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Syrian flash point just got flash pointier

Written By: - Date published: 1:38 pm, August 20th, 2016 - 102 comments
Categories: China, colonialism, defence, International, Syria, us politics, war - Tags:

The Syrian War has dragged on for years and may have now caused approximately 400,000 deaths according to a visiting UN official. Although accurate figures are impossible to come by, 50,000 to 100,000 of these deaths are from casualties suffered by Assad’s decimated military forces.

Long time US allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been providing significant support to Islamic fundamentalist groups like ISIS and Al-Nusra that are intent on taking down the Assad regime, an outcome that the Americans have been interested in for a long time (as this 2006 State Department cable reveals).

Western powers including Europe even turned a blind eye to Turkey (a NATO member) dealing in ISIS oil, providing hundreds of millions in hard currency funds to a major terrorist organisation. (How NATO/US satellite surveillance could have missed up to 12,000 oil trucks sitting at the Turkey/Iraq border is mystifying at first glance.)

And now the geopolitical stakes are now being raised further.

  1. Russia has come to an agreement with the Syrian Government to make expand and make permanent its Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province, just 50km from the Turkish border. Russia has said that it will not station strategic bombers or nuclear weapons at the base on a permanent basis, although that is a comment which raises more question marks than it answers.
  2. The Iranian Government has granted Russia permission to use Hamedan Airbase in its western provinces; Russia has started to launch air strikes from that base against Islamist fighters in Syria.
  3. China is now proactively enhancing its military and economic relations in support of the Assad regime, therefore becoming involved in a “larger role” in the Middle East.
  4. [Update 1] Russia has launched actual air strikes against the secret bases in Syria that US and UK special forces boots on the ground are illegally operating out of.

Of course, no one is claiming that Assad is a nice guy. However compared to having the black ISIS flag run up over Damascus – a situation which would be immediately terrifying for ethnic minority groups, Christians, Alawites, Shiites and women in Syria fearing Islamist slavery, decapitation or imolation – Assad is a relative angel.

Perhaps what is needed now, is a far sighted US President who is willing to work directly with President Putin, to get rid of the scourge that ISIS represents to both the civilised Western and Islamic worlds.

 

 

 

102 comments on “Syrian flash point just got flash pointier”

  1. TheExtremist 1

    God your pimping of Trump is two parts pathetic and one part delusion.

    Trump far-sighted? He can’t keep on message for longer than 2 minutes.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      I’d be interested in your view of US/Russian cooperation to defeat ISIS, if you have one.

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        Pretty simple – bomb isis, let Assad’s regime wither and die without support, and put trillions into infrastructure reconstruction and government checks and balances.

        Of course, after five years or so of a little bit of closet ethnic cleansing under the dust clouds of all those bombs, it might be reasonable to go for a federal structure.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          Can you comment on who is going to provide these “trillions” to Syria McFlock, and what they will want from Syria in exchange?

          • McFlock 1.1.1.1.1

            USA/Europe/Russia/China via the UN.

            That’s how to defeat ISIS. Not what anyone thought was actually going to happen (my bet: another twenty years of war, the current leaders of most of the factions and all the leaders of the involved regional and global powers dying peacefully in their beds as if there was no blood on their hands, ISIS pretends to moderate and becomes a resource-poor fiefdom after the kurds take the oilfields).

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1.1

              USA has been tacitly/actively supporting the overthrow of Assad. Both directly and via regional allies/proxies. They won’t provide Syria a thing until the Islamists take over.

              Europe and NATO has been turning a blind eye to Turkey supporting the Jihadists wanting to overthrow Assad. Further, Europe has no money or resources left after dealing with their own dire internal security problems.

              Russia and China have now both come down firmly on the side of Assad. They will provide military and economic aid directly to Assad’s regime.

              • McFlock

                They’ll keep the regime existing, yes. And thereby keep the war going.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yep. And that’s the way Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US want it because their goal from the start has been regime change in Damascus.

      • D'Esterre' 1.1.2

        CV: I found this in a comment thread today:

        pic.twitter.com/vYo4RPuAJT

        All is not what it seems!

  2. McFlock 2

    lol – so the russians might store strategic bombers and nukes there from time to time.

    Apparently the Iranian base is also contrary to the Iranian constitution. Gotta love that little detail.

    The thing about Syrian and Russian objectives is that they aren’t focused on defeating ISIS, as you tried to frame it. They’re about eliminating all opposition to Assad, including people who legitiamtely only wanted to tell a murdering regime to fuck off.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Theres no “moderate opposition” in Syria McFlock. It’s 101 flavours of Jihadists now. Which one would you like to run Damascus?

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        The Kurds and Yazidis will be interested to hear that.

        But of course, you have to pretend that everyone Assad wants shot is a “jihadist”. Otherwise that might make him and putin look like real shit-heels, eh.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          The Kurds and the Yazidis have co-existed with the Damascus regime for decades, McFlock. So I ask you again, which of the Jihadist groups do you want running Damascus now?

