Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 28, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Army To Regain Northeastern Territory - Political Isolation Ends

The fallout from U.S. president Trump's decision to retreat from Syria develops as expected.

Trump had announced a rapid draw down of U.S. troops in Syria. Later he spoke of a controlled process that would allow Turkey to take over the U.S. occupied areas in northeast Syria. That plan, probably initiated by National Security Advisor John Bolton, is totally unrealistic. Such an wide ranging occupation, which would be resisted by many powerful forces, is not in Turkey's interest. Nevertheless, the Turkish president Erdogan will use the threat of a Turkish invasion to press for a dismantling of the Kurdish YPG forces which the U.S. trained and equipped.


This morning the Syrian Arab Army (red) announced that it entered Manbij, west of the Euphrates. It established itself on the contact line between the Turkish supported forces (green) and the U.S. supported Kurdish YPG (yellow). The Syrian flag was raised in Manbij city. The move comes after U.S. troops and their Kurdish proxy forces voluntarily retreated from the area. Manbij was threatened by the Turkish military and its Jihadi proxy forces. To prevent a Turkish onslaught, the local armed groups, who collaborated with the U.S. military, invited the Syrian army to take over. This pattern will repeat elsewhere.

A Kurdish delegation is currently in Russia to negotiate a further take over of the U.S. occupied northeastern provinces of Hasaka and Qamishli by Syrian government forces. The Kurds still hope for some autonomy from the Syrian government that allows them to keep their armed forces. But neither Damascus, nor anyone else, will ever agree to that. There will only be one armed force in Syria, the Syrian Arab Army. It is possible though, that some Kurdish units will be integrated within it.

A Turkish delegation is also in Moscow and tomorrow Erdogan will visit there. Russia spoke out against the U.S. plan to let Turkey take Syria's northeast or even parts of it. Erdogan will not get Russian or Iranian support for any such move. Moreover, he will be pressed to leave the other areas of Syria Turkey currently occupies.

U.S. troops are for now expected to continue the occupation near the Euphrates where the fight against remains of the Islamic State is ongoing. They wont stay long. Trump successfully insisted, against the wish of his military, to completely pull out of Syria. The people who argue against the move are, not coincidentally, the same people who furthered the rise of Islamic State. After Secretary of Defense Mattis resigned over the issue further efforts by the military to delay the retreat will likely be futile.


To cover the withdrawal from Syria the U.S. military established two new bases in Iraq. These are also blocking positions designed to prevent over land traffic between the Levant and Iran. It is unlikely that the U.S. will occupy those bases for long. The Iraqi parliament is already moving to again throw out all U.S. forces from its country.

The military moves come along with new political ones which reestablish Syria as a pivotal Arab state.

Yesterday the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus. Bahrain will follow next. Kuwait will reopen its embassy in January. Oman never closed its embassy in Damascus. Of the Gulf countries only Qatar, allied with Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have jet to announce a revival of their relations with Syria. Before the war on Syria started, the UAE and other gulf countries financed several large investment projects in Syria. These will be revived and help the country's economy back onto its feet. Egypt is expected to follow the move of its Gulf sponsors.

Underlying the UAE move is a strategy of countering Turkey's neo-ottoman ambition. Syria is (again) seen as the bulwark that protects the larger Arabia from Turkish marauders. It signals to Turkey that any attempt to take over more of Syria will be resisted by the Gulf states and possibly even by Egypt's army. Egypt is, together with Russia, mediating between the Kurds and the Syrian government.

The Arab move is also perceived as a counter to Iranian influence in Syria. In this it will fail. Syria was rescued from the all out attack on it by Iran's intervention. It was the Iranian General Soleimani who convinced Russia to commit troops to Syria. It was Iran that spent billions to prop up the Syrian government while the Gulf Arabs spent even more to take it down. Syria will not forget who are its foes and who are its real friends.

Air traffic connections from Damascus to Arab countries are coming back. Last week a direct connection with Tunisia was revived. In January Gulf-Air, the official airline carrier for Bahrain, will again offer flights from Damascus. The Arab League, which in 2012 kicked out Syria, will invite it back in. Syria may well accept the offer, but only in exchange for a large compensation.

An Israeli air attack on Syrian military installations on December 25 largely failed. The Israeli jets fired some 16 stand-off bombs from Lebanese air space. They cowardly hid behind two commercial airliners which were on their way from the Gulf to Europe. This made it impossible for the Syrian air defense to directly attack the Israeli jets. Most of the Israeli projectiles were destroyed by the Syrian short-range air defenses. A Syrian missile was fired against Israel proper. It was a reminder that new rules of engagement, as announced, have been established. Attacks on Syria will be replied to by direct attacks on Israel. The missile shot ended the Israeli attack.

Israel, like others, will learn that any further attacks on Syria are futile and will only lead to effective retaliations. The war on Syria, while not yet over, is drawing down. Syria's political isolation is ending. Those who insist on continuing it will in the end lose out.

Posted by b on December 28, 2018 at 13:53 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Great post b. My worry is that with the drawdown in Syria, Trump will move to attack Iran directly.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Dec 28 2018 14:37 utc | 1

Remains to be seen whether Erdogan's jihadi hordes are prepared to duke it out with the SAA.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:20 P.M.) – The Turkish military, alongside their rebel allies, have allegedly begun their Manbij offensive in northeastern Aleppo.

According to a statement from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), their troops and the Turkish Army have begun their battle to capture the city of Manbij from the “PKK terrorists.”

One would think the presence of Russian forces among SAA units would stifle any appetite for confrontation.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Dec 28 2018 14:39 utc | 2

Does anyone have a description of a modus vivendi for the MENA and maybe the rest of the world that might keep the species (most particularly my and the rest of our grandchildren) alive and un-looted by the Few, as this and possibly other “wars” wind down (or just get displaced to new “Areas of [Un]Responsibility,’more likely)?

I note that the current iteration of the vastly compendious US Imperial War Department’s “Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms,”, uses the word “war” some 36 times, in many contexts with bureaucratic or yuuuge policy implications. But nowhere is that word, “war,” defined, in that lexical explication of all the big complex words and phrases the War Department finds it useful and necessary to define with some specificity (and re-define regularly, to comport with whatever the latest BS “doctrine” and salients the Empire is invested in. (“Policy,” of course, is another often-used — 62 times — yet undefined term there, as are “national interest(s)” — 4 times —, and “national security,’ — 58 times —.

And of course “success,” used 6 times but undefined.

And really tellingly, in my humble estimation, and totally unsurprisingly, “VICTORY” is neither used nor defined. Given that it sure seems “success” and “victory” are measured only by wealth transfer to the war contractors, career advancement by the Brass, and of course “body counts” (undefined term), rather than producing what we mopes popularly think and still believe the term to mean.

So, returning to my opening question, what does any modus vivendi that does not involve activation of planning documents like this, “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security,”, from the Defense Science Board, on how the Empire’s military and commercial interests will take control over the planet as the collapse of habitability of the planet occurs? And is there any way to get there?

Posted by: JTMcPhee | Dec 28 2018 15:04 utc | 3

An interesting post as usual, but missing discussion of the key factor: demographics.

The Syrian civil war was ignited by the Syrian government's deliberate creation of a population explosion. They criminalized the sale and possession of birth control, propagandized that it was every woman's duty to have six kids each, got the population to double, and then double again, and then... oops! The aquifers had been drained to below a kilometer deep and things fell apart. No, 'global warming' had nothing to do with this.

So as important as political factors are, the big issue will be resources and demographics. The notion that Syria can instantly turn itself into another Singapore is absurd, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

The refugees will help Syria by reducing pressure on resources. It's hard to tell what's going on as regards their population dynamics: presumably most Syrians are no longer having six kids a pop (?), but there is demographic momentum to contend with (i.e., with a young age distribution even two kids per family will result in the population doubling or tripling before stabilizing).

Syria is not that big a place, and it has little in the way of fresh water or other resources. If people remain crushed into poverty with no jobs for young people, that's not a recipe for long-term stability. Will Russia feed them? (Russia has a. lot of food, nowadays). Will the Syrian government try to avoid repatriating their citizens who fled? Will they try to drive some remaining groups of their population out into the refugee stream? Will they, as so many other governments have done (like Iran!), switch from encouraging people to have enormous families to encouraging them to have small families? And what will you do with a rural economy largely geared to low-level farming that no longer has the water to operate that? How quickly can they switch to manufacturing? - and remember, there are lots of poor countries all over the world competing for jobs via low wages, that's not automatic.

