“For Paris” on Russian Missiles hitting Syria as ISIL Oil Facilities Targeted

By Juan Cole | (Informed Coment) | – –

the Syrian observatory said that the Russian strikes on the eastern province of Deir al-Zor killed 36 on Friday. Meanwhile, Russia also bombed positions in Idlib and other provinces, including with a cruise missile, which, according to the Russian foreign minister, killed 600 fighters of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and al-Qaeda (Nusra Front).

Despite these body counts, bombing alone will not win the war with Daesh. There has to be some force on the ground that can take advantage of air strikes on Daesh.

Moscow bombing raids are hurting the finances of Daesh. Russia says it has hit 500 gasoline trucks in recent days. Likewise, they have destroyed 15 petroleum storage facilities. Russia estimates that this war on Daesh oil is costing the organization $1.5 million daily, i.e. that is the amount it is not making because of Russian strikes.

Again, these actions are hurting Daesh, but they will not destroy it, and entirely halting gasoline smuggling from 30,000 feet is impossible.

In addition, a Russian government spokesman said, “23 gunmen training bases have been destroyed, 19 plants producing armaments and explosives, as well as 47 ammunition depots and other facilities”.

Although Russian help since mid-October has allowed the Syrian Arab Army fighting for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to make advances in southern Aleppo, and to lift sieges on an airbase and on regime-held western Aleppo, in other areas the regime has lost ground. Hama and the M4 highway are in danger of being cut off. In November, there has been a stalemate in this area.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBSN: “Russian airstrikes target ISIS in Syria”

19 Responses

    • I don’t believe the claims of ‘pinpoint’, ‘surgical’ strikes either, but I think that Russia is actually trying to defeat ISIS et al.

      Uncle Sam on the other hand is obviously ambivalent about al Qaeda-type groups which it has used as foot soldiers for regime change in places like Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

      Russia, having large a Muslim population and being a target of neocon destabilization, has no such ambivalence.

    • No one is questioning the accuracy of American missiles. Yet if there were 500 gasoline trucks still smuggling after more than a year of Western bombing, the seriousness of Western intent must be questioned.

      • Western intent may favor petroleum flowing.
        Russian intent may favor it stopping, preferably permanently.

  1. Really this is all to be expected historically. Let’s play devil’s advocate and hear some rational consideration of this scenario:
    1. The Sunnis of W Iraq and E & NE Syria have been denied self-determination, by the US invasion of Iraq which installed a Shiite government denying them participation, and by the Shiite/Alawite government of Syria;
    2. The Sunni Gulf states in sympathy covertly funded revolution in both areas to establish a Sunni state, using Daesh solely as the army, having no philosophy of its own or credentials of government, like all armies;
    3. Daesh takes over and its mandate and popularity decline over a generation or two as civil authority predominates, as in most revolutions including that of the US, leaving a Sunni religious state that gradually becomes enlightened.

    If that or eternal domination of the Sunnis there is the inevitable outcome, why would we oppose the quickest route to improvement? Why would we look only at the violence of revolution rather than the ultimate benefit? Why would we assume that self-determination must be nonviolent for them when it has never been so elsewhere? What force will create a Sunni nation for the Sunnis there by moderate means? I imagine that the Girl Scouts have tried and failed.

    We can easily imagine a thousand better scenarios (no extremism, no military losses, no harsh words) but there is no reason to believe that these would work, when they have not worked anywhere else. So why hate the violence instead of the underlying problem? Especially when we caused much of the problem. Do we really expect downtrodden victims to catapult themselves into the suburban middle class by leaps of academic propriety? Should we not let history take its course, moderated only by massive humanitarian aid, however painful that it is to the right wing? If that is all that history permits, are we not killing the animal to cure its disease?

    So why recommend Russia-US-Turkey-Gulf State diplomacy to crush Daesh with no plan for a better alternative, instead of containment and the same diplomacy to negotiate their independence under a moderate elected government controlled by humanitarian aid? If the Islamic State includes nearly all Sunnis NE of Saudi Arabia, where is the rationale for Daesh, who would they be fighting, and who would support their militancy? Just give Russia its port on the Med, maybe let Assad govern his supporters in a special district, set up UN buffer zones, and go home and pay NGOS to tend the wounds and educate the people.

