Beyond the Cusp

June 5, 2016

Final Weeds in the MENA Garden, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Iran

 

In a nutshell Syria has a fair measure of the powers in play in the Middle East and into North Africa. In addition we will also need to mention areas centered on Nigeria where Boko Haram is centrally located making war on Nigeria and all her neighboring states. Then there is Yemen and two straits, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz which are all parts of the Iranian designs which start with the Shiite Crescent from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and control of the two most important waterway choke points in the Middle East affecting everything from the eastern tip of Asia to the Western tip of Europe including the British Isles. But it all starts with Syria and the last block to the Shiite Crescent.

 

Iran sits conveniently at the eastern edge just beyond the Arab Muslim Empire and as such is mostly a different peoples east of the Zagros Mountains which have served as a defensive barrier thousands of years. This was the secret of the Persians and why despite falling to Islam they remained separate and distinct. Still, if Iran was ever to claim the right as the head of a Caliphate they were going to need to establish two things, a connection unobstructed to the Mediterranean Sea and thus full access to North Africa and South Europe and a mass alteration of Islam making Shia Islam dominant over Sunni Islam. The first is a major step towards the second. The hope was once Iran had access to the Mediterranean cutting across the Middle East gaining direct or implied control over much of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon they would appear, as Islam claims to be the superior, the strong horse and thus could influence many that Sunni Islam was weak and Shia Islam was dominant and thus start the conversion of Sunni Muslims to Shia Islam and thus become the dominant force reestablishing both the historic Persian Empire and taking over the new Caliphate and the lead position over nearly two-billion Muslims.

 

Iran had taken control of Lebanon when they took sponsorship of Hezballah which initially was a universally recognized terror group which was fighting the Christian militias and had also fought against the IDF using terrorist strikes in an attempt to wear Israel down and force their capitulation and return to south of the recognized international border known as the Blue Line. Eventually a left leaning government bent to the protests and declared an end to what they called a tragic period in Israeli history completely forgetting the reasons, the valid reason that brought Israel into southern Lebanon. Israel replied to the hue and cry of the Christians of southern Lebanon as Syrian troops invaded Lebanon aiding Hezballah who were facing being slaughtered and Israel responded to an intense threat of a human disaster in the making as had already been committed to the initial Christian communities near the Syrian border. Israel, Ariel Sharon in particular, was blamed for a revenge strike on Sabra and Shatila massacring the Muslims which were carried out by the Christian militias and not the IDF. Still the world could not blame the Christian militias as they were irregular fighters and as such were not sufficiently organized with a command structure and as such their silence made finding those responsible became impossible so the work picked the next best thing, Israel. Europe had what seems like a default setting that if it happens in the Middle East, then when in doubt, blame Israel.

 

Once Israel retreated from southern Lebanon the Lebanese military was supposed to move in with United Nations oversight. Neither occurred and in many instances the United Nations aided Hezballah in their efforts to set up a series of tunnels as well as arms caches and command and control bunkers. This eventually led to another Israeli incursion into Lebanon after Hezballah kidnapped, and subsequently murdered three Israeli soldiers and killed five other soldiers at the point of the ambush inside Israel when they caught a patrol vehicle off guard and unsuspecting any incursion across the border from Lebanon. Iran uses Hezballah as their threat against Israel and has armed them to a point which is truly frightening as Iran has stocked Hezballah with at least one-hundred plus long range missiles and uncountable limited range rockets which have as much as a fifty kilometer range. Amongst the longer range missiles are stores of Zilzal-2 and Fateh-110 provided by Iran bringing them into Damascus and shipping them over land often on their own mobile vehicles. This is the threat Iran would threaten to unleash on Israel had Israel actually struck at Iranian nuclear sites and likely will be the first strike against Israel whenever Iran decides that they will attack the Jewish homeland. The total is well over two-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles from ten to twenty kilometer Grads, Fajr series, Shahab series and Ghadr missiles. Then there are the mid-range Scud series of ballistic rockets and then the more advanced guided missiles which the most advanced has two stages and Iran can strike Israel from Iran with these longer range Missiles so Lebanon can not only strike Israel but also northern Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as all of Turkey and anywhere within Syria or Jordan and much of Iraq. With these longest range missiles stationed in Iran and Lebanon the range brings them to command coverage over the entire Middle East and beyond, a definite threat to the heart of Sunni Islam, exactly what Iran envisioned as their way to claim command over all of Israel. Their problem, Syria collapsed and nobody can claim complete control over Syria as well as over Iraq, the two breaking Iran’s Shiite Crescent in two.

