Thursday, October 01, 2015

My Head Hurts

Happy Fiscal New Year. Hopefully your head is pounding from imbibing too much and not from the spectacle of Russia moving in to Syria and beginning bombing attacks against rebels we support rather than against ISIL.

While Russians aren't eager to send their troops to Syria, that ship has literally sailed.

And the Russian church has declared that fighting in Syria is a holy endeavor:

Russia's powerful Orthodox Church on Wednesday voiced support for Moscow's decision to carry out air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State group, calling it a "holy battle".

"The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it," said the head of the Church's public affairs department, Vsevolod Chaplin, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Perhaps you thought the holy war we had wasn't enough fun.


Or maybe you are queasy from thinking about how our new partners in Iran see us:

The Iranian foreign minister's reported handshake with US President Barack Obama triggered chants of "Death to America" in Tehran's parliament Wednesday and a warning against "another kind of spying".

Now that's the kind of responsible regional power Secretary of State Kerry can work with!

This will all work out swell, eh?

UPDATE: Our new responsible regional partner is sending men to be the shock troops of a Russian-supported offensive:

Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.

Not that this will be a big offensive. But Russia's intervention will provide a short-term boost to Hezbollah and Assad forces morale.

That effect will wear off in time and as they take casualties until Russia escalates to direct troop involvement, or something.

And remember, President Obama thanked Putin for getting Iran to sign the nuclear deal that has paved the way for Russo-Iranian cooperation in Syria (and Iraq, too).


UPDATE: That's interesting:

The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has been promised 75 Soviet-era tanks by the Syrian government. ...

The T-72s and T-55s will not be much help in a major battle – Israel’s Merkava tanks clearly outclass them – and their combat record against Western tank designs has been spotty at best. Still, when facing the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, the tanks will be fighting on better terms. It is believed that Hezbollah will be trained to use these tanks in western Syria against Syrian rebels.

It's interesting because Hezbollah had been the shock troops for Assad's offensives because Assad's own troops were too shell-shocked to do the job. I've read many reports that Hezbollah is getting shaky too because of their heavy casualties. Heavy armor means that Hezbollah troops won't be the shock troops.

Which explains Iran's commitment of troops. Iran's troops will spearhead the offensives now.

UPDATE: Questions about whether Hezbollah is being worn out by their Syria intervention:

In a military commitment that dwarfs the south Lebanon resistance campaign two decades ago, thousands of Hezbollah cadres have fought on Syria’s bloody battlefields – from Aleppo’s battered ruins in the north to the rugged Qalamoun Mountains near Damascus and the basalt-studded Golan plateau in the south.

Hezbollah, backed by regional power Iran, has played an essential role in helping keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power as his forces have battled an uprising for more than four years. ...

But the move has put a strain on Hezbollah, which has paid a price in lives and prestige, with many analysts saying the toll in three years in Syria must have exceeded the 1,276 from 18 years spent battling Israel’s occupation.

Which would go a long way to explaining why Hezbollah wants heavy armor. Which explains a direct Iranian combat role. Which indicates that Assad's own military is worn out.