Analysis & roundup: IN SYRIA--NOT A STALEMATE AFTER ALL


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FG
by FG
06-Sep-2012
 

A "stalemate" implies a situation where neither side can make progress.   Is that the case in Syria?  A more accurate description is that the FSA is winning--inexorably--but slower than we'd like.

Present scenario:

The word categorizes only Aleppo and--to a lesser degree--Damascus where lack of sufficient weapons is all that prevents a thumping FSA victory. l

Key Developments that could shake things up:

There seem no possibility of even one major development that could help Assad.  Externally no nation will switch from opposing to supporting any regime that relies on "kill the civilians" as its sole survival strategy.  Internally the diverse nature of the FSA and its hit-and-run tactics make it virtually invulnerable to a knockout.

Any of these seven potential developments could hasten Assad's fall: 1) increased access to weapons, especially anti-air; 2) unification of the opposition; 3. changes in US policy after the election; 4. A major military blow such as loss of a vital airports  or another Damascus bombing; 5. More defections that promote a "sauf qui peut" attitude; 6) a reversal of Putin's prediction. pr a 7) a coup.

IS THE OPPOSITION WINNING ANYWHERE?

1.On the ground: FSA has won a string of victories in Idlib, Deir Ez Zor, and now (surprise!) Lattakia.  I see no reason that won't continue.   Some airports fell easily because defending troops defected which suggests that if Iranian fighters have been sent by Khamenei to hold such bases, they have not been stationed in the North.   If and when Iranians are encountered elsewhere, the FSA will surely likely a "no quarter" policy and rightly so.

2. Losses of military personnelImprecise weapons limit FSA combat losses.   Where close up combat does occur, the FSA has the edge either because it is fighting on the defensive from excellent positions (as in cities) or because it can in surprise attacks against regime supply lines at any time.  Hence, combat losses of higher for the regime.  However the real difference comes from ongoing and daily defections.   Who defect from the FSA?  Thus, defections are overwhelmingly a one-way process which only weakens one side--Assad's.   The FSA's problem for now is a surplus of would be fighters and a shortage of arms for them.  That will change as outside arms arrive.

3. Vulnerable supply lines and equipment: Another one-way processs for the most part.  Effect  on the FSA is minimal.   Effect on regime is substantial.  Think of one of those video games in which a ferocious monster continues to appear ferocious with hit after hit until he suddenly dies.

4. Vulnerable air bases:  If the FSA had more ammuition and weapons, even more would have fallen.  In the past few weeks, the Free Syrian Army has launched strikes on air bases in both Damascus and Aleppo, and has devastated several key air bases in Idlib Province and now near Al Bukamal in Deir Ez Zor. If Assad cannot use air strikes now to stop the advance of the insurgents, there is a possibility that his air forces may be destroyed while they are still on the ground.

Footage of this week's fighting shows FSA anti-aircraft weapons, and a BMP armored vehicle, operating either just inside or just outside of one of the main gates of Abu Al Duhur MILITARY airport.

5. Psychological victories: The FSA enjoys two intrinsic morale boosters.  It is fighting on the defensive against a regime whose tactics arose the sort of hate the Nazis inspired.   Their sole demoralizer is lack of sufficient weapons.  On the other hand, regime troops--with endless weapons--are demoralized by so many things: forced atrocities, terrible casualties, supply line cuts that even limit available food,  and a sense of isolation and doom in so many garrisons.  The only motivated Assad troops consist of minority members who have committed too many crimes.

IS THE REGIME WINNING ANYWHERE?

Militarily victories (meaning against actual enemy forces): Virtually nowhere.  Most deaths and injuries have been inflicted (intentionally) on unarmed civilians.  In one "victory" the regime did regain control (temporarily) of a border post with Jordan yesterday but the only effect is on civilians whose exit from Syria has been blocked.  In Damascus and Aleppo the regime's limited "victories" have consisted of taking neighborhoods the FSA was unable to hold because it ran out of ammo.  Even then those areas are not in full control.

