• 1 min British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 4 hours Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 6 hours Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 7 hours Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 8 hours OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 9 hours London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 10 hours Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 13 hours Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 19 hours India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 1 day Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 1 day Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 1 day Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 1 day Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 2 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 2 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 2 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 2 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 2 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 2 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 2 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 2 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 3 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 3 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 3 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 3 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 3 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 3 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 4 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 6 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 6 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 6 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 6 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 7 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 7 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 7 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 7 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 7 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 7 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 7 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
Trump’s Iran Decision Haunts Big Oil

Trump’s Iran Decision Haunts Big Oil

Donald Trump’s Iran decision has…

New Tech Could Turn Seaweed Into Biofuel

New Tech Could Turn Seaweed Into Biofuel

Scientists discovered an unlikely abundant…

Putin Has What Obama Sorely Lacks: A Coherent Strategy For Syria

Putin Has What Obama Sorely Lacks: A Coherent Strategy For Syria

 

In his “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, President Obama made some remarks on Syria, but do they add up to a policy?

Obama said:

1. He is giving up on a Pentagon plan to train thousands of “moderate” Syrian fighters to take on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). He admits that the rebels only really want to fight al-Assad and his regime. Obama did not admit that there are very few moderates left who hold any substantial territory. The most effective fighters have been the extremists, Daesh and its rival, al-Qaeda in Syria (the Support Front). Many former Free Syria Army units, who really were moderate, have by now joined or allied with these two.

2. He will continue to bomb Daesh targets in Syria, even though these aerial raids appear to have produced no results.

3. He will not escalate the U.S. military involvement in Syria.

4. His hope is to give enough support to the “moderate rebels” that they can, in turn, put pressure on the regime and Putin to make Bashar al-Assad step down. (But since he’s not training rebels anymore and is just bombing Daesh, how would this result be achieved?).

Related: Nigeria Could Shoot Itself In The Foot With New Oil Revenue Plans

I have long held that Obama is simply trying to contain Daesh in Syria and Iraq, but that nothing he is doing will have the effect of rolling it back. Since Daesh is an enemy of the al-Assad regime, for Obama to contain and weaken it willy-nilly helps al-Assad. This outcome is not the one Obama says he wants, but it is an outcome impossible to avoid.

The place the rebels allied with al-Qaeda have made the big advances in recent months is the northwest province of Idlib. Most of the province fell to the “Army of Conquest,” which groups hard line Salafis like the Freemen of Syria (Ahrar al-Sham) with the Support Front al-Qaeda forces. The Support Front reports directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. With Idlib, the “Army of Conquest” can hope to move against Latakia to its west, Syria’s major port, on which the regime depends for survival.

Related: This State Just Became The World's Greatest Renewables Market

I think that Obama can’t decently get involved in Idlib precisely because the victorious forces there are essentially al-Qaeda-led. (There are also remnants of small FSA groups in Idlib but frankly each just has a few villages and, in the aggregate, they don’t amount to all that much.) So the U.S. is irrelevant to the major military development on the ground in Syria in the past year!

In contrast, Putin knows what he wants and has an idea about how to achieve it.

He is giving air support with helicopter gunships and SU-35 fighter jets to the Syrian Arab Army, Hizbullah guerrillas who have joined the fight in northern Hama and southern Idlib, and Iranian special ops forces.

Related: Russia’s Move In Syria Threatens Energy Deals With Turkey

And, there are glimmers of some success. The Syrian Arab Army has taken back several villages north of Hama, with an eye toward an eventual campaign to expel Daesh from Idlib.

The combination of aerial support and local on the ground forces worked for NATO in the former Yugoslavia (Clinton got the Serbs to leave the Kosovars alone that way). It also worked for the U.S. in Afghanistan. In the long run Russia may be getting itself into a quagmire. In the short term, they are already containing the western Salafi and al-Qaeda forces from taking Latakia, and perhaps even planning to roll them back. That would be a concrete achievement for Moscow of a sort Obama is lacking.

By Juan Cole

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • RickRod on October 12 2015 said:
    Amen and amen. Why don't we hear this truth in the main stream media? Great article!!!!!

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News