86 2 mins 7 yrs

I don’t just mean that ISIS rules in Palmyra.

You might have seen that the Syrian war has been going badly for Assad’s forces. While ISIS expands its control, various other “rebel” groups have been pushing back government forces in a series of defeats.

The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent (Martin Chulov) has a plausible explanation. He reports that a few months ago the chief backers of the various rebel fronts – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – put aside, with Washington’s connivance, their factional differences and joined up their efforts to defeat Assad. Since then the rebels have been receiving more and better arms, hence the tide of the war.

They’re determined to not just end the Assad regime, but to end also Iran’s ambitions. Tehran has long backed Damascus, Hezollah in Lebanon and, thanks to neo-con hubris and megalomania, now Baghdad. Chulov says:

Out of all the recent chaos – the looming destruction of a cradle of civilisation, resurgent anti-Assad fighters and the unchecked brutality of the jihadists – a rare clarity has emerged. The region’s main powers are now openly locked in a struggle for the destiny of the region – and of Syria in particular – that can only be stopped with a globally brokered solution.

Fat chance of that. The Middle East is a region where things simply do not end. More likely, I think, is a regional war as Iran digs in to protect its manors, with catastrophic economic consequences for a world without the means to mitigate them. I don’t know what’s coming down the road, but this looks very bad.

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86 thoughts on “SYRIA GOES EVEN MORE MAD

  1. The thing is that places like Saudi and Qatar can militarily back the maddest shower of headbangers in the ME and there’s not a word from DC, but if Iran were to armk a government’s forces the US would go ballistic.

  2. In the ME things never end and they always get worse, and there are no ” good guys ” that I can see.

  3. All of that is hard to disagree with Pete. There is nothing positive in this.

  4. Phantom, on May 25th, 2015 at 9:15 PM Said:
    In the ME things never end and they always get worse, and there are no ” good guys ” that I can see.

    Oh well, that’s ‘regime change’ for you in the ‘axis of evil’ 😉

    The invasion into the ME, by the coalition forces was a balls-up of biblical proportions.

  5. If the collapse of the Saddam regime was a disaster in terms of ethnic slaughter in Iraq, then surely it makes sense to back Assad in Syria now.

    He’s another dictator, of course. But he’s better than his tryant dad and a damned sight better than Saddam.
    And the question must be: is there any likely scenario where a Syria without a central dictator is a more free, more peaceful and generally a better place for its people?

    I think the answer to that should be obvious.

  6. Yes

    I’ve called for the West to do a 180 on Assad for some time now.

    He is the least bad of the bad alternatives out there.

    Seek to do a deal with him as we might have cut a deal with Saddam- one with minority rights, no revenge where possible, and crushing ISIS with no mercy in a grand bargain with NATO, Iran and Russia. No grand bargain is possible without Iran and Russia.

  7. Turkey would be a problem

    They see Assad as the root cause of the horror, and that is not even close to being true

    And Israel would flip out at the concept of any bargain with Iran

  8. //No grand bargain is possible without Iran and Russia.//

    Unfortunately, in US politics, no grand bargain is possible without Israel too, and for Israel’s crowd on Capitol Hill Iran is just slightly better than Nazi Germany, which is probably why it’ll be very hard for any US administration to make even an ad-hoc deal with Teheran’s man in Syria.

    It’s a pity really, as until the war broke out Assad was moving, very slowly, to reforms and had at least made a few promises in that direction. Now with the war, he had damned himself in the eyes of so many Syrians by using chemical weapons; he’s also facing a war-crimes charge in the UN.

    Still, as Phantom says, almost the entire sane world – with the possible exception of Turkey – wants to find some way, any way, of stopping ISIS. That common will must at some stage be turned into a deal and an alliance.

  9. Isis could be stopped without a grand bargain, if the larger, better equipped Iraqi Army would fight Isis.

    But the Iraqi Army does not fight, and all the blame for this falls on Iraq and Iraqis.

