Can You Say, “Idlib”?

A small city and province in Northwest Syria where the last forces of the murderous group ISIS are held up for their “last stand”…..but don’t tell anybody…the tale is that they are in Eastern Syria….

Fighting has been fierce and as ISIS is defeated its members will slink away and wait for the rise to begin again……

ISIS has been a barbarous group with mass killings, drownings, beheadings, stonings, etc……and when they are defeated (at least disbanded as a force) then the world will be right and peace will prevail.

NOT!

Does anyone remember Al-Qaeda?

That group that gave us the attacks on 9/11…..remember now?

It appears that as ISIS departs the region AQ is stepping in as the controller of the region…..

 Late last year, Turkey-backed rebels were decisively overwhelmed by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in the Idlib Province, in northern Syria. While Turkey’s allies made mention of resolving this, as an attempt to prevent Syria attacking the area during a ceasefire with Turkey, al-Qaeda never left, and their control has only grown.

So while Turkey controls some of northern Aleppo Province, the Idlib Province is now almost entirely under the control of al-Qaeda, and they are ruling under an increasingly strict Islamist rule.

Al-Qaeda’s activities are forcing a lot of aid groups to cease activity in the area, and a lot of locals say that they object being ruled over by the faction. They say exactly who supports al-Qaeda is never clear, and so far there is no sign of any resistance.

 
ISIS was an extreme form of Islam….as is the beliefs of al-Qaeda…..and the US was supplying AQ in the fight against ISIS…..
 
What will the control of the region by AQ mean in the bigger War on Terror?
 
The news is, as reported on CNN, the final push against ISIS has begun and there is a chance that in 5 days or so the ISIS threat will be no more….the people may be dead but the idea remains….so dead is not a proper term to describe the event.
 
But could ISIS resurrect itself in Syria?
 

The Islamic State is decimated but not eradicated in Syria, the Pentagon inspector general reports, and “ISIS remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that ‘could likely resurge in Syria’ absent continued counterterrorism pressure.”

In light of the last two decades of American foreign policy and the realistic near-future of the nations we’ve occupied, this report should serve as one more piece of evidence that it is time to end U.S. intervention in Syria. Using the chance of a relatively small-scale ISIS resurgence as a reason to delay U.S. withdrawal from Syria is both pointless and reckless, a needless and counterproductive means of exposing America to further risk of great-power conflict while accomplishing little in a war Congress never duly authorized two successive administrations to fight.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/02/isis-might-come-back-s-just-one-more-reason-get-out-syria/154973/

The events in Syria has no bearing on the security of the US…..so bring the troops home and focus on making the country great again….(I seem to have heard that slogan before)…….

 
 
 
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FLASH! Troops Coming Home!

But first did you see the major news story on Sunday?  Prince Philip will give up his drivers license ….Seriously? This is the best the MSM can do? Now there is a story that NO ONE gives a sh*t about!

Sorry let’s talk troops.

There has been a back and forth about our troops in Syria….prez sez they come home…..DOD sez maybe but not now…..prez sez there is no time table…..DOD sez…………..

More news (but it could change before I finish typing) about our weary troops in Syria…..

The most specificity any officials have offered on the US plan for Syria, Pentagon officials confirmed Thursday that the current in-military timeline is to have all US troops out of the country by the end of April.

Officials confirmed this could be altered by policy changes in the future, but that for now the intention is to withdraw a significant number of the forces by mid-March, and the rest by the end of April.

The State Department was quick to contradict on this matter, saying that there is no timeline for withdrawing from Syria, and that the US is still committed to protecting the Kurdish YPG, and expelling all Iranian troops from Syria.

The White House did not directly comment on this matter, but it seems that the military is not interpreting Trump’s call for an “orderly pullout” as an excuse for an indefinite delay, while the State Department is still waiting for further changes in policy before admitting that troops are leaving.

This may, for the administration, prove to be the best of both worlds, as it allows the Pentagon to carry out the withdrawal that Trump ordered in December, while everyone else keeps up the pretense that nothing is finalized.

This is good news if it is true…..but it is also a chance that it is a con job like everything else this president does.  (I admit that I do not like or trust Trump but I do agree with his plan to bring the troops home)

Now ask….why is Congress dead set against the troop withdrawal?

