William Boykin
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The real issue is that this conflict could escalate our ongoing crisis with Iran.

Quote:
Syrian ally Iran has warned their common neighbour Turkey that it will meet a harsh response should Ankara carry out any strikes inside Syrian territory, a pro-Damascus daily reported on Monday.

"Any attack on Syrian territory will meet with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defence agreement will be activated," the Al-Watan newspaper said.

"Turkey has received very strong warnings in the past few hours and the following message -- beware changing the rules of the game," the paper added.


"Iran warns Turkey against military intervention in Syria: Al-Watan newspaper ", AhramOnline. 7.30.12

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/49117/World/Regi...

Given that any support we decide to give Syrian rebels is going to have use Turkey as a logistical base, this could be viewed as an escalation by Tehran.

I sure as hell hope that Pres. Obama has a clear idea of what the hell he's doing here, rather than just trying to score points against Romney's weak performance on his overseas trip.

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William Boykin
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More talk today from Iran.

Quote:
TEHRAN -- As battles rage across Syria, the crisis has provoked a renewed round of saber-rattling in Iran, President Bashar Assad's staunchest international ally.

An influential columnist in an Iranian daily close to hard-liners gave a dire warning this week of the possibility of “world war” as global powers face off on Syria.

Viewing the conflict in strictly geopolitical terms, columnist Sadollah Zaree wrote that a U.S-led “axis,” including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, sought to undermine the Syrian government, backed by allies Iran and Russia.

“The anti-Syrian measures are a high risk and can lead to world war,” Zaree thundered in an editorial published in the Kayhan newspaper. The pro-Assad bloc of Russia and Iran, he wrote, had “of course” significantly “more legitimacy.”

Some Iranian analysts brushed off the threat of Syria becoming a global conflict as “bluffing,” in the words of Nader Karimi Joni, an independent columnist. He, like many other analysts, views the possibility of a superpower confrontation about Syria as remote.

Reached by telephone in Tehran, Zaree elaborated somewhat, saying he didn’t think Iran and Russia would stand by idly in the event of foreign intervention in Syria aimed at ousting Assad.

“If Turkey and Saudi Arabia wage a war against Syria,” the columnist said, “then we reserve the right to defend Syria.”

Of course, Iran is already widely reported to have been providing logistical, financial and possibly military assistance to Syria. The Islamic Republic’s chief regional rival, Saudi Arabia, has likewise funneled aid to Syrian rebels.

The war warnings echo remarks by Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces, who declared this week that the Islamic Republic "will not allow the enemy to advance" in Syria. But the general added that he saw no need yet “for Syria’s circle of friends to fully enter the arena,” according to comments in Iran’s Shargh reformist daily.

"In Iran, columnist offers tough talk about Syria", Los Angeles Times. 8.1.12

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/08/in-iran-to...

Darilian
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William Boykin
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So, the question could be asked-

Given how incredibly 'leaky' the Obama administration has been on Foreign Policy issues (and especially on Obama signing secret orders on things that make him look 'tough'), is the story that BJ quoted a plant by someone in the Obama Administration?

Personally, I don't think that there is a rational reason for some staffer in the Administration to have done that. Polling demonstrates that fewer than 1% of US voters are listing Foreign Policy as a concern in this election. Therefore, the possible gain in foreign policy stature (and the votes that that would get) is far outweighed by the risks to our regional diplomacy in the region.

On the other hand, someone could have been an idiot and felt that someone had to tell the press how 'Presidential' Obama is compared to Romney, who was frankly a bit of a letdown on his big overseas trip.

It is also possible that the Administration leaked this directly in an attempt to get Iran to back down. If that was the case, it might have misfired- the public rhetoric from Tehran is just heating up. Obama and Clinton might know something from back channels that aren't common knowledge, however.

Frankly, this is something which could change the entire Middle East if it blows up in Obama's face- and could be a complete game changer in November, either way.

This is very, very serious.

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I don't see any news in this. It's obvious the rebels would not be so resilient without outside help and it is obvious the US would be involved in some capacity. It is also obvious Iran et al would know have known this and it the main reason Russia and China can stick their necks out so far in support of Syria. I assumed this was a given and has been for some time.
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Bojan Ramadanovic
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Iran can say what they will - Turkey must and will intervene in Syria (with or without US blessing). Not doing it would be like US not intervening in a civil war in Mexico - too many national interests are at stake, not to mention close religious, cultural and ethnic ties of great many Turks.

