Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 13, 2014

Another Overview Of The Situation In Syria

The U.S. has given up on the Fee Syrian Army in the north of Syria:

The United States has stopped paying most of the pro-western rebels fighting in northern Syria and has suspended the delivery of arms to them, rebel commanders told McClatchy Tuesday.

Some of the FSA mercenaries, now no longer getting paid, are joining jihadi groups:

As many as 800 to 1,000 fighters from U.S.-vetted rebel groups already have joined Nusra, ...

The stop of support in the north is confirmed by additional reports. That this is likely real can also be seen in the number of arms video posted. The U.S. gave TOW anti-tank missiles to the mercenaries but demanded video uploads to prove their use. Eliot Higgins, though not always trustworthy, counted these numbers:

TOW videos posted by the opposition by month Apr 9 May 16 Jun 16 Jul 37 Aug 35 Sep 44 Oct 58 Nov 26 Dec 3

The U.S. is still paying for some small FSA groups within Aleppo city but these are now surrounded by the Syrian Arab Army and unlikely to be able to hold their positions. Their hold of Aleppo city is politically symbolic and therefore something the U.S. wants them to keep. It is the reason why the UN envoy is trying to negotiate a ceasefire for Aleppo. Syria and Russia are playing along but Aleppo will likely be completely in government hands before any ceasefire is reached.

It is also noteworthy that some "western" media are no longer friendly with the FSA and that its atrocities are now finally "news": Syrian rebel 'hell cannons' kill 300 civilians: monitoring group

The "rebel" position in the south, supported by the U.S. through Jordan and Israel, is different. There Jabhat al-Nusra is leading a southern attack directed against Damascus disguised under the FSA mantle:

As part of the attempt to surround Damascus, al-Nusra Front was able to continue a simultaneous offensive to the south of the capital. The offensive led to significant advances in Dara’a province, including the taking of the government’s military base in Dara’a city. Because Dara’a borders directly on Damascus province (Rif Dimashq), these advances set up a future offensive into Damascus proper.

The official FSA mercenaries in the south have announced another alliance but this one. like many of the older ones, will fail. The U.S. knows that al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria, is the dominant force in the south and is, unlike in the north, supporting these al-Qaeda affiliates.  Colonel Pat Lang remarked

I have been told that the nearly complete collapse of the unicorn army of FSA moderates has caused the US to covertly approach Nusra with a proposal to offer support if Nusra will scale back its IS-like habit of butchering its enemies when they are captured. That would include a more tolerant attitude toward US journalists.

A leopard does not change its spots and Nusra does not stop its beheadings. A video from Sheik Miskeen, a town halfway between Jordan and Damascus which is currently the center of fight in the south, shows dead Syrian soldiers who were beheaded after Nusra, with the help two large suicide vehicle bombs, captured a military housing area.

U.S. support for the Nusra attack in the south is directed by the CIA in Jordan. But the training program in Jordan and the support may also stop soon as the money for these programs is running out. Congress at least no longer supports these "adventures":

As Congress struggles to pass a bill to fund the government for the rest of the year, one curious and significant item was left on the cutting room floor: a request from the Barack Obama administration for $300 million to expand the secret CIA program to arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels.

I expect that the attacks in the south will soon run out of steam. The U.S. knows that its side in the war, the Fee Syrian Army as well as Jabhat al-Nusra, can not win:

In a grim assessment of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday that the country’s armed opposition will not be able to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now or in the foreseeable future, despite the existence of a Pentagon program to train and equip 5,000 rebels per year.

The Pentagon is deliberately walking very slow with that train and equip program. It may well end before it achieves any results.

The only enemies left to fight for the Syrian Arab Army are remnants of the FSA/Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

The Islamic State has achieved nothing in its campaign on the Kurdish enclave Kobane. The Kurds are holding their positions and while it is sad that the city gets destroyed through the fighting the Islamic State is losing lots of materials and people. The U.S., which is supporting the Kurds in Kobane with a few air attacks, wants to keep it that way. Kobane is used to destroy wave after wave of Islamic State attack groups and to exhaust its reserves. The Islamic State has looked for new targets in east Syria and decided to attack the military airport in Deir Ezzor, held by the Syrian army. Several waves of attacks with suicide bombers and lots of IS infantry have had no success there. Deir Ezzor is well supplied and well defended and will be another point where IS is using up its reserves.

The U.S. has given up on the attacks in north Syria. In the south its support for Jabhat al-Nusra is indefensible on political and moral grounds. It will have to stop before it attracts more public scrutiny. Otherwise some Republicans in Congress may find that direct support for al-Qaeda by the Obama administration is an impeachable offense.