 

Iran is not the only outside power with an interest in Syria. The most straight forward national interest belongs to the Russians who have one main port at Latakia and potential other locations along the Mediterranean shoreline which provides them a warm water port with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. The Russian plan is likely to reposition a fair share of their Black Sea naval forces to the Syrian ports thus placing them beyond the Bosphorus which could easily be closed any time that Turkey might decide they are upset with the Russians. The teetering of the relationship between Turkey and Russia became very evident a few months ago when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet claiming it had flown into Turkish air space, something very likely as Russia has been bombing locations in support of Bashir al-Assad who has lost control over much of the nation he once ruled unchallenged. Now there are a number of militias and terror groups each commanding their own parts with Assad, the Kurds and Islamic State have the largest locations under their control. Other areas are controlled by the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot, Free Syrian Army, Jaish al-Izzah, Levant Front, Alotfecat Brigades, and offshoots divided into Syrian Opposition-al-Qaeda network, Federation of Northern Syria, Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State. Each of these groups have so many offshoots that it becomes cumbersome to even begin to list them but for those who desire a detailed list one can be found here With al-Assad opposing these groups are the remains of the Syrian Army, Russian Naval and air support, Hezballah and some Druze militias are fighting in support of Bashir al-Assad whose control is limited to the westernmost areas of Syria including Damascus and the port cities which the Russians are defending with occasional air attacks flown against the terror forces but usually avoiding the Kurds and Islamic State and striking the weaker forces which al-Assad might be better poised to defeat.

 

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control  by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control
by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

 

The Kurdish Militias are holding the northernmost areas largely against the Islamic State. Turkey has provided bombing targets used for the United States air strikes as President Obama micromanaging their actions by putting their orders for strikes to Turkish intelligence. This has resulted in many of these strikes instead of targeting the Islamic State side of the conflict line are instead striking the Kurdish side making the situation more favorable for the Islamic State. The saving grace was that the Russians protested the NATO air strikes as interfering with Russian air strikes and set where the United States and Turkish fighter jets are restricted to a corridor which has actually favored the Kurdish forces. This became serious after Turkey shot down the Russian Fighter Jet. What is not discussed publically is the agreement between Russia and another air force in the area allowing for Israel to conduct tactical strikes in response to any attacks against Israeli forces on the Golan Heights. This was negotiated between President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow early in the Russian intervention. This has proven necessary a number of times as the different forces have intentionally fired on IDF troops damaging vehicles and causing some injuries which required at times a more serious response than a couple of artillery or tank shells as a position required removal. These strikes barely make comment even within Israel but there have been some reports in a few of the smaller nationalist and Zionist sources online and in print.

