Small Wars Journal

Obama Versus Putin: The Making of Another Great Power Proxy War in the Quicksand of Syria

Share this Post

Obama Versus Putin: The Making of Another Great Power Proxy War in the Quicksand of Syria

Ehsan M. Ahrari

The United States has announced that its Special Forces will participate in ground operations in Syria against ISIS.  That announcement contradicts President Barack Obama’s previous assurances that there would be no American forces participating in ground operations.  Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter went beyond the aforementioned statement by noting that such Special Forces operations would increase in the future.  Is President Obama breaking his frequently iterated promise of no troops on the ground, or is it just a crucial tactical adjustment?  Has he quietly reached a moment of desperation whereby he sees his promise of “no boots on the ground” has been overcome by events (OBEs); or has he decided to outdo Russian President Vladimir Putin in his own determination to take drastic action to save the regime of Bashar al-Assad?  At this point, Obama’s decision appears to include factors mentioned in both questions.  Putin, for his part, seems to have forgotten that military involvement in a Muslim country may turn out to be too costly for Russia.  He seems to have forgotten the lessons of the Afghan war of the 1980s.

Things are not going well for the United States in Syria.  Despite its heavy reliance on air power (as an alternative to committing ground troops) to degrade and then eradicate ISIS, the latter has yet to lose its effectiveness.  The United States decided to rely on recruiting, training, and equipping the so-called moderate Islamists to fight ISIS.  It originally allocated $580 million to train and equip those individuals.  But the chief restriction imposed on those recruits was that they would only engage in fighting ISIS and not the Assad regime.     

To Washington’s dismay, much of the US-supplied equipment and vehicles quickly fell into the hands of Al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate).  The next twist in the policy, according to the Wall Street Journal, was, instead of training the moderate rebels, it was also to equip them.  The “equip” part of the program was to be “dramatically reduced to providing weapons to some 5,000 friendly moderate Syrian rebels to carry on the fight against both ISIS and presumably, against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.” Senator John McCain was spot-on when he observed that the Obama administration’s insistence that rebels fight only against ISIS was a “fundamental flaw.”

The greatest American hesitation has been about providing heavy equipment to the anti-ISIS forces.  Sadly, from Washington’s perspective, the pro-American Syrian insurgents have not impressed the American advisors with their fighting capabilities.  In addition, their loyalty to the American objectives of ridding the country of ISIS first conflicted with the Syrian insurgents’ own intense desire to defeat pro-regime forces first.

The US-Turkish alliance also suffers from intricate problems of its own.  Turkey remains focused on ousting Assad first, but it also remains acutely worried about enabling the Kurdish forces to emerge as an effective fighting force.  Ankara has also remained vexed about the possibilities that the territories liberated by the Kurdish forces are likely to become an integral part of Kurdistan, which is the dream of Kurds of all political stripes.  Thus, “Turkey appears to be actively working at direct odds with U.S. anti-ISIS strategy, having attacked Kurdish groups in Syria—the same groups that the United States recently armed and counts among its ‘capable partners’….”

The United States, on the contrary, has a high degree of trust in the commitment of the Kurdish forces to fight, degrade, and destroy ISIS.  However, it has to be careful about not antagonizing the government of President Recep Erdogan.  Thus, while the Kurds are fighting ISIS, they are also frequently targeted by the Turkish Air Force.  That is also one more reason why the United States is careful about not increasing the fighting capabilities of the Kurdish forces by supplying them with heavy equipment.  There is a great possibility that those arms might also be used against the Turkish forces.

America’s other problem is that no Arab country is ready or willing to commit its ground troops to the Syrian theater of operations.  As much as everyone claims to despise ISIS and its ghastly tactics, no Arab regime is willing to commit ground forces and then becoming a powerful target of ISIS global propaganda that it is killing Sunni Muslims.

Russia has studied the modalities of America’s involvement in Iraq and Syria within a Machiavellian framework.  If the United States were to be effective in defeating or at least substantially weakening ISIS forces in either of those countries, Russia would have stayed out of the fray.  However, President Obama’s overly cautious approach—indeed, his sustained refusal to commit ground troops to Syria or Iraq—has provided Russia with a superb window of opportunity.  Putin fired his opening salvo on behalf of Bashara Assad in September 2013, when the latter violated Obama’s declared “red line” by using chemical weapons.  As the United States was poised to take limited military action against the Assad regime as punishment, Putin came up with the suggestion that Assad transfer the ownership of his chemical weapons stock to an outside body.  The United States readily accepted that palpably sensible proposition.  However, the Russian President had an ambitious agenda up his sleeve.  He operates as a believer of that old adage: Nature abhors a vacuum (Horror vacui).   

Undoubtedly, Russia has been looking for a long-term, if not a permanent, presence in the Middle East, since its ouster from Egypt by President Anwar Sadat in 1972.  It has a naval base in Syria, but the potential ouster of Assad from power would have permanently closed that facility.  As an integral aspect of his profound desire to reestablish Russia as one of the great powers to have a major say in the future power plays in the Middle East, Putin needed an even a larger Russian presence.  He has already made significant overtures by reaching out to the Egyptian dictator, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in the form of arms sales, and promises of further boosting that aspect of Russo-Egyptian ties in the future.  Russia has been well on its way to filling that vacuum.

Putin asserted Russia’s influence in Syria with a bang.  He sent bombers to Syria ostensibly for bombing ISIS; however, in reality, he started targeting the US-backed Syrian insurgents, who were already facing an uphill battle because of America’s legalistic requirement of vetting them first, training them, and only then supplying them with light weapons.  On the contrary, Putin instantly went after the US-backed insurgents for the explicit purpose of weakening or even eradicating them.  That was the most assured way of saving the Assad regime, according to his calculations.  Bombing ISIS was only his secondary objective, especially considering the fact that the Iranian Quds forces and Hezbollah were already carrying the heavy baggage of fighting ISIS.

Putin plan seems to be working for him, at least for now.  Russia has emerged as a major player.  He has already entered into negotiations with the United States, Iran, and Saudi Arabia over the future of Syria.  The Saudis themselves have approached Moscow to inquire about the modalities of the post-Assad era, a topic that is most irrelevant to Putin as long as Russia and Iran have an upper-hand in the Syrian theater of operations.  More to the point, Putin has managed to elevate his country as a coequal of the United States, as the American and Russia military officials have started regularly coordinating their air attack plans to eliminate any potential for a mishap.

The Obama administration has maintained that it has no intention of deploying ground troops in Syria.  Thus, the decision to insert a small number of US Special Forces is merely a tactical adjustment.  As President Obama is becoming increasingly focused on his legacy of not becoming a party to another war in Syria, Putin seems to have calculated that the path to Russia’s advantage leads through the battlefields of Syria, especially while Moscow’s ally, Iran, is bearing the major brunt of the ground fight and the resultant losses in its war against ISIS.

The Syrian conflict has all the markings of transforming itself into another proxy war between two major powers a la the Afghanistan war of the 1980s.  One feature of that war materialized when Putin decided to plunge his country into the Syrian quagmire.  The ghosts of the Afghan war are awakening in the battlefields of Syria, when one considers the fact that heavy weapons are once again emerging as the game changer of winning that conflict.  While reports surged that the Russian bombing decimated the heavy weapons used by ISIS fighters, there was also a report that the United States and Saudi Arabia were supplying heavy weapons to pro-US forces.  In the meantime, 55 Saudi Wahhabi clerics have declared a Jihad against the Russian forces.  As consummate practitioners of Machiavellian power game, one can be rest assured that Putin’s advisors are busy calculating the long-term implications of their boss’ decision to plunge them into the quicksand of Syria.

About the Author(s)

Ehsan Ahrari is an Adjunct Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, Carlisle, PA, and the CEO of Strategic Paradigms, an Alexandria, VA-based foreign and defense policy consultancy. He specializes in Great Power relations, Strategic affairs of the world of Islam, and anti-terrorism. His website is: www.ehsanahrari.com. He can be reached at: ahrari@earthlink.net. Views contained in this essay are strictly private.

Comments

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 3:38pm

Obama appears to believe his strategy mess is apparently all due to poor "messaging".........?

It appears that now Obama is conducting an informational war against the American public and news media AND not against Putin and or the IS....why is that??????

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...a4d_story.html

National Security

Obama thinks his Syria strategy is right -- and folks just don’t get it

Quoted from this article above.....

Continued.......

As the new communication effort began, Obama gave a new title to Robert Malley, who is in charge of the Middle East for the National Security Council. As the president’s newly minted Senior Adviser for the Counter-ISIL Campaign in Iraq and Syria, Malley’s job is to consolidate efforts across departments and agencies in charge of the military, diplomatic, intelligence, financing and other aspects of the strategy.

Because Malley was not known as a prolific practitioner of social media, “it’s probably fair to say that Rob Malley was not itching to launch his own Twitter account,” the first senior administration official said. But Malley nonetheless inaugurated @robmalley44 on Dec. 11.

Although officials said Malley approves his own postings, most of what appears under the handle is compiled by the half dozen members of the White House Office of Digital Strategies, which retweets virtually every other tweet, chart, release, speech and statement on anti-Islamic State efforts from across the government.

The last week of the year sparked a a virtual flood of emails, releases, tweets and retweets from the White House, State and Defense departments, and the military and coalition allies hailing the Iraqi military’s success in driving Islamic State forces from the city of Ramadi.