These factors are where the real future of Syria is to be decided, but there is a total ban on discussing this in the corporate press. One wonders if this ban on discussing demographics has percolated up to include government officials? Have government officials come to believe their own propaganda, that more people are ALWAYS better regardless of circumstance and so we can't even think about it?

But as the old saying goes, amateurs talk strategy, and professionals talk logistics.

Posted by: TG | Dec 28 2018 15:18 utc | 4

@ Mike Maloney | Dec 28, 2018 9:37:13 AM | 1
My worry is that with the drawdown in Syria, Trump will move to attack Iran directly.
No chance of that. Iran is too strong, with many missiles aimed at US forces and installations in the Gulf.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 15:22 utc | 5

@ Mike Maloney | 1

My worry is that with the drawdown in Syria, Trump will move to attack Iran directly.

Never going to happen. It was discussed before on MoA, its literally impossible for US to win over Iran. Therefore we'll continue to see sanctions (less and less effective) + inciting "colour revolutions", thats it.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 28 2018 15:23 utc | 6

Posted by: TG | Dec 28, 2018 10:18:20 AM | 4

"The Syrian civil war was ignited by the Syrian government's deliberate creation of a population explosion."

What cr*p! Total fake. The drought was caused by the Turks cutting the water in the Euphrates, and all the Syrian women I know (many) never once mentioned being pressured to have children.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 28 2018 15:34 utc | 7

Events are moving faster than I expected. The reason for the Syrians already being in Manbij is that there are not that many Kurds there. It's not really part of Rojava. But yes, I do agree the Kurds are in the middle of making a deal with Asad. And the presence of Syrians in Manbij is a sign that the discussions are well advanced. I should think the Kurds will be able to keep their autonomy - Asad has accepted that for the Druze in the south, for example. But they'll be essentially disarmed, to satisfy Erdogan, as happened in KRG, which will be a model.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 28 2018 15:41 utc | 8

Thanks b and I agree also Amerika won't attack Iran for the above reasons given.

Posted by: jo6pac | Dec 28 2018 15:43 utc | 9

At SyrPers, Canthama offers the following recaps:

"Over the years SyrPer has been a beacon of information about events in Syria, over the past 2 weeks we have shared at Syrper news and events that would prove completely correct, the only focus and genuine interest is to share unbiased information for the good of all Syrians and the legit Syrian Government.

"As we approach the last phase of the war of aggression against the Syrians, many more moments of tensions and aggressions will continue to happen, and as the Syrian Government has done for years, the reaction to events may not be what the vast majority of people believe it is right and just, but what pays more dividends on the long run, and the Syrian Government has been consistent on this approach for many years, patience and forward looking strategies.

"Today, the Syrian MoD has announced that the SAA will be in control of all the Manbij pocket, as we mentioned at Syrper many times this week. US and French forces are still inside the pocket but leaving it, there is a bit of tension with thousands of SAA arriving inside the city and illegal occupiers leaving it, but this is done peacefully.

"As we also mentioned about the combined effort Russia-SDC-Syrian Government in Khmeimim airbase for the past 3 days, the Egypt-SDC-Syrian Government high level talks and finally the Russia-SDC-Syrian Government talks in Moscow lately, all indications that a broader deal was reached and the domino effect will happen in the next weeks/months, a gradual handover, meaning border control, security and Government institution return to all land illegally occupied the US,France and UK.

"As we also broke news yesterday about new embassies being re opened in Damascus, besides the UAE and Bahrain that was already announced, it is now public that Kuwait has also followed and soon we will all hear about Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and many more. With Arab embassies back to Damascus, it will be then the time for Europeans, Latina America, Africans and Asians. Many people disagree with Damascus’ welcome to many Arab Nations returning embassies and relationship with Syria, but President Assad has been consistent and adamant that he has no prejudice to State to State relationship, with any country, he understands that many countries abandoned Syria in fear of retaliation by the coalition of evils, while the very same coalition of evils members were dominated by passing groups and that things could change, he was and he is dead right about that.

"We will continue to see good news still in the few days left from 2018, stay tuned. God bless Syria and the Syrians, they not only defended their country against utter evil, they defended the whole humanity."


"A very good day in Syria. After the US announced its withdrawn from Syria, many positions on the chessboard started to move around. Iraq Army and PMU just entered Syria, east of the Euphrates to help annihilate the last ISIS terrorists there, both Syrian and Iraqi Gov agreed on it as the C 4+1.

"All pieces are falling into the right places.

"On the other side, massive turkish backed wahhabeasts are advancing toward Sajur river, where the SAA has placed its main force with tanks and artillery. Hopefully the wahhabeasts will do something really stupid and attack the SAA, then all North/NW of Syria can be finally liberated from this Muslin Brotherhood plague.

"The events are unfolding quite rapidly in Syria now, few more days to end the year and yet we will see many good surprises."

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 15:58 utc | 10

There are many autonomous areas in the world, listed here. The Kurds may get one in Syria (and Russians should get one in Ukraine).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 15:59 utc | 11

Re: drought in Syria

Please read William R Polk analysis, this interview is from October 2013.
FYI, Polk not only speaks arabic, he composes poetry in arabic, and he has met with virtually every leader in mideast over many years of service for USA, going back to Nasser.

William Polk was a voice of caution against U.S. intervention in Iraq. And he is once again urging caution, this time against intervention in Syria. He knows the country; he traveled there for the first time in the 1940s. Polk served in Policy Planning at the State Department under President Kennedy. He also taught for many years, first at Harvard and then at the University of Chicago where he founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
William Polk says the roots of the Syrian uprising began with climate change and the devastating four-year drought in the Eastern Mediterranean, much like America's Dust Bowl.

WILLIAM POLK: The wind blew all of the [crops] all away. The farmers were thrown off their land. There were 800,000 Syrians who lost their livelihood. Two hundred thousand of them simply abandoned their land. And there wasn't any California for them to run away to, so they all ended up in the slums of Damascus and Aleppo, and the various other cities. And obviously, they were angry.

And they, unlike the Okies in America, they demonstrated against the government. And the Syrian government at that time was very authoritarian, and it regarded what they were doing as subversion. And so, it tried to crack down on them and that spread the revolt all over the country. That started in March of 2011 - that's when really the civil war started.

there is a lot more here:

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 16:03 utc | 12

Funny how the BBC is very quiet about this....not a peep.
The dog that failed to bark....
Draw your own conclusions. The plan has failed...

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldstein | Dec 28 2018 16:09 utc | 13

@ Don Bacon | 11

The Kurds may get one in Syria

Kurds can get cultural autonomy, at the most. No economic, political, military autonomy of any kind.

If Kurds had played their hand right much earlier, they could have gotten a bit more, but they made one dumb miscalculation after another, and now they have no cards left to play. Their strongest card (US support and military presence) just went out of the window, and Assad will hardball them into surrender as Kurds have no other options. We already see that happening with SAA taking over Manbij province. Soon other areas will follow.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 28 2018 16:14 utc | 14

Time for Putin to show what side he is on when it comes to Turkey as he meet Erdogan:

Raqqa residents protest against Turkish threats of military offensive against Syria

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 28 2018 16:18 utc | 15

@mauisurfer | Dec 28, 2018 11:03:30 AM | 12
re: climate change
Oct 13, 2014
Pentagon report on the impact of climate change (now 404)

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: "Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Defense Department will keep pace with a changing climate, minimize its impacts on our missions, and continue to protect our national security." . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 16:21 utc | 16

Trump Scores, Breaks Generals’ 50-Year War Record
His national security team had been trying to box him in like every other president. But he called their bluff.
By Gareth Porter • December 28, 2018

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 16:25 utc | 17

Mike Maloney

"My worry is that with the drawdown in Syria, Trump will move to attack Iran directly."

Very true, that is the goal of Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, they could do it easily too unfortunately.

Syria is done just like Afghanistan, Iraq. Iran will be burnt this time I am afraid.

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 28 2018 16:25 utc | 18

- Operation Timber Sycamore:

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 28 2018 16:28 utc | 19

@ Zanon | Dec 28, 2018 11:25:24 AM | 18
re: Trump will move to attack Iran directly
Very true, that is the goal of Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, they could do it easily too unfortunately.
Wrong. There's no "easily." Iran has thousands of missiles trained on US targets in the Gulf, including 40,000 troops and the Fifth Fleet. Hezbollah also, with Tel Aviv in its sights.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 16:36 utc | 20

Remarks by President Trump to Troops at Al Asad Air Base | Al Anbar Province, Iraq

There will be a strong, deliberate, and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria — very deliberate, very orderly — while maintaining the U.S. presence in Iraq to prevent an ISIS resurgence and to protect U.S. interests, and also to always watch very closely over any potential reformation of ISIS and also to watch over Iran. We’ll be watching.

