sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thirty Years War vs Syrian Civil War

OSCAR-MIKE-GOLF, there is a lot of chatter around among the historically inclined about how the Syrian Civil War is remarkably like the Thirty Years War. I have been asked by bloggers to throw my cracker in the soup twice, so I will.

The Thirty Years' War was fought in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. It was a deadly religious war that resulted in eight million deaths in a time when being a casualty of war and dying in war was essentially the same thing. (No medivac/casevac)

It began as war between Protestants and Catholics and then expanded as many of the great powers of the day entered the conflict. Some nations grew in influence because of the war and others were devastated. I invite you to read more about the gritty details if you're interested.

As with all significant civil wars (the War of Northern Aggression in the US 1860-65 comes to mind),  emotions scar the societies involved that reverberate to this day. The only winners of the Thirty Years War were England who stayed out, France who waited til the end to get in and Sweden who temporarily became a great power due to its  intervention.
P. S. Flushed with success, the Swedes then went to war with Russia and were handed their hats. Then they became a less than great power once again.
In the Syrian Civil War, Syria's enemies, Israel and the US (the little and big satan, respectively) are winning because they're staying out of the fighting.  The US is present in the area because it showed up to defeat ISIS under President Trump's leadership, but that doesn't extend to the Civil War in any significant extent.

The US clearly projects power by its presence East of the Euphrates and we've read on several blogs how the Russians and their proxies wanted to take the Americans down to Chinatown (kick their butts to Pizza Hut) and it turned out very badly for them. The problem that the Russians and their friends have is that they feel if they can beat Arab militias and the Syrian Army, the Americans should be a push-over. (too bad/so sad)

Click to enlarge the map and reveal
territorial exchanges in the 30 years
war.
Syria is the biggest looser and Turkey is close behind as the world finds that the might of Turkish armor and combined arms can't dislodge a thousand or so Kurds. Russia looks like a Potemkin Village since their military is severely taxed by merely keeping it in the field in the face of a logistics train less than 900 sea miles in length over unopposed (sea or air) access. The Russia issue reflects the Spanish in the Thirty Years war. That effort effectively started the slide to the end of the Spanish empire by exhausting what strength they had left. I don't see that happening to Russia, but it confirms their modern status as a regional power and no more.

Iran would be a big loser but for the Obama nuke deal which gave them the cash to keep going. The great power playing the English role is China. They stuck their nose under the tent, then backed off because the only winners never showed up to the game.

Then there are the Saudis and the fringe players who have tried to keep a chip in the game to thwart Iranian imperialistic fervor -- are they Holland?

Bottom line, the intervening 400 years between 1618 and 2018 means that as much as it's fun to draw general parallels, they don't work very well in this case, IMHO.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Parking Lot Sighting

Darmont Morgan or Morgan?





Turkish Invasion of Syria (update)

A blend of pro-government Syrian forces entered Afrin yesterday. The convoy of pick-up trucks with armed fighters in them that was shown on TV on 19 February leaving Aleppo arrived in Afrin on the morning of the 20th. Lebanese Hizballah posted the images of the arriving fighters, suggesting Hizballah, or at least Shiite, militiamen were sent to Afrin. 

Turkish regulars executed an artillery barrage as the pro-government forces arrived, according to Syrian state media. "Turkish regime forces targeted the locations of popular forces with artillery fire as they arrived in the Afrin region." 

Turkey said it fired "warning shots" at Syrian pro-regime forces in Afrin. "Pro-regime terrorist groups that are trying to advance towards Afrin retreated to about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the town because of the warning shots," the Turkish state news agency Anadolu said.

CNN-TURK and two other mainstream Turkish news outlets reported that the pro-government Syrian forces were driven back, leaving the impression that the Turks prevented their arrival in Afrin. That is disinformation, aka false news. Coming from CNN, it can't surprise any of this blog's readers.
Kurds confirmed the reinforcements. In a statement on the 20th, the People’s Defense/Protection Units (YPG) spokesman Nuri Mahmud said in a statement, "The Syrian government responded to the invitation, answered the call of duty and sent military units today, 20 February, to take up positions on the borders, and participate in defending the territorial unity of Syria and its borders." 
A large Hizballah deployment would be significant. Hizballah fighters have proven to be the equal of Islamic State and pro-al-Qaida al Nusra Front fighters, similar to the People’s Defense/Protection Units (YPG). They are tougher fighters than the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army and probably many Turkish army units.

