Saturday, June 03, 2017

A Whole New (Old) War

Once, President Obama said Assad had to leave office. That was several hundred dead Syrians ago, a nuclear deal with Iran to make them a responsible power, and an interlude of fighting ISIL that is getting nearer to the end. So President Trump might be the one who gets to enforce that old demand.

Strategypage looks at the Syria battlefield. And I've noted the new fight developing in Syria.

Saying Assad has won the civil war confuses surviving with winning, as a map of the territory shows:

Yes, the defeat of ISIL in Syria just punches the ticket for the new (old) problem of Assad as a threat and vassal state of Iran:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in eastern Syria is surrounded by some of the world’s strongest military powers. Their forces are advancing on several fronts. The battlefield odds aren’t even close.

That’s why the commanders of those armies -- in Washington, Moscow and Tehran, as well as Damascus and Ankara -- are looking beyond the coming showdown with the jihadists. When they’re killed or driven out, who’ll take over? It’s an especially sharp dilemma for President Donald Trump. Because for the second time this century, the U.S. risks defeating one Middle Eastern enemy only to see another one, Iran, emerge as the big winner.

The defeat of Hitler led to the rise of the Soviet problem. The defeat of militaristic Japan led to the rise of the China and Soviet problems. The defeat of the Soviet Union eventually gave us a Russia problem. That's life. Deal with it. Don't hope that an outreach speech and being not-Bush can resolve our problems.

Hoping for a magic victory that resolves all problems was as futile in the last century as it is in this century.

If President Trump is serious about resisting Iran, the Syria front is critical to win. So yeah, America will need to target Assad's regime.

And that's apart from whether it is safe to leave Assad in power after half-heartedly going after him ("when you strike a king, kill him" is a saying because a king merely injured will use his power to exact lethal revenge. Are we really willing to leave Assad in power even if he isn't a vassal of Iran?).

I did say Syria was about to get interesting, did I not?

UPDATE: A looming assault on ISIL-held Raqqa pushes forward the day when the post-ISIL portion of the war will be fought:

A U.S.-backed operation by Syrian forces to capture Islamic State's Syrian "capital" of Raqqa will start in the next "few days", the spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said on Saturday.

ISIL seems to have already relocated much of their state east closer to the Iraqi border. So I doubt the battle for Raqqa will be very long.