Syria: links

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Nothing much happening at Strange Times so I’m hoping to kick-start some new links to information and analysis – and discussion – about Syria.

Hoping to set this up as a separate page soon. But for now… contributions welcome.

Just to start things off:

  • The ceasefire, which some people regarded as doomed to failure before it had even started, has been working, in the main, for nearly six weeks now. It has provided breathing space, with parts of Syria under rebel control able to commence reorganisation of their localities. For the first time in years, Syrians have been able to take to the streets again demanding the regime’s overthrow. Some humanitarian aid is getting through where needed, but this is still a problem area in places where the regime is obstructing aid delivery – and further isolating itself (and strengthening the case for miltiary intervention on the side of the pro-democratic forces).
  • Assad is increasingly isolated, with Putin looking for a way out and supporting the UN transitional plan; a plan that means the end of Assad’s rule.
  • The next round of talks might happen within a week. The co-ordinator for the Higher Negotiation Committee has said that there is no international will, especially from the US, which means that the rebels continue to want greater international involvement and support, especially from the US.
  • As the talks progress and the regime remains more intransigent and isolated, the need for some form of military ‘boots on the ground’ will become more acceptable as a way of resolving the situation and allowing the transition’s timetable to be followed in an effective way. A ‘coalition of the willing’ will be required to ensure that the terms of the transition are enforced, and that the Syrian people will be able to assert their sovereignty in free and fair democratic elections as aimed for in the timetable.


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11 thoughts on “Syria: links

  1. I think that’s a good summary. Sorry I haven’t been able to follow Syria news in detail for a while and won’t be able to until at least May.

    The linked Declaration.pdf from Alawite religious leaders looked very significant although so long I haven’t had time to finish reading it.

    Sorry I don’t have links, but the ability to organize actual government in areas outside of regime control without disruption by regime attacks is the most important thing about the ceasefire. Not being able to stop that means the regime cannot last and its supporters as well as opponents will know it. They were bombarding civilians for a reason, not just out of malice. The reason was to prevent a viable alternative government emerging, which will now happen. Links about that process would be especially useful.

    BTW the link re street demonstrations describes their importance in rolling back Al Qaeda in areas outside regime control. They don’t have to “take to the streets” demanding the Assad regime’s overthrow in those areas, the real target is the local Al Qaeda regime.

    Re Daesh, that is still the overwhelming focus of the media (which cannot even use its name correctly) but its refreshing to see it correctly regarded as a side issue. Actually suppressing Daesh first requires removing its main source of recruitment – the Assad regime and the Western lack of solidarity with the Syrian people against it.

    Al Qaeda will probably remain a bigger problem than Daesh in Syria in the longer run as by fighting both Daesh and the Assad regime they have strong connections with the Syrian fighters despite their hostility to democracy (and even stronger connections to the more anti-democratic but militarily stronger Salafi forces like Ahrar ash-Sham).

    Discussion of Western intervention is exclusively being posed in terms of fighting Daesh and Al Qaeda. But the most urgent need will be for peacekeepers and peacemakers enforcing the ceasefire and transition from Assad regime.


  2. Just listened to Chilcot long public statement public statement and verified from text after downloading.

    To understand abysmal western inaction over Syria it is important to understand the abysmally stupid mainstream summing up of Iraq as expressed by Chilcot.

    It would be well worth writing a response as it provides a concrete “official” target for polemics. Unfortunately I don’t expect to be able to do so.

    However I cannot resist pointing out one “howler” that seems to reflect genuine stupidity rather than the inevitable consequence of nobody presenting the actual basis for the war and just pontification the conventional wisdom about it.

    According to Chilcot:

    “During December [2002], however, President Bush decided that inspections would not
    achieve the desired result; the US would take military action in early 2003.
    By early January, Mr Blair had also concluded that “the likelihood was war”.”

    In the preceding few sentences he had mentioned a few of the many very well known bits of evidence that in fact both the US decision to go to war and the UK decision to join them had been made long before.

    But what is completely bizarre is the reference to December 2002 and early January 2003. In fact the US decision was PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED in October by the Congressional authorization. I vividly remember only then feeling relieved that the administration policy would actually be carried out as having obtained the authorization (on the ludicrous basis that it would encourage a stronger stand by the UN Security Council and thus make it less likely an invasion would be needed to “make Sadaam disarm”) meant there was now NOTHING that could prevent the invasion policy advocated publicly by the administration from at least May being carried out.

