Saturday, April 30, 2016

We Always Fall for the Ceasefire Ploy

What is it with our inability to understand that enemies view "ceasefires" as opportunities to rearm and reposition troops to win a war rather than a chance to negotiate a peace where everyone wins?

The ceasefire in Syria--such as it is--is almost over formally as Assad's forces are ready to roll:

A government encirclement of the Syrian rebel stronghold of Aleppo could be “imminent,” according to military and humanitarian observers, some of whom point to United Nations-sponsored peace talks as having given the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad maneuvering room.

If Syria’s largest city is surrounded by government troops, the strategic situation in Syria could change very rapidly for the worse, not only for Syrians, but also for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—and for the Obama Administration, which has banked heavily on the crumbling peace talks to end five years of civil war and an expanding presence for ISIS amid the chaos.

The encirclement would also be a major strategic advance for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has drawn his forces in Syria, but has also been helping the Assad regime conduct more focused military operations under a two-month “cessation of hostilities.”

What a shock.

And for our State Department, it probably really is a shock.

On the bright side, despite the infusion of support that Russia provided along with Iran's continuing support (with Hezbollah, Iranian forces, and a Shia foreign legion), I continue to believe that Assad's base of support cannot support the manpower needed to hold and defend a core Syria that extends as far north as the large city of Aleppo.

I know I wondered how much more Assad's ground forces could endure a year and a half ago, but Assad is still far from securing the northwest let alone reconquering  the south and east.

Aleppo is still a bridge too far.

Unless we help by pushing another farcical "ceasefire" after Assad surrounds the city that allows Assad to conserve his forces to hold the gains he might make and starve out the defending fighters and people.

UPDATE: Of course we are:

The United States said on Friday it was in discussions with Russia about trying to renew the cessation of hostilities in Syria following the deadly bombing this week of a hospital in Aleppo.

"Our hope is by refreshing this agreement ... we can build momentum again toward a broadly observed cessation of hostilities," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a briefing.

And although the answer to the question of when such an agreement might be inked to refresh the "ceasefire" is not known, having been kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch since noon yesterday, I can divine the answer as "shortly after Assad's forces manage to isolate Aleppo," which will sanctify the Assad siege with a Western-backed ceasefire.

UPDATE: Well, duh:

Terrified residents fled a new wave of air strikes on rebel-held areas of Syria's divided city of Aleppo on Saturday, as key regime backer Russia rejected calls to rein in its ally....

Russia said that it would not ask Damascus to halt air raids on Aleppo.

"No, we are not going to put pressure on (Damascus) because one must understand that the situation in Aleppo is part of this fight against the terrorist threat," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

On Thursday, Washington appealed to Moscow to keep President Bashar al-Assad's regime in check.

Obviously Russia turned down our request. What part of "impose a ceasefire after Assad takes ground" is unclear?

UPDATE: Seriously, get the clue bat out:

Scrambling to resuscitate a nearly dead truce in Syria, the Obama administration has again been forced to turn to Russia for help, with little hope for the desired U.S. outcome.

Really? This is the state of our diplomacy? Hoping Putin's Russia will help us?

We won't get our desired outcome because Russia won't "help" us--Russia will try to "win" by getting their desired outcome.

Somebody in our State Department should look into that whole concept of "victory."

UPDATE: Have we learned nothing from Ukraine and trusting Russian intentions?

Three deaths were reported Sunday in the fighting in eastern Ukraine despite a recently brokered armistice for Orthodox Easter.

It's like Lucy and the football again and again.