Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 21, 2017

Talking Tactics, Lacking Strategy - The Generals On Syria And Iraq

On Friday Secretary of Defense [General ret.] Mattis, General Dunford and Special Envoy McGurk on the Campaign to Defeat ISIS held a press briefing. A transcript is available.

My first thought after reading its was: "These people live in a different world. They have no idea how the real word works on the ground. What real people think, say,  and are likely to do." There was no strategic thought visible. Presented were only some misguided tactical ideas.

One purpose of the briefing was obviously to souse the Saudis in preparation of Trumps weapons sales campaign there. There was no mention at all of any (Saudi financed) Jihadis in Syria or elsewhere besides ISIS. Questions about Kurdish or Iraqi paramilitary groups were answered with trash talk about Iran.

Besides that some notable points were made.

Dunford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remarked at one point that the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by the decision of Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn to temporarily halt the Obama order to launch that operation. He thereby rejected the accusations in a McClatchy news piece that Flynn's decision significantly delayed the campaign and that he was motivated by Turkish payments to him. A MoA piece had listed that McClatchy report as fake news. Turkish consulting payments to Flynn had ended three month earlier,  the decision was reasonable and the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by it. Dunford confirmed that.

The recent unprovoked and illegal U.S. air attack on a Syrian Army contingent moving towards the al-Tanf border station with Iraq was probably a local decision taken by an over-eager U.S. commander on the ground. Dunford said:

Our commanders on the ground felt like they were threatened at that point. And their rules of engagement allow them to do that.

We've gone back and -- and -- and had a conversation at every level now to ensure that those kinds of incidents don't take place again. Last night, I -- I made a commitment that they wouldn't happen again if our forces weren't threatened. And everybody understands what the rules are. So, that's what's going to prevent it in the future.

As I understand this Dunford means: "Our people on the ground screwed up and were emphatically told not to do such again."

There was no eagerness shown by any of the speakers to get into a fight with Russia. They emphasized coordination with Russia but their understanding of that seems very one-sided. Russia has not confirmed any coordination or de-conflicting in south Syria.  Neither Russia nor the Syrian government and its allies want the U.S. to operated in south-east Syria and they will do their best to prevent further moves. There will therefore be no "coordination" for any movement of U.S. proxies in the area.

Ehsani, a reasonably neutral Syrian observer, remarked on the press briefing of that incident:

Number of reporters naturally asked about recent coalition strikes on "Iranian assets" near al Tanaf. The responses were noteworthy
Mattis followed that up by saying strike was self-defense against what looked like offensive forces that seemed to be Iranian-directed.
Mattis further explained that he believed (could not confirm) that Russians had asked those forces to stop the advance but failed to do so
Dunford then described how US & Russian forces decided to increase level of communication even further to avoid such incidents in future
The need, desire and enthusiasm for "De-conflicting" with the #Russians was heard repeatedly during the press conference
Generals admitted that #Syrian theater is fraught with dangers and risk of accidents and increased communication with #Russia will help

As predicted in piece on the incident the Syrian Army continues to move towards al-Tanf despite the U.S. bombing attack. It is now also pushing on a second axis in Suweida along the Syrian-Jordan border. The attacked main movement from the north-west received reinforcements and continues, it is claimed, under air cover. Al-Tanf is a Syrian border station on Syrian grounds and the Syrian government has all rights to take control of it. Norwegian government media reported that Norwegian troops were now occupying al-Tanf. Who cares? Al-Tanf is not a place where a presence of Norwegian or any other U.S. proxy troops has any legitimacy. The Syrian government had stated that it will take control of that station. That's it. There is no need for "de-conflicting" in the area because the U.S. and its proxies have no legitimate reason to be there. "De-confliction" in the area is very simple. Just stay away.

Ehsani spent had some additional thoughts on the press briefing:

Reporters also asked about role of #Turkey and how unhappy Ankara is with US cooperation with #SDF . Responses were both clear & awkward
All 3 repeated how #Turkey is an important ally which they visited so many times recently BUT that on this issue our views differ
Let us not forget that #Turkey reportedly asked for firing of @brett_mcgurk and here he was explaining how they are important ally BUT...

As to what happens after #ISIS is defeated, @brett_mcgurk stressed that US will not be into "nation building" but in "stabilization" mode
@brett_mcgurk then made sure to mention that US will NOT work with #Assad regime during stabilization effort. He then said following:
@brett_mcgurk proclaimed that "people of #Raqqa are unanimous that they don't Syrian regime to come back". This was remarkable statement
@brett_mcgurk is an extremely effective, smart & able individual. His statement on #Raqqa post #ISIS has many implicit implications
@brett_mcgurk comment can easily be construed as supporting partition of #Syrian post #ISIS. This is only meaning of #Raqqa sans SY State

Interestingly, not a single reporter asked about strategy and fate of none #ISIS jihadists belonging to other groups
Press conference failed to mention the words #Nusra #Alqaeda #Turkustani #Ughurs #Muhaysni even once.

I have just received reports that Muhaysni held an important meeting in Maara't al Nuaman #idlib yesterday to help implement new strategy
#Syrian jihadists have just been advised to shave their beard & join #FSA groups if need be in order to re-organize, re-arm, re-position
New jihadist strategy is to look none-jihadist. Muhaysni & others are drawing parallels to how 09/11 perpetrators did so & succeeded
Recent report by @jenanmoussa on life in #Idlib was contrary to new momentum behind changing jihadi appearance, hence strong reaction

Given @brett_mcgurk remarks on #Raqqa & reports of de-Jihading the appearance of #Idlib, ATTEMPT TO PARTITION #SYRIA NOW IS MORE REAL

But that attempt seem to be divorced from reality.

I sincerely doubt that any operation to conquer Raqqa city will happen anytime soon. The only troops available for that are Syrian Kurds of the YPG. But the Kurds demanded public political guarantees from the U.S. for their future autonomy in exchange for efforts (and many casualties in their rows) in the city of Raqqa. The U.S. can not give such a commitment as its NATO partner Turkey is adamantly against that. In the press briefing the generals declared that isolating ISIS and blocking its fighters from moving out is now the most important issue for them. I understand that as hint that there is a plan for a siege of the city of Raqqa but no for moving into it.

