The Battle of Ramadi, Continued

 

AP_50881445757_4x3_992I’ve been meaning to write about the recapture of Ramadi, which is assuredly a modestly hopeful development. Along with the recapture of Tishrin Dam, it’s the biggest gain against ISIS this year — although it’s offset by ISIS’s gains in Aleppo, which is the direct consequence of Russia’s pounding of anti-ISIS rebels.

Speaking of which, the interview below, direct from Aleppo with Rami Jarrah, is really worth watching. He’s one of the only journalists now in Aleppo, where rebel-held areas are attacked daily by Russian planes and the Assad regime:

But the recapture of Ramadi is definitely a blow, for now at least, to the ISIS narrative of invincibility.

Let’s hope they don’t screw it up. Despite defeats in Tikrit, the Beiji refinery complex, the transit route connecting Mosul to the city of Raqqa, and now Ramadi, ISIS is far from being destroyed — and Ramadi is far from being held. It’s a lot easier to conquer territory than it is to hold it.

So we should wait another six months, at least, before celebrating. We’ll see whether the ISF is not only capable of holding it, but turning it over to the Sunni tribes — and keeping out the Shia militias, who are waiting just outside the city and eager to start a sectarian bloodbath.

Abadi and his rivals (the pro-Iranian Hashd) were deeply divided when the offensive to retake Ramadi began. US accounts claim that we stepped up our support to make sure the Shia militia would be sidelined: US advisers in Anbar helped plan the operation; Americans trained the units fighting for the city; the US assembled and trained a new force of Sunni tribal fighters from scratch. Washington, reportedly, insisted the Hashd be kept out of Ramadi proper to ensure it appeared to be a genuine ISF victory. (Rumors are floating around that the US cut a deal with the Abadi government and the Hashd to ensure their withdrawal from the operation. If so, this obviously happened behind the scenes, but the Iraqi press has been full of stories about the role of US special forces and US air power — and so has ours. So our presence was, at least, obvious to the Shia militias.)

But ISIS elements remain; some reports suggest that they’re still present in a quarter of the city. Assuming they will be driven out entirely, the biggest problem won’t be military, but political: Who’s going to run the city? Who will ensure there are no reprisals and vengeance killings? Who will ensure the city doesn’t descend into lawless chaos? The government claims to be trying to create a new Sunni police force to ensure this, but it’s far from clear that they exist in the numbers required. Both the Sunni tribes and the Shia militias are apt to exact revenge upon ISIS collaborators. This, obviously, wouldn’t stabilize anything, and if the Shia exterminate Sunni civilians, as is their habit, we’re back to the very problem from which ISIS emerged in the first place.

Initial reports suggest that 80 percent of the city’s been reduced to rubble. It could take about ten years to rebuild it. Meaningful stability won’t return until it’s rebuilt to the point, at least, that IDPs can return and security and services can be restored.

If it’s true, as Baghdad claims, that this was entirely a victory for the ISF and that no Shia militias took part in it, it would be quite unlike the clashes in Tikrit and Beiji, where the militias played the largest role. The US supports Baghdad in this claim, but it doesn’t seem to be true: Photos have emerged from the battle showing Iraqi fighters with Shia militia patches on their uniforms. This would stand to reason; the army purged its Sunni officers after 2011, so it’s hard to imagine where a competent Sunni fighting force could have come from, otherwise. (And in fact, by this point the ISF and the Shia militias are pretty close to being one the same thing.)

Perhaps the US’ claims to have trained a Sunni tribal force on the double-quick-time are correct. If true, it would be a huge achievement. But if Abadi now fails to allow Sunnis a significant measure of authority and autonomy to govern the recaptured regions — not to mention a share of the oil revenues — it will probably be a short-lived victory.

It’s also possible that the US has decided to pretend it doesn’t notice the presence of the Shia militias. This would feed directly into the ISIS narrative, perhaps to the point of offsetting the psychological blow of the lost territory.

“[T]he victory,” declares The New York Times, “is the clearest sign yet that the Islamic State, after laying claim to huge parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, is losing momentum and in retreat.”

