Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 20, 2016

Syria - Some Preliminary Positioning For An Endgame

When the Russian campaign in Syria started Obama promised that it would end in a quagmire. Various media and opinion writer picked up that narrative. It was false as Russia was and is executing a well thought out campaign.

Being confronted with reality the U.S. media is now changing its false narrative. The LA Times writes:

The Latakia attack mirrors similar government gains across the country, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, backed by Russian air power, have been on the offensive.
It's a dramatic shift for the forces of Assad, who less than six months ago had warned supporters that the government would have to "give up areas" after a string of humiliating setbacks.
The gains have strengthened the government's position in the run-up to Syrian peace negotiations scheduled to begin next week in Geneva.

The Obama administration and its anti-Syrian allies had hoped for a defeated Syrian government in Geneva that would agree to their capitulation conditions. They now have to change the narrative. Peace talks in Geneva, they now argue, can not take place because the Syrian government is winning. Headlines the Washington Post - Russian airstrikes are working in Syria — enough to put peace talks in doubt:

[A]fter 3½ months of relentless airstrikes that have mostly targeted the Western-backed opposition to Assad’s rule, they have proved sufficient to push beyond doubt any likelihood that Assad will be removed from power by the nearly five-year-old revolt against his rule. The gains on the ground are also calling into question whether there can be meaningful negotiations to end a conflict Assad and his allies now seem convinced they can win.

“The situation on the ground in Syria is definitely not conducive to negotiations right now,” said Lina Khatib of the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative think tank.

The Arab Reform Initiative is a bastard child of the U.S./Middle East Project, Inc. and various Middle East dictatorships. The Middle East Project was founded by Henry Siegman, a former National Director of the American Jewish Congress and has various hawkish U.S. politicians like Scowcroft and Brzezinski as its senior advisers.

In their view the Syrian government has to be regime changed and can not be allowed to win. Negotiations will have to be put off until the government is likely to fall. Thus the U.S./Saudi/Turkish controlled "opposition" of militant Islamists wants to exclude the Kurds and non-militant opposition from any negotiations and sets additional conditions that make negotiations impossible. They practically demand that Russia and Syria declare and keep a one-sided ceasefire before any ceasefire negotiations can happen.

In the meantime various parties are positioning themselves for the larger endgame. The Kurds in Syria want a corridor along the Turkish Syrian border to connect their areas in the east with the Kurdish enclave in the west. They are fighting against The U.S. supported gangs north-west of Aleppo with Russian support and with Russian and U.S. support against Islamic State gangs north-east of Aleppo. The U.S. is invading Syrian ground and building an airport in the Kurdish areas in east Syria. This probably to later support and guarantee an oil-rich Kurdish state:

The airport, known as “Abu Hajar”, lies southeast of the town of Remelan, site of one of Syria’s largest oilfields, run by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which sells its production through Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Russians may counter that move with their own airport in the area.

Israel, which buys most of the Kurdish oil and just again made friend with Turkey, is now officially calling for an independent Kurdish state. The Turks will not like that at all.

Turkey wants to prevent a Kurdish corridor along its border. It has instigated the "Turkmen" insurgents in Syria under its control to attack the Islamic State from their Aleppo-Avaz-Turkey corridor towards the east right along the border fence where Turkey can provide artillery support. That campaign stalled after a few days and several captured towns are now back in the hands of the Islamic State. New Turkish equipment and soldiers arrived on the Turkish border near the Jarablus border crossing which is currently in the hand of the Islamic State. It is the Islamic State's only open crossing to a somewhat friendly state. Should the Kurds come near to that crossing Turkey is likely to invade Syria to set up a wider buffer against the Syrian Kurds.

In Iraq the Turks continue to occupy bases in Iraqi Kurdistan under the protection of the Iraqi-Kurdish mafia boss Barzani. This despite threats from the Iraqi government. But that government is now again controlled by the U.S. The Iranian influence had waned after clashes between the Iranian General Suleiman and the U.S. installed Prime Minister Abadi:

A source in the office of the Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said, “The United States delay of its support to Baghdad was not a coincidence or an unintentional lazy reaction. It was a strategic decision to: Teach Iraq a lesson for rejecting U.S military bases; To observe the Iranian military capability and inability of Tehran to use air power and intelligence gathering to defeat ISIS; To submit Baghdad to its will and dictate its conditions”.

That the U.S. used the ISIS phenomenon to again achieve regime change and U.S. control in Iraq was confirmed by Obama in an interview with Thomas Friedman:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki. ...