 

Likely the most notable forces have been those of the Islamic State due to their early success largely in Iraq. They took control of the Sunni northern and central areas bordering southern Syria as the mostly Shiite Iraqi army forces simply fled or attempted to melt into the public. Their difficulty was that many of the Sunni civilians who these troops had tormented got their revenge turning over those Shiite soldiers who were guilty of such inter faction fighting. The Islamic State after their fast conquest of largely open areas and a few key cities in Iraq have now settled into defensive posture as they were close to overextension which had allowed for some key cities and towns being reclaimed. The Islamic State holds large open areas in Syria which are mostly desert and open scrublands which were sparsely populated. Their supposed massive victories were somewhat overblown in the hyperventilating Western media as they were hungry for a big story so every gain of the Islamic State, even those which were made in areas where they were unopposed were claimed to be grand expansion of their military control. The main story they should have never strayed from was the Islamic State’s brutality. This alone is the reason that the Islamic State deserves being liquidated by whatever means are necessary and this fight should be carried out largely by indigenous troops. Any support by Western forces should be limited to providing air support and precision strikes on such targets as command and control facilities and fixed positions as well as taking out the Western armor and other Western equipment. Other than such air support and potential cruise missile or drone strikes the Western ground forces should not be placed in harm’s way as such assistance is more often not appreciated and often used as reasons for protests and resentment. They should not risk being dragged into what may prove to be a prolonged number of operations in order to clear out pockets of resistance. As far as Syria, that too should not require any Western ground forces and be left to indigenous forces with support from Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and potential financing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

 

Yemen Battle Map

Yemen Battle Map

 

The other front that needs addressing also has an Iranian contingent in Yemen. Iran is also attempting to gain the ability to completely disrupt all maritime trade by holding military threat over two of the most sensitive straights in all of the Middle East, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb cuts off Israeli maritime access from the Red Sea on the way to the Indian Ocean and on to the rest of Asia and the Pacific as well as blocking any use of the Suez Canal by cutting off its southern access. The Strait of Hormuz has a large portion of the world’s crude oil shipping. Iran already holds threat over the Strait of Hormuz as one side of the entire Persian Gulf borders Iran (a huge ‘no duh’). This threat Iran has had and used since the Islamic takeover in 1979 requiring the United States to intervene as well as to bring in minesweepers to clear mines which Iran had strewn as part of their cutting off of the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb sits off the southwestern most border of Yemen which borders the southernmost Red Sea. This is the other choke point other than the Suez Canal itself. The Suez Canal is safely within the borders of Egypt between the Sinai Peninsula and main body of Egypt which has only faced a force other than Egyptian when Israel held the Sinai briefly in 1956 and for a number of years after the Six Day War in 1967 until Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979. Israel never threatened to close the Suez Canal though it may have been risky using the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War as initially Egyptian troops were pouring across into the Sinai and within a few days after Israel mobilized and struck back were crossing the Suez Canal and for a while held both shores but withdrew back across the Canal into the Sinai after the world demanded Israel cease winning the war and immediately stop advancing on Alexandria and Cairo. Funny, there was no call for Egypt to stop their advance across the Sinai intending to strike into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I guess Egypt advancing and defeating Israeli defenders is completely different than Israel advancing and defeating Egyptian forces. Should Iranian Houthi rebels take control over sufficient areas of Yemen and a peace leave the areas in the southeastern end of Yemen then Iran would have access to blocking the Bab el-Mandeb and blocking the Suez Canal which would end all oil and maritime trade with Europe forcing those hardy enough to try having to circle the south end of the African Continent. That used to be a difficult and dangerous route before the canal and the main reason the Suez Canal was built. Iran desires to hold a stranglehold over maritime trade and oil trade thus being able to threaten the world and especially threaten Europe. That is why Egypt is assisting in Yemen and the West had best have an interest in what happens in Yemen, even if not as much in Syria.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 29, 2015

NATO and the Turkey Problem

 