Too soon. It may be. We can hope. But there’s no reason for premature jubilation. Nor is there reason for despair. We just don’t know yet.

If you have the time, here’s an excellent discussion of the larger context of all of this. I posted this video in response to a thread on the Member Feed, but you may have missed it. It’s particularly worth paying attention to Michael Pregent, whose personal knowledge of the Shia militias is extensive. I share his concerns about how this is apt to play out.

But it’s just too soon to say, so I’ll be glad that at least, for now, ISIS has been dealt, at least, a propaganda blow.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    Who’s going to run the city? Who will ensure there are no reprisals and vengeance killings? Who will ensure the city doesn’t descend into lawless chaos? The government claims to be trying to create a new Sunni police force to ensure this, but it’s far from clear that they exist in the numbers required. Both the Sunni tribes and the Shia militias are apt to exact revenge upon ISIS collaborators. This, obviously, wouldn’t stabilize anything, and if the Shia exterminate Sunni civilians, as is their habit, we’re back to the very problem from which ISIS emerged in the first place.

    This is a surge tactic situation but you are asking the question as if we are doing nation building. In nation building, you imagine that you can train a police force and everything will be just fine. Surge tactics assume that things will never be just fine. Whatever you train and leave in place, a garrison military force is to be kept nearby if and when problems arise. Only over a very long period of time, uprisings followed by intense put-downs, will the region become manageable by just a police force.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. John Seymour Member
    John Seymour
    @

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    AP_50881445757_4x3_992

    I’m pretty sure this guy is Iraqi army, right?  I can tell because he looks like he is getting ready to surrender.  Not a hopeful sign.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Perhaps the US’ claims to have trained a Sunni tribal force on the double-quick-time are correct. If true, it would be a huge achievement. But if Abadi now fails to allow Sunnis a significant measure of authority and autonomy to govern the recaptured regions — not to mention a share of the oil revenues — it will probably be a short-lived victory.

    It’s also possible that the US has decided to pretend it doesn’t notice the presence of the Shia militias. This would feed directly into the ISIS narrative, perhaps to the point of offsetting the psychological blow of the lost territory.

    Unfortunately, the administration spent all of its foreign policy credibility on YouTube videos and redlines, so Option 2 is more likely.

    “[T]he victory,” declares The New York Times, “is the clearest sign yet that the Islamic State, after laying claim to huge parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, is losing momentum and in retreat.”

    Too soon. It may be. We can hope. But there’s no reason for premature jubilation. Nor is there reason for despair. We just don’t know yet.

    Neither side has proven particularly adept at defense, though the Iraqis probably should be given the edge due to having air assets to call on – as long as we are paying attention, and assuming we don’t run out of bombs.

    Do we have a strategy yet? Asking for a friend.

    • #3
  4. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    James Gawron: Who’s going to run the city?

    This is a surge tactic situation but you are asking the question as if we are doing nation building.

    Not at all.  It’s neither surge, nor we who are doing the nation-building, of necessity.  The Iraqi government–al Abadi in particular–must face this question for itself; although, it’s certainly true that if we face it for him, or even alongside him, we’ll be doing neither Iraq, nor the Sunnis, nor ourselves any favors.

    To the OP, regarding momentum: a lot of the durability of this “victory” (because while the ISF captured a politically important building in the government center, it’s not all that militarily important, and there are significant neighborhoods (not pockets) still under the Daesh’s control) will depend on momentum.  The ISF needs to be heading up the road and breaking into Mosul within the next week, or two at the absolute latest, or the best that can occur will be a continued bloody slog through Ramadi and a new–completely independent of Ramadi–bloody slog from the outskirts of Mosul.  If they get that far.

    Eric Hines

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    John Seymour: I’m pretty sure this guy is Iraqi army, right? I can tell because he looks like he is getting ready to surrender. Not a hopeful sign

    By all accounts — of course, both they and the US have reason to say so, but even so — they fought like lions.

