The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Some Interesting Things About the Russian Coalition’s Syrian Campaign

Notice that one of their major initial objectives is to seal the border with Turkey.

This is because Turkey is the major supply route for the various factions in Syria (and Iraq). And that is Turkish policy.

Note, also, just how effective Russian air support, backed by coalition ground forces, has been. Air power without decent boots is great for destruction and not much else, but it really is a force multiplier if you have the troops to exploit it. This is Russia giving its ally an air force, in the same way the US has so often done.

Finally, note that Russia has just given itself a major presence in the Middle East by becoming a strong ally of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and (downstream) Hezbollah. Don’t think they’ll forget who bailed them out on this.

I’ll have a longer guest post up on Russian strategy in historical context posted soon, I hope.

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  1. Peter*

    If you follow Russian and Iranian propaganda you might think this offensive was a mopping up operation with the rebels in disarray and running for sanctuary in Europe. After less than a week the reality is that it has stalled facing stiff, dug in and well armed resistance. Arms and volunteers are moving to fill the gaps and a worldwide Jihad has been called to remind the Crusader Putin about what happened the last time Russia thought their bloody Iron Fist could subdue rebelling Muslims.

    Assad’s conscript army even with the Iranian mercenaries and Assad’s air power has shown little ability to defeat the Army of Conquest and have been routed in every encounter with the Islamic State forces. More air power may alter the battlefield situation somewhat but the rebels will adapt just as the IS has adapted to massive and constant Coalition bombing.

    The next few months should show just how huge a blunder Hajji Putin has made by attempting to prop up a minority dictator when the majority Sunni Political Islam is rising.

  2. markfromireland

    Based on the terrain I think it might be a while before they start that in earnest although interdicting your enemy’s supplies is always a good thing to do. Notwithstanding the importance of interdicting enemy supplies there’s a lot more to do first not least Aleppo and securing the central highway.

    Some sort of air operation against the border passes coupled with a build up in the plains to interdicts supplies and catch the rebels between a rock and hard place seems to me to be the most likely way they’d go about sealing the border. Preparations would include upgrading armour defenses against the more sophisticated anti-tank weapons now reputed to be on their way, ensuring that there was large enough an infantry component to clear and hold and so on. The logistics of all of that would likely take a bit of time. At the moment everything is pretty much speculation and to the best of my knowledge and belief shatter proof crystal balls are still at the vapourware stage of development.

    MacMillan was once asked what it was he feared:

    “‘events, dear boy, events”

    It applies quite as much to the military art as it does to the political one.


  3. V. Arnold

    I think Russia/Putin has a multifaceted strategy in Syria.
    Politically; to save Assad and their military bases. Include with that the abysmal U.S. behavior in the M.E.. One fiasco after another and Putin wants lessons learned by example; so far so good.
    Militarily; to show off some of their technology; constantly ridiculed by western media and military as inferior. Russia is back as never before (not the Soviet Union) and the west had better pay attention.
    In today’s economy Russia has cash reserves; the U.S. has debt, mountains of it.
    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the U.S. (bankrupt monetarily and morally) went the way of the old Soviet Empire?
    One further note; anybody who didn’t listen to Putin’s U.N. speech should do so in haste.
    The takeaway line by Putin to Obama was; “Do you realize what you have done?”

  4. Peter*


    Russia didn’t have much of an economy before the oil price crash and they are burning through their reserves rapidly with no sign of a recovery. Their GDP is smaller than Italy’s and most of the huge gas deals celebrated not long ago are either stalled or canceled.

    The BRICS have crumbled to the RIC and the multipolar world is looking more bipolar with Russia left out. The decision to project a ‘Holy Battle’ onto the ME may serve to deflect attention from the problems in the Motherland and the Russian arms industries just as the US arms industries will benefit from more destruction and bloodshed while the non-military economies suffer recession.

    I admired Putin’s rhetoric and clear analysis of the West’s arrogance and interference in the ME while he used diplomacy to defuse crisis situations but when his ME diplomacy failed to attract rebel support, because of his support for a petty dictator, he reverted to the same crude militaristic remedy he blames the West for using.

    Putin’s critique of the West on the ME would seem more honest if he once admitted that the Russia/USSR intervention into Afghanistan was and is one of the major reasons for the rise of Political Islam.

