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‬U.S. Responds to the Prospect of Regime Victory in Syria‬

A victory for the Assad/Iran/Hizballah/Russia side in the Syrian civil war would represent a strategic disaster for the U.S. and the West in the region. ‬

by
Jonathan Spyer

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June 16, 2013 - 12:01 am
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‬The announcement that the Obama administration has decided to begin the arming of the Syrian rebels no doubt marks a dramatic and significant moment in the course of the civil war in Syria. The commitment comes, not by chance, at a moment when the fortunes of war appear to be turning in the direction of the Assad regime. ‬

Yet the administration’s statement leaves many unanswered questions regarding the nature and extent of the support to be afforded the rebels, and whether this will prove able to achieve anything more than re-instating the now precarious stalemate between the sides. ‬

The ostensible precipitating factor for the U.S. decision was Washington’s conclusion that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on a number of occasions in the course of the fighting. ‬

But the timing of the U.S. decision must also be seen in the broader context of events in Syria. For a long period of time, supporters of President Obama would sagely observe that the administration’s ostensibly hands-off policy on Syria was working. ‬

There was no visible U.S. or Western presence. Yet it was an open secret that behind the scenes Western special forces were helping to train selected rebels in Jordan and Turkey, while Western intelligence agencies assisted in facilitating arms purchases by Saudi Arabia, and the identification of deserving recipients for these weapons.‬

This approach seemed to combine the best of both worlds. There was no obvious U.S. footprint. At the same time, the behind-the-scenes assistance appeared to be producing the desired result. The rebels were gradually, and it seemed inexorably, moving forward. ‬

This, however, is no longer the case.‬

As it turned out, the determined international coalition that has stood behind Assad since the start was also doing its share of behind-the-scenes organizing. This involved enlisting the assistance of Iranian assets in Lebanon and Iraq, and the transformation by Iran and Hizballah of Assad supporting irregulars into a sort of outsize sectarian militia called the National Defense Force. ‬

These newly available formations were committed to battle in recent weeks in Qusayr. Hizballah fighters formed the spearhead.‬

The results were mixed. It took Hizballah forces backed by regime artillery and air support 17 days to conquer this small city – in the past inhabited by 30,000 people. ‬

Assad’s forces were facing an enemy entirely lacking any air capacity or artillery, and almost surrounded. So the taking of Qusayr was not some sweeping military triumph. ‬

Nevertheless, it did represent a development of primary importance. The Assad regime in Qusayr demonstrated that the military initiative was no longer in the hands of the rebels. Rather, the regime had successfully blocked rebel attempts to open a battle for the capital, had re-conquered areas of the south, and had now re-taken a strategically significant town that had been held by its enemies for the previous 18 months.‬

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Top Rated Comments   
Removing Assad means turning Syria over to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. That may be Our Leader's goal but it is not a strategic win for America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Interference at this stage is simply interrupting your enemy when they are making a mistake. Stay the hell out, these Islamic morons have been slaughtering each other for centuries, they must know what they are doing by now. Why stop them, or even try, when they are finished with each other they will simply start on us again. Will they ever learn? More importantly, will we?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"A victory for the Assad/Iran/Hizballah/Russia side in the Syrian civil war would represent a strategic disaster for the U.S. and the West in the region. ‬"
So avoiding full blown Shariah, misogyny and a Christian slaughter in Syria would be a disaster for the U.S. and the West? I'm not a Mohammedan, nor one of their enablers, nor bereft of all decency, so I don't think my country should be helping to impose Shariah, misogyny and a Christian slaughter anywhere.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (42)
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Thank you, Jon Spyer for this excellent political and military affairs reporting.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excerpt from today's Washington Post

"Morsi also called Saturday for the institution of a no-fly zone. Jordan’s King Abdullah II promised “necessary measures to protect our country and people’s interests” after the Pentagon announced that the U.S. military would leave behind a squadron of F-16 fighter jets and a battery of Patriot missiles after military exercises in the kingdom conclude this week, stirring speculation that a no-fly zone is being prepared."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we step back from the political posturing for a moment and be pragmatic...Obama has weakened our military dramatically (as all democratic administrations are want to do) and the looming sequestration evisceration has not come fully into play yet. We have open, rampant homosexuality within the ranks and a JCS sponsored war on God throughout the services...and the rest of the country. This great leader has made us the target of renewed Russkie - Chicom aggression in our own hemisphere and he has apologized for and embarrassed us around the globe. Its no secret that our traditional allies do not trust Obama any farther than they could throw him (msm won't tell you about that either). He refuses to support Israel (or any other "white" country) and has supplanted a relatively peaceful Egypt with a mooslim bruthahood fanatic who candidly wants to see both us and the Jews removed from existence...but he sure as hell doesn't mind taking BILLIONS in military hardware and cash from the great satan.