    The official story is that before the arrival of Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who took over the US-led coalition in September, the US had trained the ISF in counter-insurgency style tactics — and given the threat of guerrilla fighters for most of the eight-year conflict, this made sense. Do the US trained the Iraqis how to counter the kind of threat they expected.

    But since ISIS’s strategy is different — it seizes territory to establish a state –“You can’t do that through insurgency, you have to do that through conventional warfare,” said Baghdad-based Colonel Steve Warren. He attributed the success at RnDIto the US teaching them conventional warfare tactics recently.

    The colonel pointed to one manoeuvre called an in-stride breach, which involves using an “explosive rope attached to a rocket” to blast a lane through the explosive field, allowing forces to push through rapidly.

    The pseudo-minefield is just one way that IS is “using conventional military tactics in a way that does not perfectly align with the way we had trained the Iraqi army”, he said.

    For more than a year, the US and coalition forces have been carrying out air strikes against IS, which controls a large part of northern Syria and parts of neighbouring Iraq.

    So, Fwiw — good training maybe.

    • #5
  6. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    That second video was really concentrated excellence.  I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    Thanks.  Heads up: if you don’t hear from me for a while, could be because the State Department has called me to work their Middle East desk.  Any moment now…

    • #6
  7. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Excellent video from the Hudson Institute. Thank you!

    “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

    Winston Churchill

    Perhaps?

    • #7
  8. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    James Madison:Excellent video from the Hudson Institute. Thank you!

    “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

    Winston Churchill

    Perhaps?

    JM & Claire,

    I love that English reporting style. Everything understated. A single phrase expresses an idea that others would go 1,500 words on.

    She’s the girl who makes the thing…

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #8
  9. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Finally some good news on the ISIS front.  But the Iraqi forces can only do so much.  We need American troops on the ground taking territory and killing as many as are willing to die.

    On PBS last night I saw their documentary on Escaping ISIS.  It was riveting.  I’m with the Muslim woman who says at one point, “I hate them.”

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    James Gawron: She’s the girl who makes the thing…

    One of my all-time favorite songs

    It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thingummybob
    Especially when you don’t know what it’s for.
    But it’s the girl that makes the thing
    That drills the hole that holds the spring
    That works the thingummybob that makes the engine roar
    And it’s the girl that makes the thing
    That holds the oil that oils the ring
    That makes the thingummybob that’s going to win the war.

    • #10
  11. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    James Madison: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

    Yes, with stress on the “perhaps.”

    • #11
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    The first one is really worth watching, too. To me the astonishing thing isn’t that so many Syrians have been radicalized. It’s that so many haven’t been.

    • #12
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    I’m sorry that it seems to have attracted so little interest here, because I’d love to have a good discussion about it. A number of points the panelists made are quite arguable, or suggestive of bad judgment. When at 1:30 Michael Pregent says that Russian involvement is “The one thing we didn’t see,” Lee should have stopped him and said, “Excuse me?”

    That’s a statement that should call into question anyone’s credibility as a Middle East intelligence analyst. And rather than positing “incompetence” as the reason for Obama’s vacillating policy in Syria, or a desire to “kick it down to the next administration,” I’d guess that Obama decided the risks of an outright superpower conflict were too great.

    • #13
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    I guess I’ll have the debate with myself. Lee’s right when at the end he says, “There’s something insane about the way people are talking about the Kurds — and the YPG is not our friend.”  What they’re all missing is that our support for the YPG has already had terrible consequences. If people don’t like the fallout from the Syrian civil war, they’ll like the fallout from the Turkish civil war even less. And if it spreads to Western Turkey, Europe won’t be able to pretend it’s not happening anymore. They’ve cut a cynical deal with Erdogan to force the refugees back into Syria and keep them from getting out of Turkey. They won’t be able to do that if Western Turkey’s “destabilized,” as the euphemism goes.

    • #14
  15. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    The first one is really worth watching, too. To me the astonishing thing isn’t that so many Syrians have been radicalized. It’s that so many haven’t been.

