"I urge Europe to do more. After WW2 it was Europeans seeking the world's assistance." Ban Ki-Moon 2009 Secretary-General of UN
Re-construction by 'Disaster Capitalism' doctrine: War or Civil-Uprising (open-ended war by proxy) is the ultimate means of attempting to change societies and reshape nations. It is through war or revolutions that national economies and political structures can be forcibly restructured. War is, potentially, the ultimate "economic shock treatment". Its a variation on Machiavelli's advice that "injuries" should be inflicted "all at once"; meaning the status-quo can be changed, only through an actual or perceived crisis. Naomi Klein
People sincerely seemed to believe that, simply by replacing Mubarak, Egypt’s multitudinous problems would be solved. No one really said how any of these problems would be solved, there was just a general assumption that they would be. You did not need a particularly active imagination to look at Egypt, a country with a poor, under-educated, unskilled, and rapidly growing population, and see the potential for trouble. In fact given the shambolic state of Egypt’s economy, its yawning religious cleavages, and the immaturity of its political institutions, it would have been nothing less than a miracle if the post-Mubarak iteration of the country hadn’t ended in total disaster. Few of the brave young men and women behind the Arab Spring have been willing to publicly admit the possibility of a link between their revolutions, which were organic and home-grown, had anything to do with the wars.
CIA got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948 in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. CIA admits that it had engineered the 1953 coup against Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, when the US and Britain installed the Shah. US has toppled leaders like Jacabo Arbenz in Guatemala, to Patrice Lumumba in the Congo; training and/or arming vicious killers from the Contras in Nicaragua to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. US has supported exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard. US shot down a civilian Iranian airliner — killing 290 people, including 66 children.
Qatar hosts the US’s biggest military air base in the region, while maintaining cordial relations with Iran; it held contacts with Israel while simultaneously backing the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizbollah. Whether in terms of armaments or financial support for dissidents, diplomatic manoeuvring or lobbying, Qatar has been in the lead, readily disgorging its gas-generated wealth in the pursuit of the downfall of the House of Assad.
“Khawalid is a term used in Bahrain to describe an ultraconservative faction within the Royal Family who trace their lineage back to Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifa, who in the 1920s was the powerful younger brother of the then Emir. He led a brutal crackdown against a Shi’a uprising and was imprisoned by the British. His supporters were known for their intense dislike of the island’s majority Shi’a population and spent much of the late twentieth century outside the corridors of power. But key Khawalid figures have managed to get into senior positions within the Royal Family and in recent years appear to have sidelined figures who are more sympathetic to economic and political reform such as the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamed al-Khalifa. “
Only once over the past two years has Israel fully condemned atrocities committed by the Assad regime, and while it has given medical help to wounded rebels on the Israeli-Syrian border, it fears an Islamist caliphate in Damascus far more than a continuation of Assad’s rule. One former Israel intelligence commander recently described Assad as “Israel’s man in Damascus”.
"in the Muslim world, ungoverned spaces will be exploited by Islamist extremist... the meltdown of a country caused such problems for our NATO allies in Europe that domestic populism was fueled by the refugee crisis, which saw a tsunami of refugees going all the way into Europe, not just into the region; also the spread of violence and the collapse of a State." David Petraeus
The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the old city of Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.
On February 7th, advance by Russian and Syrian forces was quickly repulsed by U.S. firepower. The Russian force had no air support or anti-aircraft weapons and no backup plan other than for the survivors to retreat as quickly as possible. The Russians were hoping to push American troops out of a base near oil fields east of the Euphrates. While there are only about two thousand U.S. troops in Syria there are more than five times as many providing support from nearby airbases and even more distant facilities, including intel and other analysts back in the U.S. but on call 24/7 via satellite comms. The Russian force suffered heavy losses which included about 200 Russian military contractors.
The 1996 Israeli document, which included prominent U.S. policy figures as authors, calls for “rolling back Syria”, outlines pushing the Syrians out of Lebanon, diverting the attention of Damascus by using an anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon, and then destabilizing Syria with the help of both Jordan and Turkey. De-linking Syria from Iran and unhinging the Resistance Bloc that Damascus and Tehran have formed has been one of the objectives of the foreign-supported anti-government militias inside Syria. This includes preventing the Iran-Iraq-Syria energy terminal from being built and ending the military pact between the two partners. Syrian oil is known as “light crude” and can be burned for heating or cooking as it comes out of the ground. Such a schism between Damascus and Tehran would change the Middle East’s strategic balance in favour of the US and Israel.
