As the map below shows, Assad’s government forces (red) control a mere 20%, the rebels 55% (gray), ISIL 10% (black), and the Kurds 15% (yellow). But why is Assad so confident he will win? Obviously, because Russia is behind him. But are Assad and Russia really making a dent? The same is asked of the US, UK, and France about their arbitrary airstrikes, which kill civilians and, in turn, radicalize immigrants to employ home-grown terror in revenge?
Source – Institute for the Study of War, as reported by Al Jazeera.The dirty game of arbitrary airstrikes (by US, UK, France, Russia) based on questionable intel is not working at all. Bombing hospitals and civilian areas fuel global terrorism. The airstrikes are helping ISIL. The more airstrikes, the more civilians killed, the faster ISIL global Internet recruitment grows, the faster immigrants are radicalized into home-grown terrorists, the more civilians at the heart of Western cities killed. An eye for an eye. Kill civilians in revenge for civilians killed. Russia, UK, US, France – they are all the same, warriors without brains, insensitive to Syrian civilians, sensitive only to their own vested geopolitical interests. After the massacre in Paris, the knee jerk reaction of the French government was to bomb targets in Syria based on unverified US intel, killing more civilians than terrorists. This kind of emotion-based vendetta strategy from people in high places is scandalously naïve. ISIL controls a mere 15% but they are regarded with fear, because they often have the initiative and psychological edge. Everyone is ganging up on them, but they are dug in deep, entrenched, over-armed, over-funded, ready to die – Aleppo, Palmyra, Mosul in Iraq, you name it. In attacking ISIL strongholds, Assad employs saturation bombings, with no regard for civilians. Assad destroys half of the buildings of the entire town. They induce famine, then they clamor for a ceasefire to feed the hungry. When Assad retakes an ISIL-held town, there is nothing left except hungry mutilated civilians or dead ones. Then when the smoke has cleared, they leave a ghost town. It is sadly not a victory, just a massacre. The rebel forces who control 60% of Syria are slow and weak, fragmented and uncoordinated, and lack logistics and arms. They also need a charismatic leader to unite all factions. The Kurds are the true warriors who can face ISIL squarely. But they too need help. The war in Syria is a game of troops, not of warplanes. ISIL controls two thin corridors forming an “X”, but these are not prone to being cut off, because they are deep in rebel territory. Their turf widens in the north, but they are sandwiched by the Kurds on both sides. On closer look, ISIL also has a ‘counter-pincer’ towards Kobane. In the west, there are two large areas (striped) contested by ISIL and Assad. ISIL wants to drive the Assad forces to the sea and Lebanese border. Aleppo, where the Assad forces are eye-to-eye with ISIL, is the immediate flashpoint, strategically critical for both. But even If Aleppo falls to Assad, the war will be protracted. **************** THE EXPANDING MIDDLE EAST-WIDE SUNNI-SHIITE WAR The local wars in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria are but manifestations of a deeper expanding regional war encompassing the entire Middle East, a war essentially between Sunnis and Shiites. There are two catalysts to the escalating Middle East conflict 1) the Sunni-Shiite factor defying coexistence, and 2) the proxy-war factor, where powerful outsiders join the fray for vested geopolitical interests. The second map below gives a satellite view of the Middle East with the majority Shiites (green) contained in a monolithic area of Iran and Iraq, surrounded on all sides by majority Sunnis (blue). They are in fact inextricably intertwined in the entire Middle East, the key ingredient to an escalating protracted proxy war which may eventually trigger World War III.
The Russian Perspective Russia supports Shiite Assad in fear that if Syria falls into Sunni hands, Shiite Iran is the next to fall, when Syria-Iraq becomes a staging point for a US invasion. Pro-Russian antI-US Iran is the last powerful buffer to the Russian border. Nations east of Iran are too small and weak to form a buffer. Russia will risk World War III in the name of survival 1) to save Iran from becoming pro-Western, and 2) to prevent NATO missiles in Poland and the Balkans, so close to its borders. ***************
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