In case anyone misses any of it, on Dec. 8 the NSC press office began emailing to a long list of reporters a daily roundup it said would “aggregate key developments across the various lines of effort in our unyielding campaign to degrade and destroy ISIL.”

“You’re going to see more of all of it in the new year,” the first senior official said. “You’ll see the president continue to be the chief messenger when it comes to this. He’s uniquely suited to tie together the different streams. You’ll also see Carter, Kerry, the military generals, Lew, Szubin — the whole cast of characters really, to speak to this in a very concerted way in order to ensure” that the message is getting out.

Continued.......

Again in a similar vein to his previous complaints that people do not get his strategy....well they do not get it simply because there is none.....

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 8:57am

Interesting question....are in fact the US social media giants part and parcel of the Russian, Syrian and IS information warfare campaigns....??

.@YouTube just removed the Qasioun YouTube channel, deleting 100s of videos from 4 years of conflict in Syria https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6J...9J4Of0t64qNlNA

THE core question is WHY did they do this when their new policies did not tangate these videos----unless Russia was pushing to have them removed as we have seen Russia dictate to Twitter, FB and YouTube many times that they wanted anti Russia accounts removed that were supporting the Ukraine.

The role of the US social media giants in the Russian information warfare campaign really does need to be seriously researched.

Russia pushed them to move their Russian user information held on their US servers to servers inside Russia and no one has asked them can the FSB reach via Russian servers US servers which in the world of network infrastructure design is usually the case.

NOTE:
Implementation of @YouTube guidelines includes removing evidence of war crimes by #Putin & his allies.

NOTE: It is time for a concerted campaign to stop @YouTube & other social media serving as censors for #Putin.

NOTE: The Syria Archive is saving some videos, but there's 500,000+ at this point on YouTube
https://syrianarchive.org

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 8:43am

It took the drumbeat of social media, AI and HRW to finally get the attention of the DoS......WHY did it take so long.....??

With daily videos are speeding across the net depicting the reality of the killing of hundreds of Syrian civilians many of them women and children, and with Kerry taking up the question directly with Putin recently in Moscow....AGAIN why did it take so long...??

US State Dept:
"Russia's strikes in #Syria have killed 100s of civilians; hit medical facilities, schools & markets & [displaced] 130,000+"

Russia response was "we bomb using precision weapons so we could not have hit any civilians"...NOTICE the DoS did not call Putin out on this propaganda statement....

NOTICE also the DoS did not call out Putin on his heavy handed use of cluster munitions on civilians either nor the two sarin gas attacks conducted by the Assad AF.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 7:51am

Finally there are MSM reports that the US has "voiced it's concern" to the Russian FM about the deliberate killings of civilians in Syrian...BUT WAOT did not the UNSC state the bombings of civilians were to cease and is not the US a member of the UNSC so why not call out Russia in the UNSC.....??

Appears Kerry and Obama now have a "voice" and that is about it for their interest in Syria.....

MORE deliberate Russian air strikes on civilians........BUT WAIT Russia claims to be using highly precise bombs.....?????

Russia'n airstrikes hit #refugee camp near #Azaz town in northern #Aleppo /#Syria'n border area to #Turkey
serveral dead

Footage
Another day, another Syrian #IDP camp bombed by #Russia
This time in #Azaz.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cszHAIuBLWg

SECOND Syrian IDP camp hit in two days and not a word from Obama and or the UNSC.......

Congrats #Russia, your airstrikes on an IDP camp in #Azaz, #Aleppo today killed 3 women & tore away children’s limbs

Russia airstrikes on Warehouse Displaced Civilians - Aleppo Dec 31/2015
https://youtu.be/DsfQZrpzO8o

Aftermath #Russia airstrikes on a Warehouse for Displaced Civilians in #Aazaz..
#Aleppo #Syria Dec31

MORE from the killing fields of Syrian and NOTE most of these Russian air strikes where NOWHERE CLOSE to IS positions.....WHICH is the reason Putin claims he is in Syria for......at least that is his reality......

3 killed and 15+ wounded due 2 car bomb explosions in areas between #Kafr_Hamrah & #Huraytan
#Aleppo #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #al_Dawra village
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Palmyra, finishing to destroy part of the Archaeological site
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

And the #Russia airstrikes in #Aazaz don't stop..
#Aleppo #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Palmyra, finishing to destroy part of the Archaeological site
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Nawah city
#Daraa #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Ayoudoun village
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Ayoudoun village
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

SAA Heavy artillery shelling targeting the city centre of #Talbiseh
#Homs #Syria Dec 31
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOVBx91zovY

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #al_Qunitrat village
#Homs #Syria Dec 31

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/31/2015 - 6:58am

Obama mess is just getting messier.......but wait the missile sanctions were not part and parcel of the Iran Deal and Tehran knows this but is playing the card anyway...and Kerry's response....none...

Iran says any U.S. sanctions on missiles illegal
http://reut.rs/1OubL7D

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 2:12pm

Russia states that it drops highly precision dumb iron bombs thus not hitting civilians---not so sure this statement applies to the cluster munitions that are also killing civilians that Russia claims it is not killing.....

Russian propaganda is now pushing hard against the US finally awakening to the Russian killing of civilians in large numbers.....

Acc. to @de_sputnik #Rogosin said #Russia avoided killing civilians by only using high precision munition in #Syria. https://twitter.com/de_sputnik/status/682146690288074752

Remember Sputnik is the 100% Russian state owned propaganda media outlet...

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 11:26am

So this is the "milestone" Kerry and Obama are talking about.......????

This is how Syria peace talks going: Russia killed one negotiator by an airstrike and regime just detained another 2

Ahmad al-Asrawi & Munir Bitar were reportedly heading to Riyadh when they were arrested on the Lebanese borders

MORE Russian attacks on civilians.....

Not the 1st time the Abidin IDP camp was targeted, not too long ago Assad even targeted it with cluster munitions
http://youtu.be/rel0nQN2lnc

6 reported dead so far inc. women & children & 10s injured in 3 #Russia|n airstrikes on Abidin IDP camp in Jisr al-Shugour, #Idlib, #Syria

Brave Russian pilots attack A'bden refugee camp south #Idlib again.
https://youtu.be/A0WScHgh4QE

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 10:55am

Not only is Obama in a mess....the western mainstream media does not even begin to explain what is ongoing in Syria---outside of everything and everyone are terrorists.

Taken from the Syrian thread.....check the last sentence as nothing is heard of this via Obama and Kerry......

Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post

CrowBat----what do you think of these comments....... Second question...was this the reason for the Erdogan visit to KSA???

CrowBat response to the question.....

I've got very little clue about politics. Can only guess that Turkey and Saudi Arabia want to better coordinate their next moves related to support of insurgents.

Re. what 'rebels' are 'starting to realize': this depends upon what 'rebels' are we talking about.

The JAN, for example, is next to never bombed and thus has not much to report. Lately, it has lost a lot of its 'fierceful' image in the Syrian public: it proved unable of effectivelly defending any important parts of the frontline (at least not on its own), while only one of its units (Chechen-staffed Jund al-Aqsa) has proven as skilled enough to run offensive operations. Unsurprisingly, JAN is presently primarily preoccuppied with hijacking or assassinating various FSyA leaders in northern Aleppo and Idlib, steering trouble between FSyA and SDF etc., with the aim of weakening the FSyA, or at least keeping it disunited so it can maintain control over insurgent units. Then, the JAN knows it's got no support in the population there, and the moment FSyA stands united against it, it's 'game over'.

Ahrar ash-Sham is also seldom hit, and thus feeling very little. They've got no problem to send reinforcements around the frontlines as necessary, and are doing quite well in bolstering the FSyA in NE Lattakia or on the eastern side of Azaz corridor, for example.

Ahrar's pendant in Eastern Ghouta - Jaysh al-Islam - is feeling impacts of the mass-murder of local civilians run by Assadists and Russians around them, but otherwise felling quite little in terms of own losses. Their frontlines are meanwhile back to a 'circle' of Damascus suburbs and minor towns, which will be much more problematic for the regime to assault than relatively flat and open orchards around Marj as-Sultan. Overall, I do not see them giving up that easily.

The Rastan-Talbiseh Pocket (north of Homs), has survived the first big NDF offensive without losing one metre of the ground, despite massive bombardment and tank assaults. The area is held by a mix of FSyA and ex-FSyA units that declared themselves the JAN in order to receive support from abroad (read: Kuwait and Qatar). Most importantly: mass of insurgents there are ex-SyAA officers, NCOs and other ranks, well-versed and meanwhile very experienced, and they're defending their homes and families. The area is also build-up, and thus very problematic to assault. I do not see them giving up just like that.

The FSyA - whether dozens of its factions fighting in Aleppo and Idlib in the north, or the Southern Front in the south - is bearing the brunt of fighting. It is not really feeling 'Russian' impact as such, directly. Russians do bomb a lot, but they're either missing or their bombs fail to detonate. Exceptions are the few PGM-strikes Russians are sporadically flying. Overall, these make as much 'difference' as PGM-strikes flown by Assadists at earlier times....

What the FSyA does feel is presence of many more, and then better-trained and -equipped Assadist troops on the frontline. Namely, Russian Army troops were deployed so to protect all the major installations in the rear, which means that plenty of NDF was made free to be rushed to the front. Lately, the regime and IRGC have re-trained lots of NDF-militias run by various intel agencies, Shabihas etc. and thus we can now track the appearance of entirely new 'loyalist' units like 102nd and 103rd Brigades Republican Guards, or the Ba'ath Brigade etc., on the battlefields.