Soon the Islamic State will be the only significant threat left to fight in Syria. But the Islamic State is loosing large parts of its energy (and money) due to heavy losses in fights on several fronts. It is still a serious enemy and may achieve this or that surprise. But I doubt that it is an existential threat to the Syrian government and the Syrian people.

Posted by b on December 13, 2014 at 19:33 UTC | Permalink


It seems that you have come full circle back to the observation I made months ago that the Islamic State is the only viable threat to the Assad regime.

The stalemate in Kobane seems to be a failure of the Islamic State but it could also be being used as a training grounds for the thousands of new recruits that need urban warfare hardening to prepare for the coming battles.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 13 2014 21:21 utc | 1

Is there any evidence that those "FSA" in the north were using that moniker for any reason other than to receive American money. Any evidence that the US didn't know that these are the exact types who - the minute they stopped receiving US taxpayer money - could go switch sides to go behead alongside their ISIL comrades.

I seriously doubt that they were "moderate democrats" whom are now forced to go join ISIL because they aren't getting paid by the Americans. The real crime is the the US was ever supporting these fighters with funds, knowing as they did that they were simply a paycheck away from joining ISIL.

We can presume of course that along with ceasing to pay them, the CIA approached them to return all of their US paid for weapons and material?

I didn't think so.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 13 2014 22:23 utc | 2

thanks for the overview b

no shortage of more money... er fuel.. to poor on the fire.. if it doesn't come from the usa, it can from ksa, israel, qatar, kuwait and etc who seem just as hell bent on regime change for pipeline passages thru syria to the coast. this is just a temporary blip.. wait til the next 'democratic' leader who moves into the white house.. geez, that really does give the colour white a real ugliness to it..

i suspect someone has figured out they have to take damascus if they are going to get their regime change.. may as well concentrate in close proximity to that.

i hope you are right, but time is on the side of the destroyers of anything humane and good - the same one's willing to fund terrorists while referring to them as 'moderate' terrorists, lol..

Posted by: james | Dec 13 2014 22:45 utc | 3

You are forgetting the mercenaries of Jeysh al Islam, the Islamic Font financed by Saudi Arabia. They are fighting along the remaining of the FSA against Al Nusra, ISIS and the Syrian army.
They are still a force to reckon with until Saudi Arabia decides that they are not worth the money they pay them. Then they will all join either al Nusra or ISIS depending on who pays better.

Posted by: Virgile | Dec 14 2014 0:01 utc | 4

I'm Amerikan, is thankful for this as others have pointed out the last thing the Amerika govt. would want to do is help all citizen of nations. The problem is death & refuges by the Amerikan neo con machine will never stop only to take a breath.

Posted by: jo6pac | Dec 14 2014 0:43 utc | 5

we should know better than to be so heavily involved in this area. Our interventions have never been successful there ever, so why would they be now. We've created two terror groups by funding them and supplying them with weapons.

Posted by: barry | Dec 14 2014 0:55 utc | 6

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 13, 2014 5:23:09 PM | 2

After reading "The Secret Team' - L. Fletcher Prouty - You will find that a lot of millions go down the toilet in this fashion....

Posted by: wiggins | Dec 14 2014 0:56 utc | 7

I do not know about the, "Secret Team". But when I read, "JFK" by LF Prouty, it told me what to expect. Most, if not all of it has come true.

Posted by: Skip | Dec 14 2014 4:27 utc | 8

Thanks, b, for this excellent, detailed and wide-ranging analysis.
Nice little slice of Russian humour in the Syria and Russia are playing along link too. Amusingly, Bogdanov is still under strict instructions to refer to representatives of the Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the M-IC & the 1%, known as the US Government, as "our partners" (it being hard to imagine anything farther from the truth).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 14 2014 5:46 utc | 9

b, have you got any sources that ISIS have suffered heavily in Kobani? The only ones I have seen are Western sources who are trying to sell the theme of Kobani as Stalingrad, and who want it to be the case that ISIS is suffering terribly. The videos I've seen only show very few ISIS at all - which is the logic of the situation - maintain a skeleton force, moving constantly from building to building to avoid being bombed and firing enough to keep Kurdish heads down. They are not going to take Kobani in the near future, and don't need it either.