The Turks have never got on well with the Assads, especially since the 1980s when the Assads became allies with Iran (because both Iran and the Assads were Shia and both were enemies of the Sunni minority dictatorship in Iraq that was then led by Saddam Hussein). The Assads are trying to back out of their long (since the 1980s) alliance with Iran and have the backing of Russia for that. Israel believes the Assads are hostile to a permanent Iranian presence because that might lead to an Israeli invasion, which would give the Syrian rebels a boost. To further complicate matter the Turks want to eliminate all armed Kurdish groups west of the Euphrates River. Actually, the Turks don’t want any autonomous Kurds in northern Syria and neither does the Iran backed Syrian government. Turkey wants to create a security zone on the Syrian side of the border that has no Kurds or Islamic terrorists in it. Turkey is willing to play diplomatic games with Russia and Iran to achieve these goals as well as send troops into Syria to fight, and get killed.
The wars that flared in the late 19th century, including the seismic Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the later Balkan wars that preceded World War. It also led to massive population displacements; the exodus of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim refugees in various directions; and the collapse of the fragile cosmopolitanism that once characterized parts of the Ottoman Empire, especially its port cities. The Turks also remember earlier in the 19th century, when Russian campaigns in the Caucasus and and secured major lands north of the Black Sea, in what is now modern-day Ukraine, and huge tracts of territory by the Caspian Sea The lands around the Black Sea saw the massacre and mass deportations of populations of Turkic Muslims. They remember that Britain looked the other way. And, worse still, the British Empire allied itself with Persia - the Ottoman's enemy - rather than supporting Istanbul in its fight against Imperial Russia. It worked in the other direction, as well. Most infamously, as World War I raged, the Ottomans carried out mass deportations and killings of the empire's Armenians, the vast majority of whom lived in what is now central and eastern Turkey. Countless Armenians were executed, raped and forced into grim death marches into the desert.
In the wake of that Turkish reform the Arab states became independent (after a decade or two of French and British colonial rule). After World War II (1939-45) rapidly growing demand for oil (which Arabia had lots of) made many Arab states (especially Saudi Arabia) quite rich. The Saud family had taken over most of Arabia in the 1920s and formed a kingdom for the express purpose of safeguarding the primary Moslem holy places in Mecca and Medina. The Saudi royalty tried to use this to become the leader of Islam but found that most Moslems politely ignored them. There was no denying the huge oil reserves (the largest in the world) the Saudis had, and gradually that became quite a lot of power.
While the Turks and Saudis (and about 80% of Moslems) were Sunni, the Iranians (and 10% of Moslems) belonged to the Shia sect (which conservative Sunnis considered heretics). In the 1980s Shia clerics in Iran managed to form a religious dictatorship and proclaimed a worldwide Islamic revolution (which most of the word, including Moslems, ignored). The Shia clerics in Iran saw themselves as more worthy guardians of the most holy religious sites in Mecca and Media. The Saudis, and most Moslems, did not agree.
The Iranians are still at it and are being quietly supported by Turkey (a traditional and ancient enemy). Although Turkey has been ruled by a moderate Sunni Islamic party for the last decade, the Turks don’t feel they should take sides in some Sunni-Shia conflict. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab oil states feel threatened by a militant Iran. Turkey sees itself as the only adult power in the region and deserving of resuming a major leadership role (without the old imperial burden of actually administering and policing all the people in the region). The Arabs are not keen on this, as they have bitter memories of the harsh Turkish rule. There’s also the ethnic factor. Islam was created by Arabs and while all Moslems are supposed to be equal, many devout Arab Moslems believe they should be a bit more equal.
The Turks are trying to demonstrate their new statesmanship by achieving peace in Syria without enraging the Iranians or handing Syria over to Islamic terrorists. At the same time the so-called Free Syrian Army and other NATO-GCC front organizations are also using Turkish and Jordanian territory to stage raids into Syria. According to the Turkish and Lebanese media, France had sent its military trainers into Turkey and Lebanon to prepare conscripts against Syria. The Saudis feel the Turks don’t know what they are dealing with. The Syrian rebels would appreciate some more Turkish help in overthrowing the current pro-Iranian Syrian government.
However, the move had been opposed from the outset by Germany and Scandinavian countries as well as by Baroness Ashton, the British head of EU foreign affairs. "There is no shortage of arms in Syria," said Jean Asselborn, the Luxembourger Foreign Minister. The Turks are reluctant to get too directly involved lest Arabs get upset over a return of the old Turkish (Ottoman) Empire in the form of Turkish troops in Syria. Currently the Turks feel the Syrian government will eventually fall. The Arabs would prefer to see this happen sooner rather than later. But, unlike the Turks (who have one of the two, next to Israel, most powerful military forces in the region) the Arabs are unable to just march in and overthrow the Syrian government. This rankles the Arabs but it’s just the way things are (and have been for a long time).
