Are We Inching Toward All Out War?

When Russia sent in aircraft to help the Syrians fight against the rebels…..I wrote then that this was leading to a big mistake that could take the US and Russia into a confrontation……

Well the worse case scenario just happened…..

The US military shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet Sunday that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against ISIS militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict. The US had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. While the US has said since it began recruiting, training, and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIS that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise, the AP reports.

The US-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a statement that a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the US partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The shootdown was near Tabqa, a Syrian town in an area that has been a weekslong focus of fighting against ISIS militants by the SDF as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it from ISIS. The US military statement said it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces and that the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters. “The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said.

The Russians have a retort……

Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria that venture west of the Euphrates River as targets after the US military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, reports the AP. Moscow also suspended a military hotline the two nations have used to coordinate air missions over Syria, reports the New York Times. Russia condemned the US downing of the Syrian government fighter jet as a “military aggression” and demanded a fuller explanation. The US has said the Syrian jet dropped bombs near its partner forces, but Syria said its jet was attacking ISIS militants.

“All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The downing of the warplane—the first time in the conflict that the US has shot down a Syrian jet—came as Iran fired several ballistic missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria in retaliation for two attacks by the extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people. Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by ISIS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months

Where will this end?

We know how Trump feels about using force……will that be the answer?

I mentioned the illegality of U.S. actions in Syria in an earlier post, but I wanted to say a bit more on that point. There has never been a Congressional vote authorizing U.S. military operations in Syria against anyone, and there has been scant debate over any of the goals that the U.S. claims to be pursuing there. The U.S. launches attacks inside Syria with no legal authority from the U.N. or Congress, and it strains credulity that any of these operations have anything to do with individual or collective self-defense. The U.S. wages war in Syria simply because it can.

Source: Syria and Our Illegal Acts of War | The American Conservative

Americans need to pay attention before it is too late.

What To Do About Syria?

Now there is a question with 100 answers….and a question that no one is asking……just throw more ordinance and troops at the situation and hope for the best.

Oh boy the war in Syria has been missing from the headlines for a week or more….too much drama going on in DC for Americans to care about Syria….but believe it or not the war does not stop because Trump maybe in hot water….

The most recent action in Syria was the US actually attacking Syrian forces…..

US officials say an American airstrike has hit pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area. The officials say the strike Thursday near Tanf hit a tank and a bulldozer and forces there, but it wasn’t clear if they were Syrian army troops or other pro-government allies, the AP reports. One official says the pro-regime forces had entered a so-called “de-confliction” zone without authorization and were perceived as a threat to US-allied troops there. The officials say the strike was a defensive move to protect the US allies; it wasn’t clear if US forces were present. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The area has been a source of tension as both government forces and US-backed rebels advance there. Both the government forces and the rebels are trying to rout Islamic State militants from the area. Meanwhile, a Syria state news agency says President Bashar Assad has met with Iraq National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayad to discuss “practical” steps to improve coordination between their countries’ militaries in the anti-terrorism campaign along their shared border. Syrian state media and a monitoring group say at least 15 civilians were killed this week and dozens wounded in an ISIS offensive on the government-held village of Aqarab al-Safiyeh in central Syria. State news agency SANA says women and children were among the dead, and that some were beheaded.

Are you up to snuff on how this whole thing got started?  I can help with that……

Source: Syria’s civil war explained from the beginning | News | Al Jazeera

It might help to understand the conflict before the calls for Assad must go returns….

And that is the end game for the US and its allies…..Assad must go and let freedom ring…….

There is a slight problem……there are NO easy answers after Assad goes?

Donald Trump campaigned on an “America First” foreign policy.  But he hasn’t been immune to the vapors of the Swamp.  Not even three months after his inauguration, administration officials were praising NATO; affirming commitments to Japan and South Korea; discussing troop surges for Afghanistan; talking about permanently stationing forces in Iraq, increasing aid for Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen, and effecting regime change in Syria.  It was as if Hillary Clinton occupied the President’s body.

Trump’s flip-flop on Syria was particularly shocking.  Before the dawn of the Neoconservative Age no sane American would have suggested intervening in the horror that this ancient land has become.

Source: Regime Change in Syria: Pick Your Poison | Chronicles Magazine

The simple truth, something you will not get from those running things in DC, is there is NO solution that has a bright future for Syria.  And yet we keep fighting and fighting to NO good end.

Freedom in Syria is a pipe dream for now.

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Update:  After I wrote this draft word has come out the US is floating a plan to Russia that would make sure that out two forces were not fighting each other….

The U.S. is proposing to Russia a plan for managing the battlefield in the main oil-producing region of Syria.

U.S.-backed forces face a complex situation amid Syria’s ongoing civil war. They are fighting Islamic extremists but are also in conflict with Syrian forces backed by Russia.