According to Enduring America:  The fighting in Damascus does not appear to be confined to the Yarmouk refugee camps. This video, posted by the CFDPC reportedly shows smoke rising above both the Yarmouk camp and the nearby Tadamoun district.  However, more significantly the LCC has posted that there are clashes in the Qadam district, in Sheeba (southwest suburb), and even in Dweila, on the southwest corner of the capital (map). This suggests that the FSA actions in the city are very widespread.. To top that off, there are unverified videos claiming to show FSA "parading" through the capital.  It's likely more a sign to the regime that despite their best efforts, the FSA is still in Damascus, and while the insurgents are incapable of holding territory, they can move in and out when they please.

Add this to the report that checkpoints are going up all over Damascus (update 0955), and there is a contradiction - apparently, despite the checkpoints, the FSA is still making its presence felt today.  

Psychological VictoriesMass attacks on civilians rest on two assumptions.  First,  that enough atrocities will alienate the public from the FSA .  Secondly, the result will drive Syrians to the bargain table.  The latter, equivalent to demanding that Auchwitz inmates nogotiate with Nazis, will never happen.   The regime's limited success here comes to the degree both the FSA and the regime get blamed for the bombing.  However, people still know who is ultimiately responsible.  Secondly, the FSA obviously will never stop fighting until the regime is gone in any case.

Speaking of significant developments:

France 'may send anti-aircraft guns to Syrian rebels'

France may seek to break the increasingly bloody stalemate in Syria by providing rebel forces with artillery and anti-aircraft guns, it has been claimed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9526239/France-may-send-anti-aircraft-guns-to-Syrian-rebels.html

 

Syria's rebels struggle to tame Assad's air power

http://news.yahoo.com/syrias-rebels-struggle-tame-assads-air-power-190515334.html

 

Iran sends elite troops to aid Assad regime Iran is intensifying its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad by sending 150 senior Revolutionary Guards commanders to Syria to help repel opposition attempts to overthrow the government.

EXCERPT: 

Western intelligence officials say that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime, Iran's most important regional ally, survives the threat to its survival.

In addition, Iran has shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells, to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.

Intelligence officials believe the increased Iranian support has been responsible for the growing effectiveness of the Assad regime's tactics in forcing anti-government rebel groups on the defensive...

The Iranian operation to support Mr Assad is being masterminded by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Guards' Quds force which is responsible for overseeing Iran's overseas operations.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9526858/Iran-sends-elite-troops-to-aid-Assad-regime.html


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FG

IN SYRIA: Another development that bears watching

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Just as the regime has been forced into an over-reliance on imprecise air power against guerilla war, now it is being forced to rely on converted airliners to supply isolated and far flung troops.   Remember that the Vietnamese didn't need air power at Dien Bien Phu.  I suspect these bases will be picked off one by one over time.

The FSA has been quite successful in targeting supply convoys loaded with food and supplies.  Such convoys are becoming sitting ducks.

Hence the switch to supply by air.  Yet airports are vulnerable, especialy at night. In the meantime, a  garrison atmosphere cannpot do much for morale of the troops, some kept around only at gunpoint.

To compensate further for its inability to protect supply lines, the regime has started placing military aircraft at civilian airfields using loaded civilian passenger planes as human shields. 


FG

Further repercussions from the latest diplomatic breach

by FG on

Since posting on that I've thought of other repercussions, especially on Iran's currency, that could follow the break of relations with Canada, especially if it sets off a stampede.

Since I noticed someone posted a lead post on Canada in the news section, I've placed the revised analysis there. 


FG

Canada severs diplomatic relations with Iran, expels diplomats

by FG on

Though I'm aware that Iranian immigrants to North America are concentrated in the Los Angeles area, I'd imagine there are quite a few in Canada who might be affected by this news from The Guardian.  

Maybe most of Europe should do likewise.  Will France be next.  Iran no longer has diplomatic relations with England, Canada and the USA.  Can you say "pariah state?"   It appears Assad isn't the only one having a Bad News Day.

