How to defeat Isis, by a retired British commander

Russia and Nato should work in ­cooperation, not competition. But bombing alone will not be enough

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

Like most British soldiers of my generation, I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Few would now justify the reasons for invading Iraq; most of us who fought there at first recognised the amateurish nature of the strategy and its lack of realistic political objectives. But in 2007, under General Petraeus, the coalition adopted a new strategy that was underpinned by coherent policy. This stemmed from the recognition that unless common cause was found with moderate Sunnis, a workable Iraqi polity could never be established.

The rapid improvements that flowed from this change were impressive but disgracefully shortlived. The US departure from Iraq in 2010 allowed the Shi’ite Nuri Al Maliki a free rein to threaten Sunni interests and explains the Iraqi half of today’s tragedy in the Middle East.

In the other half, the West has shown similar strategic illiteracy in Syria. Efforts to excite opposition to Assad were unsupported by even the remotest understanding of what might follow. Just as with Saddam and Gaddafi, no credible alternative to Assad waits in the wings.

Part of this stems from the crisis of confidence experienced by both the US and UK as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan. The prevailing judgment is that all interventions are ill-advised, especially those involving boots on the ground. The best the West can do is to bomb from a safe distance and make half-hearted efforts to raise local militias. Bombing and drone strikes have their place if properly targeted, but no aircraft has ever held ground. Without western forces, local militias will continue to be highly unreliable.

Some have criticised David Cameron for a lack of strategic thinking: his campaign in Libya had no plan to follow Gaddafi; his lost vote in the House of Commons on Syria showed lack of forethought.

These criticisms are not without substance. But there is a different side to the Prime Minister. Unlike some politicians, he has courage: he was, at some personal risk, prepared to get on the ground in Helmand when visiting recently liberated areas.

Cameron could have what it takes to be a strong leader in a time of crisis. But there were several reasons it was hard for him to do the right thing. He could not be certain of a majority in Commons. Cuts to the army now make it hard to deploy a coherent force at scale. Until there is a change of policy, Obama is unlikely to provide the lead that he should. And Cameron has shown no appetite to have the sort of relationship that Churchill had with his military chiefs, preferring instead the advice of his intelligence agencies. Agency heads can give you the intelligence, but they are unqualified to determine the solutions.

But as Paris shows, events change perceptions and perceptions change policy. What, then, would a coherent strategy look like for Iraq and Syria? The counter-terrorist view of the world holds that the problem cannot be defeated; it can only be contained. Britain will now increase expenditure on the agencies and special forces; Europe will try to tighten its borders with consequences for freedom of trade and movement; measures to track and detain suspects will become increasingly authoritarian. In short, the West risks turning Europe into a giant version of Israel, in which a paranoid population turns in on itself in fear of the outside world.

But terrorism is not the cause of the problem; it is merely a symptom. The solution lies in creating a polity that recognises Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, Alawite, Turkish and Christian interests. In place of Sykes-Picot, which carved up the Middle East after the first world war, this means accepting a re-drawn region in which Assad (or his successor) has a place in a rump Alawite state, and in which a new Sunni polity is created. In such an arrangement, Sunnis would not feel threatened by Assad, and the pressure to find refuge in Europe would subside. Moderate Sunnis would also quickly find common cause against Isis and return their society to its civilised roots.

A military strategy could look as follows: Russia and Nato should work in co-operation, not competition (notwithstanding recent tensions with Turkey), to degrade Isis through the use of air and special forces. In fact, pragmatic measures to avoid shooting at each other are already emerging. But bombing on its own will not be enough. A coherent Nato command-and-control structure should be deployed. Nato’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps should command a significant ground force, consisting of US, UK and French divisions. In parallel, a powerful training mission should be created to allow a coherent exit strategy in which Nato forces would rapidly reduce in numbers and be replaced by Sunni Arab forces.

With political objectives aligned, the Russians should sit outside the formal Nato command structure. Some recoil at the idea of working with Putin. Let no one forget Churchill’s pre-war hatred for the Soviet Union. And yet as soon as Hitler invaded Russia, Churchill was quick to make common cause with Stalin. This same realism should inform our relationship with Putin.

