william.scherk

What does a President Trump mean for Syria?

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I should have perhaps posted this in the Mideast forum, but Jerry has thoroughly polluted that thread with Garbage File level bullshit. Islam Rape Invasion Europe Box Cars. No thanks.

Trump has been pretty clear about Syria and its travails. He prefers the strong leader, even if that means a strongman or dictator. He is more revolted by Saudi Arabia than by Assad. He will reject any 'refugees' from Syria. He likes a leadership role. He'd like to take Putin under his wing. He'd like to shake up the board.

But mainly he is centred on America first. So, I bet Syria is just left to fester in terms of Russian-US sponsored Final Agreement kinds of peace accords, which would make Trump a hero in the history books. I think, cynically, that the Russians and Trump will agree a timetable, like ... let it run for two, three four years until it can be wound down and peace imposed by Russo-Yank might.

Anyway, those cynical and pessimistic notes aside, the reaction among "certain people" is predictably sad and groaning and fearful.  The article I highlight is just one example of the spread of opinions that you can find on the topic today.  It makes me sad and fearful for Syria. The spirit of vengeance and annihilation among the Assadists is fearsome in places. The undercurrent of agreement across the spread is that Trump will mean an escalation of war. A bigger, badder storm before the calm.

What does a President Trump mean for Syria?
Published November 9th, 2016 - 13:22 GMT

Quote

[...]

Trump has previously expressed support for Assad and his allies, indicating he would side with the regime if it helped to defeat Daesh (also known as the Islamic State). "I don't like [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] at all, but Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS and Iran is killing ISIS,” he said.

However, this has raised controversy. While Daesh is responsible for horrific war crimes, reports suggest that Assad's regime just as bad. According to a UN report, Assad has waged a “systematic and widespread attack against [the Syrian] civilian population,” including widespread torture and the incessant barrel bombing of civilians. Just on Sunday, the Syrian regime was accused of shelling a nursery in a rebel-held suburb in the capital of Damascus, killing at least six children and injuring more than 25. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, and a number of schools and hospitals have been destroyed by regime airstrikes.

Following Trump’s comments on Assad, activists from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) published a series of tweets fact checking Mr Trump's statements and accusing him of being a liar.

1-Trump: " Assad is killing ISIS". 
He is a liar. Over 90% of ISIS land are areas that were liberated by the Free Syrian Army.

With Trump’s vocal support of Assad, and his tight-knit relationship with Russia, political analysts have predicted the end to US support for rebel groups in Syria, and perhaps a new US ally in the shape of Assad.

 

Election of #Trump : one of the consequence in #Syria will probably be the end of military support to rebels / #Assadopposition

 

 

One thing that may be impacted upon under Trump is Syria policy - more US-Russia coop ag IS as focus rather than US focus on Assad removal!

 

And it’s not just the analysts who think so, with Assad supporters taking to Twitter to praise Trump’s win as a victory for the regime and Syria:

تقارب ترامب (أمريكا) مع بوتين (روسيا)، سيكون إيجابياً من حيث إنهاء ألعاب الأطفال من الصراعات المستدامة، وخاصة في سوريا

هما متقاربان هنا

The close relationship of Trump(US) with Putin(Russia), will be positive as it will end the kids gaming of continue conflicts, especially in Syria. They agree here

بفوز ترامب
أعداء الأسد نصيحة مني
اعتذروا للاسد قبل ان ينتقم منكم شر انتقام

#ترامب

Since Trump won.
Enemies of Assad take my advice
Apologize for Assad before he takes his revenge

aleppo-may.jpg

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Trump transitioned from not a Republican presidential candidate to one to the nomination of that party to the election campaign to where he is right now expanding to fill the boots of the President Elect. One can assume there's growth to come. If he had started out as a professional politician, I think predicting his future policies would be a little easier.

Anyway, the 700 pound gorilla in all this, though seemingly in the background, is Iran. Also a religious and geo-political war between the two major Muslim sects centered on oil.

The more Obama tried to get out of Iraq the more it made things worse. There's something to be said about worst setting things up for the better, but we are all too myopic to see most of that except after the fact.

Trump will likely be reined in by his habitual reliance on competence. The question is, then, whose? Or which? Will the "Deep State" suck him in?

The 2003 invasion of Iraq continues to pay its ghastly dividends and it's thanks to our boneheaded President Bush.

Because Trump won we can continue to play Masters of the Universe. That's better, at least esthetically and/or psychologically, than having President Clinton shitting over everything with her conniving criminal friends. She's finished. She's gone. D(orthy) Trump dumped a bucket of water on her and she's melting, melting, melting!

--Brant

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I think it means Assad stays and a gas line from Iran to the Med. gets built with the port on the Med. protected by Russian navy stationed there. The Qatari/sSaudis don't get to build one. Not though Syria, anyway. That's all this conflict is about. The ancient religious differences are real, but wouldn't be enflamed like they are but for years of Iranain and Saudi stoking. Trump ends the contest. Iran/Russia win this one. There are worse things.

