Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 23, 2017

Syria Summary - Consolidating The West - Marching East

There were no major changes  in the situation in Syria since our last post. Several smaller steps have further consolidated the position of the government of Syria and its allies while the positions of its enemies continue to deteriorate.

Source: Fabrice Balanche/WINEP - bigger (with legend)

In the north-west Idleb governate and the city of Idleb saw new infighting between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda in Syria under its current moniker Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Ahrar, historically also an al-Qaeda offspring, was supported by Qatar and Turkey while al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka HTS) was said to have support from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Rudiments of local CIA paid Free Syrian Army gangs are intermixed with these. Their primary task was to collect supplies from the CIA in Turkey and to distribute those to their friends in al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham. Each of these groups received support in the range of at least $1 billion per year. 

The spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia mostly ended their interest in their proxies in Syria. The Trump administration decided to end the CIA support program for its FSA proxies in the north-west (but not for others elsewhere). This was a significant change of the situation for each group.

After losing their paymasters the local FSA gangs melted away. Ahrar held on to the border crossings with Turkey and collected "taxes" for everything that went through them. Al-Qaeda in Syria needed money. It attacked Ahrar al-Sham to eliminate the competition and to gain control over the only income source left. Last week al-Qaeda overran nearly all Ahrar al-Sham positions. It managed to capture and hold the Bab al-Hawa border station with Turkey. It also controls all other border stations. Taxing all trucks going through is a very significant sources of money. Al-Qaeda will now feed off all im- and exports between the Idleb area and Turkey. Ahrar al-Sham is practically done. It lost most of its weapon and ammunition storages and several subgroups left to join with al-Qaeda in Syria.

In an effort to support Ahrar al-Sham Turkey transferred some of its Syrian proxies from the Euphrates Shield area it holds north-east of Aleppo towards the Turkish side of Idleb border station. But those forces are too few and too little motivated to take up al-Qaeda in Syria. Ahrar is now too depleted and weak to win and control Idleb. The Turkish move was too little too late. Idleb is now for most parts consolidated al-Qaeda territory.

The usual "expert" propagandists have long claimed that Ahrar and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) had no longer anything at all to do with the original al-Qaeda. But today al-Qaeda central published a letter that asks both of these groups to stop there infighting. What will those propaganda goons make out of that?

South from Idleb a pocket of various insurgent groups (Ahrar, al-Qaeda, ISIS) controls the mountains around the Lebanese city of Arsal right next to the border with Syria. In June several Lebanese army personal were killed in the area. The Takfiri insurgent groups are a continuing danger to Lebanon as well as to Syria. Several offers for their transfer to Idleb were rejected.

Last week a united front of Lebanese and Syrian forces started to clean up the pocket and to eliminate all insurgents in area. The Lebanese army took control of Arsal city and will protect it against infiltration. About 5,000 Hizbullah fighters were allocated to attack the insurgents within Lebanon while 3,500 Syrian army personal will mop them up from the Syrian side. The Syrian air-force provides support within Lebanon and Syria. The Hariri government of Lebanon (a Saudi puppet) as well as the U.S. have agreed to the operation. So far it ran without a hitch. After several losses on the first day Hizbullah gained significant ground (see map below) during the last two or three days. Nearly half of the insurgent area is already under control and it will not take long for the rest to be liberated. Those insurgents who do not want to get killed and give up their fight may be send to Idleb where they can join the infighting between their brothers.


The U.S. and Russia had agreed on a deescalation zone further south next to the border with Israel and Jordan. While Israel was consulted on the issue it later voiced disagreement. The Israeli government wants a permanent U.S. forces in the area to cover the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan height. Neither the Trump administration nor the U.S. military have any interested in such a costly entanglement. Israel has long paid, supplied and supported Takifiri groups in the area. It gave them fire support whenever they were in fighting the Syrian government forces. The deescalation agreement foresees the supervision of the deescalation area by Russian military policy. That regime will be installed during the next few weeks and further Israeli shenanigans in the area will become difficult. Russia will react harshly against any interference with its troops' task.

In the north-east the Kurdish YPG is the U.S. proxy forces for the fight against ISIS in Raqqa. When the YPG submitted to U.S. command was told (video) to rename itself and became the "Syrian Democratic Forces". It is still the same anarcho-marxist cult that it was before but is ordered to hide it (video). It is still the same group that is killing Turkish soldiers within Turkey. The U.S. military believes that it can sustain the support for the group and continue to occupy the north-east of Syria after ISIS is defeated:

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month left open the possibility of longer-term assistance to Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, saying the United States may need to supply them weapons and equipment even after the capture of Islamic State's Syria stronghold of Raqqa.

The U.S. plan to split up Syria and Iraq after ISIS is defeated is still in force. But neither the Turkish nor the Iraqi nor the Syrian government will allow the consolidation of a U.S. protected Kurdish minority in east-Syria that they all see as a threat to their sovereignty:

The question remains: how can new Kurdistan states” survive with four countries surrounding it (Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran), all determined to do everything to neutralise a future Kurdish state in Mesopotamia and/or Bilad al-Sham? The Kurds really believe they can rely on two US and one British military bases in Kurdistan Iraq and on Saudi Arabia monies, and on six US military bases in the north of Syria to impose their “state”?

The YPG/SDF has already huge difficulties to defeat ISIS in Raqqa. There is little progress but the losses are considerable. Last week it had to discontinue its attack and wait for fresh forces to arrive. Raqqa is only a medium size city but with many high-rise buildings and a still significant population. Bombing support by the U.S. and heavy artillery shelling will be requited to eliminate ISIS from the city. This may well take several additional months. The city will be destroyed and the attacking Kurds will have high losses. There will be many civilian casualties. All this for a city that even after ISIS is defeated will never submit to Kurdish control and will eventually fall back to the Syrian government. One wonders how the political leadership of the YPG will justify this costly effort when questioned by its constituency.

On the southern bank of the Euphrates the Syrian government forces have now encapsulated the SDF forces around Raqqa. They make continues progress towards Deir Ezzor where a Syrian government forces is still under siege of ISIS.

Source: Weekend Warrior/@evil_SDOC - bigger

The Syrian government attack against ISIS around Deir Ezzor will come on multiple axes. But there are still some 80 kilometers to go and even though the area is mostly an empty semi-desert ISIS commandos are still active there. Only last week some 25 Syrian soldiers were killed in one ISIS commando attack at the T-3 pumping station near Palmyra.

The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was interviewed (video) by some (know-nothing) journalist of NBC. He rejected the claims of a stop of CIA support to the insurgents (25:20):

“I understand that the US supports much more groups than just the ones, which were announced as being left without the American weapons.”

Lavrov also warned against any thoughts of establishing permanent U.S. bases in Syria.

Posted by b on July 23, 2017 at 16:28 UTC | Permalink

next page »

thanks b.. i would reject any claim by the cia as well... the usa is playing it's usual game here rebranding ypg as syrian democratic forces and on and on it goes... what a pathetic loser nation.. as for turkey, they still seem to have the gun pointed at their own feet too, but a very watered down version of the usa's game plan.. i guess plans for erdogans caliphate just aren't going according to plan.. meanwhile israel in trailing not far behind with it's bullshit agenda here.. i guess that is why israel and the usa are such buddies - both fucked up self serving agendas 24/7 from them..

Posted by: james | Jul 23 2017 17:01 utc | 1

Excellent summary of situation. Thanks!

Posted by: FB Ali | Jul 23 2017 17:03 utc | 2

A clear and concise summary of the situation. Thank you again.

Posted by: johnf | Jul 23 2017 17:06 utc | 3

Now that Ahrar al-Sham have been cut off from their Turkish patrons and suppliers, do you think they're going to continue fighting (al-Qaeda or the SAA or both?) or surrender and integrate with either al Qaeda or the SAA (or split between the two?)

Life must be complicated for them.

Posted by: johnf | Jul 23 2017 17:13 utc | 4

copying from twitter:

As I expected, SAA has chosen the strategic objective of preventing US-backed forces from going west of Euphrates.

ISIS must have expected a move like this. The fact that they're being routed regardless is proof of how complete their collapse is.

great post, btw!

Posted by: dufu | Jul 23 2017 17:23 utc | 5

It seems that once again the SAA has done an end run around serious ISIS resistance, found a 'weak spot' along the line of contact with US supported forces, and pushed to within 40 Km of Deir Ezzor city along the Euphrates. This begs the question as to why this vital line of contact with the SDF was left undefended. It seems to confirm what was rumoured about the SDF advance in N. Syria - that it was coordinated with an ISIS withdrawl(leaving only the locals they had recruited to defend their own towns) thus allowing the SDF/US forces relatively easy access. Unfortunately for the SDF the number of locals in Raqqa is considerable. having said that, it is obvious that in no way is the battle there fought with the intensity, the quality of arms, or coordinated strategy of the battles against the Syrian army.

Just more evidence that ISIS deployment seems coordinated with US supported forces.