While our government has announced new money, it is hard to tell whether Cameron really understands the damage done to the present army. It seems unlikely that he knows how many troops are fit to fight, how many tanks have spares and whether there are sufficient logistic stockpiles to sustain even a short campaign. Measures should be taken to restore the UK’s only operational division to its proper fighting strength now, rather than wait for jam tomorrow.

Soon the House of Commons will have another chance to vote on Syria. This time, as before, the government seems to believe that military action can create the conditions for a political solution, but without any sense of what that political solution really is. The best that can be offered is to bomb and see what happens. We owe it to the innocent victims of this conflict, whether in Syria, Iraq, Paris, or wherever the violence next occurs, to do better. The House of Commons should therefore ask itself the following questions:

— What is the political objective and is it realistic?

— Can a grand coalition of the willing be created under US leadership which can coalesce around the same political objective?

— If a grand coalition cannot be created (without for instance Russia and Iran), how would this affect the strategy?

— What military resources will be needed to achieve the objective?

— If, for political reasons, the right military means are judged unacceptable (notably ground forces), then would doing nothing be better than doing something?

— After the political objective has been achieved, are we willing to show strategic patience and stay the course?

If the government can produce sensible answers to these questions, then its strategy should be supported. But if not, the House of Commons would be wise to wait.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

The author is a recently retired British commander. His current job requires him to remain anonymous.

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Show comments
  • Kasperlos

    The author writes: “It seems unlikely that he [Cameron] knows how many troops are fit to fight, how many tanks have spares and whether there are sufficient logistic stockpiles to sustain even a short campaign.” Should this be true then what is telling is the failure of either the PM, the CGS, or both to keep abreast via a simple briefing on the combat readiness of HM Forces. One doesn’t expect the PM to know how many screws and bullets are in inventory, but he needs to know the status of our major operational units.
    That the armed forces have fallen below acceptable strength levels is without question and clearly unsustainble going forward. It would be wise for the author to consider in his assessment not only overseas deployable forces, but the forces that might be required to deal with the pernicious threat posed by rmurderous Mohammedan fifth columns roaming Britain’s streets. It was after all Paris, France, not Paris, Syria.
    Finally, are there really any ‘civilised roots’ to be found in that part of the world? Recall that after Paris, leaders from Hollande to Cameron said that this was not a clash of civilisations, but of civilisation against barbarism. From whence comes this scourage: the Middle East and the cultures of that region.
    The first order of business for a serving PM is the defence of our peoples and territory. To embark on a nation building exercise thousands of miles distant is Quixotic. In the aftermath of the 1990s Balkans eruption the belligerents were separated, more or less, but the steam in that thousand year old cauldron remains. The West poured untold hundreds of billions of pounds into Afghanistan and Iraq to rebuild and secure them, yet a good percentage of the over one million illegal migrants entering Europe in 2015 are Afghanis and Iraqis, mainly younger adult males.
    Our fight must be narrow and focused, it must be sharp and ruthless, but it must not be an open-ended civic project that we now have in the millenials-long history of Middle East madness.

  • adam smith

    The UK has had enough pointless foreign wars, if you beat ISIS another group will rise & be just as bad, Muslims in Syria are not the biggest threat to Brits, muslims in the UK are a threat & have already carried out many attacks we should use our money and resources protecting UK borders & protecting us from attacks on home soil

    Join Leave.EU- https://leave.eu/en/user/register

    Leave.EU facebook- https://www.facebook.com/leaveeuofficial

    • Mary Ann

      Leaving the EU will only cut Christian immigration, leave the EU and we will import more migrants from other parts of the world, we need them.

      • Clive

        In fact the majority religion in the UK is now Catholic, I heard, because of Polish immigration.

        The EU is not only about immigration. It also prevents us trading properly with the rest of the World

        The sooner we leave, the better.

  • wolfe

    Let the Russians, French, Belgians, Turks and Germans sort Syria out, on the ground if needs be. British troops are not required – the (retired) commander is just pi$$ed of that the RAF and RN came out better in the SDSR and he’s as usual fighting his corner with blinkers on!

    • crosscop

      Merkel’s idea that she can make Syria peaceful by removing its entire population and shifting it to Europe just might work…

  • Randal

    But bombing alone will not be enough

    Bombing alone is not what is being done (except by Britain, if the Cameron regime’s plans go through). Let’s just remind ourselves who’s actually winning battles on the ground against Islamic State in Syria today, despite the massive support for armed rebellion in Syria from NATO Turkey and the Gulf sunni islamist US protectorates:

    With Russian air cover, Syria troops close in on Islamic State in Homs, Palmyra

    (Japan Times/AFP 24th November)

    Russia and Iran-backed offensive helps regime break Isil’s two-year siege on Syrian airbase

    (Telegraph, 10th November)

    Syria conflict: Army recaptures key Aleppo supply route

    (BBC, 4th November)

  • OpenEurope

    Putin will never be an ally of the West. The Russian economy is slowly collapsing under global sanctions following his invasion of the Crimea and Ukraine but Putin is still spending billions on military re-armament. This budget is set to rise by 15% this year even though the economy is contracting by 4.6%. Unfortunately Putin’s grip on power depends on confrontation with the West and NATO. He will continue to provoke NATO by probing and violating our air-space and territorial integrity. Turkey was right to defend itself against Putin’s belligerent and cavalier incursions of Turkish airspace. He was warned many times. He will only back-off when confronted by military and economic strength.

    However, we can guarantee the Russian public will never learn the truth about this incident. Russia’s state-controlled media will manipulate, lie, and fabricate stories to whip up nationalistic support for Putin’s version of what happened. Putin was not bombing ISIS in Syria as he claims. He was bombing the FSA and other anti-Assad rebels. Don’t forget it was Putin who lied about the Russian take-over and annexation of Crimea; it was Putin who supplied ground forces, tanks, artillery and surface-to-air missiles to Ukrainian rebels but denied it; and it was Putin who was complicit in the murder of 298 civilian passengers on Flight MH17.

    • Randal

      Lying is part of statecraft, and most practised by leaders of democratic states (see Mearsheimer: Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics). Your mostly disingenuous and propagandist bleating about Putin’s alleged lies are rather comical in the post-Iraq and post-Libya world.

      The Russian economy is slowly collapsing under global sanctions

      In the real world, sanctions have had little effect on Russia, but the unexpected collapse in the oil price has unsurprisingly put pressure on an economy as resource-cursed as Russia’s The IMF’s latest projections for Russia are for a stiff decline in gdp of 4.6% for 2015 followed by a slow return to growth of 1.8% the following year. Hardly the “collapse” you falsely claim – more like a stiff recession and readjustment.

      All sanctions have done, of course, is to provide the Russian government with a ready made external enemy to shield it from any blame for economic problems. Well done.

      Putin was not bombing ISIS in Syria as he claims.

      This is a flat out lie. See the news links I provided in the post below for some of the major defeats inflicted on IS in Syria by government forces backed by Russian airpower.

      it was Putin who was complicit in the murder of 298 civilian passengers on Flight MH17

      This kind of shroud-waving nastiness reveals you as merely an exploitative propagandist. MH17 was most likely shot down by a trigger happy and inexperienced Ukrainian rebel. Putin’s no more personally responsible for it than Ronald Reagan was personally responsible for the similarly irresponsible US shooting down of Iran Air 655 in 1988. This kind of thing happens in war.

      • Clive

        “Putin was not bombing ISIS in Syria as he claims.”

        This is a flat out lie. See the news links I provided in the post below for some of the major defeats inflicted on IS in Syria by government forces backed by Russian airpower.

        According to analysts at the Royal United Services Institute, 90% of Russia’s air attacks in their initial campaign were against anti-Assad forces who were not Daesh.

