Posts Tagged ‘Assad’

“ISIS first, Assad later” gains traction but St. Jeremy makes UK the weakest European actor against ISIS

November 18, 2015

Most of Europe is now falling behind the Russian strategy of “ISIS first, Assad later” as being the only viable way forward in Syria. The UK is also acquiescing with this line, but only verbally, since it is prevented from making any strikes in Syria without parliamentary authority to do so. With the self-canonised St. Jeremy Corbyn now in charge of the Labour party, such a vote may be a long time coming. After Paris, Hollande – though a St. Jeremy soul-mate in normal times – is forced to go all out against ISIS and is now coordinating attacks with Russia. Even Germany is considering supporting military action against ISIS. France has invoked a treaty provision for the first time ever and called for support from the other EU countries. All EU countries have promised that – as yet undefined – support. But the UK is now perceived as the weakest European actor against ISIS terrorism. The instant and automatic opposition of the SNP to any government motion and the naivete of St. Jeremy (which is not so innocent) has seen to that.

The Barack Obama – US led coalition’s “strategy”, if it can be called a strategy, has been to get rid of Assad at all costs. What was to happen afterwards or the question of whether Syria, as a nation , could even exist was left to the future to determine. It has been Russia’s reluctance to abandon Assad and his regime which has prevented any UN resolutions of any significance. Before the Russians recently started their attacks on ISIS they tried to rally support for the strategy of attacking ISIS and other rebels/terrorists first (which would help Assad) and then arranging for Assad to leave the scene after ensuring a transition to something sustainable. Obama and Kerry virtually dismissed that idea but did not go so far as to set themselves up against any Russian strikes on ISIS. The US and their coalition partners did, however, try and project the view that Russian intervention was more harmful than helpful.

After the Russian passenger plane was destroyed by – it is claimed – ISIS, the Western objections to the targets of the Russian strikes were a little more muted. Now after Paris, France has signed up to the line of “ISIS first, Assad later”. The rest of Europe is falling-in line with the notable exception of the UK. The Kurds love this, the Turks don’t. Saudi Arabia is very apprehensive that even if Assad eventually goes, a Shia government could still remain in place. Besides, they are reluctant to be seen to be accepting the demise of a Sunni organisation, even if it is as murderous as ISIS. From Kerry’s recent statements it seems as if the US is preparing the ground to also accept this strategy though the US, of course, can never be seen to falling-in behind Russia.

One way for the UK to save face and even get involved in Syria, would be if a UN resolution establishing “ISIS first, Assad later” could be accepted in the Security Council. Possibly the UK could propose it and recover some of the face they have already lost. Neither the Russians or the US would then veto such a resolution, though one or both might abstain depending upon the text. But it should not be impossible in the present climate. That would give the hapless St, Jeremy something to hide behind when a vote is called for in parliament. But he has already cost the UK a great deal of political clout in the fight against ISIS.

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From threats to bomb Assad, Obama bombs Assad’s enemies a year later

September 23, 2014

What a difference a year makes.

In September last year Barack Obama and John Kerry were drawing red lines in the sand and threatening to bomb Bashar al-Assad. They never did.

And Obama – with his coalition against evil – is now bombing Assad’s enemies in Syria.

NYT:

The United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday, unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa and along the porous Iraq border.

American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.

The strikes are a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration had bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.

Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates took part in the strikes, American officials said, although the Arab governments were not expected to announce their participation until later Tuesday. The new coalition’s makeup is significant because the United States was able to recruit Sunni governments to take action against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State. The operation also unites the squabbling states of the Persian Gulf. ….. 

Assad will surely spin this as support for his regime. That may not be the primary intention of the air strikes but he will surely be strengthened by the attacks on the most potent of his many enemies

I think ISIS does need eradicating but it needs to be by the Sunni Muslim world in the first instance. I cannot help but wonder which of Obama’s moving red lines was crossed now by ISIS which was not crossed earlier by Assad. The difference of course is that bombing ISIS is – politically – almost risk-free for the US President. Vladimir Putin will not protest and neither will Netanyahu. Even Iran will be quite happy with this attack on Sunni extremists opposed to Assad. Even the EU will support – though the position of the EU is largely irrelevant for the US. But air strikes alone will not eradicate ISIS or bring much greater order to the chaos in Iraq and Syria.There is a real risk of the chaos being extended – geographically and in time – but Obama’s final term has not long left to run.