There is another, (the third?), attempt to whitewash al-Qaeda in Idleb. The State Department has refrained from putting the again renamed al-Qaeda organization there onto its foreign terrorist entities list. Supporting it under the new name is thereby arguably still legal. The Arabic version of the Qatari al-Jazeera channel is now defending and promoting al-Qada in Syria leader Jolani who practically rules over Idleb

But the recent TV report by Jenan Mussa (vid) proves without doubt that Idleb is controlled by al-Qaeda in Syria and that it is pushing to implement its brutal version of Islamic law. There were some feeble attempts to debunk it and to sell al-Qaeda under its new name Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as a reasonably moderate local Syrian force. The Saudi/Qatar paid Jihadist promoter Charles Lister fronts the meager efforts.

But such efforts have failed before. Al-Qaeda can not be reformed. The Saudi financed al-Qaeda in Idleb is competing with the now Turkish controlled Ahrar al-Sham Jihadis. Today Ahrar al Sham's headquarter in Idleb was blown up by two suicide bombers. Up to 40 people were killed including some high commanders. A first Ahrar statement blamed ISIS for the attack but within the local context an al-Qaeda attack seems much more likely. It is quite doubtful that such an incident will result in further support for the attempted al-Qaeda whitewash. Especially Turkey will note that its proxy force was the one that was hit. It controls the borders of Idleb through which supplies must come in. It has no interest in pampering al-Qaeda.

The statements of the generals and diplomats in the Defense Department press briefing seemed divorced from the realities on the ground. The Russian positions on the U.S. attempts in the south-east and "de-conflicting" were misrepresented, No reality based plan or timetable for the Raqqa campaign was evident. The festering situation in Idleb was not mentioned at all.

There was no strategic plan visible behind the delusional talks about tactical items. Ehsani feels that the strategic U.S. plan is to partition Syria. But where are the real preparations for that? What does "stabilization" in Raqqa mean? Who will pay the teachers there from which source of income under who's long term control? No "nation-building" means no money for such efforts. Brett McGurk still dreams of replacing the Syrian president Assad with some pliable leader who can control the country. The "hope" for that is six years old and long gone. What is his plan to achieve that? What is he drinking?

Trump has given the generals the authority to solve the issues in Syria and Iraq. Neither the generals nor McGurk gave the impression of having the necessary  capabilities to achieve such.

Posted by b on May 21, 2017 at 17:41 UTC | Permalink


"I sincerely doubt that any operation to conquer Raqqa city will happen anytime soon. The only troops available for that are Syrian Kurds of the YPG. But the Kurds demanded public political guarantees from the U.S. for their future autonomy" I did read somewhere today a US official say that the alliance with the Kurds was only temporary, and that their proposed assault on Raqqa was what the Kurds wanted to do, [sorry can't find the article]. This statement is definately a case of, thanks for your help, sorry we now have to throw you under the bus.

Posted by: harrylaw | May 21 2017 18:52 utc | 1

Not the more detailed article I saw earlier today or as definative but the Turkish PM said this after meeting 'Mad Dog' Mattis He claimed that James Mattis, the US Secretary of State, had assured the Turkish government this week that its support for the Kurds in northern Syria was "only temporary" and that they were still considered a "terrorist organisation". Question is, why would the Kurds 'Liberate' a majority Arab town, with huge losses of men and materiel, and then hand it over to others? Makes no sense.

Posted by: harrylaw | May 21 2017 19:40 utc | 2

thanks b...

usa policy in syria is delusional... anything one reads, they have to take with a heap of salt.. these folks are either lying, or working with less then a full deck..

quote from mattis in the dod statement "You're all aware of the human costs ISIS has exacted, killed, wounded, refugees, merciless control over those regions they hold, the cost to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon as Syrians and Iraqis have been displaced." no mention of the cost to syria and iraq that his gov't continues to inflict... keep on supporting your israel/saudi nutjobs, while stating otherwise... after all, that's your job!

speaking of nutjobs, erdogan must be happy isis lite blew up the ahrar al sham headquarters today... 'moderate headchoppers' on the turkish, payroll being taken out by 'moderate headchoppers' on the saud/qatar payroll... all of them trying to fake going after isis... ain't nobody fooled around here..

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as the new improved 'moderate headchopper' branch/outlet.. good to know. hey, qatar supports him, so the usa/uk must support him too.. send him more ammo to get rid of the innocent syrians.. makes a lot of sense when you want to install a wahabbi whack job ideology in syria, helped along by usa/uk, even if they do have a 10 mil ransom on abu mohammad al-Julani... the money either gets spent on ransoms, or more ammo to blow up innocent syrians - whichever comes first..

ot - karlof1 - what's the update on syrian perspective? thanks...

Posted by: james | May 21 2017 19:47 utc | 3

propaganda at it's finest... from mcgurk in the dod statement.. "ISIS has lost 55,000 square kilometers of territory to coalition backed forces."

Posted by: james | May 21 2017 19:54 utc | 4

@ Harrylaw #1

Posted by: Yul | May 21 2017 20:35 utc | 5

picture of the day

The State Department has refrained from putting the again renamed al-Qaeda organization there onto its foreign terrorist entities list.

Trump has given the generals the authority to solve the issues in Syria and Iraq. Neither the generals nor McGurk gave the impression of having the necessary capabilities to achieve such.

not only has the state department 'refrained' from putting al-CIA-duh on its foreign terrorist list, but the beleagured tee-rump has kissed the bejeweled saudi rump and ring ... bent and been decorated as jihadist of the day himself in saudi arabia.

talks of fighting 'extremism' ... with the saudis and al-CIA-Duh. what can his supporters be thinking? he's acting just as i feared he would. his only chance ... if there had been anyone inside his empty suit to take a chance ... was a peremptory strike against the spooks ... but he went to langley and surrendered instead. now they're treating him as they treated gaddafi and assad.

meanwhile its the rump and his new best friends, the saudis and their love-child, al-CIA-duh, against the lebanese, syrians, iraqis, iranians ... and turkey. and russia.

i guess the norwegians in al Tanf have nominated the rump for a Nobel Peace Prize?

