President Trump has been flip-flopping on a Syrian withdrawal again. But he was quoted Monday that he might keep the (uninvited) troops in IF the Saudis pay him (as they pay mercenaries?). Now his staff say he might keep some forces in Syria for a ‘short time’. Such alleged intentions have often led to prolonged wars of attrition (Vietnam, latest iteration of the Afghanistan War).
But nobody has asked Syria’s government or people if they want American troops in their country (funded with Saudi money and hence beholden to the potentates’ unrealistic goals in Syria).
The advice Trump will get, is getting, from his advisers and from self-serving Arab potentates seems to be to keep a ‘substantial’ small force in Syria. Under the guise of mopping up the remnants of ISIS. But many believe that this has nothing to do with ISIS anymore. And this force will be isolated in the ‘desert’. Besieged by unreliables and hostiles/potential hostiles: disgruntled former Turkish allies, Arab Jihadists, Kurdish factions, Syrian regime forces, Hezbollah, Iraqi PMU, Brigadier Qassem Soleimani & his men, et al. Their access will depend on cooperation from some highly unreliable players in a highly unreliable region.
This is not like a repeat of the first Persian Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, when all sides were identifiable, lined up behind clear and visible battle lines. When the goal was clear.
Is somebody setting these American troops up as sitting ducks in the desert for their own agenda? A more isolated, unwinnable version of Khe Sanh? But the brave fighters at that Vietnamese outpost were not nearly as isolated as the strip of Syria that is relevant here. Besides, Khe Sanh, although not a Dien Bien Phu, was apparently just a diversionary battle that preceded the Tet Offensive.
Unless Mr. Bolton and all those pushing for this dubious project are willing to suit up, go to contested eastern Syria.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“When Islamic State militants retreated from the embattled town of Jurf al-Sakher last week, the Iraqi military was quick to flaunt a rare victory against the extremist group, with state television showing tanks and Humvees parading through the town and soldiers touring government buildings that had been occupied by the militants since August. However, photos soon emerged on independent Iraqi news websites revealing a more discreet presence — the powerful Iranian general Qassem Suleymani, whose name has become synonymous with the handful of victories attributed to Iraqi ground forces. Local commanders said Lebanon’s powerful Shiite Hezbollah group was also on the front lines. Shiite militias have played a key role in driving the Islamic State out of the so-called Baghdad Belt of Sunni villages ringing the capital…………..”
Qassem Suleimani has become like a mysterious military celebrity of the current Middle East wars. According to foreign media reports. He is hard to pin down, except for an occasional sneaked photograph and many rumors in Arab and Western media.
He treads in places where David Petraeus and his various men used to tread, some of them still do. Petraeus was more ‘official’ in his task and in his travels. Suleimani is not: he has been reported in various Middle East cities, from Baghdad to Damascus to Cairo and Beirut. If all that is true, then no doubt he has also been to a few other cities as well, (possibly incognito?). Excluding Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and maybe Riyadh, of course.
Petraeus was the man of the last decade. Suleimani seems like the man of both the last and current decades. Petraeus had to fly thousands of miles in order to be able to tread on those unstable sands. He had to fly all the miles back to DC and Langley to get away from the field (which he did not really). Suleimani and his mullahs live in the neighborhood: he can, and probably does, walk across borders to retrace the footsteps of Petraeus. Much shorter and easier than a march from Hanoi to Saigon.
Does that tell us something? I sure hope so, now more than ever, given the U.S. election results. More on that later………..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum