Syria

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Syria

Post by Harlowe » Sun May 05, 2013 12:59 pm

Well shit, are we going to be pulled into Syria now. With Israel bombing them and the chemical weapons issue, I'm afraid it's inevitable. What do you think would be considered a relatively "good" outcome at this point? I've been trying to follow this for that past two years and it's such a shitty, complicated situation, this was the best recap I've seen from an ELI5 thread. If any of you feel you have a better understanding of it, I'd love to hear your perspective.
The country has been ruled for decades by a military dictatorship run by a minority Islamic sect, the Alawites. Up until fairly recently, they've been brutal and repressive, but not especially incompetent. One of their chief advantages is that the substantial Christian minorities of Syria have backed them, because they feel that if a regime representing the large Sunni Muslim majority takes over, the Christians are going to become oppressed the way they are in Egypt. Also, the regime receives substantial support from Shi'ite Iran, who wants to counterbalance the Sunni regimes in the rest of the Middle East, and from China and especially Russia, for various geopolitical reasons.

Dictator Hafez al-Asad died in 2000. The son who was the heir apparent was killed in a car crash, so second son and weak-chinned douchebag Bashshar, who went to medical school in London, is given the job. For most of the 2000s, he tries to implement some gradual and mostly token reforms.

Fast-forward to 2011 Arab Spring protests. Syrian government badly overreacts to these, killing protestors in ways guaranteed to inflame the mushy middle. They're especially bad toward journalists, and Sunni-run Al Jazeera takes great glee in endlessly replaying shitty cell-phone videos of Syrian troops doing awful things to first civilian protestors, then rebel soldiers. Country's Internet is cut off. Hundreds of thousands flee, mostly to Turkey, who for historical reasons doesn't much care for the Syrian regime.

Now the rebel armies show up. They're made up of civilians who've just had enough, Syrian defectors, and jihadists [not many at all at first, but significantly more as time has passed] from the worst corners of the world. At first, they're all about liberalizing and freeing Syria; soon, they become all about jihad and imposing Salafist (ie, Muslim fundamentalist) ideas on the country. Many Christians and urban liberals begin to have second thoughts, but it's too late. The regime troops have no qualms at all about killing non-combatants, and the rebels none about summarily executing anyone suspected of collaborating with the regime.

The country has been effectively destroyed by the fighting. Asad is losing, but slowly, and he's going down fighting. US intervention is problematic because a) Syria is much more heavily armed, especially with air defenses, than Libya was; b) it's not like the rebels are really the good guys either; c) Syria's state sponsors, specifically Iran and Russia, will make way more trouble than anyone would have about Libya, where everyone realized Qadhdhafi was an evil nutcase who had no friends. Oh, and d) Syria has no oil and Libya has shitloads.

So expect a horrifying, entrenched civil war to continue on for another year or two until the rebels get lucky and take out Asad. Then expect years of sectarian turmoil as anyone not willing to bow to Salafism gets killed or exiled. Then another military dictatorship, this time with extra added k-k-k-krazy fundamentalist Islam.

Nothing good will come of it for at least 20 years.

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Re: Syria

Post by Fallakin Kuvari » Sun May 05, 2013 5:24 pm

There really is no good "horse" to back in this "race", since both sides hate us and want to kill us.

Just my opinion.
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Re: Syria

Post by Partha » Sun May 05, 2013 7:52 pm

We simply won't be putting troops on the ground. This will be another Libya.
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Re: Syria

Post by Ddrak » Mon May 06, 2013 3:58 am

If you wanna put troops on the ground there, be prepared to kill about 70% of the country and work under the assumption that if they're old enough to walk, they're old enough to kill you (and then get you on video killing kids to inflame more kids). Rebels are using Sarin too, it seems.

There is no good option for the US here. Support the regime and you're helping Iran, and an oppressive dictatorship. Support the rebels and you're helping the Taliban (effectively, if not directly), and a resultant oppressive dictatorship. Do nothing and you're saying you don't give a shit about the humanitarian nightmare when that exact position has been used for prior invasions.

(Personally I'd advise staying the fuck away and putting smack-fu down on Israel to stop whatever the fuck it thinks it's doing)

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Re: Syria

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Mon May 06, 2013 11:34 am

Israel has been very patient here Dd. They take steps to keep the fighting from spilling into their country (they fire back at Syrian positions if the Syrian army drops shells in Israel), and they make surgical strikes on weapons conveys ostensibly heading towards Hezbollah. Both prudent acts in my opinion.

Jordan is more involved in this war than any other foreign state. Its supports the rebels for now, has set yp humaitarian aid, is allowing refugees across its borders, and is militarily training the rebels. The refugee issue is huge for Jordan, and they are motivated to bring this was to a clsoe as soon as they can. I don't know if they will commit troops (probably not, unless its part of an Arab coaltion to resolve the issue), but they are doing just about everything else.