  10. Return it to a British Colony with the UN picking up the tab for the Administration/military cost and the Brits getting the oil.

  11. What Iraqi Army? Much of it consists of fictional names and doesn’t exist in reality.

    Even many of the actual soldiers are more like investors, who buy their positions and trouser the salaries paid to the fictional names.

  12. //Isis could be stopped without a grand bargain, if the larger, better equipped Iraqi Army would fight//

    We’re talking about Syria.

    BTW, it was apparently even the US-trained “elite” units, which also vastly outnumbered their foe, who turned and fled and abandoned Ramadi to ISIS.

    There is no easy way to beat such a force as IS. How often did the Yanks beat the Sunnis in Iraq, only for them to regroup and strike back somewhere else? It can be checked only by a strong force with widespread support in the region and funded and armed by the world’s sane. It must also go hand-in-hand with a political solution for the region, even if it means breaking up countries and leaving some bits in the hands of dictators.

  13. It’s absolutely bizarre that a state like Israel could impede any kind of international negotiations to stop a bunch of religious psychopaths.

  14. The vacuum in Iraq helped Isis grow in Syria

    It’s all connected

    Iraqi army cowardice has killed Syrians as well as Iraqis

  15. Israel has a legitimate security interest in any ME bargain esp any involving its sworn enemies

  16. //Israel has a legitimate security interest in any ME bargain//

    So has Egypt.
    So has Jordan.
    So has Syria.
    So has Turkey.
    So has Lebanon.
    So has the EU.
    So has Russia.
    So has the US.

    ergo: Israel will get its way.

  17. Israel has a legitimate security interest in any ME bargain esp any involving its sworn enemies

    And most of the world have a legitimate security interest in putting these savages to bed.
    If Israel doesn’t want to help with the heavy lifting it should get out of the way and let those who will.

  18. If Assad is getting nervous he certainly isn’t showing it.

    Three quarters of his army is based in and around Damascus, as is his air force.
    Defending your capital city is a far cry from committing valuable troops to the semi-desert regions to the north and east.
    ISIS has had a pretty easy time of it so far, and I would guess Assad is keeping his powder dry until such time.

    In any case, nobody knows what kind of serious ‘ordnance’ Russia has supplied to Damascus through it’s port at Tartus, but one thing is for sure: Putin ain’t going to sit around while his only Medi port gets shelled by a bunch of primitive head-choppers.

  19. Israel faces the fact that Iran, Hamas, Isis, Hezbolah, and very many persons in the Arab and Muslim world want it exterminated. The Arab nations, Iran and Turkey do not face anything like that level of long term existential threat.

    I’m not a member of Israel’s Amen Corner but its hard not to see this fact. The Jews see what the Muslims are doing to the Last Christians of Arab lands now, the end of a very long story of massacre by Muslims, and they don’t wish to be the next victim.

  20. Israel faces the fact that Iran, Hamas, Isis, Hezbolah, and very many persons in the Arab and Muslim world want it exterminated. The Arab nations, Iran and Turkey do not face anything like that level of long term existential threat.

    ISIS seem to be sweeping aside everything in it’s path, if it has the chance it will have Israeli heads on stakes. Israel shouldn’t be able to dictate or ‘flip’ at the bilateral or multilateral actions of other sovereign states.

    Shit or get off the pot.

  21. good god back Assad lol The idiot in the White House probably will.

    I look at Syria and I see one thing from border to border… ripe targets. What Syria needs is a good carpet bombing.

  22. Paul

    Let’s see some leadership from Ireland and Spain on this.

    They’re very enlightened, just ask them. I’m sure that they can fix everything chop chop.

  23. Troll

    When I went to Israel a few years ago, I visited the Golan Heights. The Israelis there seemed quite secure. The Syrians had kept the peace for a long long time.

    A friend lived in Damascus for five years as a teacher. She found it a lovely, interesting, safe place.

    They can live with Assad, the others not so much. By the standards if the Arab World, Assad is an enlightened ruler, unless you threaten his power.

