Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 11, 2016

The Race To Raqqa Is On - To Keep Its Unity Syria Must Win

The race to Raqqa is on. Syria and its allies are competing with the U.S. and its allies to snatch east Syria from the Islamic State.

Raqqa in eastern Syria is held by the Islamic State as are the other cities along the Euphrates towards Iraq. To defeat the Islamic State in Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and other eastern Syrian towns and to liberate them, is the aim of all purported enemies of the Islamic State. But this question has to be seen in the larger context.

Could the U.S. and its allies capture Raqqa or Deir Ezzor and with it parts of eastern Syria it could use them as a bargaining chip to gain some negotiation power with Syria and its allies over the future of Syria. Alternatively it creates a Sunni state in east-Syria and west-Iraq. Mosul would be part of such a Sunni state and it would be put under the tutelage of a neo-ottoman Turkey. There have been U.S. plans for such a "Sunnistan" and a revision of the Sykes-Picot borders for some time.

For Syria and its allies the upholding of the unity of Syria is a major objective. To leave Raqqa and the eastern oil fields to the U.S. and its allies would be a devastating loss. Syria and its allies must therefore beat the U.S. and its allies in the race to Raqqa and the larger east Syria.

Syria just made the first major move. A brigade of the Syrian Arab Army attacked the positions of the Islamic State along the Ithriyah to Raqqa road. The town Tal Abu Zayhn has been taken on the way to the first objective, the Tabaqah military airport. Additional supporting forces from various allied groups are assembling in Ithriyah to later support the attack.

 


map via Southfront - bigger

The U.S. move towards east-Syria is still in preparation. The first U.S. plan was to use the Syrian-Kurdish YPG forces of north-east Syria. These were labeled Syrian Democratic Forces after attaching a few men from Arab tribes. These forces would have attacked Raqqa from the north. But the Kurds did not want to invade the Arab lands they would not be able to hold. Their aim is to connect to the Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria along the Turkish border.

The U.S. is coming up with a new plan. There are only sketches visible so far and the following is informed speculation.

The U.S. has extended the runway of the agricultural Rumeilan/Abu Hajar airfield (map) in the Kurdish held area in north east Syria to be able to supply larger operations in the wider area:

This location has been chosen because it's just 100 miles (160 kilometers) from ISIS frontline positions and some of its lucrative oil fields, but well within territory held by Kurdish fighters known as the YPG. The runway is being nearly doubled in length from about 2,300 feet to 4,330 feet (700 to 1,320 meters) -- long enough, say, to receive C130 transport planes. A small apron is also being paved.

Some U.S. special operation forces are said to already operate from there. This is the vanguard on a reconnaissance mission.

It was publicly disclosed that one brigade if the U.S. 101st Airborne Division would go to Iraq to train, advise and assist the Iraqi forces for an attack on Mosul.

Some 1,800 soldiers from the 101st’s Headquarters and its 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy soon on regular rotations to Baghdad and Irbil to train and advise Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces who are expected in the coming months to move toward Mosul, the Islamic State group’s de facto headquarters in Iraq.

But Col. Pat Lang was told that two brigades of the 101st would deploy:

I was told today that two brigades of the 101st Airborne Division are going to Iraq, not just one. This probably is related to the Saudi Juggernaut. pl

The Saudi "juggernaut" was the recent announcement that the Saudis would be willing to send troops to Syria. Nobody was, at first, taking that serious but it now starts to make some sense. The Saudis today confirmed their intent:

Saudi’s decision to send troops to Syria in an attempt to bolster and toughen efforts against militants is “final” and “irreversible,” the Saudi military spokesman announced on Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, said that Riyadh is “ready” and will fight with its U.S.-led coalition allies to defeat ISIS militants in Syria, however, he said Washington is more suitable to answer questions on further details about any future ground operations.
...
The statement comes as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Syrian civil war.

The Saudis would fight under the control of the one brigade of the 101st airborne that was not announced to go for Mosul. The Saudis would deploy from Saudi Arabia via a U.S. controlled airstrip in west Iraq or through east Jordan towards Syria while the brigade from the 101st would probably deploy from the Kurdish area in north Iraq through the Kurdish areas in north-east Syria towards Raqqa. Raqqa would thereby be attacked from a north-eastern and a south-eastern. The airport of Rumeilan/Abu Hajar would be one of the major supply bases.

Such a move of forces would be quite large and over relative long distances. But most of the area is desert and modern motorized military equipment could easily cover those distances in a day or two. This would put Saudi troops into Syria. If they would take Raqqa or Deir Ezzor and the eastern Syrian oilfields they would NEVER let go of it unless Syria would bend to the Saudi demand of introducing an Islamist led government.

The plan is workable but it would also instigate a large mobilization of Shia forces and could lead to a bigger conflict. The Russian Prime Minister Medvedev warned today that new Arab forces entering the Syrian war could spark a much wider war.

The Saudi operation was said to start within two month. The Syrian government forces and their allies will now have to rush to the east to protect the unity of the country. The U.S. for its part may want to hinder the Syrian advantage by whatever means it has, including - possibly - some "erroneous" bombing.

The race for Raqqa, and Syria's future, is on.

Posted by b on February 11, 2016 at 19:10 UTC | Permalink

Comments
« previous page

@ 92 Could you start a new thread and explain what has been agreed today, I can't be the only one who is confused by this ceasefire?

b. has already made some comments on this thread. Whether he wants to write more is entirely up to him, but we can hardly ask that of him.

The cessation of hostilities reminds me of the famous "cauldrons" in the Donbass before both Minsk 1 and 2 when surrounded troops (some of whose advisors were official or unofficial NATO) were allowed to leave. It may be an invitation to rebel fighters in Aleppo and in Idlib province to exit sharpish or face the consequences. And it gives the appearance of the U.S. doing something. It may also mean that with Aleppo anbd Idlib more or less contained the focus of the war can shift to The Race to Raqqa.

Posted by: Lochearn | Feb 12 2016 22:27 utc | 101

wayoutwest,

sorry for you and your terror buddies Russia isnt involed in the ceasefire.

Posted by: Sompler | Feb 12 2016 22:28 utc | 102

@wow

End yr pipedream ... there will be no ceasefire but an "end to hostilities". The coalition forces will still be striking at IS, al-Nusra and other terror groups. Not clear whether only the US, Russia and/or UN will declare a group as such. Lavrov already named Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham. There are no clear battle lines and these terror groups are entrenched from Aleppo through Homs along the Syrian Golan Heights upto Daraa on the Southern Front. Russian air-strikes will continue and will be in agreement with UNSC resolution 2254.

Russia Targets Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo and Daraa

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter was completely inundated in the next military phase for boots on the ground while meeting GCC coalition partners at NATO HQ in Brussels. He finished the day completely dumbfounded about the result at Kerry's talks in Munich. A complete embarassment for the Obama administration. Wasn't the first time on Syria policy, both parties will return to Washington DC and the White House for some head-banging.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 12 2016 22:28 utc | 103

@Paveway #96 - I have to disagree with your take here. Undoubtedly what you describe is the plan as it was. Will it prevail? Seems to me to be as utterly impossible as anything could be.

