Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 26, 2013

They Plan To Occupy Aleppo

The Syrian army recaptured Baba Amr district in Homs after it had been again infiltrated by insurgents two weeks ago. This seems to again be a significant and symbolic loss for the insurgents. This Syrian army is still holding quite well despite the enormous amount of weapons and foreign personal that is fed to the insurgency.

Yesterday the New York Times had a well researched report on the massive weapon pipeline the CIA has set up to feed the insurgents:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, who was working on the weapon pipeline from Libya through Turkey to Syria, was killed on September 11 2012. It seems that the Libya pipeline was closed after that incident and a new pipeline opened which hauls weapons from Croatia through Turkey and Jordan to Syria.
It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.

“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”

In Obama's words the organizing of 3,500 tons of weapons is "non-lethal" aid. Adding to the foreign stream of weapons are also hundreds of European fighters and several thousands from other countries involved. Their use of chemical weapons should disqualify them from any support. But the U.S. still continues to favor them.

In Jordan the U.S. is also training "secular" troops that deserted from the Syrian army force. I find it likely that these are supposed to later capture any WMD side should the Syrian government fall. The report includes this quote from a U.S. spokesperson:

"But the bottom line is what we're looking for is unity," Ventrell said. "We continue to support the coalition's vision for a tolerant, inclusive Syria. We want them to continue to work together to implement that vision."
There is no "coalition's vision for a tolerant, inclusive Syria". To assume there is is self defeating. The various exile groups that were assembled were all led or at at least heavily influenced by Muslim Brotherhood. They want a Islamic state in Syria that, by definition, can not be tolerant and/or inclusive. This false view of the Islamic insurgency against the Syrian government is the primary reason why Obama's Syria policy is in shambles.

Moaz Khatib, the U.S. supported opposition leader who resigned after Qatar managed to put up a Muslim Brotherhood guy as exile prime minister, is himself an Islamist. He once led prayers at the Umayyad mosque in Damascus but was soon removed from that office for being too radical.

Khatib, despite having resigned as exile leader, spoke today at the Arab League conference in Doha. He is an effective speaker but comes around (video) as angry. He seemed not to make friends with the assortment of dictators at the Arab League. They listened quite stone faced to his tirade and the applause at the end was very short.

Khatib said that when he talked with Secretary of State Kerry he had requested to move NATO Patriot batteries to cover north Syria. That is not going to happen.

His request though makes sense if this is indeed the plan for the next stage:

A central military objective has been defined: to fully occupy Aleppo as a prelude to proclaiming the new Syrian state in the north.
I do not believe that the insurgency is capable of fully occupying Aleppo. But it seems that some folks in Washington and elsewhere want to give it a try. A new attempt for a political solution is likely only to come after the new attack on Aleppo, like earlier plans to get into Damascus, failed.

Posted by b on March 26, 2013 at 15:11 UTC | Permalink


(Sorry for light, mono-themed posting. My apartment currently gets new windows which is a bit chaotic and time constraining.)

Posted by: b | Mar 26 2013 15:12 utc | 1

Even if the Patriot batteries were moved to the border, they only have a range of 20 KM and could not "cover north Syria," plus the Patriot missiles are reportedly unreliable.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2013 15:58 utc | 2

A little humor from Today's Zaman: "Turkey concerned over instability in Lebanon, ready to help"

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 26 2013 16:02 utc | 3

With France, UK, US, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar out to get Assad. And the Russians and Chinese not as active in their support of Assad as those that want him out. The question is how long he can survive? The next question is how long before the squeeze is on Hezbollah? Can they survive the pressure?

Posted by: ab initio | Mar 26 2013 16:12 utc | 4

Moaz al-Khatib took the Syrian seat at the Arab League today. Has he un-resigned from the Syrian rebel leadership?


Posted by: jawbone | Mar 26 2013 17:47 utc | 5

And now the corrupt UN have decided that a western pro-US allied-chemical-inspector will boss the inspections in Syria.

Swedish scientist to head U.N. Syria chemical weapons probe

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 26 2013 18:35 utc | 6

As with the debacle that was the UN investigation into the Houla massacre, I expect any investigation into the use of chemical weapons near Aleppo to point the finger at the forces of the Syrian Government. Ban Ki-Moon today named Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom as head of the U.N. investigation into allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

If tangible evidence does in fact exist that chemical weapons have been used by the rebels, the British and French Government will be sure to delay or derail any investigation whilst their own teams conduct an analysis of the area. I wonder if 'fresh clashes' initiated by rebels against Government troops will then be used to prevent the inspectors gaining access..