1) Trump has back-tracked on his reason for leaving Syria.

Now claims an ISIS resurgence is possible.

This sets the stage for a possible re-commit of troops or delay in pulling them out. As b has previously pointed out, US could have easily finished off ISIS if they cared to do so.

2) There is no timetable for troop withdrawal from Syria.

Withdrawal was reported to be immediate, then within 30 days, then 60-90 days, now it is simply "very deliberate, very orderly".

3) No plans to return Eastern Syria to Syria

French, British say that troops say they will remain and Turkey got green light to enter also.

4) Adventurism continues

The Israelis were probably hoping that Syria would down a passenger airliner in their Christmas attack. This "outrage" would've given Trump reason to recommit troops and possibly even bomb Syria.

The rush to announce US troop withdrawal suggests that there was coordination with the Israeli attack that occurred only 11 days after the announcement.

5) Mattis' resignation - a PR stunt?

Mattis' resignation burnished Trump's credentials as a peacemaker. But Mattis' objections make little sense if Syrian territory will not actually be handed back to Syria! Unless you think Mattis resigned over the Kurds (LOL!) instead of over allies like Israel and KSA.

Note: Mattis' objections are very much in line with what 'Deep State' opponents of Trump say. But it was Trump that nominated Mattis for DefSec! And it was Trump that brought in Bolton and Pompeo and Nikki Haley and Brennan's gal Gina Haspel at CIA.

Mattis was also the one leading the charge for pulling out of Yemen. Now that he's gone, his 'moral stance' seems like empty rhetoric.

Lastly, the old warhorse had to retire sometime - he's 68. And his replacement is likely to be as bad or worse.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 28 2018 16:41 utc | 21

It is good time for Syria, the country is healing and progress will resume strongly, of course it will take time to spread the new wealth through out the country but Syria will emerge stronger, it gained a tremendous strength by resisting NATO/GCC/Israel all together and over 500,000 terrorists throughout 8 years (guesstimate).
Well done b, excellent and accurate article.

Posted by: Canthama | Dec 28 2018 16:42 utc | 22

news report eadline:
'We're no longer the suckers': Trump to US troops during first visit to combat zone
That would include Mattis and a long string of other generals, reminding of Harry Truman.

A couple of Truman quotes: "It's the fellows who go to West Point and are trained to think they're gods in uniform that I plan to take apart". . ."I didn't fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."

So good for him. We may not care for Trump personally, but that doesn't matter when he calls a spade a spade concerning national policy.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 16:47 utc | 23

One large question will be the actions taken by Saudi Arabia. After all, they were complicit in funding at least one terrorist group, and probably more indirectly. If they now suggest that they will "rebuild" parts of Syria containing mainly (or entirely) the Sunni groups - it is clear that that may be looked at as a "poison pill" by the SAA.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 28 2018 16:52 utc | 24

With the SAA entering Manbij, Erdoğan has said "in a speech on Friday that with the withdrawal of the YPJ "there will be nothing for us to do there," according to Reuters. Crucially his words came just after the Syrian Army announced its entry into Manbij."

Posted by: Blue | Dec 28 2018 17:01 utc | 25

The Syrian people have immensely suffered but have survived and defeated the coordinated US/UK/NATO attack on their country. The US button pushers thought Syria would collapse but the US Empire of Insanity has been defeated.

Syria's victory is not just its own but also represents the coalescing multifarious East that will not be defeated or subdued by the West.

US foreign policy is manipulated by the UK, Israel, and Saudis for their own nefarious purposes. Their dual-passport holders are in important positions of influence in the US. But I do not blame foreign entities for the demented US foreign policy - I blame the US citizens pushing the buttons and I blame the American people for allowing what they know in their hearts is wrong and evil but hide behind their ignorance. Blaming some foreign other for US foreign policy is as bad as demonizing Russia and China for what the US is itself is doing.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Dec 28 2018 17:04 utc | 26

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28, 2018 11:03:30 AM | 12:

Please read William R Polk analysis, this interview is from October 2013.

Please read Seymour Hersh "The Redirection" from 2008:
The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.”

. . .

Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged... Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis...

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

. . .

In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved ... Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians ...

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Plans to destablize Syria and sponsor a Jihadi proxy army were laid well before the drought. AFAICT, peaceful demonstrations were hijacked by Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (sponsored by outside countries) who used violence and then claimed an "uprising"..

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 28 2018 17:11 utc | 27

Don Bacon

I believe a conflict with Iran is bound to happen, everything is really in place. The work for regime change in Iran has been going on for many decades now.
Hezbollah, Iran, Syria could try as much as they want but they lack power in every possible framework of a war and will lose tremendously if they go all out.
HEzbollah would be attacked by Israel and if Syria tries to involve itself (with what power? concering the syrian war), they will be struck too.

Like the regime change of the past, all attacked nations have lacked counter force as of anti-missiles systems for one.

Posted by: Zanin | Dec 28 2018 17:15 utc | 28

Peace in the new year in Syria would indeed be a great moment. Whether it comes to pass, we'll see, but the US leaving (if it does) certainly makes that outcome more likely.

Posted by: worldblee | Dec 28 2018 17:19 utc | 29

@ AriusArmenian | Dec 28, 2018 12:04:53 PM | 26
The US button pushers thought Syria would collapse
CS Monitor, Dec 14, 2011:

The State Department official, Frederic Hof, told Congress on Wednesday that Assad's repression may allow him to hang on to power but only for a short time. And, he urged the Syrian opposition to prepare for the day when it takes control of the state in order to prevent chaos and sectarian conflict.
"Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of dead man walking," said Hof, the State Department's pointman on Syria, which he said was turning into "Pyongyang in the Levant," a reference to the North Korean capital. He said it was difficult to determine how much time Assad has left in power but stressed "I do not see this regime surviving." . . .here

Frederic Hof is currently Nonresident Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Atlantc Council. Alas, Hof hasn't kept up with his tweets, his penultimate one was Jun 2, 2016 -- "On the way to Wroclaw to present Atlantic Council Freedom Award to White Helmets." . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 17:19 utc | 30

@ Zanin | Dec 28, 2018 12:15:57 PM | 28
I believe a conflict with Iran is bound to happen
Having a belief is one thing, factual analysis is another. You need to become familiar with military reality. And if Washington ever believed such an attack were feasible, which it isn't, it would have been done by now.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 17:25 utc | 31

While I applaud the good events occurring in Syria, I'm worried that those most responsible for the carnage will escape the fate that ought to befall them as has happened all too often before and humanity will again be denied justice. And thus having gotten away with massive murder yet again they will try once more for their dream of enslaving humanity.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 17:25 utc | 32

@karlof1 (32)

Yes, I agree; Tony Blair should be transported to the ICC NOW.

Posted by: bjd | Dec 28 2018 17:30 utc | 33

Don Bacon

I just made clear many factual reasons. Look at Libya, look at Serbia, look at Iraq.
Matter of fact look at Syria. Syria is interesting, because there people saying the same thing as you do now, back then. 'If US attacks (which they have) or if they occupy Syria (which they partly have) Iran would respond, Hezbollah would respond'. Fact is that didnt happen.

Already now Iran is under heavy economic sanctions, already Iran is infiltrated. Look how easily Israel murdered scientists or how they repeatedly managed to crash nuclear sites in Iran.
This if anything shows the strength and powers these regime have.

And just because something hasnt happend yet doesnt mean it could happen. Thats a fallacy.
Repeating "you are wrong!" wont do it either.

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 28 2018 17:36 utc | 34

Preferably in irons....

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldstein | Dec 28 2018 17:39 utc | 35

don @ 30
thanks for that
good to remember the 2011 usa govt view of syria

yes, that was obama/hillary in charge

the same team that destroyed libya

they were as wrong as bush2 was about iraq/afghanistan

and why did usa commit these blunders? what was our motivation?


Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 17:41 utc | 36

a reply about war with iran
the only thing that has prevented usa destruction of iran
is that israel would be destroyed in the process
by iran of course, but also by hezbollah rockets in lebanon
this is really the same situation as exists in korea
destruction of DPRK is not difficult for usa
but DPRK rockets would destroy Seoul in defense/retaliation
Hezbollah is the deterrent
and israel failed in its last invasion/bombardment of Lebanon

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 17:48 utc | 37

War with Iran may be difficult, even nonsensical but the fact is, once Iran gains full membership is SCO and Russia deploys it's hypersonic strategic missiles, it will become impossible.

That will make the coming months very tense because neocons don't think like the good folks at MoA.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 28 2018 17:54 utc | 38

I think neocons still believe that Zbig Brzezinski was right: to win global hegemony requires that Ukraine and Iran be allied with the West. They already have Ukraine (well, most of it).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 28 2018 18:01 utc | 39

What the Outlaw US Empire has of Ukraine isn't worth one sheet of toilet paper, meaning it's absolutely worthless.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 18:15 utc | 40

Too many of those protesting the removal of U.S. forces are authors of the catastrophe that tore Syria to pieces, reports Max Blumenthal

> This October, when Iran launched missile strikes against ISIS, nearly killing the ISIS emir, Baghdadi, the Pentagon complained that the missiles had struck only three kilometers from U.S. positions. The protest raised uncomfortable questions about what the top honchos of the Islamic State were doing in such close proximity to the American military, and why the U.S. was unwilling to do what Iran just had done and attack them. No answers from the Pentagon have arrived so far."

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 18:19 utc | 41

@40 Right. What Brzezinski wanted from Ukraine was a NATO base in Crimea. Putin spoiled that plan. He probably thought the US could control the Persian Gulf too. The man was a Cold War relic.

Posted by: dh | Dec 28 2018 18:30 utc | 42

Differing opinions between Gareth Porter and Jonathan Cook. Hopefully, their debate will become a mighty roar capable of overcoming BigLie media interference so that the many brainwashed millions will finally snap out of their stupor. The planning was in place since the latter 20th Century, so it shouldn't be too hard to discern which foreign entity drove it forward the most.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 18:31 utc | 43

thanks b.. excellent overview and sentiment to which i concur...

@7 laguerre.. thanks for saying what i too thought.. TG is the new cs?

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2018 18:39 utc | 44

Syria's territory belongs for thousands of years to the people of Syria. Not Turkey. Not the United States. Only Syria's government has the right to control and/or occupy Syria's territory with Syria's military.

Posted by: SUSAN LINDAUER | Dec 28 2018 18:43 utc | 45

@45 susan.. i agree.. maybe the usa can go fix libya where it still has some military bases... look at all the good work they did their - NOT... that is probably what they envisioned for syria too... the usa goes from making one mess to another and ironically the democrats never saw a war they couldn't go along with... and i thought it was the republicans that were into war 24/7.. you might enjoy the link that b shared in this post under ''the same people'' by max b...

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2018 18:53 utc | 46

usa state dept announcement...
Israel's Right to Self-Defense

usa condoning israels missiles into syria.. what i have come to expect from the exceptional nation...

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2018 19:05 utc | 47

@25 "in a speech on Friday that with the withdrawal of the YPJ "there will be nothing for us to do there,"

That seems like a strange thing for Erdogan to say. Why single out the YPJ? I thought that was the Kurdish girls brigade. Maybe he sees them as more of a threat than the YPG. Surely he should be talking about the SDF as a whole and what kind of deal they make with the Syrian government.

Posted by: dh | Dec 28 2018 19:05 utc | 48

Turkey will not get support from anyone other that the US to takeover North-East Syria. So Turkey now has to put up or shut up. It will never have a better time to take over land and indulge it's Ottoman dreams. If it doesn't do so now, it probably never will. In my view, Turkey will back down but the temptations must be enormous and the green-light, from the US, dazzling (what other inducements may be offered).

For the US deep state the real danger is that a new form of conflict resolution is developing with Russia creating a model which is guided in balancing everyone's interests, not closing the door on anyone, and talking, talking, talking.

A whole model of chaos orchestrated by the US/West which only advances US/Western strategic interests (we see this in South America, North Africa, Libya, Europe, Kosovo, Ukraine, Korea, etc) is under threat.

Should the Russian approach be successful' in Syria, then Iraq will follow, then Ukraine, etc. Attacking/de-stabilising Iran will become a distant dream. It will seem to the US deep state, military, politicians, etc. like the Domino Theory beginning to take effect. Can the US deep state allow this to develop?

For now the US will continue to hang on in North-East Syria and offer inducements to Turkey while looking for a new Proxy acceptable to everyone. What do you feel about Al-Qaeda? They're not such a bad lot?

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 28 2018 19:07 utc | 49

@44 james

many are the spawn of cs...and here they come, dipping their toes and shiny new names into the waters of this thread... ;)

It is after all, a military topic. Budgets are unlimited for such discussions.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 28 2018 19:11 utc | 50

@ susan 45

If that is really you, thank you.

Posted by: dumbass | Dec 28 2018 19:23 utc | 51

AriusArmenian @26,

"I blame the American people for allowing what they know in their hearts is wrong and evil but hide behind their ignorance."

The "American people" have no say at all in determining the economic and foreign policy of the United States.

Perhaps you are blaming the American people for not yet taking up arms against their oligarchic war-mongering government. I can understand that view, but think myself that it's a bit harsh.

Posted by: WJ | Dec 28 2018 19:28 utc | 52

Jackrabbit @21

It doesn't really matter if Trump never intended to fulfil any of his campaign pledges or if he just buckled under the pressure put on him by the deep state. We'll know he did something that really pissed-off the deep state if he gets assassinated.

The only reason why the US or any empire (really, any power) would take a backward step is either tactical, or it no longer has the capability to maintain it's position.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 28 2018 19:28 utc | 53

@42 dh - "What Brzezinski wanted from Ukraine was a NATO base in Crimea. Putin spoiled that plan. He probably thought the US could control the Persian Gulf too. The man was a Cold War relic."

Crimea goes further back than Brzezinski, as you probably know. It was an object of lust for Zionism from long ago. In the 1930's and 1940's (I think), Zionists and Jewish leaders were discussing with Stalin the use of Crimea as a homeland. He went along with it for some years, and then at the relative last minute destroyed the whole plan. Fort Russ back in the day had a great retrospective article on this, but I can't find it right now.

Sheikh Imran Hosein had a fabulous speech on this, when he pointed out that the loss of Crimea, snatched from its grasp at the last minute, was the first major defeat ever suffered by Zionism in its more than 100 years of effort. The clip is part of a longer recording by Morris108 on YouTube. The short clip is now gone from YT but if you would like to enjoy it in the 2.5-minute clip version, you can still find it here:

It's pure fun to watch - despite the grim reminder of what could have been, we can rejoice at what actually came to be.

It's no wonder that they hate Putin. And just by the way, those who profess to doubt Putin's prowess could take this event to heart as an indication of how important in the history of this world he has been.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 28 2018 19:30 utc | 54

Agree entirely with Don Bacon that war with Iran is very unlikely. It is even unlikely that the favoured imperial weapon of terrorist militias will be insinuated into the country.
We can count on suicide bombings, motorbike assassins and demonstrations but that will be about it. Iran is surrounded by countries which have grown tired of US imperialism- Iraq and Pakistan being the latest to join the club.
The tide has reversed itself- those in the firing line in the future will be the Jordans, Saudi Arabias and those Gulf regimes where a few kleptocratic Sunni rulers run racing stables in England, while their people work for slave wages and the poor starve. Then. And Israel too which has been sponsoring these most reactionary regimes.
The Second Innings is beginning and this time the Arabs get to hit the ball.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 28 2018 19:43 utc | 55


The "new cs" - at first I thought you were talking about anew cs gas. Maybe you were.

Posted by: spudski | Dec 28 2018 19:55 utc | 56

@54 Grieved

Nice vid... thx!

The longer version is still on YT, and also worth the watch here

Many tastey morsels can be found there... I especially like "Communism is not Russia... communism was created to destroy Russia... to destroy the Russian orthodox church"

Posted by: xLemming | Dec 28 2018 20:11 utc | 57

The Syrian civil war was ignited by the Syrian government's deliberate creation of a population explosion. They criminalized the sale and possession of birth control, propagandized that it was every woman's duty to have six kids each, got the population to double.. TG @ 4.

I’d point to Syria running out of the oil it had in 2011 (oil did account before that for 25% of Gvmt. revenue, its loss created havoc), plus drought caused by global warming, water quarrels, + water mismanagement ‘at home.’