The US has lost, and in losing it has lost ground that it can never recover, across many fronts throughout the world of nations, not just with a land called Syria.

If we want to look at this as a war of pipelines, my money's on the Iranian one winning this game.

Who can take the oilfields? Hold them how? Under what rubric? What authority? Whose guns? How to supply? There is simply no way to defeat the legal authority of Syria to say who may and who may not be on its land, under pain of destruction by the army, under rule of enforcement by all the forces arrayed in Syria right now, under the legality of international law, under resolutions from the UN.

Let Syria lose any of its land, and all international law is over. Russia won't let that happen, nor will the world's nations. And finally the US and its puppy NATO will get called out for their illegal presence. That showdown will come if they try to take and hold the oilfields. I don't believe the US wants that showdown - I do believe it will lose. The world simply has too much at stake, and the empire is a dying thing now.

In my view.

Posted by: Grieved | Feb 12 2016 22:33 utc | 104

@Lozion

".. that somehow Syrian territorial integrity is maintained."

Quote from Secretary Kerry's statement early this morning at the press conference in Munich:

Now, look, we’re doing everything in the power of diplomacy to try to bring an end to this conflict in a way that results in a unified, nonsectarian, minority-protecting, secular, whole state. That’s a complicated task. And there are many different cross currents underneath this that make it complicated. But we’re convinced that that’s the only that Syria really survives and can flourish again, and that you can make peace.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 12 2016 22:40 utc | 105

J@98

There must be a corral where they keep these overeducated hand-wringers until they are shuffled out to be what Spiro Agnew called Nattering Nabobs of Negativity. These twits don't understand the first thing about the Amerikan stoic nature or the power behind that determination and even though I despise much of what we are as a nation I can't ignore the ceaseless and often effective projection of US dominance.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 12 2016 22:55 utc | 106

"Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, second only to that of the United States, and the second largest one in Europe, second only to Russia."

http://n/military/world/europe/tu-army.htm

The Syrian army is at present dispersed throughout the country, and is configured to fight rebel groups engaged in asymmetric warfare. The Hezbollah and Iranian forces present are light infantry ideal for the purpose but ill equipped for conventional warfare. The Russian presence in Syria, while possessing considerable technical sophistication, is small.

Syria is a small state with approximately the area of the Washington state in the U.S., and Turkey is right on the border. Syria has excellent main motorways leading from/to Damascus to all important urban centers. The distances involved are slight, so transit time for a fast armored column (say, tanks, motorized infantry, and self-propelled artillery) is brief. The country is not geared toward defense of the capitol from such forces at present, but only from lightly equipped irregular rebel forces.

A blitzkrieg strike against Damascus and a small number of other targets in the rear areas of the dispersed Syrian army, could be devastating if properly carried out. The Syrian government cannot issue orders to its army if Assad and his ministers are under arrest or running for their lives. Control of the highly centralized communication network (thus organized because the central government is profoundly suspicious and controlling) would disrupt Syrian army remobilization, as would control of a few key road junctions and other bottlenecks. The supply lines of forward based Syrian army units originate in the "safe" rear areas. With those depots and the main arteries leading from them under Turkish control, the Syrian army would be logistically isolated and living on borrowed time.

While it's true that the Russians have command of the skies, the Syrian Air Force and its Russian auxiliaries operate from a few airbases. Fighter jets in the air cannot remain up indefinitely: they land to refuel. Seizure of these few airbases would end Russian air supremacy in short order. Meanwhile, even though the Turkish army cannot count on effective air support, it possesses portable surface to air missiles which can be used to attack Syrian and Russian jets, disrupting their sorties when not managing to destroy planes.

Hundreds of thousands of less mobile infantry would follow, mopping up. They don't need to wipe out the bulk of the Syrian army, merely isolate and contain its dispersed elements until such time as the fait accompli can be cemented.

This would require placing into nominal control of the Syrian government respected members who are in opposition (whether open or concealed) to the Assad regime, but not aligned with the rebels. New orders would be issued to the Syrian army through the communication network now under Turkish control. With conflicting orders, the Syrian army would be paralyzed.

The Russians in Syria would be treated with kid-gloves when possible and sent packing, not massacred. Russia could of course retaliate by declaring war on Turkey, but then NATO might become involved (if not NATO then the United States), and all bets are off.

This would require a great deal of intelligence collection and planning in advance. Has the Turkish military constructed such contingency plans during the years it has been agitating for the removal of Assad? It should have, but I suspect not.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12 2016 22:55 utc | 107

@105 wow.. i really ought not to be surprised at your dismissing that excellent article... i have come to recognize you as an excellent example of the power of propaganda.. thanks again for the reminder..

Posted by: james | Feb 12 2016 23:08 utc | 108

Neither the Syrians or their allies have given up anything yet, as the ceasefire agreement is predicated on already existing UN resolutions. And although the propaganda barrage over the "fall" of Aleppo has been an astonishing pile of bullshit, it is based on a very weak foundation: that the government offensive is attacking the "moderate rebels". At some point, these moderate rebels will have to be identified - a point which the anti-Assad coalition, the NGOs, and the MSM has stridently refused to do. Contnuing operations in the Aleppo area will be focussed on al-Nusra, and at some very near point in time this will have to be acknowledged or the above groups will have to explicitly associate themselves with al-Qaeda. The fact that there are no moderate rebels is already seeping into the consciousness of more and more people, at least as measured in comments appearing with MSM coverage. So there is a credibility issue which cannot always be weaseled away, particularly after investing so much capital in establishing the awfulness of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Posted by: jayc | Feb 12 2016 23:10 utc | 109

at Emil Pulsifer @1o6

that's where the nukes come in

Posted by: peter | Feb 12 2016 23:34 utc | 110

Full transcript of Bashar Al Assad interview with AFP
http://news.yahoo.com/transcript-exclusive-afp-interview-syrias-assad-185240901.html

"President Assad: Logically, intervention is not possible, but sometimes reality is at odds with logic, particularly when there are irrational people leading a certain state. That's why I don't rule that out for a simple reason: Erdogan is a fanatical person with Muslim Brotherhood inclinations. He is living the Ottoman dream. For him, the collapse which took place in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria is something personal. This threatens his political future, on the one hand, and his fanatical Islamist ambitions, on the other. He believes that he has an Islamist mission in our region. The same applies to Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the terrorists in Syria is a collapse of their policies. I tell you that this process is surely not going to be easy for them, and we will certainly confront it."

Posted by: virgile | Feb 12 2016 23:45 utc | 111

J@107

I guess you are easily impressed by this type of psycho-babble applied to the Hegemon. I'll stick with something an old Wise Guy said 'Never underestimate your adversary' and I think he added never overestimate those you view as allies or some such wisdom.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 13 2016 0:08 utc | 112

Check out the map. Wonder how the Kosher Amish will do against heavily armed opposition. Hizbollah in Syria has accrued major mojo ...


Lebanon (Hizbollah) Russia - "The Russian side confirmed the consistent line towards supporting sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Lebanon," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said

More:
http://tass.ru/en/politics/856287

PAYBACK'S A BEEE'ATCH!