So, as with Houla, evidence will then be based entirely on the "eye-witness" statements of refugees living in Timbuktu and 'rebel' fighters, no doubt, who will both spout the same anti-Government nonsense, but whose stories will therefore corroborate each another - you know, so it must be true.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Mar 26 2013 18:49 utc | 7

There will be much more of this: In Syria, the Rebels Have Begun to Fight Among Themselves

Abu Azzam’s targeting has blown open a sharp rift and long-brewing conflict between the more-secular nationwide Farouq brigades and the Jabhat [al Nusra].

Posted by: b | Mar 26 2013 18:58 utc | 8

Unfortunately, i think the western powers are looking at Libya as a successful model, despite their plans for a repeat in Syria have so far been successfully disrupted.

The attack on the ambassador in Benghazi is probably viewed as an aberration and quickly ignored in their flawed calculus.

Syria knows they've managed to disrupt, and even surprise, many in the west who thought the regime was as brittle as Qaddafi's and had no depth. but the Syrians know that need to keep it up as the west and their local satraps have lost momentum and that FSA has been outed as being ineffectual.

However, now that Assad has managed to survive the stakes are growing ever higher for the wests quislings and the cost for them could be their own seats of power.

Posted by: OAB | Mar 26 2013 19:14 utc | 9

For some reason Chinese reporters seem to have understood a different outcome from the Arab League Meeting.

Now, did Khatib call for a political solution at the Arab League meeting or didn't he?

Posted by: somebody | Mar 26 2013 19:37 utc | 10

NATO: North Atlantic Terrori$t Organization...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 26 2013 23:39 utc | 11

@ab initio #4

And the Russians and Chinese not as active in their support of Assad as those that want him out

who knows? their support might just be less vocal (but more effective)

Posted by: claudio | Mar 27 2013 0:56 utc | 12

For some reason I get the feeling Syria is being driven with intent into a two state entity - Your N & S divide, nothing new, a common tactic. The question is always about the value of the divide (Oil, mineral, strategic etc). The flag was when Obama made his visit to Israel and beyond. If the Israel/Palestinian resolution fails, it will probably mark the death of the two-state solution and move us even closer to a one-state outcome, with uncertain and potentially catastrophic consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians, more so if this is the plan for Syria.

I also think Nato are being left out hence the recent report; NATO research team calls Stuxnet attack on Iran an 'act of force'. We all know the War machine is big money, and the shift to cyber War removes Nato's ability, and it's pissed.

Posted by: Kev | Mar 27 2013 1:40 utc | 13

I think the Rebs aren't ever going to win & hold any important pieces of territory. The Turks and the Kurds and the sunni Arabs are all going to start fighting one another sooner or later. The material support Assad is getting and the moral support he is also receiving from all over the world is making a difference. The west has been revealed to be the "evil empire of palpatine". Obama has committed the greatest of all evils. He killed true "hope". Obama is a wicked man for having done this he used our goodness to win power in capital hill. The syrian Ba'ath government will survive because now the people believe in it. It has the weapons to fight back. Plus it is convinced that it is on the side of virtue. The attacks will continue to come. They are not over but now they are ready and after two long years of war, they are battle hardened and tough. This won't be like that 8 month heartbreaking tragic-comic-farse that went on in North Africa. No this will truly be a fight that the imperialists will rue. Plus the Israelis have created a new more formidable foe in the new Syria. Believe it.

Posted by: Fernando | Mar 27 2013 2:59 utc | 14

I commented previously on Cyprus, with lots of Russians and their money, not far off Syria's coast. It looks like Russia, for now, has left the fiscally-challenged Cyprus as an albatross around EU's neck. Dan Drezner has more here.

It's in character for Russia and China to not get involved in matters outside their own neighborhoods. Drezner: "Moscow and Beijing will do what they gotta do in their near abroads. Globally, however, they have neither the ambition nor the interest in altering the current system of 'good enough' global governance."

But it isn't over in Cyprus yet, either. Part of the fiscal deal with EU involves severe fiscal 'haircuts' for Russians and claims on offshore gas, which upsets Turkey.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27 2013 3:48 utc | 15

Probably there has never been a situation with so many variables as in Syria currently. There are many players, and the disconnects are many and variable. Who can predict anything? Fighting is interesting, but politics always rules. In Syria there is no connection between the (disconnected) rebel fighters and the US/Qatar-appointed rebel politicians, whereas there is still a connection between the Syrian government, its coherent military and many of its people.

