Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Iraq / Syria Regional and " Byzantine " War ( September 16 , 2014 ) - New and Improved Regime Change scheme to target Assad ( even while US is secretly providing Syria with intelligence to fight ISIS in Syria , while cooperating covertly with Iran to fight ISIS in Iraq ) .... Meanwhile Turkey ambivalent about joining US Coalition against ISIS ( As Turks join ISIS in droves and while Turkish citizens still held captive by ISIS ) ........ Meanwhile the US War keeps on expanding ( Iraq for now , Syria on the horizon - Obama waiting until after the Mid-terms ? ) Tweets of the day......

Moon of Alabama....

September 15, 2014

The New "Regime Change" Plan - Attack Damascus From The South

There are serious active preparations for a new attack on Damascus. Anti-government forces, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, have been trained and equipped in Jordan and are now moving into their starting position in Quneitra governate in south-west Syria. (A similar plan in spring 2013 was only partially executed and later aborted,)
Quneitra governate is a strip next to the Israel occupied Golan heights with a southern border to Jordan and a north western border with Lebanon.

The anti-government forces cooperating for this operation are the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which is backed by the United States, assisted by the Islamic Front, backed by Saudi Arabia, and al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusrah which just received some $20 million from Qatar. These forces infiltrated from Jordan through Daara and then up north-westward along the border with Israel. This movement, during which some UN observers were kidnapped by these forces, was supported by Israeli artillery strikes against Syrian units that tried to prevent it. The sole border station between Israel and Syria is now in the hands of the anti-government forces. The Israeli military is also providing medical support to these anti-government forces. The UN has pulled out all peacekeepers from the Syrian side of the Golan height demarcation line.

The anti-government forces now control a 40 miles (70km) long, three miles (5km) wide strip from Jordan along the Golan frontier up to Lebanon. This strip can be used to infiltrate into Hizbullah territory in south Lebanon but its main purpose is likely an attack on Damascus from the south. The Syrian military would have great difficulties to dislodge the anti-government forces from this strip as it is covered by Israeli anti-air and artillery fire.
There are rumors that Jabhat al-Nusra is leaving positions it has been holding in Hama governate in north Syria. It's groups are pulling back into Turkey to be transferred to Jordan and then as reinforcements into Quneitra.

The rather empty Quneitra area makes little sense to conquer except to be used as a launching pad for an attack from the south towards Damascus. The distance to the capital is only some 40 miles (60km). While two Syrian army divisions are stationed between Quneitra governate and Damascus coordinated air attacks against them could open and secure a route from Quneitra governate into the capital. Recent truceagreements between the U.S. supported Syrian Revolutionary Front and ISIS in the area south of Damascus may have been concluded with these attack plans in mind.

The U.S. military in the joint Arab-American operations room for the Syrian insurgency in Amman Jordan may well plan to use the murky new "war on ISIS" as pretext for attacks on the Syrian army divisions protecting Damascus from the south. Coordinated with a ground attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and others from Quneitra such air attacks would seriously degrade the Syrian forces and enable a destructive push into Damascus.

(update) Obama already announced the escalation path for such air attacks:
He made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account.

The stampede to attack ISIS may have been pure maskirovka to hide this violent regime change attack plan against Syria under some "anti-terrorism" label. This at the same time as the plan is coordinated with and actively supported by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and made possible through truce agreements with ISIS.


( It's complicated.... )

The rise of Islamic State has upended geopolitics in the Middle East and, as The Economist notes, drawn America's military back to the region. Though ISIS is popular among militants, the group has no allies on the political stage, making it even more isolated than the official al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. As The Economist's "relationship mosaic" above visualizes the rapports among countries, political groups and militant organizations in the Middle East.


Anti War.....

US Eyes New Phase of ISIS War With Strikes Near Baghdad

Strikes Carried Out Southwest of Iraqi Capital

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2014
US warplanes expanded the range of their airstrikes in Iraq once again today, targeting ISIS southwest of Baghdad in what officials are saying is part of a “new phase” of more aggressive strikes on them.
Centcom described the strike as part of an attempt to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, and confirmed attacks on vehicles near Sinjarin the nation’s northwest as well.
Since President Obama’s Wednesday speech, announcing a planned expansion of the war into Syria, there have been multiple predictions of an escalation of the war in Iraq as well, which seem to be panning out.
Yet Centcom insisted only that the attacks are an expansion “beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions,” which isn’t true, since several past US airstrikes in Anbar and Nineveh Provinces were launched primarily to help Kurdish and Iraqi troops on the ground as well.
Officials have suggested the first attacks inside Syria may not come for weeks, but that more escalations inside Iraq can be expected in the coming days.