          Or are you seriously wanting to put the Kurds or the Yazidis in charge in Damascus?

          • McFlock 2.1.1.1.1

            Well, by coexisted you mean “just as likely to be shot or tortured as anyone else”, but whatever.

            As to your framing of the question, it’s bullshit. Not all opposition groups are jihadi, and not all members of jihadi groups are as jihadi as the rest. That was the major mistake the US had in Afghanistan, deciding that the “Taliban” was a single homogeneous mass that hated America.

            So the first thing you do is talk to everyone. Not every major group, everyone. Local leaders, faction leaders, religious leaders. The ones who won’t talk, you wait until they will. The ones who kill your envoys, you bomb. the ones who talk, you look for common ground. You reward the reasonable, exclude the intransigent, and bomb the nutbars. And you build infrastructure – good roads, good water, good railways, good communications.

            Actually, that approach is why the yanks are shit at empire and why the british were damned good at it until the world wars bankrupted them.

            Edit: btw, your “they’re all jihadis” argument might be more reasonable if Assad hadn’t had the support of thousands of hezbollah fighters – they’re not exactly secular /sarc

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes, Assad has the support of thousands of fighters from both Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

              However while they like Assad are Muslims, none of these soldiers are Islamic radicals/Wahhabi extremists like those supported by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and by extension the USA.

              You are aware that both Lebanon and Iran are highly liberal and democratic societies, from a Middle Eastern standpoint? And especially when compared to the likes of: Saudi Arabia and Qatar

              • McFlock

                lol

                “from a Middle Eastern standpoint”. 🙂 More weasel words.

                Glad to hear that Hezbollah and Iranian fighters aren’t “Islamic radicals”. I mean, that’ll be news to many folks in the region, but whatevs.

                • Colonial Viper

                  If you don’t culturally understand the difference between Takfiri extremists and Shia regulars from Iran and Lebanon you should bother to learn.

                  • McFlock

                    One commonality is that you labelled them by their religious beliefs and willingness to travel to another country and kill other people because of such.

                    ie not “Lebanese” regulars. Not even “Levantine” militia. And of course “extremist” and “regular” are irregular nouns.

                    It is fun watching you play with language in these discussions. Orwell would have called you double-plus good at it.

                    • Bill

                      Christ McFlock. I know you ‘like’ to joust with CV, but trashing what could be quite informative threads with daft wee jabby ‘needle points’ is fucking abysmal bullshit.

                      Tell me what the fucking difference is between armed peeps traveling from Iran to kill other peeps and armed peeps from the US flying overhead to drop bombs that are killing other peeps?

                      And the difference between them and Jihadis? ‘Cause I’m thinking that the Jihadis and the US admin have more in common than most people would like to think.

                      And the bad bastards are the Jihadis, the US admin, the Assad government, the Russian government, the Turkish government, the Iranian government, the Saudi Arabian regime, the Qatari regime…

                      Some are doubtless more justified in acting the way they’re acting – but they’re all bastards. Meanwhile, women, children and men in Syria who want fuck all to do with any of it are getting completely fucked up an fucked over.

                      But fuck all that – let’s just go all ‘black hat/white hat’ and do the old school playground nya nya nya thing on people who aren’t precisely ideologically aligned, eh? I mean, what better way could there be to test views/perspectives or get a handle on things?

                    • McFlock

                      Hey, I’m not the one blaming the US for everything. Nor am I the one claiming that every Syrian fighting Assad is a dangerous “jihadist”.

                      Comparing Tunisia or Egypt with Syria, I get the distinct impression that five years of war could have been avoided or minimised if Assad had known when to bail rather than calling in favours for support and doubling down on the totalitarianism. But really, that’s as “black hat/white hat” as I get. Except ISIS need straitjackets, they don’t get hats.

                    • Bill

                      If Assad had bailed? What about if all those foreign fucks (governmental and non-governmental) hadn’t jumped in like vultures? I seem to recall there was something about an election and promised reforms. Have I got that wrong? Or am I right in thinking that was things really got ramped up by non-Syrian actors?

                      Take a Jihadi – and yes, the so-called FSA was/is basically a rag tag of jihadi elements – and throw logistical and financial support their way while telling your own population at home, that no, it’s the good guys you’re helping out…..

                    • McFlock

                      Assad’s response was the key intervention point.

                      His opponents might or might not have gained weapons from Syrian forces anyway, and of course a major problem was giving weapons to the Iraqi army who then promptly surrendered to ISIS, who then took the tanks back to Syria. Unless you’re arguing that Assad should receive russian and Hezbollah assistance and all the opposition forces should have received none, in which case I’d be curious as to the rationale.

                      But Assad could have genuinely liberalised the government and done some social reforms (especially food and jobs) while holding onto power, or he could have taken the money and run like the Tunisian guy did. As it was he chose to remain and double-down.