  5. S Brennan

    It’s great to have Peter* here…to give the latest spin from the Ministry of Propaganda & Social Control. Some, who are less generous, might criticize Peter’s ever changing daily justifications and conflicting narratives, but I welcome them, I really want to know what idiots are supposed to think without having to go through the trouble of purchasing a TV and listening to the dribble that passes itself off as “news”

  6. Peter*


    I would appreciate any corrections of factual errors I, at the Ministry of One, might make! If you are watching TV news I can understand your confusion but online propaganda can be just as misleading and then there is always confirmation bias to contend with.

  7. Hugh

    Peter is correct to note that Russia has a GDP smaller than Italy’s. In fact, its GDP is about a tenth that of the US, and it is more of a commodities producer (oil and gas) than a consumer which speaks to its industrial capacity. Its population is currently about 143 million, but this is projected to fall according to the US Census to less than 130 million by 2050 (or less than any two of the following: France, Germany, or the UK at that point). This says a lot about the amount of force Russia can project abroad both now and in the future. Basically, Russia has a small window for limited force projection now which will be effectively closed within the next one or two decades.

    Russian policy in Syria and the Middle East is not particularly good and its successes if any will be limited and quite likely temporary. It only looks so much better compared to ours. US policy lacks any clear goals and is completely and multiply incoherent. The US has a hodgepodge of “allies” all with competing and often diametrically opposed agendas. It is not so much a question of which is the most dependable but which is the least duplicitous. This would be more of a problem for the US foreign policy Establishment if they knew what they wanted. But as they don’t, it provides more of a travelogue of failure.

    Israel, our bestest ally in the region, is spectacularly absent in the fight against ISIS. In Tel Aviv, Muslims killing Muslims is seen as a positive so why interfere? The Saudis and the Gulf Emirates are backing al Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, while at the same time money from them is also making its way to ISIS. Turkey has been the major access route for recruits to join ISIS and for cross border smuggling in support of ISIS. It kept the US from using the airbase at Icirlik to bomb ISIS and when it eventually got around to declaring war on ISIS, its first act was to bomb the Kurds fighting ISIS. In Iraq, the central government dominated by Shiites had a momentary interest in resisting ISIS when Baghdad was threatened but now that threat has passed and with the decline in oil prices, the urgency is gone. When was the last time you heard anything about Mosul or Ramadi? Why would the central government commit its reduced resources to not only retaking these cities but then expend further resources in maintaining them? The Kurds and some of the Sunni tribes would fight ISIS at least until they no longer felt threatened by it. But the central government doesn’t want to fund and arm these groups and so strengthen them and their sectarian agendas. As for Russia and Iran on one side and the US on the other, all oppose ISIS but neither wishes to do anything which might increase the influence of the other in the region. ISIS benefits from this disarray. ISIS is dangerous but not sufficiently so for groups in the region to overcome their dislike of each other to destroy it. And so it goes.

  8. Tom

    When Putin starts flooding T-72B1Vs into Syria like he just did Iraq, we’ll know he is serious.

    The now 200 T-72B1Vs Iraq got to replace their useless M1A1s have Relikt Era, Shtora, and Arena fitted which makes them far more survivable against ATGMs, and have real Anti-personnel weaponry and a range of 12km when firing HE-Frag shells which is perfect for dealing with ATGM teams and SVBIEDs IS is using.

    Syria is getting a new shipment of BTR-82As to increase its handful of them further, and more is likely coming.

    With Putin needing to dump large numbers of stockpiled tanks to pay for a switchover to the new combat platforms, expect Iraq and Syria to disavow debts in Western Countries and buy up old but still highly capable Russian Gear which has the trinkets to survive ATGM littered battlefields and fight back.

  9. North Korea has a small force, that does stop it.

  10. Lisa

    “Russian policy in Syria and the Middle East is not particularly good a”…sigh.

    “Israel, our bestest ally in the region, is spectacularly absent in the fight against ISIS. “. Bigger sigh.

    Some facts:
    (1) Israel is and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Al-Nasra front (and its assorted allies), including air and artillery attacks on the Syrian Army.