Syria applied several times to the UN for arbitrage, help, re. water, and was ignored.

Rural ‘outposts’ - heh part! of the country - were supposed to be under control or ‘OK on their own’ but when peasants can’t run tractors (gas price) or water fields (so tractors no use), and public service (schools and local govs. / arbitrage etc.) give up and in many cases just decamp (why does this remind me of France?), unrest and opposition and violence brews and will erupt, and can then be handily exploited by… anyone poised to do so.

see ex. - not that I agree with all

blog post, Ugo Bardi

long read > some of the relevant issues - PDF

+ see + mauisurfer @ 12

Reconstruction is one thing, what happens next?

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 28 2018 20:12 utc | 58

Oh good, that guy is not inserting links to his website all over this thread.

Say I have a website and I want to raise its profile in search results.
I need to have a lot of links from popular websites to my website. Then the search engines rate my site more highly. So I might think commenting on MoA and placing links to my website would be a good way to raise my own website's popularity, because MoA is already popular.

Needless to say, I have no insight into the motivations of any individual commenter on MoA, just thought I'd share some information about how search engines work, you know, without an opinion one way or another :-)

Posted by: Starve the trolls | Dec 28 2018 20:28 utc | 59

The Syrian government regaining control of Manbij is wonderful news for the long suffering people of Syria, and to the rest of the world. Hopefully the rest of Syria east of the Euphrates River will pass peacefully back to the Syrian government. There will likely be attempts to derail this process but those seeking to stop this will fail. Russian diplomacy has won the day. Except for the diehard jihadists, the war is over. I expect the internal battles in Idlib will become more intense with many jihadists killed and will hopefully make it much easier for the SAA to liberate Idlib. Turkey's plan has failed and it would be best for all to see as many jihadists die in Idlib as possible, especially Turkey. Something about not wanting jihadist chickens coming home to roost.

Posted by: Tom | Dec 28 2018 20:32 utc | 60

@ Zanon | Dec 28, 2018 12:36:59 PM | 34
You are fact-challenged on US/Iran so here's some for you, facts that reveal why the US hasn't and won't attack Iran.

Facts on Iran missiles.
Missiles have become a central tool of Iranian power. Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of short- and medium-range missiles capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe. . .here

Facts on Hezbollah missiles.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah is estimated to have an arsenal of 100,000 rockets . .here. . .or perhaps 160,000 . . here. .including precision-guided missiles here

Facts on US military targets in Middle East (Iran rocket & missile targets)
US bases encircle Iran, Dozens of US and allied forces' military installations dot the region, from Oman, UAE and Kuwait to Turkey and Israel. . .here and the number of troops and civilians probably exceed 50,000 . here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 20:33 utc | 61

Mauisurfer @ 12, 36:

As others have already said, Syria has always been targeted for regime change since former US general Wesley Clark revealed that Syria was on a list of seven countries to be invaded in five years (in the wake of the September 11, 2001, WTC attacks) by the US while George W Bush was President.

The drought that devastated Syrian agriculture (in part also caused by Syrian government economic policies influenced by the then chief economic advisor Abdullah Dardari, who pushed for privatisation) and which helped to push up food prices was just one contributor to the protests in Dar'aa that were quickly hijacked by terrorists.

Another contributing factor was an influx of refugees (and among them, armed terrorist groups including ISIS) from the chaos from neighbouring Iraq. Then there is Turkey's action in damming the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in its territory: both rivers necessary for agriculture in northeast Syria and virtually all of Iraq.

By putting the blame on climate change and the devastation that it caused to Syrian agriculture, without acknowledging Dardari's small but significant contribution and the spread of war from Iraq, William Polk's interview is suggesting that the Syrian government is solely to blame for the seven-year war. Yes, Damascus did indeed make mistakes in privatising public resources (especially water) but other external actors took advantage of a situation Damascus could have solved in the long term.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 28 2018 20:35 utc | 62

karlofi 43
"Please note that the account you are responding to is not the account of the journalist @Jonathan_K_Cook."

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 20:40 utc | 63

You are far too fast off the mark - wait until the chickens hatch -
Here is a link to Al-Masdar news (Mainly Pro-Syrian Government)

The US is still there (Manbij) as the SAA move in, FSA (Turkish "rebels") can be seen moving in as as are Jaysh-al Islam (Also Turkish backed). The Turks have been seen moving towards Jarabulus (the crossing into Turkey, used a few years ago as a route for the "extraction" of syrian Oil into Turkey, also used as a way to cross the Euphrates).
Presumably the YPG Kurds are still in place as well.

Crowded area.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 28 2018 20:47 utc | 64

The co-ordinated “monstering” (News International expression) which NATO directed - and still directs, with full vigour, against Russia, (personalised as “Putin”), kicked off when Russia went in to Syria to support Assad.

If this war against Syria is really finished (one can dream) one asks oneself whether the battalions of NATO psy-war/info-war warriors will keep up their shrill hysterical anti-Russian yapping, or whether their masters will now stand them down.

They must wondering this themselves.

If you leave fellows, please take May and Williamson with you. One would imagine in any case that these two - as well as “Punch and Judy” Boris, would be more comfortable among their Washington “supporters” than among their own countrymen and women.

Posted by: Montreal | Dec 28 2018 20:55 utc | 65

Patrick Armstrong reviews the memoirs of Napoleon's General Armand de Caulaincourt, who had been in Russia as Ambassador, and conferred with Alexander, and advised Napoleon "DON'T DO IT", but Napoleon refused to listen, saying the Russians would fold with the first attack, also saying Poland hated Russia and would help. Armstrong compares Napoleon with USA today, and Poland with Ukraine today, and Russia with Russia.
For those of you who do not know PA, he is Canadian, was a Counsellor in Canadian Embassy in Moscow in the 90's, is now a private citizen, very knowledgeable about Russia, has a blog called "Russian Observer", and possesses a sardonic wit matched only by his intelligence and experience.

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 20:59 utc | 66

Don Bacon

Thanks for your reply.

Where will Iran shoot their missiles at though?
As of eariler regime change wars, the air force of US have taken out those sites within days and done easily since the states attacked have all lacked
anti missile defense. Thats why Iran (and Syria) so desperately need i.e. S300.

Since Saudi arabia have far better quality of missile, anti-missile defense system, it wouldnt make much sense aiming missiles on them or any of the neighbouring sunni states, and certainly not on europe.

I think you have a point on Hezbollah, they will probably be involved, but they are also constantly surveilled by Israel that destroy their tunnels, missiles, logistics in Syria.
How much could they mobilize of all these missiles? I.e. Production, Stockpiling, logistics, military communication without being noticed? I think the chances are slim.

Then there are other factors, i.e. hybrbid war that Iran/Hezbollah have many great advantages but overall US surpass anyway.

Posted by: Zanon | Dec 28 2018 21:15 utc | 67

Jen - "small but significant" and blame it solely on Dardari? Nice understatement there.

Assad's decided turn to neoliberalism to enrich his family and cronies ("the 1%") while impoverishing vast segments of the Syrian populace is well documented and led to the Syrian protest movement against his regime in the first place.

Often overlooked in discussions of the factors that led Syria to join the region-wide wave of mass uprisings in 2011 is the role of socio-economic forces. Yet without taking stock of these drivers—the economic growth and developmental model applied since the 1970 coup that brought Hafez al-Assad to power, and the economic liberalization accelerated under the subsequent rule of his son, Bashar— no account of the roots of Syria’s uprising can be complete.

Peaceful protests in fact which were met with the typical uber-violent Assadian response to any civil disobedience aimed at the Family Dynasty (originated by Assad's dear old daddy back in the day). This response ignited the "civil war" (or self defense) which became increasingly radicalised as Assad demolished vast neighborhoods, cities, towns along with the murder, imprisonment and displacement of multiple millions of his own countrymen simply to save his own imperialist hide...and in the end required and will henceforth require the occupying forces of Hez and Russia in order to maintain Assad the Poodle's "power".

The truth of Syria has been long since successfully buried under mountains of Syrian, Iranian and [of course] Russian disinformation, much of which has been widely filtered through the ultraleftist internet world and fervently believed.

Arguably, this represents the most successful to date use of propaganda in world history, aided and abetted by the rise of the internet as the ultimate tool for the widespread dissemination of malarkey with malicious intent.