I used to think Iran was the worst thing. But Saudi/Qatar are so much worse. Some Persian success at checking them is needed.

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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

I used to think Iran was the worst thing. But Saudi/Qatar are so much worse. Some Persian success at checking them is needed.

Jon,

Not only that, I had a thought about Russia. Back during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the true globalist. Now it's just Russia and it doesn't want any part of the other globalists who have appeared.

Iran with a nuke is a bad idea, but Iran fighting the Sunnis is not. Even with its quirky twelver stuff about destroying the world to hasten the arrival of the 12th Imam, keeping it busy with Sunnis keeps it small. 

Russia unchecked is a bad idea, but Russia looking after its own interests as a sovereign nation is not. Russia doesn't want to conquer the world anymore.

The globalists do.

Michael

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19 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

I think it means Assad stays and a gas line from Iran to the Med. gets built with the port on the Med. protected by Russian navy stationed there.

I think it means Assad stays in power, in that the Trump administration will change US policy in regard to his ousting.  The page will be turned on the US support for armed opposition to Assad, via proxies, via secret forces, via support to 'democracy projects.'  

Regarding gas lines, I don't know how extensive your knowledge is. It isn't the case right now that Iran is entirely boxed out of transporting its natural gas exports to its markets.

What value is a natural gas port on the (Syrian) Mediterranean for Iran?  If Iran wants a pipeline for gas to Europe, then geography suggests it will avoid a traverse of Syria to tie into the Turkish pipelines current, under construction, and planned. I bear in mind there have been a welter of proposed (and abandoned) plans for natural gas pipelines.  Against this backdrop, nothing seems so simple as This Pipeline Is Key To War:

middle_east_pipelines_map.jpg

Quote

The Qatari/sSaudis don't get to build one. Not though Syria, anyway.

My question would be 'how does natural gas from Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and other Gulf-UAE statelets) get to market?

Middle-East.jpg

Quote

That's all this conflict is about.

Competition between Qatari/SA/UAE interests and Iranian interests in natural gas?  I don't think that it can be reduced to a single, simple cause.  And so doing does not suggest any particular outcome for Syria under Trump's foreign policy.

Here is an article from the The National about a single-cause theory ...

The clouds of war have since blown back and forth several times across the historical city of Palmyra and its surrounding gasfields. But even as Mr Al Assad and his Russian backers unravel Syria’s latest ceasefire, various conspiracy theorists persist in blaming this complex, multifaceted war on a single cause: a gas pipeline.

This theory has it that Qatar wanted to export its vast gas reserves to Europe via Syria. The US supported this project to forestall Iran. Iran itself encouraged Mr Al Assad to reject the pipeline in favour of its own plans to send gas to the Mediterranean; Russia, too, wanted to keep Qatari gas out of its plum European markets. Qatar then, according to the theory, turned to supporting the Syrian uprising to overthrow Mr Al Assad and remove the obstacles to its pet project.

[...]

True believers in such conspiracy theories are not deterred by logic. They can find the nefarious hand of oil and gas companies and the US government in any conflict from Mali to Gaza. As Alexander Cockburn wrote of The New York Times foreign correspondent C?L Sulzberger, his role was "to fire volley after volley of cliché into the densely packed prejudices of his readers".


Any theory that links US hegemonic imperialism, "Big Oil" skulduggery and Gulf machinations is catnip to western leftist armchair analysts. The Syria gas notion is supported by enough scraps of evidence and half-truths to lend an air of plausibility. There were indeed discussions on an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, and Iranian exports to parts of Iraq are due to start shortly.

So the notion may have clouded the Syrian picture for serious analysts and casual observers, and it is still worth dispelling it.

[...]

Qatar has not even been able to export its gas to neighbouring Bahrain and Kuwait owing to Saudi opposition. What are the chances it could have constructed such a pipeline across 1,500 kilometres of Saudi territory to Jordan and on to Syria?

Qatar has no problem exporting its gas, in liquefied form, to Europe and the Far East, to a diversity of customers, with no dependence on risky overland pipelines. But if Doha had wanted that much to build its Syrian pipeline, it would have been easier to make the Assads an offer they could not refuse, rather than sponsoring an uncertain and ruinous uprising.

[...]

A quick look at a map demolishes the notion of Syria as a key gas nexus. Syria is a dead end: any pipeline to Europe would have to go onwards via Turkey. Iran has a border with Turkey and already sends gas there; it has no need to go via Syria, nor should US officials have had to devote much concern to blocking such a pipeline.

Quote

The ancient religious differences are real, but wouldn't be enflamed like they are but for years of Iranain and Saudi stoking.

We have a difference of opinion about the conflict in Syria.  