Turkey, which has and could again dominate the region, doesn’t want to do it via force. Iran, which wants to turn all of the Middle East into part of its new Islamic empire, doesn’t have the military might to do this. Decades of sanctions have left Iranian forces weak, which is why Iran is so eager to have nuclear weapons. The Arab states have not been a major military power for over 600 years and are nowhere near to regaining the power they had in the distant past. Reality, resentments, and unrealistic aspirations all conspire to create what passes for politics in the Middle East. All this misdirection and posturing also tends to give the Islamic terrorists a free ride and a degree of sanctuary. For centuries it was customary to shelter rebels and terrorists from neighboring states and try to use these zealots as one of your own diplomatic and military tools. The more lucid zealots figured out how this went and sort-of went along. Think of it as another local tradition that just won’t go away.
But the break-up of Syria's opposition, got splintered into hundreds of armed groups, and worsens the dilemma faced by the West as they arm rebels which ends up in the hands of hostile Islamist militants. The head of the Islamic State of Iraq, announcement that al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq had also formally merging with Nusra to form the ISIL. He had financial support from private donors in Arab Gulf countries and from al Qaeda's global support network. Perhaps Saudi Arabia and Qatar were looking to create oil and gas pipelines through Syria to the Mediterranean and beyond into Europe in order to muscle into Russia's energy market. Moreover, Turkey and Israel play a major strategic role in "protecting" the Mediterranean transport and pipeline corridor.
US and SDF forces (Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly Kurdish rebels) expand and improve their fortifications in southeastern Deir Zor province, specifically the new U.S. base at the al Omar oilfield. The Assads want this but the Americans are backing Kurdish efforts to hold on to al Omar and the valuable oil it can produce. Americans are building smaller bases in the nearby Koniko and al Jafreh oilfields. These three oil fields produced over 300,000 barrels a day before the civil war began in 2011 and was a major source of foreign currency for buying foreign goods. After seven years of fighting the oil fields only produce about 20,000 barrels a day and control of these oil fields puts the Syrian Kurds in a strong bargaining position.
These oilfields were operated (before 2011) by Alawites (the minority the Assads belong to). The Assads want the oil fields back. So do the Russians, who have the contract (from the Assads) to rehabilitate the oil fields and operate them. In the northwest Turkish forces have taken the Kurdish held town of Afrin and despite efforts of Syrian forces to interfere Turkey announced that it will retain control of Afrin. Now the Turks are preparing to move 100 kilometers to the east and take Manbij (northeast of Aleppo city, 40 kilometers south of the Turkish border and near the west bank of the Euphrates River). The Turks insist that they are going to control the Syrian side of the border from the Euphrates River west to the Mediterranean but have apparently have an understanding with the US that will allow the SDF (SDF fighters in Manbij are Arabs, not Kurds.) and US forces to remain in Manbij as long as all the SDF fighters in Manbij (and west of the Euphrates) are non-Kurds.
The Russians want an end to the 7 years of fighting but it is now in conflict with Iranian plans to attack Israel. Russia is trying to convince Iran that the Israelis are really, really serious about getting Iranian forces out of Syria. Israel demands this. Turkey agrees with it and the Assads would prefer that. Iranian mercenaries are the key to whatever combat capabilities the Assad forces have. This is why the Assads also want Iran to withdraw its forces once all the rebel forces are destroyed, disarmed or otherwise neutralized. Otherwise the Iranian led mercenaries will be the real power in Syria. This is how Iran created Hezbollah in Lebanon since the 1980s. What this comes down to is the fact that Iran is a foreign (Indo-European, not Arab) power that wants to increase its direct control over Syria. The Assads depend on both Iran and Russia for the unexpected comeback from certain defeat. Iran has been backing Assad since the 1980s while the Russians largely stopped supplying Assads with much material aid after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The Russians returned in 2015 and the air and tech support put the Assads on the road to victory. But now Russia is siding with Israel on the issue of Iranian efforts to take control of Syria.