President Erdogan’s minimized the significance of the Syrian deployment. Turkish President Erdogan said the convoy was made up of Shia militiamen acting independently, adding that he had earlier persuaded the Syrian government's main allies, Russia and Iran, to stop any Syrian troops from being deployed.
"Afrin city center will be besieged in the coming days," he said. "So that the external aid coming to the city and the region gets cut." Erdogan said that Turkey would make its red lines clear to everyone.
The Turkish and Turkish-backed forces are in no position to besiege Afrin, mainly, because they do not have it surrounded. The BBC and South Front published situation maps that show the limits of Turkish advances and that the eastern border of Afrin Canton abuts Syrian government-controlled territory. 

The Syrian reinforcement of Afrin is a setback for Turkey. It forces Turkish President Erdogan to risk widening a conflict in which his soldiers have performed poorly for over a year. Afrin was supposed to be the first of multiple objectives in Syrian Kurdistan. Afrin might prove to be the undoing of the entire Operation, if Turkish forces cannot capture it.

Erdogan has never explained the significance of calling the operation Olive Branch, but the words appear intended as a message to Syria. The message is that Turkey is doing a security favor for both countries by invading Syrian Kurdistan and cleansing it of Kurds and that Turkey is not starting a general war. 

The Russian deputy foreign minister Bogdanov said that Russia is willing to mediate between Turkey and Syria. 

The Russian news outlet Kommersant reported on 21 February that the situation is so serious around Afrin that Russia might return the recently promoted commander of the expeditionary force and hinted it might restore forces. 
“Russia might replace the commander of its contingent in Syria. The argument between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Turkish administration over the Afrin situation is increasingly heated, and the Russian center for reconciliation of opposition sides headquartered in Damascus has come under attack.” 


Three Sips


Because I saw this book advertised on several of your blogs, I decided to buy Three Sips of Gin by Major Tim Bax, Rhodesian Selous Scouts. I read the book and I enjoyed it. So I'm passing it on by making my own recommendation. It can be yours on Kindle for just over $4 - and I think that it's entertainment worth the price.

I personally identified with some of what Tim Bax went through, though I'm not African, and never lived there. You don't have to chew the SAME dirt to appreciate what another lived through.

I'm lucky to have lived in largely the same era as Tim Bax. He's a bit older than I am, but coming of age in a military environment prior to and during the Age of Reagan and Bush-the-Elder was a far simpler, far more interesting, and far more challenging age. It was a time of adventure, so often lacking in the controlled times we live in now. 

The story revolves around Bax's own journey and the colorful and often eccentric people he met along the way.

Living a life well, in my opinion, requires that one take risks and leap from the aircraft into the dark (hopefully with a functioning parachute). If you're not a risk taker and don't take a measure of thrill from pushing the envelope, you'll never  understand why I recommended the book.

I know people who peaked in high school, and while that may be enough for them, I didn't really like high school and only came into my own later - facing tough training and a far tougher real world. It is from that perspective that I appreciated Three Sips of Gin.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Topics



Riddle me This: If President Trump hates all immigrants, why does he prefer to marry immigrants?


Moving on to events in Northwestern Syria and the Afrin Region.

The Turkish armored divisions poised to eliminate Kurds from the gene pool have been dealt another in a series of setbacks that make them appear essentially helpless.

The Syrian state-run SANA news agency earlier in the day that said Syrian government forces and their allies would enter Afrin "within a few hours to support its people's (Kurdish) stand against Turkish regime's attack". The report by SANA raised fears of a potential clash between Turkish troops and Syrian forces, which are backed by Russia and Iran.

The Kurds are saying that they have no deal with Damascus and have the situation well in hand. The Syrians are using the Turkish invasion to move in from behind, take up positions and in a sense, 're-take' the Afrin Canton from the position of total Kurdish control that it now enjoys. In essence, to repatriate the region to Syria rather than Kurdistan.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, speaking at a news conference in Amman, Jordan, said his country would hit back if Assad's forces intervened in Afrin to help the YPG.

"If the regime is entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers," he said.