Quote

Trump ends the contest. Iran/Russia win this one.

I think this is possible.  I think Trump may be persuaded to abandon all efforts to oppose Iranian interests in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the greater Islamic world.  I think he may be persuaded to 'surrender' Syria to the Russian-Iranian axis.

Quote

There are worse things.

I used to think Iran was the worst thing. But Saudi/Qatar are so much worse. Some Persian success at checking them is needed.

Well, you are welcome to your opinion. From my point of view, acquiescing to an adversary can have unbidden effects.  If America gives way to Russian/Iranian plans for the region ... it blows back on Israel, Trump's number one ally in the region.

20 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Anyway, the 700 pound gorilla in all this, though seemingly in the background, is Iran.

The Iran with which an agreement was made (under Obama, with the P5+1), on the nuclear file.

Perhaps one of you inquirers can sketch out scenarios of Trump versus Iran, or Trump smooches Iran.  I'd like to keep this blog entry focused on Syria.   It is the most destructive conflict on the planet at the moment (in terms of losses both human and material). It concerns me.

We will be getting an indication of which ways winds will blow -- once the new president indicates who will be leading his foreign and military policy in the White House and in the Cabinet.  

Appeasing Iran and Russia and Syria just might unclog other conflicts.  If the green light is given to Assad/Iran/Russia to crush all rebellion with overwhelming force, with a continuation of war crimes, with the result being a one-party 'stable' state -- the knock-on effects will continue to roil the region, primarily through refugee flows.  

And Trump will presumably close the pipeline to America for any Syrians who have fled destruction.   

Edited by william.scherk

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Two notes for the moment -- looks like Trump's second son is a point-man on Syria. Snatched from the jaws of Google:

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REPORT: Trump's son met with pro-Russia diplomats in Paris to discuss Syria

Business Insider - ‎Nov 23, 2016‎
Trump Jr.'s attendance at a roundtable meeting with pro-Russian, Syrian-opposition elements was confirmed by Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's senior advisers. "Don was addressing a roundtable in Paris, and [Kassis] was present for that talk and at a ...
 
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Donald Trump Jr. Privately Met With Russia Supporters To Discuss How To End The Syrian Conflict

UPROXX - ‎Nov 23, 2016‎
Following a failed U.S.-Russia backed ceasefire, the Syrian conflict has only grown even more catastrophic in recent weeks. ... Donald Trump Jr. must feel that he's part of the solution, for he met with pro-Russian diplomats to discuss resolving the ...
 

Trump's son meets with pro-Russian forces in Paris

Pravda - ‎3 hours ago‎
Elder son of the US President-elect Donald Trump Jr carried out private talks with diplomats, businessmen and politicians in Paris, where they discussed possible ways of cooperation with Russia on Syria. The meeting was held on 11 October at the Ritz ...
 
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Trump Jr. talked Syrian war with Russia-backed group: report

New York Daily News - ‎Nov 23, 2016‎
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the President-elect, met in Paris last month with a group of about 30 diplomats and politicians, including multiple pro-Russian elements, to discuss how to best work with Russia to end the Syrian conflict, The Wall ...
 
images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRLNcKjjj2hkhh0kq-3ZoB

How Donald Trump Jr. manages to run his dad's business while handling international diplomacy I have no idea

Death and Taxes - ‎22 hours ago‎
It was revealed Wednesday that Donald Trump, Jr. met in France last month with several pro-Russian diplomats, business people, and politicians to discuss the United States' approach to the war in Syria, and how it could cooperate with Russian efforts ...

-- the other note is that the President-elect is skipping some of his intelligence briefings. I don't get that.

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Report: Trump not very interested in intelligence briefings

USA TODAY - ‎13 hours ago‎
Donald Trump has only made time for two intelligence briefings since becoming the president-elect, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. A team of intelligence analysts has offered to give Trump daily briefings since his election victory but so far ...
 
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Trump turning away intelligence briefers since election win

Washington Post - ‎19 hours ago‎
President-elect Donald Trump has received two classified intelligence briefings since his surprise election victory earlier this month, a frequency that is notably lower — at least so far — than that of his predecessors, current and former U.S ...
 
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Trump Intelligence Briefing: President-Elect Leaving Daily Analyst Findings To Vice President-Elect Mike Pence

International Business Times - ‎17 hours ago‎
President-elect Donald Trump, a neophyte when it comes to security issues, reportedly has declined daily intelligence briefings, leaving the details to Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The Washington Post reported Wednesday Trump has decided instead to ...
 
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Trump Has Reportedly Been Turning Down Intelligence Briefings & It's Highly Concerning

Romper - ‎15 hours ago‎
That's fine, but it's a little troublesome that, since being elected, Donald Trump has reportedly been turning down intelligence briefings in this transition period. Once elected ... (That being said, once in office, Obama did skip some briefings, too ...