    Indeed, worth watching.  But what do you mean that they are not radicalized?  Meaning they have not become jihadist?  They certainly all despise Assad, and now probably Russians and Iranians as well.

    • #15
  16. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    I’m sorry that it seems to have attracted so little interest here, because I’d love to have a good discussion about it. A number of points the panelists made are quite arguable, or suggestive of bad judgment. When at 1:30 Michael Pregent says that Russian involvement is “The one thing we didn’t see,” Lee should have stopped him and said, “Excuse me?”

    That’s a statement that should call into question anyone’s credibility as a Middle East intelligence analyst. And rather than positing “incompetence” as the reason for Obama’s vacillating policy in Syria, or a desire to “kick it down to the next administration,” I’d guess that Obama decided the risks of an outright superpower conflict were too great.

    Interesting.  Because it didn’t surface in public that i can remember until it happened.  If we had any inkling in advance, the debate over whether to enforce a no-fly zone would have taken on an entirely different color than it did.  So anyone who saw the Russian ramping up their involvement had to have been very quiet about his/her foreknowledge.

    • #16
  17. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:I guess I’ll have the debate with myself. Lee’s right when at the end he says, “There’s something insane about the way people are talking about the Kurds — and the YPG is not our friend.” What they’re all missing is that our support for the YPG has already had terrible consequences. If people don’t like the fallout from the Syrian civil war, they’ll like the fallout from the Turkish civil war even less. And if it spreads to Western Turkey, Europe won’t be able to pretend it’s not happening anymore. They’ve cut a cynical deal with Erdogan to force the refugees back into Syria and keep them from getting out of Turkey. They won’t be able to do that if Western Turkey’s “destabilized,” as the euphemism goes.

    But the Turks already fought this civil war, no?  What’s new here?  The YPQ aren’t getting a whole lot more weapons or funding are they?  Is it necessarily bad that the YPQ claimed territory in Syria? – you would think that Erdogan might consider making a deal with them that he would help them if they cooled their heels in Turkey.

    • #17
  18. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: Indeed, worth watching. But what do you mean that they are not radicalized? Meaning they have not become jihadist?

    Yes.

    • #18
  19. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: But the Turks already fought this civil war, no?

    No. They’re fighting it now. The situation in the Southeast is now approaching conditions in Syria. It’s getting no attention in the West, although The New York Times has been covering it a bit. It may now be past the point where even a temporary truce could be negotiated, although if ever there were a time for the US Secretary of State to be frantically trying to get a cease-fire, it would be now.

    If this spreads to Western Turkey, and it very well might, the civil war will be of Syrian proportions. It’s largely the AKP’s fault — and Erdogan’s, specifically: He’s never been negotiating in good faith.

    After the election in which the HDP crossed the 10 percent threshold, he made it clear he intended to crush the party — a legitimate, democratic expression of Kurdish politics — to stay in power. I suspect he believed that after he won the election, he’d be able to “resume the peace process.” But he utterly overestimated his ability to bring the situation back under control.

    The PKK (which is the PYD) now sees a way forward to being recognized as legitimate by the US and Europe, or at least, to becoming a US de facto ally. Simultaneously, the HDP (and the PYD) are being courted by the Russians, partly to punish and cause chaos in Turkey and thereby to weaken/peel off another NATO ally. And it’s unclear who could bring the PKK under control at this point apart from Öcalan — if even he can. But he’s the only one who could conceivably give the order to the PKK to stand down, and he’s not going to give it until he sees what emerges from the redrawing of the Middle Eastern map.

    • #19
  20. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: Indeed, worth watching. But what do you mean that they are not radicalized? Meaning they have not become jihadist?

    Yes.

    You need to ‘splain yourself here, young lady.  What does jihadist mean to you?  Evidently it doesn’t just mean “resolute in defending one’s home and freedom”.  So does it surprise you when Muslims (in this case Syrian Muslims) are grievously threatened that they don’t reflexively resort to holy war, as opposed to just plain old war war?  Is this atypical for Muslims, according to your experience and expectations, and if so, what does that say about the ‘religion’.

