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(The New York Times)   NYT finally states the obvious: There is no secular "rebel" fighting force in Syria. It's all either Islamist groups, or Al Qaeda, so why are we sending Al Qaeda aid? Is Assad worse than Al Qaeda?   (nytimes.com) divider line 39
    More: Obvious, Islamists, NYT, al-Qaeda, Assad, fighting force, guerrilla war, provincial capital, Sunni Muslims  
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4395 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Apr 2013 at 8:08 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-04-30 08:21:23 AM  
6 votes:
There are so many really great reasons for Americans to mind our own business and stay the hell out of the Middles East that a single thread doesn't have space to list them all.
But the dilemma of having to choose to side with either genocidal tyrants or homicidal maniacs is another good one.
2013-04-30 08:12:59 AM  
6 votes:
Great, so that means we just stay the f*ck out of it then?
2013-04-30 08:27:12 AM  
4 votes:
Doing the thing over and over again, hoping for a different ending? That's the definition of insanity.

How's this for *OBVIOUS*? We should just get the hell out of that entire region. Check back when the dust settles.
2013-04-30 08:28:13 AM  
3 votes:
"In France, people don't like face veils so they passed laws against them," he said. "It's the same thing here. It's our right to push for the laws we want."

Guy does have a point... it's their country, let them fight over it.
We just need to stay out of it given our recent  and ongoing history of wars in the middle east.

Although by this point, if we don't get involved and the rebels win, the hard-liner Al Qaeda based groups will just use that to push their anti-western theme even further, and If Assad wins it'll be business as usual except for the fact that after Syria wouldn't even put up the false facade of 'cooperation' with the United States or the West, for the simple fact that we got involved in the first place.

Either way we're screwed, both sides suck... so we should just let them duke it out and cut our losses, just sucks for the civilians caught in the middle.
2013-04-30 01:12:30 PM  
2 votes:
In case anybody is unclear as to what's going down in Syria right now, here's the cliff notes:

It all started during the Arab Spring in 2011, when protesters jumped on the bandwagon and began demonstrating against Assad. He cracked down, disappearing people, torturing them, attacking protest marches, and basically running down the checklist of "The Dictator's Guide to Violent Repression of Dissent". He forgot the most important box, however: "Make Sure the Army is On Your Side" and when the military was sent in to beat heads, lots of them defected and joined the opposition. It's about this time (end of July, 2011) that disaffected army officers formed the Free Syrian Army and we've got an actual civil war on our hands.

From the end of July through the rest of summer, protests against Assad continued, with crackdowns becoming ever more violent. The rebels marshalled their forces, however, and began military operations that fall, starting in the northern part of the country. Diplomatic pressure from outside the country then began to increase, with the Arab League trying to get both sides to the negotiating table. They took their crack in November 2011, and pretty much failed, although they did manage to revoke Assad's membership. Fighting continued, now with tanks and the like rolling, and the UN took a crack, sending in Kofi Annan around April, 2012 to negotiate a cease-fire. That also fell apart, and they're still fighting.

To give you a quick rundown of the military side, it helps to analogize the western part of Syria to the west coast of the US (although most of these cities aren't actually ports). Going from south to north, you have Daraa (Tijuana), Jasir (San Diego), Damascus (L.A.), Homs (San Francisco), Aleppo (Portland, although further east), and Azaz (Seattle). Fighting started around Homs and Damascus in late 2011 and into the summer of 2012, but has recently (winter 2012) shifted to Aleppo as well.

There's been a few notable incidents as the war has continued, like the loyalist forces shooting down a Turkish F-4, SCUD attacks, cluster bombing, and various terror attacks and assassinations, but fighting has basically continued nonstop. Rebel forces have been doing a lot of the winning, capturing some military bases and weapons in strategic areas.

Current status is a little murky, but it's clear that the opposition controls large portions of the northern part of the country. The military opposition is loosely made up of the FSA (ex-military defectors) and various Islamist militant groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra mentioned in TFA. Political organization of the opposition started as the Syrian National Council, now expanded into the Syrian National Coalition. It's been recognized as the legitimate government by lots of foreign countries, including members of the Arab League and NATO. It's a government-in-exile, meeting in Cairo, Istanbul, and Qatar. Current president is Moaz al-Khatib (although he's making noise about stepping down) and PM is Ghassan Hitto.