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 13 2016 0:33 utc | 113

virgile at 110: That's an excellent interview. He certainly _seems_ like a wise and very intelligent person, with his feet firmly planted in reality (not the artificial reality created by the Western media/propaganda). That matters, and just from the interview I think Syria is very lucky to have him leading the country at this moment.

I wonder what impression would be given by a similar interview of Erdogan or one of the Saudi 'leaders'?

Posted by: fairleft | Feb 13 2016 1:39 utc | 114

fairleft@112-judging by the Saudi FM speech in Munich today, to a crowd of concerned looking pale chin scratchers, he's a mild mannered insane moron who has a fine future ahead of him as a used car salesman: you decide

Posted by: Nana2007 | Feb 13 2016 2:09 utc | 115

@79 noirette, @103 grieved, @110 virgile, @112 fairleft

I think you all cover the situation pretty completely. The rest is the 'ongoing drama' created in the foreground to sort of cover over what's actually happening in the background ... that'd be reality. Syria will be OK, Iran will certainly be OK, I hope that Iraq can leverage its position between the two and be OK, too ... and Lebanon, as well.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 13 2016 2:16 utc | 117

@106 - The contemplation of a Turkish invasion of Syria aimed at capturing the whole country is wildly imaginative. That would be such an astonishing example of first class aggression - we'd likely see Erdogan staring in "Judgement at Nuremberg 2" before that story ended.

Such an act would be absolutely rejected by all of the major world and regional powers - I mean, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Iran, Egypt - I think you'd see immediate landing of large numbers of Russian and Iranian troops, as well as an explosion of intense guerrilla war wherever the Turks went.

No way that could happen. Never. This would rouse so much negative reaction from all over the globe, and no one could seriously back it. Including NATO. In fact, I would venture a guess that such an act would amount to the end of Turkey and of NATO if there was any evidence at all that the US was behind such a move.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 13 2016 2:22 utc | 118

I have to laugh at WoW giving lectures about over-estimating ones allies. This wisdom from a man who just last year was penning odes to the "brilliance" of ISIS in the comments section here...

Will you be sad when your head-chopping heroes are all rounded up and shot? Better get the kleenex out then, its coming - and sooner than you think.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 13 2016 2:24 utc | 119

Comment w/ George Galloway: Who is hindering peace in Syria?

Syria says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are to blame for the suspension of peace talks in Switzerland. The UN special envoy to Syria announced the postponement until February 25.

Earlier, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari said that “the Saudis, Turks and Qataris” are the ones who should take responsibility for “this failure.”

“They are the real handlers and masters of the Riyadh group,” he added.

After the UN announced the three-week gap in the talks, the main Syrian opposition group, the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said that it would not be returning to the negotiating table until its humanitarian demands are met.

Riad Hijab, the head of the HNC, said at a press gathering that the group “will leave Geneva tomorrow and will not return until the humanitarian demands are met or (we) see something on the ground.”

In response to Hijab’s remarks, Ja’afari reiterated his stance that the opposition group is not committed to the talks.

“Since its arrival the HNC refused to take part in any serious talks with the (UN) special envoy,” he said.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 13 2016 2:28 utc | 120

Posted by: Oui | Feb 12, 2016 5:40:49 PM | 104

Yeah, talk about breathtaking hypocrisy on Kerry's part.
What gall!
Claiming that what Syria had before the US decided to destroy it (in the most cowardly way imaginable) is what the US wanted for Syria from the outset.

If the Russians and Chinese needed (further) motivation for pursuing the destruction of AmeriKKKa, that statement will outlast AmeriKKKa itself.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 13 2016 2:39 utc | 121

@116 I don't think Erdogan expects to capture the whole country. Just a slice across the top. The rest, including Damascus, will be for the Saudis to deal with if they decide to go in from Iraq or Jordan. They will need to go in big and of course they will need a lot of air support.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/02/13/450020/Assad-Syria-UAE-Saudi-Carter-Welch

Posted by: dh | Feb 13 2016 2:56 utc | 122

Re 116, Yes, wildly imaginative is probably the correct description. Still, I find the scenario interesting.

The question you raise is twofold. The latter part asks would Russia and Iran commit to a full-scale counterinvasion. Who knows. That's a big can of whoop-ass to open for the sake of a port in Tartus and transit space for Hezbollah, even if they figure on winning, and could easily spiral out of control into World War Three.

As for whether the Turks would risk precipitating such a response, the Russian media is full of official statements describing Turkey's President Erdogan as a rabid fanatic with dreams of empire.

Incidentally, a possible tactical flaw occurred to me: but Sputnik News assures me that Russia's only aircraft carrier is laid up in port undergoing repairs until the end of 2017.

http://m.sputniknews.com/russia/20160120/1033422327/russia-aircraft-east-mediterranean.html

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 3:12 utc | 123

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12, 2016 5:55:42 PM | 106

Have you forgotten that the day after Mr Great Game/ Grand Chessboard (Z Brzezinsky) said (in writing) that Russia was "isolated" from Syria, the Russians whacked 24 "rebel" targets in Syria with missiles launched from Russia?
Imo, if they've already done it 24 times they can do it 240, or 2,400, times if necessary.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 13 2016 3:25 utc | 124

P.S. re 121 (re 116):

One might ask, if Syria is so important to Russia and Iran that they would launch a full-scale counterinvasion against the Turkish army, why they do not commit such troops against the considerably smaller and weaker rebel insurgency?

As for guerrilla action against the Turks, who would conduct this? The rebels who want to see Assad deposed more than anything? The Sunni Muslims who identify more with the Turks than with the Alawite led, Iranian backed Syrian government? Ordinary troops of the Syrian army, which is tired of civil war and wants only to see a constitutional government which won't arrest them or oppress their families?

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 3:26 utc | 125

So here is some crow eating mealy mouthed propaganda salad from a Reuters article
"
But several Western countries said there was no hope for progress without a halt to the Russian bombing, which has decisively turned the balance of power in favour of Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the peace plan fails, more foreign troops could enter the conflict.

"If the Assad regime does not live up to its responsibilities and if the Iranians and the Russians do not hold Assad to the promises that they have made ... then the international community obviously is not going to sit there like fools and watch this. There will be an increase of activity to put greater pressure on them," Kerry, who was in Munich, told Dubai-based Orient TV.

"There is a possibility there will be additional ground troops."

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending U.S. ground troops to Syria, but Saudi Arabia this month offered ground forces to fight Islamic State.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, called the agreement "an important step," but added, "In the coming days, we will be looking for actions, not words, to demonstrate that all parties are prepared to honour their commitments."
"
Here is the link to the complete article: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0VM003

Methinks Kerry is looking in the mirror when he makes that "look like fools.." statement. More like war criminals from my view

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 13 2016 3:39 utc | 126

Re 122: "... the Russians whacked 24 "rebel" targets in Syria with missiles launched from Russia?"