Posted by: les7 | Jul 23 2017 17:36 utc | 6

The aim of Russia is, Turkey to have powerful enemies.
The aim of Turkey is to rise the ottoman empire to attack Russia.
The aim of USA is to weaken Russia by islamic fanatics.
The aim of Saudi-Arabia is to use Turkey to fight against arab enemies.

The aim of EU is to use Turkey as a pawn to attack Russia and the arabs.
So we have the syrian proxy war.

The aim of Merkel is to starve the american economy.
The aim of Trump is to destroy Germany and the EU for not financing the US-Junk economy.
The aim of Trump is to support Poles, Britans, and so on who want to leave EU.

Posted by: az | Jul 23 2017 17:43 utc | 7

>>>> les7 | Jul 23, 2017 1:36:23 PM | 4

and pushed to within 40 Km of Deir Ezzor city along the Euphrates

I think you're confusing the city with the governorate. According to South Front who are generally accurate on this, the SAA still hasn't entered the governorate which means it still more than 60 km. away from Dier Ez-zor city

Posted by: Ghostship | Jul 23 2017 17:57 utc | 8


thanks, but while that kind of confusion often is in stories from that area, this is not the case:

Posted by: les7 | Jul 23 2017 18:00 utc | 9

SAA is unofficially across the Deir Ezzor border and about 40 km from Deir Ezzor, somewhere between Ma'adan and Al Tibni. Al Tibni is the last town of any significant size between the SAA and Deir Ezzor.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 23 2017 18:03 utc | 10

With the complete routing of Ahrar (Erdogan's proxies) by al-Nusra (Saudi's proxies) I wonder if there aren't a flurry of back channel negotiations underway between Ankara and Moscow right now. It may come off as implausible, but due to the multiple vectors at play, I wouldn't be surprised to see a full-fledged Turkish military incursion into Idleb with the blessing (not necessarily officially so) of Damascus and Moscow to clear al-Nusra.
Ankara has doubled down against Saudi in the spat with Qatar, which intensified the fight between their respective proxies in Syria. Now that al-Nusra has won out, a real thorn is sticking into Turkey's southern border. As the Qatar-Turkey side is winning the real spat, such a thorn is ripe for the plucking.
Obviously some horse trading would have to go on for this to happen, but each side has lots of ponies. I think things could play out like this: Syria and Russia agree to Turkey clearing ldleb, on the condition they return the province to Damascus afterward. Syria and Russia agree to hinder/suffocate any nascent Kurdistan, and/or some sort of agreement vis-a-vis Turkey's buffer zone. Turkey gets rid of the Saudi thorn and guarantees against any Kurdish project, maybe even a semi-permanent buffer zone in the Kurdish regions. Syria gets back Idleb with minimal manpower, leaving them free to return the western desert. Russia sees the conflict further wind down with minimal manpower in their part. The losers are the Kurds and the US, but that writing has long been on the wall.
The Saudi's are losers in this scenario as well, but that seems to be their trajectory in general. Arsal makes this very clear. Arsal, along with Tripoli, is the Sunni "state-within-a-state" of Lebanon. And the godfather of Lebanon's Sunnis is Saudi. The Hariri government (which is a unity government with Hezbollah-alligned Aoun as president). I'm sure Riyadh was loath to go along with the joint Lebanese-Syrian op, but street the ambush of Lebanese Army, they had little choice.
Of course this is all speculation, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Turkey further aligned with Russia and Syria as this sad conflict dies out.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jul 23 2017 18:34 utc | 11

@9 don w... thanks.. i agree.. i guess we will see how it plays out.. israel/saudi arabia may have some other nefarious plans to offer there buddies in washington - something about 'terrorists from iran' type blather no doubt and how they have to be stopped in syria, lol... these losers have the msm regularly offering this clap trap up...

Posted by: james | Jul 23 2017 18:54 utc | 12

IS had an arabization policy?

Posted by: Mina | Jul 23 2017 19:49 utc | 13


The U.S. plan to split up Syria and Iraq after ISIS is defeated is still in force. But neither the Turkish nor the Iraqi nor the Syrian government will allow the consolidation of a U.S. protected Kurdish minority in east-Syria that they all see as a threat to their sovereignty: can new "Kurdistan states” survive with four countries surrounding it ... all determined to do everything to neutralise a future Kurdish state [?]...
b and ElijahJM are in agreement but I think that they fail to consider:
1. Sunnistan likely follows the establishment of Kurdistan - and will be an ally and trading partner (because both are supported by GCC and the West). So Kurdistan will not be "surrounded by enemies" for long.

2. Erdogan is a wild card. I really don't know how committed he is to Russia. One could well argue that the apparent coup attempt last year has helped the US to get closer to the Kurds by (apparently) divorcing USA from the hated Turks.

3. The Kurdish ire will likely be directed toward Iran. The GCC and West will support efforts to "liberate" Iranian Kurds. One could well imagine a 'deal' whereby if the Kurds are successful with Iran, Turkey will be prevailed upon to give up some Kurdish territory.

Have R+6 erred by not being more sensitive to Kurdish national aspirations? Have they been blinded by the apparent movement of Turkey to their side?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 23 2017 20:09 utc | 14

Regarding how far SAA has penetrated to the Euphrates and beyond, the ongoing news blackout imposed on op/news leaking mostly via social media has proven very effective, although enough trickles through to get a good picture. Igor Bundy has posted numerous maps at the bottom of the most recent SyrPers thread. Canthama adds narrative to them:

"Igor, glad to see maps showing what happened a week ago, the only change I would add to it is that the Tiger Forces are way much closer to al Sukhanah then the map shows, near Taybah crossing, which places the Tiger Force 20 kms north of al Sukhanah.

"On the river front, many villages were liberated, and battle is on near the two important crossroads of Ghanin al Ali.

"SW of al Sukhanah, the battle in on inside the Doubayat gas field, besides the oil and gas extraction, a victory here could open up a new axis toward Der ez Zor, a road by the long gas pipeline, straight line.

"We are now seeing confirmations from many sources of the advances by the Euphrates, something we have been sharing at Syrper for a week now, soon we will hear confirmations of Tiger’s advance inside the Mount Bishri which will also give an extra axis to Der ez Zor through al Shulah.

"Keep an eye on news of the liberation of the large Wadi Ubayd oil field, that is a striking distance of the strategic Jabal al Fusayyat, the control of this mountain chain gives fire control of the Euphrates (from Ghanin al Ali to Der ez Zor) and all oil and gas fields SW of Der ez Zor city

That was posted about 40 minutes prior to this next update by Canthama:

"As the news continue to flow, the two very active fronts in Syria keep bringing very positive news:

"1) Northern Qalamoun.
It is a fact that al Qaeda and affiliate, Saraya al Sham, took the first wave heat from Hizballah, SAA and LA, they are the ones that denied any kind of agreement to leave the area for the past 6 months. As of now, 3rd day of the offensive, these al qaeda groups have lost 60-70% of the area they previously occupied, areas that controlled border crossing and valleys which for them is the same as death sentence, they can not survive on dry hill tops and caves for long. Latest news that these groups are surrendering by the hundreds (200 only yesterday) and the remaining ones are pleading to be green bused to Idlib. So far there is no attempt by the allied forces to stop the advance, though it is of allied forces interest to preserve the lives of their soldiers, so soon a deal will be broken.

"A large area, about the same size of the previously held by al qaeda affiliates, will be stormed in the future by the allied forces, and it will be done from the current positions held by the al qaeda affiliates, less defensive lines. ISIS has much less terrorists holding the area, few hundreds at the most, vs 1-2,000 strong by the alqaeda affiliates. It is hard to think there will be any agreement with ISIS, they will be most likely be all killed.

"2) Homs-der ez Zor front
As expected, this has turned into a very large frontal frontline against ISIS, from Raqqa to Iraq border, there are advances all over the places but the Iraq border, several news that the Tiger forces are now less than 50 kms from Der ez Zor city, by the axis rolling from Resafa-Mt Bishri- Euphrates, that places +- the allied forces at Jabal al Fusayyat-Kulayb Hammah plateau, which would mean the road from Ghanin al Ali-Mt Bishri is mostly safe.

"It is important to note few things:
a) The river acts as a dead end for ISIS, can not cross over to SDF lines.
b) Cities by the river can easily be encircled and left behind for negotiations.
c) Large amount of fighters are locals, from Raqqa tribes, these guys are doing the negotiations with the villages and cities and instead of fighting cities are surrendering to preserve their properties.
d) Tribal forces are also dealing with other Raqqa tribal forces under SDF in getting a peaceful transition on the shared frontline.
e) The Tiger Forces and RuAF/SAAF are doing the heavy lifting on the front line at this Euphrates axis, the strategy to bypass al Sukhanah was ingenious.

"As I have been sharing at Syrper since mid June, I continue to believe that the SAA and allies will be very close to Der ez Zor city by end of July, being 40-50 kms away is close but I truly believe we will see the Tiger Forces much closer to Der ez Zor next week, it will be like battle for Kuweires airbase, ISIS will defend the last few kms with all the have, it took the Tiger Forces 2 weeks to advance 5 kms to liberate Kuweires airbase, we may see the same type of fight but in less time, deserts are a tough place to hide, ISIS has a limited chance to hold the desert area west and SW of Der ez Zor if the attack comes from a broader front line, I have reservations with the concept of advances by the river since there are many villages until Der ez Zor, an attack through the desert, from Jabal al Fusayyat and the many oil fields toward the 137th brigade is much likely. Hopefully we will hear more news this up coming week on the advances by the Tiger Forces."

