Syria: A Drop In The Bucket

As a combat veteran I feel it is my duty to keep an eye on our many conflicts and especially the ones that involve our troops in the thick of the fighting.

Word came down last week that more troops will be sent to Syria in the final push to the ISIS capital of Raqqa.  This time the Marines got the call of arms….

US forces in Syria have begun airdropping troops behind ISIS lines near the town of al-Tabqa, and near the important Tabqa Dam. The exact details of the airdrop are still emerging but they are said to include some US Marines as well as a number of Kurdish forces.

The area around Tabqa is just the latest in a series of targets for the Kurdish YPG as they attempt to surround the ISIS capital of Raqqa. Tabqa is about 25 miles west of the capital, and Kurdish YPG forces mostly control the area north of the city, though they’ve also made some efforts to take the northeast.

The airdrops, which began on Tuesday, were the first US airdrops of Kurdish forces so far in Syria, and the deployment of US Marines with them points to the continued escalation of direct US military involvement on the ground by the Trump Administration.

In recent weeks, the US has also deployed hundreds of other US Marines with howitzers into the area north of Raqqa, aiming to provide support for advances toward the city. While the Pentagon officially labeled the howitzer Marines “advisers,” there appears to be little doubt that they, along with the new airdropped troops, will be involved in combat in the course of this deployment.

(antiwar.com)

Is this the beginning of the end for ISIS in Syria?  Or will it be the end of the beginning of US troop involvement in Syria?

Of course as usual this mean NOTHING to most Americans…but it worries me for the future.

What if the U.S. Invaded Syria and Nobody Noticed?

I have been watching the conflict in Syria since the beginning….I have watched the players form, fight, change sides and destroy……and in all that time the US has been slowly but slowly building up its forces in the region….as if there was something big about to happen.

We have a new president and he has promised to destroy ISIS and even considered an all out conflict in Syria….with whom we are not quite sure…..in all this time few Americans have noticed the conflict beyond some passing diatribe about the past history of the region……

The media should be covering this more

While everyone was paying attention to the latest crazy Trump story, United States Marines deployed to Syria.

Did you hear about that? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The news has been all Trump all the time.

Source: What if the U.S. Invaded Syria and Nobody Noticed?

What will it take to get Americans to actually care that the country is heading head long into another war that will turn into yet another quagmire?
To answer the question….NO one will notice….most are too busy with their little lives to care about our troops and their families or the damage this is doing to us internationally.

What The World Needs Is More Syria

Of course my friends the title is sarcasm……since the US has decided that more troops were needed and needed to be stationed within the borders of Syria the Middle East country has been foisted into the eye of the public…..

Since it is the talk of the town…..at least for us conflict wonks and foreign policy geeks….I would like to give my readers what the MSM is saying about Syria…..

I recently reported on the addition of 400 more troops for Syria…..I was worried….and with good reason…..

The US could double the number of ground troops it has in Syria over the next few weeks, the Washington Post reports. As Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised of Kurdish and Arab fighters, prepare for an assault on Raqqa—essentially the capital of the Islamic State in Syria—the US military is devising plans for sending up to 1,000 more troops to the area. There are currently approximately 500 US Special Operations forces, 250 Rangers, and 200 Marines in Syria.

The new troops wouldn’t be directly involved in combat, at least at first. They’d mostly be serving as advisers to Syrian Democratic Forces. However the move could lead to direct combat by US troops. The troop increase is likely to be approved by Defense Secretary Mattis and would then need President Trump’s approval. Trump has accused the Obama administration of being weak on Syria, where it had been hesitant to commit ground troops.

Like I said…it is only a matter of time….

More on Syria…….

Syrian military airstrikes on rebels were responsible for severing water supplies to 5.5 million people in the Damascus region for weeks starting last December, the United Nations said on Tuesday, rebutting government claims that insurgents were to blame. – New York Times

Syria’s civil war began six years ago this week as a popular revolt against the brutal regime of President Bashar Assad. Now a domestic uprising that has left an estimated 500,00 dead and millions homeless has morphed into a global war, sucking major powers into a conflict growing more volatile by the day. – USA Today

The European Union unveiled a plan to support the reconstruction of war-torn Syria on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the first protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Six years since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, he is winning on the battlefield but Syria’s civil war is far from over, with his once stable country broken into fiefdoms ruled by rebels and warlords. – Reuters

The top U.N. human rights official called on Tuesday for tens of thousands of detainees to be released from Syria’s prisons and for torturers and executioners to be brought to justice as part of a lasting peace. – Reuters

The international community must do more to protect healthcare in Syria as medical services become targets of war, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal on Tuesday. – Reuters

Frederick and Kimberly Kagan write: No single military operation can achieve victory in Syria. But an operation against the enemy’s heartland, freed of the constraints imposed by problematic proxies, would change the assumptions of America’s friends and enemies. President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Read the report. “America’s Way Ahead in Syria” – American Enterprise Institute/Institute for the Study of War

I by no means agree with most of this “news” and analysis…..especially the analysis from AEI/ISW…..there will be more analysis from me soon on this situation…..until then hold your breath that this does not escalate beyond our capabilities to handle.