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 20:48 utc | 6

james@3 is not responding, and the format of the homepage is not normal... last post was 5/14.

But Ziad's related twitter account is up and current... don't see any mention of problems with the mothership.

Posted by: anon | May 21 2017 20:52 utc | 7

Thank you b,

Russia has reportedly already deployed its specops units (consultants and trainers in imperial vocabulary) to Al-Sweida region, embedding them with the SAA troops headed to Al-Tanf. Hence, reading the 3 rabid animals' press conference statement regarding "de-confliction" with Russia in Southern Syria sounds more like an entreatment to me.

Let's hope Norway grows a pair and recalls all its units from the conflict line. If the Empire wants that border crossing so badly, then they can place the ZATO generals' children to defend it!

Posted by: LXV | May 21 2017 20:54 utc | 8

>>>> james | May 21, 2017 3:47:28 PM | 3

usa policy in syria is delusional

James, you are not even close - just about the whole fucking country is delusional!
The Clintonists: that Comey and the Russians cost her the election - when it is all too obvious that it was her record as a politician. her policies, her campaign and greed that were responsible.
The Sanderists: because unless the Clintonists are put up against the proverbial wall there isn't a chance in hell that the Democrats will improve their position in the next elections.
The Trumpists: that Trump will deliver any real decent jobs or will adhere to a non-interventionist foreign policy although as he is a grifter he might do what he said he would.
The regular Republicans: well, because they're Republicans.

Posted by: Ghostship | May 21 2017 21:10 utc | 9

Posted by: jfl | May 21, 2017 4:48:00 PM | 6

picture of the day

The uncropped one is a bit more revealing.
Head and shoulders,
knees and toes,
knees and toes,
knees and toes....

Posted by: hopehely | May 21 2017 21:18 utc | 10

a full transcript of the rump's declaration of jihad against iran from al-CIA-duh central is available from information clearing house. unbelievable. with the chameleon rump, the changes in 'protective' coloration just keep flashing. it seems to me that every possible projected member of his audience has been sickened by this performance.

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 21:20 utc | 11

Yul@5 Thank's for that.. Jonathan Cohen, a US State Department official, didn't mince words about the nature of the United States' partnership with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) when he declared that it is: “temporary, transactional and tactical.”

“We have not promised the YPG anything,” Cohen said at a May 17 Middle East Institute panel. “They are in this fight because they want to be in this fight.”

“We have the YPG because they were the only force on the ground ready to act in the short term. That is where it stops,” he stated, quite unequivocally.
Now get that bus ready.

Posted by: harrylaw | May 21 2017 21:22 utc | 12

@10 hh

thanks, i 'uncropped' the one i'd found to the extent i could... but yours is much better. the rump's isolation and subservience more starkly revealed.

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 21:26 utc | 13

@13, 'the rump's isolation and subservience more starkly revealed'

but telaviv's next. i'm sure we ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 21:32 utc | 14

#7 if you have twitter ask him I don't and won't.

He did say in the past he was going to change site back to google from the .com do to cost and attacks on the site. I use to have email address him but lost when at&t closed my old dial up account.

Posted by: jo6pac | May 21 2017 21:36 utc | 15

@11, 'it seems to me that every possible projected member of his audience has been sickened by this performance'

Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Investment

The 31-year-old aide who composed Trump’s speech is Stephen Miller, an ultra-conservative operative who entered the administration under the watch of Steven Bannon, the former Breitbart News editor-in-chief. A key author of Trump’s legally nullified Muslim ban, Miller was at the vanguard of a generation of right-wing activists that cohered around the post-9/11 politics of Islamophobia. Orchestrated with the full cooperation of the Saudi royal family, the spectacle of Trump’s speech will represent Miller’s crowning moment, helping him paper over his anti-Muslim past and consolidating his role as one of the president’s most trusted spin artists.

Max Blumenthal has the inside track on Stephen Miller, but reading the speech untutored it seemed to me that he stepped not only on his own dick, but on the dicks of all those 'tuning in at home' as well as of everyone in the room. the wunderkind seems too clever by half to me.

all this talk about the rump is an attempt to find the strategy b's found missing in the general's conversation. i guess it's there, all right, but it looks like slamdunk ... in the toilet bowl of history ... a loser to me. lining the usofa up behind the wahabists and zionists ... what could go wrong?

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 21:49 utc | 16

That picture is deserving of a caption contest. My entry:

Latest inductee into the Asshole Hall of Fame.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 21 2017 21:54 utc | 17

Here's the strategy b: flood the ME with weapons and see what happens.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 21 2017 21:56 utc | 18

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 21, 2017 5:54:44 PM | 17
Here is mine:
- Good job Donny, good job.
- Thank You, My Lord.
- Good boy.

Posted by: hopehely | May 21 2017 22:04 utc | 19

214 He's getting into Old Testament mode. I'm expecting something worthy of Charlton Heston.

Posted by: dh | May 21 2017 22:09 utc | 20

Jackrabbit @ 18
/flood the ME with weapons and see what happens./
The new arms are specifically to fuel a Saudi/Iran proxy war the way the US Government fueled the Iran/Iraq war.

Posted by: ALAN | May 21 2017 22:22 utc | 21

Nice Iranian answer to Trump's stupid lies and provocation.they nicely underlined his total ignorance of diplomacy since it is usually not considered appropriate to criticize a country while in official visit somewhere. The richest man turned into a beggar and a lackey of the Saudis bowing for 370 billion dollars worth contracts...

Where is "Iranian terrorism" in Libya and Boko Haram?

Posted by: Mina | May 21 2017 22:28 utc | 22

@21 Don't forget the jobs in US arms factories.

Posted by: dh | May 21 2017 22:45 utc | 23

McGurk at the Pentagon Press Briefing Room

During my recent trip, I again witnessed how our diplomats are fully integrated with our military colleagues around the whole of government effort to fulfill President Trump's charge to destroy ISIS and ensure it can never return. ...

When Secretary Tillerson hosted all 68 members of our coalition in March, it was significant that he was joined throughout parts of the day by Secretary Mattis, by Secretary Mnuchin, Director Pompeo, Director Coats, and other representatives from across our interagency. This demonstrated to the coalition and to the world our united whole of government approach as directed by the president.

