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May 30, 2013

As Calls For Direct US Involvement In Syria Increase, Reports Emerge John McCain Meets With Notorious Terrorist . Meanwhile, Russia Ups Support For Assad

Obama is asking for plans to create a No Fly Zone.

McCain is visiting rebels.

And op-eds on how easy this will all be are starting to appear (WSJ so you may have to Google it to get to the article).

From retired General Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka, head of AEI's foreign and defense studies.

It is the advisability question that is thornier, lending itself to more subjective analysis about the unknowns of a rebel victory and Assad's (as well as Iran's and Hezbollah's) reaction to an escalation. Here are the facts we do know: Right now, countless Syrian innocents are being murdered weekly. Chemical weapons are being used by the regime. Yes, certain factions among the rebels are affiliated with al Qaeda, but it is also true that their allegiance has cost them support among the Syrian civilian population in the months since it was announced.

Play this out: Assad wins and Iran's most important Arab alliance is preserved, with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad back on the gravy train of international terrorism. American credibility is shot. Or, the conflict continues, and the spillover into Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iran and Turkey escalates. Is conflict between Israel and Iran over Syria a ridiculous notion? How about the fall of the Jordanian king? More fighting between al Qaeda allies and Hezbollah in Lebanon? The collapse of Iraq? None of our business? Never going to draw us in? Remember, a return to the status quo ante is out of the question.

Arming the right rebels with antiaircraft weapons and severely degrading Assad's air power with limited airstrikes is achievable without boots on the ground and minimal risk to aircrews. If the U.S. pursues this strategy, moderates among the rebels will be strengthened, Syrian civilian casualties are likely to be reduced (though not eliminated) and finally, after two long years, Assad will be on notice. This option leaves room for escalation to the no-fly zone, and for a further escalation to attacks on Assad's ground forces if he uses chemical weapons again or tries to transfer them to America's enemies.

First off...dead Syrians and chemical weapons aren't of interest to me. That's a them problem, not an us problem.

Second, I find it amusing how the influence of al Qaeda and other Islamists is just waived away. Not many and losing support we're told.

Contrary to the sunny suggestion is the fact that almost everyone agrees it's the most Islamist units that are doing the heaviest and most effective fighting.

But interviews and reviews of military actions in Syria show that Nusra remains a major contributor to rebel tactics. On Wednesday, Nusra participated in the capture of a Syrian army base in the northern province of Idlib. In past weeks, Nusra had played a role in the systematic destruction of army checkpoints along the highway that leads to the base.

Nusra is also key to a fight in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, where rebel groups have united in an attempt to reopen a road that all groups in the area had used as a supply line.

“Sometimes you do not hear about any operations by us, because some targets need time,” a Nusra spokesman in eastern Damascus who uses the nom de guerre Abu Hammam said in response to the notion that Nusra had been quieter in recent weeks.

He was answering a question from a Syrian journalist at an informal news conference in Damascus last week, a recording of which was provided to McClatchy by one of the journalists present. During the 80-minute session, Abu Hammam answered questions about the group’s aims and tactics in what seemed to be an open and candid fashion.

“We will not put down our weapons until God’s law is applied,” he said in response to a question about whether the group sought to impose religious law should the Syrian government fall.

And after doing all this fighting and dying, these hardcore Islamist fighters are just going to...step aside and let the "moderate" and "secular" backup singers have control of the country?

But I'm sure this time we'll pick "the right rebels" and won't wind up with anything like Benghazi.

Or you know, not.

The two suspected kidnappers — Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim — in the photo with Mr. McCain are members of the Northern Storm militant group, who are believed to have planned and executed the abduction, the Daily Star said.

Mr. McCain’s office went on the defensive, issuing a statement through spokesman Brian Rogers.

“A number of the Syrians who greeted Sen. McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the senator complied,” he said, as quoted in the Daily Mail. “[It] would be regrettable” if those pictured with the senator were kidnappers, he added.

No one thinks McCain condones kidnapping but it's a wonderful illustration of how easy it is to get caught up with the wrong crowd. If you going swimming in a cesspool, you're going to bump into a few turds. Sometimes you have to do business with undesirable but this is case where we really don't have to do business with any of them.

The idea that unlike every other cesspool in that part of the world Syria is going to wind up with some sort of decent and reasonably pro-Western, hell, not anti-Western would be enough, government and society is to place hope above all experience.

Hezballah wants to make Syria the hill they die on? Great, let's make that happen. Yes it will mean getting some weapons to unsavory types but the longer they are using it to kill Batthists and in turn are killed by the Batthists, that's the best the US can hope for. Extend the fighting as long as possible and watch all sides weaken themselves. Once they've bled themselves dry, we can talk about what comes next.

Added: The "reset" with Russia created "flexibility" for them to tell Obama, STFU.

Hmmm, just as the US starts talking about a "No fly zone" the Russians send advanced missiles to Syria. Smart Diplomacy(tm)!


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posted by DrewM. at 10:02 AM

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