                      And here we still are.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Again, McFlock supports the foreign supplied Islamist regime changers. If Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey had their way, the black ISIS flag would be run up in Damascus now.

                      Apparent colonial minded westerners think they still have the moral standing to tell other countries what to do after their own democratic successes in Iraq Afghanistan Libya

                    • Tell me what the fucking difference is between armed peeps traveling from Iran to kill other peeps and armed peeps from the US flying overhead to drop bombs that are killing other peeps?

                      Well, since you asked: one involves Shi’ite Islamist fundamentalists trying to advance religious extremism in the region as well as backing its governments’ interests in the region, and one only involves backing its government’s interests in the region. If you think real hard you can probably figure out which is which.

                    • McFlock

                      If my point was too complex for you to understand, try to avoid reducing it to an ‘if you’re not with Assad you’re with Isis’ allegation, there’s a love.

            • D'Esterre 2.1.1.1.1.2

              McFlock: “Not all opposition groups are jihadi, and not all members of jihadi groups are as jihadi as the rest.”

              What? You’re quite wrong about this, you know.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_of_Conquest

              “That was the major mistake the US had in Afghanistan, deciding that the “Taliban” was a single homogeneous mass that hated America.”

              Good grief…. You’re quite wrong about this as well. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from, but really, you need better sources.

              The Assad regime survives because it still enjoys enough popular support to do so. Note that it is secular: women can drive, go about with their hair uncovered and take an active part in public life. Clearly, this state of affairs is still one favoured by the population.

              • women can drive, go about with their hair uncovered and take an active part in public life..

                So can everyone else outside Saudi Arabia (and Iran if we restrict ourselves to head-coverings). Your ignorance of the Middle East isn’t McFlock’s fault. And SA is backing the Syrian regime’s opponents (because the regime is effectively Shi’ite) while Iran is backing the regime – is their a particular flavour of Islamist fundamentalism you find acceptable?

                • Colonial Viper

                  ” So can everyone else outside Saudi Arabia”

                  Not if you are in ISIS controlled areas of Iraq or Syria.

                  while Iran is backing the regime – is their a particular flavour of Islamist fundamentalism you find acceptable?

                  ” while Iran is backing the regime – is their a particular flavour of Islamist fundamentalism you find acceptable?”

                  Of course. Its not Takfiri Wahabbism. Iranian society allows females to drive, be university professors, join the armed forces and govern as Cabinet Ministers.

                  • As expected, it’s merely the flavour of totalitarian repression you care about. The totalitarian repression part isn’t a problem.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      i responded to your point. 3000 year old woman promoting Persian culture ahead of Saudi Turkish Qatari backed Takfiri fundamentalism plz

                • D'Esterre'

                  Psycho Milt: “And SA is backing the Syrian regime’s opponents (because the regime is effectively Shi’ite) while Iran is backing the regime – is their a particular flavour of Islamist fundamentalism you find acceptable?”

                  You miss the point: if Syrians favour the retention of the Assad regime, and countries such as Iran and Russia are willing to help them fend off the Islamist crazies, that’s their decision, not ours. What we think about it is irrelevant.

                  A comment from a member of this household: “there’s nothing to talk about with people who look at the jihadis with their pube-beards and don’t instinctively sympathise with whoever’s killing them.”

                  I can’t find anything to disagree with in that statement.

    • Garibaldi 2.2

      McFlock the Russians have done sterling work against ISIS – far more effectively than the Americans. You want democracy in Syria -right? Well guess who the people of Syria want? Here’s a clue – it certainly doesn’t involve America.

      • McFlock 2.2.1

        Yeah, it’s amazing how effective you can be if you’re not worried about bombing apartment blocks or hospitals, repeatedly.

        And for a lot of Syrians, they don’t want Assad, the russians, or the Iranians either.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          Dozens killed in US airstrikes in Syria” July 20

          http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/led-air-strikes-kill-21-civilians-syria-160719045329897.html

          And for a lot of Syrians, they don’t want Assad, the russians, or the Iranians either.

          However, they’ll choose Assad any day ahead of the head chopping burn alive sex slaving Islamic extremists supported by NATO member Turkey, and long time US allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

          • McFlock 2.2.1.1.1

            Got comparable stats for Russian airstrikes?

            As for what Syrians would prefer, Assad and the Russians also bomb the Syrians who tick “neither”.

            • RedLogix 2.2.1.1.1.1

              I’m with CV on this; it’s a bit like the US Presidential election, Assad is an absolute arse, but still better than the other guys.

              This is the thing about war .. there will be no angels and the winners will usually be the most ruthless bastards of the lot. Think of Churchill; the Poms while grudgingly grateful for his wartime leadership, voted him out the first chance they got.

              Those of us sitting safely on the other side of the world with no skin in the game have little moral authority to make much in the way of judgement.

              • McFlock

                In 2011/2012 I’d probably have agreed (especially if Assad had thrown the folks a bone or some food), but I suspect that Syria is going the way of Yugoslavia.