Well, that certainly proved decisive, didn't it? I suppose they could fire a lot more, though that is also true now. But if the Turks have already carried out regime change, what good would it do them? One possible solution to that is the old Iranian stand-by of holding the captured Russian military and diplomatic personnel as hostages, until things settle down into a negotiated peace. Of course, they would not be called hostages and they would be treated more as guests, with plenty of international media attention demonstrating their well-being. But if they happened to be held in strategic locations, well...

All of this probably assumes that the Turks have much bigger balls than is actually the case.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 3:42 utc | 127

emil pulsifer.. you sound like some rehashed and more nuanced version of the regular jackass here at moa - wow.. that's my take at this point.. are you also an american?

Posted by: james | Feb 13 2016 4:04 utc | 128

88

Never discount the West's need to behead the 'lone gunmen' before their capture by Russia/Syria can reveal the arming and funding tentacles reaching back to WADC-NOVA, first Hillary 'War Hag' Clinton, until Benghazi, then John 'War Hog' McCain. $4.1T for 2017, and $1T is for DoD/DHS, so the heat is on now. If you need the visual, just imagine huge and loathsome vampires sucking at the pulsing necks of the EU goyem, shrieking and scrabbling to hold onto their blood feed.

I would not be surprised to see A10s used to herd Al Nusra-ISIS forces into a frontier area, then nuclear cruise missile the lot of them, and blame it on Russia.
That still leaves the existential conundrum of how to advance the Qatari pipeline to Turkey, so that the Russian pipeline to Ukraine can be sabotaged by the Zuks.
Temporarily gaining control over Eastern Syria is insufficient to build out a $10sB construction project of strategic size, as we saw with the demise of the TAPI.
Oh ... wait ...

But why kill over oil and gas pipelines, when Central Banks destroy entire world economies at whim, and when all the world really needs is bright sun and coarse salt to clean away their Globalist pestilence, then release 100 Flowers: solar fields, wind farms, rainbows and unicorns farting ice cream, because there are no renewable energy sources on earth besides hydropower and geothermal [e.g. 'renewable' - adj. a power source which generates enough power and wealth over its MTBF life-cycle cost to build an identical replacement power source AND which generates more BTUs than the BTUs needed to process its renewable fuel supply], which 'green' (sic) ethanol, bagasse, solar and wind miserably fail to do.

Iceland has the right idea: geothermal stations and ship-sized aluminum-ingot battery ships, sailing electrically to every port city in the world to supply clean and perpetual geothermal energy, ...with the depleted aluminum recycled back into battery ingots again at the smelter also located at the geothermal fields. This business model can be expanded to all the world's volcanic islands, at least those with super-port harbor capacity, and the Chinese have shown to do develop that.

Hilo, Hawaii, for example, could be expanded to allow aluminum-ingot battery ships to resupply and recharge from the geothermal power station there, then supply all the neighboring Hawaiian islands. Unfortunately, all we are likely to get is taxpayer-funded Tesla home batteries, which Elon already states in the literature does not provide a cost-effective energy alternative OR sufficient MTBF to regenerate the battery manufacturing fossil fuel energy cost, ... but that doesn't matter to the WADC-Wall Street Deficit-and-Spend Kingmakers of the New Theocratic Scientocracy, who will tax-fund anything they can squeeze their feeding tube in.

On to Tehran!

Posted by: NoReply | Feb 13 2016 4:11 utc | 129

Beware of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

We have just become the 18th nation to join the ISSG.
Our supreme commander Minister Hennis famously said during NATO exercises on the Eastern Front in Poland:

    "We're ready for the Russians."
Our Daff (Dutch Air Force forces) stationed their few F-16s for a quick reaction force to strike against possible invasion of green men (no, not the Irish green fairy leprechaun). Unfortunately they were pulled back to bomb IS above Iraq and a few days ago PM Mark "the tank" Rutte decided we'll do that above Syria too. (Not afraid of the S-400 stationed there even after the MH-17 experience). Tough talk gets rewarded, especially during EU presidency in first six months of 2016. We're the best pupil in the class of Gen. Breedlove @NATO HQ ... our presence stretches from Afghanistan, Mali, Poland and now to the Levant.

The Dutch, a laughing stock amongst nations, a former colonizer during the Gilded Age through naval warfare.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 13 2016 4:16 utc | 130

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12, 2016 10:42:29 PM | 125

I love it when you deliberately miss the point. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 13 2016 4:18 utc | 131

Erdogan and Davutoglu Remain Silent on Secr. Kerry and ISSG in Munich

Turkey praises planned Syria cessation of hostilities | HDN |

Turkey has praised an agreement between major powers to cease hostilities in Syria to provide humanitarian aid as “an important step” toward resolving the crisis, calling for the opportunity to be seized in order to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The agreement by the 17 countries of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) “is an important step on the way to finding a solution to the Syrian crisis,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 12 on his Twitter account.

“This statement underlined the issues impairing the Geneva process and presented an opportunity to unblock stalemate before the political process. What is important now is embracing this opportunity, stopping the airstrikes, ceasing targeting civilians and providing humanitarian access,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Posted by: Oui | Feb 13 2016 4:36 utc | 132

@102/104 Oui.

Great example of conflicting agendas within the USG. Either Kerry is using double speak or indeed trying to counter the Pentagon's moves. In any case, the more time wasted the better for the 4+1 to gain ground and for those imagining an invasion force from either northern or southern borders, you can bet Russia has seen and calculated that contingency and if push comes to shove, well, swift is the word I would use..

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 13 2016 5:01 utc | 133

As for guerrilla action against the Turks, who would conduct this?

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12, 2016 10:26:58 PM | 123

PKK with heavier weapons than before: anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons in particular.

Would Turkish forces enter government held areas, there are plenty of Syrian semi-regular troops. And Syrians are practiced in setting ambushes and defending sieges. But PKK would be a trump card, and YPG would join them. Eastern Turkey and northern Syria would become a unified ToP.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 13 2016 5:14 utc | 134

Incidentally, a possible tactical flaw occurred to me: but Sputnik News assures me that Russia's only aircraft carrier is laid up in port undergoing repairs until the end of 2017.

http://m.sputniknews.com/russia/20160120/1033422327/russia-aircraft-east-mediterranean.html

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12, 2016 10:12:43 PM | 121

And why, in the name of Norway, would Russia need an aircraft carrier? Ever heard about Armenia? Unlike an aircraft carrier, it is hard to sink a country. Iran could help with its airports as well, and they would get better anti-aircraft batteries. In any case, Russian could launch sorties from southern Russia.

The thing is, you can afford to spend a lot on a war if citizens are convinced about the cause. Sure, Turkey has enough places (a bit long on tooth) to demolish Russian airbase near Latakia. And folks all over Russia would start to moan "ooaah, why our foolish president irritated Turkey?!" But the chance is that they would be ready for a period of war economy. If so, good buy natural gas and 50% of electricity. Turkey would kiss its industry good buy, and tourism would not do great either, and may I remind you, Erdogan would not start the war with tremendous popularity at home: Alevis, Kurds, seculars and even anti-AKP fascists together are between 50 and 60 percent of the population. Even AKP voters the war in Syria is not popular. My bet is that would Erdogan go as far as Pulsifer thinks he should, that would be the end of him.

