Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 30, 2013

Syria: First To Blink ...

Look who blinks:
Syria's opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib said on Wednesday he is ready for dialogue with officials of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, subject to conditions including that some 160,000 detainees are released.

"I announce I am ready for direct discussions with representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo, Tunis or Istanbul," Mr Khatib said via his Facebook page, citing as another condition that passports for exiled citizens be renewed in embassies abroad.

Missing is the condition that many "western" governments and their puppet Syrian opposition had earlier set for talks. There is no longer the demand that Bashar al-Assad has to leave before any negotiations can take place.

It is likely that many of the exile Syrian opposition will reject these negotiations and further split their coalition.

I expect that the Syrian government will take up this offer but it will take time for the process to start. There obviously will be no release of opposition fighters from prison before negotiations start. When they start al-Khatib and his bosses in Washington will have little to offer. The fighters on the ground are not under the command of the exile opposition. They will care little about what he negotiates.

Still this offer will have effects. On the ground it will diminish the motivation of some of the fighters. It will also have effects on those that finance and support the opposition fighters. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will have to treat more carefully now as al-Khatib negotiation offer implies that Washington wants the conflict to end. Whoever stands in the way will have to watch out.

Posted by b on January 30, 2013 at 18:10 UTC | Permalink

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@ BOT TAK [#98],

No time to react? Hmmm...

"In February 1991 during the Gulf War the battleship USS Missouri, escorted by HMS Gloucester (carrying Sea Dart) and the USS Jarrett (equipped with Phalanx CIWS), was engaged by an IraqiSilkworm missile (also known as a Seersucker). After an unsuccessful response from the Phalanx 20 mmCIWS of Jarrett, which targeted chaff launched by the Missouri rather than the incoming missile, the Silkworm missile was intercepted and destroyed by a Sea Dart fired from Gloucester. This engagement was the first validated, successful engagement of a missile by a missile during combat at sea."

That was 22 years ago. Think anything might have changed by now?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 2 2013 2:40 utc | 101

Daniel Rich - 100

The Phalanx failure is typical. You are describing a very different scenario. It's a lot harder to detect and intercept in a mountainous region, than at sea. At sea is the easiest to detect because there is nothing blocking. Ground hugging aircraft are very difficult to engage in a mountainous region. Those are not really comparable interceptions on that alone. BTW, the Missouri also had Phalanx, why didn't her's engage?

We don't know if, and how many, Syrian AD batteries were within range. We don't know their state of readiness. The Missouri group was expecting to be attacked and was on high alert for it.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 2 2013 3:00 utc | 102

@ BAT TOK [#101],

I don't know anything about the Syrian Army's readiness/preparedness, but back in the day we were told to act as if the 'shit could hit the fan at any time.' I provided a Pravda link [elsewhere] in which it was stated that the Syrian troops were anything but ready to handle the 'sophisticated' Russian armament. Indeed, mountainous terrain can be [and is] a real pain in the radar's ass. Terrain hugging planes, most likely with enriched {US] stealth capabilities will be very difficult to detect [the good ol' F-16 being able to project a faulty radar image of about 200 miles, if I'm not mistake and memory serves me well]. I get that, but I'd die to know what the Russians are really up to, pussyfooting as they do in that region. How long did Iran have to wait to get their nuclear site up and running and how long have they been waiting for those S-300 batteries to be delivered and/or deployed [not]?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 2 2013 4:13 utc | 103

I'll have to get my money back from that 'High Speed Typing' course I went to the other day .)

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 2 2013 4:24 utc | 104

Daniel Rich - 102

I should have mentioned the Stark with regard to the state of alert. That is probably a similar situation. There is potential for an attack, but not a state of war, so it is small on a day to day basis. It's been a year or two and they've seen a lot of false positives, but no real threat. In that situation, even highly trained people can let their guard down intermittently after time. It only takes a minute, too. When the Stark was hit, I don't think any one saw it coming when theoretically they should have (they claimed that the AD was shut off - but I think that was a cover-up for failure of equipment, or operators).

Posted by: вот так | Feb 2 2013 4:42 utc | 105

Dan Rich (100)

The situations are completely different. The S-300 is an anti aircraft system and not meant or made to be used against ships. A correct comparison would be sunburn (1980ies) and Klub (current).

