End game in Aleppo

Syrian government forces have captured more than a third of rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo.

This is good news both for the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo and for Syria itself. Despite the concerted efforts of the Syrian rebels and their Islamic extremist allies, supported by short-sighted Western powers (have they forgotten Libya?), the Syrian government is finally beginning to assert control over the country. Whether we realize it or not the West owes a debt of gratitude to Russia and Iran. Now, rather than a country shattered into fragments, with areas controlled by fanatics forcing women into niqabs and burkas and throwing homosexuals from rooftops, we will hopefully see a strong Syria as well as a strong Iraq.

Is Assad a ruthless dictator? Of course he is. Is he preferable to the maniac extremists of ISIS and their allies? Of course he is. In an ideal world democracy would thrive in Syria but this isn’t an ideal world. The root of the problem, in both Syria and Iraq, is the discontent of the Sunni. I don’t know how that can be solved but it certainly won’t be solved by having Saudi Arabia (a staunch US ally and incidentally a far more brutal tyranny than Assad’s) and the Gulf States adding fuel to the fire and fomenting rebellion.

By the way, I wonder if democratic rebels arose in Saudi Arabia whether the US would support them with money and arms? The answer of course is no way Jose. The stench of hypocrisy is strong.

Syria will be low hanging fruit for a long time to come, personally I have no idea why Russia suppored Assad, they should have given him a gun and left him with some quality time and picked another president. They need the sea port, fine. What they don’t need is a meglomaniac loose canon ruling one of their client states.

Putin won’t be in power forever, and he could have done the next incumbent a huge favor by giving Assad the nine millimeter retirement policy, he still might, so the jury is out on this. But if you think that the rebellion is over, just because he is regaining the momentum, well I would not put money on it. Me thinks that Putin wants this done with before a republican administration can take the ball, hence that battle group he sent through the channel a couple of weeks ago.

You would only have to look at Iran for that answer. SA became the defacto client after the revolution, if the Saudi’s need a tune up, I imagine that something could be arranged.

Given how badly fragmented Syrian society is right now and how massively depleted the Syrian armed forces are, with Assad having to rely on mercenary armies to do some of his grislier urban fighting, Syria is not going to be strong no matter who wins for a long time. Instead, given how much in debt the Assad regime is, Syria is going to be mostly a puppet state for Russia and Iran should Assad win.

Even with a retaken Aleppo, Assad still has a long way to go before taking back even the non-YPG/non-Turk controlled territory. That fight is going to cost thousands of more lives of his forces.

And I don’t think it’s in too many people’s interests to have a strong Iraq. We just want to have an Iraq that can work out some sort of political, power-sharing deal between the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. A strong Iraq would tend to mean that one of these groups is overwhelmingly dominant at the expense of the others, which would only be laying the groundwork for another civil war.

Does Saudi Arabia barrel bomb its own citizens? Given that Sunnis are actually the majority in Saudia Arabia, whereas Alawites are a small minority in Syria, Assad appears far more brutal than anything Saudi Arabia has offered. Public executions and public amputations for crimes are brutal, but throwing tens of thousands of political prisoners and peaceful protesters in prison for torture and worse hardly makes him less brutal. The discontent of the majority Sunnis in Syria could be solved by having a government that does not disproportionately favor Alawites and does not align itself with governments, such as Iran, that are officially Shia and are seen as being anti-Sunni.

Hypothetical hypocrisy is only hypothetically strong-smelling. Given Saudi Arabia’s culture, there does not appear to be any particularly strong movement for a democratic representative regime in place of the monarchy. The only mass movements there appear to be those related to the Shia minority, which is mostly non-violent, and those supporting Wahhabbist radical groups, through ideology and sometimes funding, such as Al Qaeda and to a lesser extent, Da’esh.

Looking at the effects of the fallout from Syria on Europe and the way it made US policy look, you gotta give Putin credit. The results of Brexit, Trump and France’s future president - the leadership of UK/US/France - all went Putin’s way.