Turkey attacking Russian in Syria would isolate it from NATO, while exposing their military installations to direct attacks from Russia. This is a combination from hell. If I recall, the last time Turkey won with Russia without Western help was more than 300 years ago. In the same time, a "capitulation" could be highly popular in Turkey.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 13 2016 5:43 utc | 135

Sorry, I implore all good folks to read my latest post phonetically ("buy buy baby" looks strange but sounds OK) and to refrain from reporting on me to grammar Nazis.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 13 2016 5:46 utc | 136

Piotr Berman raises several good objections. I'll have to think about them, because they are not to be shrugged off too flippantly.

One possible offset to potential economic consequences would be an energy deal negotiated with the greatful new government of post-civil war Syria. Remember, the scenario does not envision the Turks as an occupying army, but as a guarantee that the interim Syrian government can function without interference until general elections can be held. (I know, heard that one before.)

I will consider your other excellent points.

Incidentally, I do not by any means say that Turkey "should" do this. It interests me to discuss possible scenarios that may not be immediately obvious. Nor am I a fan of Turkey nor an enemy of Russia. Personally I am of the opinion that the United States should allow Russia and Iran the pleasure of protracted asymmetric warfare with terrorist reprisals and stop meddling in Iraq and Syria. Of course, it is a little late for that, but better late than never.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 6:13 utc | 137

Speaking of the grammar police, "greatful" = grateful in my post above.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 6:21 utc | 138

Re: Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 12, 2016 5:55:42 PM | 106

This is why Russia should move a dozen nukes into Syria and place them under the command of the local Russian commander to be used as a response to any invading country.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 13 2016 6:50 utc | 139

For Mr. Berman:

Some possible deterents to a Russian energy war against Turkey:

"The Turkish Straits, which includes the Bosporus waterway and the Dardanelles waterway, is one of the busiest maritime chokepoints in the world. Significant volumes of Russian and Caspian oil move by tanker via the Turkish Straits to Western markets. An estimated 2.9 million b/d of petroleum liquids flowed through the Turkish Straits in 2013. About 70% of this volume was crude oil, and the remainder was petroleum products"

Also:

"Russia's state-owned natural gas company, Gazprom, has a 71% stake in Bosphorus Gaz (which holds import contracts for 26 Bcf per year and 62 Bcf per year; about 5% of Turkish consumption), and Gazprom has filed an application with Turkey's antimonopoly regulator to buy a controlling interest in Akfel Gaz (contracts for 79 Bcf; about 4.5% of Turkish gas consumption)."

And:

"International and regional politics play a role in any pipeline that crosses borders, but politics is particularly critical in realizing pipelines proposed to transit Turkey. Russia-Ukraine relations and Russia-EU relations have both had a prominent role in Gazprom's planned Turkish stream pipeline."

Additionally:

" Turkey is Russia's second-largest export market for natural gas, after Germany."

So, an energy war might have serious consequences to Russia's energy dependent economy and on the bottom line of some of its biggest companies. This is more than ever true now, with energy prices so low,the Russian economy facing extended recession, and large budget deficits looming.

As for Iran:

"The port of Ceyhan has become an important outlet for both Caspian oil exports as well as oil shipments from northern Iraq. In addition to the two crude oil pipelines that terminate in Ceyhan, Turkey (BTC and Iraq-Turkey), crude and condensate are also trucked in from northern Iraq. In 2014, the port of Ceyhan handled more than 650,000 b/d of Caspian crude oil exports and more than 130,000 b/d of Iraqi crude oil exports, most of which were destined for Europe."

Turkey is an important pipeline hub in other respects also.

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.cfm?iso=TUR

Incidentally, according to this source fossil fuels account for 72 percent of Turkish electricity generation, and natural gas contributes half of these fossil fuels, while Russia provides 57 percent of Turkey's natural gas. So if my math is correct, Russian gas accounts for roughly 21 percent of Turkish electricity. This is "not to be sneezed at" but it is less than the 50 percent you suggested.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 7:14 utc | 140

Editing error above. The part about Caspian oil belonged to the earlier section. Iran has other market interests which make continued commerce with Turkey important (see link above).


Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 7:24 utc | 141

Posted by: Steve | Feb 11, 2016 2:22:30 PM | 1

US has always support tyrants like the sauds and fanatics like Alnusra and ISIS

Posted by: brian | Feb 13 2016 7:38 utc | 142

Emil Pulsifer @ 139 and elsewhere: As Assad mentioned, a Turkish invasion would be insane, but Erdogan may be insane. It's not interesting explaining why it would be insane, but ...

Erdogan would be initiating the possible death and likely balkanization of Turkey, and for nothing more than his megalomania, since an invasion/occupation would provide negative economic benefits to Turkey. Kurds would revolt and seriously attempt to unite, Armenians might take a bite, Syria would take 'back' what was 'stolen' years ago ... And no Arab would stand for new Ottoman rule. The extremely well-equipped and 'popular' resistance would be absolutely withering. Ask the Soviets how it felt trying to occupy Afghanistan's mountain valleys, or the Americans how it felt 'occupying' Vietnam's villages.

Turkey needs a common sense Ataturk. Turkey has a great role to play in the future, i.e., the emerging Eurasia. But a new Ottoman Empire will be destroyed before it gets off the ground.

Posted by: fairleft | Feb 13 2016 7:43 utc | 143


Emil,

Re your Feb 12, 2016 10:12:43 PM comment.

"That's a big can of whoop-ass to open for the sake of a port in Tartus and transit space for Hezbollah . . . "

It seems to me you gravely mistake Russia's stake in this struggle, and probably also Iran's. Folding under attack is no longer an option, if ever it was. Russia has clearly planted its flag both in Syria and in the Ukraine, and I'm pretty sure their view is that to walk away from either is to lose all.

In any case, as guest77 noted, your scenario seems highly improbable. Even assuming Turkey wanted to give it a shot, such a full on invasion isn't just a matter of turning the key. Massive preparations would have to be made, probably over a period of many months. Russia (and its allies) would hardly sit there and wait. In addition to diplomatic efforts, all entirely in accordance with international law, they would be making their own preparations should Turkey be foolish enough to proceed. Being next door confers a great advantage but I suspect Turkey would nevertheless be savagely ground up.

If Turkey is to try anything, I imagine it's likely to be on a more modest, and intelligent, scale. Like attacking ISIS from the north (bypassing Russia et al altogether) perhaps in combination with Saudi/US/NATO (?) efforts from below, all the while spinning the move as justified by UN 2249. Russia and its allies would then either need to openly attack them (with all the difficulties of getting across their message as to why this is necessary in an intensely partisan media and political environment), or risk losing the hope of a unified, nonsectarian Syria.

Posted by: Basho | Feb 13 2016 7:55 utc | 144

Basho @142: "If Turkey is to try anything, I imagine it's likely to be on a more modest, and intelligent, scale. Like attacking ISIS from the north (bypassing Russia et al altogether) perhaps in combination with Saudi/US/NATO (?) efforts from below, all the while spinning the move as justified by UN 2249. ..."

