Skip to comments.Assessing the State of the Syrian Army as ISIS Advances
Posted on 08/03/2014 5:06:23 AM PDT by Citizen Zed
We asked Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and Aram Nerguizian, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to weigh in on the state of the Syrian army and how it can respond to the challenge from ISIS.
Syria Deeply: What is the state of the Syrian army?
Joshua Landis: In Damascus, ISIS has gone to war with the Islamic Front in the Ghouta area and has been squeezed out of Ghouta, and is now trying to open a new front in Qalamoun, the range of mountains near Lebanon that the Syrian army just took back.
The Syrian army can't take all its men out of Qalamoun at this point they have to be vigilant. They are facing pressure in Palmyra, where this month ISIS took the Shaar gas field and killed well over 100 Syrian soldiers. Others have [since] disappeared. Then ISIS has been taking villages around Aleppo. So even as the army threatens to take Aleppo and is besieging parts of the city, ISIS is threatening to come back and fight them again there.
Then ISIS is surrounding air bases and military bases in Deir Ezzor and other strongholds. So overall, the regime has been very badly mauled by ISIS. And it's not something they were prepared for or expecting.
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This is interesting..Syria is an ally of Iran with its Hezbollah influence but ISIS is separate. Does Iran or even Russia get involved if Syrian regime is highly threatened from ISIS?
Is Obama and McCain still arming ISIS?
Question is, why isn’t Russia doing more? Leads one to believe that with the problems in Ukraine, Russia might not be that strong where they could logistically support a two front war.
The Russia of the 70’s would have already destroyed ISIS.
Question is, why isnt Russia doing more?
I cannot answer that but if Syria falls to the terrorists, there will be absolute chaos in the middle east — even more so than now.
“I cannot answer that but if Syria falls to the terrorists, there will be absolute chaos in the middle east even more so than now.”
If Syria falls, Lebanon will go next. Biggest loser in all of this is Iran who would lose two proxies in their fight against Israel and Obama who in 2009 supported the Iranian government over the people who wanted a free society.
At that point, Israel will have no choice but to clear out Gaza and the West Bank send everyone up north.
> Then ISIS is surrounding air bases and military bases in Deir Ezzor and other strongholds. So overall, the regime has been very badly mauled by ISIS. And it’s not something they were prepared for or expecting.
Assad has armed and relied on local thugs in many areas — the very same thugs who have carried out atrocities in those very same areas — in an attempt to maintain loyalty in areas where the Syrian army (such as it is) was withdrawn in order to concentrate the dwindling forces in Alawite strongholds and places with large numbers of Russian nationals.
This isn’t anything new.
Assad has also relied on Iran’s proxy thugs, the hizbullah, in areas adjacent to Lebanon, and of course 19,000 Iranians who arrived shortly after Assad first started shooting Syrians by the hundreds.
That is also not news.
The fact that Assad hasn’t been able to prevail despite those advantages, and this civil war is into year four now, shows that he’s peaked, at best. ISIS seems to be streaky, with dramatic triumphs (usually featuring severed body parts of the vanquished) followed by seeming headlong retreats.
IOW, ISIS doesn’t make doomed stands when they’re opposed by overwhelming force. What’s that tell you about their long-term chances? They recruit fighters who don’t have any local ethnic ties, who have only one common trait, which is devotion to the leadership and goals of ISIS.
Unless someone figures out where the bulk of them are, and corners them, then fights them until they’re annihilated, letting none or very few escape, and — most importantly — display the mangled and/or desecrated carcasses, ISIS is going to be around for a very long time.
My guess is, that will be hard to do, they seem to spread out until mobilized for an objective, everyone shows up, they smash their targets, upload the video, do a little bit of rounding up of fleeing adversaries, kill them, and then spread out again. Their comm system will have to be cracked, in order to anticipate their big moves — and a force capable of rapid response with overwhelming force will have to be available to carry it out.
Thanks Citizen Zed.
Syria’s not an ally of Iran, Assad is a client of Iran. His head would have been on a pole long ago if Iran hadn’t made direct intervention.
The dismantling of every regime in the Middle East other than Iran’s is Iran’s current goal; the mullahcracy wants there to be just one power in the Middle East, and nuclear weapons are part of that goal. The mullahs have stated that they want to destroy the West, and want control of the oil supply. They are also jihadist, and support jihad all over the world; they are the single largest supporter of jihad, not excluding Qatar.
Russia supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but they are rivals for influence in Syria and Egypt. Morsi’s regime ouster was carried out by Egyptians, but with financial help from Saudi Arabia. Morsi had allied Egypt with Iran and Qatar, and Assad of Syria rejoiced over Morsi’s removal. Assad’s main prop, Iran, condemned it. Had he not been removed, Egypt would be well on the way to disintegration by now.
Much was made around here about the possibility that al-Sisi’s gov’t might do a military deal with Russia, but there was no way that was going to happen. Even if Morsi had had more time to ruin Egypt, the most likely outcome would have been multiplayer civil war.
We give a lot of credit (cough cough) to Obama for his effectiveness at undermining US allies and foreign policy, and we should be patient to see if he manages to jettison Egypt, but the fact is, there’s a major shift going on in alliances in the Middle East. Obama’s goal is to support Islamofascism, and the most coherent choice is Iran. Iran has managed to keep its ethnic divisions from turning into armed conflict, other than the insurgent Kurds operating close to the border.
ISIS was and is bankrolled by Qatar, which is and has been a closet ally of Iran; Qatar’s previous clients in the Syrian civil war are fighting each other and ISIS; ISIS recruits out of Eurabia, and Turkey’s easy border with the EU makes Turkey the preferred route of ingress for those recruits.
ISIS doesn’t get any aid from the US, and never has. It has however captured vehicles and weapons from the crackerjack Iraqi army, which mostly turned tail and abandoned everything. That equipment is US made.
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