The U.S. sees the area in question as the next major battleground in the evolving coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State group.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford is declining to describe the proposal in detail. But he says the Russian military is eager to find ways to avoid an armed U.S.-Russian conflict in the area around Deir el-Zour on the Euphrates River.

The proposal comes as President Donald Trump pushes for an accelerated campaign to destroy Islamic State militants.

As Always…. Assad Must Go!

Before I talk about Syria….I need to update a post from lat week.

I reported that an American soldier was killed in action in the East African nation of Somalia….at the time of my post his name had not been released…it has now been reported and I need to rectify my oversight……

SEAL Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator, Kyle Milliken, holder of 4 Bronze Stars, was killed in Somalia.

I have studied and worked in the Middle East for decades…..so this subject always gets me to laughing….why?  Usually it is mouthed by someone that has NO idea what they are talking about and now with this new admin at the helm it is even worse.

Assad must go has been the rallying cry since the days of his father….and it has not calmed down for decades and yet the Assad family is still doing what they have always done….control Syria.

Personally that slogan is getting tired….very tired.

I have writing about this “situation” for some time and in doing so I have laid out why I think it is a moronic slogan that needs to be retired…..but check it…

Source: Assad: Should He Go Or Should He Stay? – In Saner Thought

Source: “Assad Must GO!” – In Saner Thought

And now we have a new president and he has little experience with the Middle East except for the Saudis which he massages their nether regions for business…..and yet he has the same goal as his predecessors……Assad Must Go!

As the Trump administration nears its 100th day in office, it has taken much-needed steps internationally, particularly in Syria.  But while the latest U.S. military action retaliating for the gassing of Khan Sheikoun was long overdue, even more can be done.

With over 400,000 deaths, five million registered Syrian refugees, and the continuation of Assad’s scorched-earth tactics, Syria will not become an island of stability any time soon, and especially after ISIS is ousted from its Raqqa stronghold.  Rather, Syria will remain polarized, politicized, and perilous unless Assad and his enablers are removed from power.

Source: Why the Trump Doctrine Dictates Assad Must Go | RealClearDefense

There it is……”Syria will remain polarized, politicized, and perilous unless Assad and his enablers are removed from power”…….in essence….Assad must go.

Like I said a great slogan…..let’s say he, Assad,  goes…….who will replace him in seat of power?  No!  Seriously!  WHO?

Keep in mind Iraq……we have done a bang up job with that regime change….and we had lackeys waiting in the wings to jump into the power vacuum…..

Name one person…a Syrian person that could step into the role as national leader.

(Pause here for thought)

That is right…there is NO strong democrat in the wings waiting to assume the role of national leader.

Maybe the old stand by slogan, Assad Must Go, needs to be retired until there is someone to fill the void created by his ousting.

For once…please think long term and now this short term solution that inevitably will come back and bite the US in the butt.

Syria: Are They Safe Now?

Back a few years ago Hillary had the bright idea for Syria….those darn pesky “no-fly zones”…..then during the 2016 campaign season candidate Trump had another brilliant idea for Syria….”Safe Zones”……… both were ideas to protect the refugees and to make it safe for humanitarian aid…..

But enough talk….read my take for yourself……

Source: Seriously? “Safe Zones” Again? – In Saner Thought

I bring this up again because of a situation that has occurred in Syria….the regional powers in the conflict, Russia, Turkey and Iran have signed a deal to implement “safe zones” in the country…..but they are calling them “de-escalation zones”….

Russia, Iran and Turkey have signed a deal calling for the setup of so-called de-escalation zones in war-torn Syria during talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

The signing ceremony on Thursday was briefly interrrupted as some members of the Syrian armed opposition’s delegation stormed out in protest against Iran’s participation in the deal.

Source: Regional Powers Agree on Syria ‘De-escalation Zones’ | World Affairs Journal

I have written several times about the failure of most “no-fly zones/safe zones”…whatever the Hell you want to call them.

But if you think I may be mistaken then there is a way to see what I am talking about….

Is there more to this move than what we see on the surface?

A new deal aimed at reducing violence in Syria is now in effect, but questions remain as to its implementation and its consequences.

The agreement signed on Thursday by Iran, Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital, Astana, is the latest in a series of ceasefire proposals aimed at ending Syria’s war, now in its seventh year.

The plan calls for the cessation of hostilities between rebel groups and forces fighting on behalf of Bashar al-Assad‘s government in four so-called “de-escalation zones” in mainly opposition-held areas of the country.

Source: Syria’s ‘de-escalation zones’ explained | Syria News | Al Jazeera

This story of “safe zones” has not been all that successful…..will this one be any different?