    (2) The simple fact is that the direct children of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nasra and IS are the two biggest forces in Syria, they next 2 largest (and the 4 together would be more than 90% of all anti Syrian Govt forces) are allied with them, especially with the more poltically adept Al Nasra and are all Sunni Jihadists.
    Therefore if the Syrian Govt fell it would fall to monstrous Sunni Jihadists as there is about a cigarette paper’s difference between them in ideology.

    The resulting mass slaughter of millions of Christians. Alawites, Shiites non salafist Sunnis would rival our old friend Pol Pot. Add in 5-510 million more refugees and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

    The Coalition of the Terminally Insane (CoTI) comprising the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the minnows (UK, France, Qatar, Jorden) are enthusiastic supporters of this happening and have worked very hard to achieve it.

    Each of them have different ideas about what happens after the Syrian Govt falls of course, all completely mad and totally unrealistic. Each of them are betting that their support for IS/AN/etc will somehow gave them some control and leverage over if.
    For example Turkey is hoping that IS/AN/etc will wave flags and welcome them with open arms when the Turkish Army comes in afterwards to grab chunks of Syrian territory. Israel hopes they will immediately move onto Southern Lebanon and cleanse it totally…then wave Israeli flags as the IDF comes into claim the territory. if.

    The CoTI have had a good time up until recently, sure that Syria would collapse as per Libya. Then the Russians moved in and spoiled it all…oops…

    So the CoTI would all agree ‘….not particularly good’ , but anyone (with two neurones functioning) that realises that, as bad as the Syrian Govt may be, it is practically saint like compared to those monstrous Jihadists.

    In the end you have to pick your side, some sort of functioning secular civilisation vs nihilist monsters.

    Now the Russians are showing them all what real war is about. The apparent weakness of the Syrian Army was (now obvious) them pulling back, resupplying, adding replacements, integrating Hezbollah and the Iranians and building up a reserve, all under Russian control. With clear strategic, logistic and tactical plans. This, again now obvious, has been planned and worked on for months.

    Hit and isolate the jihadists, cut off supplies (theirs is limited and will run out), coordinated air and ground attacks, stop them grouping up, hammer their communications and all the rest. As I said.. real war. It will be hard and bloody fighting, but the Syrian Govt will win.

    The recent attack on Aleppo achieved total strategic and tactical surprise and opens a second front against the Jihadists and threatens many supply lines and, using a favourite tactic of the Russians, encirclement and a ‘cauldron’.

  11. Lisa

    As an aside: watching th various neo-cons (plus the satraps, useful idiots and fellow trabellers) all working hard to try and publically rehabilitate Al Nasra (and allies) as a ‘moderate oppostion’ is almost himlarious. IS is a PR disater, so they cannot (openly) support it, but AN has always been more politically adept.

    Yep, 14 years after 9/11 the US is now publically supporting Al Qaeda and trying to turn them into ‘good guys’….. you couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Oh yes, as all the released and leaked docments show the US been directly and indirectly supporting them all for years, but they at least tried to do it quietly. They are not bothering to hide it now.

    As for all those ‘air attacks’ on IS, pinpricks for two main reasons:
    (a) To nudge IS in the right direction after it went ‘off reservation’ moved into Iraq, attacked the Kurds and caused the CoTI to have a panic attack.
    Go this direction, air attacks, go that way …supplies.

    (b) PR and misdirection. “See we are against these people’… while the massive support for AN (etc) and it’s very theatening advances towards Damascus is quietly ignored.

    All, as the Russians have alluded too, pinpricks.

  12. Lisa

    Peter* “The next few months should show just how huge a blunder Hajji Putin has made by attempting to prop up a minority dictator when the majority Sunni Political Islam is rising.”

    That, to be charitable, is showing an incredible unawareness of the facts. You do know they actually had elections there recently? Which, albeit not perfect by any means, did show massive support for the Govt. You do know the majority of their Army is Sunni?

    So this propaganda theme that the Syrian Sunni support the Jihadists (IS, AN and the rest) is just that ..propaganda.

    The reality is the Syrian Govt is secular, carefully ensuring the various ethnic/religious groups have a stake in the system.

    And, I will ask what outcome do you want? A Sunni Salafist takeover and mass extermination of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, moderate Sunnis, gays…along with the slavery (with enforced genital mutilation) of women there?