The silkworm has been designed and put into the service in the 50ies. The sunburn was put into service ca. 25 years later. The silkworm was a rather slow mid-range system and the sunburn is a high-speed long-range system. The silkworm had primitive last miles radar and primitive electronics, the sunburn has phased-arrayed radar and very smart electronis. Very importantly, the silkworm could be targeted because it had a ballistic (i.e. calculatable) trajectory, the sunburn has a non-ballistic endphase with (seemingly) erratic manoevers of up to 10G, i.e. targetting it is in between extremely difficult and lottery. Flying with >= mach 2,5 an adversary has mere seconds to target the non-ballistic trajectory which would already be difficult if it flew slowly.

But even the old silkworm was an excellent weapon at it's time. While you mention the defeat of the - then very old and outdated - silkworm, you fail to mention that multiple times speedboats destroyed larger and more powerful enemy units with silkworms. Quite famously for instance the egyptians sank an israeli destroyer in 1967. They also proved effective later on diverse occasions, e.g. against Pakistan.

From what can be seen in actual war scenarios the Russian missiles didn't only promise but did solidly deliver.

I'd love to say "wait and see" but chances are that the americans won't risk to officially find out about russian missile capabilities what their military knows quite well. In fact, it is american doctrine (cowards that they are) to only engage in situations where they are clearly in a superior position and don't risk anything.
There is a reason why the usa only attack weak or badly weakened countries ... (and even then can't gain clear victory) ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 2 2013 5:01 utc | 106

Lavrov has apparently stomped Biden, and then ground his heel in to make it certain Biden understood:

Russia opposes humanitarian corridor in Syria, citing int'l air intervention fears

"Military intervention in Syria is unacceptable even if it aims to create an air-protected humanitarian corridor, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has said. Syria is one of most hotly debated topics at an annual Security Conference taking place in Germany.

­"Russia does not support the idea of a humanitarian corridor in Syria. Any use of military power is unacceptable, and not just because we still remember what it lead to in Libya," Lavrov said while addressing the Munich Security Conference. "We need to see the world the way it is. We need to recognize that military operations bring more chaos into the international matters and can send off waves of instability that will be impossible to hide from in any of what we may think as an island of security."

Lavrov confirmed that the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal is under full control of the country's government, and poses no danger as long as it does not fall into the hands of the rebels. Such an event would be a “red line” nobody wishes to see crossed, he said.

Despite the worsening situation in the region, peace is still within reach, Lavrov explained: "The war in Syria could be over if all sides stuck honestly and loyally to the principles of the June 30 Geneva conference."

But US Vice President Joe Biden expressed a different view of how peace could be brought to Syria. "President Assad, a tyrant hellbent on clinging to power, is not longer fit to lead the Syrian people and must go," Biden said in his Munich speech.

Lavrov, however, expressed doubts about the right of the US to decide the legitimacy of the Syrian government: "We have many questions as to the policies of our western colleagues. Can you justify terror methods for the purposes of regime change? Can you fight same enemies in one conflict if you ally with them in another? How do you make sure the illegally supplied weapons don't turn against yourself?”

“Who of the leaders are legitimate, who is not?” Lavrov said. “When you can cooperate with the authoritarian regimes, whether secular or not, or when you can sponsor fights against them? In which cases do you recognize democratic choices of a nation or cut all ties with them? What criteria or standards do you use for that?"

Lavrov also said that countries involved in brokering peace in the troubled region "could agree to support democratic reforms in countries on the path for changes, but not impose on them a whatever scale of values, accepting there exist multiple models for development."

The Russian Foreign Minister has also met for the first time with Syrian opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. The topic and nature of the talks were not disclosed."

I wonder what crime Israel-America will do in response to "this insolence"?

Posted by: вот так | Feb 3 2013 0:04 utc | 107

"funny" isn't it? And obvious, strinkingly obvious.

Let's just look at the basic lines of the two sides as presented:

- Russia: a) Syria is a souvereign nation and they - and only they - may and must decide for themselves - b) If we had enforced the Geneva conference (results) rather than this or that party there would be peace.

- usa: Assad is evil, insane, GadhafiHitler No. 2 and we consider him unfit to lead that country.

Russia acts reasonable, objective, targeting peace, basing their view on international law.
usa, however, as usually, brawls, demands egomaniacally, decides for the people of Syria what is best for them - according to american views and wishes.

Thank, no further questions, your honour. The american side has quite strinkingly proven themselves guilty and unconditionally unfit for international politics.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 3 2013 0:47 utc | 108

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