 

Canada has closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Ottawa, Saeed Kamali Dehghan writes.

Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird cited Iran's support for Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, its disputed nuclear programme and continued human rights violations as reasons behind his country's move.

"The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear programme; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide," Baird said in a statement published on a Canadian government website.


FG

ANOTHER DOMINO FALLS...IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS FOR ASSAD TODAY?

by FG on

According to the Local Coordination Committees, the Hanano military barracks in the center of the city has fallen to the FSA

I ask: What happened to defending troops, especially any officer who commanded them at gunpoint? I imagine any conscripts among them might defect, providing a font of information about who did what.

Enduring America points out that videos taken earlier suggest a large-scale FSA attack on the barracks, indicating that it's possible this report is true.  EA writes:

 The Hanano barracks is a major hub for Assad troops, and is one of the only forward operating bases in central Aleppo. The loss of this base, if true, is a fairly significant blow. With each victory like this, the center of the city is becoming more secure for the FSA, allowing the soldiers to concentrate on the major bases on the outskirts of the city.

This victory opens up other possibilities.  One likely effect is it will limit opportunities for the shabiha to enjoy a free hand.  

 


FG

"WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?" asks a Palestinian

by FG on

FROM REUTHERS 

"Why are they doing this? What good is shelling a camp with houses and bakeries? They are making sure that every Syrian and Palestinian turns against them," complained one Palestinian resident near Yarmouk, who also asked to remain anonymous.

Palestinians have been divided over whether or not to support Assad, but there are signs that more and more are now starting to back the uprising.

From The Guardian:

Whole neighbourhoods have been destroyed in the last 24 hours in the bombardment of the Yarmouk Palestinian camp, according to an activist in the area.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mahmoud Nasar, said:

We have the names of ten people who died, and around 70 or 75 wounded. All of them are civilians...We have never seen shelling like this before. They used very big mortars. Nasar speculated that the government was trying to clear the area to attack Free Syrian Army positons in neighbouring districts.

I can assure your that there are no Free Syrian Army soldiers in Yarmouk...Today about 25 bombs have landed on Yarmouk and have destroyed whole neighbourhoods. They bombed Ja'ouneh Street [scene of shelling of last month].

OBSERVATIONS FROM FG

Obviously only "military" strategy Assad can safely employ has almost no military effectiveness in the traditional sense of killing the real enemy.  What it does have is a ton of downside which is another gaping hole in any Stalemate Theory.

 Surely Palestinians elsewhere have access to this news.  How will it affect their attitude to the Assad regime?  Hence the strategic effects of such attacks are actually negative--both internally and externally.

Today's dictators must envy their historical predecessors. It's not as if the world did not have places with a free and competitive press back in the days of Hitler and Stalin.  Thanks to changes in technology and the spread of the English language (a factor often ignored) censorship is not so simple as jamming radios or sealing borders. 

Such modern technology if part of globalism, like it or not.  Unfortunately it is so essential for military and econoic purpose that no regime with power aspirations can opt out. The  consequent free information makes roundups like this one possible--compounding regime problems.  

Always the goal of censorhip is to create a closed society with one source of information--state media under a regime's thumb.  Is it achievable anymore, even with a "national internet?" 

POOR FRASHOGAR & MARYAM JOON

Like Sisyphus who was condemned to push a rock uphill for all eternity, this pair  pushes the standard if futile propaganda line that the FSA is synonymous with Al Queda." Didn't their trainers ever tell them not to ignore key variables? What worked for Goebbels until 1943 cannot work as well for Assad and Khamenei today.

 

 


FG

BULLETIN: Damascus hit by 2 bombs, 2 insider defections

by FG on

The first bomb was on a motorcycle near a mosque and killed at least six people, including five people.   The second--a car bomb--was apparently much bigger and went off near the information ministry.  No more details available yet.

