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Sunday, January 31

The Battle for M-4 Highway. What's at stake? Civilization.

"If this offensive is ultimately successful in east Aleppo, then in the coming weeks ISIS forces will be split apart along the Aleppo-Raqqa Highway."

Bonsai! Pound 'em, Tiger Forces! [waving her Syrian flag]  Let's hear it for the 4th Mechanized Division! Go go go NDF! Pundita stop jumping up and down on the edge of the recliner, it's going -- [crashing sounds] to tip over. By the way it's "Banzai." 

You know, I'm beginning to think the war reporter for Vogue is a bad influence on her. All right, get set for a cliffhanger this week. Here's Leith Fadel's report today 6:45 am Lebanon time for Al-Masdar News:

Hezbollah, Iraqi forces prepare for large-scale offensive in east Aleppo
According to a senior officer from the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary) forces have flooded the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District inside Aleppo City’s northeastern sector these last two weeks in order to prepare for the large-scale offensive to cut off the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham” (ISIS) between the Al-Safira Plains, the Deir Hafer Plains and the Al-Bab Plateau. 
The goal of this large-scale offensive will be to link the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District with the Aleppo Thermal Power Plant that the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” are attempting to seize from the ISIS terrorists along the strategic Aleppo-Raqqa (M-4 Highway) in the Aleppo Governorate’s eastern countryside.

While several Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba brigades are going to remain in southern and northern Aleppo; this new offensive will be specifically geared to accelerate the encirclement of the ISIS forces in the Al-Safira Plains, where the aforementioned terrorist group has launched several offensives in the past two years.
Joining Hezbollah and Harakat Al-Nujaba during this offensive will be the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Aleppo City, Liwaa Al-Badr (Iraqi paramilitary), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi paramilitary) and Kata’eb Hezbollah (Iraqi paramilitary). If this offensive is ultimately successful in east Aleppo, then in the coming weeks, ISIS’ forces will be split apart along the Aleppo-Raqqa Highway.
Now is it really a battle for civilization going on in Syria? I have before me another report from Al-Masdar, datelined today and filed by Paul Antonopoulos:

US Senator: Saudi Arabia spreads hatred
Senator Chris Murphy [D-Connecticut] has come out saying that Saudi Arabia funds up to 24,000 radical religious schools in Pakistan by handing out a “tsunami of money” in order to “export intolerance.”
“In 1956, there were 244 madrassas in Pakistan. Today, there are 24,000. These schools are multiplying all over the globe. These schools, by and large, don’t teach violence. They aren’t the minor leagues for al-Qaeda or ISIS. But they do teach a version of Islam that leads very nicely into an anti-Shia, anti-Western militancy,” he said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“The United States should suspend supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, at the very least until we get assurances that this campaign does not distract from the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda, and until we make some progress on the Saudi export of Wahhabism,” he added.
The senator is not entirely correct; the madrassas are the foundation for the thinking of groups such as Islamic State and are critical to promulgation of the thinking among hundreds of millions of children.

But Syria, unlike Pakistan, is the bastion in the Middle East of religious freedom -- or it was, until Al Saud determined to destroy Bashar al-Assad. So given that the United States and European Union along with the majority of Gulf Arab oil kingdoms are supporters of Al Saud, Syria turns out to be civilization's last stand for the present generation and the one to follow. As unlikely as it might seem at this moment, if we lose Syria we lose everything.  

I'm in favor of Syria winning.

But if it fails all is not lost.

As for Al-Saud my sentiments are somewhat to the right of the Manson family so I think we're on the same page.
It's only very recently that I'm looking at the Syrian conflict in such dire terms. You asked some months ago, rhetorically perhaps, what we're going to do about the Saudis. But it's not the Saudis that are the biggest problem; it's the support they receive from many governments, including ours. A great deal about the relationships has started coming out since the Russians began fighting in Syria, and at the same time the Saudis have become -- if not desperate, at least very alarmed. This makes them even more dangerous. But I hope you're right; I fear I am.
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