Such cooperation is enabling an anaconda-like approach to suffocate ISIS of its territory, finances, propaganda and ability to move foreign fighters. ...

... the state department has been integrated into the wehrmacht : state, war, treasury, CIA, director of national intelligence ... one big anaconda to crush the life and breath out of those who have yet to 'see the light' ... the 'extremists', i guess, in the new salafist doctrine of the shining city on the hill in ac/dc ...

This cooperation has enabled closer political coordination between local, regional, and national governments to help return people to their homes after the battles are won through an innovative post-conflict approach based on empowering people at the local level to restore life to their communities. And we call this stabilization ...

Stabilization is not nation-building. ... nor is it long-term reconstruction [with] projects ... costing and often wasting billions of dollars. Instead, stabilization is a low-cost, sustainable, citizen-driven effort to identify the key projects that are essential to returning people to their homes such as water pumps, electricity nodes, grain silos, and local security structures, local police.

This is not glamorous work, but it's working. In Iraq, 1.7 million Iraqis are now back in their homes; no longer displaced, no longer refugees or migrants seeking to flee. ...

... death, devastation, destruction, and deceit ... and leave it that way. let the locals cobble together what they can to keep themselves alive ... and able to extract the regions' resources for the city on the hill.

that's the 'vision' - the 'united whole of government approach' of the usofa and its vassals in its coalition to the new american century ... at 16 or 17 years of age, now long in tooth, by the 12 year rule of the last thousand year reich.

i think those iraqis and syrians, moving back into their homes after the usofa's firestorm has been extinguished are going to join hands and, together with the lebanese and iranians, drive the empire and it minions out of their northern half of the middle east for once and for all. and that then the ordinary arabs who've suffered under the rule of the kings and emirs and sultans, infuriated by the alliance of their rulers with the oppressors of the whole region, will do the same in the region's south.

Posted by: jfl | May 21 2017 22:56 utc | 24

As sociopathic as flooding the ME with $200 billion worth of high tech armaments is, I cannot help but think that this crazy stunt will spell the end of the al-Sauds.
They may have enough family members to man every red button on their new toys and succeed in blowing all their immediate neighbours to hell, but they don't have anything like enough trained and committed human beings to occupy the territories they will believe they have conquered. As we all know half a dozen khat fuelled Yemenis fighting with 'borrowed' munitions can run through a saudi armoured unit and still have enough left over for a good old death to israel singalong.
I cannot see even those sunni citizens from other tribes feeling sufficiently 'proud' to join the army and help since in all likelihood the 'deal' will contain conditions that the market for crude continue to be flooded, prices kept low and Saudi austerity on target.
This is a more like a recipe for a revolution than a strategy to dominate the region.
Hopefully the zionists will also be flushed down the gurgler in the backwash.

Posted by: Debsisdead | May 21 2017 22:58 utc | 25

Iran—fresh from real elections—attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?

Posted by: From The Hague | May 21 2017 23:03 utc | 26

My first thought after reading its was: "These people live in a different world. They have no idea how the real word works on the ground. What real people think, say, and are likely to do." There was no strategic thought visible. Presented were only some misguided tactical ideas.

Yep. You hit that nail squarely on the head, b.
Clusterfucks R Us has completely lost the plot. The Yankees want everyone to start singing Happy Days Are Here Again, but 'everyone' wants an answer to the questions
"What TF do you retards think you're doing?"
"Who TF do you think you're kidding?"

Putin decided to let them know that he doesn't give a rat's ass what they're pretending to believe, last week, when he made an unsolicited offer to provide the Trump 'investigators' with a transcript of Trump's WH conversation with Lavrov. i.e. Vlad knew they'd ignore the offer because Yankees prefer to believe their own bullshit.
Helluva way to win a war though.
And I couldn't help noticing that Vlad actually chuckled when he was making the offer...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 22 2017 0:29 utc | 27

@5 yul, i wonder if the kurds get the message as given by the usa rep for israel - jonathan r. cohen? his bio off us gov't website...

@7 anon.. thanks on the question of syrian perspective!

@9 ghostship... well, i like to think there are a lot of bright americans who are not falling for this constant bs on why the usa has done all the horrific wars on others the past 60 or so odd years.. people like pat lang and ttg over at sst don't seem very happy with their own countries hypocricy and lies.. i like to think many other americans are smarter then the msm would like to have us believe. but the political class are truly a despicable bunch, acting like rats, or leeches while sucking on israel/saudi money... they definitely don't represent the people... seems like the usa will implode at some point if they keep on going in the direction they are going.. the clinton dynasty has been a nightmare for the usa.. trump and obama might not be very much better by the look of it.. trump is kinda scary at this point, in how everything he stated beforehand has been washed down the toilet.. he commands about 0% respect from anyone at this point.. there is no one in the political system in the usa that speaks with a voice of authority based on integrity.. nada, zilch.. all of them have been bought and paid for... seems like the usa is over as an experiment is concerned.. ordinary people haven't recognized it yet though... the corporations are running it.

@16 jfl.. the fact the usa is still doing these kinds of deals with the saudis tells you how much they care about what the saudis are doing to yemen, or syria... when one considers all the weaponry that has gone from saudi arabia into isis or al qaedas hands, then one has to conclude the usa is directly responsible for all the terrorism they claim to be against... now the cynic in me looks at all this as a sick persons rationale for keeping the planet in a perpetual state of war... this seems to be the agenda of the financial and military industries.. when i see politicians like trump agreeing to it, it is hard to swallow.. especially with his bs about making america strong again or whatever stupid empty slogan has said in the past.. the guy is now worse then obama by far.. it didn't take long.. although i still feel hillary would have been worse by now..

@18 jackrabbit, @21 alan and @23 dh... of course that makes a huge amount of sense too... i guess israel told the usa to send all the weapons to saudi so the 2 of these sicko countries can continue to unabated.. they couldn't do it without sicko country number 3 - the usa..

@25 debs.. my wish as well.. i hope it happens...

i got a kick out of trump women folk praising how the saudis are much more liberated towards their women then they let on... that won the laugh of the day when i saw a mention of that... great - jackasses - go live their... what ignoramus''s.. is this a trump family genetic flaw??