    Are you merely saying that it is surprising that they don’t all take up arms, by joining the regnant anti-Assad groups (which are jihadists I guess), presumably. But joining as a fellow militant need not entail the identical religious component of resistance, need it?  Are there stringent religious loyalty tests involved with joining Al Nusra or such?

    Also, the number of Syrian youth that Michael Pregent met (on Cyprus?) who wanted no part of the Syrian resistance says to me that fighting (maybe what they feel is a losing cause now with Russian in the game), as opposed to waiting out the conflict, takes a whole lot of guts and commitment.

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    I’m sorry that it seems to have attracted so little interest here, because I’d love to have a good discussion about it. A number of points the panelists made are quite arguable, or suggestive of bad judgment. When at 1:30 Michael Pregent says that Russian involvement is “The one thing we didn’t see,” Lee should have stopped him and said, “Excuse me?”

    That’s a statement that should call into question anyone’s credibility as a Middle East intelligence analyst. And rather than positing “incompetence” as the reason for Obama’s vacillating policy in Syria, or a desire to “kick it down to the next administration,” I’d guess that Obama decided the risks of an outright superpower conflict were too great.

    OK, you shamed me into listening to these, starting with the first one, from which I’m taking a break right now at 31:25.  Don’t know that I’ll have anything useful to add to a discussion, but it is informative and helpful.

    • #21
  22. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: Because it didn’t surface in public that i can remember until it happened.

    Syria’s been a Russian client state since 1946 — and Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base for its Black Sea Fleet is in Tartus. They’re a Russian client state in the same way that Israel’s a US client state. Russia’s been sending “advisors” and quite a bit more to Syria since the civil war began. I couldn’t have predicted the precise date on which Russia would go in to secure its assets, but anyone who was surprised that it did really, really shouldn’t have been.

    • #22
  23. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: Because it didn’t surface in public that i can remember until it happened.

    Syria’s been a Russian client state since 1946 — and Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base for its Black Sea Fleet is in Tartus. They’re a Russian client state in the same way that Israel’s a US client state. Russia’s been sending “advisors” and quite a bit more to Syria since the civil war began. I couldn’t have predicted the precise date on which Russia would go in to secure its assets, but anyone who was surprised that it did really, really shouldn’t have been.

    I get the first part, I do.  What I find a bit surprising is that Russia decided to take the hit in bad press it is getting now, well for no better word, “carpet bombing”.  This in the age of instant media exposure.  Was their brand so badly tarnished already that they concluded they had little to lose in this gambit?

    And how long a memory will Syrians have for the Russian role here?  Is that naval base going to survive the century of bitter feelings their actions will embroil?  I guess they saw risk in both sitting back and intervening and threw the dice.

    • #23
  24. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: What I find a bit surprising is that Russia decided to take the hit in bad press it is getting now, well for no better word, “carpet bombing”.

    Is it getting bad press? Honestly, I don’t know how many people realize that they’re doing it. Obviously, Syrians do. But the Russians are so skillful at information war. The strange and paradoxical thing about the age of Internet media exposure is that while I would have thought it would militate against being able to get away with something like that, it doesn’t seem to. They’re just much better at controlling the information space.

    There’s a half-brilliant, half-painfully-naive piece about this in the Atlantic today by Peter Pomorantsev. The naive part is his speculation that hard power is no longer critical, but the fascinating part is the analysis of the Russian — and Chinese — command of the psychological war space, his emphasis on how much more important that’s become in the Internet age, and his hypothesis that open societies are deeply disadvantaged by it.

    • #24
  25. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: What I find a bit surprising is that Russia decided to take the hit in bad press it is getting now, well for no better word, “carpet bombing”.

    Is it getting bad press? Honestly, I don’t know how many people realize that they’re doing it. Obviously, Syrians do. But the Russians are so skillful at information war. They’re just much better at controlling the information space.

