From Via Media: ‘Middle East In Flames: The Fruit Of White House Policy In Syria’

Full post here.

‘At the moment, mainstream media criticism of the President’s foreign policy mostly centers around the issues that bother the legalist left: too many drones, not enough closure at Guantanamo, too much persecution of reporters trying to ferret the President’s dark secrets out of his staff. What isn’t taking place, yet, is a process of examining the consequences of key administration moves in the Middle East.’

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Interesting paper here.

Addition: What’s going on in Turkey?  More here.  The region is roiling.

Adam Garfinkle makes it sound almost mercurial:

So why is the United States not intervening in Syria? Because our level of affinity with the victims is low, our aesthetic sense is not much ruffled, and our cycle-sensitivity is very high. We actually do have interests and principles both at stake in Syria, but they’re no match for the real reasons why America does or does not intervene abroad

From a while back: Full video here. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius, Jim Jones and Michael Mazarr respond to Mazarr’s new article “The Risk Of Ignoring Strategic Insolvency“) More discussion of the piece here.

Many Americans are contented enough at the moment with a move away back towards isolationism, away from Iraq and Afpak, and to regroup and align our interests with our budget (our military budget is being cut significantly, presumably to spend it inefficiently at home).

Now, we’re never going to fix that part of the world, but we want to be strategically well placed within it.  The Republican establishment isn’t looking too good on foreign policy, and the neo-con wave crested a while ago.  Personally, I have little faith that the current ideals guiding foreign policy, and the political commitments that come with them, can place us as well as we need to be placed.

Related On This SiteUpdate And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Too late to act with the least risk and the most gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

Full piece here.

Now, we shouldn’t have aimed for troops on the ground necessarily, but whatever window we had, is likely gone.  Now we sit back, biting our nails:

‘What are our security interests? The key issue is the safety of the regime’s chemical weapons. Our military contingencies should focus solely on preventing the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction to fanatics.

Syria’s complexity is daunting: A major regional struggle for hegemony waged as a proxy war; a showdown between Sunni and Shia, with minorities trapped in the middle; a parallel contest between modernizers and fundamentalists; and the bloody dissolution of the artificial borders imposed by Europeans at the Versailles peace conference nine decades ago.’

Thanks to a reader for the link.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Adam Garfinkle:  Map humor.

Addition:  Via the NY Times:  John Kerry announced $60 million in U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition, food rations for the military front, and is trying to bet on the political horses, so that the worst elements, if and when Assad falls, aren’t holding the guns.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Northern Lebanon Burning’

Full post here.

‘The Syrian civil war is spilling into the city of Tripoli, the second largest in Lebanon. Sunni Muslims in the poor neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh are at war with an Alawite militia in the adjacent hilltop neighborhood of Jebel Mohsen that supports Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Last week there was even a shootout at a hospital, of all places.

So far this is hardly original. What makes this conflict absurdly unusual is that segments of the Lebanese army are protecting both militias, and they’re doing so on behalf of a foreign government—Syria’s’

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Adam Garfinkle:  Map humor.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Free Syrian Army Threatens Hezbollah In Lebanon’

Full post here.

‘Hezbollah is scary good at insurgency, but counterinsurgency is emphatically not a skill in its toolbox. That’s one of the many reasons the organization has never tried to conquer the rest of the country. It can’t. It can only push people around from its own corner’

Syria, of course, has devolved into a long, bloody conflict, and the greatest danger is continued destabilization in the region.  America’s commitments are governed by a policy which defers to international law and institutions by design, and sits back otherwise (Libya, yes-Syria, no).  We’re no doubt helping logistically and behind the scenes with some SpecOps, but we’re also questionably losing important leverage and influence in the region.

Shia Iran has close ties with Hezbollah, and is backing the Assad regime.  Sunni Saudi Arabia is funneling arms to the Free Syrian Army, as it sits next to now Shia majority Iraq and is still upset after Saddam’s Sunni-majority ruling coalition.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Adam Garfinkle:  Map humor.

AdditionVia the NY Times:  John Kerry announced $60 million in U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition, food rations for the military front, and is trying to bet on the political horses, so that the worst elements, if and when Assad falls, aren’t holding the guns.

Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

From Via Media: ‘As Assad Quakes On His Throne, Is Iran Ready To Deal?’

Full piece here.

Some good analysis on what Assad’s departure means for Iran, the balance of power in the Middle-East, and for the Shia and Sunni tensions:

‘Otherwise, America’s best policy option seems clear: more of the same. Push Assad downhill, press Iraq for a fairer internal policy and a more non-aligned external one, support a factional rebalancing in Lebanon that encourages Hezbollah to transition from a revolutionary arm of Iranian foreign policy into a Lebanese political movement with a strictly domestic agenda, tighten sanctions and hold the line on nukes.’