And semi-serious planning for such is something the US might at least humor Erdogan with, and as Bhadrakumar and others write, the 'ceasefire' allows time for such plan Bs. But it's very likely too late, and the border and victory over ISIS and Al Nusra will be too far consolidated by the time the US and friends are able to execute such a plan.

Posted by: fairleft | Feb 13 2016 8:08 utc | 145

The U.s has not lost strategic ground. They are pivoting to Asia, the only way to keep their economy strong and thus their future strategic advantage. What do they lose by leaving the m.e in mess? They, and Russia, can still sell arms to the regional powers they're currently balancing. Obama is one of the most ruthless of modern u.s presidents I've observed. His focus hasn't shifted from his strategic goal ie outta the deflated m.e drum and into Asian prosperity. Regardless of the victims.

This is his problem. U.s prestige is low since gw's invasion and the torture photos. If Obama cuts and runs on old friends and allies like ksa and Israel, prospective new friends and allies in Asia think 'will that be our fate too when we're no longer useful?' Obama risks pivoting into Asia with a trust deficit. He must ensure old friends in the m.e win the regional balancing he's now shaping.

Posted by: asiahand | Feb 13 2016 9:11 utc | 146

Mr. Berman,

"At the moment only a small proportion of gas imports are re-exported to the EU. However, if a lower price can be agreed with Iran and sanctions are removed permanently, Turkey would like to buy more from them and re-export more, via the proposed Iran-Turkey-Europe (ITE) pipeline."

So, Iran might be reluctant, for these and other commercial interests, to allow Russia to use its airbases for attacks on Turkish forces.

Flights from southern Russia could occur but might require in-air refuelling to allow fighters to make the round trip and stay over the combat theater(s) for any length of time.

But here more important considerations come into play.

If Turkey overruns airbases in Syria, the Russians lose the advanced air defense systems recently moved into Syria. This puts the Turkish airforce back into play. You may recall that they have already shot down one Russian fighter jet.

Turkey also has a variety of portable surface to air missiles, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles (fireable from Humvee Stinger racks), Rapier missiles, MIM-23 Hawk missiles, and ASELSAN PMADS.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_weapons_of_the_Turkish_Air_Force

In Turkey itself, a variety of NATO air defense systems (recently beefed up) as well as Patriot missile batteries (now restored, though Spain had already stepped in following the previous removal). Between all this and the Turkish airforce, Turkey's military installations are not perhaps the easy targets anticipated.

One can also imagine an attack on Turkey followed by the restoration of nuclear ballistic missiles pointed at Russia as a deterrent. (Two can play the nuclear intimidation game).

Moving back to Syria, I'm sure Turkey would love to seize those SA-400 air defense missiles as well as the technical personnel who operate the systems. No doubt the CIA and/or the DIA could give them some operational pointers. The opportunity to humiliate Vladimir Putin by shooting down his own air fleet with Russian air defense systems would be too great a temptation, I fear.

No doubt the Turks (and the United States) would also like to get their hands on the advanced Russian fighterjets recently brought into Syria, whether grounded for maintenance at the time the air bases are seized, or captured after the jets run out of fuel and are forced to land at Syrian bases now under Turkish control.

Of course, the Russians could eject and crash the jets, as well as sabotaging them on the ground, but that hardly makes for headlines Russia wants published in the world press. Shot down with their own air defense systems, or with Turkish surface to air missiles, or by the Turkish airforce after the Russian air defense systems in Syria are neutralized, or forced to demolish their own air fleet rather than face capture -- any of these possibilities would keep Mr. Putin's political opponents busy on the floor of the Duma for weeks if not months.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 10:28 utc | 147

Re 143: "As Assad mentioned, a Turkish invasion would be insane"

It might or might not be. Certainly hyperbole by Assad doesn't make it so.

The economic calculus is unclear, as I tried to establish in recent replies to Mr. Berman. Russia cannot risk an energy war with Turkey without shooting itself in the foot. Turkey can cut a sweet energy deal with the new Syrian government. With insurgents gone from Syria (followed by Iraq) both Syrian and Iraqi production will increase and prices decrease. Between this and the opening of the Iranian market with the lifting of sanctions, Russia might well be priced out of the Turkish import market, losing its largest natural gas buyer after Germany.

Far from being shunned, Turkey's Arab neighbors would be delighted to be rid of both Assad and the regional instability of a rabid insurgency and civil war. Syrians would breathe a sigh of relief also. The Kurds would be nervous, but they have been fighting the Turks for decades now anyway. The Israelis, United States, and most of Europe would be elated too, though bound to give a few stern speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. Iran would be outraged, but they would get over it.

With its Syrian air bases and air defense systems gone, the Russian airforce would no longer have the run of the skies in Syria, much less over Turkey.

And with control over commercial oil and gas shipping transiting through its straits and ports, Turkey has its own economic weapons to intimidate with.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 11:00 utc | 148

Russia should move a dozen nukes into Syria for the defense of their ally against any foreign invaders. Make it clear that the use of these nukes is in the hands of Russian commanders in Syria, not Moscow.

That will give Erdo and the Sauds something to really think about.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 13 2016 11:05 utc | 149


Emil,

Re your Feb 13, 2016 5:28:19 AM comment.

"Moving back to Syria, I'm sure Turkey would love to seize those SA-400 air defense missiles as well as the technical personnel who operate the systems."

I'm sure they would. I'm curious, however, how you suppose Turkish forces could sneak up on the Russians.

Posted by: Basho | Feb 13 2016 11:27 utc | 150

"at Emil Pulsifer @1o6

that's where the nukes come in

Posted by: peter | Feb 12, 2016 6:34:49 PM | 110"

No need for such measures, a few Buratinos with thermobaric ammo and handheld launchers of the TOW kind from ambushes will put a quick end to any conventional army effort. Especially such a low morale and badly trained army with little combat experience like the turkish one. That would be like whack-a-mole.

Emil above obviously plays too many online wargames, little to do with the real-world combat. A small and capable force can easily stop a much larger army if the conditions are favorable.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 11:40 utc | 151

"Turkey would love to seize those SA-400 air defense missiles"

Since the yanks recently made a mockery, in Aleppo a couple of days ago, of all this "invincible S400 air defence shield" shit we've heard so much about from the perennially clueless propagandists that populate this place, maybe the Turds and the rest of ZATO might not be a envious/wary of that "invincible S400 air defence shield" shit as the perennially clueless propagandists would like everyone to believe.

"how you suppose Turkish forces could sneak up on the Russians."

Probably in much the same way the yanks did a few days ago, by flying around in a great big massive very non-stealth A-10, right in front of the hilarious "invincible S400 air defence shield" we've all heard so much about.

If this "invincible S400 air defence shield" were anything like as good as it's cracked up to be then the yanks would not have been able to fly in with slow-moving Warthogs, right under their Russian noses.

It's either that or the Russkies actually colluded with the yanks when the yanks went and bombed that MSF hospital in Aleppo the other day.

The current highly-unusual complete silence of the usually verbose perennially clueless "invincible S400 air defence shield" propagandists is curious to say the least.

