Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movement on Syria

I'm not a big fan of the idea of intervention, but at this point it looks like it's pretty much inevitable.

So, here's the situation as of today:

Rouwahani (the president of Iran) just said that "Iran gives notice to international community to use all its might to prevent use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world, especially in Syria". This means one of two things: either Iran has some pretty clear evidence that the rebels used chemical weapons, or their long-standing abhorrence of chemical weapons (thanks to Saddam Hussein) is leading them to hang Assad out to dry.
(Note - Rouwahani also recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and had a surprisingly positive meeting with their leadership - http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/commentary/rouh a ni-sunni-shiate-divide-middle-east - which does not bode well for Syria.)

The Arab League just announced that Syria has carried out chemical weapons attacks on Ghouta.

The Russian navy is starting to withdraw ships from the area.

US officials said that strikes on Syria could come as early as Thursday. I it may seem silly to announce that beforehand, but it's like deliberately telegraphing a punch at the beginning of the fight to see how your opponent reacts. There's a bunch of guys over at the NRO and NSA that are going to be looking very very closely for any signs of movement by Syria's artillery and surface-to-surface missile batteries. They're also going to see if Assad does anything stupid that gives away his own position in response to the impending strikes. Strikes will probably target artillery, surface-to-surface missile sites, and antiaircraft capacity.

It's a done deal, and I suspect that the intended outcome is a negotiated exit for Bashar Assad and certain members of his inner circle (i.e. his family), along with some agreed-upon temporary cease-fire between Syrian government forces and the various rebel and militia groups so that steps towards de-escalation can be taken.

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