Yeah, maybe you can’t put that ALL on Russia’s policies and actions, but it’s easy to see how they could have been the tipping point.

Fighting resumes in Aleppo.

It makes a brutal kind of sense. Why should Assad allow the rebels to go to Idlib where they can rearm and regroup? Better to finish them off now from his point of view.

It is tragic though. I find it highly doubtful that all women and children have left East Aleppo. The sooner this damn civil war ends the better.

And in other news, ISIS recently retook the Syrian city of Palmyra.

Somehow, I get the feeling that this 3-sided (4-sided? 5-sided?) war isn’t going to end any time soon.

That’s usually not an either/or thing. In fact, the Assads of the world tend to create their own maniac extremists that end up causing their own havoc.

Like? What extremists did Assad create that cause havoc?

Yes. Many Dopers don’t seem to understand the concept of tipping point, the fact that change at the margins can direct the course of history. The big problem causing Amerexit(*) was the gullibility and ignorance of so many American voters, but the closeness of the vote in Pennsylvania tells us it still wouldn’t have happened without Putin’s help.

(* - Can I coin a word to go with Grexit and Brexit? Amerexit, the exit of U.S.A. from political sanity, culminating in the Disaster of 8 November.)

Leaving the fate of America and the world in the hands of a 49% vs 49% electorate is a recipe for disaster. (As an example of how much effect a “tipping” force can have, consider the astronomical cycles now widely agreed to direct the pattern of ice ages over the past million years. The tipping forces are miniscule but the climate equilibrium is very fragile.)

You mean, aside from his bombing of his own civilians?

Well, did you know that Assad is not just supported by Iran and Russia, but also by Hezbola?

Sure, you can say that Hezbola has been quiet lately and the real threat are ISIS, but that’s until they get a foothold in Syria and start bombing Tel Aviv. then you may look aghast and say* “I’ll be damned. How was I to know that supporting a brutal dictator would come back to bite us in the ass. Again. Just like all the other times. I really thought this time would be different.”*

So. how about not picking a side between Isis and Assad. How about going for a democracy. Democratic leaders tend to get squeamish when it’s time to bomb their voters.

What brutal dictators are we supporting? I thought we usually muck things up by trying to depose them. You know, like Assad. And Hussein. And Gaddafi.

I’d like to know what we’re supposed to do. We get blamed either way. Now people are sending out their last video messages saying the world has failed them. Well, what was the world supposed to do? Should we bomb out Assad and let Al Qaeda or Daesh or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham take over? Like that would be less bloody.

Is the only choice to pick a side between two bad ones? how about supporting the democratic groups?

Hizbullah. Literally, Hizb-Allah, the party of God.

The Hizbullah engagement is not about the ‘foothold in Syria’ it and Israeli concerns, it is about the Lebanese - Syrian interactions back to the long Lebanese civil war and the fear of the Shia’ of the DAESH type factors winning in the Syria.

The looking at this through the lens of the Israel is the typical american mistake. It is not the primary concern of the Hizbullah, the primary concern of the Hizbullah is the percieved existential threat to them from a Syria that becomes dominated by the Takfiri Sunni movements, and the natural cross flow back into the Lebanon. It is not an accident the Hezbullah began to intervene when such elements began to take control of the Syrian-Lebanese border regions and those areas with the populations of the Shia.

It will not be over soon. That is naïve. The dyamic of the Syrian case will be just like that of the Lebanese civil war. After the clan Assad resorted to provoking civil war and after the initial non radical rebellion failed to oust him, there was never any other path. There are too many of the outside actors and there is too much damage and radicalisation of the parties for any thing else to occur.

Ah, but it isn’t naïve to hope, however unrealistically, that it ends soon. And by the way, Ramira, I do value your contributions here. You bring a knowledge and a perspective to the SDMB which are much needed. You’ve certainly taught me a few things, for which I’m grateful even though I don’t always agree with you.