Posted by: GMD | Feb 13 2016 11:50 utc | 152

Emil above obviously plays too many online wargames, little to do with the real-world combat. A small and capable force can easily stop a much larger army if the conditions are favorable.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13, 2016 6:40:38 AM | 151

especially in the Syrian and Iraqi deserts - traditionally it's where large armies go to die.

Posted by: GMD | Feb 13 2016 11:55 utc | 153

"Emil":
"One might ask, if Syria is so important to Russia and Iran that they would launch a full-scale counterinvasion against the Turkish army, why they do not commit such troops against the considerably smaller and weaker rebel insurgency?"

That would be inane and would certainly deliever all the ammo that NATO needs to have a reason to intervene and make Russia look like the evil aggressor, yadda yadda. Makes no sense and is not even needed in terms of manpower etc.

"As for guerrilla action against the Turks, who would conduct this?"

Every woman, child, senior and their dog if needed. You have no idea how it is to defend one's own home against a hated aggressor.

"The rebels who want to see Assad deposed more than anything?"

Foreign mercenaries and a handful of radical locals? They will all die or surrender. It's irrelevant what they want.

"The Sunni Muslims who identify more with the Turks than with the Alawite led, Iranian backed Syrian government?"

The vast majority of Syrian Arab Army and Assad supporters are Sunni.

"Ordinary troops of the Syrian army, which is tired of civil war and wants only to see a constitutional government which won't arrest them or oppress their families?"

Troops, see above. Very high morale at the moment too, due to the ongoing string of victories and the terrorists fleeing in masses. The government IS very much constitutional, inform yourself properly.

Noone in his sane mind wants to be ruled by a bunch of backwards medieval liver-eaters. I don't understand how you can even try to push such beginner-level lines here, where the readers are obviously adults and well informed. Your handlers should at least let someone with better education and better talking skills do the job, your "skills" just won't do it.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 12:01 utc | 154

I don't understand how you can even try to push such beginner-level lines here, where the readers are obviously adults and well informed. Your handlers should at least let someone with better education and better talking skills do the job, your "skills" just won't do it.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13, 2016 7:01:17 AM | 154

"Emil" is a Zio-bot.

Posted by: Martin Huber | Feb 13 2016 12:15 utc | 155

@ GMD: as you know, US and Russian armies are communicating all their flights and have appropriate protocol. Why in hell would Russians want to shoot american planes down, as long as the latter are also pounding whatever flavor of terrorists? Both are working towards the same bsic goal in that regard, despite all the election-times rhetoric.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 12:19 utc | 156

"basic goal" that is ^^

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 12:20 utc | 157

@ Martin: it'ss obvious that he is a bot, but why such an utterly incapable one, in this forum? It's just ridiculous.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 12:22 utc | 158

@ GMD: as you know, US and Russian armies are communicating all their flights and have appropriate protocol. Why in hell would Russians want to shoot american planes down, as long as the latter are also pounding whatever flavor of terrorists? Both are working towards the same bsic goal in that regard, despite all the election-times rhetoric.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13, 2016 7:19:46 AM | 156

Can't speak for GMD, but you appear to be agreeing with GMD's earlier statement : "so the Russkies actually colluded with the yanks when the yanks went and bombed that MSF hospital in Aleppo the other day."

Curious "enemies" indeed.

Posted by: Martin Huber | Feb 13 2016 12:26 utc | 159

Incidentally, there is no reason why the Turks should occupy the northern Syrian strip held by the Kurds in the blitzkrieg scenario I outlined, and no reason to expect the Kurds to penetrate south beyond the strip whose demographics allows them to govern there.

Far from taking over the entire country, the point of the blitzkrieg is a deep penetration through a narrow gap to gain decisive objectives far in the enemy's rear and to paralyze the enemy's ability to respond in a timely fashion.

If the Turks had an ounce of brains they would let the Kurds duke it out with Islamic State along its southern border; and furthermore negotiate a lasting peace with the PKK by recognizing and helping to establish a Kurdish state in northern Syria (which the Turks don't have to give up one meter of territory for) in exchange for an ironclad agreement to permanently cease all hostilities on Turkish territory. Once the Kurds have a state and something substantial to lose, they would be damn fools to risk it for a sliver of Turkey.which they couldn't keep.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 12:48 utc | 160

some grand saudi hypocrisy

Iran is our neighbor," saudi FM said. "But neighbors have to live with each other based on the principle of good neighborliness, And the principle of non-interference in the affairs of others."
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/13/middleeast/saudi-arabia-assad-force/index.html
as with syria and YEMEN

saudi FM:
@AdelAljubeir Feb 3
2- Terrorism is contradictory to our faith, values and national character. Defeating it is a national priority

Posted by: brian | Feb 13 2016 12:50 utc | 161

@ Martin, no, the hospital talk is the usual BS with zero proof. Ridiculous to even mention it in a city that has been besieged by the radicals since years and is destroyed enough already.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13 2016 13:05 utc | 162

Re 150: "I'm curious, however, how you suppose Turkish forces could sneak up on the Russians."

The Russians don't have to be snuck up on. They're a small force in Syria at the moment and overrunning an airbase should be fairly simple for the Turkish army under the Blitzkrieg scenario I outlined. See 135 where Piotr Berman acknowledges that. Unlike some of the commenters here, his objections are based on the aftermath.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 13:05 utc | 163

@ Martin, no, the hospital talk is the usual BS with zero proof. Ridiculous to even mention it in a city that has been besieged by the radicals since years and is destroyed enough already.

Posted by: Anon coward | Feb 13, 2016 8:05:15 AM | 162

So the Russian military was lying when it confirmed the Yank AirStrikes in Aleppo?

Posted by: Martin Huber | Feb 13 2016 13:17 utc | 164

Re 153: "Emil above obviously plays too many online wargames, little to do with the real-world combat. A small and capable force can easily stop a much larger army if the conditions are favorable."

I don't play online wargames, though many years ago I played a few Avalon Hill bookshelf games.

It's entirely possible that I'm blowing smoke out of my ass, but you won't demonstrate it by resorting to vague and misapplied platitudes. I'm not talking about a small and capable force and I'm not talking about asymmetric warfare. I'm talking about a blitzkrieg action against conventional forces.

I have no personal stake in any of this. I find the military scenario fascinating and welcomed Piotr Berman's substantive objections as worthy of discussion. If I'm proved wrong then I've learned something interesting and improved my understanding. Ad hominem is the penultimate refuge of the incompetent.

Re 158: "it'ss obvious that he is a bot, but why such an utterly incapable one, in this forum? It's just ridiculous."

That and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. Have a nice day.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 13:17 utc | 165

oh I dunno - seems to me you've been fairly competently identified as a Zio-Bot, by pretty much everyone.

when it comes to incompetence you might wanna look in the mirror

Posted by: Martin Huber | Feb 13 2016 13:27 utc | 166


"See 135 where Piotr Berman acknowledges that."

He suggests Turkey has enough planes (I assume "places" is just a typo) to take out Hmeimim airbase. Perhaps, although I doubt it. In any case, he's not, I don't think, saying anything about Turkish army blitzkriegs.

As Anon coward said above, you seem to view military operations as a remarkably ethereal activity. Even blitzkriegs take time and preparation.