Posted by: donkeytale | Dec 28 2018 21:20 utc | 68

Leaving aside all that's been said, it is now too late for Trump to retract. The Kurds are celebrating in the streets, rather to my surprise.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 28 2018 21:42 utc | 69

donkeytale @68

Does anyone seriously believe that the Syrian protestors didn't have genuine grievances? But what you omit is that external forces exploited those grievances, involved themselves in Syria and destroyed the Syrian uprising more completely than the Syrian Government ever could.

Your statement regarding the truth about the Syrian uprising being buried representing "the most successful to date use of propaganda in world history" is bizarre and strangely dovetails with current western concerns about the effectiveness of Russian propaganda, Russiagate, etc.

You really do come over as trolling for the Empire.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 28 2018 22:06 utc | 70

mauisurfer @63--

Gawd! Not a good day to lack motivation thanks to GDMFSOB cold! What a goof for never checking who that Cook was. Thanks for outing it! However, Doesn't Cook raise a valid point? Looks like the current MoA discussion backs Cook, not Porter.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 22:16 utc | 71

Today's Elijah Maginer piece:

...In preparation for Trump’s visit, Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was asked to meet the US president. He agreed to meet Trump either in Baghdad, on Iraqi soil, or at the Ayn al-Assad military base, on the Iraqi side of the base; Iraqi national security forces and army units are present at the same base where US forces are deployed, in a separate part of the base. To have met on the US-controlled part of the Iraqi-US base would have made Abdel Mahdi appear as an invited guest in his own country.

A few hours before Trump’s arrival, US Ambassador Douglas Silliman told Abdel Mahdithat Trump would receive him in the US part of the base. Trump refused to visit Baghdad for a quick reception; neither would he even cross over to the Iraqi side of Ayn al-Assad, for security reasons. Abdel Mahdi refused the US invitation, as did the Iraqi president and speaker. All three politicians have risen in public esteem for having refused the US invitation.

More Zionist tears:

Trump Leaves Israel in the Lurch

The president’s precipitous decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria provided many Israelis with a rude awakening.

Posted by: jsb | Dec 28 2018 22:32 utc | 72

Re mauisurfer's post @ 66
Like Napoleon, hopefully this is the beginning of a long and painful retreat for the US. Magnier's latest article, added to to the recent political or geopolitical shifts in the region makes it look likely.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 28 2018 22:54 utc | 73

@ 72
. . .neither would [Trump] even cross over to the Iraqi side of Ayn al-Assad, for security reasons.
Well that's a fine howdy-doo, after all that the US has done for Iraq. The US military Commander-in-Chief can't feel secure on Iraqi soil! Okay, the Coalition of the Willing did kidnap a few thousand young men, and tortured more than a few, while destroying the country and many of its citizens, but that's the price of freedom, right? Cheeze, I say we pull out of there. That'll show them.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 28 2018 22:59 utc | 74

ADKC - So, I must include every conceivable factual twist and turn of a very complicated situation in each comment otherwise "I'm trolling for the empire."

I'll do it if you go first. Show me the same comprehensive intellectual balance you demand of "the trolls".

Assad needed internal and external jihadist opponents for his very survival. He needed to create an enemy because he was (still is and will always be) the enemy to the majourity of his own countrymen.

He actually initiated the radical opposition himself to cover for the fact the legitimate grievances of his opponents endangered his regime.

Several sources, among them a Syrian human rights advocate who gave details to US officials -- the details of which were published by WikiLeaks -- have suggested that Damascus released Sednaya prisoners so that they could undergo training in camps before being sent to Iraq for what the diplomatic cable called a "proxy war." But upon returning to Syria, these men landed backed in prison, where they felt they had been betrayed by Assad.

Around the beginning of the Syrian uprising, in March 2011, Assad once again released jihadists from the country's prisons. Simultaneously, tens of thousands of Syrian students, liberal activists and human rights advocates began being arrested. Their fates were recently documented by Human Rights Watch, which alleges that many have been detained arbitrarily, tortured and subjected to unfair trials.

Already at the beginning of the uprising, Assad vilified his opponents as members of al-Qaida, which wasn't true at the time. Some critics of the regime now claim that by releasing the jihadists from prison, Assad's intention was to quickly radicalize the opposition, discrediting it in the process. If that was his aim, it has certainly been a success.

Put that in your pen and vape it.

Posted by: donkeytale | Dec 28 2018 23:28 utc | 75

Moving forward, The Victors--The Arc of Resistance--will press hard for specific changes in their neighbor's behavior if those neighbors wish to cultivate friendly, win-win-type outcomes--specifically their support of sectarian forces--Whahabbi and Muslim Brotherhood--which were used against all ethnicities within the Arc. It appears that every Arab nation and the Turks are guilty of helping to wage war on Syrians and Iraqis, and thus all have a hand in the too numerous atrocities. Those changes will need to be found acceptable by the peoples of Syria and Iraq for the arranged political solution to function. Purging the remaining vestiges of Imperial Stormtroopers is one major step that Iraqis know must be accomplished to regain their freedom, and they are now beginning that work. Driving out the remaining terrorists must also be done swiftly. What concerns me now is what will be done with and who will be welcomed by the Peace? Certainly, there can't be any place for any NATO or Saudi affiliated nation, which is why I gag at what appears to be a warm welcome for the UAE and Bahrain's return--last month they were doing their best to kill you!! Or maybe I'm the one who has it wrong given the level of atonement seen within Syria. Still, I can't help thinking the Western tools of control instituted over decades must be jettisoned if a genuine Peace is to be sustained.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 28 2018 23:29 utc | 76

Ok, maybe a "majourity of his own countrymen" is overheated.

How about Assad is an enemy to a significant portion of his country? And I will also disagree with b and many here who think the war for Syria is over.

It may well be just in the opening stages....

Posted by: donkeytale | Dec 28 2018 23:37 utc | 77

Interesting article destroys many illusions about the Kurds, about PKK, about YPG. I express no opinion - never been there, do not speak the language(s).

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 28 2018 23:44 utc | 78

Turkey does not appear to have advanced on Manbij. The longer it delays the less likely any Turkish adventure will have any kind of success, as the SAA reinforces and beds in around Manbij.

All that is left for Turkey is a face-saving negotiation with Russia and Iran.

More than an end to Turkey's ambitions in Syria, it means the end of Erdogan's and Turkish dreams of regaining "Ottoman" land; there will never be such an opportunity again.

Why did Erdogan not proceed? Because while he had every confidence that his army could cope with the Kurds, he had no confidence at all that his forces could handle a real army like the SAA.

There are rumours that Turkey, France and the US are now planning to handover turn the North-East Syria to the "Syrian Elite Forces" (who they?). The SEF appear quite small so it would only make sense if this is essentially a front group behind which the Empire's jihadist cohorts can hide; the SEF don't have a hope of holding North-East Syria without significant reinforcement.

Alternatively, the SEF will just be a face-saving transistory group who will take control, wave goodbye to Turkey, France and the US (and the undeclared UK forces too) before handing over to Syria (after a certain period).

Scrabbling around for proxies is not a good look!

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 28 2018 23:44 utc | 79

Zanon @67

Unlike the US military, which has not fought a peer to peer war probably since WW2, the Iranian military has, the Iraq/Iran War. Given the time lag it means that the upper echelons of the Iranian forces are stuffed with men for were in that war. A bit like the US military was back in the 50s and 60s, which is very different from today's in terms of fighting experience.

As a consequence, Iran's defences appear to be very distributed, whilst US bases in the area are not. Anyone who thinks that the Pentagon can go to war with Iran whilst they have Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar with an estimated 11,000 workers, their main CENTCOM HQ and endless aircraft there is clearly not up to date with current short and medium range ballistic missile strategies. Basically it is a sitting duck, as are all the other bases in the region. The US would have to empty it first and that would put Iran and its allies on hair trigger alert. The US wouldn't have the luxury it enjoyed in the past of days to eliminate air defences etc, it would be minutes before silent destruction rained down.

The stuffed to the gunnels with top grade gear Saudis can't even stop all the random Houti missiles.

As to Hezbollah, even if the numbers, 100-150,000 are exaggerated, it is highly likely that they have 50,000 mixed rocket/missile munitions aimed at Israel. Enough to overwhelm any Israeli defences even if some are knocked out by the IAF. Even a nuke first strike by the Israelis would probably not be enough to prevent their major towns and military installations from very serious damage.

Even assuming that the US got air superiority, what then? There is nowhere to invade from and the country is not flat. Any assumption that the locals would rise and overwhelm their military seems about as likely as in any other Gulf state, remote.