ISIS Neighbor Turkey Is a Steady Source of New Fighters

At Least 1,000 Turks Believed to Be Fighting for ISIS

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2014
The largest neighbor to the ISIS caliphate, Turkey has joined the US coalition against them, though they have so far declined to play any role in the war itself. Turkish citizens are joining in droves, however, on the side of ISIS.
The long-standing Turkish support for the Syrian rebellion in general has meant a lot of fighters flowing across the border, and at least 1,000 of ISIS’ current fighters are believed to have come from Turkey.
Turkey’s stance on ISIS is driven by the concern for 49 Turkish hostages held by ISIS since June. The Turkish government has banned media coverage of the hostage situation.
But it is more or less undeniable that Turkey’s refusal to let the US use their bases for the ISIS war is informed by the hostage crisis, and the fear of a backlash if the government gets the hostages killed by backing the US. Turkey has insisted their bases can only be used for humanitarian aid shipments.
The problem of ISIS recruiting exists across the West, but Turkey’s close proximity means that as the war escalates, it will continue to serve as one of the steadiest sources of new fighters for the movement.

House GOP Bill Would Let Obama Arm Syria Rebels, With Limits

Would Require Pentagon to Give Regular Updates on Operation

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2014
Faced with growing unease among the rank-and-file of both parties, the House Republican bill giving President Obama authority to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels includes several limits the administration did not expect.
The bill will insist the Pentagon keep Congressupdated on the situation every 90 days, including both details on the training operations and a list of every rebel they are training along with their background information.
Hawks are warning the demand for names could make it harder for the US to recruit people, though perhaps the even bigger problem facing the administration is a demand for regular reports on what happened to equipment provided to them.
The Obama Administration has been arming the “vetted moderate” rebels for quite some time, and the evidence suggests that large amounts of the arms provided areshowing up in the hands of ISIS.
This shouldn’t be surprising, since the commanders openly admit to be allied with ISIS, and just got done signing a non-aggression pact aimed at keeping both sides focusing on the rebellion against Assad.

Report: US Provides ISIS Intelligence to Syria

Ruling Out Coordination, US Still Funneling Info to Assad

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2014
The Obama Administration has made much of its unwillingness to coordinate its planned attacks on ISIS in Syria with the Syrian government. That does not appear to extend, however, to intelligence sharing.
Syrian media reports continued provision of targeting intelligence to the Assad government, primarily centered on where the US believes the ISIS leadership to be located at any given time.
The reports are similar to those coming out of Germany last month, which confirmed that Germany’s BND is being used as an intermediary for the intelligence sharing, since the US doesn’t have any formal contact with Assad.
The administration doesn’t want to be seen as cooperating with Syria against ISIS, even though they are, and has been publicly threatening Assad not to interfere with its planned attacks on ISIS, though it seems like privately, the coordination is far broader than they will admit.

In Coalition-Building, US Excludes Some to Court Others

Active Anti-ISIS Groups Being Sidelined to Avoid Offending GCC, Turkey

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2014
The Obama Administration’s determination to build a huge coalition of “anti-ISIS” nations has centered on quantity as opposed to quality, with a focus on getting large numbers of nations that have no intention of doing anything to sign off on the plan.
It’s coming at the expense of would-be partners that are already fighting ISIS. The US spurned Iran’s coordination offer, only to later claim they were “open” to talks, leading Iran to insist they weren’t going to back the US operation, even though they’re already on the ground in Iraq, fighting ISIS.
The US was clear in not wanting Iran anywhere near this week’s Paris summit, despite Iraq wanting them there, and it was chiefly because the Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, would’ve likely pulled out rather than be seen as in league with Iran.
And as the US looks to find anti-ISIS factions inside Syria to arm, they’ve similarly spurned the Syrian military as too unfriendly to the Saudis, and are also excluding the Kurdish YPG and PKK factions, which are in direct conflict with ISIS, on the grounds that it would alienate Turkey.
The Saudis have suggested they might be involved in the air war against ISIS, thoughIraq says they aren’t welcome. Turkey joined the coalition but has ruled out playing any role in military operations against ISIS at all.
Ultimately, the US seems resigned to fighting the war more or less by itself, and the large coalition is more an attempt to placate a war weary American public that the world is “united” on the conflict, even if that unity doesn’t add up to anything on the ground but another open-ended US war.


traffics in hostages- acquiring them from other kidnappers in , then marking them for death

Musings On Iraq Islamic State Rebuilds Its Manpower In Iraq And Syria