Now that matters are accelerating towards a wider war – something that has indeed been a distinct possibility over the past 4 years and especially over the last year – it bears repeating the essential obtuseness of the WINEP/Tabler/Neo-LiberalCon advice on Syria – advice which has thankfully long been discarded by some important policymakers and a range of analysts in DC as empty armchair warrior nonsense. As Tabler intimates to the NYT below, his position has long been that the US and others should have accelerated the quality and quantity of violence much much earlier against the regime, and that the failure to do this meant that instability, jihadists and chaos was only going to grow, to the point we now see clearly.
It’s really incredible that journos still digest this perspective, because even with NO understanding of the Middle East, one just has to remember that the Assad regime and the Resistance Axis was much much stronger 2 years ago, 1 year ago etc.
Tabler’s position is essentially that the US and allies should have more directly fought Assad WHEN IT WAS MANIFESTLY in a far better position tactically and strategically, armed with chemical weapons, more conventional forces, greater support etc.
It just does not add up, but sadly it still circulates:
“The problem here is we react so slowly,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “There have been many well-thought-out plans, but they address a certain context. Then the context changes, we see the situation as rapidly deteriorating, and the recommendations are no longer so finely tuned.”
The Samson Option – the NYT piece here also captures where this conflict is going – towards greater irrationality as the level of violence accelerates and backs are pushed against the wall: “…As Mr. Obama contemplates his response, his advisers are trying to determine why Syria would use such weapons. The Syrian military, while strained, still appears capable of making rational decisions about how and where to deploy forces. It is currently engaged in fierce and ostensibly successful offensives in the Damascus area and in Homs Province. Moreover, two alleged massacres in the past week demonstrated that pro-government militias using knives and guns were capable of inflicting many times the deaths attributed to chemical weapons so far.
The smartest move after yet another Israeli strike against Syria would be a false flag operation from the Golan – limited – that kills a few Israeli soldiers – certainly a military target. Is it An-Nusra? The Regime? Is there a full intervention? Where is the hit back for the Israelis?
Israeli has now sorely tested Syria and the Resistance Axis limits for embarrassment and punishment; it seems very likely that matters have a reached a point where counterforce is not only logical but vital – and there is a smart, controllable pathway available for demonstrating that Israel too has limitations which limit its reactions to violence.
This is why the NYT articles are interesting not as analysis or new pieces but in deciphering the information war contours. These two NYT journalists here interview WINEP and Speyer for analysis – basically they talked to the Israelis about the Israelis, with some extra “clarity” and restraint from the unnamed USA officials (it’s interesting when you think of it how the Israelis are treated sometimes in the US media in almost the same, though glowing of course, colonialist terms – i.e. these rough middle easterners, here are the level headed American officials to offer the real balance….)
I also enjoyed how the NYT unambiguously said that the SA missiles were destroyed the last time around.
But the moment of clarity was when you could understand that neither the Israelis nor the americans are particularly SURE about whether the missiles struck were going to Hizbullah – this is interesting because it represents the lack of deep intel on the ground in syria and lebanon. The warehouse was “controlled” by iranian qods force people, the nyt says via the US official. But they have no idea if the good were going anywhere.
It is easy – relatively – to have watchers who spot iranians…. but it seems hizbullah’s enemies are not sure about much more than that.
Not a good sign if the israelis are to do better than their disasterous 2006 war on Hizbullah.
There are may problems here in tunis of course, but the main one does not really involve islam, terrorism, salfists, ghannouchi, secularists, closed minded people etc – the MAIN problem is that everyone as well as LE educated people – leaving aside the vast majority – get paid about 800 dinars per month.
It is crazy and disgusting – especially when you consider that some of the establishments are doing so, so well and for some reason I am paying new york prices for mediocre stuff.
In the last few days we have interviewed hard working people who get paid on avg 400$ a month – people with degrees, but more to the point people who do everything, all work and work extra jobs.
Considering the cost of living here, it is simply absurd.
In clinton-speak: in the middle east if you work hard and play by the rules, you get screwed, quite simply.
The Neo-Liberal Cons are on the verge of getting the massive war they always wanted with “evil.” Mike Young must be very excited at this point…… and David Schenker, Eliot Abrams etc etc.
The point since the beginning of the Syria crisis was that if the regime and the Resistance Axis were pushed in the direction of confrontation (i.e. the strategy which the stupid, barbaric syrian regime used from DAY ONE), at some point it would become impossible to control the contingencies, that those who want a massive war on all sides could increasingly have it with little extra effort and that the push back would be significant at some point.
Now obama is in quite a pickle – will he start the big war? Assad has very very intelligently called his bluff at a moment of tactical strength (it seems on the outside) and strategic weakness.
Can he lure the US into a confrontation and therefore split up and expand the circle of violence and pain, ending the fact that he is essentially the ONLY one really, widely fighting SO MANY ENEMIES?
I wrote about this here in 2011 and 2012:
WASHINGTON – The White House said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now assess, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, but it said it needed conclusive proof before President Obama would take action.
The disclosure, in letters to Congressional leaders, takes the administration a step closer to acknowledging that President Bashar al-Assad has crossed a red line established by Mr. Obama last summer, when he said the United States would take unspecific action against Syria if there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used.
The White House emphasized that, “given the stakes involved,” the United States still needed “credible and corroborated facts” before deciding on a course of action. The letter, signed by the president’s director of legislative affairs, Miguel E. Rodriguez, said the United States was pressing for a “comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what happened.
These Al-Rai al-Aam stories almost always prove to be pretty right on…. Translated today by our mideastwire.com folks.
