And Then There Is Syria

For a couple of years ISIS sucked all the oxygen out of any news there was from other terrorist groups like AQ…..but now with the help of oh so many players the caliphate is struggling on its last legs…..

“There can be no doubt about it, the ISIS of just two years ago was the most powerful, well-led, generously-armed and resource-efficient paramilitary force in modern history, having carved out for itself an empire between two sovereign states and devastating their armies in the process. However, this is no longer so. The days of the Islamic State consuming Syria like a cancer are over.” The Defeat of ISIS, Andrew Illingworth, Almasdar News

Russia and its allies have expelled ISIS from its last urban stronghold in Syria. Now the Syrian coalition will turn its attention to the numerous hotspots around the country where al Qaida-linked groups have dug in waiting for the Syrian Army to make its final push.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/24/isis-last-stand-end-times-for-the-caliphate/

Fearless Leader will no doubt take all the credit for any defeat of ISIS….although it would have been a joint effort….that does not play well in Trump’s sand box.

But do not rejoice just yet…..the neocon Institute for the Study of War has a prediction for Syria……

Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Southern Syria. An assassination campaign targeting mainstream opposition commanders and governance officials is facilitating al Qaeda’s consolidation of power along the borders of Jordan and Israel. Southern Syria stands at increasing risk of becoming a second Idlib Province, which currently serves as a formidable safe haven for al Qaeda.

Syrian opposition forces that could serve as a viable alternative to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Salafi-jihadist groups are under attack in Southern Syria. A recent wave of assassinations beginning in August 2017 has killed over eleven ranking anti-regime opposition commanders and governance officials in Dera’a and Quneitra Provinces. These assassinations have remained largely unclaimed. The unidentified perpetrators have targeted armed and political opposition officials using car bombs, roadside improvised explosive devices, and armed gunman. Of the forty-two attempted assassinations observed by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) from August 5 to November 21, 2017, approximately fifty-five percent successfully killed opposition fighters, commanders, or governance officials. More than half of the attempts targeted former or current U.S.-backed opposition groups. The Assad regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are likely responsible for many, but not all, of the assassinations in Southern Syria.

http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/al-qaeda-clearing-path-dominance-southern-syria

The warmongers are set up Syria as the next battle field for their perceived new war with Iran and Hezbollah……with the Saudis making the difference…..

Hezbollah’s deep involvement in Syria has been one of the most important factors that contributed to shape the conflict during the years 2013-14. The beginning of 2013 witnessed a shift from what was primarily an advisory mission to one where Hezbollah forces took on a direct combat role, with the decision to lead the ground assault on al-Qusayr, a primarily Sunni town in the Homs province.

The impact of Hezbollah’s involvement has been felt not just on the battlefield, where the regime had gained significant momentum, but also in Lebanon where growing sectarian tensions have undermined the country’s overall stability. Since its intervention in Syria, Hezbollah has steered its strategy on three main lines: training and support to Shiite militias and the Syrian army, creating military hotspots in the south to close the border between Syria and Lebanon in terms of anti-Israeli positioning and increasing its weight in the region by ensuring the Assad regime’s survival, vital to the arrival of supplies from Iran. The presence of Lebanon’s militias on the battlefield proved decisive for Assad. In fact, Hezbollah applied the techniques of guerrilla warfare they had already employed in 2006, during the war against Israel. Such techniques include the construction of underground tunnels between the Qalamoun area and the area behind the Bekaa Valley, as to counter Al Nusra guerrillas and other Salafi forces.

http://mediterraneanaffairs.com/syria-hezbollahs-continuous-transformation-throughout-civil-war/

Why do I say the Saudis?  Easy answer…..they have been aching for a war with Iran and now that they have the US on their side…..it may not be long……

To understand the context for these developments we first need to quickly summarize what has taken place in Syria and the rest of the Middle-East in the past few years.

The initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS – call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces and security services.
  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan, but further north.
  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone”, but this time in Lebanon.
  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
  6. Breakup Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and forces the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert and eventually attack Iran with a wide regional coalition of forces.
  10. Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.

But Hell read the full plan for yourself……..

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/israel-saudi-arabia-setting-preconditions-for-war-with-hezbollah/

The problem with all these lies and trump (no pun intended) charges si that Hezbollah is NO threat to the US……

Western-backed militants are in retreat, Bashar al-Assad remains president, Hezbollah has stretched its wings regionally, Israeli power is in decline, and Iran is on the rise. Not a pretty result for Washington’s multi-billion dollar investment in the Syrian conflict, especially if it was intended to change the map of the region to favor U.S. interests.

The Trump administration is therefore moving to hit its regional adversaries on alternative, non-military fronts—mainly, employing the sanctions tool that can cripple economies, besiege communities, and stir up public discontent.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/hezbollah-is-not-a-threat-to-america/

This is all so much games being played at the expense of our military and their families.

Advertisements

Stand Off In Syria?

ISIS has been defeated in Syria, at least as a serious force for evil….there will always be the d/bags in small numbers…..the question is….what will the US do?

US military intentions in Syria have never been exactly transparent, but are becoming ever less so, as Pentagon officials loudly declare ISIS to have been “defeated” in the country, but insist that they intend to remain.

This could be a bit of an international problem…..for you see the US was NEVER invited to join in the fun of a war….we decided to just show up and play…..

This is a potential major legal issue, because Syria never authorized the US invasion in the first place. US officials always presented the authorization as being UN resolutions supporting the fight against ISIS, but that would no longer apply.

Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out that Secretary of State Tillerson has repeatedly assured him that the “only” US goal in Syria is to fight ISIS. This is adding to Russian concerns about what the US is actually planning on doing next.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is trying to present this as keeping “ISIS 2.0” from coming into existence. While this is also the pretext for staying in Iraq, there is a major difference between a permanent deployment in Iraq that the US-backed government there supports, and trying to stay in Syria forever despite explicit opposition from the Syrian government.

(antiwar.com)

Can the US just decide where we would put troops without permission of the host country?

There is another potential problem looking with our decision…..you see Syria, a sovereign nation, has asked Iran for its help with all the rebel problems it is having….that will put them in direct conflict with US forces in Syria and Iran and Syria both are not happy with the US statement…..

With ISIS on the brink of defeat, Tehran and Damascus say the next phase of the conflict in Syria is for the “resistance forces” to confront the U.S. military and its local allies, particularly the Syrian Democratic Force (S.D.F.). They have dialed up anti-American propaganda and warn that a “direct confrontation” with the U.S. will be necessary if Washington decides to keep its troops in Syria for the long haul.

http://www.mei.edu/content/article/io/irgc-outlets-next-phase-syrian-war-expel-us

This situation could turn into a neocon dream come true….an excuse to directly go after Iran.

Now would the perfect time for the special envoy that Tillerson has already said is not needed.

This situation if not tempered could be the next big fight that some in Congress are looking for….we cannot let it happen.

Whose Side Are We On?

It is T’Giving and I normally try to not post too much serious stuff…..I try to have a good quiet day with family and friends…..but I read this piece and immediately a WTF came out of my mouth….then I uttered my usual retort….”the Rat Bastards”!

What do you have to say?

We all know how just barbaric the group ISIS is…all the violence, beheadings, torture, rape, on and on….and we have been told that they have lost the battle for their “capital;” Raqqa….the group is on the run looking for a good place to make their last stand….as it were….

Then why

were they permitted to leave Raqqa in convoy with the Us and Britain and the Kurds providing cover for them?

About here a normal  person would ask just what the Hell I am talking about….let me give you the skinny as reported by the BBC……

The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.

A convoy included some of IS’s most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey.

Lorry driver Abu Fawzi thought it was going to be just another job.

He drives an 18-wheeler across some of the most dangerous territory in northern Syria. Bombed-out bridges, deep desert sand, even government forces and so-called Islamic State fighters don’t stand in the way of a delivery.

But this time, his load was to be human cargo. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters opposed to IS, wanted him to lead a convoy that would take hundreds of families displaced by fighting from the town of Tabqa on the Euphrates river to a camp further north.

The job would take six hours, maximum – or at least that’s what he was told.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/raqqas_dirty_secret

Now you may ask is WTF is going on with this ISIS bunch and the rest of the world?

Just to make things interesting there is a bit more about this situation……this piece is from the Unz Review…..

Americans have been living in a country that has not known peace since 9/11, when President George W. Bush and his posse of neoconservatives delivered the message to the world that “you are either with us or against us.” The threat was coupled with flurry of hastily conceived legislation that opened the door to the unconstitutional “war on terror” carried out at the whim of the Chief Executive, a conflict which was from the start conceived of as a global military engagement without end.

Bush and his handlers might not have realized it at the time but they were initiating a completely new type of warfare. To be sure, there would be fighting on the ground worldwide against an ideologically driven enemy somewhat reminiscent of communism, but there would also be included “regime change” of governments in countries that were not completely on board with the direction coming out of Washington. Instead of invading and occupying a country in the old-fashioned way, so the thinking went, far better to just knock off the top levels and let the natives sort things out while acting under direction from the pros in Washington.

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/boy-is-this-stupid-or-what/

Now you may ask….WTF?

Remember Syria?

I know that there have been more important stories for the media to cover like a presidential trip or the latest election or the most recent gun attack on innocent by-standers but regardless the war in Syria continues……even with American troops in the thick of things it is not important enough to report….how sad!

That leaves it up to me to keep my readers abreast of the situation in Syria……the news is that the Syrian army has seized the LAST ISIS stronghold in the country…..

The Syrian military has announced that troops backed by Shi’ite militias have successfully captured Abu Kamal, the ISIS-held city on the main border with Iraq, and the “last” stronghold of ISIS fighters in the country.

Syrian forces have been advancing toward the border along the Euphrates River for months, and finally hit the Iraqi border today with this victory. Iraqi forces captured their side of the border, al-Qaim just last week.

This marks the approximate end of ISIS as a territory-holding power in Iraq and Syria for the time being, though in practice ISIS still holds villages in a few places, and has substantial numbers of fighters spread around both countries to carry out insurgencies.

If anything, the end of ISIS as a de facto state may mean they grow all the more aggressive as an insurgency, as they will no longer have to commit so many forces to defending their borders or policing locals. ISIS was a massive group carrying out large-scale terror attacks even before they seized any territory, and their return to this has been anticipated for some time.

(antiwar.com)

Notice that I said Syrian Army, not Free Syrian Army or US backed rebels but rather the Syrian Army……

With the success of the Syrian Army the Middle East will be reshaped……

The failure of the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi “regime change” project in Syria changes the future of the Mideast, possibly ushering in an era of greater secularism and tolerance, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

Plainly, Syria’s success – notwithstanding the caution of President Bashar al-Assad in saying that signs of success are not success itself – in resisting, against the odds, all attempts to fell the state suggest that a tipping point in the geopolitics of the region has occurred.

We have written before how the Syria outcome dwarfs that of Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, significant though the result of that war was, too.

Both events taken together have brought America’s unipolar moment in the Middle East to an end (though not globally, since the U.S. still retains its necklace of military bases across the region). The successes have corroded badly the reputation of the Gulf States and have discredited fired-up Sunni jihadism as a “go-to” political tool for Saudi Arabia and its Western backers.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/30/how-syrias-victory-reshapes-mideast/

Good news ISIS izs losing its grip in Syria as well as Iraq….but does that mean we have heard the last of this barbaric group…..sorry to say….not a chance……

ISIS’ territorial control in Iraq and Syria is eroding.

In Syria, the fall of its self-declared capital in Raqqa and its last military bastion in Deir ez-Zor have forced ISIS toward the Iraqi border.

In Iraq, the liberation of Mosul and Tal Afar have ISIS fighters retreating toward the Syrian border, where they are being hunted down in a final push by Iraqi forces.

On October 21, President Trump said “the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.”

https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-isis-is-losing-its-grip-in-iraq-and-syr/f-2dfad9282a%2Fbusinessinsider.com

That means that the US will have fresh killing ground in the very near future.

Iraq/Syria Update

Note:  This is a lot to take in but if you read the articles you will be more informed than some of your leaders…I feel it is my duty to keep my readers informed and educated….chuq

I have been an analyst of the Middle East for decades….while events may fall from the headlines because of news I continue to monitor and report that which the MSM tries to suppress.  Other news is more timely but I feel as long as we have troops fighting in the Middle east then it is important to make my headlines.