We here at BTC have warned about the eventual problem that Turkey was going to pose for NATO any number of times over the years going back to our article The Turkey Problem for NATO, though we never envisioned it might mean war with Russia to be honest. We saw the problem coming between Turkey and Israel which only was heightened after the Mavi Marmara blockade running confrontation between Israeli Special Forces and the terrorists placed on the lead ship intentionally by IHH terrorist groups posing as a human rights group in our article Let’s Talk Turkey. The problem we saw forming between Turkey and NATO remained centered on their different Middle East views particularly when it came to Israel. This became heightened once again over Iraq and the Second Iraq War when once again the ever more so drifting from a secular state into an Islamic state when at the onset of the second Iraq War Turkey’s entrenched leader refused NATO ally the United States from launching the second pincer of the initial engagement from within Turkey, as originally planned, in the article Turkey Needs to Prove They Belong in NATO Now. Turkey has continued their slide into an Islamic state replete with a strongman with near dictatorial powers in Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was here in September of 2014 we continued to question the reason for continuing to have Turkey in NATO. The initial reason had been as a stalwart NATO member who could bottle up the bulk of the Russian Mediterranean fleet by refusing them access to the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles, originally and often still referred to as the Strait of Constantinople, through which any ships docked in the Black Sea would necessarily have to pass to make their way from the Black Sea through the Mediterranean Sea and onto the Atlantic Ocean, the only passage once the northern route freezes every winter. It was partially due to having a docking and repair facility which was one of the factors in the Russian seizure of the Crimean and the docks at the port city of Sevastopol and the Sevastopol Docks and Shipyards which is the resting and repair port for the Russian Atlantic Fleet during the winter months. One can see the tactical necessity the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles in the map below.

 

 

From the Sevastopol Docks and Shipyards Across the Black Sea then Through the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean Sea and thus the Atlantic Ocean

From the Sevastopol Docks and Shipyards
Across the Black Sea then
Through the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles
to the Mediterranean Sea and thus the Atlantic Ocean

 

 

After the Cold War ended, or at least ended until the current outward weakened appearance of the United States under President Obama, this tactical necessity for containing the Russian Atlantic fleet became far less important. Since the increased strength of the Russian naval forces, particularly its Atlantic and Mediterranean fleet the passage through these Turkish chokepoints had appeared to have lessened. That was before the current madness which is Syria and the Russian presence with both boots in the war in support of Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. Suddenly fleet access to Sevastopol Docks and Shipyards has once again become of importance, or at least would have except for the lead from behind, well behind, foreign policy, or lack thereof, once again could have blockaded the heavy vessels of the Russian fleet. As it stands currently, the Russian Navy has been sending one of their large cruisers and battleships through these waters in order to have them in the Mediterranean Sea just in case they may be required in Syria. This is also the reason that the Russians are so concerned about their and the Iranian’s puppet in Syria, Bashir al-Assad. The Russians have set up forces both land and sea around the most important area in Syria, the western strip from Damascus with its international airport to the dock city of Latakia as seen in the map below.

 

 

Area West of Demarcation Line is Minimal Area for Russia to Control which Includes Most Military and Dual Use Areas Including the All-Important Area Around Damascus and Latakia Granting Access to Damascus International Airport and the Latakia Shipyards and Docks

Area West of Demarcation Line is Minimal Area
for Russia to Control which Includes Most Military
and Dual Use Areas Including the All-Important
Area Around Damascus and Latakia Granting
Access to Damascus International Airport
and the Latakia Shipyards and Docks

 

 

As the fighting in Syria worsened, especially for Assad and the Russian interest back in February of this year and it began to appear that the Alevites who are the tribe, which the Assad Family belongs, supporting Bashir al-Assad and in turn the Russians we noted the necessity for any outside forces, primarily the United States and NATO, in our article Battle for Middle East and Beyond Are Now Choosing Sides. This article included the Iranian influence as well as the Kurdish forces the neighboring situation in Iraq, ISIS, now calling themselves the Islamic State, but had not included the Russians as their main concerns back then included areas around Latakia and its naval base which was Russian built and was not exactly intended for the Syrian Navy, like they have one. At that time Turkey was less concerned with Assad as they were the Kurdish forces which had actually begun to merge between the Syrian Kurdish fighters and areas with their considerably stronger Kurds in the northern third of Iraq. This was the set-up which leads us directly to the present situation.