  24. Assad is ally to Iran.

    The nice people in Syria aren’t there anymore.

    It’s not a matter of wanting to do something, it’s a matter of what is coming. Wishing it wasn’t coming regretfully won’t prevent it.

    Wish it would.

  25. Iran and the Shia are looking a lot less horrible and barbaric than the Sunni of Iraq, Syria, Libya etc have been looking.

  26. Phantom, what in the name of Christ has Ireland or Spain got to do with Israel ‘flipping’ at international attempts at defeating ISIS?

  27. Iran and the Shia are looking a lot less horrible and barbaric than the Sunni of Iraq, Syria, Libya etc have been looking.

    And you are looking a lot more racist and bigoted with comments like that.

  28. I see nothing good no matter what movements are made in whatever direction in the middle east. The fault lies with individuals. Too many thousands of people are prepared to take up arms with the aim of destroying other peoples lives and habitats and too many other individuals and organisations and governments are willing to fund such evil. I know I am stating the bleeding obvious but until the greater mass of those with power and indeed individual men too in that part of the world actively reject militarism and violence, there will be no halt to the misery.

  29. Petr

    It is ” racist ” to point out the compare the religiously motivated behavior of the ( mostly Arab ) Sunni, with that of the ( largely Persian ) Shia in conflict zones?

    Zones which in the case of the Sunni include not only Iraq. Iran and Libya but Nigeria ( Boku Haram) and others?

    It is racist to discuss the relative depravity in the two groups of Islam, which are engaged in a kind of civil war in the Arab world and beyond?

  30. Which are engaged in a kind of civil war in the Arab world and beyond

    They are not engaged in a civil war, it’s an intra – national conflict.

    And you seem to be making an argument against an intra – national effort to combat it because of ‘security concerns’

  31. You completely misunderstand what is happening.

    Neither Sunni nor Shia think that there are two Islams, They see one.it is a fight within Islam.

    And it’s not much national at all. The crazies including AQ Isis and Boku Haram and I think Hezbolah reject and despise nationalism.

    It would be easier to deal with if it was a national dispute

  32. And it’s not much national at all.

    I know, that’s why I said it wasn’t a ‘civil war’ but an intra national conflict. What with all these foreign fighters flocking to ISIS and their affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Libya etc. It doesn’t get much more intra national than that.

    It would be easier to deal with if it was a national dispute

    Indeed, you prove my pount about it being intra national and your seeming onjections to a proposed intra national campaign against it.

  33. Intra national means

    . within one nation; occurring or existing within a nation’s boundaries.

    There is nothing at all that is intra-national about what is seen here, in the Arab world, or in west Africa, or in east Africa etc.

    It is trans-national, or maybe non-national in a movement that rejects the concept of nationalism completely, as does certain strains of its fellow utopian movement, communism.

  34. intra-
    Word Origin
    1.
    a prefix meaning “within,” used in the formation of compound words:

    intra national – between (various) nationals as in the intra national effort that Israel’s ‘security concerns’ would impede.

    I think you’re looking for the adjective ‘national’as in civil wars being fought by those of the same nationality.

    Now, that’s enough attempted semantic diversion.

  35. Yes enough semantics, how about arguing what is the best most practical and justifiable way of dealing with the threat of Islamic State and the whole phenomenon of violent religious/fascistic power emerging and threatening the peace and security of peoples in Muslim lands and elsewhere ?

  36. I’ve given the parameters.

    A grand bargain, one which includes Russia and Iran, and which as part of the bargain, Isis is destroyed.

    This will not be easy, but the only alternative is to go to war with the entire Muslim world, which will not happen.

  37. //A grand bargain, one which includes Russia and Iran, and which as part of the bargain, Isis is destroyed. //

    Phantom, let’s say the major nations managed to cobble together such a joint project, but then Israel didn’t want it, claiming – inter alia – that the arrangement gave Iran an even greater say in the region, cemented Assad in power in Syria, consolidated Hezbollah’s position in Syria and its links to Iran, and generally that it forged an understanding between Iran and the West just as Israeli is trying to isolate it, etc. etc.