Eight days to advance about 30 klicks--yes, I share Canthama's enthusiastic anticipation, and along 3-4 different axes of approach. Oh, and you can tell about where SAA forces are along the Euphrates by where the RuAF sorties are carried out--generally several villages South of the Spearhead. Oh, and the great majority of those villages want reconciliation with Damascus, which means Daesh has no local support and thus nowhere to hide.

The End Game's approaching rapidly. Lavrov is the one to follow closely as he's already constructing the lines of settlement, and there's zero room for the Outlaw US Empire or the Zionists.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 23 2017 20:14 utc | 15

It makes sense that the Kurds are the first to declare a state(s) because they have the strongest claim.

PS This is nation-building and involving the US in ME wars - exactly what Trump said he would NOT do.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 23 2017 20:17 utc | 16

thanks karlof1 for the great and detailed update!

Posted by: les7 | Jul 23 2017 20:23 utc | 17

This update completely leaves out the status of the PMU, which makes the conclusions of little value.

There has been little to no news from the PMU's activities on the Iraq/Syria border. Just a month or so ago the PMU was wiping out IS and rapidly securing territory on the Iraq side of the border. There were reports of Iraq airstrikes in eastern Syria in coordination with Damascus. And there were photos of SAA and PMU linking up at the border.

Then we heard the troubling reports of the US Regime pressuring the Iraq government to halt the PMU's anti-IS efforts.

And since then there have been little to no news about the PMU.

And while some where cheering on Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki heated and defiant words about the US Regime's presence in Iraq, I believe they indicate the US Regime's stranglehold on Iraq is secure. Nouri al-Maliki words to me indicate fustration and impotence on the part of Iraq to get the murderous US Regime out of their country.

I would not be surprised if we shortly see Iraq figures like Maliki and others who are outspoken about getting the US Regime out of Iraq to magically fall victim to a terrorist attack or an out of the blue corruption scandal. And some US Regime lackey suddenly appear as a front runner to lead Iraq.

And if the US Regime is not getting kicked out of Iraq, then all the hopes for Syria to wind down the war are going to be -dashed-.

Posted by: R Winner | Jul 23 2017 20:58 utc | 18



Iran and Iraq sign accord to boost military cooperation

Posted by: somebody | Jul 23 2017 21:12 utc | 19

@16 R Winner... sadly, overall, you are right and there are no winners on the horizon in Syria.

In terms of strategy the US has no interest in setting up and defending either a Sunnistan or a Kurdistan. They have taken a page out of the Israeli Turkish and Russian strategy books. Think Golan, West Bank, Cyprus, Transnistria, Donbass, S.Ossetia, Nagorno-karabakh, Ukraine in general.... frozen conflicts all of them.

The US will support Syrian territorial integrity while at the same time insisting that all foreign troops must leave AT THE SAME TIME. One agreement to cover them all. Because a deal will never be agreed with Israel, or Turkey, the US has nothing to fear. And even if the unimaginable happens they will use the shiboleth of Iranian and Hezbollah (real or imagined) to give their 'nyet' to any proposed agreement.

It will not be a formal partition it will be de-facto. A frozen conflict. That is why the rush (By the SDF and SAA)to get the oil-fields around Raqqa. While peace is negotiated the different groups will pump away the resources that could re-build the country.

Under US leadership a no-fly zone in NE Iraq turned into a frozen conflict and eventually a 'Kurdistan' that is there in all but name. While technically still part of Iraq it functions independently, especially with the chaos of ISIS. Iraq doe s not have the strength to change that equation even if it wanted to. Iran is content to let it stay because it has led to the removal of the MEK. The same could be argued by the US as a way forward in its' relationship with Turkey. The existence of a semi-autonomous entity in Syria gives all the discontents a place to go and it becomes responsible to police those that want to stir up trouble in Turkey.

so a quasi-peace will settle over a frozen conflict. not a real partition, just 'facts' on the ground. Russia, for all it's military strength will be powerless to overturn those tables... it would mean facing down the US, Turkey and Israel.

pity the nation.


Posted by: les7 | Jul 23 2017 21:22 utc | 20

to clarify...
The existence of a semi-autonomous entity in Syria gives all the discontents a place to go and it becomes responsible to police those that want to stir up trouble in Turkey

should be: The existence of a semi-autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria gives all the Kurdish discontents (PKK PYD)a place to go and that Syrian semi-autonomous entity (Syrian kurdistan?) becomes responsible to police those that want to stir up trouble in Turkey

Posted by: les7 | Jul 23 2017 21:27 utc | 21

The soup thickens as another ingredient gets added: Former Iraq President, now Vice President, Nouri al-Maliki is in Moscow for talks with Putin, Lavrov, etc.:

"I have confirmed, and I reiterate that if it was not for the Russian position, the entire region would be destroyed and a new and unusual map would be drawn for it, and if it was not for the Russian role that is different from the American role, the regime would fall in Syria, the terrorists would strengthen their positions, the map of the region would be changed, and Baghdad would eventually fall."

R Winner @16--

If you regularly visited the SyrianPerspective website that I post updates from, you'd know what the PMU's doing and why. Canthama provided this insight about 2 days ago:

"Abadi’s demanded the PMU to focus on Tal Afar and so they are doing it. The US regime is completely against any action in Anbar, since it would push ISIS and families toward the north, meaning the Kurds’ occupied Hasaka, the US pressure has been strong and effective so far, but it won’t last much. Tal Afar will be ISIS free then there is a much greater task for the Iraq Army that is Hawija pocket, and it has to be the Iraq Army since it will touch delicate issues such as Kirkut and other towns Barzani wants to badly, if the PMU is sent there we will see a war between them and Peshmergas.

"So, if the above rational is correct, as soon as Tal Afar is done, the PMU will have time to clean the rest of Nineveh and push toward Anbar clearing all ISIS from it and helping the SAA on the other side of the border.

"The only thing that can spark a change on the timing of above operation is if SDF tries to advance toward Der ez Zor to occupy all the right banks of the Euphrates thus controlling all Hasaka/Der e Zor border with Iraq and all its oil & gas fields, that could spark a PMU reaction to advance inside Syria to block this attempt, Iraq sees a national security issue to have Kurds managing Hasaka/Der ez Zor Provinces border with Iraq."

Abadi is President and Maliki Veep thanks to Obama allowing Daesh to run wild inside Iraq, which most every Iraqi knows; Maliki was forced to cry Uncle $cam, but was able to keep a powerful position within the Iraqi government. The Outlaw US Empire has used up almost every one of its Machiavellian tools within Southwest Asia and must now choose between Turkey and Kurds--it can only keep one--while hoping its Zionist partner doesn't shoot itself in the head, which it appears close to doing.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 23 2017 21:50 utc | 22

Canthama says the linked map is the closest to depicting reality along Euphrates,

His commentary:

"The map below seems to be the closest to reality on the Euphrates front. The Tiger and allies are by passing the villages by the river, advancing on the old highway few kms south from the new highway. This road leads directly to Der ez Zor.

"The interesting aspect, once confirmed, is that the Tiger is finding a way to by pass longer battles for villages, leaving them for later or simply encircling them, as per my previous posts on this matter. Besides, by this map, the Tiger forces and allies would completely by pass Jabal al Fusayyat high ground."

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 23 2017 22:06 utc | 23

Great post. Thank you.

Posted by: Hermius | Jul 23 2017 22:59 utc | 24

Canadian Military Aircraft Have Not Flown in Syria For Weeks: Commander

"Canadian military aircraft involved in the fight against Islamic State militants have not flown over Syria for the past few weeks, though a senior officer denied any links Friday to Russian threats..." LOL

Posted by: John Gilberts | Jul 23 2017 23:04 utc | 25

I believe Lavrov is teaching class, in both terms of the word, and has put the writing on the wall.

Posted by: BRF | Jul 23 2017 23:31 utc | 26

thanks karlof1 and thanks john gilberts for the laugh on us canucks...

Posted by: james | Jul 24 2017 1:36 utc | 27

les7:frozen conflicts

I disagree. They have shown evidence of wanting to actually WIN:

> Obama's push to bomb in 2013
Despite the spin of Obama's "respect for democracy," it is clear that he WANTED to bomb and WOULD HAVE bombed Syria. Obama's WH, like Trump's, created a bogus 'Assessment' that Assad had used chemical weapons - over the objections of senior intel analysts; and when he announced that he was seeking Congressional approval Obama made it clear that he was ready to give the order to bomb. I have read that he EXPECTED Congress to approve the bombing.

And I believe that we now know that the bombing that was planned was to be severe. (Kerry in 2013: "US doesn't do pinpricks".)

USA could've had a 'frozen conflict' after Obama's bombing was thwarted. Instead, they created ISIS. And once again came with weeks of toppling Assad. Only intervention by Russia and Iran prevented it.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 24 2017 1:37 utc | 28


No question.... early on everyone thought the west would win this fast, and they tried it several different ways. My comments on 'frozen conflict' were about the future, especially where Russia has checked the western plans. However, at this point I do not see the US withdrawing (except for around alTanf), the Kurds turning over control of their areas, the Turks relinquishing the border regions they have occupied or the groups in Idlib opting for free and fair elections. Those are about as likely as the Israeli's volunteering to withdraw from Golan.

Which is my point - this is a stalemate. A frozen conflict. And the US will settle for it cause it keeps Russia from looking like they won. The longer it is stalemated, the longer the economic bleeding continues, the larger the drain on the Russian economy, and the more disconte3nt can be stirred in Russia.

This may not be the original goal to Win, but it serves as a pretty decent fall-back position.

Posted by: les7 | Jul 24 2017 2:09 utc | 29

I wonder if this base is really the largest. Long live president Sisi who stopped that crazy MB fanatic Morsi (imposed in fraudulent "elections") from unleashing more carnage in Syria:

President Sisi inaugurates largest military base in Mideast

Thanks for the sit-rep and comments.

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 24 2017 3:00 utc | 30

Where is "jfl" btw ...?

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 24 2017 3:01 utc | 31


IMO, any "freeze" would be temporary. Regrouping. The impulse to dominate from the usual suspects is as strong as ever. The neocons know that full spectrum dominance is slipping away as SCO grows.

Brezinski said that to win, the West needed Ukraine and Iran. The road to Tehran was supposed to go through Damascus.

IMO Trump was installed to negotiate an end of the conflict. Mattis has said that USA will not negotiate from weakness. So we now see ABM in Eastern Europe and dropping of MOAB in Afghanistan, etc.

Yet the Russians have been undeterred. Putin has not taken whatever 'deal' has been offered. All we've seen is a ceasefire in one part of Syria and Trump's decision to ask CIA not to support a few head-choppers. I call these 'baby steps'.

OTOH its difficult to see how R+6 could stop the Kurds from declaring a state (after the September referendum) - which would get quick recognition from GCC+West. That would be followed by a strong push for Sunnistan (which would likely turn into the 'salafist principality' after it is established).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 24 2017 3:36 utc | 32

jfl = Joy from Love
. But
But why ProPeace is jubilant about a classic military strongman parking about 1000 light tanks in the sand and waxing poetic how they can be used to defend the Straight of Bab-el-Mandeb, which really makes no sense. But those neat rows are really impressive, makes one wonder if there is a pyramid just outside the picture. The ancient pyramids are ca. 100 miles away, but al-Sisi could build a new one for himself. Or not, Saudis and Emiratis gave him some money, but not for some pagan pyramids. But not far away from this place, predecessors of al-Sisi were assembling thousands of chariots.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2017 3:54 utc | 33

les7 @ 18

"Think Golan, West Bank, Cyprus, Transnistria, Donbass, S.Ossetia, Nagorno-karabakh, Ukraine in general.... frozen conflicts all of them."

I appreciate your lines of thought. With respect to Syria becoming a "frozen conflict" doesn't it matter who is doing the freezing? Of the examples you noted above, several were/are frozen by Russia and 2 by the US/Zionists. I doubt this is the outcome desired by the aggressor in all the situations you named.

You think the US is in the position to make rules in Syria, that is a fallacy. The United States will not demand that all foreign troops leave Syria at the same time. The United States may have a plan for the Kurds, but whatever it is, it will not end well quickly.

Turkey seems to be in full pivot towards Russia, they recently blasted the locations of secret and semi-secret U.S. bases in Syria along with armament and troop counts. They are manning up at Afrin(?) and I don't think that is a bluff. I do not believe Turkey will allow a second Kurdish autonomous area along their border. To be honest, I was surprised they hadn't invaded N. Iraq by now.

Back to you:

"so a quasi-peace will settle over a frozen conflict. not a real partition, just 'facts' on the ground. Russia, for all it's military strength will be powerless to overturn those tables... it would mean facing down the US, Turkey and Israel."

Yes, a quasi peace will settle over Syria for awhile, it is to be expected. There will be no facing down of Turkey, Israel and US. Turkey and Israel, for one thing do not matter and will look out for their own interests at the end of the day. Israel is going to try to keep the Golan and Turkey is not going to have a Kurdish state on its borders. It is the US which will find itself at the end of another military fiasco, powerless to do anything but find another corner of the world to stir shit up in...

I don't know the future of the SDF, I think they are the wild card in this conflict. If they don't bend, I think Russia is going to bend them...

Nice to read you.


Posted by: b4real | Jul 24 2017 5:14 utc | 34

I found that talk from Gen. Raymond Thomas fascinating. Especially with respect to his comment on the Kurds.
Yes on the one hand he is admitting that it is a command given to the YPG that they must 're-brand' themselves as the SDF and remove their Ocalan posters. On the other hand its almost realpolitik advice to the YPG that they need to go quietly with their ideology if they want the US to be able to supply them. There is no indication that the Americans require that the YPG actually change their ideology or stop venerating Ocalan, simply that they not let the Turks see it.
Also fascinating in the way his eyes glazed over when he was forced to admit that the YPG is the only proxy force that the Americans have ever (couple of decades as he states it) teamed up with that has been anywhere near competent and able to actually provide anything approaching good governance and law & order and the implicit admission that this may be precisely because of their 'socialism'.

Syria has already for decades been living with various 'frozen conflicts' and defacto occupation in Golan by the Israelis and Antioch by the Turks. That this current war is looking like it will finish with many unresolved frozen conflicts will not be a new experience for the Syrian state.

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24 2017 5:47 utc | 35

The conflict in Western Asia is not going to end any time soon. The clusterfuck playing itself out in Syria and Iraq today is all part of the US and Israeli plan to dominate the region. It has been in the works for decades and Afghanistan 2001 was the opening salvo. Plenty of leaked and officially released documents point to do numerous books, think tank pieces and interviews with prominent government and military officials.

They are in it for the haul and the goal is still Tehran and the coveted Eurasia. It should by now be clear to everyone that elected leaders have limited power over this policy. The imperialist rampage will continue as planned until it is brought to a stop by force or lack of resources to sustain it. There will be unintended consequences and plans will be adjusted, but the Empire is nowhere near giving up or giving in to common sense and accepting its role in a multi-polar world.

The West's Achilles heel is impatience and a weak and pampered populace with a massive sense of entitlement and a horror of discomfort and uncertainty. This will contribute greatly to its unraveling. The panic over the statistically insignificant number of Westerners killed in terrorist attacks, for example, is in stark contrast to the dismissive and condescending attitude shown towards countries like Iraq and Syria where the number of people killed by terrorists is definitely not insignificant. Now imagine a major Western city without power or water for 48 hours. These are not people used to tough living and it shows.

But this state of blissful ignorance will not last forever and sooner or later Westerners will have to face consequences for their actions. And they will scream bloody murder about how unfair it all is. On top of that, if present trends continue and income inequality continues to turn the West into a neo-feudal hellhole...double the pain, pass 'transition' and 'managed decline' and move straight to 'collapse'.

At some point the American dollar will lose its reserve currency status. Then shit will get very real, very quickly. This is what China and Russia and their allies must strive towards, along with replacing Microsoft and other American owned proprietary software with Stuxnet proof systems and networks. Right now they are still in the "our American partners" phase but if Washington doesn't adjust its attitude they will adjust theirs, and DC won't like it but by that time it will be too late.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jul 24 2017 5:52 utc | 36

Thanks for the Syria summary b that sounds so positive

I read Trump ending CIA support for some proxy forces as just another head fake by the liar in chief...will the total amount of support go down?....probably not.....probably it is doubling as a last gasp something to regain unipolar military status for the MAGA folks.....or stir some other geo-political pot a bit faster....grin

This sick circus continues to kill real people and our world. I hope it stops soon.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 24 2017 6:22 utc | 37

Interestingly about the Lebanon-Syria front: The battle for the Jurd of Ersal has begun

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 24 2017 7:26 utc | 38

re 27 propeace

Long live president Sisi who stopped that crazy MB fanatic Morsi (imposed in fraudulent "elections") from unleashing more carnage in Syria:
If you're going to support a military coup against an elected leader - overtly anti-democratic views are not by the way commonly popular on MoA - you should change your moniker, for lying. Military coups are never in favour of peace, so evidently you are not. A military coup is in itself the use of force. Or b should ban you until you do change your moniker.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 24 2017 8:35 utc | 39

Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes
by Andrew M. Lobaczewski:

Posted by: nobody | Jul 24 2017 9:54 utc | 40

I think the U.S. role in Syria has given Russia a tremendous opportuntity to learn one hell of a lot about the U.S. tactics; which is to say; Russia is playing the U.S. like a fiddle, and well played at that.
The aggressor, U.S., is giving away a lot of information to the ever so coy, Russia.
I view the U.S. as on its hind foot...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jul 24 2017 10:38 utc | 41

John Gilberts @ 23:

Any news also on whether Australia flew any military planes recently in Syria?