    There’s a half-brilliant, half-painfully-naive piece about this in the Atlantic today by Peter Pomorantsev. The naive part is his speculation that hard power is no longer critical, but the fascinating part is the analysis of the Russian — and Chinese — command of the psychological war space, his emphasis on how much more important that’s become in the Internet age, and his hypothesis that open societies are deeply disadvantaged by it.

    Gosh, Teach, you give out too much homework…

    (PS. Pomorantsev’s book was good…  In this article you cite he confirms my conviction that ISIS is largely a spent force.  It has the character of a rampaging band of pirates or brigands, its messianic message aside, incapable of sustaining a viable state, ruling by terror only with no public support.  Hem it in and it will fester and die.  Conversely, if it morphed into the Sunni resistance to Baghdad it “might gain 100,000 soldier overnite” as M. Pregent suggests.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The Reticulator:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: That second video was really concentrated excellence. I feel like, having worked through it, I am nearly PHD qualified now.

    That’s a statement that should call into question anyone’s credibility as a Middle East intelligence analyst. And rather than positing “incompetence” as the reason for Obama’s vacillating policy in Syria, or a desire to “kick it down to the next administration,” I’d guess that Obama decided the risks of an outright superpower conflict were too great.

    OK, you shamed me into listening to these, starting with the first one, from which I’m taking a break right now at 31:25. Don’t know that I’ll have anything useful to add to a discussion, but it is informative and helpful.

    That was very helpful.  One thing I wish I understood better is why some people are anti-Assad and anti-ISIS.  Why are they pro-democracy? Are there socio-economic or ethnic divisions that tend to drive them into one camp or another?  Or is it just because people don’t all think alike?

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I listened to the first video yesterday, and started the second.  I ran out of time.

    Most of the information in the first was either stuff I knew already, or stuff I had imagined to be true and for which I now have some confirmation.

    The Reticulator: One thing I wish I understood better is why some people are anti-Assad and anti-ISIS.

    Have you ever seen the video of the water buffalo calf being attacked by lions and a crocodile?

    Some folks there are in that same kind of predicament.

    • #27
  28. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Manfred Arcane: What I find a bit surprising is that Russia decided to take the hit in bad press it is getting now, well for no better word, “carpet bombing”.  …  And how long a memory will Syrians have for the Russian role here?

    You’re operating from two related false premises here.  One is that Putin gives a rat’s patootie about the foreign press, or very much about his domestic press.  As Ms Berlinski has pointed out, in this thread or in the nearby Restrict Free Speech one, he’s also pretty good at controlling the message in those parts of the press that do interest him.

    The other is that al Assad or his successor will have any importune memories regarding their Russian supporters.

    These guys are going to do what suits them, regardless of what words get written about them.

    Eric Hines

    • #28
  29. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: What does jihadist mean to you?

    In this case? Having such deep anger at a world that’s either completely indifferent to your destruction or determined to exterminate you that all you can feel is hatred and all you can imagine is revenge. They suffered to much unimaginable torture, cruelty, and violence before the jihadi groups made inroads in Syria. Even now, a very large number of Syrians reject it.

    Don’t you think that experiencing this — along with a cruel, brutal and indiscriminate bombing campaign, compounded by a brutal and indiscriminate Russian air war — would turn you into a monster? That any goodness has survived in that country is a miracle.

    • #29
  30. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Eric Hines:

    Manfred Arcane: What I find a bit surprising is that Russia decided to take the hit in bad press it is getting now, well for no better word, “carpet bombing”. … And how long a memory will Syrians have for the Russian role here?

    You’re operating from two related false premises here. One is that Putin gives a rat’s patootie about the foreign press, or very much about his domestic press. As Ms Berlinski has pointed out, in this thread or in the nearby Restrict Free Speech one, he’s also pretty good at controlling the message in those parts of the press that do interest him.

    The other is that al Assad or his successor will have any importune memories regarding their Russian supporters.

    These guys are going to do what suits them, regardless of what words get written about them.

    Eric Hines

    You only mention Syrian leaders.  What about the Syrian people?  Are they going to contritely succumb to Syrian/Russian/Iranian rule for decades after what they have been put through?

    • #30

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