What the FSyA also feels is a massive presence of IRGC-QF-run units of Hezbollah/Iraq. There are nearly 30,000 of these in Syria meanwhile, and although they are not really 'outgunning' or 'outnumbering' the insurgents, that's really a big number for this war - and then one that's felt on the frontlines. Foremost: such numbers enable the IRGC to rotate own units in and out of the battle, and - despite losses - keep its troops relatively 'fresh'; this is a luxury the FSyA can not afford: thanks to JAN's efforts, it's too disunited but to coordinate on bigger scale. Means not this is unlikely to change, then the more JAN is terrorising them, the more enemies it is creating too...

...and overall, most of the FSyA, AAS and IF have one thing in common: as genuine Syrians, they're stubborn beyond what we in West consider 'possible'. They went through much more problematic times too (think just about late 2013 and early 2014, when the Daesh was on the verge of completely destroying the insurgency). On the contrary, they know that what the regime is throwing into the battle now is the last of what the regime can send there; they know Hezbollah/Lebanon and the IRGC are at the end of their nerves showing first signs of frustration etc.

So, for them, it's a matter of 'holding out'. As long as they keep on getting supplies, they'll hold out.

Regarding battlefields: FSyA in NE Lattakia is under immense pressure, absolutely no doubt about this. But, it's not crumbling. It was reinforced by four FSyA and two AAS brigades from Idlib, the last week, in turn prompting Russians to withdraw one Hezbollah brigade, and thrown in the 102nd RGD and that 'Desert Hawks Special Forces Brigade' of the PGM, but even these 'fresh' troops are only making crawling gains. Overall, it's anything but 'guaranteed' that Lattakia is 'lost forever' for insurgents there.

I'm particularly curious to see how anybody imagines to 'shrink' the RTP pocket so 'dramatically', in 2016.

...and in southern Aleppo: the IRGC offensive there was stopped cold short of reaching M5. Although there is no doubt that Hezbollah/Iraq can send additional brigades to Syria (and is even likely to do so during January), I'm yet to see the IRGC achieving what it wanted to achieve there. On the contrary, evacuation of civilians and WIA from Fouah-pocket near Idlib City indicates they've concluded they can't go on like this, and are now searching for different ways of solving the situation.

So, from my POV, the question is rather how long can the regime, the IRGC, all three of Hezbollahs and then also Russians hold out?

And how much are they all - plus the JAN - going to radicalize the FSyA, IF, and AAS? Then, there is a limit for everything, so also for Syrian tradition of tollerating any sort of idiots in the neighbourhood.

IMHO, many things are likely to change should this US-vetted, Sunni-Arab part of the SDF really punch through from Teshreen Dam and capture Manbij. If they can widen that operation and really bring collapse of the Daesh west of Euphrates, the FSyA would suddenly get plenty of room to manoeuvre - and also re-establish JAN-free links to the Turkish border.

(With other words: there's a new - and perhaps the last ever - chance for the West to 'do something' in Syria... we'll see if the West is going to use that opportunity.)
CrowBat is offline

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 5:24am

While Obama is on vacation and DoS Kerry and the UNSC virtually do nothing to stop the bombing in Syria which Putin is killing civilians in a deliberate fashion by his "Islamic State Air Force".......

BUT WAIT did not Kerry openly state ..."we have a milestone"...in what I am not sure nor is Kerry/Obama actually sure either of....

While the killing fields of Syria just keep on killing....not a single word from Obama and virtually the entire western MSM....BUT WAIT now Obama and Kerry want to allow a genocidal dictator to participate in so called open, free and "democratic" elections......under Russian sponsorship????

AND we wonder why Obama has a "mess" in Syria????

SCD collect dozens of #Russia unexploded CLuster Bombs in #Maarat_al_Nouman
#Idlib #SYria Dec 29

Hezbollah mercenaries terrorists occupiers raised their dirty flag on #Al_Waer neighborhood
#Homs #Syria Dec 30

Heavy clashes between Rebels & #SAA/Iranian mercenaries in #Manshiyah neighborhood now
#Daraa #Syria Dec 30

SAA mercenaries shelling With Grad Rockets targeting #alGhab_plain
#Hama CS #Syria Dec 30

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Ratiyan village
#Aleppo CS #Syria Dec 30

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Kashtaar village
#Aleppo CS #Syria Dec 30

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Faysal_Mills
#Aleppo CS #Syria Dec 30

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Tanab village
#Aleppo CS #Syria Dec 30

SAA helicopters dropped barrel bombs on #Darayya
#Damascu CS #Syria Dec 30

SAA barrel bombs on #Teir_Maela
#Homs #Syria Dec 30
https://youtu.be/dNYFvAlA0RI

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 1:05am

Now it really does appear as if Obama and Kerry are totally complicit in the killing of civilians as Assad is the core problem and has been since 2011. which he initially had correct before they started tap dancing....OR does now the US equate genocide with democracy......?????

OR has the US figured out that the anti Assad forces are just fighting to just fight???

Washington reportedly backing down on insistence that Assad can’t compete in Syrian presidential election:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...ria-settlement

A challenge to SWJ readers--can anyone make a coherent presentation in less than say ten sentences exactly what the ME/eastern Europe foreign policy is for this current US President??

An the use of retrenchment is not an option to argue.....

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 4:23am

Can a Boy Scout Troop leader currently do a far better job than Obama is doing at this moment in time and space........??

THIS is the current situation in northern Syria where Obama "only supposedly supported ground troops are fighting".....notice Obama completely ignores the FSA who is actively fighting Assad, IS and Putin AND remember it has been Obama who has repeatedly stated that there is no military solution in eastern Ukraine and Syria WHEN in fact the UAF has effectively countered two major Russian military offensives and the FSA and the other main anti Assad forces are equally as effective right now in countering the Russian, Hezbollah, IRGC and Iraqi Shia militia army attacking them in a supposedly Sunni majority nation state.......

Taken today from the Syria thread......NOTICE the below is not being reported at all in western MSM......nor by Obama--- nor by his NSC....nor by the DoS Kerry.....

Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post

SO now it appears the US is directly supporting both the Kurds, IS and Russia.......??

Kurds militia & #ISIL attack north #Aleppo rebel held corridor with Turkey pushing to A'zaz. Russ provide air cover.
pic.twitter.com/K7XwUsBGIh

Appears that even a Boy Scout Troop might have a better plan......

CrowBat response to the above......

...just another failed attempt by Oblabla to bring insurgents in northern Syria to their knees - and emphasis is on failed.

Namely, yes: the SDF (that is: YPG + about 200 of US-vetted combatants from Jaysh at-Thuwar - that is: those that didn't side with the FSyA and were then left to go fighting Daesh on the eastern side of the Azaz corridor), broke the truce with the Marea Operations Room (FSyA, AAS, JAN) and attacked the village of Malikia, on the western side of the Azaz corridor, two days ago.

They didn't really block the Azaz corridor in this fashion: rather blocked one (western) of two roads going down the area.

But this attack came at a very unopportune time, namely right when the Mutassim Brigade of the Sultan Murad Division FSyA assaulted and liberated the village of Duwaydan from the Daesh, on the eastern side of the corridor...

...ah well: different units of the Marea Ops Room counterattacked Malikia and recovered it the very same evening...

The situation is actually such that the insurgents could completely destroy the entire Kurdish-held Afrin enclave. But,
- a) they know what a public outcry this would cause in the West, and
- b) they consider fighting the Daesh more important.

Perhaps Oblabla, PYD/YPG Stalinists, and few other idiots there could come to the idea to at least consider the option b as more useful - for everybody involved...

So when Obama claims he is "fighting IS" is he really? OR is he just going through the verbal motions to satisfy MSM, Congress and his legacy....???

His "military solution against IS" is alive and well and is fighting IS...so where are the actions of a so called US President who claims he is fighting too????

Nowhere to be found.....

BTW---there is a equally effective Sunni Southern Front Army sitting still and basically reading newspapers and drinking tea AS the US and Jordan have effectively told them to not get involved in the fighting against Assad/Putin and IS....wonder WHY that is????

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:25am

After leaving the realm of a "total mess"...not sure what the next level is......

Strike that killed Syrian rebel chief complicates peace talks push: U.S.
http://reut.rs/1JFUBTq
pic.twitter.com/5y7IAqxiwh

THAT was the direct intent of the Russian strike........AND yet Putin claims he is working towards a peace settlement

So now the US is supporting direct attacks by their Kurdish supported troops on anti Assad forces just as does the Russian AF---any difference now between Putin and Obama ......

Jeish al-Thuwar acknowledged yesterday that it attacked rebels after rebels failed to withdraw from several towns.
pic.twitter.com/fMUNmWo0Gs

Since al Thuwar on this offensive has been accused by anti Assad forces of outright killing of civilians in towns they took over and thus a so called truce between the two groups was suppose to be worked out....apparently not followed by the US....or worse they are not able to control Thuwar......

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 1:46pm

Hey world!
#Russia says, the #Assad army has captured #Tishreen dam in #Raqqa from #ISIS.
Any comment?!
pic.twitter.com/dtTwtAzOln

Минобороны России ✔ @mod_russia
#SYRIA As a result, strategic object, dam over the Euphrates in al-Akhmar, has been taken under control of the Syrian army

Минобороны России ✔ @mod_russia
#SYRIA Rus MoD joining efforts of all forces, which are interested in liberating Syria from international terrorists

BUT WAIT since when is the FSA an international terror group...as it appears the Russian AF bombs only the FSA NOT IS???

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 1:36pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

So Russian military spox just claimed providing air support to US-backed SDF
https://youtu.be/6GlH2thv76s?t=101
pic.twitter.com/k9d31OBgPb

Russian airstrikes against rebels in north rural #Aleppo have paid off as Ghazal, Qara Kubri & Dudyan have sadly fallen to #ISIS, again.

#BreakingNews #Israel Channel 10: Information suggest #IAF struck #Russia|n weapons cargo convoy heading to #Hezbollah in #Qalamoun #Syria

AND the geo political goals of the Putin non linear warfare in Syria is exactly what again....??

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 1:20pm

Does anyone have an explanation for this???? AND we wonder why we have a mess....??

Wow, the State Department unironically listed "Bringing peace, security to Syria" as one of their 2015 achievements
pic.twitter.com/ozQfFzo4hh

Wonder what then what all the killing of Syrian civilians is all about..."bringing peace and security"...think not....??

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 7:59am

Does anyone have a clear understanding of what Obama is really doing in Syria....talk about a mess...this proves it....

SO now it appears the US is directly supporting both the Kurds, IS and Russia.......??

Kurds militia & #ISIL attack north #Aleppo rebel held corridor with Turkey pushing to A'zaz. Russ provide air cover.
pic.twitter.com/K7XwUsBGIh

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 7:42am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

An average killing fields morning for Syrians...and where is the Obama leadership.....notice the UNSC is even missing in action....

SAA barrel bombs on #Teir_Maela
#Homs #SYria Dec 28
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr_2kX2B0hQ

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Nawa city
#Daraa #SYria Dec28
(Helping #ASSad to divide Daraa.)

Russia airstrikes on #Kansab village, #Kurds_Mount, causing a massacre
#Latakia #SYria Dec28

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Salma village
#Latakia #Syria Dec 28

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Tel_Refaat, resulting 2 martyrs
#ALeppo #Syria Dec 28

After 2years detained,Sir Mohammed Abdullah died today tortured to death in #ASSad RegimePrison
#Aleppo #Syria Dec28

SAA shelling with heavy artilley the city of #Nawa & surrounding areas
#Daraa #Syria Dec 28

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 9:40am

AN average day in the Assad and Putin genocidal war being conducted against civilians and anti Assad forces BUT DEFINITELY NOT Islamic State......?

Destruction aftermath #Russia airstrikes on #Tulafeh village
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMJsxt9Fd68

Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on #DeirEzzor
#Syria Dec 27

Moment of #SAA airstrikes on #Erbeen
#Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7n3keNFhS4

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #al_Tamanah village
#Idlib #Syria Dec 27

3 martyrs victims of #SAA shelling mortars on #al_Lataminah
#Hama #Syria Dec 27

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Palmyra
#Homs #Syria Dec 27

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting the area of #alCastello road
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Karm_alBayk village
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Beny_Zaid village
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Marj area

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on the area of western #Ghariyah

SAA dropped leaflets:"This is the end of dirty money,back to God,best sinners are who retreat"
#Ghouta #Syria Dec27
#Daraa cs #Syria Dec 27
E #Ghouta #Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27

SCD @SyriaCivilDef Searching for victims aftermath #SAA airstrikes on #Hamouriyah
#Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27

Smoke and chaos aftermath #SAA airstrikes on #Hamouriyah
#Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27

Smoke, destruction & causalities aftermath #SAA airstrikes on #Erbeen
#SCD rush to rescue operation
#Syria Dec 27

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Hamouriyah
#Damascus cs #Syria

SAA helicopter dropped barrel bombs on #alMakramiyah village
#Homs cs #Syria Dec 27

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on the Road of #Kiheel & #Sayda area
#Daraa #Syria Dec 27

SAA warplanes carried out airstrikes on #Erbeen
#Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27

SAA shelling with Grad Rockets targeting #Yadoudeh neighborhood
#Daraa #Syria Dec 27

SAA helicopter flying over #alJedor village
#Daraa #Syria Dec 27

Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Alsawam village
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27

I don't know but is "smelling fire", coalition and Russia flying next to each other.. RuAF on Rebel held, and CoAF on da3sh

Activists reporting 4 warplanes flying together over North #Aleppo, identifying as #Coalition warplanes
#Syria Dec 27

Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on #al_Bab
#Aleppo #Syria Dec 27

Reports #Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on #al_Ankawi
#Hama #Syria Dec 27

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Khan_Touman
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27

SAA shelling with havy artillery targeting #Inkhil village
#Daraa #Syria Dec 27

5 martyrs so far aftermath #SAA barrel bombs in #al_Houla
#Homs #Syria Dec 27

3 Martyrs including a 8 years old child due #SAA Barrel bombs on #Talaf village
#Hama cs #Syria Dec 27

Death toll rises to 6 martyrs aftermath #SAA Barrel Bombs on #Talaf village
#Hama #SYria Dec 27

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting #Kafr_Zeta
#Hama #Syria Dec 27

More than 4 #Russia airstrikes caught on camera
#alCastello road #Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 27
https://youtu.be/880_Fw8OnEU

According to #Putin this is a "#isis Oil warehouse" and need to be bombed.
Mini Gas shop in #Aazaz #Aleppo Dec 27

Smoke due 2nd #SAA airstrikes on #Kiheel village, causalities reported
#Daraa #Syria Dec 27

Smoke due #Russia airstrikes on #al_Lataminah
#Hama #SYria Dec 27
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoMEXHW5MwE

Destruction aftermath #SAA barrel bombs on #Teir_Maela
#Homs #Syria Dec 27
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKd4QsSspRE

civilian wounded in aftermath #SAA airstrikes on #Hamouriyah
#Damascus cs #Syria Dec 27

AND the Obama WH says absolutely nothing as does the UNSC......so are both complicit in the Putin and Assad genocidal activities......???

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 7:27am

Fact: @amnesty, @hrw, @MSF, @SyriaCivilDef & thousands others are lying.

Only #Russia is right and provoked.

Fact---and Obama is complicit in supporting Putin actions in Syria in exchange for Putin's so called efforts in eastern Ukraine that never happened and in Putin's so called support to the Iran Deal which is unraveling slowly caused by Iranian actions.......

The Int'l Spectator @intlspectator
BREAKING: Amnesty International says Russia is 'directly targeting civilians' in Syria, which could amount to war crimes.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 6:51am

Perfect example of the complicity of Obama and Putin in the genocide being conducted against the Sunni civil society in Syria...AND YET not a single word is lost by Obama on the current wave of chemical attacks.....this week a major sarin attack occurred and not a single Obama word and yet he issued a red line statement......

NOW another possible sarin attack just being reported one minute ago......

AND the comments from the US are exactly WHAT again......

Reports of a new Assad poison gas attack on #Jobar a little while ago, casualties reported. #Damascus #Syria

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 6:57am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Comment from a long time SWJ poster who knows Syria and the anti Assad forces well......

Crowbat

...to a certain degree Bondarenko is right:
- Russians do not 'target' civilians: they drop their bombs in general direction of 'target', then the wind does the rest...

- Russians are missing so often, that one can't talk about 'aiming'; and

- so many of their bombs are failing to detonate, that

...overall, they're 'next to never' hitting Syrian civilians.

This might sound sarcastic, but it's really so: good the VKS is performing this 'precisely', otherwise there would be 10-fold more casualties between civilians...

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 6:45am

One very BIG and FAT Russian lie if there ever was one that can be fact checked almost daily complete with video footage and civilian death counts.

"Russian warplanes never hit civilian targets in Syria."
-General Viktor Bondarenko, chief of Russian Air Force pic.twitter.com/WOO7ok110M

HERE is the single most important point in this particular killing civilians debate....

This core question now has to be asked about Obama and his entire NSC team...the West has valid evidence since 2011 of Assad's genocidal program against the Sunni civil population and his use of and now repeated use of chemical weapons on that society, we now see Putin doing the same exact genocidal moves using cluster munitions deliberately against civilian targets, firing tactical missiles into residential area, using thermobaric and WP weapons on civilian areas and deliberate air strikes against churches, schools, market places, deliberately targeting civil defense rescue teams, attacking food supplies/aid convoys and critical civilian
infrastructure THAT absolutely has nothing to do with attacking Islamic State---HIS stated reason for being in Syria.

NOW take this simple single word.......

com-plic-it

adjective

choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.

IF Obama and his NSC truly knows the depths of the Assad and Putin air strikes against civilians AND they know from their daily intel briefings, and if they have fully read the AI/HRW reports on the use of cluster munitions on civilians, if they know of the Assad and Putin strategy to use starvation as a tactical weapon against the Sunni civil society as a whole.....creating a massive humanitarian disaster........YET SAY and or DO NOTHING......

IS not Obama and his entire NSC "complicit" in the Assad and Putin genocide being conducted inside Syria against the Sunni civil society???

IF the US is actually THEN "complicit" cannot Obama and his entire NSC THEN be charged with genocide/crimes against humanity at the Hague just as others that sit on the UNSC WHO equally cannot argue they "DID NOT KNOW" and DID NOTHING to stop it???? Especially since it is the UNSC that stated ALL cease bombing of civilians immediately.....???

Has the US in the last eight years totally lost "it's own moral compass" in the current Obama "retrenchment"???

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/24/2015 - 10:34am

HERE is another reason for the Obama/Kerry MESS in the entire ME.....do they really know what they are doing as it appears that a University Junior in an IR class could do better.......