TWO REGIME INSIDERS DEFECT, RAISING QUESTIONS

The first was Awad Ahmed al-Ali, head of the security branch in Damascus, who has been interviewed on TV in Turkey.  The second defector was Syria's attaché to Serbia, Bashar Al-Haj Ali who apologised for not defecting sooner.

So much for the stalemate myth.  If the regime had any prospects of survival, would these guys be jumping ship?  Will Putin "jump ship" if these defections continue?

REGIME ATROCITIES CONTINUE

Syrian residents have recovered 45 unidentified bodies in two areas near the capital, the latest such finds of suspected mass executions in the 18-month-long conflict.

ASSAD MAKES ONCE NEUTRAL PALESTINIANS INTO ENEMIES

 

More enemies is just what Assad needs.  Previous attacks on Palestinians in Damascus had already undermined that neutrality.    Yesterday Assad killed 20 Palestinians when he shelled their camp in Damascus once again.  There's no way he can blame the FSA for that.

JUNE 14TH DESIGNATED AS ELECTION DAY IN IRAN

The Minister of Interior says so. That's ten month's away.  Will Assad's regime still be around?   I doubt it.  As I wrote earlier, that will have major repercussions on Iranian elections--one way or another.


FG

NY Times: SYRIAN REBELS HAVE KILLED JIHADI FIGHTER

by FG on

 The NY Times is reporting that rebels have kidnapped and assassinated a jihadi fighter who led a brigade known as Jubhat al-Nusra, which calls itself a Qaeda affiliate.

EXCERPT:

His killing aroused calls for revenge from his family as well as the group of Islamist brigades operating in the area, known as the Islamic Shura Council, in which he also played a leading role. Some quickly pointed the finger at a major fighting group based in Homs, Al Farouq Brigade, which is considered Islamist but is opposed to Mr. Absi’s hard-line ideology. Brigades often collaborate on specific actions or fights, but each typically reports to its own leader....

 Leaders of the Farouq Brigade said their fighters were not involved in the killing. One of the largest rebel brigades, it is led by Abdul-Razzaq Tlass, a relative of Mr. Assad’s former defense minister, Mustafa Tlass, whose family members were early defectors.

A commander who gave his name as Abu Hashem sought to blame Assad loyalists. “It is the regime,” he said. “They are trying to sow sectarian discord.”

His brigade has also sought to publicize its opposition to any collaboration with Al Qaeda or flirtation with its intolerant ideology.

In late June, the Farouq Brigade disseminated a video online in which several commanders said that there were Qaeda fighters in Syria and that there would be no room for them. Each commander stood surrounded by fighters holding rifles, and the video had its own English-language translation. At the end, a young man delivered an appeal in fluent English for the Western powers to intervene in the war to topple Mr. Assad.

Leaders of the brigade have sometimes described their struggle in Islamic terms, suggesting a divine calling to overthrow a secular dictator. But Abu Hashem said its fighters included Christians and Ismailis, a dissenting Muslim sect that many Sunni Islamists consider heretical, analogous to Alawites like Mr. Assad.

“We want democracy and freedom,” he said. “It is the people’s revolution; it is not an Islamic revolution. We have doctors and engineers among us, and we are seeking a secular democratic country.”

A spokesman for a third Islamist brigade operating in the area around Idlib, who gave his name as Noaman, said that anger over Mr. Absi’s death had led to quarrels and strife among the rebels on Thursday but not shooting. “The Shura Council is trying to open an investigation to see what happened,” he said. “This guy has many enemies, from both the regime and the opposition.”

 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/middleeast/killing-of-rebel-with-qaeda-links-opens-debate-on-syrian-opposition.html?_r=1


FG

Iran-Turkey tensions grow after IRI agents captured in Turkey

by FG on

The arrests are already leading to an increased level of suspicion regarding Iranian activity in Turkey. Writing in Today's Zaman yesterday, columnist Kerim Balci, suggests even Iranian tourism agencies that have opened up in Istanbul should be considered carefully.