    Would this give you a warm fuzzy feeling of ‘winning’ if this happens? Russia beaten the Syrian Govt shattered, the flags of IS and AN over Damascus, the streets running red with blood…. That is your preferred outcome? Will you watch the later videos with glee as the blood flows, the gays thrown off roofs, the women subjugated into slavery?

    That is a nihilist point of view. It is also, in many countries, an illegal point of view as this is giving aid and comfort to internationally listed terrorists.

    And “.. Russia/USSR intervention into Afghanistan was and is one of the major reasons for the rise of Political Islam.”
    Is an incredible re-writing of history.
    I wait with baited breath for your “Russia started WW2” comment and the “RAF beat the Red Air Force at the BoB” and all the rest…

    As everyone who can read (and is not shill) knows that the US supported Jihadi opposition to attack the secular and moderately socialist Govt there, to deliberately suck the USSR in. This is openly admitted, with glee, by the architects of it. Pity about 9/11 of course, but they see that as the cost of doing business and that actually aided them politically.

    Jihadists have been endlessly supported by the US both then and since then. Of course we dont like them when they, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, hammer us, but the neo-cons (and their shills) love them so much when they do what we want them to do, like take over Libya, attack Syria, etc.

    Sadly for them, jihadi monsters are just monsters and they will kill us if they can.

    For all those AN (etc) supporters out there: Do you know the ideological difference between them and IS (both children of AQI) and why they split? It was because IS wants to create a Caliphate now, then attack the west. AN wants to attack the west first, then create a Caliphate.
    Bin Ladin will be laughing in his grave at us.

  13. V. Arnold

    @ Peter;
    Putin’s critique of the West on the ME would seem more honest if he once admitted that the Russia/USSR intervention into Afghanistan was and is one of the major reasons for the rise of Political Islam.

    Oh please, that’s just ludicrous! You obviously drank the koolaide. You bring up irrelevancies; look at the facts on the ground.
    The U.S. is and has been Islam’s greatest enemy for over 70 years. Your history is sadly lacking.

  14. Lisa

    Another thing not noticed by many, IS, AN, etc have nowhere to go. They cannot head back to guerrilla warfare and swim amongst the people…because the people have all gone from the areas they hold. Including all the Sunnis.

    They are such monsters they scared away just about everyone, with the exception of in Aleppo. These places are already hammered too there is little disincentive not flatten places if needed.

    So this is to the death. Strategically the Russian controlled forces (and they are in control) will cut supply lines, none of the jihadists will have that much in weapon supplies, less as air attrition cuts transport and their supply dumps. Tactically they will try and create cauldrons, as used so effectively in the Ukraine.

    Bigger picture and later, cut the Turkish and Jordanian supply lines, then roll IS up in Iraq. Game over then. IS has shown no ability to fight well at all, rather it has used mobility, fear and confusion to a clever level.

    Tactical risks, at some point ether Turkey or (unlikely) Israel will try some sort of air interdiction against Syria…it will fail spectacularly. Israel won’t risk its precious air force, but it might try to continue artillery support for AN, at some point Russia might have to teach them a lesson about that, but backdoor Russian diplomacy will probably avert that.

    Most interesting ME war since 2006 (as for the others elsewhere, 2008 in Georgia was a cakewalk and the thrashing of Kiev forces in 2013/2014..well what can you say).

    Yet another thing not noticed, the incredible diplomatic offensive by Russia all over the place and, I will bet, careful talks with Turkish opposition leaders too.

  15. V. Arnold

    For those sycophants of U.S. foreign policy;

    This pretty much sums up todays world and body politic. William Engdahl and Paul Craig Roberts. I’m sure Lawrence Wilkerson would likewise chime in with more of the same.

    @ Lisa; yep, nice rundown of the real world of insanity and psychotic governance by the U.S.

  16. highrpm

    killing begets more killing. no matter the sides, it’s the sos, “us or them” “kill them before they kill us.” the collective mind is a baboon society.

  17. JustPlainDave

    Sealing the Turkish border is going to be extremely challenging for Syrian aligned forces. I’m not seeing a lot of key chokepoints (passes, what have you) for them that to interdict. Quite a lot of the border is either through open agricultural land or has open terrain on the Turkish side and cut up terrain on the Syrian side. This makes it much more difficult to seal from the Syrian side – one needs defence in depth up the natural avenues of approach to do it well and they don’t currently own that terrain (nor, I suspect, will they soon).