The Pentagon loves lying about troop levels in its major wars, and that’s been particularly true in Iraq and Syria, where after being called out for underreporting several times they officially decided they were going to stop telling the public troop levels at all.

Maj. Gen. James Jarrard told reporters today that the US has about 4,000 ground troops in Syria, which is nearly 4,000 more troops than they’ve ever admitted to before. This figure apparently wasn’t supposed to be public, as other Pentagon officials were quickly scrambling to walk back that announcement.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon claimed to have no idea what the 4,000 figure was meant to represent, but insisted that the official figure for US troops in Syria is just 503. Whether that’s a firm count, or just the usual Pentagon hand-waving number, was unclear.

(antiwar.com)

While US is fighting whoever is handy in Syria the Russians are looking for a diplomatic venture in Syria…..

Russia is accelerating its efforts to subvert the Syrian political process by establishing a new diplomatic framework that sets conditions to expel the U.S. from Northern Syria. Russia announced its intent to host delegates from all major opposition, ethnic, and tribal factions at a “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” in Sochi on November 18. Russia may exploit the conference to broker a wider reconciliation deal between the Bashar al Assad Regime and the Syrian Kurdish YPG under conditions that preclude long-term U.S. influence in Syria.

Source: ISW Blog: Russia Seizes Syria Diplomacy Reins

Tillerson is sounding like Iraq will become a US possession whether Iraq likes it or not……

Testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the US presence in Iraq is so permanent at this point that even if Iraq specifically requests the US withdraw and removes permission for them to be there, the US will remain.

Tillerson addressed the question from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who asked whether the US intended to stay in Iraq uninvited like they are in Syria. Tillerson insisted the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gave the US legal authority to stay.

This appears to be an entirely new position for the US government, as the Bush Administration agreed to withdraw from Iraq after being unable to get Iraqi authorization to stay, and absolute legal immunity for US troops along with it.

(antiwar.com)

The main problem with Iraq is the US never understood the country at all…..

Days after the Kurdish Region of Iraq held a controversial independence referendum, Baghdad sent army and militia units to attack Kurdish positions in and around Kirkuk in the disputed territories. Such swift, aggressive action demonstrated Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s insistence that Iraqi Kurds will remain a part of his country, by whatever means necessary. Now, we are seeing the first repercussions: Long-time Kurdish Region President Masoud Barzani, who pushed for the referendum, resigned on October 29, sparking riots in the Kurdish capital of Erbil and other Kurdish cities, and launching new recriminations among Kurds and between Arabs and Kurds.For America, the short, sharp fighting in northern Iraq has revealed a brutal truth: Its dream of a democratic and federal, united Iraq is over. Ironically, that dream dies just as the Americans and their allies are winning major battlefield victories against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Raqqa, the capital of ISIS, fell to a U.S.-sponsored battlefield coalition of Syrian Arabs and Kurds. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, meanwhile, captured Hawija, one of the last ISIS strongholds in the country. But as the fighting shows in Iraq and foreshadows in Syria, Washington never had a political plan to deal with the underlying ethnic and sectarian contests for power that originally gave birth to ISIS.
Source: America Never Understood Iraq – The Atlantic

At this point, the US appears to be used to being engaged in overseas wars without permission, particularly in places like Syria, and having already declared their presence in Iraq to be permanently, officials figure they’re going to just pretend it’s legal.

Those are the major stories that the MSM overlooked….I could write the people that died Iraq over the past week……okay I will……

Antiwar.com found that at least 1,649 people were killed and 647 were wounded in violent activity during October. This is considerably fewer than in September, when at least 3,129 people were killed; only 496 were wounded.

The breakdown is as follows: At least 374 civilians were killed, and 300 were wounded. Among Iraqi and Kurdish servicemembers, at least 296 were killed, and 345 were wounded. One U.S. servicemember was killed, and another was wounded. Also, two Turkish servicemembers were killed, and three were wounded. At least 20 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) were also killed. Finally, at least 979 Islamic State militants were reported killed, but only two were wounded. Some of the dead were found in mass graves.

(antiwar.com)

Could Iraq be close to the end of 40 years of war?  Good questioon and here is a Libertarian lean to the answer…..