I am betting that bulk of the rebel logistics is already run by the Turks and more is to come. I do not see what Iran can do about it. They are decently positioned defensively but would be trounced - or severely punished - in any attempt to act offensively against Turkey.
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bramadan wrote:
Iran can say what they will - Turkey must and will intervene in Syria (with or without US blessing). Not doing it would be like US not intervening in a civil war in Mexico - too many national interests are at stake, not to mention close religious, cultural and ethnic ties of great many Turks.

I am betting that bulk of the rebel logistics is already run by the Turks and more is to come. I do not see what Iran can do about it. They are decently positioned defensively but would be trounced - or severely punished - in any attempt to act offensively against Turkey.


Yes and who will side with Iran? No one. Russia's prime interest was economical with Syria but more than that they are scared of Muslim extremism which has plagued their country. They do not give a damn about Syria but what may result from the collapse of the current government, an extremist Muslim State. They are not friends of Iran for the same reason and without their support Iran is on it's own.

But my original point is I find it strange that this is considered news. At least the news I have been reading has been assuming US support for a long time. EU support as well. It does not have to be direct. If turkey or other supporting countries are provided with funds for any purpose that releases cash for Turkey to provide arms or other support.

Promoting or supporting a conflict by proxy is a well established practise and known by all parties including Iran.

It is no coincidence that Putin, a black belt in Judo, is visiting the UK despite our differences on an unofficial visit to watch Judo at the Olympics. He is also due to meet Cameron 'unofficially'. Irrespective of what is claimed to be discussed in press conferences I suspect a lot that will be discussed is off the record. That would include how to deal with the collapse of Syria and any fallout from it.

Looking at a press leak in isolation is not always the best way to assess the effect or purpose of it.
 
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True Blue Jon
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So Obama=Bush. Tell me again why voting 3rd party is a waste?
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quozl wrote:
So Obama=Bush. Tell me again why voting 3rd party is a waste?
Oh yes. Lets forget about the people fighting and massacring in Syria and focus on what is really important: voting third party in the US election gulp

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On Topic, I doubt that any party will act overtly any time soon. Mainly, because I do not so any geopolitical reason for them to do so. The unrest is so far confined to Syria. The counter-actions of other parties is extremely uncertain. And Turkey has a great opportunity to exercise (indirect) control across the border to set up a buffer zone without having to engage in a real war quagmire. And lastly, the question of who would govern Syria after Assad remain unanswered. Iran will do everything possible to subvert a hostile regime, and no one wants the fundies to take over. It may be that the Syrians will have to figure out this one for themselves, while trying to avoid becoming a second Angola.
 
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Bojan Ramadanovic
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Venga2 wrote:
On Topic, I doubt that any party will act overtly any time soon. Mainly, because I do not so any geopolitical reason for them to do so. The unrest is so far confined to Syria. The counter-actions of other parties is extremely uncertain. And Turkey has a great opportunity to exercise (indirect) control across the border to set up a buffer zone without having to engage in a real war quagmire. And lastly, the question of who would govern Syria after Assad remain unanswered. Iran will do everything possible to subvert a hostile regime, and no one wants the fundies to take over. It may be that the Syrians will have to figure out this one for themselves, while trying to avoid becoming a second Angola.


No chance of second Angola.
Only things Assad have are incumbency and desperation. His actual power base is a fraction of a tiny religious minority amidst a huge hostile population.
Once Assad goes, Syrian Shia will not be in *any* shape to play proxy for Iran even if they wanted to do that (which I very much doubt).

What is very interesting is what will the fate of Hizbollah be in the post Assad world. Lebanese Sunnis have at least as many grudges to settle as the Syrian ones and with Syria's backing switching along with its government things can get quite uncomfortable for Hizbollah.

It would be supremely ironic if the massive win USA handed Iran in Iraq got canceled out by a rebellion only vaguely and indirectly supported by the USA.

As for what Russia has to lose when Assad falls - Tartus.
If anyone thinks that the new Syrian government would extent the lease on the base as if nothing happened they are nuts.
It is a massive loss to Russia in both prestige and actual naval logistics. Do not expect Putin to give it up lightly - though of course he is very constrained in what he can do.
 