Turkey is full of bluster because the Russians are sending anti-aircraft rocket artillery in with the Syrian Army, which will prohibit the Turks from enjoying air supremacy in the Afrin City area.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Thoughts for a Monday


In Syria, Operation Olive Branch has stalled as a few Kurds, fighting for their homes are standing up to the Turkish Army. The Turks are claiming to have killed 1,500 Kurdish men, women and children in their effort to ethnically cleanse Northern Syria of Kurds. Independent sources put the number at about 300. 

CNN-TURK is trying to be optimistic and paint a picture of Turkish valor against difficult odds. Imagine that. Turkish armored and armored infantry divisions against far fewer Kurds defending their homes -- where is the valor in that for Turks? The Kurds have been successful and fought the Turkish armored fist to a standstill. When the Turks send armor and helicopters forward, they're destroyed. 

Turks using the "law of probability" in 
assessing casualties smacks of weakness.

Some of the Turkish success has been had from sending sniper teams forward. It's low intensity and the loss of a couple of snipers here and there doesn't impact the Turkish loss in terms of absolute numbers. A couple dozen snipers won't take Afrin or hold ground for the Turks. The Turks planned to have snipers keep the anti-tank missile teams heads down wile the armor moved forward. Their problem with that metric is that the missiles range is triple or more the range of the best case sniper shot. It's a very weak move for the Turks.

There best chance for success would be to move a division of dismounted infantry forward and overwhelm the Kurds with bodies, but that would cost a lot of meat and would end up being unpopular at home. Likewise the Turks could keep sending armor in until the Kurds ran out of missiles to destroy them...

President's Day Plans

I do have plans for the day, but they revolve around hanging out in the US and letting people who work for me do the heavy lifting elsewhere. (the loyal workers would ask, "what's new with that?") I'm available on the phone if there's a foul up. And I'm around if the White House calls for advice. They are working today, holiday notwithstanding.

A friend of mine named "H" expressed surprise that I'm still working at age 62. I pointed out that it's difficult to call it "work". It's not like genuine "work" that I once did.  

I haven't watched the Winter Olympics on TV yet. I doubt that I'll do that today.

I'm eating breakfast while I type this blog. Left-over fried chicken and rolls (home made) from last night. I'm not a big left-over eater guy, but fried boneless, skinless breast filets and rolls never go to waste (they go to waist).

Have a splendid day.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Sermonette

Life, Death and Politics

On January 29, a bill came to the floor of the US Senate, which if passed, would ban late-term partial birth abortion. In this procedure, the baby is dismembered in utero and pulled piece by piece from the mother. One key lobby that opposed the bill banning the practice was the so-called Catholic lobby - members of the Senate who publicly identify as Catholics and receive political contributions on that basis.

The Catholic senators who vote to allow partial birth abortion to continue in America are (in alphabetical order for your convenience):

Maria Cantwell – Washington
Susan Collins -Maine
Dick Durbin – Illinois
Kirsten Gillibrand – New York
Heidi Heitkamp – North Dakota
Tim Kaine – Virginia
Patrick Leahy – Vermont
Ed Markey – Massachussetts
Catherine Cortez Masto – Nevada
Claire McCaskill – Missouri
Bob Menendez – New Jersey
Lisa Murkowski – Alaska
Patty Murray – Washington
Jack Reed – Rhode Island

Far more children are slain by Planned Parenthood in one day than are slain by all firearm violence in one year. While all slaying for fun and/or profit is a tragedy, the one most easily put on hold is the one supported by your tax dollars.

By way of disclaimer, I am not Catholic, but I found that lobby in the Senate voting this way seemed ironic in the extreme. I found the lack of condemnation from the Catholic Church against these US Senators to be shocking. Nothing in the press (besides the usual hatred toward President Trump), nothing in print, nothing from the Pope - no hint of excommunication of these most Catholic senators. I've waited two weeks to hear the response of the Catholic Church before posting this. At best a whimper - business as usual. 

The 'Vicar of Christ on Earth/Lion of Christ' is very vocal on the subject of ILLEGAL immigration, and on the need to embrace Muslim savages. Not so vocal on the subject of carving up a baby in utero like a Thanksgiving turkey. The man is a whited sepulcher -- that's just how I look at him. Are no lines drawn anywhere? Sure, they're elected, sitting senators and can vote as they wish, but should they do so and remain Catholic?