This is why, as pointed out by other posters here, the US, or Israel, has not done it already. The only way to induce change in Iran is economic warfare and the chances of that succeeding are pretty low.

In the meantime they must be pretty happy in Tehran that their move to support Syria now appears to be paying off big. Little Iran has put one over on the evil US empire will be the mantra reverberating around the World. The US is now in a far worse situation, influence wise, in the Region than it was before they started meddling in Syria. Then there will be the pullout from Afghanistan.

I just hope we survive any desperate lashing out by the wounded Empire.

Posted by: JohninMK | Dec 28 2018 23:45 utc | 80

ADKC @ 79

Russia is clearly in a position here where it must be consulted by the Turks before they do anything more in Syria. They will not want a repeat of killing Russian military, hence no move yet.

The first delegation as mentioned by b above, has been in Moscow for a couple of days now and contains their FM, Director of Military Intelligence and others. It looks as if Erdogan has pulled his trip forward by a week if he is there now. The future of Syria is now being decided.

The moves by the Turkish forces have however achieved something very significant, which may have been the plan. That is they helped persuade the Kurds that now, unlike in Afrin when they overestimated their abilities, they really faced annihilation from the full force of the Turkish military with no US air support, so to save their skins, if not all the territory they now occupy, they had no choice but to side with the Government.

If that was a hidden agenda in a deep Russian/Turkish plan someone deserves a peace medal.

Posted by: JohninMK | Dec 29 2018 0:06 utc | 81

jen @ 62
you say
"William Polk's interview is suggesting that the Syrian government is solely to blame for the seven-year war."
On the contrary, Polk suggests nothing of the kind.
Polk is explaining the affect of the drought.
Drought does not really care which lands and industries have been privatized, or not privatized.

Posted by: mauisurfer | Dec 29 2018 0:12 utc | 82

Donkeytale @77

A small point; I did not accuse you of being a "troll" but as "coming over as troll" - the implication being that is not what you may intend.

I allow for the grievances of ordinary Syrians, and that the initial uprising was in large part from the people. But the idea that Assad released prisoners to discredit the rebels is in all liklihood false and just western propaganda to cover for the KSA, US/West's, UK, French, etc. (the Empire) insertion of their own "jihadist" forces.

As much as the Empire would like to see Syrian Government overthrown (because it was too independent for their liking) the last thing the Empire wanted was a true revolutionary, people's force to take power.

But that's history now. What is most important is peace in the whole of Syria.

With peace does not mean the continuation of the Syrian Government as before 2011. The Syrian People have endured 8 years of conflict and fighting. They are trained and battle hardened. They did not fight for Assad, they fought for a better tomorrow and, after their efforts, that is what they will expect.

Your analysis comes perilously close to blaming Assad and the Syrian Government for the war and chaos and suggests that perpetual war is a condition that suits Assad and the Syrian Government. All these actions that you project onto the Syrian Government are how the Empire acts, and you effectively absolve the Empire of these crimes.

Can you now show some criticism of the actions of the West in Syria? I doubt you will really be able to bring yourself to do this.

Also, there are only two practical outcomes for Syria, peace under the Syrian Government or continued chaos instigated by the West; which do you want to see?

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 29 2018 0:14 utc | 83

ADKC @79--

Erdogan didn't "proceed" because it's not in Turkey's national interest to do so. There's far far more to be gained through Turning to The East. Putin would never have proceeded with TurkStream or the nuke plant construction without that Interest being mapped out in great detail.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 29 2018 0:17 utc | 84

JohninMK @81--

Yes, someone does deserve a medal, a Russian most likely. The events now occurring are confirming the backstory speculations over the past month or so as Canthama's comment I posted confirms.

ADKC @83--

Oh Syrians most certainly did fight for Assad, and he fought for them as the thousands of photos and stories by Ivan Sidorenko attest. Nor can one belittle what Asma al-Assad has done for her nation while battling the cancer afflicting her. The two stand many heads and shoulders above any Western leader, and are Angelic when compared to the Terrorists May and Merkel.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 29 2018 0:36 utc | 85

karlof1 @85

I don't believe that Syrian's fought for Assad. Or, at least, they did so only in so far as Assad was a symbol of Syria. This is not to say that I believe Assad or his wife, to be "evil" or "brutal dictators". I just have difficulty with the concept of people fighting for a particular individual; it seems centuries out of date and it just isn't enough to put your life on the line. I see Assad as being a bit like Saif Gadafy thinking what he was doing was making the West happy and normalizing relationships when he was just inviting a fox into the chicken coup.

Similarly, I wouldn't expect Russians to fight for Putin, but they'd certainly fight for Russia.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 29 2018 1:07 utc | 86

Toward the end of Magnier's current essay is this interesting sentence, almost included as an afterthought:

"As ISIS no longer enjoys US protection, the end of its occupation of a part of Syrian territory is near."

For those of us knowing the score, the sentence is 100% correct--at least with regard to Syria--but it's the exact opposite of Trump's proclamation and BigLie Media effluent.

One wonders if Trump knew his boorish behavior would spark the degree of resentment Magnier reports? Regardless, his actions will spur Iraqis to drive all NATO forces out by end of 2019.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 29 2018 1:17 utc | 87

karlof1 @84

It's more than that, though. It's a complete taming of Turkey and an end of neo-Ottoman ideology. It would be a total vindication of Putin's approach. Remember the criticism about Putin not proceeding with the Idlib campaign and how Putin was backing down when faced with Turkey. Now, just a few months later Turkey is effectively defeated without the need for a single shot to be fired.

But the temptation must be there for Erdogan/Turkey, I am surprised that the US hasn't provided sufficient inducements.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 29 2018 1:29 utc | 88

Magnier interviewed with a very excellent summary of the Syrian War.

Elijah J. Magnier: The War in Syria is Over, What Happens Next?

Posted by: Red Ryder | Dec 29 2018 1:38 utc | 89

ADKC @ 83

Well stated. Sorry about the earlier comment if you saw it was unnecessarily hostile. I think I said you were a lazy thinker but that was a mistake. I was distracted and didn't edit. Meant to say lazy reader, lol, which is bad enough I suppose. Nothing wrong with your thinking whatsoever.

The US should not be in the Middle East. Trump's troop withdrawal sounds like a good thing but meaningless until we also withdraw from Iraq. The Navy will keep boating around the perimeter in a perpetual show of false strength, to give Trump some re-election advertising footage or whatever he can say we are stronger at home and on the seven seas then we were under the Kenyan Socialist or Nancy Pelosi.

Lavrov and Putin have done a masterful job with respect to getting Syria to where they are today but at same time acting as the medium for all the interested parties to the conflict.

Ok, I will graciously cede Assad the rest of his life in power before significant political upheavel strikes Syria. They have been through enough. Assad has done brilliantly in his battle to retain control and of course he will see it through.

I just don't believe this situation is anywhere close to defused for the longer term.

Posted by: donkeytale | Dec 29 2018 1:46 utc | 90

Most if not all discussion on the US pullout is about the Kurd's and if they will reconcile with Syrian Government. In the Arab regions east of the Euphrates, there is still the tribes which pledged allegiance to ISIS and then took the SDF hats that US envoy McGurk handed out. I took it these Tribes where from the Raqqa Deir Ezzor area in which are Syria's oilfields. Oilfields that are within range of of US artillery at their new base on the Iraq Syria border.