So now you're up to date. The rebels in Syria are in control of a bit over half of the country and are currently fighting against loyalist bastions in the west. The loyalists have their backs against the wall, but are still being propped up by Russia and some say Iran. The main Islamist groups are basically out-of-town mercs who've come streaming in through Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey to kick the crap out of the Ba'athist loyalists, while there's still a core of ex-military defectors running the Free Syrian Army. In December, 2012, it was reorganized under the nominal control of Riad al-Assad and the actual control of Salim Idris, with two-thirds of the new command coming from the Muslim Brotherhood. Other rebel forces like al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham were not invited and are under separate C&C.

It's a big tangled mess over there and the US would do well to stay out of it. Ideally, I'd like to see a UN/NATO blockade/no fly zone, but Russia will stomp and scream if it even looks like that's an option. The rebels are winning, it'll just take them time. Unless Russia goes whole hog and drops in a battalion of armor or something, Assad's days are numbered. If the US pokes its nose in now, it'll only cause difficulties among the rebels. Far better to handle thing thing the same way we handled Egypt - keep out of it until somebody gets to the top of the heap, then shake 'em by the hand and welcome them to the table. Picking winners in the middle east is what's gotten us in so many messes already.
2013-04-30 10:37:16 AM  
2 votes:

DeadPuppySociety: Hobodeluxe: GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.

So explain to us then how this is Obama's fault then.

Providing material aid to Islamic rebels trying to overthrow a secular govt? Supporting other nations in doing the same? I think it's dumb to lay it all at his feet, it's not like he waved his magic Obama wand and caused all this, but when our country gets involved in shiat like this, you better believe the PRESIDENT bears responsibility.


Redlines and the Problems of Intervention in Syria

"The difference between right-wing and left-wing interventionists is the illusions they harbor. In spite of experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, right-wing interventionists continue to believe that the United States and Europe have the power not only to depose regimes but also to pacify the affected countries and create Western-style democracies. The left believes that there is such a thing as a neutral intervention -- one in which the United States and Europe intervene to end a particular evil, and with that evil gone, the country will now freely select a Western-style constitutional democracy. Where the right-wing interventionists cannot absorb the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq, the left-wing interventionists cannot absorb the lessons of Libya."
2013-04-30 10:26:39 AM  
2 votes:
Sometimes there is no simple choice. Today's allies could be tomorow's enemies. You have to go with what works at the time.


americanvision.org
k-punk.abstractdynamics.org
2013-04-30 10:06:42 AM  
2 votes:

Mrtraveler01: randomjsa: Based on our Egypt, Lybia, and Iran strategy, we just have to be sure that whomever hates Israel the most gets to stay in power.

Yes...we should've just totally went into Egypt and helped Murbarak out by wiping out the protesters in Tahir Square.

That's what you wanted right?


Sure, why not? It would have worked out better than giving you what you wanted, the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt.

/which was predictable, after what came after the Shah was overthrown in Iran and Batista was overthrown in Brazil
//gee, it's almost like some violent protesters actually need to be oppressed, in order to maintain even the pretense of civilization
///too bad the people that are going to make the choice can't even tell which protesters are peaceful and which ones are violent any more (hint: the Tea Party is peaceful)
2013-04-30 09:11:26 AM  
2 votes:
They're just fighting for their freedom... to enslave us all in a global Islamic theocracy.
2013-04-30 08:37:38 AM  
2 votes:
both sides are barbarous 3rd century fundies. Let them kill the shiat out of each other, and stop giving them our cash.
2013-04-30 08:36:24 AM  
2 votes:
Can't we just agree that all Muslims are bad and move on?
2013-04-30 03:38:00 PM  
1 votes:
Disaster Capitalism means never having to say there's a good guy, or that you can militarily win.  PROFIT is the victory.
2013-04-30 02:35:08 PM  
1 votes:

Voiceofreason01: PunGent: GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.

Well, the "red line" crap IS his fault, no doubt about it.

If it had kept Assad from using chemical weapons it would have been a good bluff. The problem with bluffing is that it makes you look like a chump if you get called on it and don't follow up.