        …The deployment of Russian troops in Syria could end up helping Islamic State as they have been sent to areas where they are most likely to fight other groups opposed to Isis, according to a new report….

        Here’s an example:

        …What, though, is Russia hoping to achieve with its military adventure in the Middle East? What are the dangers for Russia and the world? And how might this operation, which sees the US and Russia meeting each other in a theater of war for the first time in six decades, change the world?

        In the beginning, as is so often the case when large powers go to war, there were reports of initial successes. “Nineteen terrorist command facilities, 12 ammunition dumps and 71 armored vehicles belonging to the terrorists” had already been destroyed by airstrikes, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. They were flying up to 30 missions a day, the ministry said, against just five or six flown by the Americans.

        There were triumphant reports of “growing panic” among the extremists, with 600 mercenaries having left their positions and deserted. In just a few days, wrote military expert Viktor Baranez in the paperKomsomolskaya Pravda, “Russian warplanes have inflicted much more damage on the IS than have America and its allies in the last year and a half.”

        But none of it is true. “We ran away. We just wanted to get away,” reports Samir Salloum, a journalist in the town of Kafr Nabl in the Idlib Province. “At around 11 a.m., two Russian Sukhoi-34s appeared, firing off two rockets, which detonated with gigantic explosions. We have never experienced such weapons before,” Salloum says. As they were running, the jets flew over their heads and dropped another bomb, which separated into many smaller ones. “Nobody in town was hit,” Salloum says. “But a farmer and his three children died on the tractor they were using to plow their fields. The farmer had taken his children with him because it is normally safer in the fields than in town.”

        In the city of Talbisa, not far from Homs — where the first Russia bombs had fallen a week earlier — Firas al-Said was knocked down by a shock wave, though he was standing 200 meters away from where the bomb fell. “The impact was enormous. Three-story buildings collapsed. The planes were also different, white and much bigger than those of the regime. I think Sukhoi 34.”

        Bastion of Resistance

        The first 16 bombs hit the local administration’s bakery agency, a street and a residential building. A dozen people were killed in the city center, with others losing their lives outside of town. “But they were all people who dealt with flour and the bakeries, families and a man from the civilian protection authority. They weren’t fighters. We have been under siege since 2013 and (the fighters) are all almost always on the front lines,” Said says. After the Russian strikes, regime helicopters arrived and dropped barrel bombs, he says, with two more Russian jets showing up shortly before midnight. A week ago Sunday, Said says, there were further Russian attacks on Talbisa and surrounding villages.

        The people in Idlib Province have nothing to do with Islamic State. The city of Kafr Nabl became famous in 2011 for being one of the bastions of resistance against Assad. The Friday demonstrations in the city are legendary for their sharp mockery of both Assad and IS jihadists.

        People here hate IS, with satirists frequently portraying them as extraterrestrial invaders. It’s no accident that Islamic State fighters despise the residents of Kafr Nabl. Long after the jihadists briefly occupied the town before withdrawing in early 2014, IS fighters are thought to have sent a killer commando to murder the men belonging to a local group of satirists….

        • Randal

          You merely confirm my point that “OpenEurope’s” statement was a straightforward lie.

          Russia intervened to defend the Syria government against the regime change attempt that has been ongoing for four years now, heavily backed by NATO Turkey and the Gulf sunni islamist US protectorates. As such, it is fighting all armed rebels in Syria, including both the most powerful (Islamic State) and the rest (mostly jihadists such as the next two most powerful groups there (Kurds aside), Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda) and Ahrar al-Sham).

          • Clive

            No, he was not lying. Just because Putin has dropped some bombs on Daesh does not mean he is ‘bombing ISIL’ – he has dropped the vast majority of his bombs on the opponents of Daesh so it is more accuate to say he is ‘helping ISIL’

            The piece from the Japan Times you cite was also a bit disingenuous, although you may not have realised it.


            This piece says a Christian militia allied to the Syrian govt defeated Daesh to take some villages in Syria.