Kurds are big braggarts. The Iraqi ones have been proved to exaggerate wildly time and again, though the Syrian cousins have been more truthful than the Iraqis.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 14 2014 6:31 utc | 10

Bush set the spark that lit the fuse … Obama and Ms Clinton were witnesses to the chain of events of an exploding Islamist movement and imploding sovereign Arab states. Obama kept his prize ally Israel and lost US influence in the Middle East and Arab states. As predicted some time ago …

Turkish police raid newspaper, detain editor-in-chief, head of broadcaster | Hürriyet Daily News |

ANKARA Dec. 14, 2014 – Turkish police have launched a media operation to detain 32 people, including media figures and former police chiefs, simultaneously raiding addresses in 13 provinces across the country. The raid on daily Zaman occurred at 7.15 a.m. local time, as supporters of the newspaper stood guard in front of the office building over rumors that such an operation would take place.

Police returned to the newspaper’s office at around 2.00 p.m. on Dec. 14 after leaving the building in the morning without starting any proceedings. Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı was taken to police station after being shown the notification of his detention.

From an Ankara insider - @fuatavnifuat

Posted by: Oui | Dec 14 2014 15:44 utc | 11

A very troubling policy change for Erdogan's Turkey … granting freedom of movement to Salafists who had been detained four years ago on charges of terror acts. Has spy chief Fidan continues on a path of joining hands with Saudi Arabia and his earlier meetings with evil Prince Bandar. This alternate move by Turkey ends the close cooperation Erdogan had with the Obama administration, especially with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The Muslim Brotherhood triangle of Egypt's Morsi – Hamas – Qatar has faced defeat after defeat in its policy to extend influence in the Arab region. Turkey will form policy in self-interest making openings to Putin's Russia and even Israel's Netanyahu. On Syria and the overthrow of president Assad, my enemy's enemy is my friend.

Jamestown: Turkish Jihadis Respond to Ankara’s Anti-Al-Qaeda Operations | Feb. 2010 |

Led by the Emniyet Genel Mudurlugü (EGM – General Directorate of Security), the raids took place in the cities of Van, Ankara, Sanliurfa, Mersin, Malatya, Adana, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Mus and 14 other towns (Milliyet, January 23). Many of these towns are in eastern Turkey, where there has been a rise in Salafism and militant Islam in recent years. While Turkey is currently run by the Islamist Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP – Justice and Development Party), it has shown itself to be as intolerant of al-Qaeda activities as previous secular governments.

According to the Turkish press, the arrests unfolded after the Turkish police uncovered an al-Qaeda-associated group in Ankara and Adana earlier in the week (Zaman, January 21). Information found at this time alerted them to the existence of three separate al-Qaeda rings that were said to have been run by an Afghan-based leader named Mehmet Dogan.

Deep Throat Inside Erdogan's Government of Turkey

Posted by: Oui | Dec 14 2014 15:46 utc | 12

Should anyone have the time - it would be really amusing to create an ongoing list linking the dates of headlines showing the "1 step forward, 2 steps back" nature of U.S. public diplomacy = as in the following notional headlines:

April 8, 2014 - Gotham City Crier: "US to hire 'Employess' to fight Syrian War professionally"

December 13, 2014 - NY Bought & Paid For Times: U.S. Abandons Training and Funding of Syrian "Freedom Fighters"

All the while, the MSM talking about these PR exercises as if they were real projects rather than PR fig leaves.

Posted by: kirth gersen | Dec 14 2014 17:13 utc | 13

Where are your sources for all of your claims?

Posted by: jisdj | Dec 14 2014 19:58 utc | 14

@Laguerre I agree. I do not trust claims by Kurds, and hence my skepticism at this report

Posted by: jisdj | Dec 14 2014 20:00 utc | 15

I read a few days ago that the Iraqi Army and the Shia militia are preparing to liberate Mosul.

ISIL is a paper tiger. It only managed its gains in Iraqi via is reputation for bloody massacres, torture, and killings. I'm not surprised at all to hear they're being trounced by any effective force that decides to stand up to them.

Zebari, who is from Mosul, said he did not agree with predictions by US officials that the fight against ISIL could take years.

"Contrary to what many people think, I don’t think this will be a long drawn-out battle," the finance minister said.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 14 2014 22:06 utc | 16

Poroshenko rewarding Ukrainian passport to notorious Belarusian neo-Nazi leader Sergey Korotkikh

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 14 2014 22:24 utc | 17

The interesting thing about what's going on in Turkey is that, had it been any other Arab state in the region or one of those US hate states, it'll be all over the news in the msm and a UNSC meeting will be held and the usual suspect will rain their condemnations and outrage..

