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Nehad Ismail argues that  – ‘Saudi Arabia and Turkey must ignore Obama and do the right thing in Syria’NI2

The United States is apparently working on “specific initiatives” to reduce the violence in Syria and sees stopping the bloodshed in Aleppo as a top priority.

Secretary of State John Kerry had made clear the U.S. wanted Russia to apply pressure to the Assad government to get it to stop “indiscriminate aerial attacks” in Aleppo.

However, last weekend Moscow’s foreign ministry told Interfax News that Russia will not ask the Syrian regime to stop the air campaign because the regime is fighting terrorism.  Likewise, Iran continues to pour men and material into Syria to defend Assad.

The Syrian government has called local truces but excluded the main battlefield in Aleppo. What kind of cease-fire is that that allows Russia and the Syrian regime to continue pounding hospitals and schools at will and kill hundreds?  It seems Kerry and Obama are oblivious to the fact that cease fire is a cosmetic exercise and the Geneva talks are a sham. Moscow and Tehran are calling the shots and all that Obama can do is to prevent the right weapons reaching the opposition.

Last month Russia deployed heavy artillery around Aleppo in support of the Assad regime which suggests that a plan was already in place to attack the city.  The Syrian Opposition believes the Russian brokered cease-fire was just another trick to win more time to gain military victories and dictate terms.

During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia President Obama made it clear that he was only interested in fighting ISIS. He pressured Saudi Arabia and Turkey not to provide quality weapons to the opposition.

Without any diplomatic process, the stage seems set for a further escalation.

On 12th April the Wall Street Journal reported “the Central Intelligence Agency and its regional partners have drawn up plans to supply more-powerful weapons to moderate rebels in Syria fighting the Russia-backed regime in the event the country’s six-week-old truce collapses, according to U.S. and other officials….. The preparations for a so-called Plan B centre on providing vetted rebel units with weapons systems that would help them in directing attacks against Syrian regime aircraft and artillery positions, the officials said”.

However, the opposition has been dismissive about “Plan B” saying it is talk with no substance.  Furthermore President Obama has vetoed the delivery of the right weapons to the rebels by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In contrast with Putin’s aggressive intervention with air power on behalf of Assad, Obama has been cautious about expanding support to the moderate opposition, much to the chagrin of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other U.S. partners in the region.

The CIA’s covert program has grown gradually since it was launched in 2013 with limited supplies of small arms and ammunition. In 2014, the CIA introduced advanced antitank TOW missiles on the battlefield, helping the rebels gain ground on the regime, until Russia’s intervention last INSURGENTSIRAQSA7SA_300_1year drove the fighters back.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey have increased pressure on Washington to up the ante by calling for the introduction of weapons systems that they know are a red line for Obama, such as Manpads.

It is clear the lame duck president has succumbed to Russia and Iran and will not change his position. It is time for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to ignore him. If Assad, Iran and Russia don’t take whatever John Kerry and Obama say seriously, why should Turkey and Saudi Arabia take any notice of a weak, dithering and impotent president?

They must do the right thing by providing the right weapons to the opposition. Anything else is a fudge and abdication of responsibility.

Nehad Ismail



13 Comments on "Ditch America, Save Aleppo"

  1. Nehad, Saudi Arabia is of course free to do what it wants, however as it is acutely aware actions do have consequences. Those consequences could be as minor as not being given full support for the F15s they have recently bought, up to the Saudi Airforce finding it has no more bombs to drop on Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been trying to act as an independent regional power of late and the end result of this has been for the international community to effectively back Iran as a counterweight so they would be prudent to weigh up the pros and cons of going against the wishes of their most powerful ally.

  2. Most Western nations went through some post Iraq contortions, and this has led to an almost blanket non interventionist or none operative work in Syria. Its also been a severe eye opener for all the people, NGOs, Nations, parties and ‘other’ who made the case against Western activties in the Middle east. ‘We don’t need America – stay out’ got answered.

    Nature, and the universe detest a vacuum. Once America wasn’t involved, the full on catastrophe enveloped Syria and beyond. When drawing up a chart of who is shooting at who in Syria, its convoluted, complex, and changes daily. At least in part, much of this was borne out from a US Vacuum in Iraq. The Vacuum created dominoes still falling now. Iran’s activities in both Iraq and Syria all roads come from there.