COMMENT: In how many neighnoring counries has the pariah state been caught red-handed engaging in such covert destabilizing activities?  In how many African and Asian countries?     No wonder the IRI has become a pariah state everywhere. 

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65871

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SUPPORT FOR IRAN LIMITED BY DISTRUST

Russia has trained hundreds of Iranian nuclear scientists and blocked international action against Tehran. But beneath the surface, there is profound distrust. 

QUESTION

It seems no one trusts the Islamic Republic these days.  Can anyone figure out why? 

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0906/Russian-nuclear-support-for-Iran-limited-by-distrust#.UEkT1KQdSzk.twitter


FG

Brotherhood Extols Female Subservience in Egypt

by FG on

Family Life According to the Brotherhood

EXCERPT:

Women are erratic and emotional, and they make good wives and mothers — but never leaders or rulers. That, at least, is what Osama Abou Salama, a professor of botany at Cairo University and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told young men and women during a recent premarital counseling class.

What was striking, though, was the absence of any reaction. None of the 30 people in the class so much as winced.

“A woman,” Mr. Abou Salama said, “takes pleasure in being a follower and finds ease in obeying a husband who loves her.”

THINGS TO NOTE:

Neither Egyptians or the Brotherhood seem to have heard of Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher or England's greatest monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.  

Polls of Middle Eastern countries show that while the idea of democracy enjoys more than 60 percent support in almost every country, Egypt and Jordan are immensely more conservative politically and most of the population supports sharia law in stern (Salafi) or modified versions).  The least support for the latter is in Lebanon and Syria.  

No surveys of Iranian views are available but I'd suspect the numbers favoring Islamic rule in any form would be lower than anywherew. 

SOURCE:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/world/middleeast/05iht-letter05.html?_r=1&hp

GALLUP POLL SHOWS HOW GREATLY COUNTRIES DIFFER ON SHARIA LAW

http://www.gallup.com/poll/155324/arab-women-men-eye-eye-religion-role-law.aspx

 

The next two articles are from Time Magazine.  Only the first is fully available for now without a subscription. 

Nightmare Scenarios for a Post-Assad Middle East

 

Nobody's expecting a happy ending any time soon to Syria's civil war. Here are just five things that could go badly wrong when the Assad regime falls

http://world.time.com/2012/07/24/five-syrian-nightmares-the-mideast-cant-live-with-assad-but-living-without-him-wont-be-easy/#ixzz22pzRQh2L

THE END OF AL QUEDA?

In Yemen a successful counteracttack shows how Al Queda can be beaten.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2123810,00.html

 

TURKISH DILEMNA

 

Turkey's voluble prime minister has talked himself into a corner on Syria. Will the spiraling unrest next door finally force him to back up his words?

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/06/turkish_dilemma


FG

A shout and journalist Mohamed Zakoo dies as he makes this video

by FG on

The victim was filming the body of a civilian who had been killed by a sniper--probably the same one who kills Zakoo less than a minute into the video.

We all know that use of such snipers was a standard Khamenei tactic in dealing with protestors after he rigged the 2009 presidential election, fearing serious reforms would curb his excesses.   After such murders, standard practice in both regimes is to attribute such "kills" to the protestors.

While most readers here will see the two deaths as sad, I'm sure the video will draw cheers from the likes of Frashogar and MariamJoon who adore fascism whether clerical or secular. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=triLJnTz-w0&feature=player_embedded

THE MAKING OF AN INSURGENT 

What make people turn against a regime?   How do they change personally when that happen?   Why does winning them back seem inconceivable?

http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2012/9/6/syria-1st-hand-the-making-of-an-insurgent-the-story-of-abbou.html

ENDURING AMERICA ANALYIS: REFORMERS DEBATE THE 2013 ELECTION (ASSUMING THERE IS ONE)

http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2012/9/6/iran-analysis-participate-or-boycott-reformists-debate-the-2.html

These divisions among reformers play into the hands of the Bad Guy clerics and IRCG thugs who rule the country. 