Insititute a no-fly zone and this is over in a matter of weeks, the rebels will win. However, the Alawites will be slaughtered unless some third pary brokers the peace.
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Re: Syria

Post by Partha » Mon May 06, 2013 1:58 pm

Best part about the US doing nothing is that Hezbollah and Al-Qaida will continue to be at opposite sides of this war and at each other's throats.
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Re: Syria

Post by Ddrak » Mon May 06, 2013 3:43 pm

Embar Angylwrath wrote:Israel has been very patient here Dd. They take steps to keep the fighting from spilling into their country (they fire back at Syrian positions if the Syrian army drops shells in Israel), and they make surgical strikes on weapons conveys ostensibly heading towards Hezbollah. Both prudent acts in my opinion.
You're not thinking about it from a political perspective. Israel is the natural enemy of both sides of the conflict, who both have regional allies that need the smallest excuse to jump in. The one thing you don't want happening is the whole region deciding it's time for a free-for-all with Israel in the middle.

Israel's got all the patience of a cracked up pit-bull with fleas, and about the same political sense.

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Re: Syria

Post by Fallakin Kuvari » Mon May 06, 2013 6:45 pm

Partha wrote:Best part about the US doing nothing is that Hezbollah and Al-Qaida will continue to be at opposite sides of this war and at each other's throats.
Something we agree on.
Embar Angylwrath wrote:Israel has been very patient here Dd.
Also agree with this.
Ddrak wrote:Israel is the natural enemy of both sides of the conflict, who both have regional allies that need the smallest excuse to jump in. The one thing you don't want happening is the whole region deciding it's time for a free-for-all with Israel in the middle.
And this.

Israel can pretty much be nothing but patient and defensive in this situation. Unfortunately that ship has already sailed, now that Assad has "approved actions against Israel." Its pretty much a snapped twig from becoming a regional conflict.
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Re: Syria

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Tue May 07, 2013 12:45 pm

Russia could do a lot of good here by working with Assad to provide him asylum and a place to live out his life in peace. (Maybe they are already doing that, I don't know) The US can't let Syria's MWDs become uncontrolled, so I'm sure they are heavily relying on Russia here to help with that (Russia doesn't want that happening either).

We are now 600 days later than when Obama predicted Assads "days were numbered". And so much for the red line, for Obama its more like a pink smudge. He was stupid to make that statement now that he has to walk away from it.
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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Tue May 07, 2013 3:17 pm

It was an off the cuff remark, shouldn't people be more concerned with whether or not we ultimately do the right thing. I certainly wouldn't want a leader doing something just to save face on a remark.

Seems like there isn't a war the Republicans aren't chomping at the bit to get into. This "red line" remark has replaced the Benghazi political chew-toy and is being used to pressure involvement.

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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Tue May 07, 2013 3:35 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/obam ... 59250.html
"I don’t make decisions based on 'perceived,' and I can’t organize international coalitions around 'perceived,'" Obama said during a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. "We tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn’t work out well," he added, in a reference to Iraq.

Obama's comments came amid a chorus of questions and criticisms in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime. The president last August labeled that kind of action a "red line" that could lead him to escalate America's role in the conflict, which the United Nations estimates has claimed the lives of at least 70,000 people. Republicans in Congress have pushed him to consider air strikes or the creation of a U.S.-enforced "no-fly zone" off limits to Syrian air power, and warned that the White House is sending a message of weakness to Assad.

"I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something, and it ended up getting done," Obama countered. "And there were times when there were folks on the sidelines wondering, 'Why hasn’t it happened yet?' and 'What’s going on?' and 'Why didn’t it go on tomorrow?'"

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Re: Syria

Post by Fallakin Kuvari » Tue May 07, 2013 6:01 pm

Embar Angylwrath wrote:He was stupid to make that statement now that he has to walk away from it.
"Mission Accomplished"
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Re: Syria

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Tue May 07, 2013 11:24 pm

The US loses pretty much no matter what we do.

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Re: Syria

Post by Ddrak » Wed May 08, 2013 6:12 am

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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Wed May 08, 2013 7:15 am