Is this "concerning"?  It gives me a bit more confidence that Trump will win/win  in Syria: hitch his wagons to Russia and Syrian president Assad's plans to 'finish' the war (with Hezbollah and Iran also driving war wagons). The policy cover will be They Fight ISIS. 

The main underlying causative agent of the civil war -- the oppressive old-school  totalitarian Baath system -- might be effectively rewarded with tacit American support, even as it and allies cruelly finish  off all opposition of any stripe.  He's bad, Assad, but he fights ISIS.

The intelligence briefings will intensify as Trump prepares to take office.   I expect he will assess the entire battlefield and all its actors in this most awful conflict.  Not just ISIS.  

He will be talking man-to-man with the top guys in Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. And he will be talking man-to-woman with top power holders in longtime allies Germany and the UK.  Of the reasons for and the ramifications of war -- primarily refugees contributing to Europe's 'migrant crisis' -- he will be getting what his interlocutors consider their 'best goods,' best estimates, best policies.

If some of them counsel him to balance American commitments to human rights (freedom of speech, association, assembly) with pure strategic interests of removing ISIS control from Iraq and Syria, I hope he is able to see the wisest course forward (especially after the disaster of the Obama course, which did nothing but alienate the remaining 'OK' opposition forces, the non-Jihadi nutbars, the non-Islamicist militias, if not the Kurds.

I'd rather my leader spend time with intelligence briefings/listening than entertaining 'the media' ...

 

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http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/12/22/what-trump-should-do-in-syria/

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Despite his early rhetoric about joining with the Russian and Syrian governments to fight the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, Trump is likely to encounter a far more complicated terrain than he seems to understand, which will require a much tougher approach toward Moscow than he so far envisions.

What makes the Syrian war so dangerous is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s determination to fight not simply by attacking opposing combatants, as the laws of war allow, but by targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas, blatantly flouting those laws. Hospitals, markets, schools, and apartment buildings—the institutions of modern urban life—have all been targeted with unrelenting cruelty. For the past year, Assad’s attacks have been supplemented and intensified by the Russian air force under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s command without a discernible change in targeting strategy.

President Obama has made sporadic and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop this slaughter of civilians; his main preoccupation has been fighting ISIS. Trump seems inclined toward a similar focus, and has suggested a willingness to team up in fighting ISIS with Assad and Putin despite their attacks on civilians and their relative inattention to ISIS. In September, for example, Trump said:

My administration…will work with any country that is willing to partner with us to defeat ISIS, and halt radical Islamic terrorism. And that includes Russia. If they want to join us by knocking out ISIS, that is just fine as far as I’m concerned. It is a very imperfect world, and you can’t always choose your friends. But you can never fail to recognize your enemies.

Assad has called Trump a “natural ally” in the effort to “defeat the terrorists.”

US concern about ISIS is understandable given its threat of terrorism beyond Syria’s borders. But in addition to being a humanitarian abomination, Assad’s slaughter of civilians has also created millions of refugees, straining Syria’s immediate neighbors and destabilizing the European Union. Just as Obama found it difficult to ignore Assad’s slaughter, so will Trump. And if he wants to succeed where Obama failed, he will need to get tough with Putin. If he does not, then he may face a situation in which Assad’s atrocities continue to attract the extremist response that Trump says is his first priority to subdue.

The enormous toll among Syrian civilians has been primarily the result not of bombs gone awry but of a deliberate strategy begun by Assad’s military and now joined by Putin’s to depopulate opposition-held areas. The emblematic weapon used by the Syrian military has been the barrel bomb. Typically composed of oil drums or similar large containers filled with explosives and metal fragments, barrel bombs are dumped by Syrian aircraft over densely populated areas held by the armed opposition. A “dumb” bomb, it is incapable of being aimed at a precise target; it simply tumbles to earth and devastates the community or neighborhood where it lands. Syrians have described to me the horror of watching a helicopter overhead dump a barrel bomb, hearing its contents swish back and forth as it tumbles, without knowing until the last seconds whether it will land on them. Russia’s entrance into the war in September 2015 introduced bombs that are capable of better targeting, but in many cases they seem to have been used simply to attack civilians and civilian buildings more precisely. In September 2016, for example, Russia, according to US officials, targeted a UN-organized humanitarian convoy.

Bashar al-Assad and Donald Trump
Bashar al-Assad and Donald Trump; drawing by James Ferguson

The Assad government, aided on the ground by forces from Iran and Hezbollah, has also deployed the age-old practice of siege warfare. The laws of war permit preventing supplies from reaching opposing combatants but not deliberately starving out civilians, as the Syrian government has done. More than a million people living under siege in such places as eastern Aleppo, eastern Ghouta, and Madaya have limited if any access to food, medical supplies, and other necessities, creating another inducement to flee if they can. (Antigovernment groups have also imposed such sieges in a handful of government-held areas.)