If history is any indication, the creation of a series of safe zones in Syria, currently being discussed by the United States, Russia, Turkey, and the war-torn country, is likely to provide little relief for hundreds of thousands of civilians on the ground.

Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran on May 4 signed a memorandum backing a Russian proposal that calls for such zones to be created in rebel-held territory in northwestern Syria. The United States said it supported any effort to de-escalate the violence in Syria, though it had “concerns” about the agreement.

Source: ANALYSIS. The ‘Very Bad History’ Of Safe Zones | World Affairs Journal

I have said before and still firmly believe that unless everyone involved in the conflict is on board with the “safe zone” thing then there is a high probability that something could go horribly wrong.

I mean the Syrian air force will still be carrying out sorties and so will the US and its allies…..one false move and this conflict could become a full blown war.

So NO this is not a step forward if anything it could become a provocation in one form or another.

Was Syria A False Flag?

Before I begin the Syria post there is some sad news to report……another US service man has been killed in action…..

A U.S. service member has been killed during an operation against al-Shabab militants in Somalia

The U.S. military said Friday that the service member was killed near Barii, Somalia, approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

The statement from the military’s Africa Command said U.S. forces were conducting an advise and assist mission alongside members of the Somali National Army.

The story about the use of chem weapons on the civilian population of a Syrian town lead to the response by the US….a multi-missile strike on a Syrian airfield and then that event slid from the news and more sensational news took its place…..

Behind the scenes there has been rumblings that the alleged attack was a lase flag….

False Flag?

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.

Newsbud.com is reporting…..The Geopolitical Report, we look into the alleged gas attack used as a pretext to attack Syria. Despite a lack of evidence Syria had anything to do with the attack, the Trump administration and the propaganda media in the United States told the American people both Syria and Russia are responsible. From ambassador Nikki Haley’s theatrical performance before the United Nations Security Council to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion the attack was a false flag, we examine different aspects and put them into the context of a previous sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, an attack attributed to so-called rebel groups fighting to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Could this be possible?

Several veteran intel officers have written a letter……

Two dozen former U.S. intelligence professionals are urging the American people to demand clear evidence that the Syrian government was behind the April 4 chemical incident before President Trump dives deeper into another war.

AN OPEN MEMORANDUM FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Source: Intel Vets Voice Doubts on Syrian Crisis – Consortiumnews

After reading several articles on this attack it has given me pause……NOW I want to know the “rest of the story”….would not be the first time the government has lied to get what they wanted…..

What If ISIS No Longer Exist?

You know we hear daily about the measures being used to destroy ISIS….or we hear just how important it is that Assad be relieved of his command of Syria…..both are really good and important topics but with that said has anyone considered what the Middle east would look like with either of the position were actually achieved?

Then in the news came word that ISIS was losing fighters…….

ISIS is steadily losing territory in Iraq and Syria, and a lot of foreign fighters are apparently having second thoughts about fighting to the death for it. The Guardian reports that officials in Turkey and Europe say large numbers of foreign fighters are abandoning the group and trying to flee, especially now that an offensive is closing in on Raqqa, Syria, where many foreigners who joined the “caliphate” were based. Officials believe those fleeing include foreign fighters who have renounced the group, people who weren’t fighters but found themselves living in ISIS territory, and hardcore militants suspected of planning terrorist attacks in their homelands.

Sources tell the Guardian that the latest foreigners to surrender to Turkish border police include a British couple and US citizen Kary Paul Kleman. A Turkish official confirmed to CNN that Kleman, a former Florida resident, was detained after arriving at the border with his Syrian wife and their three children. Authorities believe he “was compelled to escape the conflict zone following airstrikes and military operations against ISIS,” the official says. Kleman’s family says he converted to Islam after moving to the Middle East in 2011. They say he went to Syria in 2015 to help with humanitarian efforts but soon realized it was a “scam” and started trying to escape the country.

Is this good news or just news?

To answer my own questions…..the best answer is…..not really.

First of all, the most press worthy topic…..Assad is thrown out of Syria…..

A new study from IHS Jane’s is cautioning that moves to undermine and ultimately oust the Assad government in Syria would greatly benefit ISIS, since a large portion of ISIS’ fighting in Syria is against the Syrian government and its allies.

Though Western officials have long downplayed the amount of fighting between ISIS and Assad, and Western-backed rebels have even claimed at time the two are in league with one another, Jane’s study showed that 42% of all ISIS fighting in Syria was against Assad-backing forces, with just 17% against the Kurdish YPG, and the rest against rival rebel factions, including the Turkish-backed rebels and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

The US has been keen to oust Assad for years, with CIA officials arguing that the war against ISIS would be enhanced by imposing regime change first and hoping a more “stable” government assumes control. The Jane’s study seems to indicate that a shift in the US war to imposing regime change would free up a lot more ISIS forces, who have been fighting the Assad government, to recover lost ground.