Last I heard, the Australians apologised for their part in bombing SAA positions in Deir ez Zor in September 2016, even though the four planes that participated in the attack were not planes used by the RAAF.

One wonders what the Australians and Canadians are up to in Syria if they're not flying any planes or apologising for flying planes they didn't actually fly. Maybe they're allowing their planes to be used for spare parts?

Posted by: Jen | Jul 24 2017 11:02 utc | 42

@Laguerre | 36

I don't know what's better for Egypt - Sisi or Morsi, but leaving aside coup part, for Syria definitely better Sisi.

Posted by: Harry | Jul 24 2017 12:11 utc | 43

The major change is that the SAA is now less than 40 km from Deir ez Zor, heading south east along the west bank of the Euphrates. Russian/Syrian aircraft have moved to T-4 airbase west of Palmyra. That reduces the dead distance by several hundred km, dramatically increasing their available flight time in central and eastern Syria.

The Yemeni military has also fired balistic missiles at Saudi oil refining facilities, making successful strikes.

Some eye candy from MAKS 2017

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 24 2017 12:36 utc | 44

I don't know what's better for Egypt - Sisi or Morsi, but leaving aside coup part, for Syria definitely better Sisi.
Actually Harry, neither you nor anybody has any idea, because Morsi was never given the chance to do what he was elected to do. Instead and the US and Israel arranged a military coup, to put in their new preferred anti-democratic leader. As they say, the US and Israel prefer dictators in the Middle East, because they're easy to deal with, and you don't have to bother about popular ideas.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 24 2017 12:43 utc | 45

Thanks for providing your understanding of 'democracy'. But from academics i expect anything.

Posted by: Mina | Jul 24 2017 13:20 utc | 46

Current map wrt Deir ez Zor

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 24 2017 13:28 utc | 47


Mina, I'm glad you find anti-democracy acceptable. I'm afraid it's a consequence of democracy that sometimes people you don't like are elected, e.g. TRump. As far as I know, Morsi's election was not too bad, in terms of fairness. At any rate, a far more legitimate election than's Sisi's. A military coup is not an election, and particularly not when followed by the slaughter of thousands of MB people. Military coups never lead to democracy, as they claim to do, and this one didn't either. They all go on to claim that Morsi was about to impose an autocratic regime (which seems to me not proven), but then impose by force the very type of regime they pretended to abhor. As far as I remember, Mina, you share that type of view.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 24 2017 14:03 utc | 48

If your democracy means that someone expressing his opinion should be banned from MoA, you reveal a very personal version of it.
About Morsi's election, your informers are biased or they were not there. Look at the results of Sabbahi in the cities. As for the countryside, there was an organized gas-crisis and no gas to put in cars to go to the polling station.
Morsi was in a stadium with religious authorities promising to send a million Egyptians to die as martyrs in Syria, this is a fact and there are enough videos of it. Morsi had brought Qardawi repeatedly to Egypt and people could watch him for Friday preach on national TV calling for djihad in Chechenia (of all places) and elsewhere. The army intervened a week later, and it intervened after millions of people had taken to the streets to make demonstrations against Morsi, demonstrations which ended up in street fights everywhere (without the army intervening) and in a few churches to be burned. You can watch a film called Ishtibak about the absurdity of the situation. The army started to arrest people from both sides of the pro and against Morsi demos and this lasted for about 3 days before they removed the incompetent monkey who had nothing to come up with except taking checks from Qatar and going for Umra in Mekka 3 times in one year!
Morsi in Germany
Morsi adjusting his trousers in Australia
Morsi and Syria (June 2013)
Morsi speeches

OT: In-depth analysis of the Kurdish situation here (in French)

Posted by: Mina | Jul 24 2017 15:30 utc | 49

b, another completely superb piece of journalism - the best overview currently in print, IMO.

@21 karlof1 - Thanks for that last zinger, bringing all your useful posts in this thread up to date. I note Canthama's observation about Tiger tactics of bypassing the battles that will slow them down - thus presumably leaving them for the regulars to take a more slow and steady approach with superior numbers? I have zero military knowledge, but surely the battle plans of Syria will be studied by military students around the world for a long time to come. And on that note...

@38 V. Arnold - Agreed, there seems a vastly superior military expertise to that of the US at work here, shown visibly by Russia, and with Iran and friends playing a very strong game below the radar.

There seem to be two schools of thought here at MoA and certainly in this thread. One is that the US despite apparent setbacks will continue doggedly in the pursuit of all Zionist plans for the region. The other school holds that the US has lost and is in the process of coming to terms with this, against much internal hubris, denial, anger, etc - all the usual syndromes of plans not working out.

I may have missed it in the last 2 days, but I haven't seen a mention of US Special Operations Commander, Gen. Raymond Thomas from his interview in Newsweek, acknowledging that the US presence in Syria is illegal and could be called out by Russia at any time - and then what would the US do, having no leg to stand on? Top general admits Russia could easily kick the US out of Syria

You can bring School 1 thinking to this and say he'll go down, it was a slip, and the US will surge again, etc...or you can bring School 2 thinking which says that even in the US, the lessons of these changing times are being painfully grasped.

Posted by: Grieved | Jul 24 2017 15:31 utc | 50

Wouldnt say that the outcome is in any way unfavorable for the US, i mean syria is completely destroyed and there are 8 new american bases in the region. All that russia has got is concessions so that the country wouldnt be totally ran over and that something like the previous status quo would be achieved.

Posted by: bg | Jul 24 2017 15:47 utc | 51

We knew this already.But it could be a useful reference for some of out credulous or gullible acquaintances who still think that there is any truth to what the Western MSM media tell them about the war in (on) Syria. The documentary mentioned in the article is especially valuable. The documentary seems to have opened the eyes of one of my gullible associates.

Posted by: Steve | Jul 24 2017 16:38 utc | 52

After a Google search, I got an updated version of Conan the Barbarian: "The most beautiful sound is the wailing of their think tanks". One could paste site a few titles. The nice thing is that wives wait until their husbands are dead, while think tanks wail even if their patron and the stooges can still last quite a bit.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2017 16:44 utc | 53

Grieved @47--

Thanks for the complement, but I did little more than harvest Canthama's hard work and repost it.

As for you two schools of thought, there was a recent stink tank document published I linked to Friday (I think) upon which our news digester Pepe Escobar has commented, Empire of Whiners,

Many, Pepe included, have seconded Nafeez Ahmed's deconstruction of the doc,

Clearly, the Exceptionalists still think they can win if they just keep doubling-down no matter the price in longterm stability. Just look at the continuance of Russiagate despite there being zero evidence, which fuels the 100% irrational sanctions the NYTimes seems to love so much, as with today's "Russian Sanctions a Deal Too Big to Win," which my local paper chose for some odd reason to republish. Note that it's the Dems who cried Russian Bear, yet the scandal persists thanks to the Republican controlled Congress, which ought to be investigating the Clinton Foundation and a host of Obama admin misdeeds. Behind this is the longstanding transfer of wealth from the 99% to 1% through the entire machinations of Empire and associated illegal manipulation of financial markets and instruments that all the propaganda's meant to mask.

Many have described the Outlaw US Empire as a gigantic Ponzi Scheme that must eventually collapse upon itself, thus the constant doubling-down by neolibealcons and their Deep State while ignoring ever more increasing demands from the 99% that the actual interests of the public be given priority, which is the mindset Trump capitalized upon but is now--willfully or not--failing to pursue. Russia and China know there's really nothing the Outlaw US Empire can do short of full blown nuclear war to stop their Eurasian Integration goal, so they keep to their development schedule while deftly parrying the spanners the Empire tries to place in their path.

The one imponderable for me is that it's in Russia and China's interest that the Outlaw US Empire avoid a hard crash and how they plan to make that occur. It may be they plan to do nothing other than let events take their course until reality finally overcomes Exceptionalist Hubris, which looks like it might just shoot itself in the head and lose its EU vassals over the baseless sanctions regime.

When Sputnik was launched, what eventually became the Space Race was also about closing the Education Gap, which existed mostly in the science and engineering disciplines. What little edge was gained has since been lost in those realms, but even worse is the erosion of critical thinking and writing skills from the liberal arts side of the educational spectrum, which includes the destruction of a once exceptional public school system and the corporate takeover of universities all for profit. As a result, Outlaw US Empire citizenry is deaf, dumb and blinder than the polity existing roughly from 1960-1980. Thanks to the continued looting of the 99% by the 1%, this situation might be turning itself around through the activism being generated. Midterm elections are only @15 months away; what happens between now and then--internationally and domestically--will be influential in their outcome.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 24 2017 16:52 utc | 54


ISUS east of Euphrates Syria sitting on numerous oil and nat/gas fields.
This extends into western reaches of Iraq.
Unless driven off militarily. ...a Sunni kookistan will exist.
Putin/Lavrov/US - gave Israhell another chunk of Syrian Golan..nearly 75% now,...with FSA/Takfiri kooks sitting on a de escalation zone in
Netanyahu protest to much is Jew Psyop. ...Israel has the former stolen Golan off the radar legal mediation is the new borders gifted
To Israhell.
This suggests that Syria was to be partitioned years ago...with all parties entering in understanding that.
Hence why Russia did nothing when Erdogan raced in to grab his safezone,
And US waltzed in building some 10 military bases.
Gulen organization used to run Afghan Opium with CIA,
Before that was the French_Connection. ..Outlet Narcotics from Turkey and The Lebanon.
US/CIA now in Kurd Iraq and Kurd Syria could mean they will run the old
Narcotics route.....V 22 Ospreys flying Opium around.
US wars with Gun running, Narcotics and Political intrigues is many decades old,...and not a first, British East India company
Used this model of managed chaos since the 1700s.
Qatar pipeline may be off the table, ...other agendas revealed by Thinktanks are still in play.