In addition, the Syrian government has been ruthless to people it has taken into custody during the conflict, whether combatants from opposition-held territory or suspected opponents in areas under its control. Some 200,000 people have been detained or forcibly disappeared into Assad’s prisons, where thousands have died from execution, torture, or neglect since the conflict began.

Such brutality by the government is one reason the Syrian conflict has been so deadly and disruptive and why hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and half of Syria’s population displaced, including 4.5 million refugees. Although ISIS and opposition forces have also committed gruesome executions, Syrian activists estimate that more than 90 percent of the civilian deaths are due to government forces and their allies.

 

 

On occasion, the Obama administration has tried to press for an end to Assad’s slaughter of civilians. With Russia’s help, the US forced Assad to give up his known chemical weapons when in August 2013 his forces used sarin in eastern Ghouta, an opposition-held area outside Damascus, to kill hundreds of people in a single night.

 

Edited by william.scherk
Added some clarification Blah then accidentally deleted it.

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From US News, a story quoting three Syrian refugee families in Michigan -- Syrian Refugees in Trump's America.  This caught my eye:

Quote

"I would like to congratulate President-elect Trump," says Abdulsalam, who like others interviewed prefers to use his first name only out of fears for those back home. "I hope America will thrive during his presidency. Trump is human; surely he has a heart, he has feelings. Surely he will feel for us Syrians who are here and those who aren't."

Syria is one of those "wicked" problems.  In other words, a complicated problem, with neither a single, simple cause, nor a simple solution. 

It is kind of amusing/sad to see latter-day seers opine on the war in Syria ... such as the comedian Jimmy Dore. With background information supplied by Assadist lap-dancers like Eva Bartlett.  I know in a world reduced to only black and white it is easier indeed to side with a Baath dictatorship (against an opposition whose only name is Terrorist), but that ignores such suffering, as if it had never happened, or had been made up by Western Imperialists. 

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I have the solution.  Let the Syrians kill each other off.  

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28 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I have the solution.  Let the Syrians kill each other off.  

Your moral and geo-political views are always welcome.

Now, go out and get some.

--Brant

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On 11/11/2016 at 2:47 PM, william.scherk said:

I think it means Assad stays in power, in that the Trump administration will change US policy in regard to his ousting.  The page will be turned on the US support for armed opposition to Assad, via proxies, via secret forces, via support to 'democracy projects.'  

Regarding gas lines, I don't know how extensive your knowledge is. It isn't the case right now that Iran is entirely boxed out of transporting its natural gas exports to its markets.

What value is a natural gas port on the (Syrian) Mediterranean for Iran?  If Iran wants a pipeline for gas to Europe, then geography suggests it will avoid a traverse of Syria to tie into the Turkish pipelines current, under construction, and planned. I bear in mind there have been a welter of proposed (and abandoned) plans for natural gas pipelines.  Against this backdrop, nothing seems so simple as This Pipeline Is Key To War:

middle_east_pipelines_map.jpg

My question would be 'how does natural gas from Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and other Gulf-UAE statelets) get to market?

Middle-East.jpg

Competition between Qatari/SA/UAE interests and Iranian interests in natural gas?  I don't think that it can be reduced to a single, simple cause.  And so doing does not suggest any particular outcome for Syria under Trump's foreign policy.

Here is an article from the The National about a single-cause theory ...

The clouds of war have since blown back and forth several times across the historical city of Palmyra and its surrounding gasfields. But even as Mr Al Assad and his Russian backers unravel Syria’s latest ceasefire, various conspiracy theorists persist in blaming this complex, multifaceted war on a single cause: a gas pipeline.

This theory has it that Qatar wanted to export its vast gas reserves to Europe via Syria. The US supported this project to forestall Iran. Iran itself encouraged Mr Al Assad to reject the pipeline in favour of its own plans to send gas to the Mediterranean; Russia, too, wanted to keep Qatari gas out of its plum European markets. Qatar then, according to the theory, turned to supporting the Syrian uprising to overthrow Mr Al Assad and remove the obstacles to its pet project.

[...]

True believers in such conspiracy theories are not deterred by logic. They can find the nefarious hand of oil and gas companies and the US government in any conflict from Mali to Gaza. As Alexander Cockburn wrote of The New York Times foreign correspondent C?L Sulzberger, his role was "to fire volley after volley of cliché into the densely packed prejudices of his readers".


Any theory that links US hegemonic imperialism, "Big Oil" skulduggery and Gulf machinations is catnip to western leftist armchair analysts. The Syria gas notion is supported by enough scraps of evidence and half-truths to lend an air of plausibility. There were indeed discussions on an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, and Iranian exports to parts of Iraq are due to start shortly.

So the notion may have clouded the Syrian picture for serious analysts and casual observers, and it is still worth dispelling it.

[...]