            This Syrian militia is a standout in the area in which it operates in supporting the Syrian government. Most Syrian Christian militia are anti-Assad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sootoro These are one militia in one town in the midst of the Syrian Union Party (SUP). The SUP is anti-Assad and they represent most Christian militias. They are also fighting Daesh but are more likely to be bombed than helped by Russia.

          • Randal

            Of course he was lying – he stated that “Putin was not bombing ISIS in Syria”. Even the dubious RUSI figures you quoted admit that a tenth of even the initial attacks were on IS.

            The early focus on other armed rebel groups was because they constituted the most urgent threat to the government, by virtue of their location and their easier access to US sphere backing. That focus has shifted somewhat and there have been numerous very heavy attacks on IS since then, especially after the Russian airliner was blown up by IS in retaliation.

            Your comments about the Japan Times article are clearly disingenuous as well, in trying to divert from the facts with irrelevant and dubious assertions about other militias.

            The reality is that IS is just one of the armed rebel factions that the Syrian government, backed by Russia, is fighting. Your silly attempt to claim that the Syrian government, by fighting other rebel factions as well, is “helping IS” is merely the direct equivalent of the equally true assertion that the US and its regional proxies are “helping IS” by backing groups fighting the Syrian government.

            The difference is that, as I pointed out, the Syrian government has inflicted real and substantial defeats on IS on the ground, despite massive Turkish, Qatari and Saudi funding of armed rebel forces, most of which ends up in the hands of IS, al Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham, one way or another.

          • Cyril Sneer

            “The early focus on other armed rebel groups was because they constituted
            the most urgent threat to the government, by virtue of their location
            and their easier access to US sphere backing.”

            If only I could upvote you a thousand times – thank you for saying this – this is the truth and it says a lot about those who make this accusation of Russia because they clearly have no idea of the situation on the ground and instead parrot US lies.

          • Randal

            You are very welcome, of course. It needs to be said and said again, because those who seek to portray reality as other than it is are very well funded and very well connected.

        • Cyril Sneer

          So what the other guy said about ‘Russia not bombing ISIS’ is a lie.

          Thanks for confirming what we already know.

          You quote “90% of Russia’s air attacks in their initial campaign were against anti-Assad force”

          “initial air campaign”

          Has the ‘initial’ air campaign finished now and the proper air campaign is in full swing?

          The accusation that Russia has not bombed ISIS is really quite laughable.

        • Mr B J Mann

          IS!S really should send you on a basic English Comprehension course.

          You have just confirmed:

          According to analysts at the Royal United Services Institute, 100% of Russia’s air attacks in their initial campaign were against anti-Assad forces, 10% of whom were Daesh.

          So your point is?!

    • abrogard

      ‘Ally of the West’ – define that. Act as we would wish for only a day is an ally for a day, isn’t it?

      Putin lives in a hard world, Same as Assad and as Saddam did. Putin fought his way up there. He was put there by the Oligarchs and then has fought himself to some extent free of them.

      You can’t judge Putin by the standards of our world, the soft, sloppy, unctuous, insincere mouthings of our world.

      Forget the leaders for a while. Think of us, the people. This is the age, potentially, of the people. The internet.

      We should be – want to be, could be, are in our own selves – allies and friends of the Russian people.

      Get the sodding leaders out of the way who keep us apart and at each others throats and we would be allies.

      Get the sanctions off Russia. Work with Russia to build a safe enclave in Syria for Assad’s Alawites – and the Christians, etc,. the victims of the Sunni extremists.

      Stop acting like the stupid ignorant idiotic murderous bastards American policy and leadership (?) have had us acting like for the last fifty years.

      Stop trying to militarily defeat ISIS. It is a ludicrous thing. It is in any what they want – not the defeat of course – but the conflict, they want all the armies of the world in that theatre playing out this fable they’ve got. Let them be children.

      Let us grow up.

      • Clive

        Putin is a liar and a crook. He has a huge fortune stashed away that he stole from the Russian people https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/02/20/is-vladimir-putin-hiding-a-200-billion-fortune-and-if-so-does-it-matter/

        He has systematically murdered his opponents and was probably behind the Moscow apartment bombings which killed 300 Russians and brought about his rise to power.