    If the locations of the strikes I’m seeing plotted on various sites elsewhere are correct, the initial priorities look to me to be more weighted to lines of communication inside Syria.

  18. rkka


    US support for Jihahis in Afghanistan predates the Soviet invasion.

    “The next few months should show just how huge a blunder Hajji Putin has made by attempting to prop up a minority dictator when the majority Sunni Political Islam is rising.”

    Only among the gibbering Wahabi lunatics, who are a small minority of Sunnis and who are very unpopular among other Sunnis for how easily they are provoked to scream ‘Apostate!!!” at other Muslims & start chopping heads. As has been noted, the majority of the Syrian Armed Forces are non-Wahabi Sunnis who know their gruesome fate if they fall int the hands of the ‘moderate’ head-chopping Wahabi lunatics.

    That’s one fact-impared troll dealt with.

  19. Peter*


    I’m not trying to weigh, compare or excuse the US or Russian depredations of Muslims and although the US has possibly surpassed Russia in destruction with the Afghan and Iraq invasions, they share a history of killing Muslims for Empire.

    71 years ago Stalin committed a genocide on the Chechen and Ingush people rounding them up and deporting the whole populations from their homeland, because they were Muslims, all while the fighting age men were in the Russian army stopping the Nazis offensive in the Caucuses. This final despicable act was the culmination of over a century of bloody Imperial Russian hegemony until Putin crushed the independent Chechen State as his first military act when he assumed power. An interesting historical note is that many of these people converted to Islam in the late 1800’s seeking protection from the Imperial Russians and their Church.

    The Sunni Muslims are the people targeted by Russia today but the Shia of Iran well remember that Russia has invaded Persia on numerous occasions most recently during WW2 and their present alliance in Syria may be strained. You never hear Iranians demanding a secular government in Syria.

  20. Peter*


    At least your uninformed comment is brief but you did include a personal attack to highlight your weak position and inability to handle simple debate.

    I wonder if you understand that the Syrian Army is a conscript army and the Sunni Syrian youths are drafted and have no choice other than to flee the country to avoid the draft which thousands have done. Even Assad admitted that he couldn’t find or even bribe enough personnel to replace the loses from the war.

    The Islamic State’s slick PsyOps beheading of westerners has stirred the deepest fears, and guilt, of many Infidels and they continue to foam at the mouth in reaction to this provocation. To keep your fear and helplessness properly directed you might try to remember that the Russians, Iranians and the SAA are fighting the ‘Lung Eaters’, moderate cannibals not the ‘Head Chopping’ Islamic State, that Holy Battle may or may not ever happen.

  21. Lisa

    “Russia has invaded Persia on numerous occasions most recently during WW2”.

    Pardon, are there any historical events you are going to get right? To pick out Imperial Russia (and later the USSR) as ‘special’ in the ‘great game’ is disengenious at best.

    They were all at it, unfortunately for the victims.

    Iran was invaded by both Britian and the USSR in WW2, then later the US, noting that these were surprise attacks with no declaration of war either.

    Some basic Wiki snippets:

    “The Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran also known as Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Persia was the invasion of the Empire of Iran during World War II by Soviet, British and other Commonwealth armed forces.”

    “Although Rezā Shāh declared neutrality at an early stage of World War II, Iran assumed greater strategic importance to the British government, which feared that the Abadan Oil Refinery, owned by the UK-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, might fall into German hands; the refinery produced eight million tons of oil in 1940 and was thus a crucial part of the Allied war effort.[2][5] Tensions with Iran had been already strained since 1931 when Rezā Shāh cancelled the D’Arcy Concession, which gave the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company the exclusive right to sell Iranian oil, with Iran receiving only 10% (possibly 16%)[6] of the profits.[2][4]”

    “The British forces were already present in sizeable numbers in Iraq as a result of the Anglo-Iraqi War earlier in 1941. Thus, British troops were stationed on the western border of Iran prior to the invasion.”

    “Britain and the USSR invaded Iran, arrested the monarch and sent him into exile to South Africa, taking control of Iran’s communications and the coveted railway.
    Alliances during the Second World War & The invasion of neutral Iran, 1939-1945.