Also there are many external Syria players--(subject to revision)--
*Qatar and Turkey -- pro-MB, Sunni (al-Jazeera)
*Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE -- Sunni Islamist, anti-MB (al-Arabiya)
*Iran -- pro-Assad, Shia Islamist
*AQI -- al-Qaeda Iraq, Sunni Islamist, pro-Sharia
*US -- pro-secular rebels, anti-Assad, officially anti-AQI but actually probably supporting AQI with Saudi Arabia

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27 2013 4:00 utc | 16

Penny's latest on Syria:

Posted by: ben | Mar 27 2013 4:28 utc | 17

The idea that Russia and China quietly sitting by while country after country gets subjected to military attack and regime change by the West is to me perplexing. Nations around the world trying to throw off Western subjugation and looking for support must find this to be
disappointing. There are countries in the world looking for an alternative to the failed leadership of the West. China, Russia seem to be afraid of "rocking the boat", maybe afraid of national unrest in their own countries courtesy of the US empire and their NATO cohorts ??
Lots of tricks can be played on them if Russia and China forget their place in the world hierarchy.

Posted by: curious | Mar 27 2013 5:48 utc | 18


Posted by: Bob Jackson | Mar 27 2013 6:12 utc | 19


Russia has put a lot on the line backing Syria. They just do things quietly, and the Western media are non-stop liars, so you won't hear it from anywhere.

Let's be realistic. Syria could not have survived against the US, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia this long by itself. Tens of billions have probably been spent already on taking down Syria, if not more. The self-destruction of Turkey's and Jordan's economy has occurred. The list goes on and on. Think of the high-tech equipment NATO is using. Some of these tunnels that the invaders have used are deep and well-designed.

Posted by: Ozawa | Mar 27 2013 7:59 utc | 20

Don Bacon,

Cyprus is in the sphere that Russia cares about. Besides, it was their big intermediary for doing business with the West. It may be simply that Russia is waiting for Cypriots to become desperate, which shouldn't take long.

Posted by: Ozawa | Mar 27 2013 8:02 utc | 21

SEA, The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of patriotic Syrian activists online, hacked into the Arab League website the moment the Qatar controlled league handed Syria’s seat to the Qatari manufactured opposition and left them the following message message:
‘Bashar Al Assad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic

To the Arabic League chief
the international judge

After you accepted for yourself to crown your subservience to the gas sheikhdom of Qatarael (Qatar & Israel) today in handing over the seat of the Syrian Arab Republic, the founding state to what used to be known as The Arab League which has lost its Arabic feature the day the Syrian delegation participation was suspended and completed its Hebrew feature today with handing the seat to the illegal freak called ‘Coalition’ which was the fruit of the Qatarael & Zionist sexual intercourse…
We, the Syrian people would like to congratulate you and your league, the joining of another Zionist enemy representative (Our enemy and your master), and we conclude our message which we won’t change and the terror you support and finance will not make us change nor will the media you mislead nor the political prostitute you practice will ever make us change:
I am a Syrian citizen and only Bashar Al Assad is my leader, and only the Syrian Arab Army represents me.
A Promise to you and to your masters from the Syrian people: You will not pass (through).’
This post is also available in: German

Posted by: brian | Mar 27 2013 8:05 utc | 22

#20 "Let's be realistic. Syria could not have survived against the US, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia this long by itself. Tens of billions have probably been spent already on taking down Syria, if not more."

Iran survived 8 years of imposed war, and they faced not just those countries you mentioned, Iran literally faced entire World and survived. Only Syria and Libya helped them to some degree, everyone else was against Iran, including Russia.

Also, just PGGC arabs spend $60 billion to fund war against Iran, not to speak how much West spent. Due to current very high oil prices, arab monarchies are way more rich now, so they can invest $100+ bln. into war against Syria and wont even blink.

Bottom line, it definitely helps Syria some support they're getting, but since nation is more or less against invaders, Syria would survive such terrorism on its own. Full-scale war with NATO is another question, but if NATO cant beat 30.000 caveman in Afghanistan for over 10 years now, can they beat Syrians in the long run? Maybe, maybe not. Just winning over regular army doesnt cut it for NATO, they and their puppets would have to survive guerrilla warfare from way more fighters and with much better equipment than Taliban had in Afghanistan. Ultimate cost could be way too much for aggressors to handle, and thats before we count on some help from Iran or Russia.