There is a growing mood of self-confidence in Baghdad which I have not seen here since I first visited Iraq in 1977. The country seemed then to be heading for a peaceful and prosperous future thanks to rising oil revenues. It only became clear several years later that Saddam Hussein was a monster of cruelty with a disastrous tendency to start unwinnable wars. At the time, I was able to drive safely all around Iraq, visiting cities from Mosul to Basra which became lethally dangerous over the next 40 years.

The streets of the capital are packed with people shopping and eating in restaurants far into the night. Looking out my hotel window, I can see people for the first time in many years building things which are not military fortifications. There are no sinister smudges of black smoke on the horizon marking where bombs have gone off. Most importantly, there is a popular feeling that the twin victories of the Iraqi security forces in recapturing Mosul in July and Kirkuk on 16 October have permanently shifted the balance of power back towards stability. The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, once criticised as weak and vacillating, is today almost universally praised for being calm, determined and successful in battling Isis and confronting the Kurds.

Source: Iraq may be coming to the end of 40 years of war – The Unz Review

Anything is possible in the Middle East but I think that there is still some animosities in Iraq that need working out before we can say there is an end to war in the country.

That was a lot to read….but if you want to know what is happening around our troops then it is worth the time it took to read this post.

Bet You Thought ISIS Was A Goner

Between Russia this and Russia that and petty Twitter attacks on dead soldier’s wife and politicians that do not agree and new we have indictments….with all that distraction we Americans have all but forgotten that group we call ISIS….am I right?

Although few care it is far from over in the  Middle East…..yes ISIS has been handed their butts on several occasions but that means the rest of the body is still fighting.

And it is about to get worse….even to the point of making news again…….

The main border crossing between Iraq and Syria, the city of Abu Kamal on the Syrian side and al-Qaim on the Iraqi side, is the last major territorial possession of ISIS, and the next big target for both Syria and Iraq’s militaries.

With those offensives likely to happen soon, ISIS is building up its defenses around the area, pushing more forces into the area while, according to US officials, ISIS leaders are being evacuated to smaller towns inside Syria that they still control.

ISIS still holds substantial territory in Syria, mostly in Deir Ezzor Province. They’ve been losing all the big cities and towns, along the Euphrates River, with Syrian military pushing on the river’s south shore, and Kurdish fighters taking the north shore.

US officials are suggesting an attack on Abu Kamal would be up to the Kurds to decide, but the Syrian military is likely to get there first. The Iraqi Air Force has already been dropping leaflets in al-Qaim in anticipation of an attack on that side of the border.

(antiwar.com)

AS someone famous once said….”It ain’t over ’til is over”  (Yogi Bera I believe)…..

While You Were Worried About Stupid Stuff

Twitter battle with a Gold star widow, and a senior Senator……all the back and forth and with all that no one has noticed…….

U.S.-backed militias in Syria declared victory over Islamic State in its capital Raqqa on Tuesday, raising flags over the last jihadist footholds after a four-month battle.

The fighting was over and the alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias was clearing the city’s stadium of mines and any remaining militants, said Rojda Felat, commander of the Raqqa campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

A formal declaration of victory in Raqqa will soon be made, once the city has been cleared of mines and any possible Islamic State sleeper cells, said SDF spokesman Talal Selo.

Source: Islamic State defeated in its Syrian capital Raqqa

According to that headline ISIS is all but defeated………..the truth is more subtle than the headlines….

Raqqa has crumbled far more quickly than anyone imagined. In just over four months, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with Western air support, have liberated most of the city from Islamic State (IS). The de facto capital of the so-called caliphate, Raqqa was tightly controlled by its rulers, but it was a bustling hub of activity and urban life. For the hordes of foreign fighters who joined IS, it was almost enough to make them forget the virtues of the afterlife.

The fall of the city to SDF forces is a particularly bitter blow to IS, coming so soon after it lost control of its other main base, Mosul, across the border in Iraq. Yet the Islamic State message remains as defiant as ever. The terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released a 46-minute audio message in September lauding the efforts of his fighters in Mosul. Yes, they lost the city but, Baghdadi insisted, this was only after sacrificing their flesh and blood. “Thus, they were excused,” Baghdadi said.

e: Islamic State is not beaten and will return

ISIS has a bloody nose and that is NOT  defeat…..they will be back and we will match up against them