I think Kaplan nailed it, thanks for linking that article.
Indeed, Obama has onerous calculations: If I intervene, which group do I arm? Am I assured the weapons won't fall into the wrong hands? Am I assured the group or groups I choose to help really are acceptable to the West, and even if they are, will they matter in Damascus in the long run? And, by the way, what if toppling Syrian leader Bashar al Assad through the establishment of a no-fly zone leads to even more chaos, and therefore results in an even worse human rights situation? Do I really want to own that mess? And even were I to come out of it successfully, do I want to devote my entire second term to Syria? Because that's what getting more deeply involved militarily there might entail.
The overarching theme here is that the media assumes American policymakers have significant control over events overseas, whereas in truth they often have very little. The complex, messy realities of ground-level war and politics in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan – short of aerial and naval bombardments or tens of thousands of boots on the ground – are probably not going to be pivotally shaped by American officials.
The answer may be exactly what Obama is doing now in Syria: modestly assisting some of the rebel groups, but essentially avoiding the level of involvement that would make him henceforth responsible for events on the ground. In other words, let Iran get sucked deeper and deeper into the Syrian maelstrom, not the United States. The maintenance cost for Iran in a crumbling Syria will grow, even as Iran enjoys less influence there than it did during the era of a strong al Assad regime. At the same time, intensify the economic and diplomatic aid to Jordan, which, with its relatively small population and small economy, may well be possible to save. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and so forth are all destined to be weak, quasi-chaotic states that the United States cannot put to rights without the kind of gargantuan effort that would undermine its interests elsewhere in the world and at home.
And like Free said, we lose either way, so our best bet is probably going to be trying to "lose the least" - because like Kaplan points out ...The United States can topple regimes; it cannot even modestly remake societies unless, perhaps, it commits itself to the level of time and expense it did in post-war Germany and Japan.

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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Wed May 08, 2013 8:08 am

Internet blackout in Syria since Monday evening.

Looks like some cooperation between the US and Russia..
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eur ... story.html

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Re: Syria

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Wed May 08, 2013 11:55 am

Harlowe wrote:It was an off the cuff remark, shouldn't people be more concerned with whether or not we ultimately do the right thing. I certainly wouldn't want a leader doing something just to save face on a remark.

Seems like there isn't a war the Republicans aren't chomping at the bit to get into. This "red line" remark has replaced the Benghazi political chew-toy and is being used to pressure involvement.
I highly doubt it was off the cuff, Harlowe. The Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in the world doesn't use words like that, off the cuff. It was used and resused by the Adminstration, until Assad actually used the WMDs. Then the Adminstration had no response to that, they never fully considered what the US response would be to Assad being crazy enough to use them. He croseed the line, and the US response was... ok, but don't don't cross it again, for our sakes.

Notice they have since stopped using that particular turn pf phrase now. No lines, no colors, just a "fuck me, hope this goes away soon".
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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Wed May 08, 2013 12:19 pm

The administration did respond to that...they don't know if it was Assad or the rebels or hell even a false flag by Israel. Do you really think we should just knee-jerk an action based on something that is perceived and not known?
"I don’t make decisions based on 'perceived,' and I can’t organize international coalitions around 'perceived,'" Obama said during a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. "We tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn’t work out well," he added, in a reference to Iraq.

Obama's comments came amid a chorus of questions and criticisms in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime. The president last August labeled that kind of action a "red line" that could lead him to escalate America's role in the conflict, which the United Nations estimates has claimed the lives of at least 70,000 people. Republicans in Congress have pushed him to consider air strikes or the creation of a U.S.-enforced "no-fly zone" off limits to Syrian air power, and warned that the White House is sending a message of weakness to Assad.

"I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something, and it ended up getting done," Obama countered. "And there were times when there were folks on the sidelines wondering, 'Why hasn’t it happened yet?' and 'What’s going on?' and 'Why didn’t it go on tomorrow?'"

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Re: Syria

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Wed May 08, 2013 2:25 pm

First, lets move back to your comment Obama's remark was off the cuff.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/whit ... 50045.html

Wrong.

Now lets move to your comment the Administration doesn't know who tossed the sarin.
We are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons," Carney said. "We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/0 ... _ref=world

So, let's put it all together, and put it through the politispeak translator. Obama syas there is some evidence chemcial weapons were used in Syria. France and the UK say so too, but they are more adamant about it (and Obama only capitulated to that statement AFTER the UK and France made their statements.)

The US position is chemical weapons were likely used. The US position is that rebels didn't do it. The US position is, if they were dropped, and it is likely they were, it is highly likely Assad did it.

Translation: Chemical weapons were used, Assad did it, but by using the words "likely" and "some evidence", we give ourselves room to manuver away from the "red line" comment.
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Re: Syria

Post by Harlowe » Wed May 08, 2013 3:54 pm

I read it was off the cuff, that was the information that was first out there. I have pretty much stated what he said or why doesn't matter in the big picture, our actions do. And really, I didn't see you throwing a hissy fit over Mission Accomplished or WMD's in Iraq, so this is just your current convenient political chew toy. Which is a shame since we were all having an interesting discussion about an issue without it turning into a political bullshit-fest as usual.

My primary point is, I don't care about his remark, neither should anyone else ... it's not more important than what we actually do or do not do. Action certainly shouldn't be based on a remark Republicans are dog-piling on in order to get us into Syria now.

You can continue your shaming of Obama all you want for that line, but you just basically took a piss on a world news discussion that was actually engaging without the usual bullshit political nonsense.

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