    In 1942 the United States, by then an ally of Britain and the USSR in World War II, sent a military force to Iran to help maintain and operate sections of the railway. The British and Soviet authorities allowed Reza Shah’s system of government to collapse, and they limited the constitutional government interfaces. They put Reza Shah’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi onto the Iranian/Persian throne.”

  22. JustPlainDave

    That the British did it too does not in anyway diminish reflexive Iranian distrust of Russian motives. I’m frankly surprised they have overcome it to establish this collection of bedfellows and I have to think that it’s going to be an ongoing tension.

  23. Peter*

    Most of the nonsense, spin and propaganda offered in Lisa’s comments can be found at sites such as Al Manar, SANA and even Fars News so they are not worthy of a response but there is an interesting meme being developed.

    Listing al-Nusra as one of the largest nationalist rebel groups in this conflict is strange because they have app. 8 to 10,000 fighters and there are much larger non-IS groups fighting Assad and his foreign mercenaries. The Assad sycophants can’t depend on his forces and their allies to significantly reduce the size of the nationalist rebel forces so they are attempting a revisionist history to disappear tens of thousands of rebels.

    Using a Dictators elections as a talking point even with caveats is beyond ludicrous and it seems the Egyptian public agrees with my view as witnessed by their rejection of voting in this weekends pseudo- democracy ritual.

  24. Lisa

    Peter*: “Most of the nonsense, spin and propaganda offered in Lisa’s comments can be found at sites such as Al Manar, SANA and even Fars News so they are not worthy of a response ”

    Wonderfully dismissive statement…how about backing that up with some actual facts (not that I will hold my breath waiting)?

    “Assad sycophants”…ah so we are in derogatory statement territory now?

    “nationalist rebel forces “ what a wonderful neutral term for The Islamic Front, IS and Al Nasra. The Islamic Front, comprising about half a dozen jihadist groups, are ‘nationalst rebel’? All advocate an Islamic State under Sharia law, all are Sunni.

    Here look for yourself (I know you won’t but others will).

    “Assad and his foreign mercenaries”. Sigh….. Nonsense term.

    I think you have finally blown what little credibility you have.

    Just a quick question. Are these really your opinions or are you reading them off a sheet someone has handed to you? Just asking.
    Because if it is a sheet, then tell them that if you want to push propaganda properly you have to be more clever about it, perhaps admit that the ‘white hats’ are not so perfect, the ‘black hats’ actually have some good points. Don’t put out stuff that only takes a 5 sec Google search to disprove…and so on.

    Trying to push the ‘official line’ that sure there is this terrible IS but there are all these ‘good’ jihadists fighting for peace and democracy, secularism, women’s and gay rights is not going to wash with anyone. Just a few tips.

  25. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I wonder if Peter Asterisk is the same Peter as the kook from several weeks ago who wants a Logan’s Run type of society, with the “cutoff” based on reaching a certain amount of energy consumption instead of reaching age 30.

    If yes, it would explain his fondness for the barbarians.

    The liver-eating, slave-taking, decapitating barbarians are killing off large numbers of us horrible energy-consuming talking apes, which would make the barbarians virtuous in his eyes, if Peter Asterisk and Peter Kook are the same Peter.

  26. rkka


    “I wonder if you understand that the Syrian Army is a conscript army and the Sunni Syrian youths are drafted and have no choice other than to flee the country to avoid the draft which thousands have done.”

    The Sunnis of Syria are mainly not Wahabis, and many of them in the Syrian Army value the secular Syrian state as their greatest bulwark against the various Wahabi foreign fighters. Therefore they are indeed fighting for their country too.

  27. Peter*


    It’s a fools errand to chase all the propaganda you parrot that’s why I addressed the misinformation you used about the size of al-Nusra and the assumption you made about the size of the nationalist rebel forces. It’s been the SOP of Iran and Assad to conflate the nationalist rebels, whatever their Islamic tendencies, with the Islamic State just as you did above. The nationalists are predominately Syrians who are fighting for a Syrian State with differing ideas about what kind of State, religious or secular, an Islamic state is not The Islamic State.

