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Sunday, November 15

The dogs bark, the caravan passes

After grudgingly conceding that Bashar al-Assad would be staying on for a while at his post, John Kerry shot off the last of his rounds at Assad during the presser that followed the latest talks in Vienna yesterday on what the International Community should do about Syria.  He wanted the world to know that it was Assad who contributed to the rise of Islamic State and what's more it was Assad who was responsible for all things bad in Syria. 

In this Kerry studiously overlooked that the only people left in the world who believe anything said by a U.S. State Department official are MSNBC TV watchers and people who write policy papers for Chatham House.

Meanwhile, American Democratic Party leaders are worried that Islamic State carrying off a massacre in Paris might drive Obama's poll numbers even lower. They're sort of suggesting that the U.S. step up its military response to IS. Here the party runs into a snag because as Washington policy experts have repeatedly explained and continue to explain, you can't beat Islamic State through a military response. 

No, this is a generational struggle that will require spending hundreds of billions more euros and dollars on the kind of educational programs, democracy initiatives and development projects that did such wonders at neutralizing the Taliban threat in Afghanistan.

In this Democratic Party leaders and Washington policy experts are overlooking that the rest of America is too busy following war news at RT, Sputnik, TASS, and SANA to pay them any mind.

The barking will continue for some time but the caravan is moving on. Reuters made history yesterday by managing to get through a lengthy report on the Vienna talks about Syria without once quoting the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, although it reverted to character a bit when it reported
An agreement on lists of accepted political organizations and proscribed terrorist groups has consistently eluded negotiators in the talks ...
We get a somewhat different version from SANA's report on same:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ... pointed out that there was common consensus on the lists of the terrorist groups that must be combated, and that Jordan was approached to help devise a unified list of terrorist organizations and present it to the Security Council for approval.
Meanwhile, Asia Times reported that Al Saud is having second thoughts about funding proxy armies to take down Assad. This on account of:

a) funding the armies for more years on end, especially after the Russian intervention, is more money than Riyadh wants or even can afford to spend. (Tough financial times have come to the kingdom);

b) The net effect of the Saudi attempt to take down Assad has been to shoot their own oil  ministry in the foot; and

c)  Their name is increasingly mud in the Ummah. This for a number of reasons including funding terrorist organizations that make all Muslims look really bad.

As to how the second thoughts are playing out -- from the Asia Times article:
Reports of the Saudi king’s possible visit to Russia indicate that Saudi Arabia’s adventurism in Syria is coming to a close.
According to the Russian presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Russia is being worked out and agreed through diplomatic channels.
This shows Riyadh is ready to reach a ‘compromised solution’ on the Syrian crisis – a solution that may not be what the US seems to be attempting to achieve through its renewed engagement in Syria and Iraq and its (possible) policy of balkanization of Syria into different “safe zones.”
I suggest you read the entire article, which is positively riveting, but the point is that if Salman isn't hustled off to a mental asylum on his return from Russia and told he's too senile to run the kingdom, we are looking at a new day.

This would still leave the USA and its dear allies Turkey, Qatar, Great Britain and France to deal with, but the latter two governments would follow Al Saud's 'request,' which would also carry weight in Washington.  And it's possible President Obama is getting tired of supporting Qatar's romance with the Muslim Brotherhood given that it's put Washington on the spot with Cairo.

Meanwhile, SANA announced yesterday that the Syrian Army has established control over new areas in several provinces (warning: photo of lots of dead terrorists), destroyed 323 targets, and reported on Nov. 13:
Russian war planes, in cooperation with the Syrian Air Force, carried out 107 sorties targeting 289 positions for terrorist organizations in the countryside of Aleppo, Damascus, Idleb, Hama, Homs and Deir Ezzor provinces during the past 24 hours, A military source told SANA Friday.
The sorties resulted in destroying 34 command centers, 50 positions containing military equipment, 184 fortified positions and 16 fuel and munitions depots as well as two ammunition and explosives factories for terrorist organizations, the source added.
The sorties also targeted terrorists’ hideouts in the southern region, destroying ammunition depots near Jasem, north-west of Daraa city and in al-Maghar Mount in Damascus Countryside.
In the central region, the Russian air force destroyed 3 mortar bases, ammunition depot and two buildings including Grad missiles and shells in al-Lataminah, 35 km north of Hama city and a monitoring post for Jabhet al-Nusra terrorists near Kidin village in Lattakia countryside.
The source highlighted that the airstrikes also resulted in destroying a plant for manufacturing explosives and shells in Maarat al-Numan in Idleb countryside, 5 armored vehicles and 4 machinegun-equipped vehicles in Rasm al-Abboud near Kwairis Airport.
So it seems the Russian 'reconaissance' phase didn't last long, or that the Russians have wisely encouraged the Syrian air force to take more of the lead with the sorties. In any case the Syrian air force is so proud of their increasing successes that taking a page from the Russians, who've wooed the press since they showed up in Syria, they invited journalists to inspect a Syrian air base and marvel at the courage and professionalism of the pilots. 

I am absolutely certain their pride was shared by all the law-abiding Syrians who have toughed it out in the country during these terrible last four years. Word travels fast these days, so I think the pride will be shared by Syrians in refugee camps outside the country.

President Assad has pleaded with all able-bodied men in those camps to return and join him in the fight. I think many will respond, now that they're reasonably assured there is a country to return to.

I'm saving the best of the news for the next post; for now I'll close by featuring remarks by Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis.  He came straight out on November 12 and wrote what reportedly many American defense and intel analysts in Washington has been saying in private for weeks: 
At the present moment we have a memorable occasion in which the US refuses to afford Russia the courtesy of considering the merits of its intervention in Syria.  In fact, there are unending statements that deny the legitimacy of Russian action in spite of the invitation they were given by the UN recognized government of Syria.
What is the root of this problem?
IMO it is the belief resident and widespread in the Borg that history ended a while back and that after the end of the Cold War with the USSR there could be no doubt that the "day ob jubilo" had arrived and the ages long struggle of human tribes, countries and empires was done.  What was expected in the Borg was that a New World Order would prevail in which mommy's rules for playground behavior would rule, somehow. 
From this Borgian premise proceeds the R2P [Responsibility to Protect] harpy notion (eagerly supported by the neocons) that the Russians, IS, the jihadis, their Gulfie friends and the Zionists are all just errant children to be brought into line by scolding, small punishments and minimal efforts because, surely, they will understand that the old world has passed away and that this is the first century of the New Age of Man.
But the Russians do not understand that and for good reason. They do not believe it because that is all horse shit. This is a cavalry metaphor inherited from my father. 
Humanity has changed not at all. It is still a "fight for love and glory, a case of do or die" except for those of you who believe that Russia fights for oil under the Golan Heights.
In fact the Russians are quite sane.  It is we Western fools who are collectively mad.

In consideration of the massacre in Paris, Lang's observations could hit their mark in at least some part of Washington's political establishment. Whether or not this happens, the caravan continues on.

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