Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Syria / Iraq Regional War Updates ( October 16 , 2014 ) - US cuts loose existing Syria rebels such as FSA , will create own " Rebel " Force ........ Meanwhile , in contrast to concerted US Coalition airstrikes in Kobane ( holding off the ISIS advance there for now ) , Anbar sees rapid ISIS gains due to absence of US Coalition airstrikes ..... Israel carving their own path with Syrian rebels in its defensive posture to pressuring Assad.... Tweets of the day !
Speaking to reporters today at the State Department, Gen. John Allen, who has been advising President Obama on his new war against ISIS, today revealed that the administration has no plans to ever coordinate with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or any other of the existing rebel factions.
That’s a surprise, because officials have been harping on for years about how great these factions are, and have been lavishing them with US arms and funding.
The FSA is forever complaining about not getting enough aid from the US, as their way of explaining how years of rebellion has them with virtually no territory and sloughing off fighters to ISIS and other more successful factions at an alarming rate. Now, the US appears to be comfortable just cutting them loose.
Not that they’re giving up on the conceit of regime change with “vetted, moderate” rebels. Rather, they’re now apparently putting all their eggs into the create a new rebel force basket, with Allen talking up the establishment of this new “credible” force.
Which at this point exists only as a ledger mark on the Pentagon’s books. Congress has agreed to a $500 million-plus plan to bankroll this new force, but the Pentagon hasn’t even begun the process of actually trying to assemble a whole brand new Syrian rebel army.
It’s a daunting task, with estimates that the force will at best be ready one year after they start the training, and with the entire US war in Syria hinging on the effectiveness of this thus far non-existent force, the administration seems to have a built-in excuse for the next year of failures in the war.
While Fallujah was the first Anbar city to fall to ISIS, way back in January, the tribal leadership of Amariyat, just 10 miles south, has managed so far to keep them out, turning back previous siege attempts.
Yet with more and more of Anbar falling, ISIS seems willing to commit more resources to the siege this time, and having routed the Iraqi military out of virtually all of its bases in the area, it’s hard to see much help coming from the outside.
The only Iraqi forces in the area, the ones trying to take the nearby provincial capital of Ramadi, have recently fallen back to the al-Asad airbase to the north, a base which itself is increasingly surrounded.
Amariyat al-Fallujah hasn’t previously been seen as a huge strategic priority, but would allow ISIS to exert even greater control over the highway leading into the Babil Province.
Iraq was eager to draw the US deeper and deeper into the war against ISIS, and cheered when the US expanded that conflict across the border against ISIS targets in Syria. Now, they’re regretting it.
That’s because despite administration officials insisting the contrary, the Syrian town of Kobani has become not only a priority for the US war, but virtually the entire focus of the air war, and Iraq is getting less and less attention.
The Kobani area, by contrast, has seen 70 US airstrikes in the past week, with the number increasing all the time. The Pentagon claims hundreds of ISIS fighters have been killed in and around Kobani by the strikes, though the town is still expected to fall.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby offered new details today on the US airstrikes against ISIS around the Syrian Kurdish border town on Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic), claiming the US believes it has killed “hundreds” of ISIS fighters in the region.
The Pentagon has escalated the number of strikes in and around Kobani repeatedly over the past week, despite officials maintaining that the town itself is “not a priority.”
Kirby not only claimed the hundreds killed overall in US strikes in the area, but 39 killed in the past two days, though other officials appeared to concede that the town is still expected to fall as ISIS keeps pouring more and more reinforcements into the area.
Kobani is valuable to ISIS both as another border crossing into neighboring Turkey, and as the last holding of the Kurds west of ISIS territory. The rest of Syrian Kurdish territory is in the far northeast of Syria.
In a broad-reaching interview with Haaretz that included considerable insight into internal political faction fighting in the coalition government, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sought to push forward an extremely simple narrative of the situation on the Golan Heights frontier.
Ya’alon tried to present the situation as unstable but mostly under control from the Israeli perspective, claiming Israel was openly backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other “moderate” factions to keep al-Qaeda off the border.
Yet Ya’alon presented this as a working model for keeping al-Qaeda from having a common border with Israeli occupied Golan,which hasn’t been the case for over a month, with al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra controlling much of the territory.
The indications are that Israel has been backing all comers for awhile now on the Golan frontier, as part of their decision to favor anyone over Assad. The narrative now is that they’re trying to prop up the FSA, but Israel’s Syria problem is actually looking a lot like everyone else’s in the region: they backed rebellion in general, and are now facing the consequences of the instability they’ve backed.