In Syria Washington chose to enter a civil war of minimal security concern to America. Syria was allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Washington’s previous forays in similarly imploding Middle Eastern nations—Lebanon and Libya—turned out badly. The executive branch concocted ever more outlandish duties for American military personnel: extirpate ISIS, exclude Iran, confront Russia, pacify Turkey, protect Kurds, and pressure Damascus. Yet Congress never voted on the continual usurpation of legislative power.
Members also sat like potted plants as presidents illegally made war in Libya, Syria, and Yemen and threatened to unilaterally strike Iran, North Korea, and now Venezuela. Legislators preferred to avoid committing themselves. If the ensuing conflict goes well, then they will applaud the president; if it goes badly, then they will criticize his impetuous incompetence. They routinely refuse to live up to their constitutional responsibilities, unless forced to do, as when President Barack Obama tossed the issue of bombing Syria to Congress.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/capitol-hill-cowards-why-congress-trying-undermine-trumps-troop

The news is that the last stronghold for ISIS is under attack and the battle is going well……soon all the territory lost to ISIS will be retaken……(lost territory does not mean the group is defeated)…..

But Syria is a history of lousy excuses……

When former president Barack Obama authorized the invasion and occupation of Syria in 2015, he did so in complete defiance of both US and international law. Congress had not then declared war on Syria and has not since then offered any formal legal basis for Obama’s actions. And since Syria is a United Nations member state which has never attacked the US nor indicated any intent to do so, the invasion/occupation constitutes a war of aggression – “the supreme international crime,” as Nuremberg Tribunal judge Norman Birkett called it.

Despite the complete absence of any compelling military or political reason for invading and occupying Syria, and despite the complete illegality of that invasion and occupation, these Senators believe that Trump should reverse his decision and keep US troops at risk in a land whether they’re neither needed nor welcome.

After all, if US troops aren’t there, US troops can’t be killed there, and US troops need to be killed there every once in a while to justify keeping them there in perpetuity. The Senators’ campaign donors in the “defense” industry need them kept there. Government contracts and stock dividends depend on it!

That’s the caliber of mind and morality the voters of South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island send to Washington, DC. Can’t say I blame the voters for wanting those guys to go somewhere, anywhere other than South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, or Rhode Island. If nothing else it probably raises those states’ average IQs and reduces their petty crime rates.

(antiwar.com)

Syria has been a cluster fuck for decades and Obama onward did nothing to change that…..PERIOD!

All Those Wars!

We have a couple of wars that most have no dear why any longer.

A couple months ago Trump said troops would be leaving Syria and a partial draw down for Afghanistan…….and the Neo cons went batcrap crazy with the MSM joining into the chorus….

Trump then stepped back from his pronouncements.

Having drifted back and forth a few times on the US withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, President Trump seemed solid on leaving last week, but facing growing opposition from the Senate now shows signs of backtracking once again.

Previously talking up how the wars in Afghanistan and Syria can’t last forever, Trump is now saying he wants a “smaller number” of troops to stay in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban already making it clear that was a non-starter for the peace deal.

In Syria, Trump is now focused on the idea that the pullout can only happen after assuring that “Israel is protected,” which is as close to a recipe for permanent warfare as one can get. Israeli officials have made clear they want the war to be about Iran, not ISIS.

https://news.antiwar.com/2019/02/03/trump-backtracks-on-syria-afghan-withdrawals-facing-growing-senate-pressure/

Then Trump had a SOTU where he taunted the ending of use less wars….

The Congress seems to be a big obstacle for the president……instead of caving to the warmongers in Congress he should push back on the cowardice…..

Who says Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on anything? Washington closed ranks Thursday behind two wars President Donald Trump has proposed winding down as the Senate voted 68-23 to advance a resolution warning against “precipitous withdrawal” from Afghanistan and Syria.

Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, making any withdrawal seem anything but “precipitous.” Syria hasn’t even been authorized by Congress. In both cases, our men and women in the armed forces have already achieved the goals that are militarily attainable. “It doesn’t get much more pathetic,” Congressman Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, said of the Senate vote.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-should-call-congresss-bluff-on-our-endless-wars/

 

Then There Is Syria!