Qatar has not even been able to export its gas to neighbouring Bahrain and Kuwait owing to Saudi opposition. What are the chances it could have constructed such a pipeline across 1,500 kilometres of Saudi territory to Jordan and on to Syria?

Qatar has no problem exporting its gas, in liquefied form, to Europe and the Far East, to a diversity of customers, with no dependence on risky overland pipelines. But if Doha had wanted that much to build its Syrian pipeline, it would have been easier to make the Assads an offer they could not refuse, rather than sponsoring an uncertain and ruinous uprising.

[...]

A quick look at a map demolishes the notion of Syria as a key gas nexus. Syria is a dead end: any pipeline to Europe would have to go onwards via Turkey. Iran has a border with Turkey and already sends gas there; it has no need to go via Syria, nor should US officials have had to devote much concern to blocking such a pipeline.

We have a difference of opinion about the conflict in Syria.  

I think this is possible.  I think Trump may be persuaded to abandon all efforts to oppose Iranian interests in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the greater Islamic world.  I think he may be persuaded to 'surrender' Syria to the Russian-Iranian axis.

Well, you are welcome to your opinion. From my point of view, acquiescing to an adversary can have unbidden effects.  If America gives way to Russian/Iranian plans for the region ... it blows back on Israel, Trump's number one ally in the region.

The Iran with which an agreement was made (under Obama, with the P5+1), on the nuclear file.

Perhaps one of you inquirers can sketch out scenarios of Trump versus Iran, or Trump smooches Iran.  I'd like to keep this blog entry focused on Syria.   It is the most destructive conflict on the planet at the moment (in terms of losses both human and material). It concerns me.

We will be getting an indication of which ways winds will blow -- once the new president indicates who will be leading his foreign and military policy in the White House and in the Cabinet.  

Appeasing Iran and Russia and Syria just might unclog other conflicts.  If the green light is given to Assad/Iran/Russia to crush all rebellion with overwhelming force, with a continuation of war crimes, with the result being a one-party 'stable' state -- the knock-on effects will continue to roil the region, primarily through refugee flows.  

And Trump will presumably close the pipeline to America for any Syrians who have fled destruction.   

Excuse me if I haven't been reading you closely enough--very probable; it's a matter of having the time--but implicit in your remarks seems to be animadversion upon a non-existent Trump foreign policy and non-recognition of who is seondarily responsible for the Syrian mess-capaid: Obama. The primary responsibility belongs to George W. Bush, with his Iraq invasion and then attempts at nation building. While at least by his own metric he left everything about as fine, good, right as then possible, it made no allowances for the inevitable followup fuckups.

--Brant

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Bob, I resist the urge to delete your comment.  But what I will do instead is to ask you to elaborate on your remark. Add some context, compare to other conflicts, maybe assess some costs, benefits, play a scenario or two out. However you want to elaborate on the remark.  

If you have nothing to say about the many issues open in this thread, previous comments. the topic in the header, the conduct of war, options for America's new administration, or perhaps something that struck you after reading the US News report ...  in whatever way you wish, if there is nothing but this from you, I will be so disappointed.

You have a functioning 80-odd-year old neocortex. You have wrestled with moral conflicts, you have tangled with Torah, you have opinions.  You have perhaps an interest in Israel, which watches Syria ... you have a deep well of experience, historical knowledge, national interests.

All so many things to say. But: 'kill each other off.'  Which struck me as somewhat lazy, given your gifts.

I tell you what. I will be a harsh and unforgiving judge of your next comment. I will be Gawd and I will obliterate all that is not Good. I will bring a terrible sword to bear. I will moderate a comment for the first time!

Social media death.

:mellow:

More seriously, I am inclined to be stern if this is all that pulsating six pound blob of electrochemical jelly and blood behind your eyes can come up with.  

-- at the very least share with us a more efficient way to delete the Syrians from the Earth.

I will donate five bucks to OL if you do us up a reading of this brief thread to date.  I mean, for the blind. I'll add some lovely Middle Eastern background music of mortars and screams, or fiddlers -- and post it back here. It will be immortal.

 If fiddlers, I will provide context to these headlines from today's Haaretz.

Quote

Analysis | With Aleppo Behind Him, Assad Could Try to Retake Border Area With Israel on Golan

Assad's successes may motivate him to take on rebels now in control of Golan Heights, leading to potential complications for Israel: errant fire and unplanned encounters with Russian air forces in short term, and more serious problems later.

Analysis | Aleppo and Mosul Residents Anxiously Await Murderous Shi'ite Militias

Since the Syrian army conquered Aleppo, daily life has been controlled by bloodthirsty fighters acting in the military's name. Does Mosul await the same fate?

Opinion | I Hope Assad Wins

All the organizations – Islamic State, Ahrar al-Sham, the Nusra Front – are essentially the same terror that is being supported by the American-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish axis.

Opinion | Assad's Atrocious Regime

Don't worry, this regime won’t last. Its existence contradicts the direction of history.