Posted by: Harry | Mar 27 2013 10:23 utc | 23

Harry @23

Very true, the cooperation of Iran and Syria can be seen in the battle field victories in Idlib, Homs, Allepo etc. This is counter insurgency and communication cracking at it's best. NATO enablers are lost, their codes have been compromised. This war in Syria besides the loss of unacceptable lives is really all about Iran and a securing a passage for Israel to attack. I think far too many of us in the west dismiss Iran's war capabilities, it technologies. Bottom line is NATO/USA does not know what Iran has. Victory to the Shia, moderate Sunni and Orthodox alliance.

Posted by: hans | Mar 27 2013 11:12 utc | 24

Wow, the previous comments have just transformed or reformatted my concept of reality. It really has been Iran against the entire world. I remember reading how the Persians were continuously the only for the Romans could never fully beat. The Persians beat back the hun's. The amalgamated into Islam and made it their own. True they were gobbled up by the Mongols and overwhelmed by the soviets and Brits in WW2. Then the psyops of the 50's and finally the Islamic revolution. Very interesting perspective by Ozawa, thank you sir and everyone else.

Posted by: Fernando | Mar 27 2013 12:29 utc | 25

I meant to write only "foe" , que feo!

Posted by: Fernando | Mar 27 2013 12:30 utc | 26

Even on the tenth anniversary of the nightmare of Iraq the US is quite happy to risk a war in Syria. And few Americans care, while most of those who do care see things from the zionist viewpoint.
Russia and China are acting discreetly because, rational as they are, they are afraid of war which could very quickly spill out into a wider regional or global disaster. Both governments fear wars if only because their people would not be happy to become involved in the sacrifices that wars inevitably imply.

The US, on the other hand, has become used to acting with impunity and will continue to do so until it gets hurt. Actually, long after that: until it realises that it has been hurt, which is what acting sensibly means. One might have thought that the consequences of Iraq- trillions of dollars lost, a reputation for fecklessness and criminal stupidity firmly established and a generation of Arabs fuelled by hatred and bent on revenge growing up- would have led to a change in attitudes. Instead the lesson learned, in the school of experience, seems to be that not even the most appalling evil and thoroughgoing folly has any real consequences. Hence after Saddam, Ghadaffi and, following Libya, Syria. With Iran looming on the horizon.

Part of the problem is that the Saud family and its allied tyrants in the Gulf have concluded that there is no point in trying to ingratiate themselves with their subjects, the Arab people or anyone apart from the US government. Without US support the Gulf regimes including Saudi would collapse in weeks. With it, they are convinced, they can continue forever to do anything that they choose. Which is why Bahrain chooses this moment to denounce Hezbollah as terrorists and Qatar and Riyadh are making no bones about their support for Israel and the US in Lebanon and Syria.

It was not long ago that the Sauds were careful to pretend, in public, that they were committed to Palestine. Ibn Saud even extorted a promise from FDR that the US would oppose the zionist project- a small price to pay for access to Arabia's oil. Now the commonality between Israel and the oil and gas tyrannies is impossible to deny.
At the same that they are abandoning Islam's third great shrine, the Sauds are bulldozing old Mecca to facilitate the Coney Island developers who are eyeing the Ka'aba for possible building material. Clearly these people have long since stopped bothering about muslim opinion: they have thrown in their lot with Uncle Sam, torture chambers, PR campaigns and low priced muscle imported from the sub continent.

The solution to the situation in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere in the Arab world is what the US and its allies fear most of all, which is not outside interference, arms shipments, threats of war or eyes rolling in the Kremlin but an uprising in the Arab world of the sort that took place in the seventh century. In the meantime we have colour coded jihads cooked up by Prince Bandar over cocktails.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 27 2013 13:38 utc | 27

Don Bacon @ 15 -- What is the gist of the Dan Drezner article? I can't get in and don't do the social media Foreign Policy allows in.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 27 2013 19:37 utc | 28

Don -- ignore #28 - I got in through Google.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 27 2013 19:43 utc | 29


The West wanted Iran weakened in its war with Iraq, not defeated. Iran has survived all the pressure over the last decade or so against great pressure, it's true. For one thing, the West always needs some enemies to keep its war plans moving forward. Actually, one of the huge hopes for this war is to create a huge recruiting ground for desperate and crazy Muslims to use against Russia and China.

The West just wants Syria destroyed, not controlled, so the guerrilla war part is not so much of a threat, is it?

Posted by: Ozawa | Mar 28 2013 5:06 utc | 30

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