Posted by: Brad | Jul 24 2017 17:12 utc | 55


Morsi's intentions were good, he was elected democraticaly and even went to Iran!
But he was far too weak for the fight for influences that was going on between Qatar/Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The USA has mixed feelings about Morsi. His opening up to Iran was a fatal mistake that antagonized Saudi Arabia as well
The MB are not ready for leading Egypt or Tunisia or Syria or anywhere. In Tunisia it has become a party, that is all it can aim for or disappear.
It was Qatar, Turkey and the USA's illusion that the MB was going to move these countries toward an Islamic democracy " a la Turc".
We now see that Turkey's democracy is turning into a dictatorship.
History has shown that Sunnis are not prone to a democratic system, they crave for a strong authoritarian leader, a king, a sultan. That's what they are getting and that is why they remain unstable.

Posted by: virgile | Jul 24 2017 17:23 utc | 56

Ref. Iran-Egypt, it was the army which reestablished diplomatic relation very quickly after the fall of Mubarak.

Posted by: Mina | Jul 24 2017 17:27 utc | 57

Can't expect much from mid-term elections other than the possibility of a somewhat slower:

a.) train wreck
b.) degraded economy & transfer of wealth
c.) marijuana decriminalization

99 percent of the candidates support not the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights, but the militarized Police/security/surveillance State, and Jesus's GWOT.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jul 24 2017 17:30 utc | 58

The wiki article is twisted so that people link Morsi and Iran but the ref to the Reuters article
shows that the renewed diplomatic relations is dated April 2011. That is more than a year before Morsi became president.

Posted by: Mina | Jul 24 2017 17:35 utc | 59

The single most important dogma in the Christian religion is the line about rendering unto Caeser, leaving earthly matters to the rulers. This concept was embedded into Christianity by the roman elites precisely so as to transform Christianity into a religion that could reinforce their rule and harness the religious fervour that was rife in the later Western Roman empire, while leaving the elite unfettered by any religious constraints.

This concept simply does not exist in Islam. In fact the process is completely the opposite in Islam. Islam was created and developed by the elites of the Arab conquest so as to bind their disparate new empire together. Islam was always tied with political rule. Christianity was used as a tool to keep religion out of power politics.

The MB and any other sharia political orgs are categorically undemocratic. There can be no democracy in an islamic state. The whole idea is contradictory to the theology because why would the people need to have a voice when god has already decided what is perfect. This notwithstanding, Islamic forces can always pursue power by democratic means and this fits in with a theological idea that pursuing power is sanctified by any means necessary. Thus it is not contradictory for Islamists to pursue power through the ballot box while believing that dismantling the ballot box after winning power is vital to islam. Across the islamic world there are lots of instances of Islamic parties coming to power democratically but no examples of islamic parties relinquishing power democratically. Morsi would not have been an exception.

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24 2017 18:35 utc | 60


Perfect and clear exposition.

"The MB and any other sharia political orgs are categorically undemocratic. There can be no democracy in an islamic state. The whole idea is contradictory to the theology because why would the people need to have a voice when god has already decided what is perfect....Across the islamic world there are lots of instances of Islamic parties coming to power democratically but no examples of islamic parties relinquishing power democratically."

There are some in the west who extol the virtues of democracy in Islamic majority regions but fail to get the fundamental nature of Islamic political parties. Theocracies are inherently not democratic in any sense of what it means in the west. And an election is not the sine qua non of a democracy!

Posted by: ab initio | Jul 24 2017 18:53 utc | 61

The single most important dogma in the Christian religion is the line about rendering unto Caeser, leaving earthly matters to the rulers. This concept was embedded into Christianity by the roman elites precisely so as to transform Christianity into a....
Posted by: Køn | Jul 24, 2017 2:35:24 PM | 57

Hey! Clever stuff!
You've managed to Romanise Christian Histrionics without once mentioning that Jews...
1. Invented Christianity.
2. Wrote The Holey Bible with its Jewish Cast of Characters.
3. Bestowed upon Christians the 10 Slave Owner's Commandment's, enhancing the status of property owners and diminishing the status of women to mere chattels.


Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 24 2017 19:26 utc | 62

"The single most important dogma in the Christian religion is the line about rendering unto Caeser, leaving earthly matters to the rulers."

The ordering of dogmata by importance is rather questionable. For example, a lot of American members of Congress profess a simple goal to govern according to Biblical principles. They are fanatical Christians, if a bit peculiar, as suggested by an authentic quote: "If English was enough for Jesus Christ, it is enough for me." Slightly rational explanation is that learning foreign languages to understand other nations is totally unnecessary, it suffices to understand the Bible. One can also buy "The Bible for Dummies", "The Book of Revelation for Dummies"etc. But those guys also make seminars on "Biblical Tax Policy" and so on. Basically, they want to understand the Holy Book literally, but somehow they view 2nd Amendment as one of the Commandments and use Ayn Rand as one of the prophets.

In any case, the church is not suppose to rule, but they lay people, doing their darn best to do it biblically. Like preventing abortion, keeping taxes law and keeping guns in the hands of God-fearing folks.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Democrats could not stand atheistic Bernie Sanders so they sticked to the good Methodist with name Hillary Clinton, with no heed the a tree stump could have a larger chance to win (at least, Mr. Stump would not hurt his fellow Democrats).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2017 19:41 utc | 63

Sorry for misspellings. The theory that amount irrational religions, Islam is uniquely bad is really getting on my nerves.

Knowing little bits of history that are selected by cranks is bad for your brain (not that it has to give you tumors, but the possibility is there). Humans found very early on that a certain amount of superstition allows the society to function, especially when it was important to cooperate on a larger scale. Consequently, all successful societies had rather elaborate religious institutions, and the less successful ones were eliminated and/or converted. Some separated the religious caste from personal rule and some did not. In Confucianism, Emperor was basically the chief priest, responsible for Rites and thus mediating between the humanity and Heavens. Confucian scholars were learned about the rites and traditions and they ruled on day-to-day basis. But they were not monotheists so other religions were combined into the official beliefs. Thus Japanese emperor had his Confucian courtiers but also was (and is) the descendant of the top Shinto deity, Amaterasu. In Hinduism, the monarch was sometimes from the warrior caste and sometimes from the priestly caste and venerated as a god.

For a "most important dogma", the separation of Chuch and state was rather late in the history of Christianity. As late as 200 years ago, heretics (Catholics) had no voting rights in England, unlike the subjects with correct religions. However, rebellious colonists did not want to keep the privileged position of the Church of England, so they added a clause to their constitution.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 24 2017 20:07 utc | 64

57, 59 & 60--

Of course, in Modern Christianity as embraced by neoliberalcons and emblazoned from coast-to-coast in North America on billboards as you drive along is the dogma that Christ died for your sins--So, you get to sin all you want and still get into heaven! What a deal: No more tithe, unlimited sinning, and unquestioned entry to Heaven! Who wants to live a staid moral life when one can kill millions while stealing billions and get feted along the way. Three cheers for the Pirate King!!!

If the above seems odd to you, compare Outlaw US Empire's elite's behavior since WW1, which adopted Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism despite misunderstanding the entire concept. But then, isn't that the point? Cherry pick this from one philosophy and that from religion in support of the twisted life the elite wants to live. Isn't it painfully clear by now that they'll tell any lie no matter how big and easily debunked to keep their power and position. I mean, how much do the Deep State and House of Saud really differ?

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 24 2017 20:10 utc | 65

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24, 2017 2:35:24 PM | 60

I think you are rewriting history. At least where I live catholics and protestants devastated the landscape fighting each other for 30 years to finally agree that a ruler has the right to decide the religion for his subjects.

Catholics and Protestants still fought each other recently in Northern Ireland, an no, Catholics did not intend to give in to the emperor.

The seperation of church and state is due to the enlightenment, and the state was very anti-Christian then, at least in France.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2017 20:47 utc | 66

I had a thought recently driving through a large city with with various Christian hospitals. My thought was that the umbrella of Christianity is actually polytheistic with the different sects of Christianity having different personas of a God.

Relevant to the discussion of Islam as a monistic government in that under a secular head of state in an Islamic country there are allowed different sects of Islam.

So, I guess, the sense of Islam being a monotheistic state would be false when you factor in secularism.

I was never indoctrinated into religion so I'm still trying to get my head around the various branches of the various religions. I think secularism has been left out of the discussion.