The ME has always been about perception to the point that it is actually now a war of perception.......

Boy did Obama and Kerry totally misread their own "perceptions".......

US "covert com#mu#ni#cations" with Asad regime "may have fed his sense of le#git#imacy and im#punity"
http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-purs...ars-1450917657

BUT WAIT it reinforces the failed image of this WH---REMEMBER Kerry stating he had "bought up with Putin" his killing of civilians???????

Well "bought up" means nothing in the diplomatic world.....

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/24/2015 - 10:27am

AND the Russian MoD just keeps on lying and lying and lying AND yet Obama persists in trying to "reset"......

Footage
This is what Russia tries to sell us as "#ISIS oil".
Hit #AidConvoys in #Aleppo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC4efjLe3I0 … pic.twitter.com/tcfVdpZ2Rx

And in Aleppo Russia hit convoy say it's "ISIS oil", but no oil
https://twitter.com/lummideast/statu...40875871842304

Syria: At least 20 killed in multiple #Russia|n airstrikes on the rebel-held village of Hamouriyah, Eastern Ghouta.
pic.twitter.com/ecA1xG7nz8

AND the killing of civilians just keeps on keeping on and yet not a single word from any Western leader...and it is Christmas.....

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/24/2015 - 10:18am

Not only does Russia attack civilians, they tend to go for 2nd run after some time, to hit the rescuers too. https://twitter.com/AEJKhalil/status/680014265504428032

Little angel victim of #Russia airstrikes on #Ehras,she was inside the car w/ her parents..all killled
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 24
pic.twitter.com/i6GVHdFQj3

AND for those SWJ readers who do not believe that the Russians are openly and willingly killing civilians with cluster munitions.......

Remnants of #Russia Cluster Bombs on #Ehras
#Aleppo cs #Syria Dec 24 #PT
pic.twitter.com/E75NvuAlpW

AND not a single comment on this by the US Nobel Peace Prize winner........ OR the UNSC....for that matter......

If @mod_russia wants to deny using cluster bombs maybe tell idiot @RT_com reporters not to film them on their jets https://twitter.com/MuradoRT/status/652082802582781952

Outlaw 09

Thu, 12/24/2015 - 1:52am

Wonder what Obama and Kerry meant by......"a milestone" with Russian cooperation in the UNSC.......

RU is sharing information with the Taliban to fight IS
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...aborative_1_na

Russia says it has common interests with Taliban, whom they describe as "freedom fighters from U.S. occupation."
pic.twitter.com/YS1VaQJH2o

This above statement coming out of Moscow evidently confirms the very old adage "one man's freedom fighter, is another man's terrorist".

So anti Assad forces are terrorists BUT the Taliban are freedom fighters??

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 4:52pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

The newly formed Islamic State Air Force using Russian pilots struck with bombs a center of a major IS training camp today.........or so the Russian MoD claimed but we know they are lying on just about anything....

Russia warplanes carried out airstrikes on Women's Obstetric Hospital in #Huraytan #Aleppo #Syria Dec 23

SCD trying to extinguish fire of Women's Obstetric Hospital due #Russia airstrikes
#Huraytan #Aleppo #Syria Dec 23

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 2:38pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Humor.......

Amnesty: #Russia's own #SantaClaus uses fighter jets to drop clusters of presents for civilians in #Syria #FAKEAI
pic.twitter.com/Bp81fqfdXW

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 2:15pm

Evidence that yes social media can win in the Russian info war pushback fight.

Russia/Putin scrambling badly to pushback on the social media offensive concerning war crimes being committed by the Russian bombing and killing of hundreds of civilians.....BUT nothing equal in brutality against IS....

Russian MoD is now in their counter info war offensive.....

Russia trying to make fetch happen with the #FakeAI hashtag aimed against Amnesty International's new report concerning possible war crimes being committed by Russia.

FAKEAI Amnesty International, reveal who and when provided you with this so-called data or it will be done by the Rus MoD itself
https://twitter.com/mod_russia/status/679734443465113601

Минобороны России 
‏@mod_russia #FAKEAI Amnesty International, reveal who and when provided you with this so-called data or it will be done by the Rus MoD itself

Минобороны России ‏@mod_russia ·
#SYRIA Representatives of respectful mass media, do not put at risk your reputation by publishing fakes provided by anonymous sources

Минобороны России ‏@mod_russia
#FAKEAI Having published the brief Western Media missed hypothetic rhetoric's and gave everything as facts

Минобороны России ‏@mod_russia ·
#SYRIA #FAKEAI Briefing is made in a well-known style: same clichés and fakes, referring's to impersonal sources and no evidence

Минобороны России ‏@mod_russia ·
#SYRIA #FAKEAI Rusian Defence Ministry made deep research on briefing of the non-governmental organization Amnesty International

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 11:52am

Russian non linear warfare at work..........

Turkish Kurds are capitalizing on Ankara-Moscow crisis: Co-leader of HDP Demirtas is in Moscow to meet with Lavrov

Now the Putin truth comes out via Russian info war nedia......

Main Russia Propaganda Medium has map saying "REBEL targets destroyed", instead of #ISIS.
https://twitter.com/ReggaeMortis1/st...37694188785664

Notice the not so subtle narrative shift by the Russians after the UNSC resolution was passed.....

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 7:11am

NOT exactly sure just where Obama is getting his information that the Syrians are not fighting for their own country as they are facing literally a Shia mercenary army being supported by Putin and Iran.

Posted on the Syrian thread....WHAT is simply amazing is that these same anti Assad forces had stated countless times that they are willing to take on IS--BTW they have been fighting IS as much as they have Assad and Putin for the last two months.........AFTER they kick out Assad which one might understand as he has killed far more Syrians that all of the IS actions have.

Aleppo rebels overstretched as attacks shift to defense
#Syria
http://syrianobserver.com/EN/News/30...Shifts_Defense

...have read several such reports the last few days...

It's actually hard to say if they're really 'overstretched'. In essence, they've 'killed' two out of four prongs of regime's offensive on Idlib, NE Lattakia and Southern Aleppo: these are advances on al-Ghab Plain and in northern Lattakia.

Regime is still making some minor gains in NE Lattakia, but the FSyA has re-organized its local troops, and was meanwhile reinforced by the AAS and the JAN there, and I do not see the NDF and SSNP punching through there (at least not without renewed involvement of the Russian Army and Hezbollah, which appears to have caused about 150 KIA to these two alone).

Overall, the insurgent situation there is 'tense' but not even 'critical'.

The situation in southern Aleppo is the one to worry about, there's no doubt about this. Iranian Jihadists have concentrated no less but eight brigades of Hezbollah/Iraq there, plus at least one brigade of the 4th Armoured Division, apparently a brigade of Hezbollah/Lebanon too. That's nearly two full divisions - even by IRGC's standards. It's clear such a mass of forces is a major threat on its own, even more so considering this force avanced for nearly 20km into what is de-facto 'insurgent backyard'.

But, while IRGC-run units enjoy an advantage in firepower over insurgents in open terrain, the closer they've got to build-up areas along the M5 highway, the costlier this enterprise became. So, this offensive was stopped short of M5 highway about a week ago, and despite launching some 4-5 really massive attacks by infantry, supported even by a company of T-90s (not only the usual T-72s, that are now operated by Hezbollah/Lebanon), the IRGC and Hezbollah forces there failed to make any additional gains ever since (on the contrary, they've suffered really heavy losses in several of insurgent counterattacks).

Overall: except they haul additional brigades there (on the top of the three flown in to Syria this month, one of which was deployed in Eastern Ghouta, though), I do not see them punching through there. With very few exceptions (all from back in 2013), IRGC's commanders in Syria have not proven particularly imaginative, or even skilled: this offensive was launched on a much too wide front, and holding of all of these new frontlines is gulping too much of manpower which they simply do not have. Plus, IRGC-run unit are constantly failing to exploit opportunities (example: they're terribly slow in advancing once they've punched through one part of insurgent frontlines).

On the contrary: ex-SyAA officers running the FSyA are proving themselves much more skilled than anybody expected (makes one curious how much of Syrian military's bad reputation is actually caused by idiotic Assadists), and even the AAS and JAN are now listening to them. And also: insurgents have shown to be very quick in re-establishing their frontlines and stabilizing these if the enemy breaches through; they're patrolling, they're launching counterattacks etc. Finally, they have more reserves than usually thought (putting a huge question mark over various British assessments concluding 'there're no 70,000 moderate insurgents in Syria').

So, yes, insurgents are 'under severe pressure', no doubt about this. And these are some very hard times for them (perhaps hardest ever). But - and also thanks to hopelessly incompetent deployment of Russian airpower (which is wasting thousands of bombs to target civilians all over Aleppo, Idlib, and in Eastern Ghouta instead of providing CAS to Iranian/Iraqi Jihadists in southern Aleppo) - I do not see them as 'overstretched'.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 6:45am

THIS is the evidence that I am right that the entire Western political leadership has basically lost their combined way forward when it comes to the killing by Russia of hundreds of civilians......

See Russia's main argument, international community!!!
You fail(ed) so much, France, German, US & co.
pic.twitter.com/0zs6Id39ll

THIS is exactly just how bad the Obama WH global leadership has fallen to.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 7:48am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

12 ppl killed in this toxic gas attack okayed by #UNSC resolution 2254 provided political cover for Assad, Iran & Russia to massacre Syrians

There have been 60+ small scale govt chemical attacks on frontline rebel towns/defences over last year

BUT WAIT--did we not have an Obama "red line" on the use of chemical weapons on civilians AND did not Russia state all chemical weapons were out of Syria...????