What is the most likely here – as I and others have been saying since summer 2011 – is that the preferred DC “controlled collapse” project was always going to lead at some point to a resistance axis military push back – and I believe ultimately a major escalation, given the uncontrollable nature of this trajectory and the underlying issues. This is the main thrust of the story.
Remember that a strong hold on Reason in the minds of cadres, supporters and publics is a VITAL leg of the Resistance – and now, Hizbullah is making clear that the border villages and religious sites are Reason and Morality and indeed Duty – that is the point of the recent statements.
This story makes it clear – the push back is now in process. It will manifestly grow.
On April 21, the independent Al-Rai al-Aam daily carried the following report: “What happened during the consultations conducted by Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah in Iran recently? And what are the outcomes of his meetings with the Higher Guide, Sayed Ali Khamenei and the commander of the Jerusalem Battalion at the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Kassem Suleimani and the other officials…?
“Highly informed Iranian sources told Al-Rai that the most important part of Sayyed Nasrallah’s meetings in Tehran consisted of discussing the global and strategic vision concerning the situation in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran and taking advantage of the positive Russian attitude and the fact that it intersects with the interests of this axis.
“The sources…added that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah received a major welcome in Iran almost like the welcome received by the Higher Guide, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, which reflects the exceptional importance of the man’s role.” The same sources indicated that the situation in Syria obtained a major part in the meetings and the outcomes where the situation was addressed from several angles:”
“- The religious sites in Syria: the meeting’s participants discussed the significant footage carried by Takfiri groups on the social media websites and their calls to “demolish the idols…” Therefore, the meeting participants agreed on protecting all the religious sites in Syria in an unequivocal manner.
“- The Syrian opposition was deemed a tool in the hand of the higher interests and the neighboring countries and an echo of the American politics. According to the Iranian sources, the participants agreed on dealing with the opposition by using force…by enabling the regime to achieve victories on the ground.
“- The parties that took part in the meetings in Tehran agreed on moving from a state of defense to a state of offense in Syria in response to the British, French, American,Turkish and Gulf support for the opposition
“These sources quoted prominent Iranian generals who said that “…Iran can send hundreds of thousands of troops to Syria in order to defend the Al-Assad regime and to protect its part in the Reluctance Axis in the event that the West was to proceed with supporting the armed men…” The highly informed Iranian sources revealed that “the participants praised Iraq’s role in preventing the Takfiris from using the Iraqi lands…”
“The sources also spoke an “imminent and likely” war with Israel in light of the consultations conducted by the American president Barack Obama with the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jordanian King Abdullah II during Obama’s visit to the region… As for Lebanon, the sources said that the meeting participants gave Sayyed Nasrallah the freedom to run the situation in Lebanon as the case has been for a long time now…
“Despite the secrecy that surrounded Hezbollah’s Secretary General’s visit to Iran, a Hezbollah official told Al-Rai that “Sayyed Nasrallah has never lived in a hole or under the ground…” The official added that “it is an ignorant thing to say that the Secretary General does not move since Sayyed Nasrallah had moved on several times to the Bekaa, Baalbeck, and the South…because he needs to be in the field and to look at the situation in person…””
From an Interview with the Democratic Union Party, PYD, Co-Chairman Salih Muslim in Turkish paper Radikal… April 15:
Very intelligent analysis… on several scores:
“…[A] Turkey’s relationship is with the opposition coalition, which is a political formation. But it does not have ties with a good many of the groups behind it. Essentially, the coalition does not, either. These groups operate on their own. The Coalition (the Syrian National Assembly), for instance, constantly says “we want democracy and pluralism.” But what do the groups on the ground speak of? Of a caliphate. Since the Turkish press does not follow publications in Arabic, it may not be aware of this, but these people are shouting this out very forthrightly. They do not conceal their dreams of an Islamic caliphate. Consequently, the rhetoric in the field does not match at all with what the Coalition is saying.
[Q] We are aware of talk of this sort by Al-Nusraha
[A] Not just Al-Nusrah, but almost all of the groups within the FSA. This is the reason for the prediction that, when Al-Asad falls, the civil war in Syria will continue. If we look at the latest decisions taken in the Arab League, we can see that everyone is supporting his own force for after Al-Asad. In fact, all the world’s jihadists have gathered in Syria. There are even people from Tora Bora.
[Q] What will the Kurds do, then?
[A] Nothing. We will once again be caught between the ambitions of the different states. We are going to continue to defend ourselves and our region. We have become accustomed to this over centuries; what else can we do?
[Q] No one had anticipated that Al-Asad would last this long; were you expecting it?
[A] Yes, because we know the regime very well. Since the 1960s, the Ba’th regime has worked its way into the roots of the country, and will not be easily rooted out as in Libya and Egypt. The Al-Asads have established an oligarchy by putting their men into all the important points of the state. This system does not consist solely of Alawites or Ba’thists. It was not known by the West that this system could behave very savagely. We were aware of it because we had experience. There is nothing to prevent the regime from killing people. And another reason for Al-Asad’s lasting is the position of Syria. The stability in Syria means the stability of the entire Middle East. Why does NATO not become involved in an intervention? Because of Israel’s security. Because the moment that Syria launches the Scud missiles with chemical weapons, which have a range of 300 kilometres, even if Israel’s defence system known as “Iron Dome” functions perfectly, the chemical weapons w! ill fall on Israel. In mountainous areas the range is 50 kilometres. This would mean a great massacre. Al-Asad is crazy enough to do this. For that reason, the West is unable to intervene.”