The polytheism thing of the main three branches of Christianity, Islam and Judaism is just me trying to make sense of religion.

Posted by: Forest | Jul 24 2017 22:05 utc | 67

Re: Religions

Religions give people an identity of views on many subjects and puts a policeman inside. Thus the need for external coercion is averted. Moses didn't give a F F for God, "having been raised into Egyptians beliefs". But he was a master statesman and invented "Yaweh""God" or whatever you choose and ten commandments that made his flock less unruly.

Christianity likewise, and Islam and all organized religions have the same purpose: to civilize the flock and make it easier to control and rule.

A religion that makes all other people inferior game is sure to attract followers as did the jewish faith thrusted upon the Khazars who now believe all other anthropoids are inferior and Goys given them for their enjoyments and fulfillment.

And there are a zillion Christians whose faith in the "Holy" Bible make them servants to the "Chosen Few". And others who believe Allah liberates them from the claims of the Chosen.

Meanwhile each religion tries to widen its sphere of influence and projects itself as the only one.

But, inasmuch as Islam gives his followers the will to martyrdom by fighting, not by submitting, Islam will conquer the World and put an end to the Jews delusions and the Christians will to slaverous toils and goyim allegiance that makes life so easy for the Master Race, the Chosen Few and those that believe in the KOL NIDRE as the ultimate attitude towards the goys.

Posted by: CarlD | Jul 24 2017 22:18 utc | 68

It has been said the the Romans caused the Exodus from Israel.

Truth in my opinion, is the Jews found it easier to go abroad and prey on others.

Posted by: CarlD | Jul 24 2017 22:22 utc | 69

Interesting all the misinterpretations of what exactly I said about the render unto caeser dogma and no one pays attention to the much more controversial contention that the Arab conquest preceded Islam.

Of course christianity is an offshoot of Judaism largely developed by Jews. Christian ascendancy is a function of becoming the state religion of the later Western Roman Empire. Without Roman elite adoption Christianity would be as wide spread today as Mithraism.

There is a distinction between Islamist government and government by someone who is a muslim. Sisi who overthrew Morsi, is undoubtably also a muslim. I don't think he would be able to govern Egypt if the Egyptian public thought he was not a muslim. Presently it is almost inconceivable that one could become a powerful politician in America without being avowedly Christian. Merkel the leader of Germany is from the 'Christian' Democrat party. But she would not claim to be ruling by and for the benefit of god.

Without thinking too deeply about it the closest christian analog for the Muslim brotherhood rule I can think of is elements of the puritans of the English Civil War. Religious fanatics who seized power by any means including democratic and populist and then attempted to impose rule solely based on theology. Interestingly just like modern day Islamists they were also fond of smashing works of art and cultural heritage.

The interpretation of the render unto caesar dogma as a Christian theological ground for the separation of church and state is indeed a later enlightenment interpretation.
In fact why the original gospel writers included 'render unto caeser' in all the gospels may have been for completely different reasons (iconoclastic theology-no graven images jewish rules). Nonetheless Emperors like Constantine seized on it as a valuable tool for shaping Christianity into a state religion that would anoint them with devine right to rule while freeing them from any religious encumbrance.

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24 2017 22:40 utc | 70

...The deescalation agreement foresees the supervision of the deescalation area by Russian military policy. That regime will be installed during the next few weeks and further Israeli shenanigans in the area will become difficult. Russia will react harshly against any interference with its troops' task...

Not far off what I suggest a while ago as an elegant solution. How or whether it will work out is anybody's guess and what crazy stuff Nut&Yahoo might try to pull off and get away with against the Russians, who must be prepared for for something of the sort. As I wrote before, if Russia could guarantee the border keeping Hezbollah/whatever at bay, then Israeli resources could be deployed elsewhere (or rationalized/savings made/drawdown), so not exactly a great loss, just a lost of their at will meddling coz they can. I'll believe it when I see it though!

Posted by: et Al | Jul 24 2017 22:40 utc | 71

It is the most important dogma for christianity, because if christianity had not contained the kernel of the idea then it would not have been chosen as the state religion of the Roman empire and would have disappeared with all of the other 'cults' of the time.

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24 2017 22:44 utc | 72

Good news. Thank you, b.
It's like the news that Trump will stop the CIA's arming of the rebels. Of course, the change of who the US is officially (and unofficially) supporting does not make it to the MSM. It's like the US can wage war and destroy a country and the people hardly notice ... except Mccain who's spoken against it.

As to Morsi, I'm still with the story of Morsi/MB working to consolidate power which drew the protesters back out to the streets to say this was not what they wanted. The military did not like the idea of being dragged into the Syrian war for MB. Morsi was elected, true. But some people don't like being misled into thinking they're supporting a moderate who once in power reveals their true agenda. Iranians once thought they were getting a moderate in the form of Ayatollah Khomeini. Instead they got a surprise. In the end a majority voted for the Islamic Republic constution but many chafe at the conditions. Not all coups are as messy. And elections do not give us wise leaders who represent us just the appearance of such.

Posted by: Curtis | Jul 24 2017 23:17 utc | 73

Thanks to "b" for allowing us to learn outside the "Overton Window/Bubble"

The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people:
24 November 2016

Posted by: Krollchem | Jul 24 2017 23:33 utc | 74

@49 mina

A brilliant summary! I guess this is where justice and ideology clash. Just because 80 or 90 % of the people back an idea (up to and including genocide) does not make it just. i support democracy, I believe and work for justice.

@50 grieved

There are two schools of thought: some think the Neo-cons will go for the win. They will try. Some think the US will withdraw. Perhaps. , but there is also a third option - that of stalemate. A frozen conflict. All the US needs to legitimately stay in the field is that referendum in the Kurdish areas. They can use a positive result like Russia used the one in the Crimea. It will be hard for Laverov to argue against that!

So if both Russia and the US stay, and if Israel stays... Then Turkey will have no reason to leave either. No one can move forward and no one will back down. A frozen conflict. stalemate. and a great way to make trouble when and if you want.

Posted by: les7 | Jul 25 2017 0:02 utc | 75

@75 les7.. yes, but i don't see the usa agreeing to the referendum in crimea... far from it... there little adventure here with the syrian kurds is quite a joke actually... just like how the usa support for the mafioso dude barzani in 'iraq kurdistan'... the usa is always happy with a mafioso type.. maybe they will find a version for the syrian area too, who the kurds themselves will come to hate, just like they hate barzani - unless they are directly related to him of course.. that little part in the 'dumbocracy pitch' is always missing of course... syrian democratic forces my ass..

well, i didn't want to talk about that, but such is the nature of going off on a tangent..

i was also wondering what happened to jfl...

regarding @50 grieved 2 lines of thought at moa - i personally see both happening simultaneously.. on a related note, how many people were predicting the fall of the berlin wall a month or a year before it happened? the stasi were all powerful!!!! life can change very fast and not in the way some might expect.. in fact, life is full of surprises!

Posted by: james | Jul 25 2017 2:45 utc | 76

@ Islam vs Christianity or other religions

Purely from the empirical point of view, it is not the variety of religious belief that makes the difference.

In the Middle East, you will notice that both Christians and Muslims have not only similar aspirations but they also go about achieving their aspirations in the same manner.

The values and the priorities of Christians and Muslims are remarkably similar. Other than liturgical differences, their behavior, their attitude, their expectations and the way to go about attaining those expectations are strikingly similar.

To understand the Middle East, one would do well to study the mechanism inherent in murder. The why and how murder is or is not justified and the ramifications thereof whether legal or social.

Posted by: guidoamm | Jul 25 2017 4:07 utc | 77

James 76

jfl was a bit thin skinned and let a troll annoy him. b zapped the troll but jfl hasn't been back.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 25 2017 6:04 utc | 78

thanks peter.. he will probably be back then..

Posted by: james | Jul 25 2017 6:07 utc | 79

christianity is an offshoot of Judaism largely developed by Jews.

Posted by: Køn | Jul 24, 2017 6:40:21 PM | 70

Which "christianity"? Pauline christianity designed to stop the conversion of Judeans to the Church in Jerusalem that faithfully followed the precepts of its founding figure, a certain Jesus son of Mary (AS)?

And what is "Judaism"? Are you referring to the Mosaid/Babylonian/Zoroastrian mishmash that "returned" to Judea with new doctrines and supported by the Empire of the day (Persian) or the (effectively) forgotten religion of the pre-exile Israelites?

It never ceases to amaze me that the current crop of the humanoids on this planet think "fake news" is a novelty.

Are you certain you actually know what happened 2000 years ago in Palestine, or it is possible you are merely repeating STATE PROPAGANDA of Senhedrin, Rome, etc.?

Posted by: nobody | Jul 25 2017 8:48 utc | 80

No,they all claim the "one and only" god to rule. That is the problem.

This here is the view of the German enlightenment - the ring parable

"But wait," interrupted Saladin, "surely you do not mean to tell me that there are no differences between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity!"

"You are right, Sultan," replied Nathan. "Their teachings and practices differ in ways that can be seen by all. However, in each case, the teachings and practices are based on beliefs and faith, beliefs and faith that at their roots are the same. Which of us can prove that our beliefs and our faith are more reliable than those of others?"