While Iran’s allies in Damascus have been weighed down, its allies in Baghdad have not. After Syria, the same conglomerate of countries working against Damascus will turn their attention to Iraq. They have already started working to galvanize Iraq further on the basis of its sectarian and political fault lines. Turkey, and the Sunni Muslim countries - Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are playing prominent roles in this objective. Qatar was dominate during the Syrian uprising. In the years before the Arab uprisings, Qatar had cultivated its role as a mediator, capable of talking to all sides on the divisions that polarised the Middle East. Qatar has rapidly become a major power broker across the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region. Ironically, although the relationship between Riyadh and Doha has long been characterised by mutual suspicion, in many ways they have worked very closely on Syria. What makes this interesting is that Turkey and Iran are traditional enemies of Russia, while Israel and the Gulf Arabs are not. Russians focused on the Arab Spring’s potential for economic disruption, religious conflict, and generalized political chaos. Russia is trying to project power to deter a Libya-style intervention in Syria. The port of Tartus is Russia's only remaining military outpost outside the former Soviet Union.
These airstrikes were delivered mainly by Russian jets and helicopters at first but soon the refurbished Syrian Air Force warplanes (which had suffered 70% losses since 2011) were carrying out a lot more airstrikes. On some days there are nearly a hundred air strikes. Russian warplanes are carrying out 50-60 air strikes a day. That was far more than the U.S. led air coalition. The Russian aircraft in Syria initially consisted of Su-34 and Su-30 fighter-bombers, Su-24M bombers and Su-25 ground attack aircraft as well as about a dozen armed helicopters. There are also many transport helicopters. Russia brought in several thousand of their Spetsnaz (special operations) troops both as active duty Russian army operators and former Spetsnaz serving as contractors. Russia also sent expert snipers who mainly served as instructors for Syrian Army snipers. Cuban troops were also reported in Syria, brought in to help train and assist Syrian troops.
Over a third of the Russian troops and contractors were technical experts to assist the Syrians in refurbishing overworked weapons and military equipment. Russian civilians in Syria were engineers and other specialists from Russian defense firms that were developing and manufacturing the most modern Russian weapons. In Syria, the Russian private security contractors mainly guarded these Russian bases. By the end of 2017 there were about 1,200 military contractors from the Wagner Group. Russians also had shipped in lots of ammo along with the new parts. The Russians also brought in UAVs and electronic monitoring equipment and because of that provided a much better picture of where the best targets were. Russian UAVs were providing target information and the Syrian infantry seemed more precise and confident as they called in supporting artillery and air support before advancing. Another advantage was that the Russians brought in lots of badly needed medical supplies and equipment as well as medical personnel. By early 2018 Russian casualties (not counting contractors) in Syria continued to be remarkably low.
Russia sold advanced Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syrian President Bashar Assad, outfitted with an advanced guidance system that makes them more effective than the older version of the missile Russia sold to Syria. Syria had ordered the coastal defense version of the Yakhont system from Russia in 2007 and received the first units in early 2011. Russia sent at least a dozen warships to its Tartus naval base in Syria, in a move partly meant to send a message to Israel and the West not to intervene militarily in the country. Russia also decided to provide advanced, long-range S-300 air defence weapons to Syria, to prevent even a limited no-fly zone far more risky for US pilots. Russia has insisted that it is within its rights to keep arming the regime as there are no UN resolutions prohibiting this. It is the Syrian regime's air defences, overhauled and upgraded with Russian help, which have been a powerful deterrent against the West declaring a "no-fly zone" or “humanitarian corridor” stretching up to 40km into Syria (as it is called in US/NATO doublespeak) of the type which, after it became a bombing campaign, brought down Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni-Wahabi Islamists (who killed thousands of Americans on 11th September, 2011) and all of its enemies are Shiites. The slow bleeding of Syria has other interested parties that want to smash the country and its society into pieces. Suncor Energy helped produce oil for export from Libya, but in Syria produces energy for local consumption. In reality, hostile governments are letting these companies to stay, because they siphon money out of Syria. They want to prevent any money from going in, while they want to also drain the local economy as a catalyst to internal implosion in Syria. There is also clamouring for steps to be taken to de-link Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, from its Christian allies in Lebanon. The German Marshall Fund showcased a text essentially saying that the Lebanese Christians that are allies to Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran need to be presented with an alternative political narrative to replace the one where they believe that Iran will ultimately run the Middle East as a great power. Israel mounted an airstrike in 2013 that reportedly destroyed a weapons convoy leaving a Syrian army depot near the Lebanese border, widely seen as a warning to Damascus. Another of the region’s supreme ironies is that Hamas, supposedly the ‘super-terrorists’ of Gaza, have abandoned Damascus and now support the Gulf Arabs’ desire to crush Assad. Israeli airstrikes inside Syria have targeted missiles believed to be from Tehran and bound for Hezbollah.