    What do you think the US should do, and what do you think the US would do?

  38. Russia has been frozen out of Middle East negotiations for a really long time, as in forever.

    But there can be no resolution of any of this without Russia.

    The freezing out of Russia has been a major error in US foreign policy. At the fall of the USSR and the emergence of Russia as a separate, huge nation, the US might have tried to partner with Russia on this.

    I see Russia as a natural, potential, ally on this and on other things also. Not on all things, but on many things.

  39. Noel

    Every country there needs a Dutch Uncle talking to, including Israel.

    Any proper deal that will stand will require recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by all, including Iran.

    And will require Sunni concessions to Shia power, and concessions on the part of both to the Kurds, who, along with the Israelis, have been the two adult parties in the entire region.

    Borders have to be redrawn, no question.

    Did I say this was easy? No I most certainly did not.

  40. Ok what Phantom describes at 1:43 is the IDEAL.

    It is however not the reality. The reality is The entire ME has been at war with itself since the death of Mohamed. The fight between Sunni and Shia is who will lead the Muslim faith Those in the blood line of Moe or the Priests. That is the basic dispute.

    Add to that conflict now great wealth from oil and modern weapons that is where we are at today.

    Also the statement that Russia is frozen out of the ME is just silly, they have always been a player there just not as big of a player as the US and Britain. Russia is Irans ally. Iran is in the process of gaining control over as much territory in the ME as possible it directly controls 5 countries besides their own.

    Saudi Arabia is in the process of trying to gain control or at the least ally with the rest of the nations/tribes to counter Iran.

    The conflict is getting worse, there is nothing in the mix at the moment to give the hope that it is going to do anything except continue to get worse.

    The conflict in this region effects the entire world because that region of the globe controls over half the worlds refined oil they effect everyone, so everyone gets involved.

    Another factor in this is that both factions in this fight are willing and are actively sending their soldiers into every other nation on the globe to kill those that are not followers of Islam.

    So how does the rest of the world constrain the Sunni Shia fight to the ME? That is the problem the nations of the West are dealing with.

  41. If Israel and America went away, they’d still be fighting each other to the death.

    A point that very many miss.

  42. Any proper deal that will stand will require recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by all, including Iran

    And will require Sunni concessions to Shia power, and concessions on the part of both to the Kurds, who, along with the Israelis, have been the two adult parties in the entire region

    Yeah? funnily enough I can’t see any concessions from Israel.

    Good luck with that.

  43. Israel isn’t threatening the existence of any Islamic state.

    And it takes two to tango.

    I see no reason for them to sign on anything less. They either have a right to live, or they do not.

  44. So concessions from everyone, borders redrawn……and the Israeli Status Quo continues?

    Yeah, that’ll work.

  45. Israel has already made concessions, including the return of the massive Sinai and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Look it up.

    They should be willing to make more as well – in the context of everyone recognizing the other’s right to live.

    Which should not be a problem, if peace is what’s being sought….

  46. //Israel isn’t threatening the existence of any Islamic state.//

    Are you mad?
    Israel is the only country in the region that has invaded, occupied and colonised an Islamic state and denies its right to exist.

  47. Palestine wasn’t a state when Israel was formed.

    But nice try!

    And you now call it an Islamic state. Hmm. Well, how bout that.

  48. Eh?

    You’re quoting things from thirty one and ten years ago respectively as ‘concessions’ to a campaign that hasn’t began yet while stating that borders must be withdrawn?

    You’ve obviously studied international diplomacy

    Withdraw to pre 1967 borders and then you possibly may have a basis for something. If you think that you’ll get agreement from others giving concessions while Israel consolidates its position I fear you’ll have a very long wait.

  49. You’re quoting things from thirty one and ten years ago respectively as ‘concessions’

    Sorry, thirty three years ago,

  50. //And you now call it an Islamic state. Hmm. Well, how bout that.//

    Well, as you call Israel a “Jewish state”, I thought, why not?