Posted by: james | May 22 2017 5:11 utc | 28

james @28

It's all a sad sad media melodrama. You may get a similar barrage of crap entertainment in the northern territories, but here it's beyond a religion. We are three or so generations into the systematic dismantling of the educational system coupled with a salacious-minded culture of gossip and under-the-table deals. The citizenry is all pretty much irrelevant to policy now, as their understanding is by and large an inch deep and a mile wide. The bright souls are few and far between, and stay down. Heroin and recreational drug use is rampant. Schools are crumbling. News is not news. People are getting sick and dying younger, and the maternal mortality rate is on par with a third-world republic. Nobody really knows what is going on. Iraq and Afghanistan vets are suiciding on a daily basis.

Now follow the lights over the skies of Riyadh.

Knowing how the ME is so trade-oriented, since the days of the caravanserai, the Saudi contract may easily be an economic strategy for the KSA to diversify into arms trade, so not free guns for terrorists but a new shopping mall for US hardware. Plenty of action in Africa and the Caucasus, and operates beyond US arms trade control. Business as usual, but with a large new distributor/underwriter.

Whatever Clinton promised the Saudi princes in exchange for their generosity for the Clinton "charities", it was probably expanded with fewer strings attached by Trump, which really matters if you want to pursue influence by foreign governments on US policy and trade. The horror is that it probably sets up the endgame whereby Yemen, Syria and Iran are destroyed. Unless the R+6 get real, which they are.

There is talk of a Russian air-assault brigade coming into the Syrian theatre to fight in the #OpLavender campaign, as well as hired guns from the Caucasus firming up in the Syrian ranks around Hama, the Turan. Iraqs PMUs look to control the Deir Ezzor-Mosul axis. Syria has friends and they all showed up for the fight.

Trump cannot hope to juggle the moving parts on both sides here, and my guess that the Zionaudis revenge in case of betrayal will be pitted against the R+6 commitments to keep Syria intact. Trump made the deal with KSA, but also wants to party with Lavrov and Putin. Who's he gonna piss off first? Probably Russia, as his trip to Israel will complete the brainwash.

As tortured as the Trump team is in the homeland, I would suspect a lowered tolerance for kids coming home wearing a flag under Trump, as clueless as the warmakers appear to be, as you and others have said. The cassus belli is a tough sell after Iraq and Afghanistan. No twin towers have recently collapsed. Terror in the skies is mostly authored by Delta and United.

Posted by: stumpy | May 22 2017 6:53 utc | 29

Posted by: james | May 22, 2017 1:11:28 AM | 28

There might be some truth in what they are saying

It is a family thing. When Muslim women represent upper class families they are equal (something the Trump family can relate to). Benazir Bhutto could do it in Pakistan.

Womens' rights in Saudi are of course abysmal. But should the Saudi economy need them they will be emancipated.

Women's rights in Iran are not good either, by the way.

Generally speaking, you can do a lot of things as a women in a Muslim country if your family supports you. If not, you have a big problem.

Posted by: somebody | May 22 2017 7:38 utc | 30

So Trump blast Iran while arming the ISIS-supporting sunni states, and hail women progress in the region - you cant make this up. This is yet another proof that Trump is unfortunately, really stupid and a neocon warmonger.
He now just have to drop Russia and there is no discussion needed anymore to judge him.

Posted by: Anon | May 22 2017 8:25 utc | 31

Not on Syria.

Clinton Foundation closed shop recently I believe and now we will have

Saudis, UAE pledge $100 million to Ivanka Trump-proposed fund

MAGA! (Man, America is Great, Ain't it)

China and Russia had better pony up the cash on way or another.

"Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments,is the height of inhumanity"

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | May 22 2017 8:39 utc | 32

There are ways this is going to be pay for play.
As long as Ivanka don't get too greedy, no one will be able to prove anything.

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | May 22 2017 8:45 utc | 33

There is no attack on Raqqa, because there are insufficient forces available to do it, surely? The YPG are not going to do it, much as the Peshmerga haven't entered Mosul. Nice Kurdish boys and girls are not going to die fighting their way through Raqqa and Mosul, just to hand them back to the local Arabs. It's not really about what the US might or not not be offering - genuine independence can't be offered by the US, and Turkish recalcitrance is just one of the factors.

There is of course a Sunni Arab tribal element in the SDF, but it's not very numerous (I forget the number). And they're likely to go back to supporting Asad, once this is all over. Curious that, isn't it, Sunni Arabs supporting Asad, though not actually rare. I remember a video with interviews with some of them. They were quite clear about their views.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 22 2017 9:42 utc | 34

"Trump & 55 Muslim-majority states sign pact pledging 34,000 troops to fight ISIS in Iraq & Syria" -- RT -- 5/22/17

Posted by: blues | May 22 2017 11:18 utc | 35

@3, blues

more likely 34,000 isis replacements to fight assad, hezbollah, iraqis, and iranians.

it's all on paper. believe it when they show up.

Posted by: jfl | May 22 2017 12:25 utc | 36

@harrylaw | 1
The Syrian Kurdish situation is made all the more complex when you consider how it will influence the Turkish Kurdish situation - currently being managed domestically by a very heavy handed and cruel police/ military regime in the South of Turkey! - and I believe that the two are becoming more and more intertwined as the DAESH question becomes less and less prominent.
Anyway, here's an article I saw this morning which looks at the issue from an Erdogan angle - interesting read.

Posted by: AtaBrit | May 22 2017 13:19 utc | 37

>>>> james | May 22, 2017 1:11:28 AM | 28

well, i like to think there are a lot of bright americans who are not falling for this constant bs on why the usa has done all the horrific wars on others the past 60 or so odd years

I always used to think that was the case but when a previously reputable website like LGM can post an article on "ethical storytelling" which starts off by mentioning a blatant State Department propaganda bomb (the crematorium at Sednaya), I know it's no longer the case.
people like pat lang and ttg over at sst don't seem very happy with their own countries hypocricy and lies..

A few thousand at most.
i like to think many other americans are smarter then the msm would like to have us believe.

