Thursday, March 8, 2012

What May Lie Ahead For Syria

Updated June 2013

Now that the mainstream media is pretty much ignoring WikiLeaks Stratfor email releases because they just aren't as exciting as one would hope, I thought that it was time to take a look through the 700 odd that have been released thus far.  I happened on one particular email release regarding a nation that has been in the news a great deal over the past few months; Syria.  

The email in question was written by "" and sent to "" on December 7th, 2011 and was entitled "INSIGHT - military intervention in Syria, post withdrawal status of forces".  I'm assuming that "bhalla" is Reva Bhalla, Stratfor's Director of Analysis as shown on Linkedin here.

Apparently, on December 7th, 2011, Ms. Bhalla had a meeting at the Pentagon with the United States Air Force strategic studies group.  In the meeting were four officers at the Lieutenant Colonel level including one French and British representative.

Before we go any further, here’s a political map of the region for your reference:

The officers present at the meeting grilled Ms. Bhalla on the strategic picture in Syria and then she grilled them on the military picture.  Ms. Bhalla claims that there is a very low level of understanding about what is actually at stake in Syria, the roles of neighbouring countries including Turkey and Iran.  The officers told Ms. Bhalla (without actually saying it) that SOF (Special Operations Forces) teams, presumably from the U.S., U.K., France, Jordan and Turkey were already on the ground focused on reconnaissance missions and training opposition forces, despite the fact that a U.S. intelligence officer admitted that "...there isn't much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now, but all the operations being done now are being done out of 'prudence'.”.  Ms. Bhalla was also informed that “…the level of information on Syrian OrBat (Order of Battle) was the best that it's been since 2001.  The Air Force has been told to prepare to act within 2 to 3 months.".  

The officers present then told Ms. Bhalla that the use of SOF teams would not be part of an air campaign (as was used in Libya) to provide cover for the Syrian rebels, rather, the idea was to "hypothetically" commit guerrilla attacks and assassination campaigns to try to collapse the ruling Alawite forces from within.  Their primary concern about the use of an air campaign is the level of air defences in Syria compared to those in Libya.  Syria has a very strong air defence system around Damascus and along its borders with Israel and Turkey complicating the initiation of an air offence program.  An additional complication is the uncertainty surrounding the involvement of Iran in defending Syria.

Here's an interesting quote from the email:

"There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It isn't clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can't just create an NFZ (No Fly Zone) over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn't reach that very public stage." (my bold/my expansion of acronyms)

The last sentence in that paragraph is most fascinating.  Apparently, the killing of nearly 100,000  innocent Syrian men, women and children in dribs and drabs doesn't quite cut it. 

According to Ms. Bhalla, the main base for this operation would be Cyprus.  The group at the meeting was split on the involvement of Turkey with the Air Force intelligence officer seemingly quite "pissed off at them".  As well, with most U.S. fighter jets out of Iraq, the United States has yet to negotiate a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) with Iraq to use their airspace for any operations against Syria.

The French representative at the meeting was of the opinion that France would be more reluctant to enter a conflict in Syria during an election year.  The United Kingdom representative also emphasized the reluctance of the U.K. to participate but said that the renegotiation of the EU Treaty had undermined the United Kingdom's role in the European Union and that the U.K. may be looking for a way to reassert itself on the continent.

Who knows if we can trust the information in this email?  Regardless of its "truthiness", at the very least, it does provide an interesting window into the possible thought processes among the nations that could be involved in a future conflict in Syria.


  1. I think the rub here, the reason no one is stepping up to help the citizens of Syria's wretched evil al-Assad regime is because of Iran and the whole Sunni/Shia split that has various factions of the Middle East at each other's throats periodically. If Nato, for example, went in there and bombed alAssad's forces, (which are often assembled near large, civilian populations in order to maximize "collateral damage") Iran (and Russia and probably China) would come to the their defense and we would really have an enormous regional war on our hands. That being said, it is disgusting, depressing and horrifying to see what the State of Syria is doing to its people. 7500 Syrian citizens dead, and US may have a "high tolerance" for casualties if we do get involved?

    1. What you are saying is rubbish! Every pro rebel Youtube videos show women and children huddling in the same building these extreme Islamist fire from on Syrian troops! Who is putting the civilians at risk?
      I'm on the side of the Syrian Christians and they support the secular regime of Assad and it's for good reasons! The Salafist rebels are going saying they will route out all the Christians fron Syrian if they get power!

    2. You are full of shit. I have watched every single rebel youtube video on their official Ugarit News channel. And I have yet to see Rebel fighters in the same room with children.

      In fact it is the Syrian army and shabeeha militia who has committed all the 5 massacres so far. They have even used children as human shields.
      They also rape and torture children.

      All Human Rights orgainsations, from UN's Human Rights to Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International to every other single independent human rights association agree that its the Syrian Regime committing crimes against Humanity.

      You say you stand with "christians". When you actually stand with murderers and rapists of Muslim children.

  2. 7500 Syrian citizens killed by hired hands ( mercenaries) entering the countr illegally. if you want people's sympathy, first create a ball of fire, kill hundreds of innocent people and make it look like the government did it, then set out to play the invisible opposition, give them stupid names like Syrian Liberation Army, shit like that. then send in Arab Leauge like they have democracy so that they can instruct Assad to deliver democracy. you fucking cunts. Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, all big fucking scams. boys are going there to die, believing they are serving their country, bullshit. they die like dogs on the street so that Gangs ruling secretly behind the curtain can get some of that oil, a share of that gold, a doze of cocaine and so forth. what a fucking charade, what a bunch of amateurs set out to kid the whole world. what is even sickening that people are actually buying this shit.

    1. your talk is the bullshit, how much do get to express this bullshit opinion.

    2. How original, an unsupported conspiracy theory on the internet. I'm so glad you know more than any body else on the planet on this subject. It must be so awesome to be you--to be able to see through all the propaganda and understand complex international issues without ever leaving your parents' basement.

  3. The article is clearly bull. As it was it claims on December 2011 that the intervention is 2 to 3 months away.

    Now are are 7 months away from December 2011, and still NO INTERVENTION.

    I do believe it will come after November 2012, when Obama is re-elected.

  4. Doubt anyone will read this but we are at 70k dead now and some were upset at 7k?LOL But really this is a fight that the West really needs to stay out of. Its a Shia/Sunni fight and should stay that way. We(the West) should only be helping those civilians in teh refugee camps nothing more. Stay out if, its not our fight.

  5. did we shoot down an airplane over the airport?