Opinion | Suddenly Gideon Levy Doesn’t Care About International Law

Attacking Israel for not getting involved in Syria is hypocrisy.

Aleppo: Russia, France Agree on UN Resolution to Monitor Evacuation

UN Security Council will vote on resolution on Monday; French envoy says positive vote will give leverage to 'open way to a broader cease-fire.'

 

Brant, Obama's years have been disastrous for Syria, his policies have held fast to US ideals while committing nothing but money and mischief.  Here's the thing for me, even after ascribing the proper proportion of US evil -- other countries got past their 'Spring' save Syria, Yemen and Libya. Each society that chafed against authoritarian rule had its convulsion. Of all, Tunisia came out the other side a democracy. A basket-case in many ways, but a democracy that would put Poland or Hungary to shame. A state of relative freedom in the Arab world, a Muslim state with a functioning if tiny Jewish community. 

Scan that mental map in your mind, from Morocco to Iran.  Of all those convulsions, something extra was involved in Syria. Perhaps best seen as a nexus, or a fault line between blocs, Syria has been firmly unfriendly to the US since 1968 or so, when it entered the Baath zone. It has been a Russian friend in suspended war with Israel. In many ways, the US did not give a shit about Syria as long as it did nothing vis-a-vis Israel.

That changed when a Lebanese civil uprising led to Syria taking its military forces out of Lebanon. The catalyst was the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister, who had chafed at Syrian Baathist tutelage.  The US had made no moves when Syria intervened in the last Lebanese civil war.

The next convulsion was the Green demonstrations in Iran, suppressed most efficiently, and then the spark lit in Tunisia, bringing us back full circle. 

But to your point that Bush moves led to the convulsions, yes. One of the two most brutal Baath dictators was deposed by American military might, followed by occupation, followed by transition to democracy.  The most operable democracy in the region now outside Tunisia, Israel and Turkey, but friendly with Syria, Iran and Turkey, while having been federalized. 

My point is that it is a special conflict. America's republican ideals are ultimately antithetical to authoritarianism. Those ideals motivated America to 'side' officially with any attempt to overthrow a repressive order. In reality, of course, a repressive order wasn't really getting America too riled up the week before the spark in Tunisia.

Had a Republican been in the White House instead of Obama, I could see the same three poles of American policy pulling to do 'the right thing.'  What was the right thing to do when Syria, like Iran, began to suppress demonstrations?

What was the right thing to do when Syria's opposition began to shoot back?

I think there was a huge  'repressed' tinder in Syria.  Irrepressible.  I think America could have stood entirely back as it did with Iran, and the fierce repression just might have succeeded.

When you look at this place on the map over the long run of human history -- extending to our archaeological knowledge, it matters, it moves, it reverberates. It has seen every great empire since there were great empires.  It is being dashed to pieces now, vast numbers effectively expelled, to maintain the grip of the old regime, the most pitiless and torturous, the most criminal.

The worst things are still ahead in Syria, I am sad to say.  And until that conflict ends it will feed terror in the larger world.

The assassination today would normally be the most grave moment in world affairs. It would portend war, even if a war averted. Luckily the twin authoritarian lite presidents have a working relationship.  

If you look at the actual map of control in Syria, you can see the sad math.  So much was lost by Assad that the ISIS grey dominates still. That the Russians and Iranians have not pounded the fuck out of the ISIS lands as they have pounded the fuck out of east Aleppo -- that tells a tale. Syria and Russia might could not prevent ISIS from taking back Palmyra.  Such are priorities.

I wish Mr Trump the very best on this issue. I think it is a wicked problem.  The worst war on Earth at the moment, still crackling, still burning up the human beings.

To truncquote myself  ...

On 11/24/2016 at 11:49 AM, william.scherk said:

the disaster of the Obama course

ADDED: Brant, I was momentarily dazzled by my own thinking, forgetting I was not at my blog. I am not yet an august personage with a Corner.  I withdraw all my stupid delete/moderate/sword of gawd comments, but still wish Bob would elaborate.  My compliments to him were sincere.

It's not like the conflict will go away or that we will get a sense of new policy this week or next. 

Meet y'all back here next time the flea enters my ear.

 

Edited by william.scherk
Bloviation in honour of Brant added.

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Ah--the power to delete.

I applaud if I do not understand the software upgrade.

You see, I prefer most posters to just go away, as most previously have. I think there are seven left. Eight, if you count Wolf.

--Brant

it's a purity thing 

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55 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

Bob, I resist the urge to delete your comment.  But what I will do instead is to ask you to elaborate on your remark. Add some context, compare to other conflicts, maybe assess some costs, benefits, play a scenario or two out. However you want to elaborate on the remark.  

At the very least we should stay out of the Syrian civil war.  There is no benefit for the U.S. to be involved.