But all those U.S. games are just short term thinking. The Kurdish areas in Iraq and Syria are landlocked and none of their direct neighbors has interest in a Kurdish state. After his mandate ran out and was not renewed by the parliament Barzani's presidency in Iraqi Kurdistan is illegitimate. The next ruler in the Kurdish areas in Iraq is likely to be less friendly with Turkey and the U.S. In Iraq the influence of Iran with the people will always be bigger than U.S. influence with parts of the elite. In Syria it is Russia that will dictate how the future of the state will look.

In the long run the U.S. has little chance to keep its currently regained dominant position. Obama is repeating his predecessors mistake of believing that U.S. meddling in the arena can be successful and continue forever.

The Islamic State is receding. It recently had to cut its wages by half. It is under continues bombing and has to fight ever bigger battles with ever higher losses. The population in the areas it holds is not happy. It will soon again revert to a guerrilla movement of underground terrorist cells. Then other interests of the various actors will again come to the fore, the U.S. will no longer be needed and again be dispelled from the theater. Then the U.S. will again wonder why it did not learn from the earlier lesson.

Posted by b on January 20, 2016 at 13:42 UTC | Permalink

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@jfl: u are a dunce. we may all be of the human race, but how does that knowledge moderate Zionists, Muslims into treating other races fairly? They give a hoot about your non-racialism, which so far has exclusively compromised the well-being of whites (aka Europeans and their descendents), who are the only people who believe this shit.

Posted by: tri | Jan 23 2016 23:22 utc | 101

@Piotr Berman: Erdogan is bluffing. He has been threatening to do all sorts of outrageous things, so far he has only been retreating from Syraq. He cannot even control his Kurds. He displays the typical TUrkish mentality: bluster and threats, but inside he is weak and undecided. No way he is going to directly threaten Russia and Syria, since the outcome will be a disaster for Turkey. I think he will just do sweet fanny, as usual. All that military muscle, ready to go, nowhere, haha.

Posted by: tri | Jan 23 2016 23:26 utc | 102

I wish I thought any Americans cared that Obama was able to hide our involvement by using the Saudi's to fund it.

NYT: U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels.

WASHINGTON — When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Since then, the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles

The support for the Syrian rebels is only the latest chapter in the decadeslong relationship between the spy services of Saudi Arabia and the United States, an alliance that has endured through the Iran-contra scandal, support for the mujahedeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan and proxy fights in Africa. Sometimes, as in Syria, the two countries have worked in concert. In others, Saudi Arabia has simply written checks underwriting American covert activities.

I hope some of the people who have been reading about Lofgren and the Deep State will make connections ... most folks will just say, "well, they owe us plenty, glad they're paying" and not realize that the Saudis are allowing one, two, many Iran Contra subversion of "how it's supposed to be" wrt oversight and limits on executive war-making (not like congress most likely isn't a knowing willing accomplice)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 24 2016 0:24 utc | 103

@101 tri 'how does that knowledge moderate Zionists, Muslims into treating other races fairly?'

Well it doesn't automatically do so, does it? And my point is that there seems to be a genetic 'predisposition' for all of us, not just Zionists and Muslims to 'clump' and treat unfairly - often to kill with clear conscience - the others.

What is required is to adopt a longer frame of reference - as some people have, regarding other 'natural' phenomema, such as climate change. We're all together, the only ones here, and we're all just going to have - consciously, 'un-naturally' - to do it ourselves.

'... your non-racialism ... has exclusively compromised the well-being of whites (aka Europeans and their descendents)'

Reflect for just an instant, can you tell that to the Africans, to the Indians, to the Chinese, to the indigenes of the Americas, of any and every continent outside Europe ... Those must all be your very own others, eh?


We have experienced forced labour in exchange for pay that did not allow us to satisfy our hunger, to clothe ourselves, to have decent lodgings or to bring up our children as dearly loved ones.

Morning, noon and night we were subjected to jeers, insults and blows because we were “Negroes”. Who will ever forget that the black was addressed as “tu”, not because he was a friend, but because the polite “vous” was reserved for the white man?

We have seen our lands seized in the name of ostensibly just laws, which gave recognition only to the right of might.

We have not forgotten that the law was never the same for the white and the black, that it was lenient to the ones, and cruel and inhuman to the others.

We have experienced the atrocious sufferings, being persecuted for political convictions and religious beliefs, and exiled from our native land: our lot was worse than death itself.

We have not forgotten that in the cities the mansions were for the whites and the tumbledown huts for the blacks; that a black was not admitted to the cinemas, restaurants and shops set aside for “Europeans”; that a black travelled in the holds, under the feet of the whites in their luxury cabins.