Trump has said he will withdraw troops from Syria……CoS Bolton said not so fast….Military generals say they will follow the order of the president to draw down troops…it has been fun watching this story play out…..who will win?

Will the president bow to the Neocon warmongers and keep troops in Syria or will he, Trump, do what he promised on the campaign?

The war industry is pulling all punches and rolling out why the US should stay in Syria…..

The warmongers are using the deaths of 4 Americans in Syria by suicide bomber as reason to stay the course…..

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that a suicide attack in the Syrian town of Manbij against American troops in the city, might have aimed to affect the U.S. administration’s decision to pullout forces in Syria. 

Four U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded in the attack on Wednesday, a U.S. official told Reuters

 
The “War Whores” (a great title) scramble to keep the US at war in Syria……
 A suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria has reportedly killed 19 people including four Americans, two of whom were US soldiers and two of whom worked with the US military. ISIS, which has an extensive history of falsely claiming responsibility for attacks it had nothing to do with, has claimed responsibilityfor the attack. Despite the fact that ISIS would claim responsibility for a housewife stepping on a Lego block, and despite the complete absence of evidence that it had anything to do with the deadly explosion, all the usual cheerleaders of endless war are pointing to the Manbij suicide bombing and shrieking “See?? Trump said ISIS is defeated and it’s not!”

“ISIS is still a very real threat here,” CNN international corespondent Clarissa Ward told Jake Tapper from northern Syria. “And the real concern that we are hearing over and over again on the ground, Jake, is that when US troops withdraw, a power vacuum is created, and that only gives them more strength.”

Virulent Syria war pundit Charles Lister, who is notorious for praising Al Qaeda and is a senior fellow at the Gulf state-funded neoconservative think tank Middle East Institute, told AFP that this attack invalidates Donald Trump’s order last month to withdraw troops from Syria.

https://theantimedia.com/syria-attack-means-troops-must-remain/

All the back and forth in DC means little….the Army chief has made his choice……

For the first time, a senior U.S. military official has commented on President Trump’s late-December decision to quit Syria, confirming publicly that American troops are planning to leave once ISIS is defeated on the ground.

“We are determined to finish that off and then hand the battle off to our indigenous partners,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said on Wednesday.

His comments came hours after a suicide bomber killed four people in Manbij, Syria, including two U.S. troops, a Defense Department civilian, and one contractor. Three more were injured in the blast, for which ISIS declared responsibility.

https://www.defenseone.com/news/2019/01/army-chief-confirms-us-will-hand-isis-fight-syria/154237/

Some groups see the pull-out as a good thing for it will give the US more wiggle room in the Middle East…..

On December 29, Russia and Turkey agreed to coordinate their ground operations in Syria after high-level consultations. The move related to Turkey’s declared intention of invading Rojava. At this stage, the U.S., Russia, Turkey and President Assad all agreed that Daesh must be completely eradicated, but their assessments of the organization’s strength and its chances of making a comeback varied widely.

Russia’s interest was to back Mr. Assad. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared before meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Moscow would consider Turkish military intervention “in the perspective of protection for Syria’s territorial integrity.”

https://www.gisreportsonline.com/withdrawal-from-syria-george-washingtons-warning-revisited,politics,2767.html

All the tit for tat in DC about the move to leave Syria but the American people are okay with the policy…..

The long life of the Afghan war makes it hard to remember how popular it was when it began. As the fighting began, 80 percent of America supported it. Nobody in Congress except Rep. Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) was prescient enough to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force and its open-ended-enough-to-attack-a-dozen-more-countries wording. Not until 2014 did a majority of Americans begin to regret that the war ever started.

Now some polls suggest it’s nearly as unpopular as the wildly unpopular ill-fated war in Iraq.

http://reason.com/archives/2019/01/11/americans-ok-with-leaving-syria-and-afgh

Syria is still a point for argument…..but if the “war whores” (I love that title) get all their ducks in a row then we will stay engaged in Syria.  The attack gave these people the ammo they need to make a case for staying……

An ISIS suicide bombing in Syria’s Manbij killed four US troops. This caused a minor redesign in the narrative from hawkish US politicians and media pundits who were opposed to the US withdrawal from Syria. They’re exactly as opposed as before, only now Manbij is the excuse.

So after weeks of centering their talking points on saving the Kurds from Turkey, the focus now is on the idea that ISIS is emboldened by the announced US pullout, and that continuing the pullout will only make the withdrawing soldiers a target.

Their solution is to keep US troops in Syria, which ironically is also ISIS’ solution. Having lost their caliphate and become a desert-centric insurgency with little territory, the US pullout would be a big blow to ISIS’ already crumbling relevance as an international movement.

The easiest way for ISIS to stay relevant is to keep US troops close-by to occasional fight and attack. This would keep anti-US recruits flowing in, and international funding for their leadership.

In a way, this isn’t dissimilar to the hawks’ desire to keep US forces in Syria, as it is another chance for the advocates of the war to remain relevant, and to keep the money flowing on the American side of the war.

(antiwar.com)

The “Syria Saga” is far from over.

More US Deaths–2019

With all the debate on whether we are pulling out of Syria or not there is one thing that never changes….the chance of being killed in service to the country.

4 American soldiers were killed in Manjib, Syria by a suicide bomber…..

Described as the deadliest attack against US troops in Syria, a suicide bombing in the city of Manbij killed at least 15 people, including four US troops, and wounded a number of others, including three US troops.

The attack was claimed by ISIS, and that started an immediate furor among opponents of the announced US withdrawal from Syria, notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who suggested the very idea of the pullout had provoked the attack by emboldening ISIS.

This is almost certain to grow dramatically, with huge numbers of lawmakers and media pundits opposing the Syria pullout bound to present this as vindication for keeping the war going.

This is not just a convenient case for hawks to be mad, but also for ISIS themselves. ISIS, like its al-Qaeda predecessors, is very keen to keep US forces in the immediate vicinity as a way to keep them globally relevant. As with al-Qaeda in places like Afghanistan, the US has long been willing to give them exactly what they want.

So while now many are gearing up to try to further slow, if not outright stop, the Syria pullout, the reality of the situation is that if the US had kept to the reported 30-day pullout in the first place, the troops attacked today almost certainly would’ve already been out of Syria.

The names have not been released….I shall update this post as soon as the names are available…..

The sad thing is to see the media and war hawks try and use this incident of sadness as a rallying cry to stay the course in Syria. (A separate post to follow soon)

Syria! Whatcha Gonna Do?

I have watched the saga around the Syrian conflict go from devastation to a draw down to a slow down to a not leaving any time soon.

Bolton threatens Syria (Syria is not alone in the threats)…..something these warmongers do almost daily….

a State Department official said “(w)e have no timeline for our military forces to withdraw from” the country. Delay may turn out to be not at all.

On Sunday, a senior Iraqi parliamentarian said

“(t)he  Americans have built a military base in Erbil (in) the Iraqi Kurdistan region to use…against Iraq’s neighboring countries, in particular Iran and Syria.”

Iraqi media said the Pentagon has 14 military bases in the country – along with a reported 18 in Syria. The US is highly unlikely to abandon them, especially ones considered most strategically important.

An earlier report indicated the Pentagon intends establishing a permanent base along the Iraqi border with Syria. Turkey reportedly established one or more military bases in northwestern Aleppo.

On Saturday, a senior Trump regime official said US forces may remain indefinitely at the (illegally established) al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders

https://www.globalresearch.ca/bolton-threatens-syria-us-troop-withdrawal-on-hold-permanent-us-military-base-on-syria-iraqi-border/5664843

This conflict has never been an easy one to follow…Obama made it murky and then Trump came in and it became damn near bleak.

So may I ask….what the Hell is the US Syria policy?

Does anyone know for certain just what US policy is in Syria? And by “anyone,” we include the folks in the White House and the State Department.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly canceled a scheduled sitdown with National Security Advisor John Bolton, then went on live TV to berate him. His gripe: Bolton had suggested the US won’t totally withdraw its forces from Syria until the safety of its Kurdish allies is assured, mostly from Turkish attack.

It’s just the latest whirl in the policy merry-go-round that’s spun ever since President Trump dropped his surprise announcement of a Syria withdrawal “as quickly as possible.”

https://nypost.com/2019/01/08/does-anybody-know-what-americas-syria-policy-is/

Just thought I would ask.