    //Israel has already made concessions, including the return of the massive Sinai and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. //

    You take over your neighbour’s house, and then you make “concessions” by giving him back a room.

    Yeah, in your world.

  51. The return of the Sinai was a massive concession, a major act of good faith.

    I’m saying put it all on the table.

    But if the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is to be seen as any sort of conditional thing, then its not on. It can’t work and there’s no point in talking about it.

    Even a blind man can see what the fate of the Jews of Israel would be if they were ever in an indefensible position. The same as the Christians of Syria and Iraq.

  52. Noel

    Israel is a Jewish state.

    I thought that the Palestinians were pretending to want a non sectarian state. You need to get with the script, man.

  53. //existence of Israel as a Jewish state //

    Phantom, what exactly do you mean by a “Jewish state”, and does your meaning differ from the “Jewish state” that Israel has recently started demanding be recognised?

    A “Jewish state”, like an “Islamic state” or a “Catholic state”, can mean different things.

  54. A state that is meant first and foremost as a national homeland for the Jews, and one in which minority rights, such as those of Christians, Bahais, and Muslims are recognized.

  55. But if the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is to be seen as any sort of conditional thing, then its not on. It can’t work and there’s no point in talking about it

    Says who?

  56. Says anyone with an interest in something that works.

    If my existence is conditional to you, why do you expect me to negotiate with you on any matter?

  57. //A state that is meant first and foremost as a national homeland for the Jews, and one in which minority rights, such as those of Christians, Bahais, and Muslims are recognized.//

    If that’s all you mean by the term, I have no problem with it.
    But you didn’t answer my 2nd question, and I fear the answer, in view of your answer to the 1st, would have to be Yes.

    As for the different existences, I think the obvious solution is that each state recognises each other state’s right to exist. Only extremists like Iran and Israel have a problem with that.

  58. Says anyone with an interest in something that works

    Eh? we’re talking about a multi force coalition to combat ISIS that Israel won’t even be part of why should Israel even be consulted let alone be part of some pre condition before Persian soldiers are allowed to fight and in all probability, die?

    If my existence is conditional to you, why do you expect me to negotiate with you on any matter?

    But you’re not ‘negotiating’ with me.

    You seem to be getting ahead of yourself Phantom, let me give you this business analogy:

    You come to me with a business proposition to invest a considerable sum of my money into a major project to stop someone in an adjacent office to mine who is attempting a hostile takeover of a minor business associate and attempting to expand.
    Now, I’ll be expected to invest heavily in this although it’s very likely I’ll make a loss and the direct benefits of the project will be of little to me personally.
    One of the contractual conditions for me entering into this loss making venture is that I must adhere to a pre condition of a third party who is not only a bitter business rival but who will invest absolutely nothing in the project themselves.

    Sounds great, when do I start?

  59. Apart from the Christians of the ME, the Israelis the only ones facing an existential threat.

    Put everything on the table – other than Israel’s existence, which no one has a legitimate right to question – and for the first, time, have a conversation for the entire region.

  60. But if they’re not going to be part of the project and do some investing why should I?

    I really hope you don’t broker deals like this in your professional life.

  61. //Put everything on the table – other than Israel’s existence, which no one has a legitimate right to question//

    No country has a right to demand others recognise its right to exist when it itself refuses to recognise another’s right to exist.

  62. I try to look at the big picture at all times.

    I recommend this approach very highly.

    As I tell some of the other gentlemen, its all connected, and dealing with one or two things in isolation may not take you where you want to go.

  63. Noel

    The entire world recognizes the right of the Arabs to exist, incl Israel

  64. It’s a bizarre concept that a third party unconnected to a collective effort can dictate the terms of that collective effort.

  65. //The entire world recognizes the right of the Arabs to exist//

    Israel and its enablers don’t recognise Palestine’s right to exist, and are even going to farcical lengths to stop others recognising it. In fact, Israel is doing to Palestine what it would use atom bombs to stop anyone else doing to itself.

