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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wanted the recent Geneva II peace conference to focus on terrorism. He says terrorism is the main problem a...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy in Syria

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For all the carping and name calling that my first diary on this generated, I haven't seen a single argument in the comment gallery that even speaks to, let alone undermines, my basic thesis that Obama's "No MANPADS for you" policy with regards to Assad's opposition in Syria, which he claimed was to assure that no MANPADS fell into the hands of jihadists has, in fact, led to MANPADS falling into the hands of jihadists.

Once again, by the numbers let me spell it out because I am dense.

1) We know that al Nursa Front [declared an official terror group --- by Obama?!] has MANPADS now that they didn't have a few months ago. Other Islamic extremist groups in Syria as well as the FSA are also getting them.

2) And where are they getting them? From taking Assad's bases and raiding his armories.

3) And how did al Nursa and others like them get to form up in Syria? Because this war has dragged on so long that they have been able take advantage and establish themselves. In other words, they have been able to use the past year of inaction by all the permanent members of the UNSC to put themselves in a position where they could avail themselves of Assad's MANPADS, among other things.

4) And why has this war dragged on for so long? Largely because Assad lacks the army or popular support to win it for him and the opposition lacks, or did until recently, the heavy weapons, especially MANPADS, to defeat his armor and air force .

As an aside: I recently read a long series of posts on a military board, Brown Moses pointed to them, that took apart one engagement between the FSA and three of Assad's tanks in which Assad lost some.

These military minds thought the SAA showed good tactics with how they positioned the tanks. The fatal flaw, they agreed, was that he sent his tanks forward without infantry, which is like tank warfare 101. Tanks can't do it alone. They are too easily ambushed by themselves. The tanks need to be protected by the infantry.

They couldn't understand why he didn't send out his infantry with his tanks.

But we know why, don't we?

He can't trust his infantry. Given half a chance, they defect. He is losing soldiers everyday that he can't replace and I'll wager he's losing a lot more to defections than he is to rebel fire.

Poor Assad, don't look at each defection as losing another soldier, think of it as gaining another enemy!

I've heard stories recently about one of Assad's pilots, and an Alawite besides, that showed him what defection really means. He bombed his own troops and then bailed out over opposition held territory. I've got one video but I haven't had a chance to research it or confirm it or turn it into a diary but I hope its true and I hope it gives Assad some sleepless nights.

Normal procedure for clearing out "armed terrorist gangs" from among civilian populations is to send in something like SWAT, which is suppose to be surgical and take care not to kill the civilians.

Assad can't trust any but his own "armed terrorist gangs," his ideologically driven shabiha, so he relies on long range weapons that kill everybody.

That is one reason this conflict has been so bloody.

But then too, he is not dealing with "armed terrorist gangs" using civilians as "human shields" as a few Kossacks here would have you believe, he is dealing with an armed uprising of his people.

It wasn't at first, but when he started shooting them, they armed themselves. So his basic tactic is to so brutalize the people that they submit to his continued rule.

That is the other reason this conflict is so bloody.

5) So why did Assad's opposition not receive MANPADS and other heavy weapons until they could take them from Assad? Was there no one that would supply such weapons? Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted to supply the life saving MANPADS. They could also be purchased on the black market and from Africa.

6) So why didn't this happen? Because Obama exercised his "veto" and marshaled the CIA to see that it didn't happen.

7) So why did he do this? Because he was afraid that MANPADS would fall into the hands of jihadists.

I predict that my thesis, first laid out here at the Daily Kos, will be widely adopted because it is true. No amount of donuts can change that. Syria will be seen as one of Obama's biggest foreign policy blunders.

So while I'm at it, let me point out another way that is true.

The whole dust up yesterday over the Israeli air strike in Syria is another expansion and complication. It is claimed the Israelis were interdicting a shipment of SA-17 missiles to Hezbollah.

That may or may not be true, but there can be little doubt that in his desperate attempts to cling to power, Assad will be arming HZ and his shahiba with more and more lethal firepower. So it won't just be the opposition that end up with weapons pumped into Syria by Russian and Iran, but left over from the conflict, it will be some even more unsavory characters that Assad has working for him.

In this regard, what has been happening in northern Mali is most instructive because the weapons that became the gasoline that was poured on that particular fire came from Libya. They are weapons that were traded to Qaddafi for Libyan oil by the permanent members of the UNSC, that were in turn made available to mercenary Tuaregs from northern Mali by Qaddafi.

When Qaddafi was defeated. They took their new toys and went home.

So what mischief will all the weapons Russia and Iran have pumped into Syria cause once Assad goes down?

This will also be the legacy of all of those who have opposed arming the rebels because "that would only add more weapons to the conflict," because Assad supporters certainly haven't hesitated to do that.

And thanks to the lack of support the whole world has shown to the people fighting the Assad regime, they've had time to ship a lot more weapons.

So we can also see that the refusal to arm Assad's opposition because that would only introduce more weapons into the conflict, has in fact, led to many more weapons being introduced into the conflict.

I would only add in closing that I am tech savvy enough to know there are many protections and controls such as "expiration dates" that could have been built into any MANPADS we supplied to the FSA, and while nothing is fool proof, there certainly are no such safeguards or agreements limiting the use on the MANPADS that are now falling into the hands of al Nursa and worst.

If an airliners is ever brought down by a MANPADS as blowback from this conflict, and I hope that never happens, I don't think the passengers are going to care much that the terrorist got hold of Russian MANPADS and not US MANPADS as a result of Obama's "No MANPADS for you!" policy.


AFP has this out today:
'World giving Bashar al-Assad licence to kill' - Syrian Opposition

January 31, 2013 12:14AM
It comes a day after dozens of young men were found shot execution-style in the city of Aleppo.

UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the war in Syria had reached "unprecedented levels of horror," telling the UN Security Council it had to act immediately to halt the carnage.

Witnesses and activists said the bodies of 78 young men, all executed with a single gunshot, were found on Tuesday in a river in Aleppo, adding to the grim list of massacres committed during Syria's 22-month conflict.

Rebels blamed the regime for the killings, but Syrian authorities accused the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front of having carried out the massacre.

The Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition alliance, called on rights groups to investigate the slaughter and "bring the killers to justice."

The "ongoing global inaction towards human rights violations in Syria encourages the killers to continue their crimes ... The extreme complacency in the positions of most countries ... gives the green light for the perpetrators of genocide to continue what they are doing." More...



Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria
9:18 AM PT:

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