But in Erdogan's Turkey, all is well... He's still our bastard.. I mean, without him, how can "we" export all those jihadis from all over the world into Syria for "our" regime change project? He's so useful for the empire now that he gets a pass and IS untouchable...

Like Qaddafi, Saddam etc etc before him, he'll be tossed into the trash bins of history ones he's done serving his usefulness... This douchebag was cheered on by Turks as their new saviour..Now he's f*cking them proper.. Sad thing is, all the conditions necessary for a civil war in Turkey is already in place - PKK, Ergenkon, Pissed off army, pissed off Gullen movement, pissed of Alevis, pissed off regional neighbours(Iraq, Iran, Syra, Armenia, Bulkan states) etc etc etc.. All it needs is just a tiny spark and Erdogan's stupidity will provide that..

Posted by: Zico | Dec 14 2014 22:41 utc | 18

Even the UK propaganda site mentioned the chocolade king …

Ukraine underplays role of far right in conflict by David Stern | BBC News, Kiev |

The Ukrainian leader handed out medals on 5 December to fighters who had tenaciously defended the main airport in the eastern region of Donetsk from being taken over by Russian-backed separatists. Among the recipients was Serhiy Korotkykh, a Belarusian national, to whom Mr Poroshenko awarded Ukrainian citizenship, praising his "courageous and selfless service".

The president's website showed a photo of Mr Poroshenko patting the shoulder of the Belarusian, who was clad in military fatigues. Serhiy Korotkykh was member of the "Azov" battalion.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 15 2014 3:12 utc | 19

Ukraine: Police reform in action!

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov during the solemn meeting on the occasion of the awarding of policemen who took part in the ATO, said that he appointed this morning, 35 year-old deputy battalion commander "Azov" lieutenant colonel of militia Vadim Troyan police chief of the Kiev region!

Posted by: Oui | Dec 15 2014 3:20 utc | 20

re 16

I read a few days ago that the Iraqi Army and the Shia militia are preparing to liberate Mosul.

Oh wonderful the number of armies that are "preparing" to win, and will do shortly. I believe that the Wehrmacht was doing that, when the Soviets were 200m from the Fuhrerbunker.

The current fighting is located north of Samarra, some 250 km south of Mosul. ISIS launched an offensive and took some villages, which may or may not have been taken back.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 15 2014 7:40 utc | 21

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 15, 2014 2:40:21 AM | 21

That is sad news for the Syrian people. I wish ISIL would vtake there monkey mercenary arses back to vwhatever hell hole they emerged from so that our American military bdont have to put a vast number of vsoldiers at risk to eradicate the murderous bastards.

Posted by: really | Dec 15 2014 13:12 utc | 22

Doesn’t the Syria debacle simply show that the US is losing control?

During the Cold War there were multiple switcheroos between détente and soft opposition (I just read a long article in a dusty waiting room from a 1980 Universalis Encyclop. French.) A big deal was made of the ‘end’ of colonialism and ‘loss of control’ far abroad leading to changing relations between East-West (USSR vs. Europe/west/USA) as they were described at that time.

Post-USSR state of affairs (not an instant process) the US concentrated on:

1) attacking potential allies / supposed traditional USSR satellites / places of influence. Such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan (a special case ..), Iraq, Lybia, Iran with sanctions only, Cuba and Venezuela on the back burner. Just to destroy without any further plans (e.g. Lybia.) Ukraine encapsulates some of these contradictions, plus an uptick in aggession (Proxy war ..)

2) Support the US-Isr. alliance, with the ‘war on terrorism’, demonizing and attacking islamic countries, muslims (etc.) but holding strong and steady their alliance with the most ‘islamist’ countries, for ex. KSA and Qatar.

The policies are just too contradictory, confused, irreconciable, and cost too much for no return.

Now they may be decided for a large part by the military-industrial-corporate nexus and lobbyist looking for short term profits, etc. (The banksters don’t care btw, they are merely leeches and cover their asses, they laugh all the way home or to the vacation spot on a yacht.)

This will not end well.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 15 2014 18:06 utc | 23

Noirette #23

"contradictory, confused, irreconciable, and cost too much for no return"

My personal answer is that ideology reigns supreme. Us suprematism and social darwinism, in particular. The unprecedented power of the lobbies is only the other face of the weakness of politics, and this in turn is the other face of the power of ideology (ok, that makes three faces of the coin, but never mind).

So yes, "the US is losing control", from a political point of view.
And yes, "This will not end well".

