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And it was all going so nicely! (Is Assad about to defeat the Syrian uprising?). Also: best wishes for recovery to Stirling

Posted by Charles II on June 13, 2013

I don’t pretend to know whether this is correct, but the Agonist under Sean Paul Kelley was generally a place to go for international news. I am less taken with the current editor, Michael Collins, but it’s certainly a tonic to what we hear in our press:

The war in Syria went from a seeming quagmire to a conflict that may reach a dramatic climax with the coming battle for Aleppo, a city of nearly three million people that was once the commercial center of the nation.

The Syrian Army finished off final rebel resistance in the city of Qusayr last week fighting alongside the Lebanese group Hezbollah. As a result, the rebel supply line from Lebanon is shut down and the major road from Damascus to Aleppo via Qusayr is open. The road will serve the supply line for an attack to end rebel occupation of half of that city.

A victory by the Syrian military in Operation Northern Storm, its name for the Aleppo effort, will leave the rebels with very little in the way of major influence or meaningful territory.

Our press has been telling us that victory is certain for the rebels. Collins seems to believe the opposite. I have no opinion, just a vain hope that when it’s all over, the industrialized nations will not abandon a shattered Syria.

Unrelated. Via the Agonist, this note dated 6/3:

To all Stirling [Newberry]’s friends; please know that he has had a stroke. He is in Mass. General Hospital and will get moved out of intensive care in the next couple of days. He has a long road to rehabilitation ahead of him. Please wish him well and visit with him if you can. (Stirling’s Facebook page is active for wishing him well)

A fast recovery to Mr. Newberry, one of the Internet’s most thoughtful iconoclasts.
Update. Bill Clinton risks looking like a fool:

Former President Bill Clinton offered a stinging critique of President Barack Obama’s inaction in Syria during a closed-press event this week, Politico reported, arguing that Obama’s hesitance to get involved in the lengthy conflict could end up making him look like a “total fool” and a “wuss.”

While only 15 percent of Americans said they’d back military action in Syria, according to a recent poll

Ex-presidents are not supposed to grade sitting presidents, particularly with this sort of rhetoric.
Update: And now with this background the White House announcement of lethal aid for the Syrian rebels looks very much like an admission that Assad has won and that the only way to impose the American will is through the CIA, which will presumably be filling the gap until the rebels can get armed and trained.


4 Responses to “And it was all going so nicely! (Is Assad about to defeat the Syrian uprising?). Also: best wishes for recovery to Stirling”

  1. The Pentagon does NOT want to get involved in Syria – and they certainly don’t want to give weapons to Al-Qaeda-allied groups. From an email from Foreign Policy magazine:

    *Red line, crossed: The U.S. moves to arm Syrian rebels. *The Obama
    administration said yesterday it would at last arm Syrian rebels in their bid
    to topple the Assad regime. Administration officials yesterday afternoon
    cited clear evidence that the Syrian government had at different times used
    chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, killing as many as 150
    people, and thus had crossed the “red line” President Barack Obama had said
    would trigger a more focused U.S. response. American officials confirmed the
    CIA would coordinate all direct military assistance to the Syrian rebels.
    Meanwhile, brass in the U.S. military continue to harbor deep reservations
    about the project. */See below./*

    */Is a no-fly zone far behind? /*While the administration has been wary about
    creating a no-fly zone for Syria, the WSJ reports [1] that plans for a
    “limited no-fly zone” appear to be underway. Officials told the Journal that
    the no-fly zone would stretch as far as 25 miles inside Syria, with planes
    flown from inside airbases in Jordan. Such a no-fly zone would help to keep
    Syrian aircraft away from training areas in Jordan, where both Syrians have
    taken refuge from the war and where Syrian rebels train. U.S. officials
    told the Journal the limited no-fly zone would not require the destruction of
    Syrian antiaircraft batteries, as some believed have argued for in creating
    such a zone. “Officials said the White House could decide to authorize the
    U.S. to arm and train rebels in Jordan without authorizing the no-fly zone
    recommended by military planners. A White House announcement could come soon,
    officials said.”

    */The Pentagon has been resistant to support a no-fly zone. /*The fear is
    that it would amount to a salvo that would quickly deepen the U.S. military’s
    role. The zone itself could be seen as an act of war, or at least a
    provocative move: shooting down a Syrian aircraft that ran afoul of the
    no-fly zone would put the U.S. squarely at war with Syria. Early on, the
    Pentagon had weighed proposals from outside analysts, who’d argued that the
    U.S. or allies should target Syria’s early warning radars and SA-5 sites to
    establish air superiority, creating a “space” for Syrian rebels. But this
    kind of course of action would put the U.S. military on a slippery slope and
    could soon confront decisions about targeting Syrian ground forces. Still,
    after months of teeth gnashing, creating a no-fly zone of some sort seemed to
    be within the realm of possibility, even if White House officials wouldn’t
    speak directly to it.*/The White House’s Ben Rhodes: “/*I’d also note that both the United
    States and the international community have other legal, financial,
    diplomatic and military responses available to us. We’ve prepared for many
    contingencies within Syria. We are going to make decisions about further
    action on our own timeline.”

    */Much of the U.S. military’s brass remain wary about arming rebels, too./**/
    /*”The concern with arming the opposition is that there is no way to ensure
    their safeguarding and recovery procedures in the event the weapons are
    stolen or lost and end up in the wrong hands,” one senior officer told
    Situation Report. “For both proposed courses of action, they will only
    achieve tactical effects and not change the strategic picture.”

    */And is it all too little, too late? The /**/NYT:/* [2] “But even with the
    decision to supply lethal aid, the Obama administration remains deeply
    divided about whether to take more forceful action to try to quell the
    fighting, which has killed more than 90,000 people over more than two years.
    Many in the American government believe that the military balance has tilted
    so far against the rebels in recent months that American shipments of arms to
    select groups may be too little, too late.”

  2. Charles II said

    PW quotes FR as saying, “The Pentagon has been resistant to support a no-fly zone. The fear is
    that it would amount to a salvo that would quickly deepen the U.S. military’s role. The zone itself could be seen as an act of war…”

    Funny how they notice that now.

  3. steeleweed said

    And arming the rebels would not be seen as an act of war?

    • Charles II said

      Interesting point, Steeleweed. I’m certainly no international lawyer, but these people say that acts of aggression “include “sending armed bands or similar groups to carry out aggression.” That would seem to indicate that arming rebels is an act of war.

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