It's probably the ones who didn't vote in the last election who are the smart ones. The ones who never vote because they believe it's pointless and those who couldn't stand the smell ("One must remember that in choosing the lesser of two evils, one still chooses evil." - Hannah Arendt)

but the political class are truly a despicable bunch

At the moment, the most despicable are the liberal interventionists (aka Clintonists) as they believe in American exceptionalism to a religious degree that no-one else does. They regard themselves as Clinton's True Believers. The neo-cons on the otherhand are very much fewer in numbers, are mostly concentrated in Washington think tanks and worse, are total losers, and there is nothing Americans hate more than a loser.

Posted by: Ghostship | May 22 2017 13:32 utc | 38

>> Ghostship | May 22, 2017 9:32:15 AM | 38

"LGM", which you mention above, turns out after careful Googling to be "Lawyers, Guns & Money": . .

The mysterious acronyms are getting out of control.

Posted by: blues | May 22 2017 13:56 utc | 39

I dunno how much people have had to do with the central government troops aka federals in ME & east asian societies but they operate in an exceedingly complex system with their first loyalty generally to the administrator/ governor appointed by central government and in competition with the local state based armies & militias. Grabbing 34,000 could take years maybe never.
The nepotist tyrannies, military dictatorships & corrupt city states who signed up to trumpets 'pay yer own way' plan would struggle to scrape together 3400 kids clutching ancient carbines let alone 34,000 trained & fully equipped soldiers.
Most of these states are run on a feudal warlord basis and anyone who is any good is needed back home to oppress their fellow country people and collect 'taxes'.
Even if the heads of state went along with plan which they won't since most will have come up the ladder from state/provincial governors themselves, there is simply no way that the local fiefs will.
They are being asked to send good earners overseas and in doing so leaving themselves vulnerable, forgoing a big chunk of their revenue stream while the men themselves know that their own earners they sweated & developed as the central government local 'go to' will likely get taken over while they are away chasing Iranians. Sure they might cop an earn in Syria but that won't be easy and their bosses back home will still expect a big chunk as will their new bosses. In many parts of the world a soldier's official pay wouldn't keep him in tobacco much less food, accommodation for his family. These realities never occur to amerikan military planners who lack basic insight into the day to day travails of amerikan troops.
Their original employers will believe they are burning them no matter what so it will take years if ever to re establish a trusting relationship.

Posted by: Debsisdead | May 22 2017 13:57 utc | 40

@40 It's all tribal in Saudi. I don't know where they expect to find 34,000 recruits to fight ISIS. Empty the jails maybe? jfl has it right @36. Whatever army they send to Syria won't last 5 minutes without major US air support.

Posted by: dh | May 22 2017 14:28 utc | 41

OT, but has anybody seen the reports on the CIA spies in China - why is the CIA bringing this up now? There's been no response from the Chinese government I've seen but a government newspaper has congratulated the government for capturing the spies if indeed they have and pointing out that no spy was executed outside his place of work as reported in the NY Times.
So have the CIA "lost" a substantial number of spies in China and they're trying to get the Chinese government to confirm they were arrested for spying. If so, they've probably just signed their spies' death warrants. After all the Clintonist whining about how Trump talking to Lavrov blew the cover not! of an Israeli or Jordanian spy within ISIS, that the CIA should be so reckless beggars belief. Who'd want to be a CIA agent after this?

Posted by: Ghostship | May 22 2017 15:03 utc | 42

Well, they certainly aren't going to find 34,000 troops. If they couldn't do it before, they can't now.

In any case, the only source is the poor countries, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Pakistan, and several others. The trouble here is that they're Sunnis supposed to be fighting ISIS. Fight the heretical Shi'a they might, though in fact attempts to recruit Sudanese and Pakistanis to fight the Houthis haven't worked out.

And who's supposed to be picking up the tab? THe Saudis and Gulfis, I imagine. I can see that happening. Wahhabis fighting Wahhabis.

Better to take the agreement as a dead letter, to be forgotten as soon as he is home in Trump Tower, or Mar-a-lago.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 22 2017 16:24 utc | 43

GEN. DUNFORD: We don't have a government to work with and we will never work with the Assad regime.

So when you talk to particularly the folks who will be involved n the Raqqa operation, the post-Raqqa phase, unanimously nobody wants the Syrian regime to come back, regime symbols, regime military forces. ... But as you, kind of, lift the lid over Syria, you see a lot of this happening in areas even where the opposition controls. Teacher salaries, basic worker salaries oftentimes paid by the government because it's a very centralized state. So these are things that have to be worked out, but what -- what they are unanimous about is no return of the regime.

1. We let it slip out that the monster Assad is helping to subsidize Syrians living in rebel held areas. I thought he was starving them.

2. We also just declared that we are annexing Raqqa on behalf of the SDF.

3. If you read that quote it is pretty heartless. It basically says that there will be no international reconstruction money for Syria unless Assad goes. So the Syrians better do what we say or we will make them pay for the destruction of their country.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | May 22 2017 16:46 utc | 44

Posted by: Ghostship | May 22, 2017 11:03:13 AM | 42

"no spy was executed outside his place of work as reported in the NY Times."

Regurgitating the memory of the Viet Cong recruitment methods, i.e. take village chieftain out of hut and disembowel him in front of family and friends. Loyalty will follow. Wouldn't surprise me at all in China. I would guess that the CIA is feeling short on sympathy and wants to remind the world that they still need to exist. That and perhaps failing to pay off the Chinese handlers when Pompeo started his mission. Who knows, really?

"After all the Clintonist whining about how Trump talking to Lavrov blew the cover not! of an Israeli or Jordanian spy within ISIS, that the CIA should be so reckless beggars belief. Who'd want to be a CIA agent after this?"

Promise the young preppy turd cash and (wo)men and he'll be on it like a dog on a rabbit.

Posted by: stumpy | May 22 2017 16:46 utc | 45

Debsisdead @40

Dead on.

Two divisions worth of trained soldiers might do it. 34000 random conscripts are a means to distribute weaponry to the enemy.

Maybe we could call it MEATO.

50-50 odds the EU Army forms first.