The entropy of the chaos increases.

Barack Obama will be remembered not  as a leader with any clear principles but merely as the first black President of the US and for whom principles were always subordinated to his fear of risks. Courage will not be associated with his terms in office.

“Yes. We can” will become “Well, I tried..”.

Déjà vu! For Iraq read Syria

August 28, 2013

Déjà vu!

Some kind of military action by the US and its allies – probably missile and drone attacks – is imminent  against Syria and Assad. To what end is uncertain. To destroy stocks of chemical weapons could be an objective but any action would probably only cause more release of the toxins involved. To destroy or help destroy Assad’s regime is possible but unlikely since the alternative would probably be Al Qaida. To assassinate Assad runs the same risk. To kill some of Assad’s military or his supporters just as a “punitive” strike could be an objective but adding to the killing to stop the killing seems a little dubious. To demonstrate a self-righteous “moral” position to the world with the least damaging consequences possible would seem to the main objective. To prevent any future use of chemical weapons by any country could be an objective thought it is difficult to see how many “bad guys” would need to be killed or how much property would need to be destroyed to create a valid deterrent.

For Iraq read Syria. For Bush, Blair, Chirac  (my failing memory) and Howard read Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Rudd. Even though each of the current four leaders is from the opposing party to that of his predecessor. For WMD read “chemical or nerve gas”. Statements by the politicians show that they are absolutely “certain” that Assad was responsible. Evidence is not forthcoming. As it was not for Iraq. And it does not inspire any confidence that to justify the Iraq invasion, “evidence” was made-up by the intelligence services to satisfy their political masters.

That upto some 300 people have been killed seems very likely though there is some doubt as to the number. The main evidence seems to be video footage. That some form of chemical or nerve agent was used seems probable. And traces of such agents are detectable years after the event, though some politicians (Obama and Kerry for example) would like us to believe that the evidence may be destroyed and therefore  time is of the essence just to preserve the evidence. Though it is likely that someone within the Assad regime was probably responsible it is not at all impossible that one of the many “rebel” groups was responsible. Some of the rebel groups – along with Assad’s supporters – have exhibited their barbaric and cannibalistic tendencies.

But I am afraid that military actions will be carried out – again – without any more serious objective than to demonstrate “moral superiority” and to fulfill domestic agendas.  Even though such actions – in themselves – undermine the very moral superiority that is being touted. Some more people – some quite innocent – will of course be killed. They will just be collateral damage and the the sacrifice in a war of moral superiority. That Tony Blair on-board a luxurious yacht somewhere supports immediate strikes against Syria only adds to my feeling that it would be ill-advised. His thirst for blood is apparently not yet satisfied. Obama needs to show that he can actually be decisive – if only for history. Cameron needs a war – any war – before the next General Election and Spain over Gibraltar does not quite fit the bill.  Argentina over the Falklands is better but too far away and already done. Hollande needs to show that he does really exist – as he did in Mali. Rudd would love to be seen at the “big table” and he could see this as a way for grabbing some of Abbot’s supporters for the election in less than 2 weeks.

The chaos in Iraq and the daily loss of life that is occurring there is a direct consequence of the Iraq invasion (and how much worse would it have been under Saddam?). The adventure in Libya to satisfy the European desire for demonstrating their moral superiority will have consequences for many many years to come. Of course the Middle East today (like the Balkans a few years ago) provides proof positive of the barbarism that lies so close to the surface of many human “societies”. And the interventions by moral “police” has always dragged the police down to the level of the criminal societies they are ostensibly trying to put down. The intervention in Kosovo has succeeded after a fashion. But it is hard to come to to the same conclusion for Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya.

To add Syria to the list seems irresponsible.

The only way to address Syria – in my opinion – is to ostracise the entire country. Shun them. Close the borders. isolate them. No weapons – to anybody. No goods, no services to enter the country. Nobody and nothing enters. Only refugees may leave. Send the country to Coventry. Go back in a few months and when the killing stops – help the survivors pick up the pieces. But don’t intervene to add to the killing in the hope of stopping the killing.


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