Saturday, August 30, 2014

What A U.S. Military Intervention In Syria Really Means

Badra Mamet/Reuters

What Going To War In Syria Would Really Mean For The U.S. -- Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

A brutal dictator, a violent terrorist group, and the morally fraught tradeoff that interventionists face

Attacking Adolf Hitler's Germany benefited moral monster Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. That inescapable fact of World War II doesn't mean it wasn't worth fighting Nazis. Under the circumstances, allying with Stalin to beat Hitler was the right call. But the consequences of that fraught alliance were themselves horrific. To ignore its downsides would be to misunderstand the real choices America faced.

Today in Syria, the United States faces another set of harrowing tradeoffs. Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, is a murderous dictator. The various rebel groups trying to wrest the country from his control include ISIS, a radical Sunni militia. To strike Assad, as Obama threatened to do last summer, would help ISIS. To strike ISIS, as the Obama administration is threatening to do right now, would help Assad. Those are the unsavory choices confronting all who favor intervention. And while the prospect of aiding and abetting Assad or ISIS doesn't decisively prove that intervention is unwise, it is at least a factor that Americans ought to confront with open eyes, rather than pretending the tradeoff away.

Read more ....

My Comment: There are now no good options when it comes to Syria. This is a conflict that must run it's course .... and it now looks like it is going to be a few years of warfare before there is even a prospect of an end to the conflict.

Update: Here is an interesting post on a Syrian rebels story of fighting a war that he has grown weary of .... A Weary Rebel Retreats to Fight Another Day (New York Times)


mlacix said...

So as I said In Friday, here is my short summary. (I run out of possible characetrs so I just post it in two part. )

About the battle of Tabqa Airbase:

There were many source of information for this story, and not easy to decide what is the truth. After IS started the siege of the AB (Air Base), SAA forces stand the ground, and SAF made several airsrikes during the first 3-4 days of the siege, which lead to high casualties for IS. During the first few days, SAA only had minor losses, but the Generals still sent in the 124th unit of Rep. Guards by airplanes, which changed the force ratio a bit, but IS still had more men on the ground.

As far as I know now, the 124th unit were sent to secure the evacuation of the base. Before the evacuation the 124th unit secured some areas in the surrounding of the base (mostly around Route 42), to make a safe way to the south. The evacuation had 4 phases, but not everyone could retreat. The last phase could not leave the base in time, so the first few solders being captured were they, in the number of about 30 (many officer who coordinated the operation).

The previous phases evacuated most of the ammunition and weaponry from the base, the helicopters and the aircrafts, and claimedly the radars too. Some source say the radars (mostly early warning 'EW') were captured by IS, but I not yet seen any footages which could be a good proof for this. The SAA units started to leave the base to south, but I have no information where they went. Most of the rummors were about they were on the way to areas of Hama and Homs, and mainly to the direction of the town of Al-Salamiyah, on the Route 42. Some time after the fall of the base there were reports about high number of solder being captured and later executed by IS. As I know they were soldiers from the base (and/or 124th unit soldiers) while they were on the way to Salamiyah.

The total cas. ratio of the battle was about 400 on IS and 300-400 SAA soldier died(included the executed ones), plus a few houndred wounded IS fighter. SAF confirmedly lost about 5 MIG-21, one has been shooted down, the rest were captured, leaved back (probably not operational), two t-55 or T-62 tanks, and relative small amount of ammunition and weaponry. It was highlighted many places that IS captured Sidewinder missiles, but as I know Syria never used these. The pictures which showed some AA missiles for aircrafts were K-13 missiles, which was made by the Soviet Union, but the two missiles are very close to the same, but still not exactly the same. The image of the MANPAD being captured was confirmedly made in another AB, not so far away from Tabqa, which had been captured a long time ago.

mlacix said...

In short thats the story. But this not really explain why the decision being made by SAA. I gathered some information about the possible reasons.

The evacuation was an answer to avoid the way too high losses of SAA soldiers while defending the base. Even if the situation in and around the base was stable and SAA controlled the situation with minimal losses, some sources claim the decision were made when IS ordered reinforces from Hama, Homs and Der-er-Zor areas to Tabqa and was clear that IS not care about how many fighter they will loose, they will get the base. SAA could not risk the loss of 1000-1500 soldier only for one base even if they kill the same amount of enemy while defending. So they made the safest option, but unlikly many retreating forces were killed and captured by IS.

Another important thing to mention. IS somehow got some foothold deep in Hama and Homs provinces. There was a danger for SAA that if they keep defending the base they will get encircled not in the range of a few km, but in the range of 50+km, which cannot be broken in a short time. These IS positions are now a threat for SAA forces in the area and if IS want, they can place the new offences to these not so well protected areas of Syria, which will be a big problem for SAA. It's possible that the evacuated units were already sent to reinforce this frontline. The Generals probably know what they doing, even if the operation not ended so well because of the too many soldier being captured. The evcauation probably was needed and was the best option.

In the meantime not really much else happened on the frontlines. SAA started to put preasure on the Hama front, and made great progress, by capturing many important areas, and it's seems that the Rebels not really want to risk the encirclement so they retreat a bit and reinforce the flanks.

War News Updates Editor said...

mlacix .... I was hoping that you would post a summary on what is happening in Syria .... thank you for your input.

On a side note .... I live in Canada and I know someone in Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs who is a regular reader of this blog (he is a senior diplomat who use to be responsible for the Russian desk). His focus is now on the Middle East, and he told me only a few days ago that mlacix's updates are a must read for him. I said who?!?!?!? ... and then I realized he was talking about you.

mlacix said...

Wow, thanks, good to hear that some think my summaries are this usefull. I have a bit fewer free time nowadays, so thats why I only wrote in the weekend, but I will try to manage to post more recent short summaries.

War News Updates Editor said...

mlacix .... even I am sometimes surprised on who reads this blog. Then again .... 4,000,000 visitors have visited this blog in the past few years .... I am sure there are many interesting people in that mix.