                For example I read somewhere that (much as I tend to sympathise with them) the Kurds have been a bit dodgy when liberating towns and villages from ISIS – predominantly Kurdish villages are captured intact, whereas predominantly Arab villages are bulldozed “because of IEDs”.

                This sort of sectarianism will probably result in some quasi-autonomous regions or full independence for some areas within Syria when peace finally comes.

                • Colonial Viper

                  In 2011/2012 I’d probably have agreed (especially if Assad had thrown the folks a bone or some food), but I suspect that Syria is going the way of Yugoslavia.

                  That was part of the grand plan, that with a mix of failed warlord state like Libya. Which would result in a weak territory breeding more terrorist training grounds, destabilising Iran, Lebanon and Russia.

                  That is, until Russia intervened.

                  • McFlock

                    Sorry, I didn’t know you had a copy of the “grand plan” 🙄

                    Unstable Syria does nobody any good. It fucks with every single one of its neighbours, and then the next neighbours over.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Don’t act so nieve McFlock.

                      A failed state Syria is of huge help to the regional goals of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, particularly in damaging Iran with a hot bed of Sunni Takfiri extremism. It also ends Assad’s resistance to Qatari pipelines crossing the country.

              • Colonial Viper

                McFlock consistently avoids mentioning the fact that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have, with both tacit and active US approval, flooded Syria with foreign fighters and arms in an effort to regime change Damascus. And that if Assad had fallen at any time in the last 3 years, the black ISIS flag would have been run up over the city and Sharia law enforced throughout the land.

                • McFlock

                  And if Assad had helicoptered to Switzerland four or five years ago, there’d probably be some measure of stability and a moderate or even secular government in control.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Not surprised that you would support foreign powers instituting undemocratic, unconstitutional regime change by any means necessary.

                    • McFlock

                      Yeah, because there were absolutely no internal stresses inside Syria that would have caused rebellion in 2010/2011. It must have been all the US and the Saudi’s fault. Everywhere else in the Middle East was perfectly fine /sarc 🙄

                    • Colonial Viper

                      In 2010/2011 the US and NATO were busy turning the richest secular country in Africa, Libya, into a failed state.

                    • McFlock

                      Indeed.
                      Open your blinkers a little wider. Go on, you can do it. What was going on in the middle east in 2010/2011? Any other issues at all? Dig deep, you can figure it out…

                    • Bill

                      A huge internal fucking crisis caused by severe drought that had forced people off the land and into urban centers.

                      Dislocation, food price spikes…and then some opportunistic foreign backed wankers taking advantage of that, spring-boarding off events elsewhere and causing mayhem in border towns.

                      That was then picked up by “our media” and sold to us as bona fide resistance to the Assad regime…cue the further meddling after that line had been safely sold to us and then, as always, the snowballing.

                      I know you don’t want any of that being referred to. Black hat/white hat and no-one in the West is gullible or culpable. It’s a nice story.

                      What do you reckon would have been happening across the region is, instead of speculators shoving the price of staples beyond reach, futures trading on those things had been unlawful and the plentiful global supply of wheat etc had been distributed to people who were in need?

                      Yeah, yeah, I know. I get it. Black hat/white hat and no-one in the West…

                    • McFlock

                      Actually, Bill, I agree with pretty much your entire comment.

                    • Bill

                      So McFlock, if you broadly agree with that, then what’s with all the other comments you’ve made that are essentially just point scoring clap trap?

                      You took sides in what is essentially a false dichotomy, when it seems you know it’s false. What’s that about?

                    • McFlock

                      You might read it as point scoring.

                      I tried to express it as pointing out that the situation is much more complex than ‘the US and Saudis are solely responsible for the situation, and everyone who opposes Assad is a flag-carrying ISIS fanatic’, which is how CV frames the discussion.

                    • That was then picked up by “our media” and sold to us as bona fide resistance to the Assad regime…

                      Oh, right. Read some of Fisk’s stuff on Assad’s regime, and then see if you still think the people who started this uprising were lacking “bona fides.” This shit is contemptible.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Thousands of foreign Islamist fighters from France, Qatar to Germany were facilitated into Syria.

                      Their bona fides are of head chopping Takfiri foreigners.

                  • D'Esterre'

                    McFlock: “And if Assad had helicoptered to Switzerland four or five years ago, there’d probably be some measure of stability and a moderate or even secular government in control.

                  • D'Esterre'

                    McFlock: “And if Assad had helicoptered to Switzerland four or five years ago, there’d probably be some measure of stability and a moderate or even secular government in control.”

                    Nope. The Assad regime is secular. If he’d bailed out then, the black flag would now be flying over Damascus. Bet your bottom dollar on it.

                    • McFlock

                      the black flag would now be flying over Damascus.

                      It’s a nice line, I can see why you guys like it. It’s almost as pithy as “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”, and about as accurate.