Posted by: Basho | Feb 13 2016 13:34 utc | 167

Re 154: "The vast majority of Syrian Arab Army and Assad supporters are Sunni... Very high morale at the moment too, due to the ongoing string of victories and the terrorists fleeing in masses. The government IS very much constitutional, inform yourself properly."

The first part of this statement is an important point. Obviously the ordinary Sunni doesn't want a radical Islamic government, and that's what they fear if an insurgency dominated by radical Islamicists wins. Aside from that, how many commanders of the Syrian intelligence apparatus and secret police are Sunnis? The ordinary Sunni line soldier in the Syrian army is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Naturally morale is up. Line morale had hit rock bottom and ordinary soldiers just want an end to the fighting, to the Islamist threat against themselves and their families, and to the Assad regime's war-paranoid oppression of anything that even smells of insubordination and treason. Return to relative normalcy is powerfully seductive under the circumstances of national suicide (or homicide).

The government's constitutionality is very much a paper construct. Everyone in Syria knows this. When the insurgency began it was very much a popular movement, even for those whose income from army duty and family safety depended upon denying that. Once the Islamists came to dominate the rebel movement and threatened not only the secular values of an educated and cosmopolitan urban populace but turned it into a Sunni versus Alawite fight to the death, the dichotomy of choosing between the lesser of two evils began to dominate the political calculus.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 14:07 utc | 168

Re 168: "... you seem to view military operations as a remarkably ethereal activity. Even blitzkriegs take time and preparation."

No I don't. See 107 where I wrote: "This would require a great deal of intelligence collection and planning in advance. Has the Turkish military constructed such contingency plans during the years it has been agitating for the removal of Assad? It should have, but I suspect not."

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 14:14 utc | 169

There are back-channel understandings in place between the US, Russia and Israel as far as I'm concerned. If the A10s had bombed SAA positions in Aleppo I doubt they would have ever made it back to base. There's been similar reports of Israeli jets taking out Hezbollah convoys headed for Lebanon. The Russians may have decided to hold their nose in those situations.

One reason I think this way is the disappearance of TOWs in Syria. Whether they were coming from KSA or Qatar it had to be with the blessing of the US. They were the bête noire of the SAA and suddenly we don't hear of them anymore. This is before the recent govt gains around Aleppo mangled the opposition supply lines.

I don't know if the S400s are as good as they're hyped. I know the US was fuming that Iran was getting S300s.

Posted by: peter | Feb 13 2016 16:06 utc | 170

Emil Pulsifer has the same writing style and method of argumentation as that Holden Caulfield guy who went off his meds.

Posted by: Me thinks | Feb 13 2016 17:34 utc | 171

>> Great example of conflicting agendas within the USG. Either Kerry is using double speak or

Hypothetically, it might be deliberate. If other game players can't even figure out what one player's policies are, it becomes even more difficult to plan for contingencies.

"Team Chaos", indeed.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 13 2016 17:58 utc | 172

Re 152: "If this "invincible S400 air defence shield" were anything like as good as it's cracked up to be then the yanks would not have been able to fly in with slow-moving Warthogs, right under their Russian noses."

The Russians have no reason to start shoot down an American plane. Wasn't the S-400 system was deployed on the border with Turkey after the Russian jet was shot down?

Aside from that, it might be a 9M96E model:

http://kommersant.ru/doc/2862671

According to this source, that model has a range of 21.6 nautical miles, which is about 25 land miles:

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-S-400-Triumf.html#mozTocId125551

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 13 2016 23:56 utc | 173

Re 166: "oh I dunno - seems to me you've been fairly competently identified as a Zio-Bot, by pretty much everyone."

I don't even know what this means. You and several others here seem to live in an infantile, paranoid, fantasy universe, where anyone who challenges your presumptions, no matter how tentatively, is deemed to be some sort of secret agent. So much for "adult, well-informed readers" -- though thankfully this adolescent subset does not appear to define the participants as a whole.


Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 14 2016 0:04 utc | 174

Re 151: "A small and capable force can easily stop a much larger army if the conditions are favorable."

I'd certainly be interested in a concrete tactical explanation of this in the context of my blitzkrieg scenario. You might convince me. But as a vague statement of general principle, you haven't shown that it applies, much less how it applies.


Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Feb 14 2016 0:09 utc | 175

EP - didn't read yer crap - just dropped by to ask "You DO realise that no one reads you crap, right?"

Posted by: Told Ya | Feb 14 2016 0:22 utc | 176

And all the while Mr and Mrs Ali and family are suffering from war.
As Putin told Obama 'Don't you realise what you have done'.

Posted by: Ckem | Feb 14 2016 19:26 utc | 177

I Think the situation is a lot more complex than anybody discussed here ....

Syria has a defence pack with Iran. Should the Saudi;s invade it will be seen as a declaration of war and Iran can enter the war in full force.

Iraq might see the main object of this strategy and start it's own assault on Mosul ...

Hesbolla is an unknown factor.

Russia has said it fights ALL terrorists, not only Isil. Even if Isil is defeated which it will not be, due to splintering, they can still continue and not negotiate because they can still bomb the other terrorists.

This article might be a strategy, but it is far from considering everything. Does one really believe the Russians and Assad have not though about it and made contingency plans? I can assure you, they WILL do something.

This is way to one sided ......

Posted by: dummy | Feb 14 2016 21:43 utc | 178

The analysis makes sense, unfortunately the neocon policy is not in the best interests of America or world peace and prosperity.

Posted by: Wayne Pacific | Feb 16 2016 19:27 utc | 179

I find much of this unlikely. There is no US political will in the public to go to war for the sake of Turkey or Saudi Arabia, who are almost universally reviled around the world as much as North Korea. Obama would have to come up with one hell of an excuse to justify risking WWIII with the Russians for just another scrap of desert in the hellhole that is the Middle East.

Let's remember that intent is entirely separate from capability. I'm sure this the fantasy of the globalist power elite, but it's simply not the reality. The Saudis are a joke and have little experience fighting a serious enemy. Turkey is a cowardly lion that is only now just realizing that no, it in fact does not have the world's largest nuclear stockpile, that belongs to the Russians, actually. The Kurds are too hateful of Turkey to ever go along with joining forces with them. And Obama is a lame duck who is eager to sail off into the sunset and lounge around at male only bath houses.

This scenario would be especially contentious in an election year, with populist candidates polling at record high numbers who either don't care about the Middle East or want to turn it into a glass floored, self-lighting parking lot for the next 10,000 years.

Posted by: Bastiat's Ghost | Feb 17 2016 4:01 utc | 180

Mar 11, 2015 Prof. Michel Chossudovsky: Terrorism is Made in the USA.

The Global War on Terrorism is a Big Lie! Dr. Chossudovsky said terrorism is made in the US and that terrorists are not the product of the Muslim world. Prominent academic and author Dr Michel Chossudovsky warned that the so-called war on terrorism is a front to propagate America’s global hegemony and create a New World Order.

https://youtu.be/1YExwxN4CT8

Posted by: Agent76 | Feb 17 2016 20:42 utc | 181

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