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I had to look up that base. Not very impressive according to Wikipedia:

Quote:
Video reporting by Russian TV in late June 2012 provided a tour of the Russian Navy's modest foothold in Tartus. The officer-in-charge conducting the tour said that only four(4) personnel now man the facility and that one of its two floating piers is inoperative because a storm had severely damaged its moorings. The shore facilities comprise a barracks, office space, two medium sized corrugated metal storage buildings, and a covered parking shed for about 5-6 service vehicles. A brief tour of the naval repair vessel then in port and tied to the sole operational pier also showed that it was minimally manned - about 10-12 personel, including the master and chief engineer. There was no mention of potential repairs or facility expansion.[15]


Seems more of a prestige question than a logistics one (it cannot accommodate ships over 100 meter). Nonetheless Putin will be keen on keeping it. However, as you say, he has very little he can do apart from throwing money at whomever comes out on top.
 
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True Blue Jon
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Venga2 wrote:
quozl wrote:
So Obama=Bush. Tell me again why voting 3rd party is a waste?
Oh yes. Lets forget about the people fighting and massacring in Syria and focus on what is really important: voting third party in the US election gulp


You funny! You want to stop the regime? Then you need to wake people up to the cause.
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Chad Ellis
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quozl wrote:
So Obama=Bush. Tell me again why voting 3rd party is a waste?


Because you forgot to put a diagonal line through your equals sign.
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True Blue Jon
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bjlillo wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
quozl wrote:
So Obama=Bush. Tell me again why voting 3rd party is a waste?


Because you forgot to put a diagonal line through your equals sign.


Yeah, you're right Chad. Bush got the approval of Congress before committing to war.


Can Obama get the approval of Congress for anything?
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I say that Assad is on the way out - if does manage to stay in power, he's not going to exercise it over the same territory that existed ante bellum.

Given that, I think at this point it's prudent to back the secular elements of the Free Syrian Army, lest the hardline Islamists, who have been garnering substantial regional support, end up holding all the guns when the dust settles
 
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bramadan wrote:
Iran can say what they will - Turkey must and will intervene in Syria (with or without US blessing). Not doing it would be like US not intervening in a civil war in Mexico - too many national interests are at stake, not to mention close religious, cultural and ethnic ties of great many Turks.

I am betting that bulk of the rebel logistics is already run by the Turks and more is to come. I do not see what Iran can do about it. They are decently positioned defensively but would be trounced - or severely punished - in any attempt to act offensively against Turkey.


This is basically right, and also explains why the US would get involved even on a low-end CIA-providing-support basis. Syria is Iran's last major partner in the region and basically the reason that Iran can continue to support Hezbollah in any meaningful way. Taking out Assad not only gets rid of Assad (which is a plus in and of itself), but can serve to stabilize Lebanon, strengthen Turkey, remove some pressure from Israel and further isolate Iran.

Basically it does a lot of things the USA wants, and it looks like Obama's order just authorizes intelligence agencies to feed the rebels intelligence, which A) they were probably doing through Turkey anyway and B) isn't exactly a giant intervention.

Long story short: it would be worth supporting the rebels in any case because Assad is a bastard, but getting rid of him also should do a lot of good elsewhere.
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It's also worth remembering that Turkey proves democracy and having a predominantly Muslim population works. They also have a right to support as they have supported the West over the years. You can't just be friends one day and not the next as it suits. I also have a lot of respect for Kemal who's views still hold even for modern society's struggling for an identity.
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Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum europae vincendarum
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Halfinger wrote:


But my original point is I find it strange that this is considered news.


It's because Kim Kardashian is not marring anyone this week.
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bobby_5150 wrote:
Halfinger wrote:


But my original point is I find it strange that this is considered news.


It's because Kim Kardashian is not marring anyone this week.


In the UK news it's called the 'silly season' which happens to be now. Although of course Syria is big news it won't fill 30 pages every day.
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chaendlmaier wrote:
Halfinger wrote:
It's also worth remembering that Turkey proves democracy and having a predominantly Muslim population works.

But they used to drink coffee in Vienna.

It wasn't a democracy then.
 
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