                      Five years ago, ISIL barely existed as an AQ affiliate in Iraq, and had zero to fuckall presence in Syria.

                      Five years ago, the Syrian national, regional and local power structures were largely intact. Now they’re fractured and duplicated amongst the various factions, meaning restabilising requires multilevel power transitions. Hence my suspicion that “Syria” as a national entity is going the way of Yugoslavia.

            • dave brown 2.2.1.1.1.2

              The Syrian revolution is not about how palatable this or that militia is to Western liberals who conveniently overlook the role of the West in destroying countries that do not submit to its interests, but what it means to the Syrian people.

              The popular revolution is not in the pay of the US or its proxies (including the jihadist gangs funded by the West) but reflects the will of the people for democracy. It has rejected all offers of a negotiated settlement that does not include the end of Assad.

              The US and Russia are now in agreement that Assad can stay for now, so there is no possibility of a permanent ceasefire.

              Both have their own interests beyond suppressing the popular revolution which are in Russia’s case creating a bloc of client states from Syria to Iran, which may shortly include Turkey, and in the US case, the creation of a Kurdish client state that spans parts of Syria and Iraq (if not parts of Turkey and Iran) to join its bloc of states from Israel to Bahrain.

              The war in Syria is just the most vicious aspect of a re-partition of the Middle East that reflects the decline of the US imperialist bloc and the rise of the Russia/China imperialist bloc.

              Meanwhile the genocidal war continues with the systematic bombing and gassing of hundreds of civilians every day. The LCCs (see below) document the killings all over Syria each day. Despite this, as the breaking of the siege of Aleppo shows, the popular revolution against the Assad regime continues.

              Local Coordination Committees in Syria

              By the end of Saturday 20 August 2016, LCC has documented the fall of 90 martyrs in Syria including 12 children and 8 women.
              53 martyrs were reported in Aleppo , most of them were killed due to airstrikes on Qabtan Jabal, Kafrjoum and Orm Kubra or by explosions of land mines set by ISIS in Manbej city, 9 in Daraa , mostly killed due to Assad’s forces shelling on the liberated neighborhoods in the city with surface-to-surface missiles, 8 in Homs , 8 in Damascus and its Suburbs, 5 in Idlib , 5 in Hama and 2 in Deir_Ezzor


              لجان التنسيق المحلية في سوريا
              13 hrs · · World News · Politics

              Local Coordination Committees in Syria
              By the end of Saturday 20 August 2016, LCC has documented the fall of 90 martyrs in Syria including 12 children and 8 women.
              53 martyrs were reported in ‪#‎Aleppo‬, most of them were killed due to airstrikes on ‪#‎Qabtan_Jabal‬ ‪#‎Kafrjoum‬ and ‪#‎Orm_Kubra‬ or by explosions of land mines set by ISIS in ‪#‎Manbej‬ city, 9 in ‪#‎Daraa‬, mostly killed due to Assad’s forces shelling on the liberated neighborhoods in the city with surface-to-surface missiles, 8 in ‪#‎Homs‬, 8 in ‪#‎Damascus‬-and-its-Suburbs, 5 in ‪#‎Idlib‬, 5 in ‪#‎Hama‬ and 2 in ‪#‎Deir_Ezzor‬

      • Psycho Milt 2.2.2

        McFlock the Russians have done sterling work against ISIS…

        …if you listen to Russian propaganda. If you extend your news info beyond Russian propaganda, it turns out the Russians have done sterling work against opponents of the Assad regime regardless of whether Da’esh is involved or not, including the ones running hospitals.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.1

          Gullible you still believes that there are “moderate terrorists” fighting against Assad???

    • D'Esterre 2.3

      McFlock: “so the russians might store strategic bombers and nukes there from time to time.”

      Just as the US has done at Incirlik air base in Turkey. In fact, last I heard, said nukes are still there. Which will no doubt make for interesting times when, under the conditions of the new detente with Turkey, Russia asks for permission to use Incirlik. As I’m sure it will.

      “The thing about Syrian and Russian objectives is that they aren’t focused on defeating ISIS, as you tried to frame it. They’re about eliminating all opposition to Assad, including people who legitiamtely only wanted to tell a murdering regime to fuck off.”

      It seems that you’re wilfully ignoring – or do not wish to believe – the indisputable fact that the opposition to the Assad regime is entirely jihadist, of which ISIS is a large part.

      Here’s a thumbnail sketch – shorn of all the nuance and detail – of the genesis of the war in Syria: it began with a popular uprising, in part brought about by the effects on the populace of economic reforms and prolonged drought in the area, though the proximate trigger was a quite different event (as is so often the way in such events). The regime initially reacted with violent repression, though it did later offer some democratic reforms.

      However, armed opposition got a head of steam, and almost immediately morphed into a jihad. Here’s a little list:
      Jaish el Fateh
      Ahrar al Sham
      Jaish el Sham (formerly al-qaeda)
      These are all big and vicious jihadi gangs, all allied with the putative ‘Free Syria Army’.