Yep...AND the problem, which is not at all unlikely here...what if the rebels ALSO use chemical weapons?

Then what...we bomb both sides?  I think I saw that Woody Allen movie, back in the 70s...
2013-04-30 01:11:52 PM  
1 votes:

SuperNinjaToad: hasty ambush: Sometimes there is no simple choice. Today's allies could be tomorow's enemies. You have to go with what works at the time.


[americanvision.org image 300x250]
[k-punk.abstractdynamics.org image 265x210]

Only if you are fighting for your own survival! ... otherwise there is a choice C: Stay out of it and let them two fight it out themselves!!


You can either be a driving force in international affairs or be driven by them. Isolationism,even with no direct interests at stake, has never worked out well for us going all the way back to Jefferson and The Embargo Act.

Foreign policy abhors a vacuum and if we are not there  somebody else will step in that may not have our interests at heart.
2013-04-30 01:00:25 PM  
1 votes:

SuperNinjaToad: HotWingConspiracy: randomjsa: Based on our Egypt, Lybia, and Iran strategy, we just have to be sure that whomever hates Israel the most gets to stay in power.

Bibi needs a reminder who keeps him fed now and then.

I swear the US or at least the US MIC is similar to The Madarin in IronMan 3 where we play both sides for profit. Hype the paranoid, sell offensive weapons and defensive weapons to both sides and always make sure we're the main supplier.

I mean the US has ALWAYS pledge unwavering support to Israel and it's security YET we continue to sell arms not only to them but also to the very nations who deep down hate them with their guts.


Capitalism has no loyalty, only profit.
If it's profitable, we're allies, if it's not, we're not... simple.

(FYI - Israel became a close US ally only AFTER they kicked major ass in the 1967 war and proved to the United States that they are a powerful ally versus the Soviet influence in the region as well as that they can provide military intelligence as well as newly researched technologies).
2013-04-30 12:51:25 PM  
1 votes:
Arab spring you say???

More like an Islamist Winter, ami-rite?

Seriously... The Israelis saw this coming a MILE AWAY with Egypt.

Radicals are the fuel of revolutions.
Most 'rational / secular' folk are not going to risk life and limp for a Democracy, but Totalitarian religious folks will.
2013-04-30 12:10:13 PM  
1 votes:

Tyrone Slothrop: Can't they both be equally bad?




It boils down to which serves our then current interests better- Just a very few examples:


King Louis XVI vs King George III

Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Tito, Chiang Kai Shek vs Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini

Chiang Kai Shek vs Mao

Syngman Rhee vs Kim Il-sung.

Diem, Minh, etc, etc, vs Ho Chi Minh
2013-04-30 11:51:29 AM  
1 votes:
Screw em. Let them kill each other. Either way we side we are screwed, at least by doing nothing we can save some money and lives. Or we can just give every man, woman and child there a gun to speed it up.
2013-04-30 11:27:06 AM  
1 votes:
Obama is doing exactly the right thing:  giving the rebels just enough support that they can keep fighting but not enough for them to win.  The more Islamists kill one another the fewer there are to kill the rest of us.
2013-04-30 10:22:18 AM  
1 votes:
so in other words McCain and Graham are secret Al Queda supporters.

........on a more serious note you would think the our government would've learn a thing or two after arming the Mujaheedeens in the 1980's!!!
2013-04-30 09:38:35 AM  
1 votes:

Ted Kennedy's Brain Tumor: secular opposition forces


That would have lost any election to the extremists.
2013-04-30 09:23:19 AM  
1 votes:

PunGent: Of course, the neocons have been awfully quiet lately...why, just last year, with Libya and Egypt, they were bragging about how their invasion of Iraq was finally spreading peace, love, and democracy across the Middle East...


No, at least not anyone with sense.  Go back and check the threads.  In Egypt, Libs were giddy about the people revolting against tyranny.  Conservatives that understand how the world really works were telling them the devil they don't know will be worse than the devil they have now.

In Libya the only real hope was that they all kill each other, but again the left was fully behind the 'freedom fighters'.  We even conducted combat operations on their behalf - and got thanked by having our ambassador murdered.