SEVEN REASONS IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR DISCONTENTED TO VOTE

1. Elections are PRE-RIGGED by the Guardian Council who will vet out serious reformers. .  Legitimate regimes don't allow such election-rigging devices. 

2. Any candidate who starts advocating more serious reforms after surviving that vetting process will not be allowed to win, as happened to Mousavi in 2009 on Khamenei's orders and with the help of Ahmadinejad, the Basilj and the IRCG.

3. If a serious reformer survived that, he'd have to wait two more years for a reform-oriented Parliament.  The latter is unlikely because only a token number of tepid, milktoast reformers will be tolerated.

4. If reformers got through those three obstacles, Khamenei would simply veto all serious reform especially those that limit his own powers.  His death squads would likely be reactivated.

5. The IRCG would do the same to safeguard its present privileges and monopolies. 

6. A reform president would not be allowed a free press which could support his critiques and work up public support for his program. 

7.  All this being so, to vote is to collaborate in creating a Potemkin Village fraud which the regime will exploit.  So why do that?  

TWO DEVELOPMENTS COULD RENDER THE DEBATE MEANINGLESS

1. Khomeinei's grandson, a fierce critic of the regime, decides to run

In that case the regime can vet him out, discrediting itself further, or allow his candidacy which require allowing everything on the table including a referendum on the deeply  unpopular Islamic Republic itself.    

2. It is Highly Probable That Assad Will Likely Have Fallen By Election Time

If that precipitates a popular uprising, elections become irrelevant.  If not, the pressure on reformers for a total boycott becomes overwhelming.   Either way the regime's situation would be so precarious, its only rationale move would be to  put everything on the table and leave for parts alone while doing so was still possible.

Alas Khamenei will gamble--and lose--like Assad and Khadaffi.   Reassured by generals protecting their economic fiefs and believing he can win by killing half the population and bombing every town and city into smithereens Khamenei will throw away the option of exit and a prolonged life span.  As in Syria, Khamenei and his generals will have signed their death warrants.

What Assad could never grasp. Khamenei cannot grasp either: that no general can guarantee troops drawn from the people will go along with such tactics, even at gunpoint. Adding to the certainty of defeat is that the outside world has so many more reasons, beginning with payback,  to answer "yes" once Iranians establish a credible resistance and ask for help.  


First Amendment

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by First Amendment on

Sorry to see you disappointed........you're right, it's a stalemate indeed......Quite predictably, though..........


FG

In Iran: Lousy economic news and fake optimism

by FG on

LOUSY ECONOMIC NEWS

1. Khabar Online had earlier put the Rial as weak as 22510:1 vs. the US dollar --- another historic low ---but now claims the currency is back at 22180.   Mesghal.ir has said all day that the Rial strengthened on Thursday to 21930:1, but Mesghal.com --- which posted a different rate of 22280:1 --- is now OFF LINE.

2.  The Chairman of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has said that plans to develop the Farzad B gas field in Iran are in the balance because the deal might hinder ONGC's aspirations for US energy assets.

3. Abbas Memarnejad, the head of Iran's customs office, has said that more than 80% of Iran's $480 billion oil income since 2005 has been spent on imports. 

FAKE OPTIMISM & OUTRIGHT LIES

1. "Ayatollah Khamenei also spoke of the situation in Iran, saying that on the whole, the country is making 'favorable progress'."

2.  Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guard,confidently declares, "The Non-Aligned Movement's summit changed the balance of power."

3.  2. Twitter from Khamenei's homepage: Ayatollah Khamenei, Today: Holding NAM conference in Tehran was a display of the power, glory and might of the Islamic Republic. 

However, Saeedi was not confident enough to say all was settled at home: "We need an antitoxin against popular riots."

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

pro-Ahmadinejad blog says Iran's absolute support for the Assad regime is wrong and Syrian people should not be killed for the sake of the "axis of resistance".

Source: Enduring America