      If I were to take a guess at the reason for the continuing support of Assad, I’d say that the populace has decided that, while Assad isn’t too lovely, they’ve now seen what’s worse: ISIS and its jihadi hangers-on. At least the Assad regime is secular.

      • Colonial Viper 2.3.1

        Members of these same Islamist groups become “moderate” for the purposes of receiving help from Western allies. The day after receiving their supplies they are back doing their Takfiri head chopping and sex slaving.

        “The thing about Syrian and Russian objectives is that they aren’t focused on defeating ISIS, as you tried to frame it. They’re about eliminating all opposition to Assad, including people who legitiamtely only wanted to tell a murdering regime to fuck off.”

        Russia has repeatedly asked the US to identify and define the opposition fighting groups in Syria that it defines as moderate, non-terrorist organisations.

        The US has always refused.

        So now Russia attacks any and all of them who continue to take up arms against the Damascus government.

        Russia has now also directly attacked the secret bases in Syria that US and UK special forces soldiers illegally operate out of.

        This is part of what makes Syria a very dangerous flash point for the world.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3704173/Russia-DELIBERATELY-bombs-secret-military-base-Syria-used-elite-American-British-forces.html

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3704173/Russia-DELIBERATELY-bombs-secret-military-base-Syria-used-elite-American-British-forces.html

      • McFlock 2.3.2

        What you say about the American forces in turkey is completely correct. And if the yanks had used Russian weasel words he would have ripped shit out of them. Because it was Russia he took it at face value.

        And your “fact” is only indisputable if you need to justify bombing kurds and yazidis and anyone else who opposes assad. As soon as you recognise that the opposition is more diverse than just being isis the Russian bombing looks a bit fucked.

        • Bill 2.3.2.1

          Depending on which Kurds you’re referring to, they are bombed by Turkey and attacked by the Daesh. The Yazidis were fucked over by Daesh when the Kurdish forces from Iraq left them to fend for themselves. Kurds from the Rojava region then saved them with the aid of US air cover. The US then stood back while Turkey bombed them (the Kurds in Rojava).

          And then there is all that shit around the Kurds in Rojava being seen as belonging to a designated terrorist organisation (the PKK).

          And just as an aside, I’m pretty sure that the Rojavans are not fighting against Assad’s military. They have said they want autonomy (not a state) and will abide by Syrian law (with caveats).

          But sure, Russia bad. Assad bad. Or is it US bad. Daesh bad? Whatever, picking sides as though there are two sides to choose from is a really good way to make sure that nothing is understood .and that the confusion is used by bad bastards bent on mayhem and murder.

  3. Ad 3

    I don’t see either US Presidential candidate with a helpful plan for Syria. I do think NATO’s Turkish membership needs a kick up the ass if it’s going to play both sides.

    The Turkish shifts with Russia were more unexpected to me than the Iran-Russian ones. It’s just survived being fully ruled by the military, but still seems to accept its massive military needs to be fully flexing its muscle now.

    Syria is another place I think Obama’s far more cautious view of broad military intervention is spot on. The US will always be hampered in this conflict because the global media hold the US to a far higher moral standard than any other major actor. Kerry is so spent for overplaying his position too early. A great time for the US to shut up, show humility, and accept a diminished role that supports a broader UN-based mandate.

    We are slightly closer to seeing the end of this war – but still far too early to see an outcome resembling stability.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Obama’s cautious approach to Syria and not wanting to repeat an Iraq has been a credit to him.

    • Garibaldi 3.2

      I think Turkey is at a crossroads. After years of falling all over themselves to get into the EU I think they now realize that that horse has bolted and Russia has the potential to be a better ” friend ” than Europe – the old wiifm. Hopefully they will have to leave NATO.
      The basic big problem of the area is still the Sunni bloc vs the Shiites. It is certainly not going to be solved by the bungling Americans and, in all honesty, the Americans should stop supporting the bloody awful Saudi Arabians ( ISIS funders and Yemen slaughterers).
      The odds are stacked heavily against the Shiites. Make no mistake , the only reason the Americans want Assad out is to have a go at Iran. In that light I think Russia has a better chance in the area than “pax Americana”.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Erdogan is convinced that the US supported the coup attempt against him. That’s going to put a permanent damper on how his government relates to the west.

        Also, western European politicians will never ever accept the increasingly Islamic and undemocratic state of Turkey to enter the EU.

        Erdogan also knows this.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Russia is a busted flush. It’s incredibly corrupt economy is smaller than Australia. It is a pygmy power with tons of left over nukes. It simply lacks the power to do be a major player in the Middle East.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Hi Sanctuary, how does it compare with the corruption of the Clinton Foundation, and the ‘pay for play’ US State Department under Sec Clinton’s leadership?

      • Wayne 4.1.1

        Where exactly does the UN fit into this discussion on Syria?

