Monday, July 24, 2017


"Trump’s termination of CIA funds to Syrian rebels signals the death knell for Western efforts to roll back Iranian and Russian power in the Levant. The reassertion of Assad’s control over much of Syria underlines the success of Iran’s policy in the Northern Middle East. Western efforts to overturn Assad and bring to power a Sunni ascendency in Syria have failed as have efforts to flip Syria out of Russia’s and Iran’s orbit and into that of the United States and Saudi Arabia. The cut off of CIA funding for Syria’s rebels is the raggedy ending of America’s failed regime-change policy in Syria and the region at large. President Trump called the wars in the Middle East “stupid wars” during his campaign. He called America’s policy of regime-change a “failed policy.” This is his effort to concentrate narrowly on eliminating ISIS and ending Washington’s effort to drive Assad from power by force of arms. He believes that by working with the Russians, the United States will destroy ISIS more quickly. It should be added that Syria’s military, with Russian backing, has killed hundreds of ISIS fighters in the last several months. It has driven ISIS from territory twice the six of Lebanon in the last two months alone. Further efforts to weaken the Syrian Army could only slow ISIS’s demise. Many Western leaders have preceded Trump in coming to the conclusion that Assad is staying in power. They no longer believe that driving Assad from Damascus by force of arms is realistic. President Macron has articulated this position for the EU. The end of Western support for Syria’s militant opposition has been clear since radicals began setting off bombs in European capitals. Trump’s decision to stop support for Syrian rebels will be the final nail in the coffin of those factions which draw salaries from the CIA. They will be forced to pursue other careers. More radical groups, such as those historically connected to al-Qaida and Ahrar al-Sham will also suffer from this decision. The radical militias prey on the weaker ones. They extort arms and money from the CIA-supported factions. The porous Syrian border with Turkey can now also be shut more tightly. The need to push resources to the CIA-vetted militias, kept border crossings open to all rebels, including al-Qaida. Factions merge and regroup with such regularity, that border guards could not know who was fighting for what end. This is the last gasp for America’s policy of regime-change which has so compromised its efforts to promote democracy and human rights in a part of the world that needs both".
Joshua Landis, "End of US Support for Syrian Rebels Sounds Death Knell for Attempt to Roll Back Iran & Russia in Syria – By Joshua Landis". Syria Comment. 23 July 2017, in
"I have never subscribed to the idea that the Assad regime was about to collapse due to the protests in the various cities. And indeed the fact that the regime is able to both parlay with the Arab League on a so-called 'peace plan', while at the same time employ overwhelming force in the city of Homs and elsewhere merely shows that the regime is absolutely determined, come what may to remain in control of the country 1. And that any pour parlers with the Arab League or for that matter anyone else is merely a diplomatic smokescreen to divide et impera any potential international coalition in opposition to the Syrian regime from forming, `a la what occurred in the case of Libyan this past Spring. With the likelihood of either Turkey or NATO intervening militarily being the ultimate non-starter. In short, I for one, cannot fathom at the present time, any short-term collapse of rule of Assad Fils and his clique. To imagine anything else is merely a phantasm of the highest order".
Charles Coutinho, "SYRIA: IS THE END IN SIGHT FOR THE ASSAD REGIME?" Diplomat of the Future. 10 November 2011, in
One does not have to necessarily agree with everything that Professor Joshua Landis has to say on the subject of the Syrian Civil War to acknowledge that he is without a doubt one of the leading experts on all matters Syrian in the United States. In the case of the reported change in American policy, it is obvious that the good Professor, an old acquaintance of mine, agrees with the decision by the Trump Administration to in effect 'drop' support for the Syrian rebels. That whatever may have been the one-time hopes for ousting the regime of Assad Fils, that those hopes are now strictly speaking eyewash and fantasy. That by intervening in the half-hearted manner that it did so, the Americans and their allies in the West (not, mind you their local Sunni Arab ones) have lost whatever opportunity once existed to perhaps over-throw Assad. Professor Landis would have said and did in fact say that any such hopes were always very slim indeed, once Moskva decided in 2012, to increase its support for Assad come what may in conjunction with Persia. That once that occurred then only a major military intervention by the West would have changed the calculus on the battlefield. And for reasons cited by many individuals (myself included) there was never any reason to expect that the Western powers were prepared to intervene overtly to overthrow Assad Fils. That both for reasons of realpolitik (Syria has never been a 'major' American / Western interest), and primat der Innenpolitik (any major military intervention would have been wildly unpopular outside of bient-pensant liberal intelligentsia), there was never any real likelihood of Western intervention occurring. Instead a halfway house type of intervention by the Western powers, of indirect military assistance to some not very credible and effective militias was the only game in town. And that game did not play out very effectively, except for the Syrian Kurds. And the Kurds of course have their own, limited agenda. An agenda which does not include overthrowing Assad. In short, it could be very well to argue that whatever one thinks of the Trump regime, the fact is that it is time to call it quits as per Western policy in Syria. And that for the foreseeable future, Assad Fils, et. al., will be in power and control in Damascus. That may strike many people as a horrid result of almost six-years of civil war, but I do not see any other possibility on the horizon. To expect anything else at this point in time would be the very mid-summer of madness. And that the only Western interest in Syria is to combine with Assad and his not very appealing allies (A/K/A Moskva and Persia) to destroy the Islamic State monstrosity. Pur et simple.


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