    The IS are Transnationalists who intend for al-Sham to be a province/emirate of the Muslim Caliphate a much grander endeavor that rejects the Western concept of nationalism and its borders. This hardly neutral term, in this conflict, is why the IS has been and is attacking the nationalist rebel forces at every opportunity. Most of the approximately half of Syria controlled by the IS was taken from the nationalist rebels by force.

    This may make this conflict even more confusing for you but do you know that the Iranians, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and others foreigners fighting for Assad are also Islamists and Jihadists. Iran is an Islamist State called an Islamic Republic ruled by a Shia twelver Supreme Leader and a religious council.

  28. Peter*


    I think my Modest Proposal to reduce overconsumption and energy gluttony is far more fair than the arbitrary Logan’s Run analogy. It offered a choice, live a long and frugal life or a short and gluttonous existence. You apparently worship the latter and either feel guilt or fear of someday having to pay for the barbarous ecocide overconsumption drives.

    One guy, since run out of the country, chewing on a bit of flesh and a few dozen beheadings hardly compares or even registers with the tens of millions of innocent people exterminated by civilized and arrogant barbarians from the US and our minions.

    The Islamic State has a better plan than wasting their time killing us, All they have to do is shut or heavily restrict the flow of oil to the West and soon you and many others may have a whole new attitude about eating your neighbor.

  29. Lisa

    In Syria they are in the grinding phase. This is always hard to report on because it just seems like endless battles and nothing seems to happen.

    In the end it depends on the moral, manpower and resources of each side. If the Syrian Army (etc) can keep up the pressure and has sufficient reserves of troops and supplies plus the moral to continue it will win.
    But it will take time for AN(etc) to run out of men and ammo(etc). At this stage, being the attackers, the SA will suffer larger losses and use up ammo faster.

    This where air support, properly done, can make a huge difference with CAS and interdiction. AN(etc) may have large ammo dumps hidden away but if it cannot get to them or ship stuff from them to the front they are effectively useless.

    Careful coordination of the attacks, where, when, what with are key elements. Finding the weak spots, stretching the enemy and so on are also critical. Managing logistics and reserves are also critical for the Syrian side, pointless having superior forces (etc) if you cannot get them to the right places on time.

    These sorts of things tend to go on until either the defenders totally crack or the attackers give up.

    On the strategic, tactical levels and the men and material side the SA has the advantages, but what about the moral side? Equally what about the moral side of the defenders who haven’t, to date, been through this sort of coordinated meat grinder thing? Both those are unknowns.

    The defenders have the disadvantage of being a ‘hard crust’, wth little (as far as I can see) defence in depth. Therefore if they crack, it will happen very quickly at some point, switching from a grinding to a chase. But this grinding could continue for weeks.

    For examples of this sort of thing the Al Alamein and Normandy battles (not the US accounts of Normandy by the way they are all piffe) are useful guides.

    A lot of, particularly western, people struggle to understand this sort of war. After years and years of COIN type stuff with lots of small, sharp, short engagements, this ‘real war’ stuff is not in their mindset.

  30. Lisa

    Peter* “The nationalists are predominately Syrians who are fighting for a Syrian State with differing ideas about what kind of State, religious or secular,”

    There is not a single group that is actually fighting and has any military power at all that wants a secular state… all want Sunni Sharia law. As per the Stanford listing I gave above.

    Given their near total dominance of military power amongst the rebels, then they call the shots.

  31. Peter*

    Time does seem to be standing still for the Russian, Assad and Iranian offensive and a Syrian military spokesman has stated it will be three months, or never, before any progress is made against the rebels. Rebel forces have broken through the Axis of Resistance lines on a number of fronts and the Islamic State is moving to consolidate new areas of control.

    Putin summoned Assad to the Kremlin, from hiding in his not so stronghold, probably to find out what the hell happened to his foolproof and much hyped war plans. Putin is again parroting his failed and totally rejected, by all rebel leaders, You’re stuck with Assad, or we bomb you back to the Stone Age Peace Plan.

    CAS might or might not make a difference but Putin is not foolish enough to try it because film of flaming Russian Jets auguring into the Syrian desert, with cheering rebels in the foreground, wouldn’t play well on the nightly news in Moscow.

  32. Lisa

    Peter* All I can say is ….sigh…..

    Are any of these your own opinions or does someone hand them to you?

