Friday, December 08, 2017

Straining Credulity

I find this hard to believe:

Speaking at the 2017 Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster said that “about 80 percent of Assad fighters are Iranian proxies in Syria to establish a land bridge over into the Mediterranean,” as he warned of the “prospect of Iran having a proxy army on the borders of Israel,” The National reported on Sunday.

I read this statistic in a Strategypage post on Iran, but had to see where that came from.

No way does Iran control 80% of Syria's troops. Has the Syrian army really basically dissolved so that local militias paid by Iran, the Shia foreign legion, and Hezbollah represent 80% of Assad's ground forces?

I sincerely doubt this claim, and suspect that the context is that Iran pays for 80% of Assad's offensive forces capable of moving around the country, setting aside the vast majority of Assad's exhausted forces that are capable of statice garrison duty only or the technical arms in the artillery and whatnot that support the frontline fighters.

Is it possible that Iran now pays the salaries of 80% of Assad's troops? Could that be the basis of the claim?

If even this "control" measure is true, just how many plane loads of cash exactly did the Obama administration ship to Iran?

Seriously, how bad was the Iran deal if Iran can afford to basically pay for the military of another state engulfed in a civil war (a multi-war, really)?

Mind you, while I suspect the context is missing, I obviously lack the knowledge McMaster has.

Perhaps the Syrian army really has collapsed and militias, the Shia foreign legion, Hezbollah, and Iranian advisors and special forces truly represent 80% of Assad's ground troops.

I don't know. But it strains credulity. It is certainly on my radar screen going forward.