Trump has said that Syria is nothing more than “sand and death”…..but according to Neocon thought….we should never underestimate the importance of Syria….

When Donald Trump described Syria last week as a place of “sand and death”, without “vast wealth”, it would have helped him to first check his remarks with a contemporary historian.

That person might have been able to tell the US president that during a significant period of the last century, as it still is today, Syria was the centrepiece of competition between leaders in the Levant and Egypt, so that whoever controlled the country could pretend to a degree of regional dominance.

As Patrick Seale wrote in his classic book The Struggle for Syria, the nation’s “centrality derives from the fact that it lies at the heart of the Arab-Asian power system where, for good or ill, it affects every political relationship in the region”. With Mr Trump saying that his aim in the Middle East is to contain Iran, it made no sense for him to describe Syria dismissively. Without a strategy towards Syria, it is unlikely the US will succeed in curbing Iran.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/history-proves-syria-s-strategic-importance-should-not-be-underestimated-1.811201

It all comes down to Syria is nothing but a spot to confront Iran….not the devastation….not the death….not the refugees….none of that matters to the US as long as they can stick to Iran.

How sad is that?

But Bolton has flexed his tiny muscles and overrules Trump on the Syrian draw down….

National Security Advisor John Bolton has in effect overruled President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal decision. This will have fateful consequences for America’s national interests, and none of them are good. Speaking in Israel, Bolton stated that two conditions must be met before a withdrawal of U.S. troops, and the conditions amount to a recipe for indefinitely prolonging the deployment. One is that the United States must “make sure ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again”—an objective that is impossible for the two thousand U.S. troops in Syria to achieve. With the mini-state of ISIS largely gone, whatever threat the group poses is a matter not of military control of a patch of Syria—a patch of “sand and death”, as Trump put it —but instead of ideology, politics, fear, and hatred that cannot be described on a battle map.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/syria-policy-hawks%E2%80%99-talons-sink-deeper-trump-41017

Apparently Trump is too ignorant to realize the insubordination of Bolton…..will Trump realize his brain fart?

https://theweek.com/articles/816140/shameful-insubordination-john-bolton

But guess what……generals said when asked about Bolton’s turn around on Syria…”We do not take orders from Bolton”…….

After days of back and forth over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pullout American troops from Syria, a U.S. military official said Friday the process of withdrawal has begun, declining to comment on specific timetables or movements.

Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has started.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” the Baghdad-based official said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/01/11/us_official_says_troop_withdrawal_from_syria_has_started_114098.html

I see that our Syrian policy is as murky as always.  None have been able to answer the one question…..just what is the US Syrian policy?

Can you?

Another American Captured

Another American has made the news…but this one is not an accused spy…..this is one is a terrorist…..this one is allied with ISIS (you remember them right?)……

Warren Christopher Clark, American, 34, has made news….he will get his few fleeting moments in the spotlight….

This person has been captured with other ISIS fighters in Syria…..

At least one American—a former substitute teacher from Texas—has been captured with ISIS in Syria, say Kurdish forces. The Kurds say they captured a second American as well, but the citizenship of that man is much iffier, reports the New York Times. In a news release, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say they caught Warren Christopher Clark, 34, with ISIS fighters in northeast Syria. Clark graduated from the University of Houston and worked as a substitute teacher of English as a Second Language in Fort Bend before taking similar jobs in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, reports the Houston Chronicle. Clark has been in the news before, when investigators at George Washington University turned up a resume and cover letter he once sent to ISIS looking for a job.

“Dear Director, I am looking to get a position teaching English to students in the Islamic State,” Clark wrote in the letter, which was found inside an Iraqi house. “I believe that a successful teacher can understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses and is able to use that understanding to help students build on their understanding of the English language.” NBC News reported last year that Clark had converted to Islam around 2004 and become radicalized online. The Kurdish military group says it also captured an American named Zaid Abed al-Hamid, but it wasn’t clear whether Hamid was actually a US citizen. The US military has not confirmed the capture of either man yet, reports Stars and Stripes. If confirmed, they would be the fifth and sixth Americans captured on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, per the Times.

Will the CIA do its “thing” to wrangle intel out of this guy?

This dude is so screwed!  As he should be!  Can you say which way to the nearest “black site”?