The key to crippling ISIL as an organization were those leaders responsible for finance, logistics and media. Decapitation tactics work and while the tactic is ancient they have become more common in irregular warfare because of new technology. These were harder to replace and the senior ISIL leaders knew that success at raising huge amounts of cash (mainly via looting and smuggling, but also extortion and ransoms paid to free kidnapping victims and slaves) and maintaining effective communications for the finance and recruiting operations were more important. The logistics included obtaining weapons and explosives and moving them to where they would be most effective. ISIL would often deny accurate reports of their key people dying or being captured in order to maintain morale. This had been perfected and proven in Iraq before U.S. troops left in 2011 and earlier in Israel where it was developed to deal with the Palestinian terror campaign that began in 2000.
The Israelis were very successful with their decapitation program, which within five years reduced Israeli civilian terrorist deaths from over 400 a year to less than ten. The Israeli and American decapitation tactics adapted to the techniques and tactics of current Islamic terrorism. American troops have used them many times in the past (in World War II, 1960s Vietnam, the Philippines over a century ago, and in 18th century colonial America) but tend to forget after a generation or so. Some things had to be relearned.
That civilians are also killed is nothing new. During the allied invasion of France in 1944, the several months of fighting required to destroy the German armies in France also left 15,000 French civilians dead in the invasion area and more than that in the rest of France. The Germans did not normally try and hide among civilians, while Islamic terrorists do. The Germans knew they would be attacked no matter where they were. Islamic terrorists do sometimes get away because of the successful use of human shields (and because the order to fire is not given). This attitude ignores the civilians who die because terrorists escape to keep killing.
Turkey wants to clear all Kurdish separatists and from the Syrian side of the border and turn that “security zone” over to the Free Syrian Army rebels (working for the Turks). Idlib is the last major stronghold for rebels but given the high concentration of Islamic terrorists and radical Moslems among the Idlib population, no Moslem country (especially Turkey and Lebanon) want them. Aside from sealing their border the Turks are not interested in Idlib and leaving to the Assad forces to take back control of the province. The Turks won’t risk their own ground forces in Idlib but apparently won’t mind if Iranian mercenaries go in and do the dirty work. The rebels in Idlib are also not united. However, ISIL is a minority in Idlib and hated by all other rebels. This is a “kill zone” because the Sunni Arabs crowded into Idlib have nowhere to go. That’s what traditionally happens to “The Unwanted” in this part of the world. A major operation against the active Islamic terror groups in Idlib is not likely right now because Iran is distracted with Israel. Meanwhile Turkey is using that access to supplies to gain the cooperation of more rebel groups. While weapons and reinforcements are no longer getting into Idlib from Turkey, food and other essential supplies are and the Turks can cut that off if any of the Idlib rebels cause problems.
It is a truth universally acknowledged by every war correspondent, humanitarian aid worker and Western diplomat: Some wars, like Syria’s, receive tremendous public attention, which can translate into pressure for resolution. But many others, like Yemen’s still raging but much ignored conflict, do not.
Some of the reasons are obvious; the scale of Syria’s war is catastrophic and much worse than Yemen’s. But attention is about more than numbers. The conflict in eastern Congo, for instance, killed millions of people and displaced millions more, but received little global attention.
Conflicts gain sustained American attention only when they provide a compelling story line that appeals to both the public and political actors, and for reasons beyond the human toll. That often requires some combination of immediate relevance to American interests, resonance with American political debates or cultural issues, and, perhaps most of all, an emotionally engaging frame of clearly identifiable good guys and bad guys. The war’s narrative is less appealing to American political interests.
by Amanda Taub.
Myth: Muslim nations have not taken in the refugees. In reality, if all the refugees is taken in, totally, will increase only 1% of the population of Europe. In fact, even though they are not as rich or capable, they have taken in most of the refugees. Jordan has warned that Syrian refugees are likely to make up 40% of his country's population by the middle of next year, with similar numbers predicted for Lebanon.
Why are Syrians leaving their homes?
- Violence: Since the Syrian civil war began, as many as 386,000 people have been killed, including nearly 14,000 children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict.
- Collapsed infrastructure: Within Syria, healthcare, education systems, and other infrastructure have been destroyed; the economy is shattered.
- Children’s safety: Syrian children — the nation’s hope for a better future — have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, missed years of schooling, and witnessed unspeakable violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles, according to the U.S. State Department.
Myth: Migrants or refugees are breeding at high rate and can become the majority.