    It is simply absurd to suggest that either Bush or Blair “decided” or “concluded” anything months later rather than well in advance of Congress actually AUTHORIZING. Nobody seriously following events at the time could fail to understand that war was now inevitable. Millions of people opposed to it took to the streets with pathetic expressions of impotence like “Not in my name” knowing that there was nothing they could do to stop what was already inevitable (and believing all kinds of nonsense about the consequences – carpet bombing of Iraqi civilians etc etc).

    As far as I can see ignoring the US Congressional authorization does not assist the Chilcot conventional wisdom narrative at all. So I think it is genuine IGNORANCE and STUPIDITY.


  3. It might be better to continue here. After all, your views are right at the top and this thread at your personal blog that had been going for some years was in direct response to Arthur’s refusal to post his thoughts at ST. You will recall my substantive effort at Jan 13 4:52 and you made your comment at 5:55 then Arthur asked ‘Barry and David would you…’ set something like this thread up because patrick as demonstrated above is insufferable. Neither of you did but Arthur would no longer play. Then you posted a few more comments Jan 16 and 23 and Feb 26 at ST and we then get to March 5 7.06 and 8.23 where Arthur say explicitly that ‘Yes’ he has thoughts but still waiting for a suitable place to comment!! Ah yes. After that there was nothing more from you on the old ST thread but this post you thoughtfully provided and Arthur could play again.

    BUT the line as you spell it out here was being day by day bombed of the face of planet earth. So even you could not pretend to keep your end of this debate going even in your own play pen and this is where the 1/2 theory died! The last comment from Arthur just mentions Iraq! You all knew by then that his thinking that you backed as above was utter crap.

    You now pretend you did not think any of this!

    Well you never thought to continue this glorious thread and we can all see why. Because what you thought was and would happen did not. What I thought was happening did happen!

    I have not stopped posting notes about events in Syria over this period. You, Arthur and David stopped because of the HIRISE bombing. Now the US tell us that perhaps 80% of the effective strength of the ‘Assad’ forces are in fact Iranian. Well that is not strictly true but it is what I was pointing out from day 1.

    You never stopped posting because I convinced you of anything that is quite clear and I never bothered you here. You could point to something (if it were there) but like the dog that did not bark it isn’t here. None of you had the good sense to turn around and walk back from where you took this issue. By the time you posted this the 1/2 theory and conduct that went with it was 6 months old and this is not what I was buying or going to bother with. Now all this time later you are posting excerpts from Yassin and pretending that you never thought anything! Well you are half right. I wonder whatever happened to the people that used to post their thoughts at ST???


  4. BTW as this is the Syrian links thread it looks like the Turks are about to launch ‘Sword’
    then a call to Putin
    this has been building for awhile and I though some time back that the Russians had dumped their effort to be good buddies with the Kurds. They pulled out from the Manbij pocket ‘separation deployment’ . So looks like the Turks are now delivering on their side of the deal where they waited for the US to clear Raqqa and are now going to deal with the Kurds west of the Euphrates. Pity, but this slab of Syria is vital for Turkey if they see themselves as at war within Turkey against the PKK Kurds and they do. I hope this is bluff, but I don’t think it is. The Russians are getting out of the way and have done some deal


  5. Given the current news re Syria, some analysis from those who thought Russia turning up in Sep/2015 was to end the regime of Assad and thus end the war might be expected. Not holding my breath mind.


  6. Given what is all over the current news I will just remind people of the thinking that was presented on October 9 2015.

    ‘The Moskva, with 64 S-300 advanced long range (150km) ship to air missiles should never have been let in to the Mediterranean.

    If willing to shoot down British and French aircraft it could indeed prevent them independently establishing a No Fly Zone (or at least the more important one for the south as already advocated by ICG).

    Of course that is a long way from actually deploying the latest surface to air versions to Assad regime forces who WOULD as opposed to COULD use them, which would also take quite a while for handover and training. But it was criminal negligence not to prevent their arrival.

    …Unless of course they are absolutely certain something else is going on…’

    Guess what is being supplied to the Assad regime now? If it was bad then well it’s not good now.

    I also note that when Putin sent special forces into Britain to kill people with chemical weapons at least that drew some small interest here. As for new thinking on Syria…

    I think that revolutionary communists ought to have a think about the way that Russia and the others in HIRISE are carrying on.


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