those Green Beret's are to play the role of "Political Commissars".


@71 "50 guys really wouldn't be good for much else."

Untrue. Fifty is more than enough to form a very, very effective commissariat.

You may not have noticed, but more than a few of the USA's supposed-clients have developed a nasty habit of wandering off the reservation.

Turkey, certainly. Israel, definitely. Even the Saudis, fer' cryin' out loud.

The YPG is showing every sign that it is also ideas of its own, hence the need for Washington to slip a short leash on them.

Not a very satisfying job for a highly trained Green Beret killing-machine but, hey, they go where they are ordered to go and they do what they are told to do.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 31, 2015 1:10:13 AM | 100

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