    If your own opinions you really need to do some reading. If not, then pass along that that this current standard propaganda ploy doesn’t work any longer, needs more subtlety. No point stating ‘fact’s whch can be contradicted with a 5 dec Google search, because credibility is lost.

    Take your “CAS ” statement. There is CAS going on all the time right now, heck you can even watch the videos if you want.
    CAS has been a major part of Russian air power doctrine since WW2, as opposed to western (especially the US) air forces who hate it. So there should be no surprise that they are good at it and using it effectively.

    So to make some vague claim that it is not being done is disengenious at best.

  33. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Even if ISIS does prevail, (sh’yeah, riiiiight 😆 ) I doubt they will refuse to sell their natural resources, which would be their only significant source of income, to the only people who can pay top dollar for them.

    (Also, not all petroleum is buried under the Middle East, but that’s another issue.)

    Oh, perhaps ISIS will choose to starve in holy poverty rather than rake in big bucks–but that would contradict the bulk of human history.

    Let Peter have his faith in human piety.

    I have faith in human greed.

    Which one does the bulk of the history of Homo sapiens suggest will prevail? 😈

  34. Lisa

    Ivory Bill Woodpecker: ISIS already sells oil to Turkey and the EU…….

  35. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Oopsie! Looks like ISIS has more Ferengi than Dalek in them after all! 😆

    Thanks for the information, Lisa.

    It does my dark and corrupt heart good to see good old human vice stomp a mud hole in fanatical Virtue and walk it dry yet again. 😈

  36. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Hmmm, I wonder if Russia still has enough international covert-action capability to arrange “tragic accidents” for the wealthy funders of ISIS in the Gulf states?

  37. Peter*


    You seem to be as or more confused and misinformed than Lisa. The Islamic State is self-funding but may receive a small amount of its needs from donations. The nationalist rebel groups do depend on outside funding for their needs supplied from a variety of donors.

    Now that we are witnessing the failure of the Russian offensive in Syria Putin may return to his still darker side and have the Polonium tea served to those who dare to thwart his grand schemes.

  38. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I wonder if Peter is the same fellow as Michael Kenny over on

    Both seem to have an ax to grind with Putin.

    I also wonder which of his, or their, legs Moby Putin bit off? 😛


    “Now that we are witnessing the failure of the Russian offensive…” –Peter, 2015

    “Now that we are witnessing the failure of the Russian offensive…” –Herr Peter, 1944

    “Now that we are witnessing the failure of the Russian offensive…” –M. Pierre, 1814


  39. Peter*


    Just as many others I encounter in the web you can’t defend, discuss or debate topics so you regress to lower forms of attrition such as guilt by association or just BS accusations to pander to others of your ilk.

    I have a healthy disgust for all leaders especially ours but Putin is now joining the US in the Muslim murder and mayhem games and deserves the same disgust for his actions.

  40. Lisa

    Ivory Bill Woodpecker: “Now that we are witnessing the failure of the Russian offensive…” –Herr Peter, 1944

    Love it……

    “more Ferengi than Dalek”. yep.

    That is the ideological split from Al Nasra (both are children of AQI). ISIS wants to create a Caliphate first, so it tries to create some sort of functionality of a State, which it wants to become. Yes a horrible state (recent fatwa making female genital mutilation compulsory for example). Sort of a Saudi Arabia on steriods. It main target of desire is probably Saudi Arabia in the end, which it sees as corrupt and having left the path of true Wahabbi Sunni beliefs.

    In a very cynical sense, from the western perspective, they are better than Al Nasra, because you could trade with them as we do now.

    Al Nasra makes no bones about attacking the west after winnng in Syria and getting its hands on all those lovely weapons. So it is ironic that the west (and Israel) support it more (publically) than ISIS.

    In either case Bin Ladin is jumping up and down for glee in his grave at western self destructive stupidity. It is also ironic that the dominant US neo-conservatives have done everything, and a lot more, that he wanted (and publically stated too). In fact the thought of a US-Russia war to defend Al Nasra would exceed even his greatest fantasies.

    You look around the world at the various leaders and Govts and it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Putin is the only one with an IQ greater than the temp of a warm cup of tea…in centigrade. It seems like they are losing a couple of IQ points every year since 9/11.

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