Was this the Obama and Kerry declared.....milestone....?????

Outlaw 09

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 2:07am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

AND the US Nobel Peace Prize winner DOES exactly what ......nothing...not even a comment---and this is the US that used to care.....

Syrian organisation counts 1399 civilian victims among Syrians from #RussianAirstrikes, disputes SOHR figures. https://twitter.com/dorarshami/statu...41153415077889

FRANCE 24 English ✔ @France24_en
Amnesty accuses Russia of killing hundreds of civilians in Syria bomb raids
http://f24.my/22phUMI
pic.twitter.com/WUM5BVgPTt

'Russian air strikes killed 100s of civilians striking homes, mosques, markets & medical facilities' Amnesty says
pic.twitter.com/ZksSkwM95q

Latest @amnesty report is a #MustRead on #Syria.
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/ne...lian-killings/
#PutinAtWar The world knows it! pic.twitter.com/Y9XRSPopLV

.@amnesty and @hrw say #Russia commits #WarCrimes in #Syria.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/ne...lian-killings/
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/20/...ster-munitions

International reaction: ZERO

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/22/2015 - 6:03pm

This former top WH official should have been checking for Assad chemical weapons when he was in Damascus......BUT WAIT Russia stated they had none....

Early this year, a former top WH official secretly went to Damascus and met with leaders of the Syrian regime http://www.bloombergview.com/article...ngton-insiders

BREAKING: Several reports of a chemical weapons attack in town of Muadamiyat al-Sham. #Syria. -
http://twitter.com/ValkryV/status/67...414213/video/1

MORE: Town is located SW of Damascus, near Darayya which has been under near constant attack by government forces.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/22/2015 - 8:16am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Effect of Russian bombing in Syria - lots of damage/casualties, little military effect
http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...P=share_btn_fb

Wonder if Putin reads The Guardian???

So if the strikes have no military value THEN why is Putin striking civilians only .......?

AND why outside of the Turkey PM is no Western leader saying a single word about Russian killing of civilians on a daily basis....?

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/22/2015 - 6:28am

Obama and Kerry made this same comment after the UNSC resolution...
"a milestone......'

Well here is the "milestone reality"......

Destruction caused by Russian airstrikes in Tayba in Houla, #Homs p1
https://youtu.be/m0OsM3SYn5Y
https://youtu.be/R72NanVrbZw
https://youtu.be/V4hU_kJZgA0

Destruction caused by Russian airstrikes in Tayba in Houla, #Homs p2
https://youtu.be/57aGcUExvxc
https://youtu.be/ql1IyHK6WPo

Destruction caused by Russian airstrikes in Tayba in Houla, #Homs p3
https://youtu.be/j-w61KfUWII
https://youtu.be/huK1fuwGsu8

EVERYONE says the Syrians must fight IS---BUT they are already doing it and fighting at the same time Assad and now the Russian military....AND YET US MSM and Obama state repeatedly there is no one in Syria who can fight IS that we can support?????????

Great news, after heavy clashes with #ISIS, rebels have liberated Qara Mazra’a east of Azaz city in north rural #Aleppo,

WITH minimum support and under constant Russian air strikes supporting the Islamic state.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 12/22/2015 - 6:15am

US assumptions hit the wall of Russian reality and it appears the losers again are Obama and Kerry --when will they learn that soft power has it limits especially when Putin is hardcore focused in hard power in support of his non linear warfare being directed as a political warfare weapon against the US??

Assad, Russia & Iran obviously use UNSC resolution 2254 as legit cover to increase attacks against rebel areas in Idlib & Aleppo.

AND IS positions are nowhere to be seen where Russian bombs are falling..so the so called "terrorists" Putin is targeting is in fact civilians...THAT was not covered in the UNSC resolution----BUT heck did Kerry ever wonder just why Putin allowed the US to move the resolution forward.....so he could legally bomb civilians.....

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 5:21pm

So again the question-- what exactly is Obama and Kerry hiding and or doing to support Iran just to get to the end of the next 13 months and save their legacies.......goes a long way in explaining the lack of a number of actions Obama and Kerry should have been conducting against Iran.......

http://www.bloombergview.com/article...adline&ref=yfp

Iran Nuclear Deal Restricts U.S. More Than Congress Knew

Dec 21, 2015 2:43 PM EST
By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin

Members of Congress knew the Iran nuclear deal came with strings attached. They just didn't know how many.

When the administration presented the agreement to Congress, lawmakers were told that new sanctions on Iran would violate the deal. Now the administration is trying to sidestep a recently passed provision to tighten rules on visas for those who have visited Iran.

Since the accord was struck last summer, the U.S. emphasis on complying with its end of the deal has publicly eclipsed its efforts to pressure Iran. In that time, Iranian authorities have detained two American dual nationals and sentenced a third on what most observers say are trumped up espionage charges. Iran's military has conducted two missile tests, one of which the U.N. said violated sanctions, and engaged in a new offensive with Russia in Syria to shore up the country's dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

In the latest example of the U.S. effort to reassure Iran, the State Department is scrambling to confirm to Iran that it won't enforce new rules that would increase screening of Europeans who have visited Iran and plan to come to America. There is concern the new visa waiver provisions, included in the omnibus budget Congress passed last week, would hinder business people seeking to open up new ventures in Iran once sanctions are lifted.

U.S. officials confirmed over the weekend that Secretary of State John Kerry sent his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, a letter promising to use executive powers to waive the new restrictions on those who have visited Iran but are citizens of countries in the Visa Waiver Program. These officials also told us that they have told Iranian diplomats that, because they are not specific to Iran, the new visa waiver provisions do not violate the detailed sequence of steps Iran and other countries committed to taking as part of the agreement. Even so, the State Department is promising to sidestep the new rule.

At issue is a provision that would require travelers who visit certain countries -- including Iran, Sudan, Syria and Iraq -- to apply at a U.S. Embassy for a visa before coming to the U.S., even if they are from a country for which such visas would normally be waived.

House staffers who spoke with us say Iran was included for good reason, because it remains on the U.S. list of state of sponsors of terrorism for its open support for Hezbollah and Hamas. The White House did not object until the Iranian government told the administration last week that the bill would violate the nuclear agreement, according to correspondence on these negotiations shared with us.

Since 2013, when the open negotiations with Iran began, the Obama administration has repeatedly told Congress that additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic would wreck negotiations. The resulting agreement obligates the West to lift sanctions in exchange for more transparency and limitations on Iran's nuclear program. Iran and the White House seem to be interpreting "lift sanctions" more broadly than others expected.

"If the United States Congress cannot implement a more secure visa procedure for those who travel to state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, then the Iran deal ties the hands of lawmakers to a greater extent than even deal critics feared," Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert in Iran sanctions, told us.

Over the weekend, Zarif said in an interview with al-Monitor that Iran's inclusion on the list might violate the agreement. Zarif called the new restrictions "absurd" because no one connected to Iran was involved in the attacks in San Bernardino and Paris. He also said the provision "sends a very bad signal to the Iranians that the U.S. is bent on hostile policy toward Iran, no matter what.”

The issue is particularly sensitive for the State Department because Iran has yet to implement its side of the deal: The new transparency and limitations on the nuclear program are to begin in the coming weeks. State Department officials have said they fear more hardline elements of the regime in Tehran are trying to scuttle the deal for political advantage over President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration negotiated the accord.

In February, Iran will have parliamentary elections and elections for the powerful Guardian Council, the committee of clerics that would choose the next supreme leader of Iran after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies. If anti-deal elements win those elections, the future of the nuclear deal will be dim.

These factors explain why Kerry has been willing to overlook Iran's own provocations while trying to mitigate what Iran sees as provocations from the U.S. Congress. They also explain why Iran seems so intent to provoke the U.S. at the moment it's supposed to implement the deal to which it just agreed.

NOTE: it is all about non linear warfare and Obama and Kerry are nowhere close to being in the game........

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 3:33pm

There two key cornerstones to the Russian, Iranian and IS UW strategy called non linear warfare............

1. cyber warfare
2. informational warfare

Report: Iranian hackers stole dozens of U.S. power plant designs, including “mission critical” blueprints
http://buff.ly/1NHCVs6

We are now in a full scale non linear war in eastern Ukraine and Syria with Putin, Khamenei and al Baghdadi.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 8:43am

Another solid article to read in full.......

http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...-s-tribes.html

12.20.159:00 PM ET

Putin ‘Seducing’ Iraq’s Tribes

‘Russia is serious in fighting terrorism,’ one sheikh tells The Daily Beast, ‘unlike the U.S.’

BAGHDAD — In the last Iraq war, the U.S. military helped beat ISIS’s predecessors with the help of the Sunni tribes. Now, Russia is trying to take a page from the old American playbook, and forge its own tribal alliances.

“Russia is serious in fighting terrorism and wants to finish the war as soon as possible, unlike the U.S.,” Faisal al-Asafi, a Sunni sheikh in Iraq’s Anbar province who opposes ISIS, told The Daily Beast. “Russia has already started bombing the transmission lines of ISIS while the U.S. is watching ISIS fighters moving freely from Syria to Anbar.”

Two U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that they are seeing early signs of this Russian outreach to Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq, aimed at bolstering the minority sect’s efforts to combat ISIS militants embedded within Sunni communities.