        Reading from what I can of the views of the some of the commentators is that the desired outcome is that Turkey leaves NATO and Russia gets to fully support Assad backed by Turkey.

        Presumably the US gets to permanently deal to ISIS, as a crumb from the table.

        So the outcome for Syria is Assad governing his country, the Kurdish part excepted, who then of course get bombed by Turkey.

        No doubt if you prefer Putin to Obama/Clinton, this is seen as a good outcome.

        I guess some of commentators also hoped that the USSR won the Cold War, on the basis that USSR was much better for the world than the USA.

        So on that basis Assad is also good for Syria and thus should be supported at every opportunity, barrel bombs and all. Apparently not view shared by several million Syrian refugees.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          They mostly fled the famine, and the Takfiri Saudi Wahabi derived head choppers sponsored by US Nato allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

          • Psycho Milt 4.1.1.1.1

            Of course – after all, why would we take their word for it when you have such a better understanding of their motivation?

            • marty mars 4.1.1.1.1.1

              bit rough there psycho, cv is well up to speed on what he thinks – the refugees would be too traumatised to even know what they want – better to take the high view, the big picture, rather than the word of someones who could just say anything really /sarc

              • Colonial Viper

                Happy for you to point me to any survey of the 4 million plus Syrian refugees now in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey on what they want in terms of government at home.

                Or maybe you and Psycho Milt are both making big as assumptions.

                These Syrian refugees know better than anyone that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been pumping in foreign fighters, arms and money into their provinces, while the US and Europe have been watching it all happen under their noses.

                There’s a reason that the US will not allow a political process involving democratic elections in Syria – Assad would win hands down vs the 101 flavours of Jihadists that the US allies support.

                • You are a zealot — I voluntarily chose to leave you to it as I self ban from this post ☺

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Sorry to see you go Marty Mars; also feel that you should not think of non-westernised non-corporate driven MSM perspectives as zealotry.

                    • I just don’t know enough and I know it and I realize no one knows and so it becomes a very westernized debate of a number of I don’t knows speaking as if they do know. Good luck.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Thank you Marty Mars.

                      Personally I feel that Syria should be declared a military demobilised zone, all foreign jihadists ejected, Assad transitioned out of his Executive role within 12 months of the ceasation of hostilities, and democratic elections run.

                      It is crucial that Syria retains a sovereign secular government, and that ISIS doesn’t get to run its black flag up over Damascus.

        • D'Esterre' 4.1.1.2

          Wayne: “desired outcome is that Turkey leaves NATO and Russia gets to fully support Assad backed by Turkey. ”

          I think that Turkey’s situation vis a vis NATO is more complex than just a straight out exit, at this stage anyway. It seems likely, however, that entry to the EU just got a bit more problematic.

          With regard to Russia’s support of Assad, this shouldn’t surprise anyone; Russia has long had interests in that part of the world. And it was invited in by the Assad regime – which remains legitimate. It is no more exceptionable that it would come to the defence of an ally than it is for the US to unconditionally support Israel as it does.

          “I guess some of commentators also hoped that the USSR won the Cold War, on the basis that USSR was much better for the world than the USA. ”

          Really, talk of who “won” the cold war sounds suspiciously like propaganda. Nobody won or lost: it just fizzled out. Though of course the fall of communism took the CIA completely by surprise; I recall a joke circulating some years back, that the CIA was still waiting for confirmation of it. Which does explain so much…

          “No doubt if you prefer Putin to Obama/Clinton, this is seen as a good outcome.”

          What’s your issue with Putin? Have you fallen victim to the anti-Russian propaganda of which the US and the UK are unable to let go?

          “So on that basis Assad is also good for Syria and thus should be supported at every opportunity, barrel bombs and all. Apparently not view shared by several million Syrian refugees.”

          I’ve seen no evidence that anyone knows what the refugees think about the governance of their country. I guess that we – or some of us, anyway, on the basis of our own circumstances – could put ourselves in their shoes and conclude that they’d like to go back home, all other things being equal. They fled war, remember? And, more recently, the egregious crimes of ISIS crazies and their jihadist buddies. Some may wish to see Assad stay, others to see him go. He still enjoys considerable support among the remaining population: were that not the case, he’d have been gone before now. But it’s their decision to make, not that of Western nations, who’ve made such a pig’s ear of intervention in that part of the world.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.1

            The US has steadfastly refused to endorse a political process which includes internationally supervised elections held in Damascus. They have a precondition that Assad must first go, and cannot stand in an election i.e. the Syrian people can select between the choices that the US approves of.

    • Stuart Munro 4.2

      Russia still has a relatively large and well-trained military that it seems to like to use. Syria is a curious choice of ally, having comparatively little oil wealth – but bases there give Russia a Mediterranean port and a land entry point into the middle east. Killing ‘chorniy jopa’ will not trouble ‘The Liberators’ at all.