 

The sides have been aligned and the battle lines drawn. Russia has ended any pretense of soft support of Bashir al-Assad and the Iranian influence and can be expected to only increase their footprint. Where such may end is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, the Islamic State appears to be mostly cementing their control over the large area they have carved out between Syria and central Iraq and cleaning house while trying to hold their own against the pressures from the Kurdish Militias, the Peshmerga Militias, who have retaken some of the major cities formerly under Kurdish control or belonged to the Yazidis. The areas liberated from Islamic State forces have revealed the true horrors which are the Islamic State including mass graves. The group presumably vetted and supported by the United States, the so-called Free Syrian Army has proven to be more embarrassment than force to be feared. These forces have been degraded to the point of virtual uselessness but these are still President Obama’s reason d’etre for being even minimally involved in the fight against the Islamic State. Whatever remnants of the Free Syrian Army can be fielded, are being attacked by Russia. This is important for another reason, these were the side backed by Turkey as well as the United States which have served as the conduit for United States aid monies and equipment has been placed into the battle. Much of what was sent presumably for the American trained forces but ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda. The ultimate joke of the entire tragedy which is the Syrian Civil War has been the training and equipping of the Free Syrian Army which had become all but useless as a force in Syria all while the United States invested millions upon millions of dollars and succeeded in training as few as five soldiers and definitely under a dozen. This is the force President Obama has supported and trained almost completely out of existence. These were also Turkey’s best hope for defeating al-Assad and the Turkish pipeline now feeds al-Qaeda forces and very likely is still allowing supplies to flow to the Islamic State just as Turkey has been selling their crude oil and mixing into the Turkish supplies which are piped to refineries and on to Europe. So, the lines have been drawn and the different sides defined even to include the double-dealing of Turkey at the orders from Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A state of status-quo has seemingly set in with the Russians now enforcing al-Assad which includes siding with Iran and fighting the presumably vetted fighters of the Free Syrian Army.

 

This is the force along with al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood presumably supported through the United States efforts and also by Turkey’s efforts and which the Russians have invested their main efforts of their attacks. This has placed the United States technically allied with the Russians against the Islamic State while also supporting those selfsame groups which includes the remnants of the Free Syrian Army all of which being made insignificant due to the efforts by the Russian efforts to degrade their abilities to fight. These forces receive some weak-willed support from Turkey as well as the majority of the United States as these were the forces which were to bring free and open elections to the remnants of the Syrian people who remain. The interesting alignments come to the fore with the Kurds who are despised by Turkey, supported to some extent by Europe and the United States, though most of this aid goes to the Kurdish forces in Iraq; have neutral relations with the Russians and are despised for their success in resisting even some of the greatest efforts by the Islamic State which revolved around Kobane. It was this front of fighting which melded together the two separate Kurdish groups into one Kurdish nation, well, at least as much a nation as is the Islamic State or the remnants of what was Iraq which has had its central region taken by the Islamic State which is now closing in on Baghdad, the Iraqi Capital City. The support structure of the Syrian campaign which has been defined as intended to degrade and defeat the Islamic State, ISIL as President Obama refers to them as well as the Junior Varsity, is confusing to say the least.

 