Part of this recent charm offensive is the Kremlin’s offer to provide Sunni tribes with weapons faster than the U.S. has thus far been able to, and to do so unilaterally, bypassing the Shiite-dominated central government entirely. American-provided materiel to the tribes will continue to go through Baghdad, out of respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.

The two U.S. officials say that Russia’s tribal outreach has yet to bear fruit. “It’s in the seduction phase,” one official explained to The Daily Beast.

But these officials suspect it’s part of Vladimir Putin’s ongoing effort to undermine and curtail American influence in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to presenting himself as the more trustworthy and credible ally in counterterrorism.

Rumors have abounded for months, for instance, of Russia’s possible direct military intervention in Iraq, mirrored on its surprise aerial campaign in Syria, which began in October.

That war, ostensibly undertaken to go after ISIS targets, has instead been waged to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s client in Damascus, with the vast majority of Russia’s payload being dropped on non-ISIS targets. This week, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond even accused Moscow of helping ISIS to advance in Syria by targeting anti-Assad rebels who were also at war with the jihadist forces.

Iraq, though, is different. A country invaded and occupied for nearly a decade by the U.S., which also armed and trained its army and police, still has to maintain at least the appearance of loyalty to Washington. Iraqi government spokesman Sa’ad al-Hadithi told The Daily Beast that “Iraq is keen to establish balanced relations with all countries of the world and take advantage of all forms of support provided by any regional or other states regarding the war on terrorism and the challenges facing Iraq in the current war against terrorist group Daesh,” using another, pejorative term for the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS.

Some Iraqi officials and stakeholders, however, believe that Russia is a more honest broker than is the U.S.

“We are cooperating with Russia—as is the case with other countries in the world—in two domains,” Hadithi told The Daily Beast. “The first, armaments, in which we have contracts with Russia. From time to time, they send batches of weapons, ammunition and military supplies on quite a regular basis. The second area that has been agreed upon is the exchange of intelligence within the Quartet, which includes Iran and Syria.” The other two members are Iraq and Russia.

While the Kremlin’s footprint is not particularly visible inside the Green Zone, sources in Baghdad say that Russian military, diplomatic and intelligence officers are present in the three places that count, those most vital to Iraq’s security.

The first is a location close to the Khuld Hall, where the so-called Suqor, or “Hawks,” cell operates. Here, Iraqi spies exchange intelligence with their Russian counterparts, especially any information relating to the senior leaders and commanders of ISIS. The second venue is the National Information Center, run by Lieutenant General Hussein Alasady. The Russians, sources tell The Daily Beast, keep their own major general there as a representative and liaison. Finally, Moscow has a presence within the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers building, which is the nerve center of all of Iraq’s national security operations.

Needless to add, all of these organs are thoroughly penetrated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is responsible for arming and training the Hashd al-Shaabi and, to a lesser or greater degree, running Iraq’s war. Iran’s state-backed Fars media reported that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s expeditionary wing, the Quds Force, was in Moscow for three days last week to meet with Vladimir Putin and “and high-ranking Russian military and security officials.” Putin evidently referred to Soleimani, who is rumored to be responsible for rescuing the Russian fighter pilot who parachuted into northwestern Syria after his jet was shot down by the Turkish Air Force last month, as “my friend Qassem.” It was Soleimani, too, who reportedly convinced Putin to intervene directly in Syria on a previous trip to Moscow.

Hakim al-Zamili is commander of the Saraya al-Salam militia within the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units—Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary forces which have been responsible for the bulk of the ground war against ISIS in Iraq. They have also been accused of gross human rights violations against Sunnis—violations which the U.S. government has tried to cover up—expelling ISIS from Iraqi territory. Al-Zamili told The Daily Beast that Russia has sent “light weapons and ammunition for free” to Iraq in exchange for intelligence sharing.

“Iran, Russia, and Iraq are working closely and cooperating,” he said. And this trilateral relationship exists quite comfortably without any outside interference or ancillary partnerships. Russia has also refused to participate in Saudi Arabia’s newly-hatched “Islamic coalition” of nations dedicated to fighting jihadism. Why? “Because Iraq and Iran haven’t participated,” Zamili said.

In addition to his role as a militia leader, Zamili also heads Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, which recently traveled as a delegation to Moscow. A separate senior commander within the Hashd al-Shaabi described that visit for The Daily Beast.

“They talked about forming a joint intelligence operation room in Baghdad and helping the Hashd al-Shaabi on the ground.” Both sides also evidently discussed “putting pressure on the U.S.,” namely by keeping its own military footprint light or non-existent in Iraq. “That’s been clear in statements by Hashd leaders who threatened the U.S. if troops come back to Iraq,” the commander said.

Given this level of Russian penetration in Iraq’s security and military sectors, it was perhaps inevitable that the Kremlin also try to win over the Sunni tribes, long considered by analysts and regional officials to be the sine qua non for any serious campaign against ISIS.

A small number of tribesmen are currently partnering with pro-Iraqi forces, including the Hashd al-Shaabi, in an ongoing and long-delayed operation to liberate Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, which fell to ISIS last summer. As such, Moscow has been courting the Anbari tribes most assiduously.

The Russian embassy in Baghdad is said to be coordinating this outreach program with with Iraq’s National Security Service, the Hashd al-Shaabi, and the National Committee for Implementation and Follow-up of the National Reconciliation, a body dedicated to bringing the country’s parlous factions together.

“The Russians almost always do their reach and issue invitations through a think tank that is Iraqi state-run,” said Mark Alsalih, a Sunni lobbyist in Washington and the president of the Iraq Stability and Security Program, composed of citizens and tribal sheikhs. “They reached out last summer to the president of Peace Ambassadors for Iraq, Sheikh Jamal Aldhari. The sheikh obliged and visited Moscow where he met with former and current Russian officials, mostly to hear what the Russian government’s position and intent is vis-a-vis Iraq.”

Invitations were also recently sent to the Iraqi Revolutionary Tribal Political Council, headed by Sheikh Zaidan Aljaberi, and to the Iraqi Ba’ath Party. “To the best of my knowledge,” Alsalih said, “they have not visited Moscow and the Council issued a statement rejecting Russian intervention in Iraq.”

Indeed, there’s little evidence that Russia’s outreach is working, at least not yet. U.S. officials believe “no major” Sunni tribesman have warmed to proposals of a partnership with the Kremlin.

Continued...long read........

OUTLAW 09 is online now Report Post

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 8:25am

Really really worth the complete reading of this article........

http://mosaicmagazine.com/response/2...ly-bold-moves/

Why Obama Can't Catch Up with Putin's Increasingly Bold Moves

Blind to the motives that shape the Russian president’s strategy, the White House pursues a futile search for “common ground.”

Leon Aron

Dec. 14 2015

As conscientious chroniclers do, Michael Doran, in his painstaking examination of the Obama administration’s disastrous foreign policy toward Russia, both instructs us and provokes thoughts and questions that may exceed the intended scope of his essay. Specifically, one is drawn to ask: what caused this policy to be so dismal, so strewn with mistakes, so strikingly unable to predict Moscow’s behavior or to catch up with Vladimir Putin’s increasingly bold moves?

Between historical explanations based in theories of conspiracy and those premised on assumptions of incompetence, it’s usually prudent to plump for incompetence; or so we’re told. But a number of those advising President Obama on Russia are personally known to me to be quite competent, so that explanation won’t wash. Doran offers a different explanation, one that focuses on the beliefs of the president. Barack Obama, he writes, is ideologically wedded to a strategic understanding that is at once false, impervious to correction by reality, and unswayable by the counsel of advisers. This may well be so, but the problem may also be deeper and require elaboration.

First, a narrow amendment. Doran suggests that the 2009 “reset” with Russia was motivated by the administration’s desire to bring in Moscow as a constructive partner in confronting and containing the dangers of Sunni radicalism in the Middle East. This may be so, although it’s worth noting that by 2008 al-Qaeda had been defeated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But there was also another and in my view more compelling reason for launching the reset: namely, President Obama’s dream of a “world without nuclear weapons,” as spelled out in his April 2009 speech in Prague two-and-a-half months after his inauguration.

Even for a president enjoying what was likely the sweetest of all political honeymoons in U.S. history, Obama couldn’t achieve his dream by means of fiat—that is, by means of a unilateral American disarmament. To advance toward his goal, he needed Russia. Hence, evidently, the intense engagement with Moscow in 2009-10 and the many “accommodations” made along the way, including cancellation of the planned deployment of missile interceptors in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. (The former decision was conveyed to Warsaw on September 17, 2009: the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the dawn of World War II.) As soon as the new START treaty was signed in April 2010, the president, in the judgment of trustworthy sources, “lost interest in Russia.”

Even so, his neglect, if such it was, was certainly of a benign kind. Indeed, to an extent unmatched by any other American administration, including Richard Nixon’s at the height of détente, the Obama White House has continued to conduct a running experiment in realist diplomacy with Moscow. It is as if Obama were daily consulting the key precepts of realist doctrine: ignore a regime’s ideology and domestic behavior; do not meddle in its internal affairs; do not “preach” or “reprimand” or “advocate” anything, least of all “democracy”; respect the regime’s “national interests” and stick to negotiating on that basis—and lo!, from out of the test tube will emerge a “responsible” geopolitical “stakeholder.”

The real-world results, in the Middle East and elsewhere, are by now well known, and expertly catalogued by Michael Doran.

But why, to return to my first question, did it turn out this way?