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2017 8:58 utc | 81

Some 5,000+ years ago, a Kergan cult adopted the war god named Yahweh, which essentially ended the Goddess culture, and became judaism.
It all falls from there...
Riane Tennenhaus Eisler; The Chalice and the Blade.
A fascinating read...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jul 25 2017 9:23 utc | 82


;-)) +1

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2017 9:28 utc | 83

Posted by: Forest | Jul 24, 2017 6:05:11 PM | 67

[O]ne is the religion that that honorable Arab man brought one thousand, three hundred and fifty years ago and was established for centuries. The other is the Islam that there is today and has turned into many colors from Sunnism, Shi'ism, Esmaili, Aliollahi, Sheikhi, and Karimkhani, and the like. They call both Islam, but they are not one. They are completely different and are opposite of one another.... Nothing is left of that Islam.

This establishment that the mullas are running not only does not have any benefits but it also causes many harms and results in wretchedness.

These sects exists because actual messengers of God tell them to avoid "the leaven of the Pharisee" but as you can see they are all stuffed to the gill with the "leaven" [means: theological texts] of CLERICS.

> "The polytheism thing of the main three branches of Christianity, Islam and Judaism"

It actually started with the corruption of the monotheist religion of the Iranian prophet, Zoroaster (AS). Before you could say "wolves in sheep's clothing" a whole set of 'Mobeds' (means: Zoroastrian priest] were running the show. Angels, Judgement Day, Purgatory, Paradise, Pit of Hell, these are all IRANIAN in source.

Very very very few of you actually are following the teachings of authentic messengers of the One God. Most of you take delight in stuffing yourselves (even when claiming to be nonbelievers) of the DOCTRINES OF THE PRIESTHOODS.

And yes, you are right. There are numerious flavors of that foul leaven.

Posted by: nobody | Jul 25 2017 9:44 utc | 84

I've asked a couple of times why in recent months when discussing YPG and US, or the Kurdish question in general there has been an obvious omission in analyses; namely, Russia, when it was obvious they were on the scene - YPG stating Turkey wont make a.move without RF permission; the contradictory increased presence or withdrawl RF troops claimed by propagandists; etc.
Robert Fisk at least openly admits Russias presence and collusion with the US and YPG.
It explains a lot. And it is positive.
But it does not explain the lack of objectivity in certain blogs.

Oh, and love the 'change the name' move - Turkey's own game used against it and Erdogan is furious! (How mny name changes have SNC, FSA, Al Nusra etc. go through at Turkeys behest early on?)

Posted by: AtaBrit | Jul 25 2017 9:57 utc | 85

Polytheism is being thrown around incorrectly; the Greeks and Romans were polytheists (believing in many gods).
Islam, Chistianity and Judaism all believed in the same god; not polytheist at all.
Catholics are polytheists; the father, the son, and the holy ghost. All one but not the same.
The doctrine of the Trinity.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jul 25 2017 10:04 utc | 86

@ az | 7
Great rundown :-)
But I think European and Russian interests converge somewhat with regard to Turkey should it increase its role as energy hub. There have already been stupid comments made such as "we will cut off Europes energy" etc. And you can easily see a repetition of the Ukraine situation happening. There are of course many other considerations, but the upshot is that Turkey will have to be kept on a leash and will have to start playing nicely with neighbours.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Jul 25 2017 10:12 utc | 87

The MB motto in demonstrations was 'al Islam huwa al dustur' (Islam is the [sole] constitution) to say that democracy was unislamic
there has been debates for decennies about the questions of accepting or boycotting the elections (also among the islamist parties -MB or not- in Kuwait, Jordan etc)

Posted by: Mina | Jul 25 2017 10:19 utc | 88

The three religions of Abraham are Judaism, Christianity and Muslim. Their roots are in the first monotheistic religion - Zoroastrianism. Their holy books share many of the same fables. Each proclaims to serve one true god thru one true messenger and teachings. In theory, one is correct and the others are wrong (Heresy). Each requires the conversion of/or the murder of apostates. (Some recant the murder, but nonetheless it is written.)

Monotheism provides the best incentive for war, ie: murder of the other. Perfect vehicles for building empires.

In group/Out group.

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jul 25 2017 15:00 utc | 89

Men destroyed goddess worship. There was too much room for peace and cooperation in the divine feminine goddesses and in the pagan gods of nature.

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jul 25 2017 15:20 utc | 90


There were lots of wars in the polytheist world. And empires.

Possibly there was/is more room for conflict within society because of the multiple gods people can turn to.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2017 15:29 utc | 91

What an interesting religious conversation many of you are having.

Here's a snippet from Scott Ritter's latest piece titled "Say Goodbye to Regime Change in Syria" where he also discusses the MBs role in the FSA -

"The train and equip mission of the CIA in Syria can be traced back to the spring of 2011, when a revolution broke out in Libya against the dictatorial rule of Muammar Gadhafi. Backed by NATO airpower, anti-regime fighters were able to establish control over large areas inside Libya. The CIA began a program to train and equip these fighters, supplying weapons to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who in turn shipped these weapons to Libya, where they were turned over to Libyan rebels. (This circuitous route was chosen to avoid the U.S. being in violation of a UN embargo against weapons deliveries to Libya.)"

"In August 2011, in the aftermath of the capture of the Libyan capital of Tripoli by rebel forces, Qatar began diverting arms originally intended for Libya to Turkey, where they were turned over to rebel forces that had, since June of 2011, been fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. These rebels were grouped together under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an ostensibly secular resistance group that was in reality controlled by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that had been crushed by Bashar al-Assad’s father back in the early 1980’, and was operating in exile in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. While the CIA was not directly involved in this activity, CIA personnel in Libya and Turkey monitored these shipments to make sure no sensitive weaponry, such as hand-help surface-to-air missiles, made their way into Syria. This effort, which involved billions of dollars of arms, including those provided by the United States for the express purpose of aiding Libyan rebels, continued through 2012 and into 2013. (The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was killed in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi in September 2012, was involved in coordinating these weapons transfers.)"

Posted by: h | Jul 25 2017 15:40 utc | 92

If your distinct tribe and my tribe share a number of random gods, then neither of us holds a claim of ownership of "One True God" (which bestows upon the claimant the absolute right to commit genocide against apostates).

Posted by: fastfreddy | Jul 25 2017 16:22 utc | 93

@h | 92
Thanks for the link.
Very interesting matter of fact analysis.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Jul 25 2017 16:31 utc | 94

@10, 15

The claims of SAA being 40-50 km from Deir Ezzor seem to be outliers. SAA crossed the road east of As Salam Alaykum and is approaching the province border in the area of Rujm As Sulayman.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 25 2017 17:07 utc | 95

93 I understand your theory but in history gods neither prevented nor started wars.
There used to be a lot of warfare between catholics like this episode of the war of the eight saints which makes medieval Italy sound a lot like today's Libya.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2017 17:27 utc | 96

The sooner people realize that organized religion has nothing to do with salvation and everything to do with subjugation and control, the sooner we can start focusing on real problems. Of course, that will never happen, so the next best outcome would be an extinction level meteorite strike on the planet...a do-over, if you will.

Posted by: SlapHappy | Jul 25 2017 17:52 utc | 97

@97 slappy

I guess you have never read A Canticle for Liebowitz? In that case it would be a bummer for you to, as to the author the history of humanity seems to be cyclical. Secularization follows religious prophecy which gives rise to nuclear apocalypse wherein religion rises from the ashes. Ad infinitum. When does the sun die? You always have that to look forward to.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jul 25 2017 23:37 utc | 98

Mina 88
I'm reading Washington's Long War on Syria now. The islamists never liked secular goverments whether Assad's, Gaddhafi's, or Saddam's who were more nationalist and socialist. The US did not like their independence. So there were two forces at work. The author, Gowans points to Bremer's banning of the Ba'ahist party in Iraq as part of the plan to bring them into the US/West sphere of influence.

Posted by: Curtis | Jul 26 2017 0:29 utc | 99

Partially OT

What I find is totally missing from the analysis of the recent history of the Middle East is one possible covert reason the West ventured into Iraq.

In the laundry list of reasons as to why we should invade Iraq, one had to do with bringing democracy.

If we take that excuse at face value however and considering that the West has traditionally been allied with the Sunni regimes of the region during the second half of this century, that would mean nobody stopped to do the math.

I find that highly unlikely.

Iraq has always had a Shia'a majority.

Upon invading the country, not only did we promptly dismantle the entire security and administrative apparatus but we also removed all administrative documents which, if memory serves, were taken to Washington DC

In my opinion, this was a deliberate attempt at allowing the majority to take over violently.

If indeed that was a deliberate move, it follows that the West knew that all surrounding Sunni regimes would not simply sit idly by as new neighbors make their way in what the Sunnis consider as their own backyard.

From where I am standing, I can only presume that at some point in the past 15 years there has been a deliberate attempt at giving Iran, and therefore the Shia'a variety of belief, the upper hand in the region.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: guidoamm | Jul 26 2017 3:30 utc | 100

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