Syria is making its way to the forefront……promises will be kept and more Americans will be foisted into them cauldron of nation building……yet again.

Trump And His Syrian Strategy

While everyone was up in arms about this Trump policy or that…his admin hit a mark that should be the focus of all news agencies……

In case anyone is interested.

A US military service member was killed Sunday during a raid against al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen that also left nearly 30 others dead, including women and children. The loss of the service member is the first-known combat death of a member of the US military under President Trump.

I realize this is not important to a great many of American “patriots” but it should….how many more Americans must die for senseless foreign policy?

Finally I got something substantive in foreign policy from the Trump gang…..the problem is that I do not see it helping the situation very much…..Clinton wanted a “no fly zone” and Trump’s answer is similar….a “safe zone”…..

Turkey has long sought an internationally-imposed series of “safe zones” in northern Syria to house refugees, as a way to limit the number of refugees who actually end up crossing into Turkey. The White House resisted, fearing it would be too complicated, and President Trump’s intention to shift Syria policy toward fighting ISIS made it seem like the idea was very unlikely.

Instead, President Trump made a surprise move, ordering the State Department and Pentagon to prepare for the establishment of safe zones in Syria, giving them 90 days to provide a full blueprint for how they would go about it.

Arguments over the theoretical viability of such safe zones centered on the question of airspace control, with Turkey arguing the zones would be meaningless without a no fly zone, and Pentagon officials warning at the time that would mean war with both Syria and Russia.

(antiwar.com)

My problem with this plan is that there are so many aircraft in the region at any one given time…Turkey, Syria, Russia, US…..that the chances of something going wrong is amplified many times over…..

Then there is the new US base on the ground in Syria……

Washington has established a military base in north-eastern Syria, which is currently controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Daily Sabah newspaper reported on January 23, citing a report of the Kurdish BasNews news agency.

The base is in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah, located 70 km from the Syrian-Turkish border and 50 km from the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reportedly, the US has deployed 800 servicemen on the military base.

Source: More Details about New US Military Base in Syria

Yet another idea that I see as ill thought out before jumping…..for a country that does not want to get involved in a ground war in Syria we are making the wrong decisions to prevent it…..even the Pentagon has questions about the plan…..

Pentagon officials are said to be full of questions today after reports of President Trump planning to order the State Department and Pentagon to develop plans within 90 days for the establishment of “safe zones” in Syria, unclear exactly what is being planned.

US officials have previously suggested it would take a massive ground force to secure this safe zone from attacks, and that even a limited no-fly zone would risk starting a war with Russia. This scared the Obama Administration away from trying anything.

Shooting from the hip in this region is as deadly as trying to have sex with a pissed off rattlesnake….now is not the time for some macho bullshit.

As I was writing this post this morning news came out about a possible change of mind…..

Reports throughout the week that President Trump intended to order the State Department and Pentagon to create plans for the establishment of safe zones inside Syria appear to have fallen through at the last minute, as the final version of the executive order said to contain the clause no longer makes any reference to it.

Trump was reportedly to have said he intended to “do” safe zones in Syria on humanitarian grounds, but the administration offered no real details on what they intended to do. Moreover, the Pentagon discussed the matter with the expectation the order would come, with a spokesman urging people to give Trump a chance to articulate the plan.

Did clearer minds prevail?

Let’s hope so for there have not been much of that lately…….

Who’s Your Friend?

Syria has been raging for years and the world could care less….the death and destruction is massive….the US is arming those “moderate Rebels”….and that is a big joke….a joke that has NO one laughing…..

I wrote about this silly paradigm about 3 years ago….and so far not much has changed….we have NO idea who is good….or who is bad…..but we keep sending arms and cash with NO idea who is getting the aid…..

Source: Our Friends The Rebels – In Saner Thought

Plus I wrote a post about her visit when news first came out…..

Source: Finally, Some Leadership! – In Saner Thought

Recently Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich made a secret trip to Syria as a fact finding mission….

US Congresswoman and war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, along former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich traveled to Syria, met with Assad, met with families torn by the war, met with religious leaders, saw the results of US regime change first hand, on the ground in Aleppo and Damascus.

The two US leaders confirmed what we at The Duran have been reporting since our inception…the war in Syria, Obama’s war to overthrow a democratically elected, sovereign, internationally recognized government was, is and remains illegal. Syria’s invasion by US funded ISIS and Al Qaeda forces aligned with Saudi Wahhabi terrorists did not, and does not serve the US interest.

Source: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard travels to Syria, CONFIRMS: “no difference between ‘moderate’ rebels and al-Qaeda or ISIS  – they are all the same”

If you have more questions as I did then here is the full interview with Gabbard on CNN……

Source: Full CNN interview with Rep Tulsi Gabbard on Syria trip: Debunks neocon lies on air ‹ The Ugly Truth ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

There is so much going on in Syria that it boggles the mind….and we are about to enter into another phase of this conflict…the Trump phase…..and it could go horribly wrong….(a future post to explain is forthcoming)…..

Her visit has gotten Gabbard some flak…..