      • Garibaldi 4.2.1

        All you suckers for the lovely peaceful world that American Foreign Policy has delivered ( in the name of democracy for all and sundry to live in perfect bliss) should take your blinkers off and see the USA for what it really has become. It is not what your obviously strongly held dogmas hold it to be. I suppose you still think they did the right thing in Vietnam.

        • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.1

          Yes Russia will now launch military ops up to 100 to 1,000 km from its own borders in order to tamp down the brushfires of chaos, Islamism and instability that the West keeps trying to light everywhere around it.

    • D'Esterre 4.3

      Sanctuary: ” Russia is a busted flush. It’s incredibly corrupt economy is smaller than Australia. It is a pygmy power with tons of left over nukes. It simply lacks the power to do be a major player in the Middle East.”

      Ha! How is it, then, that the US and the UK in particular persist with their shrill anti-Russian, cold war invective, and sabre-rattling in Russia’s near abroad – Ukraine being a salient example?

      If Russia were no longer perceived as an existential threat to US interests in particular, the US could abandon the pretence that the cold war is extant, swallow its pride and collaborate on a diplomatic solution to the problems of the middle east.

      I doubt that’ll happen though. US foreign policy seems to be based on a sort of Disneyland worldview. I’d characterise it as Hollywood (black hat, white hat, happy endings through adversity, pursue the American dream), except that even Hollywood has moments of insight and self-parody.

  5. DoublePlusGood 5

    Hmm. Very complex geopolitical situation.
    The US can help sort it out though, by:
    – Leaving the whole region
    – Reducing their military spending
    – Stopping funding their terrorist allies in the region, including those that are countries

  6. Xanthe 6

    sorry for being a pedant but I cant help thinking it should be the flash point just got flash pointier

  7. swordfish 7

    “Perhaps what is needed now, is a far sighted US President who is willing to work directly with President Putin, to get rid of the scourge that ISIS represents to both the civilised Western and Islamic worlds.”

    Hillary, of course, – vastly more at ease than Obama with the idea of perpetual war, closely aligned with key neo-conservatives and State Dept “dissidents” and having learned absolutely bloody zilch from the chaos and violence she unleashed in Libya as Sec of State – will be heading off in the opposite direction.

    The heart of her Middle East policy shift starts (ironically enough) from a critique that Obama placed too much emphasis on countering ISIL. Backed by the Kill Assad Now Coalition – Neo-conservatives, the Israeli Govt, the Hillary wing of the State Department and brutal Absolute Monarchs of the Gulf- she’ll be prioritising Regime Change.

    No wonder the Paul Wolfowitzes, Robert Kagans and John D. Negropontes are delighted to join the Hillary camp. As are the Jihadist “moderate” opposition, no doubt hoping to be rescued and revitalised by a Clinton Presidency.

  8. Gerald 8

    Whats the future for the little boy? I believe that his older brother as now died, the boy and many like him will grow up with little choice other than to be a fighter having been conditioned to violence from such a young age. So look at the face of a future killer and reflect on who created him.

  9. joe90 9

    In this wide ranging Asharq Al-Awsat* interview (google translation) Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu states Turkey has it’s own way of doing things, regards herself as part of Europe and Assad must go.

    Compare and contrast with the once over lightly English version-

    http://english.aawsat.com/2016/08/article55356705/turkish-fm-relations-russia-wont-change-stance-assad

    [Asharq Al-Awsat is Arabic language London based Saudi owned]*

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asharq_Al-Awsat

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  • Nobody Left Behind.
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  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
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  • Abortion law reform a win for women
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  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
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    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
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  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
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  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
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  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
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  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
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  • 68-51
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    2 weeks ago
  • The ‘herd immunity’ route to fighting coronavirus is unethical and potentially dangerous
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    2 weeks ago
  • Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers
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    2 weeks ago

  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
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    17 hours ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
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    3 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
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    3 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
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    3 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
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    3 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
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    4 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
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    5 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
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    5 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
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    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
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    5 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
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    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
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    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
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    6 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
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    7 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
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    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
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    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
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    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
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    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
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    1 week ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $100 million to redeploy workers
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More support for wood processing
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt steps in to protect Air New Zealand
    The Coalition Government has stepped in to protect Air New Zealand with a significant financial deal that protects essential routes and allows the company to keep operating. The Government and Air New Zealand have agreed a debt funding agreement through commercial 24-month loan facilities of up to $900 million*. The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
    The Government has taken further measures to protect New Zealanders from the COVID-19 virus, effectively stopping all people from boarding a plane to New Zealand from 11:59pm today, except for returning New Zealanders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.  New Zealanders’ partners, legal guardians or any dependent children travelling with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Action on indoor gatherings and events to protect public health
    The Government has reinforced its commitment to protecting the health of New Zealanders from COVID-19 through the cancellation of indoor events with more than 100 people.  “Protecting the health of New Zealanders is our number one priority, and that means we need to reduce the risks associated with large gatherings,” ...
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    2 weeks ago