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Total number of comments: 7 (since 2013-11-28 16:37:44)

shah8

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  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • I really think that given the state of public knowledge, it's hard to be certain of anything. I'm certainly not buying secret agent intercepts, man. In any event, there is not particularly a rush. If there was any sort of good faith measurement of the brightline, then let the boots (UN) on the ground make the *forensic* determination that's so much more solid.

      Intercepts are not considered real evidence. It's circumstantial evidence that needs hard evidence to stand up. In the archetypal court trial, you can't actually convict anyone just because you have an email saying they did so. There are chain of custody issues, mens rea issues, did he/she actually follow through, etc, etc.

    • Using Wikipedia, the rebels had been losing along that Rif Dimashq salient, which was my previous state of awareness, such that Juan Cole's statement that the rebels were winning prompted me to google it...

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rif_Dimashq_offensive_(March_2013–present)‎

  • Egypt's Revenge of the Leftovers: Mubarak to be released, Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie Arrested
  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • Putting in a quick note:

      I think, beyond the counter-revolutionary impulse to prevent a repeat of the upheaval, the secondary motivation for the aggressive response by the coup leaders is to reduce political risk (local variant of "confidence fairy") from impinging on aid, economic inflows. The longer this goes on, the more dramatically the conflict impacts Egypt's economic situation.

      I think that given that I believe Egypt's economic situation is terminal--an economy is more than just money, and just having a spare $15B from GCC will not actually fix the economic issues. As these issues like unemployment and fuel and all that gets worse, the money needed to paper over these problem grows to a larger figure. Therefore, I suspect Egypt will undergo a severe current account crisis in the reasonably near future. The MB's tactics may simply be a reflection that they understand that the military *must* purchase their peace.

      Another quick comment:

      I think it behooves on everyone not to assume Egyptians are for this side or the other. I think that the Military does not have the level of support people seem to be taking for granted. Just because people hate the MB, doesn't mean they are for the counter-revolutionary Tammarod. Morsy won explicitly because people didn't want Shafik. As usual, the bougie types and their masters dominate communications...

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • It's a proxy war fought on Syrian soil, with many militias filled with foreign nationals. What the Syrian public wants has had nothing to do with nothing during the fighting. They want Assad gone, but who they want are probably leaders that actually lived in Syria, honest leaders. If you're going to give them some smooth-talking Chalabi fool with his sticky hand in Western/Qatari/Turkish/Saudi pies, they will almost certainly stick with Assad.

      As far as gaining territory? Let me repeat this, for all of the good it will do with you, but with no governance, gaining territory does squat. No state institutions? Starving, fled, terrified populace? Not the recipe for any kind of longterm presence, especially if militarily contested. Assad is doing what he's doing because he doesn't want to spend gas and reliable troops moving against irregular combatants that can hit him on his roads at will. He's also facing troops that are supplied and financed by external powers--let THEM spend the money and arm their troops. Let THEM distribute bread to people in a state of anarchy, or if truly desperate, to only the fighting men. This situation is absolutely untenable for the rebel personnel in the field, and the supply chain from Turkey will be dramatically overtaxed as rebels start having to fight desperate civilians. That's the theory, anyways. And it should work, unless the rebels got their act together, or a major foreign intervention happens.

    • A long reply to the above thread:

      Assad, to me, clearly has a plan, that plan really does seem to be a Fabian one. How he wins or loses matters. Moreover, just like Hannibal going all over Italy, a set of 18 maps generally will not convey the actual situation. If Hannibal (or Hannibals) can't actually muster real centralization of logistics and violence, then defeat is inevitable--all the men will wander off without renewed victory or spoils. The only way this "war" can be kept going is by the largesse of the various external parties to this process. That gets expensive, quick. All those refugees in neighboring countries gets troublesome, quick...

      And by steadfastedly presuming that Assad will fall from power, we avoid thinking about the regime, why people would support the regime, and how a new one would evolve, just like what we did in Iraq--the destabilizing failure of the original reconstruction aims of the original US policies is a major contributer to Saudi-Qatar-Turkey frenemy actions vis á vis Syrian actors. Westerners also tend to have a nasty tendency to map Sunni-Shiite rivalries along their original racial concepts (encouraged by native actors that stand to benefit), when all of their relationships are far more complex than which mosque one goes to.

      One of the real implications that I think many of those involved in thinking about geopolitics are utterly failing to comprehend is just how angry the situation is on the ground. Beyond that, I also think such people get far too cute about the idea that a state would be dismembered into small statelets. That traditionally does not happen for a whole host of reasons. As such, I think that people are drastically overestimating the extent that there will be a pliable Syria at the end of the road, or the chances that Syria can genuinely bog down in some long, drawn out civil war along the lines of the Tamil Tigers or Eritrea in undeveloped regions. And we aren't talking about the tiny pro-Russian enclaves in the Caucasus--we're talking about the major cities like Homs or Aleppo that cannot be separate from the web of internal communications, transportation, and economic relations without consequence.

      I think you, as well as others, are fundamentally not grokking just how much consent of the public, not least the danged army, matters to the flow of events and the final outcome. Which matters because the deep state of Syria still exists, and no foreigner Ikhwan quisling will be able to rule over it, never mind the native business class(As it is, I think Qatar is fundamentally in misapprehension about how much they can drive Egyptian politics via control of the pursestrings). So long as the Syrian deep state still exists as an organized arm, the rebels will be out-organized and out-armed, and I think any real discussion by Russia or Iran about post Assad possibilities have far more to do with the ongoing infrastructure damage and what that means to their foreign policy rather than any real concern for Assad.

    • However, is not the disregard for their welfare profoundly un-realist? Isn't their legitimate concern about the potential for widescale ethnic cleansing a pretty darn big card in the favor of urban Syrians, whether Assad stays or goes? Do you think that, for example, any Ikhwan government, will have access to any domestic revenue if the factories of Aleppo are quiet? This conflict is now, broadly speaking, an urban-rural fight. Those boys either have to go home to raise the crops (drugs or otherwise), or live off of what the cities produce/kidnap/steal/whatever. This ain't about any central government. It's essentially about the US' deep state that prefers unresponsive or nonexistent states for people in the ME (aside from Israel). From what I can see, all that has ever mattered was simply removing Assad as a geopolitical factor. He can stay as mayor of Damascus if he likes, or there can be some ineffectual government dependent on GCC cash. It doesn't matter.

      Anyways, I do, broadly speaking, think Assad will win. No cohesive military or political regime? No real supply chain? The circumstances where this sort of "rebellion" can succeed are really limited. In Panama and FARC Colombia, you have high mountains and persistent civil conflict. In Somalia, the government was isolated and friendless. Aftghanistan wasn't really about changing the government so much as enforcing a favorable clientelism. That's what Syria is actually about, but I think the fundamental misunderstanding of the enterprise here, is that Syria is pretty urban, that not very many people can live off of the land, etc, etc. Assad pretty much only has to wait until next fall, before this whole thing becomes a massive tarbaby for the Ikhwan and the GCC. No crops, no real money for import, no way to make anything, either. Rebels probably making themselves far more hated as well.

      So just how long, do you think, that anyone can keep an army in the field--without real organization? Absent intervention, the rebels will lose.

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