    The region has again showed how foul it is. Its got wealth, it pays inordinate and lavish sums on weapons, Its tribal. Its political. Its gutless, and its weak. Turkey has behind the US the largets standing army in NATO. Saudi Arabia has spent lavish sums on weapons. Both are involved in pretty dire and despicable wars on the Kurds and in Yemen respectively. The Russians and Iranians are up to old games.

    And yet, somewhere in all that, people who watch, and who comment, still choose to single out the west and Americans. While I understand this, and while it has *some* validity, anyone on earth who wants to talk about Syria needs to go talk about the people who are in Syria and who are active. Many are the same people who demanded the US stay out. And yet they persist with a have your cake and eat it attitude and somehow want to blame the ‘Americans’.

    Putting that to one side. Its clear Obama made some choices years ago, and these choices are going to have consequences. Iran is on a road where its finances and actions have been at least ‘unleashed’, and Putin will not be faced down. The Turks seemingly will be allowed to mock their NATO membership with ever greater mockery while killing and massacring Kurds inside Turkey and outside its borders, while doing nothing (or even working with..) ISIS and others. NATO allows 90 B61 atomic weapons to be based in Turkey yet frets about Pakistani weapons. Turkey is allocated 40 of these.*Shrug*. Obama’s foreign policy mistakes are probably going to be writ large in history long after he moves on. But his mistakes are withdrawl and inaction. The blame game for what happens therein falls – or should fall on others..

    At the same time, Turkey internally collapses towards a dire islamist government. Each day it moves away from secular democracy and the west, and each day it’s activities and behaviour become more questionable. There are very few viable partners or even viable states in the Middle east. The entire area is riddled by vile regimes, leadership – so in a way one can see why in the end the moderate west stays away.

    The problem is doing so has a price. Appeasement has always, always had a price. Vacuums create a price, inactivity or weakness has a price. Churchill used to often talk about prestige and weighting. If you are perceived as losing prestige, or weight, you quickly lose footing. And prestige is created by power, or a perception of power, and on putting tanks on the lawn as required. The middle east lives by its old ways. These simply have strongest horse, or tribal mentality. Position isn’t created there by human rights, or by pleasantries. Obama is playing out the in full flight lame duck president. And the America he hands over looks to be handed over to poor candidates, a 20 Trillion $ debt, and a catastrophic foreign policy and application problem.

    Putin will continue to press on the Turkish button. And Turkey is going to continue degrading away from EU membership norms and NATO membership norms, and if too stupid a direct confrontation with Russia probably at the wrong time.

    In the meantime, NATO has serious problems on its home plains. Scandinavia, the Baltic, and Baltic states, And eastern European states face debilitating, meddling and provocative activities from a newly encouraged Moscow. Emboldened by US flight, debt and lame duckery, we are only at the beginning of troubled times.

    The West, and NATO has to get back to basics, and get back to harshly working for its own integrity. It will have to re-establish security, co-operation, and mission. It has to get back to a focused self interest and to the self interest of its own membership and only once that focus is re-established can it then correctly apply and project power and potential. This applies to all its border areas, be that Med, North Africa, Near or middle east. Defense spending has to rise, and a wider burden that just ‘The US’ is required.

    The West and NATO have serious and deep problems to address. Countries in the cold war fulfilled specific duties or tasks. An example was Britain provided reaction forces to support Norway, and operated the naval gap and submarine screen. But both the duty and the capability have rotted and now NATO is poorly placed to answer agression. NATO states are barely able to secure their borders, let alone operate a more expansive military. Most have degraded to a degree where they have a minimal set of units that are fast deploy for very short workloads. Beyond that they have little or nothing.

    As for saving Aleppo, yes, ok. From who?
    A few years ago, debates talked over removing Assad. Now no longer discussed. And with a world war 2 level refugee crisis and a stalingrad level of fighting across the country, saving Syria was missed years back. The Turks previously said they would not let Aleppo fall to Assad – have done what? Or are they too busy smashing up Kurds in their own ethnic cleansing?

    What has occurred in Syria is a human catastrophe. But I see no end in sight, and it can only get worse with current players involved. No prestige, no weight, no strongest horse, notanks on the lawn just mean perpetual vacuum and perpetual war until one winner / power is established. Brutal. Vexxing. Ugly.