Posted by: stumpy | May 22 2017 16:55 utc | 46

@29 stumpy.. it is so sad really... the level of apathy, combined with depravity and etc. etc. that the usa has dropped to.. it might have once been a great country, but that time is now long past.. canada isn't far behind either, but at least no one was looking at us as a role model for anything other then on a humanitarian level.. and on that level we continue to disappoint as well..

we seem to be coming down to high noon in the okay corral with regard to syria. i don't think russia is going to back down here and if as it seems the us military is in the hands of these same whack jobs who have been responsible for the deaths of syrian army people, the usa and russia are going to be meeting in syria very soon and ww3 is just around the corner... such a shame the usa has a jack in the box for president..

@30 somebody.. i am sure there are exceptions at the top end, but generally the saudi culture is medieval or worse by the sounds of it.. iran is obviously better, but the same deal applies with regard to men having control over their wives lives in important ways.. this is an islamic thing?

@31 anon.. i agree with you about it is over for trump...

@36 jfl.. yeah - that is it!

@38 ghostship.. i will grant you that the usa is in terrible shape.. they just haven't turned off the lights yet.. websites that had some shred of relevancy are typically bought out to the highest bidder and taken over as another propaganda shop.. huffington post, democracy now - they are all susceptible to this now..

Posted by: james | May 22 2017 17:04 utc | 47

Any deets on the possible RF airborne deployment?

Posted by: Lozion | May 22 2017 17:09 utc | 48

@40 debs and @44 christian.. ditto your comments.. fully agree..

Posted by: james | May 22 2017 18:55 utc | 49

b points up the split between the saudi-backed salafists and those backed by turkey, above.

erdogan still dreams in technicolor, just like a saudi royal, apparently.

strangely, this split is verified by ... john mccain ...

on returning to the turkish embassy in ac/dc after face-time with the rump, erdogan found protestors in front thereof, and ordered his goons in suits to punish them. they did ... bad press ... erdogan now attempts to turn it around, in true neo-con fashion - not for nothing has he been watching the much admired israelis of late ...

Ankara Summons US Ambassador Over Washington Incident

Already last week, Washington expressed "grave concern" about the Turkish behaviour.

The US Senator John McCain even went as far as to demand the expulsion of the Turkish ambassador.

... the last sentence is the tell. it's officially goodbye turkey, hello saudi arabia in ac/dc, and that goes for their respective salafist proxies as well. especially, rather.

Posted by: jfl | May 22 2017 23:04 utc | 50

@43 The trouble with those mercenary forces is they just aren't motivated. Some of them probably don't even hate Iran! If they had a choice they'd rather be killing Saudis.

Posted by: dh | May 22 2017 23:55 utc | 51

@51 dh, 'If they had a choice they'd rather be killing Saudis'

but they'll need weapons and opportunity to do that ... which the saudis will now be furnishing.

probably part of the vision of the israeli side of the saudi-israeli 'collaborative' brain trust.

just like 9/11 ... and JASTA.

Posted by: jfl | May 23 2017 0:07 utc | 52

@48 Lozion, RE: Russian Forces in Syria

Mentioned over on sst -- also:

People with better sources than I could probably elucidate.

Posted by: stumpy | May 23 2017 1:08 utc | 53

Dunford's statement: ...."and had a conversation at every level now to ensure that those kinds of incidents don't take place again".... doesn't really leave the US forces on the ground much choice with respect to the al-Tanf border station.

After all, what happens if the Syrian forces approach al-Tanf while flying a white flag and broadcasting that they want to parley?

Clearly Dunford's "conversation" will mean that those Syrians can not be attacked, and once they are actually on the doorstep it will be too late to scare the Syrians off with a display of air power.

The US ground forces will either have to stand and fight - and take casualties - or they will have to pack up and leave.

Not much of a choice there - it'll be Option B every time.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | May 23 2017 1:22 utc | 54

@53 Txs stumpy. Here is what I could find on the on the 31st Guards Air Assault brigade:

Lets see if we can spot those patches @IvanSidorenko1

Posted by: Lozion | May 23 2017 3:02 utc | 55

years ago i think it was channel 4 uk made a show
before they became full chabad.

it was called murder in belgravia in that show
they showed how mi5 and german mobster hired hands where behind yvonne fletcher police woman murder.
at the libyan embassy.
poor gadaffi the brits,mossadicks and zionist yanks had been trying to steal his oil for decades not forgeting kraut and frogs.

sweet crude probably the sweetest lightest in the world very little refinement needed
unlike the the colonel.

sandhurst trained an asset at first gone rogue
many of the new hitlers and the old are assets who go off script.

king soloman salman donmeh of saud knows the score
keep pumping crude and buying greenbacks and depleted uranium bombs for yemeni dropping.

the bbc purchased a great tv show years ago called gladio
the bloody clever nato boyz would bomb some folks at stations and some such just before elections.

funny thing is they only bombed when polls showed socialist doing well.
guaranteed swing to the right.

teresa may talks a lot to a radio station in the uk called global and askernazi affair
she says here day was a priest or a vicar or some such.
she lives in sonning a tavistock area for progarmming same town as ure geller mossad spoon bender.

terry may priminister is a jewish gentlemen i believe the term is crypto jewisher
just like drumpf trumped.

manchester real or fake is just a goy voting correction for trauma based mind control.
like that jo cox mp hit just before brexit
get in line soldier
loose lips sinks ships
vote hard man may she will save you from the fuzzie wozzies and especially the scary hezbollah new hitler armies.

for the sake of nuttyahoo and his oded yinon
vote with emotion
vote for order
not kaos
what what

Posted by: charles drake | May 23 2017 16:00 utc | 56

@55 Inspirational video

No insignia on uniforms in training. My guess is that you wouldn't see them until too late.

Posted by: stumpy | May 23 2017 18:55 utc | 57

Pentagon now claiming Syrian militias are pulling back from Al Tanf.

Russian insider claims to have pics of Russian weapons moving in support of Syrian forces approaching al tanftanf.

Posted by: wwinsti | May 23 2017 19:43 utc | 58

SAA is moving fast along the Jordanian border east of Sweida and south east of Pamyra towards Al Tanf. ISIL & opposition are lacking manpower evidently. If the US doesnt react soon it will lose border control and the PMU will link up with their Syrian brethren: Looking good..