The Arab spring worked out pretty much exactly how conservatives thought it would.
2013-04-30 09:07:21 AM  
1 votes:
ZogDog:

Either way we're screwed, both sides suck... so we should just let them duke it out and cut our losses, just sucks for the civilians caught in the middle.

Yes Mr. Romero, that's ALWAYS the problem.  See Africa for classical case studies.
2013-04-30 09:07:11 AM  
1 votes:
And people wonder why we don't want to get involved.
2013-04-30 09:05:20 AM  
1 votes:

MyRandomName: PunGent: GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.

Well, the "red line" crap IS his fault, no doubt about it.

Of course, the neocons have been awfully quiet lately...why, just last year, with Libya and Egypt, they were bragging about how their invasion of Iraq was finally spreading peace, love, and democracy across the Middle East...

So you are choosing to cometely ignore the administration's marketing of the arab spring and go with blaming the gop. Kudos.


RA RA MY TEAM! YOUR TEAM SUCKS!
2013-04-30 08:55:21 AM  
1 votes:

You Are All Sheep: I thought Al Queda were the bad guys..or is that next week?

didn't we hang Saddam for helping them, or something?


We didn't hang Saddam. The Iraqis did.

/CSB: I attended a day of his trial.
2013-04-30 08:51:23 AM  
1 votes:

Hobodeluxe: GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.

So explain to us then how this is Obama's fault then.


Because this has dragged on for more than 2 years (as per article). If Obama had done something in the beginning the formerly secular opposition could have formed a government instead of being radicalized. That was the point of the article, what was secular is now radical. Perfect example of what doing nothing results in.
2013-04-30 08:39:35 AM  
1 votes:

Bit'O'Gristle: both sides are barbarous 3rd century fundies


Actually Assad isn't a fundy at all. Hell he's not even a Muslim.
2013-04-30 08:38:49 AM  
1 votes:

YixilTesiphon: Al Qaeda


Whoever it is that's using that name now, isn't the same people as before. Al Qaeda has basically become a franchise, minus the usual fees and agreements and common purpose.
2013-04-30 08:37:16 AM  
1 votes:
If Al Qaeda is too busy fighting a Russian puppet state, that's good news for us.
Esn
2013-04-30 08:34:00 AM  
1 votes:

micuu: Because propping up power-mad dictators has worked out so well for the US in the past....


Well, Assad did actually agree to have democratic elections in the new constitution that he signed last year. His only catch was that he would also be a candidate. This was unacceptable to the rebels and to their sponsors (such as the definitely-not-democratic royals and princes of Saudi Arabia, who are supported by the US by the way), so the civil war drags on.

I don't know, seems to me like the obvious solution would be for the international community to send in observers to ensure that the free and fair elections that Assad already promised are actually free and fair. If the people decide to vote for Assad, so be it.

I don't understand why the West is sabotaging Syrians' democratic rights by insisting that only the rebels can be candidates in any election, and actively preventing a peace process.
2013-04-30 08:27:44 AM  
1 votes:

Hobodeluxe: GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.

So explain to us then how this is Obama's fault then.


Because he had the audacity to be black, intelligent and the President all at the same time.
2013-04-30 08:26:05 AM  
1 votes:
How about we stay the fark out of it?
2013-04-30 08:25:06 AM  
1 votes:
Then it seems pretty clear that we should stay the hell out of the fight then huh?
2013-04-30 08:19:12 AM  
1 votes:
Based on our Egypt, Lybia, and Iran strategy, we just have to be sure that whomever hates Israel the most gets to stay in power.
2013-04-30 08:13:13 AM  
1 votes:

GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.


Well, the "red line" crap IS his fault, no doubt about it.

Of course, the neocons have been awfully quiet lately...why, just last year, with Libya and Egypt, they were bragging about how their invasion of Iraq was finally spreading peace, love, and democracy across the Middle East...
2013-04-30 08:12:55 AM  
1 votes:

GORDON: One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.


I disagree.  Syrians deciding to have a civil war is CLEARLY Obama's fault.
2013-04-30 08:10:26 AM  
1 votes:
One thing for sure, it isn't Obama's fault, because nothing is ever his fault.  He's only the President.
2013-04-30 08:10:15 AM  
1 votes:
Glass parking lot etc. and such.
 
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