    • I know, how can you champion head-choppers and rapists, how can you oppose our peace-loving killers, etc. But show me the plan, not the wishful thinking, that does not at best export ISIS from Syria for a while, with no plan for the future.

    • It did not take a generation or two for Pol Pot to show the worst that a revolution by nostalgic lunatics can do. It took four years.

      I’m not saying that will happen here. I am saying that the tyrants of the Gulf monarchies CHOSE to create the ideological parameters under which ISIS must be so insanely brutal to prove its worthiness. No matter the size of the mess the US made, those monarchs and their Wahhabi agents deliberately embraced irrational faith against empirical, secular problem-solving as a way to fix that mess, because said problem-solving would eventually have condemned those monarchs to overthrow as it did in the entire rest of the world. Those monarchs chose to spend their infinite funds to NOT improve people’s lives in a sustainable way. How can you trust things to ever get better until these US-propped anachronisms are all decapitated?

      • Good point. But since as ISIS bantustan would have to be propped up by the Gulf states, it would likely follow their course to progress more or less, and become little worse than they in the meanwhile.

        I think the main fault is that one would have to ensure a more moderate government of an IS state to avoid condemning moderate Sunnis to living under IS in the meanwhile, but presumably the Gulf states would want that also. So they might agree as a precondition to turning IS into an army under a more moderate state, if its borders were protected by a UN DMZ.

        I raise the issue of separate monoculture states because there is too much extremism and division to expect a multicultural Syria or Iraq to work.

    • The silly dismissal of the baasist army and the sunni’s exclusion of the Baghdad government are the core motivation for the jihad in Iraq that gave rise to al qaïda in Iraq and to ISIS.
      Your suggestion is right but the situation dates back to 2003. It’s unfortunately asking too much patience on the part of short term politicians.
      According to an interview by Guardian’s Chulov of one of ISIS’s founder, abu Ahmed, Assad welcomed the disbanded baasist army and al qaïda in his fight against al Maliki.
      All actors in the region have used or tolerated ISIS for their own purpose: Assad against al Maliki, the saudis against Iran, the turks against the kurds, Israel against hezbollah.

  2. It is not all doom and gloom, there are too many fronts, some bog down or village changes hand but mayday and distress call from all major armed groups and fracture in their terror comradery tells a different story. The air base is particularly important, it improves moral and can be a staging ground to secure the Turkish border. Only this will separate the moderate willing to negotiate and the salafi jihadi extremist needing to be killed. France actions in Syria are contradictory and illegal.

  3. “entirely halting gasoline smuggling from 30,000 feet is impossible”. But it is not impossible to destroy the production facilities and in that way stop the smuggling. There has been a noticeable reticence on the part of the US to attack oil infrastructure. The recent decline in the price of oil might change that. It would certainly benefit the Russians who have lost a lot of oil revenue recently.

  4. At the G20 summit in Turkey, Putin showed pictures of Syria taken from space of convoys and large swaths of wide open land filled with literally hundreds of Daesh oil trucks. He then proceeded to bomb the living s*&t out of these. How come the Americans can’t figure this out? Do they want to figure it out? It seems not.

    There is simply no way that the US can fight against Daesh while at the same time fund “friendly rebels”. They are all on the same side.

    The average American has no idea of the duplicitous game their neocon government is playing.

    • Mist of those trucks are driven by average folks…the people we are trying to ‘save’. And for the record the US has used a-10s as recently as last week on oil trucks. Don’t play this more macho than Putin game. The us and Russians fight very differently and to triad the tea leaves about strategic policy from tactical ops is a mistake.

  5. If Daesh, more or less the ideological successor to Al-Queda, is to have its Caliphate, i.e., a medieval Islamic state and government, must it not possess territory and govern it to the exclusion of other aspirants to sovereign power? To date it has succeeded in creating chaos and a nearly global sense of crisis, something akin to an apocalyptic vision, but no state.

    The present intensive campaign by Western powers may not be able to defeat Daesh from the air, but it sure as hell is up to the task of preventing it from governing and state-building by any common meaning of the term.

    So now what do they do but unleash terror attacks against Western powers and then rush to admit responsibility. Will the reintroduction of Crusader boots on the ground trump the apocalypse or bring about its final crisis? What are these people thinking?

    And yes, I have read the Atlantic Article.

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