Obama has allowed Russia to enjoy a resurgence of power while weakening our own armed forces at every turn, and then waits until the russkies and the iranians are fully entrenched and consolidated and THEN DECIDES to officially get involved militarily. Boy, talk about starting from behind the 8-ball. Obama's selection of the buffoonish, laughingstock, imbecile, $h!t for brains Mr. Heinz as SecState should tell you everything you need to know about our foreign policy...there ain't one, folks.

I was not a general, but I am a very experienced multiple-combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan and I am telling you this has disaster written all over it. You don't sit on you a$$ and watch a potential enemy multiply their combat effectiveness exponentially (direct support from Russia and Iran) and THEN decide to get involved. John McCain should know better, but I suppose senility has finally set in...I know he's trying to hold on to that last speck of credibility he thinks he still has, but if I still had the full use of my legs I would kick him square in his 4th point of contact.

The world is upside down, my friends. We $h!t on Israel and arm the mooslims, we leave brave Americans hanging out to dry in p!$$ant foreign countries (Benghazi), we give billions to mooslim dictators who wish we were dead, we allow students of marx and alinsky to dictate what we see and hear on the news, we borrow and spend fortunes that have not been created, we allow our elected representatives to lie to us almost daily with no repercussions....and now, our brave, principled, honest president wants to get overtly involved in a military conflict where no matter who the winner is, they hate us and wish us dead. You just cannot make this $h!t up. When is enough going to be enough?

We need a leader to step forward ....and we need one fast.

Remember Benghazi!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We've been arming "moderates" for decades, to what effect? There may well be moderate Muslims who really don't buy into the heretical nonsense of Islam, but, they don't want their heads chopped off so they say nothing and keep their job. Islam itself can never be moderate. There is just no such thing moderate Islam, it will always be just simply Islam. Islam offers death/slavery/rape/terror/mayhem to everyone who rejects it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Islam offers death/slavery/rape/terror/mayhem to everyone who rejects it."

That's true but that is also exactly what Islam offers to everyone who accepts Islam.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ditto
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There might have been a time in the early stages of this "rebellion" when the US could have intervened to influence the outcome in a way that favored civilization. However that would have taken deft diplomacy directed by honest and clear headed understanding of the parties involved and US interests. It is at this time moot - especially since the whole disaster in the ME is the result of eight years of US stupidity and wishfully compassionate bungling compounded by the last four years of deliberate sabotage of American interests and gormless blunders.
Were Hillary and Huma trying to cause a faceoff between Russia and the US when they engineered the "Arab Spring"? Or is this an unplanned for contingency? Was the overthrow of Assad part of the plan or did things just get carried away in the enthusiasm of the moment? Whatever.
At any rate Palin is right. At this point we should stay the hell out and let Allah sort them out.
This administration has screwed things up so bad that there is no even slightly palatable option no matter how many clothespins you put on your nose. We lose no matter what, so there is no point in sending in any Americans to be maimed and killed by either side in this typical Muslim style bloodbath.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Correct. When the question is: Whose side do you take in a battle--Jack the Ripper's or Charles Manson's? The correct answer is: none of the above.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wrong, and a poor analogy.

The prudent and moral course of action is to support the least dangerous. The better analogy is Churchill and FDR supporting the USSR in WWII.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No one "engineered" the Arab Spring. It was a perfect storm of events.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What are the elements of the perfect storm? It didn’t come out of nowhere. Oh, that’s right - after centuries of despotism which is inherent to their culture and the teachings of their religion, a shopkeeper sets fire to himself in Tunisia and millions of Muslims across the Middle East suddenly launch a jihad for democracy. Really? A perfect storm indeed.
To deny Obama and his administration’s complicity, particularly that of Hillary and her minions, is to deny reality. If the events weren’t orchestrated - at least at the macro level, then there is no other explanation for the sudden and total collapse of all at least semi-secular dictators in the Middle East than gross incompetence on the part of all heads of state involved. Obama and Hillary are not incompetent; neither were Mubarak and his generals.
Who touted the rise of Arab religious fanaticism as the Arab Spring? Who kept telling everyone that the “uprisings” were nothing more than manifestations of democrats heartfelt desire for democracy?
Obama’s State Department has left Hillary’s fingerprints and footprints are all over the “perfect storm” of the “Arab Spring”.
Once the ball went into motion, after the “perfect storm” was initiated and facilitated all that was necessary was lead from the rear as events unfolded and are now pulling our reluctant leader along behind the neocons and other fools clamoring for US intervention in Syria.
No one had anything to gain by turning the ME over to Islamists except the forces of the pan-Islamic Ummah, and the internationalists aka socialists, communists, progressives, etc., all of whom for their own reasons want US power and influence if not the nation destroyed. They will fight over the spoils later.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's right; a fruit vendor set himself on fire and it set off a chain of events. It wouldn't be the first time in history a single event became a flash point for massive protests. Look at Turkey right now; was any of that planned; could anyone have imagined where it would lead?