Who will ever forget the shootings which killed so many of our brothers, or the cells into which were mercilessly thrown those who no longer wished to submit to the regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation used by the colonialists as a tool of their domination?

All that, my brothers, brought us untold suffering.

But we, who were elected by the votes of your representatives, representatives of the people, to guide our native land, we, who have suffered in body and soul from the colonial oppression, we tell you that henceforth all that is finished with.

The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed and our beloved country's future is now in the hands of its own people. ...

We shall institute in the country a peace resting not on guns and bayonets but on concord and goodwill.

And in all this, my dear compatriots, we can rely not only on our own enormous forces and immense wealth, but also on the assistance of the numerous foreign states, whose co-operation we shall accept when it is not aimed at imposing upon us an alien policy, but is given in a spirit of friendship.

... I ask you unconditionally to respect the life and property of fellow-citizens and foreigners who have settled in our country; if the conduct of these foreigners leaves much to be desired, our Justice will promptly expel them from the territory of the republic; if, on the contrary, their conduct is good, they must be left in peace, for they, too, are working for our country's prosperity.

Europeans (and Allen Dulles' CIA) saw to it that Lumumba was brutally murdered, of course.

Hope you're right with regard to Erdogan.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 24 2016 1:40 utc | 104

What a day in the Gulf region ....

  • Joe Biden pleases NATO ally Turkey by throwing the Kurds under the bus;
  • Ashton Carter contradicts his Commander In Chief by lamenting most partners of the 65-nation antis-ISIS coalition don't contribute;
  • Secretary Kerry sweet-talks his Saudi hosts Al Jubeir, King Salman and his warrior son about the Iran deal, explaining Iran still evil and Saudis good;
  • Pleads for the Syrian opposition groups to unite and support a political solution by [......] Assad;
  • Good old Joe Biden bad-mouths any solution to Syria unless the Sunni Arabs control the border with Turkey and not the YPG Kurds;
  • VP Biden prefers the military option to remove Assad from power by telling his host Davutoğlu that they will try the political option first to defeat the Islamic State;

    Not clear what you are saying Joe, don't you have Vicky on your side? Who handed you the notes for the meeting and press conference, I recall you were telling us the truth about US allies funding ISIS!

    War Talk by Joe Biden In Turkey Ahead of Syria Conference

    Posted by: Oui | Jan 24 2016 4:52 utc | 105

  • @103 suzy

    The CIA has become a sort of self-directed Blackwater, hasn't it? Soliciting bids to train and equip terrorists from people who see things their way, who'd like to see the same people terrorized as the CIA does.

    On 'Americans caring' ... FAIR has a piece entitled ‘The Core Injustice Is Indefinite Detention’

    JANINE JACKSON: It was widely noted that Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address contained the same promise as his first, that he would move to close the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, now entering its 14th year. ...

    We’re joined now by Omar Shakir. He’s the Bertha Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. ...

    JJ: I understand Beltway reporters’ tendency to report on Guantanamo Bay as about Barack Obama, you know: his legacy, his power. That’s not irrelevant, but there’s just so much else at stake. Some of our listeners were in grade school when Guantanamo Bay opened. Remind us why it opened; what was the supposed purpose in 2002?

    OS: Sure. The Bush administration opened Guantanamo to create a prison that was beyond the reach of any law. They explicitly chose it so that the US Constitution and other law would not apply. In their minds, the nature of US control over that base meant that international law wouldn’t apply, Cuban law wouldn’t apply. It was meant to be an area where they could use torture and other brutal interrogation tactics as they wanted, where they could hold people without charge, where they could conduct trials without basic due process protections. It was meant mostly for that purpose and, in addition, to be far removed so that could easily be hidden from the conscience of most Americans, and out of sight, out of mind, in a place where they could bring whoever they wanted whenever they wanted for as long as they wanted.

    JJ: Well, that sounds dystopian. And it’s amazing the degree to which it was kind of accepted, or has become normalized, at least, by US media. A CBS affiliate story recently on five Yemeni men who were released to the United Arab Emirates just sort of reported none of the men had been charged with a crime, but they’d been detained as enemy combatants, you know, as though this were a kind of generally understood legal terminology and as though it made sense.

    I don't know if we Americans have just accepted the fact that the rule of law is 'obsolete' ... post 9/11, post-Obama, post-whatever ... or if we've just accepted our own utter impotence, learned to 'live with it'. But it's one or the other ... in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Posted by: jfl | Jan 24 2016 8:21 utc | 106

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