That is, if the Civil War ends with Assad’s death/and or departure, as most interested parties are still making bets, and trying to steer possible outcomes towards their own interests.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Is Manaf Tlass’s Defection a Sign That Assad’s Regime Is Cracking?” From Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

From Reuters: ‘Israel Fires Warning Shots At Syria Over Golan Shelling’

Full post here.

‘An Israeli security source said the military fired in the direction of a Syrian army mortar crew that had launched a shell which overshot the Golan disengagement fence on Sunday, exploding near a Jewish settlement without causing casualties.’

A long protracted, civil war was feared, enflaming sectarian lines and drawing in regional powers.   We’ve probably had special ops on the ground and there are probably a few other things going on, and lots of aid groups and just across the border in Jordan.   This is to say nothing of what Iran, Hizbollah, Lebanon, Turkey, and others have going on in Syria.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria.

What’s going on with Petraeus?  It seems a little odd that the FBI is doing a full investigation on the head of the CIA.

Related On This SiteVia Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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From The NY Times: ‘U.S. Military Is Sent to Jordan to Help With Crisis in Syria ‘

Full piece here.

‘The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict.’

It’s still unfolding messily: a protracted civil conflict along sectarian lines with spillover.  Turkey has been shelling inside Syria for over six days, and returning fire on its borders.  There are many thousands dead and many cities heavily damaged inside Syria.

More here that Assad is losing his grip.

We likely have, or have had, special operations inside Syria assisting the rebel forces, but obviously there’s only so much we can do.

Why enter Libya and possibly end up with a client State, and not Syria?  Why bet on the horses in one country and not another according to the current doctrine, relying instead on a particularly ineffective international process?

Related On This Site: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Full piece here.

WSJ video here.

It still bears watching.  The Turks certainly have a close eye on the situation:

‘Syrian Kurds may be enjoying a breath of freedom after Assad appears to have ceded control of some areas to focus on the battle against mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels fighting in Damascus and Aleppo.’

Meanwhile, via Michael Totten:  Top Hezbollah operative in Syria killed.  Iran’s doubling down to keep Assad in control through Hezbollah.

Related On This Site:  From Michael Totten At World Affairs Journal: ‘The World According To Syrian Kurdistan’

Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”

 If America doesn’t lead someone who probably doesn’t share our values will…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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From Michael Totten At World Affairs Journal: ‘The World According To Syrian Kurdistan’

Full post here.

Totten interviews Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria.  The interview finishes with Abbas saying the following:

‘Full scale civil war. It has already started. Syria could change from a failed dictatorship to something that looks like Somalia or Afghanistan, or—at best—Lebanon during its civil war. The fighting will continue and Syria could become a haven for Islamists.

The United States should work with Russia and create a federal system. Russian interests can be guaranteed in an Alawite state while American and Israeli interests can be guaranteed in Syrian Kurdistan.’

The longer this goes on, the worse it will likely be.  Of course, the goal of a Kurdish state requires the current chaos in the region to be amplified even further.  The Kurds see a window, however, and they do show strong support for the U.S,, as Totten notes:

‘Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups have never been able to get much traction in that community. The Muslim Brotherhood is an exclusively Sunni organization, and it’s also, for the most part, an Arab one. Rather than viewing Islam as “the solution” to what ails them, most Kurds in Syria as well as Iraq view freedom and independence as the solution, along with an alliance with the U.S. and Israel.’

I fear that the goal of working with Russia is mostly a dream;  a dream led by the same type of liberal internationalist thinking that led to what amounted to Kofi Annan’s time-wasting pronouncements regarding a collapsing Syria.  It’s unclear for many at the moment what to do otherwise.

The Kurdish developments bear watching.

Totten’s new book: Where The West Ends.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”

Does Islam have less of a hold on the Middle East due to an individualizing Muslim world…if so does this partially explain why there is such a strong Islamic resurgence?: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us.  If America doesn’t lead someone who probably doesn’t share our values will…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Is Manaf Tlass’s Defection a Sign That Assad’s Regime Is Cracking?” From Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

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Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘The Strange Credulity of David Ignatius’

Full post here.

Pretty much a takedown of David Ignatius, who writes for the Washington Post:

‘The subject of yesterday’s column hinges on an interview Ignatius recently conducted in Paris with Manaf Tlass, of whom I have spoken before. In the column, titled in the paper, “A Way Out of Assad’s Syria”, Ignatius allows and enables Tlass to characterize himself as a conflicted Syrian elite apostate who early on separated himself from the atrocities committed by the regime.’

There’s always someone to tell you what you want to hear.

Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Is Manaf Tlass’s Defection a Sign That Assad’s Regime Is Cracking?” From Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

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