But much of this all fell by the wayside in the last few days as this was the week that somebody took their stand as solidly as possible and then immediately reassured itself of the backing of the group to which they belong and had a pivotal role to play previously. We are referring to the shoot-down of the Russian fighter-bomber by Turkish anti-aircraft weapons. There were initial reports that one of the Russian pilots managed to parachute from the stricken jet after it was struck by Turkish fire and was captured and executed by Turkish forces but those reports have been found to be false. The pilot in question was rescued in a twelve-hour operation involving Special Forces according to Russia sources. This may help to deescalate the crisis which is Turkey at the moment. It has been suspected, actually a lot stronger than suspected all the way past known and into certitude, which Turkey has been key for Islamic State recruitment allowing them to set up interviewing sessions in hotels which were moved every few weeks to give the appearance of having to avoid being too overt. It is a shame that Turkey did not follow this charade up by having heavily armed police storm the room in the hotel which was used right after they had moved on. This covert on-the-sly support for Islamic State’s most important business, recruitment and their sale of oil, to be channeled through Turkey who makes out financially well due to these facts. Everyone knows that Russia, especially under Putin, does not let things lie unbalanced from their favor even if it takes decades for them to serve-up their cold dish of retribution, some might call it revenge or even vengeance. Turkey must expect some payback from Putin; the only debate is how serious the Russian vengeance will be. What was distressing was that within a few hours Istanbul (Constantinople) had placed a call to Brussels, Belgium in order to request that NATO forces and nations stand ready to support Turkey in the case of any overly overt acts by Russia such as an invasion to take control of Turkey’s greatest asset, the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles, the gateway which separates Europe from Asia. This has been the classic line between the two continents. Now it could become the initial battle in a much greater conflict should it become a reading of blows with each one made to be one measure harder than the previous measure. The main question NATO may need to answer is whether that old remnant from the first Cold War has any teeth or validity now in what is rapidly becoming the second cold War and may go hot at any moment as long as threats of escalation or simply this for that trade-offs to continue.

 

 

Various Stages of Russian Fighter/Bomber During Turkey’s Provocation Over Claimed Airspace Violation by the Russian Pilot

Various Stages of Russian Fighter/Bomber
During Turkey’s Provocation Over Claimed
Airspace Violation by the Russian Pilot

 

 

Where this will go nobody at this moment other than Russian leader Putin and potentially Turkey’s leader Erdogan can say. Both men are strong willed and willing to go to any lengths to maintain their power. Putin switched the job descriptions for the offices of President and Prime Minister in order to get around the term limit and switched everything back as he returned to his previous position. On the other hand, Erdogan used his party and influence to prevent any government from taking power in order to force new elections where through intimidation and other frauds was able to return his party to absolute power with a majority of the seats in the Turkish Parliament. These are the extents these two men have used to remain in power for most if not all of this young century. We can be assured that neither will back down nor will they let such assaults lie without some form of retribution. Meanwhile, there has already been ramification with Russian Foreign Minister cancelling his visit to Turkey which was scheduled for early next month. There have also been a number of trade deals backed out of and voided placing financial pressures on a nation which can ill afford any such disruptions. Truth be told, both nations are financially vulnerable at the moment and this could have further ramification on a world financial situation where very few nations are sitting particularly safe from fallout if a trade war ensues between Turkey and Russia as this would mean potentially Russia refusing to use the oil pipelines which cut through Turkey which would be a major blow to the Turkish economy. One can bet that for as long as this is a contentious issue that Russians will not be vacationing on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, another financial hit on Turkey. Relations and actions will be measured and may quiet as long there are no future provocations between Turkey and Russia though I expect that Russian aircraft may avail themselves of taking bombing routes dangerously close and likely over the Syrian Turkey border rendering that border being crossed by Russian aircraft making raids on Syria acceptable and this be Putin’s revenge because it is the also on the face with the gauntlet followed by throwing at the feet of Erdogan just daring him to take another shot at one of the Russian aircraft ignoring the border at their leisure. This could get intense and seriously large real fast, especially if these two leaders start to play the international form of the game of chicken as neither one of these leaders will even flinch, let alone swerve away at the last moment; this situation would produce a clash of massive proportions which Turkey would be well-advised to avoid because against Putin, Erdogan would lose and Turkey be irrevocably damaged, perhaps destroyed would be more appropriate a term.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