    Either all recognise all other’s right to exist, or all bets are off.

  66. Paul you say you can’t see Israel making concessions… that is bull or just your ignorance.

    When Bill Clinton was President the Israeli’s conceded to every demand of Arrafat’s even giving them half of Jerusalem.

    His response was the first intifada.

  67. Troll

    You state alleged concessions from a man who was last PTUS fourteen years ago to a man who died eleven years ago. Please re read what I said to Phantom above:

    You’re quoting things from thirty one and ten years ago respectively as ‘concessions’ to a campaign that hasn’t began yet while stating that borders must be withdrawn?

    Let me know how that goes.

  68. no Paul first you have no moral ground to stand on personally. Your view in any of these matters is tainted and skewed.

    It is the Jews land not the Arabs. The jews don’t strap bombs to their children and send them into crowds, Gaza started shelling random neighborhoods again today.

    Where is your outrage over that?

  69. The moral duplicity played by so many is always amusing. I am considered a clown and a barbarian because I have the honesty to say my view of the truth.

    Look at the ME and what do you see? What I see is evil.

    I see people burning and beheading other people in the streets of their home. Their are many things wrong with the US and Israel neither however are evil. The predominant culture in the ME keeps slaves, burns other humans alive, cuts off heads, and look at woman as nothing but sex toys everything about their way of life is the living example of what we in our societies have been raised to view as evil.

    These people are not going to stay contained in their region of the world. They have already shown they are willing to attack us in our homes.

    It’s only a matter of time before the one of our two societies decides the other must end. They have already announced it will be ours. I believe they are willing to carry that threat out. So therefore we better kill them before their are a lot of us dead.

    If you really believe that is not what it’s coming down to you haven’t been watching events.

  70. You are considered a clown and a barbarian because you are a clown and a barbarian. But hey why not turn another post into your needy self?

  71. or you could act like someone with half a brain and engage in a debate why my view of the situation is wrong.

    Although I’ve given up expecting anything reasonable from you Mahons. Act the man you claim to be and educate me on why and where my position on the Middle East is wrong. Surely if I am honestly the clown it should be a simple task.

    The hostility that I spew is out of boredom with men such as you. You’re a waisted talent.

  72. Your talk of subjective ‘moral authority’ on a thread where we are discussing a potential offensive against ISIS is nothing but the rantings of a simpleton child desperately wanting to be noticed.

    Run along and leave this debate to the grown ups.

  73. other than morality and self preservation what other reason do we need?

    Besides what is this “we” crap?

    Other than possibly helping the Jihadists what’s the IRA going contribute to any struggle?

    Maybe Adams will work out what soft targets of children to blow up the next time he meets with Hamass.

  74. Tony Blair is the personification of evil, and I very rarely use that word.

  75. He’s even more of a grifter than Bill or Hillary Clinton, and that’s saying something.

  76. I don’t know Blair is an Amateur compared to the Clinton Crime Family and their Foundation. Just yesterday they uncovered Bill’s Shell company. He has a company that you don’t pay him you pay the Company and then the company pays him.

    I know there are a bunch of Mafiosa doing time for that…. Hell they just locked up Half the FIFA Board for that…..

    I know it’s illegal if some Soccer Clowns do it, just not when the Clintons do.

  77. Besides what is this “we” crap?

    WTF are you on about you empty vessel? Where, anywhere have I used ‘we’ in any part of this hypothetical discussion?

    I cringe with embarrassment for you every time you open your metaphorical big mouth on this blog, I can just imagine what your poor countrymen must go through.

    We were having a discussion about a situation and you weigh in with your self righteous bullshit and na na na playground infantileism to toxify it.

    It is pitiful to see a supposed grown man divest himself of all self respect in attempting to quench a seemingly insatiable me me me narcissism. This conversation is for adults and not the rantings of a petulant child so why not take the hint that no one thinks you’ve anything but poison to contribute here and, politely, fuck away off?

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