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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

David Ignatius, "How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier": Missing the Elephant in the Room

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "How the Syrian conflict could get even bigger and bloodier," David Ignatius points to the danger that the conflict in Syria could spin even further out of control. Ignatius suggests steps needed to be taken in order to avoid this possibility:

"Studying Syria from north to south, it’s clear where 'deconfliction,' as the military puts it, is needed to avoid unintended disaster.

On the northern front, the United States needs to deepen its consultations with Turkey as it escalates support for Syrian Kurdish forces and their Arab allies. President Obama is sending fewer than 50 Special Operations forces to Syria, but make no mistake, this is a significant commitment. The U.S. troops will need air support — not just to bomb the Islamic State, but for resupply, rescue if they get in trouble, and perhaps to enable the cycle of intelligence-driven 'night raids' that was so devastating in Iraq.

. . . .

On Syria’s southern border with Jordan, the United States has quietly helped train a rebel coalition known as the Southern Front,which claims 35,000 fighters in 54 brigades. Last week, Russian warplanes attacked some of those U.S.-backed forces at Al-Harra in southwest Syria, the site of a former Russian signals-intelligence station captured by the rebels. This is crazy. Moscow and Washington should look to de-escalate the situation, rather than torch it more."

Missing from Ignatius's analysis is any mention of the cat and mouse game now being played by Russian and Israeli fighter planes over Syria. Israel will not permit the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon as again evidenced on Friday, when a shipment of long-range Scud missiles was bombed en route to Hezbollah. Should Russian and Israeli jets engage in a future dogfight over Syria, there is no knowing where this could lead.


  1. I thought Jordan should have occupied and annexed Deraa when those refugees first overwhelmed Jordan, effectively creating a safe no-fly zone, but was only looking at it through a human geography lens at the time.

    Perhaps the other elephant is the 'West' obsession with the sanctity of colonial borders: those imaginary lines in the sand.

    or the oil wells being drilled by Israel in the Golan...found that map at ToI yesterday.

    USA v Russia never ends. this chapter of the 100-year War that started in the Balkans is looking like armegeddon, hopefully the B'ahai version?


    SATIRE ALERT: set in 2025:

    "...In academic news this weekend, the Georgetown University in Washington DC has announced the establishment of a Chair in Geopolitical Calculations. The chair will be fully funded by the Unites States’ Department of State and the Iranian Supreme Leader. Students will be able to obtain a Master of Arts in Syrian Miscalculations. As stated by the university, lectures will be held by Presidents Putin and Assad, former US president Obama and the Emperor of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Former Hezbollah chairman Hassan Nasrallah and retired Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will speak to the students via Skype from their bunker in South Beirut and their ranch near Dallas TX, respectively.

    Back in the Middle East, Lebanon keeps being buried under garbage. General Michel Aoun (90) still upholds his claim to the Lebanese presidency. He is expected to travel to Damascus next week."

    [just wanted JG to try to find some humour in the never-ending series of Syria Miscalculations.]