Posted by: claudio | Dec 15 2014 23:11 utc | 24

"Oh wonderful the number of armies that are "preparing" to win, and will do shortly. I believe that the Wehrmacht was doing that, when the Soviets were 200m from the Fuhrerbunker."

Witty, certainly, Laguerre, but evidence backs their boasts. The Iraqi and Syrian armies are hardly the Wehmacht in April, 1945. These are armies that can defeat ISIL - if the west and gulf states would cease their support of the same organization they swear is their supposed "worst enemy".

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 16 2014 2:09 utc | 25

Speaking of which - and how interesting would this get - China offers military help to Iraq to defeat ISIS.

If true, it certainly would be a huge expansion in China's power projection, and right in the heart of the world's richest oil region.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 16 2014 3:05 utc | 26

I can't agree with everything here, but comparing ISIS to Israel as two states built on "religious utopia" and "ethnic cleansing" is a pretty deep cut. I'm impressed - as far as that goes at least.

ISIS—The New Israel
By Chris Hedges

I find this completely disgusting: though "And Baghdadi, in the eyes of many Muslims, has the aura that surrounded partisan leaders such as the Yugoslav Josip Broz Tito during World War II. "

Hedges dares to compare a fanatic who lures young, impressionable, brainwashed kids from all over the globe to send them on campaigns of beaheading and ethnic cleansing with one of the great heros of the fight against the Nazis? It is beyond ludicrous.

But then Hedges has always been one of the foremost cheerleaders for NATO's brutal and cynical war on Yugoslavia - so really it isn't that much of a surprise.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 16 2014 3:20 utc | 27

re 27 It is beyond ludicrous.

Perhaps it's beyond ludicrous, because it's not true. I hold no candle for ISIS, but there's not a lot of difference between what ISIS do and what the "moderate" Syrian rebels do, except the demonisation in the western media. all of which has been souped by the SITE intelligence group.

re 25 Witty, certainly, Laguerre, but evidence backs their boasts.

Actually it doesn't, but it seems you have not followed the news. My main point, which seemed pretty clear but apparently not to you, was that you should never take government press releases promising future victories as facts, until the victories actually exist.

The Peshmerga are not about to win a great victory against ISIS, nor are the Iraqi army. Both were enfeebled by years of inactivity and corruption, and fled before the ISIS advance. It's just that the Kurds have better propaganda, including a lobbying office in Washington to do exactly that (and one in London now). Both are being trained up currently, but the necessary air-strikes are few and far between.

ISIS will lose in the long run, but not yet.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 16 2014 7:41 utc | 28

guest77 @ 27.

That Israel is partly on the side of the Kiev neo-Nazis, is surprising, yet comprehensible.

Isr. doesn't condemn anything much in Ukr., but blasts fake or trivial or mis-interpreted ‘facts’ (such as the fake bulletin where Jews were supposed to register with the authorities and pay a tax.) .. very rare.



How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis -


Wiesenthal ranks Svoboda party members among top 10 anti-Semites, Israel-haters Jerusalem Post. (I chose a very mild article off the top of goog.)

Isr. cannot face up to or question it’s patron, protector, and funder, the USA.

If the US decrees that Nazis are the new warriors, for longer-term world-domination and profits, Isr. goes along. The hysteria about Nazism and opppression Jews was always a prop. move and can be cancelled immediately.

Follows the temptation of legitimizing genocide, repression of the ppl in a huge territory with no oversight or opprobium, with various deathly arms, political support from the US and even the EU, in the Donbass, that is good for Israel, bomb to kill, and no questions asked. In function of murky ‘ethnic’ criteria, the more they are accepted, the better it is.

So weird memes flower, Khazars came for Ukraine, and maybe a New Israel could be set up there?

Then — the Ukr. Jewish oligarchs, who don’t care about Jews, Ukrainians, whatever ethnicity, Americans or anyone else except their banks and industry control.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 16 2014 18:12 utc | 29

The propaganda goes on with the very beginning: "pro-western rebels", as if the ASL or any other islamic violent armed group fighting against democracy, order, laicity and tolerance in Syria had any inclination towards classic western values. The fact is that some western countries are pro-islamist, but this doesn't make this people pro-western.

Posted by: Stratediplo | Jan 3 2015 12:03 utc | 30

Could you please stop blocking TOR Browser users with the help of the US spying company named CloudFlare?

Of course, you "certainly" know that CloudFlare is itself blocked by the largest IT experts around the world?


Posted by: DePassage | Jan 3 2015 18:21 utc | 31

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