For me, the reason appears to lie in the administration’s inability (or, more likely, unwillingness) to assess its adversary’s behavior by the method historically proved useful in accounting for and anticipating the behavior of states: proceeding from the leaders’ core beliefs, to goals, to strategy, to policy, and finally to tactical implementation.

Each of these, in the case of Vladimir Putin, has been hidden in plain view. To start with beliefs:

Russia is never wrong, but is perennially wronged by the West.

Following his favorite philosopher, Ivan Ilyin, the Russian president believes the West’s hostility to Russia to be eternal, prompted by its jealousy of Russia’s size, natural riches, and, most of all, its incorruptible soul and God-given mission to be a light among nations, a/k/a “the Third Rome” (after ancient Rome and the Byzantine empire). Hence, Western plots against Russia are relentless. While truces are possible and often tactically advantageous, genuine peace with the West is very unlikely. (This general narrative is of course familiar enough in modern history, with the enemy being variously identified as “plutocrats,” “Anglo-Saxons,” or, needless to add, Jews. It was the key trope of Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, and continues to be a favorite of autocrats to this day.)

Next to goals and strategy:

For Russia, the end of the cold war was the equivalent of the Versailles treaty for post-World War I Germany: a crushing defeat and a source of endless humiliation and misery. Indeed, the fall of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

Thus, the overarching strategic goal of any truly patriotic Russian leader (not idiots or traitors or both, like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin) is to recover and repossess the political, economic, and geostrategic assets lost by the Soviet state.

This in a nutshell is the Putin Doctrine, as I dubbed it in a 2008 essay in Foreign Affairs, and the Russian leader proceeded to implement it from Day One of his first presidency in 2000. By the time he left office in 2009 for an interim period of place-holding by Dmitri Medvedev, he had largely put in place the doctrine’s domestic agenda: once again, the state had achieved ownership of or control over national politics, the media—above all, television—the commanding heights of the economy, and the courts.

After Putin’s resumption of the presidency in 2012, he turned to the doctrine’s foreign-policy aspects. Several factors influenced this shift in focus.

Continued......a long read.......

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 8:08am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

The US has the tools to defeat the Islamic State and Russia’s propagandists, but is squandering them.
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/14/...formation-war/

Nothing but DC talk as it has been the role of social media that has been pushing back as much as they could for over 20 months now and the US is just getting "into the fight"...come on......the DC talk is all that it is --namely a complete farce.....

Why--Obama "soft power" translates to simply ...talk...nothing more nothing less....all talk and not a single action.....

Why---- action means potentially ruining his "legacy"....

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 7:52am

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that the Obama and Kerry tandem of "soft power" has basically failed both in eastern Ukraine and now in Syria. They firmly believe they can "talk their way out of a paper bag"...but reality shows us they cannot and besides a paper bag is a very bad foreign policy concept.

This administration, President and NSC are the weakest players in the WH in about now 70 years and that is saying a lot after Bush 2.

Ceasefire in Ukraine is averaging lately 50 or more attacks and UAF loses daily and that is a "ceasefire".

BUT hey we have a ..."milestone"....in Syria.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-happened-to-regime-change-…

The Post's View

On regime change in Syria, the White House capitulates to Russia

By Editorial Board December 17

RUSSIAN PLANES are still bombing Western-backed forces in Syria every day and targeting hospitals, bakeries and humanitarian corridors. Moscow is still insisting that blood-drenched dictator Bashar al-Assad remain in power indefinitely while trying to exclude opposition groups from proposed peace negotiations by claiming they are terrorists.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State John F. Kerry insisted Tuesday after meeting with Vladi­mir Putin that the Russian ruler and the Obama administration see Syria “in fundamentally the same way.” Unfortunately, that increasingly appears to be the case — and not because Mr. Putin has altered his position.

For four years, President Obama demanded the departure of Mr. Assad, who has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people with chemical weapons, “barrel bombs,” torture and other hideous acts. Yet in its zeal to come to terms with Mr. Putin, the Obama administration has been slowly retreating from that position. On Tuesday in Moscow, Mr. Kerry took another big step backward: “The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” he said. He added that a demand by a broad opposition front that Mr. Assad step down immediately was a “non-starting position” — because the United States already agreed that Mr. Assad could stay at least for the first few months of a “transition process.”

Mr. Kerry’s rhetorical capitulation was coupled with the observation that the administration doesn’t “believe that Assad himself has the ability to be able to lead the future Syria.” But he now agrees with Mr. Putin that the country’s future leadership must be left to Syrians to work out. That’s a likely recipe for an impasse — especially as Mr. Assad is still saying he won’t even negotiate with any opponents who are armed or backed by foreign governments. At the same time, the administration’s forswearing of “regime change” sends a message to Mr. Putin and his Iranian allies: The power structure in Damascus that has granted Russia a naval base and served as a conduit for Iranian weapons to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon can remain.

Mr. Kerry says he is trying to forge a political process that will lead to a cease-fire and eventually a political deal. The next step will be a meeting Friday in New York in which governments in the International Syria Support Group are to discuss which opposition forces will be included and which banished as terrorists. If a cease-fire could be reached — including an end to Russian and Syrian government bombing — that would be a valuable achievement, even if the political talks go nowhere. The result could be coexistence of government- and rebel-controlled zones in Syria, and a concentration of local and international firepower against the part of the country controlled by the Islamic State.

For now, however, even that looks like a long shot. Not only does the Assad regime have a record of blatantly disregarding U.N.-sponsored cease-fires, but also Russia manifestly does not see Syria as the West does, as its vicious and apparently deliberate strikes on civilian targets far from Islamic State territory show. Mr. Kerry said that he had raised those attacks with Mr. Putin, who graciously “took that under advisement.” If and when the Russian bombings cease, there will be more reason to share in Mr. Kerry’s sunny view that Russian and American views on Syria are converging.

So again the core question...the WH has a Syrian strategy right....???

Actually with this weakness group of policy makers a kindergarten graduate could probably do better simply by throwing a dart at the map.....

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 7:31am

Ah...now we know the true reasons for the Islamic State Air Force bombings in Syria.....from information sources in Ukraine who are far more in tune to Russian activities and corruption..........

Russian army in Syria bombs moderate opposition to secure Timchenko's Stroytransgaz & Tyazhpromeksport oil assets. https://blog.informnapalm.org/shipilov-syria/
In Russian.........

AND supposedly it is not about oil.....AND it is all about the IS??

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 6:55am

Russia has now declared via non linear warfare "war" on Turkey...the question is does NATO and Obama recognize it....??? not really......

Russia is seeking better 'diplomatic ties' with Kurds/Turkish opposition party.
https://twitter.com/mutludc/status/678645613718863872

Russia will not openly attack Turkey, as it didn't in Ukraine either. But by supplying Turkey's enemies it can start hybrid/proxy war there

With Russia sponsoring PKK Turkey may face the same kind of 'riots' that turned Maidan in Ukraine into a 'civil war' (which it was not).

That's not so surprising??? It is Russian info war are work......
@RT_com is (only one) covering the heavy clashes btwn PKK & Turkey.
https://twitter.com/DrPartizan_/stat...44925051879425
… pic.twitter.com/NrhGLwcN6X

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 3:09am

A social media comment that aptly depicts the current Obama/Kerry mess in Syria and not only in Syria BUT Ukraine simply because this administration is unwilling to fully understand the Russian and Iranian UW strategy using what we have it seems years discussed here at SWJ ---non linear warfare.....

QUOTE:

If 100's ppl were dying daily in the West cuz a Muslim country was carrying out airstrikes & announced a "holy war" what would happen Syria

THEN followed by this:

Russian airstrike completely destroys a relief warehouse in Ashra’ai area in #Douma, #Damascus. Leaves 7 dead inc 2 children & their mother

Just pure criminal. Vid of what’s left of the Adala relief warehouse in #Douma after a Russian airstrike
http://youtu.be/cReKEKVN_yk

At least 336 attacks have been carried out on 240 medical facilities in #Syria during the conflict
http://owl.li/VZYvX

While the Assad AF and the Islamic State Air Force continues to kill civilians, and bomb hospitals, churches, marketplaces, schools, critical food/water sources and critical infrastructures THE entire West starting with Obama and Kerry COMPLETELY ignores the UNSC demands to stop the bombing of civilians BUT at the same time state ...."a milestone....

This "milestone" is exactly what again as it did not address what happens to Assad and who is exactly a terrorist and it did not address the KSA Conference demands.....AND exactly where and how will elections be fairley conducted in the middle of an intense civil war.

WAIT Obama and Kerry have the solution ......."a ceasefire".....WHERE has that worked lately---they will say the Ukraine...but wait still over 50 attacks a day from Russian troops and her mercenaries AND daily UAF loses.

AND as in eastern Ukraine Obama and Kerry say nothing.......

Summed up by this social media comment........

Over 60 civilians killed today by Russian air strikes on #Idleb #Syria, as part of the #UNSC “Peace Plan”

So exactly again how is the UNSC "Peace Plan" to work when the civil society is being ethnically cleansed and killed by the 100s daily......

More and more it becomes apparent that Russia's non-linear strategy is built upon a house of cards. While I appreciate the sophistication of their strategy, it is missing a viable moral foundation. Without this their ability to make substantial gains will be limited. They only partner with tyrants and thugs, because no one else wants to partner with them. We have the information and coalition advantage if we need to use it during an all out war.

What concerns me is Putin does or will recognize his current strategy is failing. That begs the question will he resort to conventional and nuclear warfare to pursue his aims? In many ways a failing Russia is more dangerous than a successful Russia.