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) continues to be pilloried by Congressional hawks from both parties over her visit to Syria last week, with a number of representatives declaring the very idea of going to Syria and talking peace “reprehensible,” with one Congressional aide quoted claiming there was widespread “disgust” over the visit.

Most of the efforts to attack Gabbard for visiting Syria, and talking with President Assad about the possibility of peace, center on nothing specific that Gabbard did, as it doesn’t appear she violated any laws or even political norms in doing so. Rather, most seem to object to Gabbard’s support for peace in Syria at all, with multiple Congressional officials including in their comments demands for regime change in Syria as a precondition to peace.

These attacks are typical of slugs that have NO idea what the science of conflict management is about…..Peace cannot be found without talk to ALL sides of the conflict…pretending otherwise is just moronic and typically ignorant.

Tulsi Gabbard should be celebrated for her bravery and foresight…she has done what NO other Congressional tool has had to the courage to do….

She has my support.

Syria: Will Peace Prevail?

The situation in Syria has been a smudge on the fabric of humanity for years now.  The Syrian Army with the help of Iran and Russia has been making headway against those in opposition to the Assad regime….while the war on ISIS has had its ups and downs but for the most part it is going well but not good….

There have been NO bright spots for the most part….the refugees are suffering…..civilians are dying….and bombs continue to fall….but recently a small flicker of hope came out of Syria…..that flicker is a peace process to end this thing….and how many know there is a peace talk going on?

Anyway…….

The Syrian peace talks arranged by Russia, Turkey and Iran that opened today in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, show that President Bashar al-Assad is winning the six-year-old war, but his final victory may be a long way off. Several participants in the conference have good reasons to fight on and Isis has recently made important advances.

Representatives of some of the rebel armed groups sat on one side of a round table, while the Syrian government delegation sat on the other, but the rebels said there would be no face to face talks. The most positive likely outcome of the meeting would be a reinforcement of the shaky ceasefire that began on 29 December and has been only partly effective. The US is not taking part in the talks, in contrast to previous abortive negotiations, but has sent its ambassador to Kazakhstan indicating that it does not oppose them.

Source: Syria peace talks begin in Kazakhstan with Russia taking centre stage – The Unz Review

If you get your news from American media then you know very little of this attempt…..why/  For one the US is not part of this process……we have an observer for what that is worth…..

My friends at the International Crisis Group (ICG) has issued a report on what is at stake with these negotiations……

Here in Astana, the spotlight is on the talks between the Syrian government and members of the armed opposition, but this is largely theatrics. Indeed, among the diplomats, journalists and analysts waiting in the hotel lobby and pub, there is a growing sense that we are also part of the show. The more substantive event involves trilateral discussions among Russia, Turkey and Iran, yet little has been revealed about their content.

The very fact that Russia, Turkey, and Iran are driving the talks – with limited participation from the U.S. as an observer, and none at all from Saudi Arabia – reflects the extent to which the centre of gravity in the Syrian war has shifted. This is the result of military progress by the regime and its backers, declining U.S. influence (for the moment at least) in the conflict’s central power struggle, and Riyadh’s stepping back from a role in Syria (due to its Yemeni quagmire and the weakening of its preferred rebel partners).

Source: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Peace Talks in Astana? | Crisis Group

This is a monumental attempt that could have long lasting effects…it will be a difficult and delicate process but if sides are willing then peace is possible….as it is today….the US would have very little to do with peace…….that is sad.

Finally, Some Leadership!

We have been involved in the situation in Syria now for years and the way things look it may be even more years….

In the past we have held talks with this group or that….with this batch of rebels or that….and in all that time few have spoken with Syria’s Assad to see if there is any possibility of cooperation and a speedy end to the conflict.

The best we could muster was McCain and his entourage meeting with a few rebels here and there and few other elected officials meet with refugees…but nothing with the government of the country….

Well that may have changed.

I seems that a US rep Tulsi Gabbard has ventured to the capital of Syria……

Long opposed to US attempts to impose regime change in Syria, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) has made a trip to Syria this week, an unannounced visit which saw Gabbard spending considerable time in the capital city of Damascus “to promote and work for peace.”

Gabbard’s office, citing security, says a lot of the details of the trip are not going to be revealed until she has returned to the United States, and they declined to say if she had met directly with President Bashar al-Assad, though they did confirm she’d met with several government leaders while in Damascus.

(antiwar.com)

The big tah-do is the media asking who paid for the trip…..since she met with Trump a few weeks ago there is wild speculation about her possibly having a spot in the Trump cabinet……

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s office won’t say who is paying for the Hawaii Democrat’s controversial trip to Syria and Lebanon this week.

Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer said the trip wasn’t funded using taxpayer dollars and was approved by the House Ethics Committee but wouldn’t provide further information when pressed by POLITICO. The lawmaker is currently on the trip, though it’s not clear exactly when she’ll be returning.

Source: Gabbard won’t disclose who’s paying for secret trip to Syria – POLITICO

This situation will fall by the wayside with all the hoopla over the inauguration….which is sad for this could be a monumental situation if the talks were productive….but for now we may never know….and this is a bright light in the web of international affairs…..