Hezbollah is a legitimate political party in Lebanon which is a legitimate multi-party democracy and co-exists more or less peacefully with Sunnis and Christians.

What democratic group? Is there one with a chance? How would we support them? Blow everyone else up? Give them humanitarian aid? Well we’ve been trying that but it’s difficult when you keep getting shot.

The Pentagon has been supporting the primarily Kurdish SDF.

  1. Turkey sees the SDF as the same as the PKK. They are probably substantially right that the two groups probably share a lot of members although the SDF includes Arab and other non-Kurdish elements too and do not outwardly espouse enmity to Turkey. So the Turkish army has outright invaded northern Syria, ostensibly to attack IS, but actually spending most of their efforts attacking the SDF, who let us not forget are backed by the US and assisted by American troops on the ground. Surprisingly no Turkish F16 has killed any American soldiers so far but that day will probably come. It’s been too long since the last inter-NATO war anyway.

  2. The SDF/Kurds correctly note that the Americans are unwilling to reign in the Turks and are unreliable allies who will cut and run at the slightest hint of political inconvenience.

  3. The SDF are also mortal enemies with most if not every anti-government faction in Syria. IS wants to wipe them out, so does Nusra, and all the other ones whose names are pointless to list these days as they are mostly buried in Aleppo and are of little future relevance. Many of these groups are armed by a seperate program run by the CIA, so there are literally American CIA backed jihadists fighting American DoD backed Kurds. The Kurds have kept up a defense of the Kurdish enclave of Sheik Masqood in Aleppo, which the Aleppo rebels constantly attacked and shelled indiscriminately, killing hundreds of civilians, for no apparent reason other than sectarian hatred. This was even while the rebels themselves were being crushed by Assad.

  4. So not surprisingly the Aleppo Kurds now fight side by side with Assad’s forces against the Sunni rebels, and Assad has agreed to leave the Kurds alone for now. In the north he has already formed an alliance with the Efrin Kurds to fight the Turks together. The Russians have been very keen to persuade Assad to work with the Kurds, likely because fucking with the Turks has been a Russian national past time since Catherine the Great and Putin certainly isn’t one to make a break in that tradition. Expect transfers of heavy weapons from Assad or Russia to the Kurds soon.

  5. The government of Egypt is now openly pro-Assad.

  6. The upcoming French presidential election will almost certainly a contest between Francois Fillon, a close personal friend of Putin who has already promised to lift sanctions on Russia and cooperate with both Assad and Iran, and Marine Le Pen.

  7. There are still 35,000 Iraqi Hezbollah fighters armed with American weapons sitting around in Iraq seething at the Sunni jihadists massacring their coreligionists in Syria.

14 Foreigners captured in a basement, by the Syrian army.

They are said to be military officers.

Mutaz Kanoğlu – Turkey
David Scott Winer – USA
David Shlomo Aram – Israel
Muhamad Tamimi – Qatar
Muhamad Ahmad Assabian – Saudi
Abd-el-Menham Fahd al Harij – Saudi
Islam Salam Ezzahran Al Hajlan – Saudi
Ahmed Ben Naoufel Al Darij – Saudi
Muhamad Hassan Al Sabihi – Saudi
Hamad Fahad Al Dousri – Saudi
Amjad Qassem Al Tiraoui – Jordan
Qassem Saad Al Shamry – Saudi
Ayman Qassem Al Thahalbi – Saudi
Mohamed Ech-Chafihi El Idrissi – Moroccan

I am curious as to France’s actual role in the run up to Syria (and Libya). I wonder if some new light might be shed on this, if Fillon were to be elected.

There is a vague rumour that Sarkozy had a meeting with Assad, about the pipeline. Where Sarkozy is said to have thrown a tantrum, after Assad’s refusal, threatening that “Syria would be destroyed” if Assad refused.

This info would supposedly have come from a translator, present at the meeting.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. I thought Putin and Erdogan were all buddy-buddy since the military uprising?