This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monitoring Progress in Syria

"We will monitor the progress these groups [vetted Syrian units] make and provide them with air support as they take the fight to ISIL."
"[The Pentagon will now provide equipment and weapons to vetted Syrian units] so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled by ISIL."
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook

"We need to be flexible. We need to be adaptive. Is it best to take those guys out and put them through training, or to keep them on the line fighting and give them equipment and support?"
Brett McGurk, Islamic State adviser to Obama administration

U.S. President George W. Bush spoke rhapsodically of the positive effects of spreading democracy in the Middle East beyond the State of Israel into the Arab countries for which traditions of tyranny and dictatorships were far more customary. Where strict control was maintained over the lives of ordinary people, and freedom and human rights represented a concept unfamiliar, foreign, and to be shunned. In the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, well known for his state-sponsored terrorism, the proud purpose of the U.S. was to introduce stability along with democracy.

What ensued was anything but on both counts. What was released was centuries-old antipathies between the two main ideological branches of Islam, each considering the other apostate, unworthy of existence, and mass butchery followed. The absence of a firm controlling hand that never hesitated to bring death and destruction on those who defied his totalitarian rule, opened the floodgates of Islamist terrorists to invade Iraq, leaving the new shared Sunni-Shiite-Kurd government to struggle against jihadists.

Leading the American administration, first that of President Bush, then that of his successor, Barack Obama, to have their military assign U.S. military officers to train and equip the Iraqi army on the understanding that the then-Shiite-led administration would recognize the need for equal rights for its Sunni minority. But the Sunni military officers who had been loyal to Saddam understood quite well that their rights were compromised, and joined with Islamist jihadists against whom the U.S.-armed and trained Iraqi military were impotent.

It is a scenario that took place in Afghanistan, where the corrupt, disloyal and ill-paid national police and the Afghan military were similarly incapable of quelling the attacks of the Taliban. The U.S. went to work training both the Afghan forces, equipping them as well with more technical weaponry. Which thereafter often were turned by Taliban infiltrators or sympathizers against the very foreign trainers whom Afghans viewed as interlopers.

So it's little wonder that the Pentagon has now decided to abandon its work up to now in building a Syrian military force among various revel groups considered clear of Islamist jihadist influences, capable of meeting the challenge of unseating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has proven to be an even more barbaric totalitarian than Hussein ever was. There is this that can be said of national Arab militaries; all seem to share a high level of desertion from their ranks.

Third time around recognizing the incapacity of Arab and Muslim national military forces to shape up into a well-organized, disciplined and capable fighting force means that not only are Arab and Muslim fighters slow learners in the practical lessons of discipline and effectiveness, but so too is the U.S. administration slow in acknowledging that their efforts tend to be useless in the face of Arab/Muslim resentment and lack of commitment to their very own national best interests.

The $500,000 expended in U.S. treasury to train ten thousand Syrian rebels has fizzled. Many of those rebel groups dissolved to join ranks with various Islamist groups, some with Islamic State, and some of the rebel groups handed over their U.S.-provided weapons to the Islamists. The plan was to have up to 5,400 rebel fighters trained and ready to go, with a proposed 15,000 over the following three years. The actual number that was deployed was "four or five" trainees fighting in Syria

Rest assured, however, despite the loss of weapons and treasury and active fighters, all is not lost. The training program will not be entirely abandoned. "It's being refocused to enhance its effectiveness. It's being refocused in a new direction", said a senior US. official with the kind of confidence that one would expect from a senior U.S. official.
"The opposition and their regional backers wanted the program, they just couldn’t accept ISIS as the priority and U.S. ambiguity on taking out Assad."
"Like in the Iraq war, you can’t expect people to fight on your behalf unless you give them what they want. We got the politics wrong yet again."
Andrew J. Tabler, Syria expert, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

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