December 14, 2013

Hagel’s Syria Conundrum

United States Secretary of Defense has a dilemma concerning supporting the Syrian rebels fighting to unseat President Bashir al-Assad and his oppressive Alawite regime; he is unsure where the secular forces are that he wishes to aid. Anybody familiar with the Middle East or who had paid attention to the various events unfolding in what was euphemistically referred to as the Arab Spring would have predicted the events to come in the Syrian civil war right from the start. Even Tunisia which likely had the easiest transition from their former oppressive leader to an elected oppressive leadership depicted the direction that every single Arab uprising was destined to travel. They would be initiated by secular libertine interests only to be replaced by populist Islamic rulers either from the Muslim Brotherhood or possibly aligned with al-Qaeda who would be just as oppressive and economically depressing as their former dictators. Egypt was the fortunate state as it has actually returned to its military rule which, though far from idyllic, is far more accommodating of a plurality culture than the Islamists who support oppressive and destructive intentions for all non-Muslim segments of their societies demanding a Dhimmi existence at best and eradication at worst. Syria simply lasted long enough in its revolutionary struggle for the Islamists to be required to actually fight for their preeminent positions because the secular revolt proved insufficient to oust a very tenacious Bashir al-Assad. Thus, in Syria the cat is out of the bag and it has become obvious even to those who most stubbornly desired to never see the reality, that the change which was to come in the Middle East from the more accurately described Arab Winter was a transition from nationalist oppressive dictatorships to Islamic oppressive dictatorships. So, now poor Secretary of Defense Hagel is left with aid to equip the secular resistance in Syria and nobody or place to ship it too where the Islamist forces would end up the recipients.

 

Exactly how did this dilemma come about? Initially the revolution in Syria consisted of the Free Syrian Army which was pluralistic and fighting for a secular western style governance in Syria just as the secular forces had risen up for freedom and liberty in Tunisia and Egypt and the rest. This was the high point for the secularists as they were at their peak strength with the largest forces they would muster in their efforts to overthrow Syria’s dictatorial government. Virtually everybody who was going to join their cause and fight for an open and inclusive society were enlisted and either they were going to win a quick and easy victory or die trying. Well, they did not win a quick victory but did begin to die trying and as they did their forces began to dwindle as there were no reserves from which to draw replacement troops. The Islamists, in this case Sunni in particular, realized that the secularists were going to be unable to win this revolution for them and were required to grab the opportunity offered them and try to unseat a wounded Assad or simply permit Assad to win and then unleash his revenge on a hapless nation. They chose to take their shot at removing Assad and replacing him the old fashion way, by sheer force. As time wound on it should have become painfully obvious to the Western interests who were backing the secularist Free Syrian Army that there would soon be nobody left to aid or at least such a small and ineffectual force as to be useless and in an impossible position caught between the Islamist forces and Assad’s Syrian military might.

 

So, what are the libertine forces from the Western nations to do facing this new reality of all this aid and nobody to receive it? The one suggestion we might wish for them to entertain would actually make for their gaining an advantage out of two less than promising difficulties. The one way that they can come out winners with an ally in place, at least for the time being as nothing is guaranteed to last eternally, would be to recognize the Kurdish forces in the area bordering Iraq and Syria and recognize a new liberated group who desperately want and most definitely deserve their own nation. The British had promised the Kurds their own nation which would have included a small section of eastern Turkey, areas of northeastern Syria and the northern third of Iraq but, as the British were want to do when redrawing the lines of the Middle East after World War I, they broke their promise just as they carved up three quarters of what was set aside for the Jewish State to form a Palestinian Arab state ruled by the Hashemite allies called Jordan, the British enlarged Iraq to include almost all of what would have been Kurdistan simply so the Getty family could exploit the northern Iraqi oil fields with the blessings of their friend whom they placed to rule Iraq in their interest. So, why not do the right thing for a huge change and set to rights an exploitive decision by the colonialist powers that used self-serving interests to guide them and paid service to their greed rather than doing that which they knew was right and promised and forgo some amount of profit. Here is your way out of this predicament and an honorable path as well, which is why nobody in Washington, London or Paris will ever think of setting promises kept even if at a later date.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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