McGurk and his tame headchoppers...
"Just days before submitting his resignation, U.S. special envoy Brett McGurk, who heads the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State, said in an exclusive interview that putting an end to ISIS will be a long-term, multiyear effort."
" "Nobody is naive," McGurk said less than a week before Trump's decision. "The small clandestine cells, the individual terrorist attacks, will remain a threat for some time. That is why we have to remain together as a global coalition to keep the pressure on." "

Karlof1 its possible Trump treated Iraq with contempt to ensure US moved out of the region, but more likely just his contempt for muslims in general. Even MBS, although Trump has backed him on the Khashoggi killing, MBS has to just grin and bear it when Trump publicly treats him with contempt. The sick looking grin on MBS when Trump announced a weapons deal from the white house with MBS at his side and Trump saying just peanuts to these guys, plenty more where this come from, or words to that effect. Trump publicly stating the Saudi's wouldn't last two weeks without US support, telling them to pump more oil, telling them to fund the US in Syria, fund the Kurd's and so forth. Treating them with contempt while milking them dry. Not that anyone objects to the Saudi's being in that situation but I do believe Trump's contempt for all Muslim nations and Islam is genuine.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 29 2018 1:59 utc | 91

ISIS moved at will, under full US air cover including drones
>ISIS convoy entering Raqqa here
>ISIS convoy exiting Raqqa here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 29 2018 2:03 utc | 92

Actually Trump is powerless and just responding to the situation controlled by others, as was the case with his predecessors.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 29 2018 2:06 utc | 93

ADKC @88--

Russia & Turkey have engaged in a 400+ year-long chess match that I've tried to discern over my 50 short years studying geopolitics and must conclude that The West/NATO/Europhiles have only themselves to blame, for it is they who alienated--not lost--Turkey. I could write more disparaging things about the Europhiles, but none of that would alter the outcome they engineered. The overall story is worthy of a Greek Tragedy that someone will eventually write. Perhaps it's fitting that the setting was in one of the most ancient of cultural melting pots. The end sparks a new beginning that will hopefully generate enough energy to displace the last Europhile Racists within the region.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 29 2018 2:23 utc | 94

Several commenters above chose to mud sling against Assad, claiming his government did nothing to alleviate the drought of

Forgotten is the fact that Syria went from net oil exporter to net oil importer during that period, with concomitant deterioration in her foreign reserves.

Forgotten is the fact that Assad, shortly before got the job after his brother died, that his brother was trained to be president, not him, and in his niavete, Bashr turned to the IMF for economic advice.

Forgotten is the IMF advice to run a net surplus, ignore the pleas of the dispossessed farmers, and ride out the public rebellion.

Forgotten are the many efforts of the Syrian Government to reconcile with the protesters, beginning in 2011, and the role both the IMF and CIA played in destabilizing Syria and in fomenting the war.

So, before you throw all blame at Bashr, it was turkey who violated water sharing agreements with both Syria and Iraq, which devastated both countries farmers. It was the CIA who raided Gahdaffi's armouries for weapons to ship to Syria to equip the jihadis. It was KSA/GCC who recruited the Jihadis.

And.... it was Iran, and hezbollah, who convinced Bashr to hold on... and gave him sustenance in his hour of need...

And... It was Iran who convinced Putin, that without Russian help the christians of the levant would be exterminated, and with them the roots of Orthodoxy worldwide...

And.... It was the metropole of all the Russias, Vladimir, who joined Iran in entreating Putin to act....

So, go ahead spread your filth......


Posted by: Dr. George Oprisko | Dec 29 2018 2:34 utc | 95

Peter AU 1 @91--

Wherever they've been formed, Outlaw US Empire Death Squads, which is what Daesh are, have proven difficult to eradicate--Latin America provides extensive evidence--thanks to the Empire's sponsoring agency--CIA, the head of the Hydra. Eliminate the CIA and most of its deadly spawn will wither and die.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 29 2018 2:34 utc | 96

donkeytale @90

I can't disagree with anything you wrote, it was very generous.

I don't think that this announced withdrawal is the end of the matter, either. Powers withdraw because they are defeated (the US isn't defeated), they can't maintain their position (the US could remain), which just leaves tactical. The official reason, "Trump decided", is a bit too random for me.

I was convinced that Turkey would become the US proxy, but this seems not to be the case. Maybe the US didn't want Turkey to acquire power, maybe it was all too risky for Turkey.

If the withdrawal is real and the US fails to leave lasting chaos behind, then Iraqi's will be asking when the US will be leaving their country. Pretty soon the US would have little say in the region, the Houthis will defeat the KSA, and Israel will become increasingly isolated. Logic tells me the foregoing will not happen.

As for Assad, when peace comes, he will only stay in power if he is assiduous in meeting the needs of the Syrian people (they know how to fight and win wars now, so Assad will have little choice).

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 29 2018 2:55 utc | 97

@95 Dr. George Oprisko... these same posters are tiresome.. most of the regulars here know who they are too.. grieved has a better idea.. don't even bother responding to them... it ends up eating up bandwidth and is ultimately futile, as they are going to sling the same manure regardless.. one in particular was given notice a month or so back, but continues on... patience is a virtue..

Posted by: james | Dec 29 2018 2:58 utc | 98

@894 karlof1 - "...The West/NATO/Europhiles have only themselves to blame, for it is they who alienated--not lost--Turkey."

This is an important point that is worth elaborating. We've seen the same dynamic at work in numerous theaters. The actions of the west have alienated many nations and driven many former competitors into modern alliances. Why is this so?

It seems to stem from ignorance of the geopolitical realities that countries exist within, but I would go one further and say it actually begins with a refusal to understand what a country IS, existentially. Ignorance of a country's national imperatives then flows secondarily from this refusal even to acknowledge that it has an individual existence.

This is the culture of imperialism, isn't it? Imperialism demands that all its victims be sub-humans, and that plunder by genocide be acceptable. The two go together. There's no room in such a culture to accept that foreigners are real people, even less peers.

What the west did with Turkey, to put your accurate description in different words, was essentially to ignore what Turkey is. And what Turkey is doing now is simply being itself, stepping into its destiny as it sees the path lie before it. Undoubtedly, Russia knows what Turkey is, and how its people are, and what its realities and possibilities are. Undoubtedly Russia speaks to Turkey with this kind of intimacy and human commonality, as well as offering deals and creating obstacles, all very accurately in light of that understanding.

The point is that we are seeing 500 years of imperial behavior still, today, in everything the US and the west does. It's not just the US empire that's ending, it's a vast chunk of historical pattern across the globe. Nation after nation has struggled and still struggles to throw off the yoke of imperialism.

When it's all done, we may even see nations in their new alliances decide that the world meanwhile has become small enough that temporary alliances could become permanent. That actually the struggle to throw off imperialism was enough fight for any nation's lifetime. That, absent the overlord's boot on the face, one could now actually live in peace and trade on equal terms.

I know you know all this. And this comment is a bit esoteric to the discussion at hand. But I find the theme useful, to parse these battles in terms of the major war, that of imperialism fighting for control in a world increasingly desiring to throw off its insatiable rapine.

Forgive the long-windedness, I haven't put this into words before.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 29 2018 3:06 utc | 99

"As to Hezbollah, even if the numbers, 100-150,000 are exaggerated, it is highly likely that they have 50,000 mixed rocket/missile munitions aimed at Israel. Enough to overwhelm any Israeli defences even if some are knocked out by the IAF. Even a nuke first strike by the Israelis would probably not be enough to prevent their major towns and military installations from very serious damage." Posted by: JohninMK | Dec 28, 2018 6:45:38 PM | 80

This is what we get if we read fanciful exaggerations compiled by parties with an agenda. Who and when produced ANY numbers on Hezbollah missiles? Did they have any kind of reliable methodology? The numbers were produced by Israeli intelligence and leaked to Israeli press etc. Is it possible that they were invented out of thin air? My guess is that the "scientific method" was roughly like that: count houses in Shia villages in south Lebanon, with more than 500,000 of occupants, this is 50-100 thousands. Assume that every other one is used to store missiles, guess 2-3 per basement. My bet is that this is it. Promoting danger from village basements is on the record. My conclusion is that if it were solely up to Israelis, they could invent 100-150 thousands out of zero -- remember WMD? However, it is improbable that Hezbollah does not have any missiles, they were issuing threats of using them if attacked, and they used them before. But how many, what they may hope to achieve by the way of deterrent?

One number which seems reliable is the size of ranks of Hezbollah, 10-20 thousand people, of whom only some would operate missile launchers. Missiles can be categorized as crappy and mostly harmless, and a more serious stuff that, alas, costs many times more. The only possible donor, Iran lacks budget surpluses and easy logistics of delivery. My guess is that Hezbollah has a minimum needed for serious deterrent. So one would need to guess-estimate what kind of deterrent is sufficient.

If a nation faces super-duper threat, the people can support the national cause in spite of very heavy damage. But this is not the case of Israel that has a very simple option of not picking a fight with Hezbollah on Lebanese ground. ANY losses from such a fight are unnecessary and the tolerance is low. The ability of launching 100 missiles on the average for three months, 10,000 missiles, seems more than enough. Thus my guess-estimate would be between 1000 and 10,000. Too few, Hezbollah would be powerless after a week. Too many, there would be difficulties producing that many in Iran (they have their own defense needs over much larger coastline etc.), delivering discretely to south Lebanon, and building enough shelters that can be properly hardened and fortified against land attacks.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 29 2018 3:14 utc | 100

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