        His main claim to fame is his propaganda. Russia Today is wholly owned and operated by the Kremlin. In addition, they have ‘troll factories’ who extol Vladimir’s greatness.


        It seem to work.

        • Cyril Sneer

          “Putin is a liar and a crook.”

          So are all western politicians.

          Only that Putin tells the truth about Turkeys support for ISIS and the west rushes to cover it up.

        • abrogard

          Yes, I’ve read all that too. Probably it is true. But that’s the world he lives in. And the Russian people seem to love him – truly – not just a response to the media machine.

          And, as Cyril Sneer says there I see, all our politicians are liars and crooks, too, begging forgiveness of a large number of Australian pollies who are sincere.

          And our media machine? What do you truly think of it? To this day our populace is ignorant of almost any real facts on any international situation at all. Our media is tripe, being driven by the internet to reluctantly concede this or that fact or event exists.

          We live in the real world. Where might is right. It is in OUR interest to get along with the Russians. The Russians I said, meaning the people. Our govt. and our media keeps us away from them. When did you last see any kind of drive from either govt or media for us, the people to meet ‘them’ (any ‘them’ ) and come to know them?

          And our road towards the Russian people includes via Putin who is approachable, usable, right now.

          Anti Assad Force attacks? What do you expect? Putin has made a deal with Assad. What other deal would it be?

          We should let it happen. Help it. The anti Assad forces in question are Syrian citizens choosing a violent path. They can step down. Step aside. Let Assad triumph and clear out the Sunni militants (Daesh).

          Then when the smoke settles and after considerably less loss of life than would be the case this way we and they can turn to controlling Assad. Putin would help us with that because Putin cares nothing about Assad either.

          We can be friends with Assad if he will moderate his actions. We find them unseemly. For us the stage must be carefully set. We are the children of Hollywood. No gas attacks, no wholesale killing, until the stage is carefully set and then we unleash napalm and defoliants and whatever.

          He’s a little uncivilized. Probably frightened. 12% Alawite surrounded by ferocious insane Sunnis. Why wouldn’t he be? But we can show him how to survive with grace, with our help and with Russian help. The three of us can make a wonderfully strong triad in that part of the world.

          And give the Saudis cause to pull up short.

          • SunnyD

            hear bloody hear

      • Roger Hudson

        Britain has many people with so-called citizenship who are not allies of the West, sort them out first.

    • Cyril Sneer

      So much Langley propaganda in one post.

      ” Turkey was right to defend itself against Putin’s belligerent and cavalier incursions of Turkish airspace”

      Was it? You do realise that Turkey regularly intrudes on others airspace, see Greece as one such example, also see Syria.

      So you will no problems if Russia or Syrian air force shoot down any future Turkish incursion into Syrian airspace? So you agree that Turkey should no longer attack Kurdish rebels in Syria without the express permission of the Syrian government? i completely agree – we should leave the Russians to destroy the jihadists groups and leave Syrian airspace for Russian and Syrian air force to carry out their work. I completely agree with you.

      Oh and you forget to mention Turkish support for ISIS but I suppose that’s not in the Langley script of course.

      Real nations don’t shoot aircraft down after 17 seconds in their airspace, neither do they illegally declare a no fly zone inside another nations sovereign territory like Turkey has done.

      At least we agree – Syrian airspace for Russian and Syrian air force only. Glad to have you onboard.

  • Murti Bing

    An interesting point of view, but the problem surely does not only reside in the Middle East. Think Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, and then look to what is happening within Europe’s own borders. We need to wake up to the fact that ISIS are here already, and we need to act on that. Now!

    See the recent Channel 4 documentary for further evidence. Scary stuff.


  • Clive

    This piece is very substantially correct. The problem with it is, as the author seems to acknowledge, it is politically impractical. The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan are that you must always have in view where you want to finish, not just where you want to start.

    There certainly could be a dismembered Syria but it would be politically very, very difficult to achieve. Certainly not in less than 20 or 30 years. It is still possible because the war may well go on that long.