Jane’s termed it an “inconvenient reality” that any US actions against the Assad government would necessarily benefit ISIS as well. The big question remains whether or not this will be sufficient to deter the US from carrying out more attacks against Assad, as the Trump Administration has been keen to threaten more action against them in recent weeks.

(antiwar.com)

Just maybe the “planners” at the Pentagon should look beyond next year…..there is a lot at stake.

Second point….the defeat of ISIS…..

In June 2014, ISIL seemingly came out of nowhere and has now grown to become a major force in the Middle East, more specifically in Iraq and Syria.  The organization became especially prominent following its lightning-swift military advance over northern Iraq, where it encountered an abysmally low level of government resistance (Terrill 2014).  With that being said, ISIL’s hold on the region has recently been on the decline with territorial losses mounting in key areas along the Euphrates River Valley, the Tigris River Valley, and Northern Syria, with current operations threatening their capitals in both Raqqah and Mosul.  Up to this point in time, the predominance of research and analysis has been carried out to figure out how to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State.  Governments of the 50+ Coalition nations from around the world that are participating in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE have seemingly put an infinite amount of time, money, and effort in the overall strategy of how to beat ISIL…which is, if you follow the news, still a plan very much so in the works.

Source: After ISIL: The Conflict Following the War | RealClearDefense

Is it just me or does our leadership at the Pentagon need a little reality injected into their midst?

Where Is The “Political Will”?

Every politician that has to stand up and make a political speech has in one way of the other promised to end the wars in the Middle East in one fashion or another.  But is there a political will to end these conflicts?

As long as the M-IC is in control there will be NO end to these conflicts……the pursuit of profit overrides all else…….

As US sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have failed to end the war in Syria, the international community must exercise the political will to do so—and, in the meantime, establish safe zones that would put civilians out of harm’s way, according to two members of the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), also known as the White Helmets.

“The sanctions are not having the intended effect of stopping the war,” said Jehad Mahameed, a liaison officer for the SCD. Manal Abazeed, a volunteer with the White Helmets, called for world leaders, particularly US President Donald Trump, to exercise “the political will to stop this conflict.”

Source: “Political Will” Needed to End War in Syria | RealClearDefense

But let us look at Trump’s Middle East……..

The Trump administration has performed a variety of policy somersaults in the Middle East. One day it opposed intervention in Syria. Then it intervened. When it came to Israel, candidate Trump pledged a neutral policy. Then, as president, he embraced Israel for a few weeks before returning to a more detached approach. Where will it all head?

Today the Center for the National Interest hosted two eminent Middle East experts to discuss the new administration’s options and outlook in the region. Philip Gordon, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was Barack Obama’s White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. Before that, he served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Michael Singh, now the managing director and Lane-Swig Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was senior director for Middle East Affairs in George W. Bush’s National Security Council. Before that, he served as special assistant to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. Geoffrey Kemp, the Center’s senior director for regional security as well as a former special assistant to Ronald Reagan and NSC senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs, moderated the event.

Source: Trump’s Middle East | The National Interest

There will be NO end to these conflicts….for Trump has entered the world of the war hawk and once entered there is NO turning back.

To be fair we cannot blame Trump for these situations….NO it is a bi-partisan effort to continue war at any cost…….

After all the musings that Donald J. Trump fails the “presidential” test, he joined the tradition that confirms leadership stature: CNN’s most “serious and reasonable” foreign policy pundit, Fareed Zakaria soberly intoned that, after bombing Syria, Trump “became president of the United States”.

Trump’s 59 Tomahawk missiles, killed seven (including four children), injured nine, was accompanied by a near-universal repetition of an “atrocity” cover-story, No investigation was required before all corporate media (major newspapers, CNN, MSNBC and Fox) sang in unison. Endless “outrage” over dozens of Syrian deaths due to some sort of poisoning that may (or may not) be sarin gas and seems far more likely to have been either an accidental destruction of a warehouse or done by the terrorists groups Assad that recently beat back—ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusrun (who are supposed to be U.S. enemies, too).

Source: Bipartisan Wars R’ US – LA Progressive

The US seems to never learn from its mistakes in war…..NEVER……

Wars begin with political motives and end with political arrangements. Following the wisdom of Carl von Clausewitz, Nadia Schadlow begins War and the Art of Governance by observing that “Success in war depends on the consolidation of political order, which requires control over territory and the hard work of building local governmental institutions.” Countering the contemporary view, Schadlow tells us that this has not been principally an interagency effort but an important mission for the United States Army. In her accounting, in war after war, the United States Army and its partners have been faced not only with stability operations but also the hard task of governance “to shape the political outcome of the war.”

Source: Lessons Unlearned: War, Occupation, and Governance | World Affairs Journal

(Insert Einstein quote here)