Posted by: Lozion | May 24 2017 2:37 utc | 59

@59 lozion.. thanks for the update.

Posted by: james | May 24 2017 3:24 utc | 60

Possible ffat al Taned?

The recent clash there almost invites an attack on US coalition forces by "ISIS" - that is blamed on SAA. If so, the Norwegians there would make for sympathetic victims by Westerners because they are a small country with "clean hands" wrt Syria.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 24 2017 6:42 utc | 61

Norwegians will spend summer in Arabian desert? Is it a "penalty battalion"?

Today "Rusnext" had an article about the exercises in Norway near Russian border (which is on the far side of the Arctic circle), among 2000 participants there were 200 Marines with uniforms for Iraqi winter. Luckily, the hosts saved them from freezing death. Pentagon can be sloppy with tactics and logistics too.

Concerning weaknesses of strategy, even Almighty cannot achieve contradictory goals. Historically, a typical trap for a major power is collecting to many clients to join them harmoniously. I observed that when Soviet Union had a client regime in Somalia, and then Communist officers made a coup in Ethiopia and abolished the monarchy. Currently in the Middle East, the strategy that "makes sense" is to collect money for very fat military contracts (to justify very fat salaries for retired generals and Pentagon officials when the move to the private sectors) and oodles of political donations (you got to "support Israel" for that), and let the folks on the ground sort stuff between themselves, with some help or hindrances from the West.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 24 2017 18:37 utc | 62

Wikimapia shows big changes in the lines of control in east/central Syria. There are several mountain ranges between eastern suburbs of Damascus and Tadmor/Palmyra which are called East Qalamoon. Digression: West Qalamoon is roughly Anti-Lebanon, a higher range on Lebanon-Syrian border, while Mount Lebanon is the range along central axis of Lebanon, hence Anti-Lebanon is a name from Lebanese perspective, and Qalamoon, from Syrian perspective. Now it seems that all East Qalamoon mountain ranges will be soon under the government control, as ISIS is pushed out, which is a difference of ca. two long mountain ranges in short period of time. ISIS is also "squeezed" from the south by "pro-American" forces, but I did not read much about fighting there, it is more that ISIS cannot retreat south.

As a strategist, Putin seems to be much better than the western/gulfie opponents, even if we admit major debacles in the past, like the fall of Palmyra last year. The wider context is de-escalation in western Syria, so this time military units sent to the east do not have to return hastily to defend Hama, Aleppo etc. The coalition of Syrian, Russian and Iran-influenced-Iraqi is advancing on multiple direction against ISIS, and as a big change, getting more territory than SDF. One can theorize than once Erdogan was denied the possibility of advancing toward Raqqa, he figured that by being obstinate he simply will give eastern Syria to the force that he hates most, so he applied "gentle pressure" at the force that can backstab SAA best, "Idlibstan". In the same time, SDF is pretty cooperative with SAA in the zones of contact in northern Aleppo province, the alternative being sustaining big losses against their Erdogan-supported opponents in Jarabulus-Azaz pocket.

It remains to be seen if Russia will commit a significant ground force to southern Syria, but if they do, the sweep of the desert can accelerate to give irreversible gains before the "calming agreements" unravel. It must be stressed that this is a multilateral effort and Putin is merely the most senior figure that can influence the situation (with all due respect to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic). And it also remains to be seen what will happen at the zone of contact between the forces advancing in East Qalamoon and pro-American forces in the desert. On paper, these forces control the eastern-most Qalamoon range and they can obstruct Damascus-Palmyra highway that now may fall fully into the government hands, but there are probably too few of them to stand in the way. Next 10 days will be really interesting.

One extra theory for the moment: Trump scored several micro-victories, the most significant being the successful defense of "Tanf project". Putin could deliberately give Trump "some face". That way Trump could extract very fat defense contracts from rich cretins in the Gulf (fleecing rich guys is what he did for decades, so he knows what it takes) and Putin could achieve his goals as well.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 25 2017 15:03 utc | 63

Sorry for quoting myself: "And it also remains to be seen what will happen at the zone of contact between the forces advancing in East Qalamoon and pro-American forces in the desert."

Today some "units advancing in East Qalamoon" ejected pro-American unit from a village to the south-west" of "the eastern-most Qalamoon range, al-Ulayyaniya village at the foothills of Ulayyaniya mountains. Illustrating video showed tanks, helicopters, a fighter plane, a bulldozer and mine sweepers cleaning the highway etc., some shooting and no resistance. Extrapolating, the zone between Damascus-Palmyra highway and Damascus-Baghdad highway will be cleared quickly, or "coalition forces" will take the risk of shooting at Syrian (and Russian?) aircraft in the air.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 25 2017 15:54 utc | 64

Syrian Kurdish fighters attack Turkish military near Afrin

“In response to the Turkish aggression against our people in Afrin, the YPG targeted headquarters of Turkey’s military with heavy artillery,” ARA News cites a YPG spokesman.

put those new weapons the rump sent them to use right away against their most threatening enemy. erdogan will be pleased.

the americans will be ... what? shocked! ... right.

Posted by: jfl | May 26 2017 13:05 utc | 65

EoP Applicants Ecology of Peace New World Order Social Contract Options STRATINT policy based upon EoP RH FR EoP Scientific and Cultural Law — to ‘turn off the tap’; i.e. the breeding / consumption above ecological carrying capacity limits causes of racial, religious and class resource conflict and war; by cooperating to implement an Ecology of Peace New World Order Social Contract that requires all the worlds citizens of all races and religions to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits; enabling humane and orderly and depopulation return to ecological carrying capacity limits — has repeatedly been submitted to President Trump, his Cabinet and voters. The most recent correspondence via (i) email to President Trump being EoP NTE GMA: 28 Apr: Updated EoP Help 4 Trump: Int of Military Gods Polite People Options / Suggestions; (ii) via twitter 26 May 2017: 14:08 hrs: EoP TRC or WiP Impeachment.

A copy of this comment shall be posted to EoP v WiP NWO Neg.

Posted by: EoP MILED Clerk | May 27 2017 10:15 utc | 66

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