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4 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

At the very least we should stay out of the Syrian civil war.  There is no benefit for the U.S. to be involved.

Since this is your conclusion what are/were the alleged benefits?

--Brant

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20 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

At the very least we should stay out of the Syrian civil war.  There is no benefit for the U.S. to be involved.

I don't believe what happened in Syria was civil war. U.S. has special forces on the ground, drones above them, 5th and 6th Fleet assets within striking distance. Given all the military air/ground/sea traffic in the Syrian theater by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Daesh, KSA, CIA-backed Ahrar al-Sham, Turkey, NATO, Jordan, France, Israel, and U.N. relief ops, there's not much room for anyone to be more involved than they already are.

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1 hour ago, Truncater Der Volf said:

william.scherk said: "Syria...is the most destructive conflict on the planet... It concerns me."

Concerns you? You personally? How does Syria have anything to do with you?

Thanks for the truncquoat.

Yes, the Syrian war concerns me -- if only as human drama, due to its huge and often evil cast.  The most destructive dot dot dot on the planet will concern Mr Trump, too.  

Personally, yes, ever since I met my first Syrian in person in 2011, a victim of state torture in wheelchair, a refugee from the Kurdish north. Personally, yes, in that I did my best to become and stay informed on the drama since it began. A personal investment of attention, a personal return of knowledge. 

Personally, yes, in that many conflicts can capture attention or even heart at times, so pitiless can they be.  The explosive potential of this war without issue is tangentially personal, in that I am a citizen, and my country and my city and my community contains refugees. The mix of despair and hope that impels us to adopt families in the private sponsorship scheme (same as in America) is at times moving. Personal efforts can make a difference in individual lives.   I like that both our countries remain top-five destinations for those leaving Syria for good. 

I volunteered to help (normally breadwinning) adult refugees in extra English. 

The first time I met some peninsula Syrian refugees was at a weird Muslim-Christian potluck dinner.  Plus my barber and his cousin my other barber and my other barber are (former refugees) from Lebanon and Iraq.  Their emotional attachment to this place amazes me sometimes.

45 minutes ago, Truncated Wolf said:

I don't believe what happened in Syria was civil war.

It's arguable.

What I would argue is that civil war dynamics exist even if encumbered by a large cast of foreign interests and actors. The religious Shia/Sunni conflict aspect having dragged in Hezbollah and Iran. And on for five hundred pages of other actors and timelines.

The long-standing opposition in Syria, of those who have escaped, and those who have come of age since 2011 -- they have deep political and social grievances with the system. From the first moments of death in Dera'a, I felt a portent of war. The escalation into insensate brutality of the put-down was at first astonishing. The escalation was when I first developed relationships with Syrians both within and without, when I first gave daily attention to the news and spin out of Syria. If there could be a Syria wonk on OL, the wonk'd be me.

:huh:

You could write a book about Syria's travails since March 2011 without the phrase "civil war."  It might not be a shitty book. It would be a shitty book if it did not contain history, details of the conflict as it developed, month by month, including a sifting of facts and claims. 

When citizens take up arms against an oppressive government, we have a variety of names and euphemisms. Revolution, nope that's taken, insurrection, uprising, revolt, nope too French. The trick of the Assadist side is to have allowed only two names in official discourse. They are militants (now little used) and terrorists.

That explains the government line. There could be no civil war, only terrorists. Which bifurcated thinking and Baath instincts brought on the whole fucking nightmare, in my reckoning, if I only had five hundred words for my book.  Index: Civil Society, what's that?

 

Edited by william.scherk
Civil War notes added; desnarkation

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8 hours ago, wolfdevoon said:

Okay, you've burdened yourself. It's certain Syria has nothing to do with me. Same with a nuclear exchange. Absolutely nothing to do with me.

Not so.  In case of a nuclear exchange we all breathe the results in due course.  Strontium 90 don't pay no mind,  to who was gentle or who was kind....

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34 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

In case of a nuclear exchange we all breathe the results in due course.  Strontium 90 don't pay no mind,  to who was gentle or who was kind....

Shrug. There's been a lot of atmospheric nuke testing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_testing

What happens in Syria stays in Syria/Turkey/Israel/Lebanon/Jordan/Iraq and maybe parts of Central Europe and Asia.

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12 hours ago, wolfdevoon said:

Shrug. There's been a lot of atmospheric nuke testing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_testing

What happens in Syria stays in Syria/Turkey/Israel/Lebanon/Jordan/Iraq and maybe parts of Central Europe and Asia.

Not since  1963.  All testing done by the civilized nations has been underground.  N. Korea may be doing above ground testing.  I don't know.

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What to do in case of a nuclear attack

1.  Stand with your feet 30 inches apart.

2.  Bend down at the waiste until  you can grab the back of your ankls

3  pull hard while   pushing your head between you legs.

4. kiss your ass good-bye. 

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