On the other hand, you can't produce a single shred of evidence to back up your assertions. That's not a surprise, since they are completely false. For all the prints you talk about as "all over," you can't produce even one.

For starters what proof do you have the revolt in Egypt had anything to do with religious fanaticism?

"No one had anything to gain by turning the ME over to Islamists except the forces of the pan-Islamic Ummah..."

That statement doesn't even make any sense, and is proof positive you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Completely false? Really? The Secretary of State had no involvement in the events of the last 4 years? There are no connections between Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequent events? No connection between their policies, rhetoric, apology tours, and statements to leaders and factions in the ME and subsequent events? Odd that a 2009 much publicized announcement by Obama of a “new relationship” with the governments of the ME had no effect, but within a year of their implementation agitation for “democracy” suddenly blossomed across the Arab world. Just a coincidence? Yep, s*** just happens in the ME. Odd that the Iranian uprisings, which were largely secular, were ignored while uprisings in Egypt which had heavy Muslim Brotherhood involvement were very publicly supported - and the Muslim Brotherhood involvement denied. Those are policy decisions. They are made by the President and the SoS. Who decided to get rid of Gadhafy ? Why? He was cooperating in the WOT. But, he was also an enemy of the Islamists. The shenanigans in Libya that led to the Benghazi fiasco had nothing to do with decisions and policies implemented by HRC? No input from Hillary’s closest advisor and bosom buddy Huma Abedin?
You can disagree with the perceived degree of involvement or culpability of Hillary, but to claim as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had no responsibility (fingerprints and footprints) is inane.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's not forget the "senior advisor" to Her Thighness....Huma the mooslim bruthahood princess.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Arabs are tribal and have been fighting each other since dirt. Nothing will change to have them embrace a unifying solution. They, truly, are a lost cause.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the Assad forces win, the rebel forces will try to obfuscate their loss by attacking Israel, that is the usual MO in the middle east and it worries me the most
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I disagree. Despite their rabble-rousing, I see the Alawite-Shia minority connection as less of a threat in real terms than a Sunni orthodox presence to buttress territory between Egypt and Turkey. The 9/11 hijackers were not Shia.

I'm not saying Shia is not a threat, merely a less capable one. Assad has no real interest in Israel; his enemies have always been within Syria, and he knows it. It was illegal for Alawites to even attain to the Presidency before Assad's father, just as it is illegal for a Christian to be President in Egypt. Imagine the pressure an actual Christian President would be under in Egypt these last 40 years.

Keep in mind, the minority Shia view Arabized Sunni orthodoxy in the same way Indians view British colonialism. Sunni and Shia hate and fear one another more than they do the West.

I predict Assad will not be allowed to retake Aleppo.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“I see the Alawite-Shia minority connection as less of a threat … I'm not saying Shia is not a threat, merely a less capable one”.

But, IMHO, the Iranian Axis is a far greater and more sophisticated threat to the U.S. and its interests, esp. once they acquire a nuclear umbrella. As a mental experiment, compare the organization and sophistication of the IRGC to the Haqqani Network.

Supporting the rebels in Syria is a way to hurt the Iranian Axis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Two stories leaped from the pages.

The more recent: http://www.mail.com/int/news/world/2155608-syrian-refugees-egypt-hit-break-ties.html#.1272-stage-hero1-8

The other one: http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/06/08/how-a-jewish-lawyer-came-to-devote-his-career-to-protecting-christians-in-the-palestinian-territories/

Both need to be taken into consideration, because there is too much riding to succumb to selective vision.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Color me sceptical, but on the arming and training of "moderate" groups in Syria all along, I have a tough time accepting that. There seem to be damn few, one?. and here again we have reason to believe the wrong people benefited.
Nobody else in the neighberhood !
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are no moderate Muslims of the Islamist persuasion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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