  3. nehad ismail | 3rd May 2016 at 10:56 am | Reply

    Rob you are right and I see your point. This is why Saudi Arabia is too cautious to go it alone. My point is that Iran, Russia and even Assad are not giving a toss what Obama says. They have ignored him completely.., so why should Turkey and Saudi Arabia pay any attention?
    Obama has vetoed safe areas (NFZ) to appease Iran
    Obama has vetoed the supply of Manpads to the rebels to appease Moscow and Tehran
    so by default Obama is appeasing and aiding Assad.

    • I’m not sure that Turkey and Saudi have exactly been toeing the US line of late Nehad and this has resulted in the partial pivot away from their interests by the current administration. Both countries are up to their necks in mischief making in Syria just as Iran and Russia are. On the issue of the supply of Manpads this would constitute a huge potential risk to western interests due to their portability and the track record of FSA equipment falling into the hands of ISIL. If an anti-air capability were to be supplied it would be better to see vehicular SAM systems fulfilling that need as they have no risk of being smuggled into Europe to be used in terrorist attacks. Really though, isn’t the further supply of weaponry to the FSA just delaying the inevitable and dragging on the conflict?

  4. nehad ismail | 3rd May 2016 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    Thanks AdmV0rl0n for your comprehensive commentary which has touched on many important issues. I just would like to comment on the question of Western intervention. As far as the subject of the article is concerned i.e saving Aleppo, nobody is asking for Western forces to do any fighting. The opposition and their backers want the green light from the US administration to allow Turkey and Saudi Arabia to supply the rebels with effective weapons. President Obama has been applying pressure on both countries not to supply the weapons. In effect allowing the superior killing machines of Assad, Iran and Russia to continue killing and destroying undeterred.

  5. mahatmacoatmabag | 3rd May 2016 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    Obama is Irans greatest friend & by default the saviour of the Assad regime.

  6. nehad ismail | 3rd May 2016 at 2:17 pm | Reply

    Thanks mahatmacoatmabag: Exactly

  7. nehad ismail | 3rd May 2016 at 7:15 pm | Reply

    Thanks again Rob. We both know the Syrian situation is complex. What happens in Syria has an impact on the Middle East and on Europe. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are worried about the military presence of Iran in Syria. Whereas Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon have absorbed some 3 million refugees between them. Europe is now on the receiving end of more refugees. Also the ISIS terrorists are already active in Europe. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The sooner it is sorted the better. We may differ in our views about the shape of the final outcome. That’s all I can say at this stage.

  8. There is very little that would stop any of the ugly sisters in doing whatever the hell they like. I am very skeptical of the excuses that Saudi Arabia and Turkey somehow do what Amerians say, and sit there like puppy dogs. Oh except for the fact that if the actually fight assad, they have to face the real consequences of having regionally to face down Russia and Iran.

    Its all very well the various players saying to the west to stay out. But then they actually have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. And Syria is the end result.

    I believe what irks me, is all the world bitched about the US in Iraq (you can debate until the end of time that issue), but the silence, ignorance, and complete abject critical failure in Syria is a black mark on humanity.

    An example question might be – the ‘stop the war’ ‘coalition’ is where? Oh, it’s no-where to be seen because if their favourite despots, and russian lunatics are doing the warring they are basically happy as pigs in shit.

  9. Peter Kennedy | 3rd May 2016 at 9:29 pm | Reply

    It would be interesting to compare the human rights record of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. If you were President of the USA who would you pick from these three as your ally against President Assad?

  10. nehad ismail | 4th May 2016 at 7:00 am | Reply

    Thanks Peter, no one denies that human rights are abused throughout the region. But neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia are bombing their own people, or gassing their own people. The Assad family has a history of murdering their own people in large numbers. Please look up “Hama massacres in the early 1980s).

  11. Turkey *right* now has an ongoing military campaign taking place inside its borders against Kurdish towns. And Saudi Arabia has issues with its shia minority and the poorer parts of the nation, and has unending terror, abuse, and ‘religious policing’ of its citizens. None of which excuses Assad one iota – but no free passes.

  12. nehad ismail | 5th May 2016 at 7:07 am | Reply

    AdmV0rl0n thanks again and you are right. The issue of Assad’s crimes will remain with us until something is done.

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