    The problem for those supporting the Russians – as many Spectator commenters do – is, what will happen if they win ? The Russian strategy is not to defeat Daesh. It is for Assad to win. Many see those as the same thing but they emphatically are not.

    If Assad wins, Iran wins. The Russians are working with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah in Syria. The Syrian Army is not in much of a fit state to do anything. One of the articles cited by ‘Randal’ below gives an idea of the kind of problem there is in Syria. The first piece in the Japan Times:


    This piece says a Christian militia allied to the Syrian govt defeated Daesh to take some villages in Syria.

    This Syrian militia is a standout in the area in which it operates in supporting the Syrian government. Most Syrian Christian militia are anti-Assad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sootoro These are one militia in one town in the midst of the Syrian Union Party (SUP). The SUP is anti-Assad and they represent most Christian militias. They are also fighting Daesh but are more likely to be bombed than helped by Russia.

    The situation in Syria is incredibly complicated but the Russians have allied themselves only with Assad, not with the opponents of Daesh.

    If Assad wins, the Iranians will control Syria. That is unsustainable, it will leave the country as unstable as it has been for the past few years. We must work to prevent this and the Russians must work with us. As it is, they are bringing it about.

    …What the Russian diplomat, who wants to remain anonymous, has to say is a bit jarring at first. Without the Shiite auxiliaries from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon — whose recruitment and transfer is organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard — Assad’s rule would long since have come to an end. Yet his comments are complemented by a number of additional details that add up to an image of a behind-the-scenes power struggle — one which casts a new, scary light on the condition of the Syrian regime and on the country’s prospects as a whole.

    The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has long planned and carried out the most important missions and operations of the Syrian regime. They were responsible, right down to the details, for the sporadically successful offensives in Aleppo in the north and Daraa in the south, which began in 2013. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard is one of those groups intent on continuing the “Islamic Revolution” — the victory of Shiites over the Sunnis. They are a state within a state, one which owns several companies and is answerable only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. President Hassan Rohani has no power over the Revolutionary Guard whatsoever.

    Their goals go far beyond merely reestablishing the status quo in Syria. In early 2013, Hojatoleslam Mehdi Taeb, one of the planners behind Iran’s engagement in Syria, said: “Syria is the 35th province of Iran and it is a strategic province for us.” For several decades, the alliance between the Assads and Iran was a profitable one, particularly in opposition to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, which long had the upper hand in the region. But today, Assad depends on Iran to remain in power, and Tehran is taking advantage of the situation.

    Using a variety of pathways, both civilian and military, Tehran is currently in the process of establishing itself in Syria. Military means are being employed to strengthen the holdings of the Shiite militia Hezbollah in areas near the border with Lebanon. To serve this goal, the Syrian National Defense Forces were established, troops that exist alongside the regular Syrian army and which includes tens of thousands of fighters who were trained in Iran. Still, the National Defense Forces have begun to disintegrate into local mafia militias and have actually accelerated the loss of state control over those regions.

    Changes Afoot

    It is, however, primarily in the civilian sector where significant changes are afoot. Just as in Damascus, Latakia and Jabla, increasing numbers of hosseiniehs — Shiite religious teaching centers — are opening. The centers are aimed at converting Sunnis, and even the Alawites, the denomination to which the Assads belong, to “correct” Shiite Islam by way of sermons and stipends. In addition, the government decreed one year ago that state-run religion schools were to teach Shiite material.

    All of this is taking place to the consternation of the Alawites, who have begun to voice their displeasure. “They are throwing us back a thousand years. We don’t even wear headscarves and we aren’t Shiites,” Alawites complained on the Jableh News Facebook page. There were also grumblings when a Shiite mosque opened in Latakia and an imam there announced: “We don’t need you. We need your children and grandchildren.”

    In addition, Iranian emissaries, either directly or via middlemen, have been buying land and buildings in Damascus, including almost the entire former Jewish quarter, and trying to settle Shiites from other countries there….

    • Randal

      If Assad wins, the Iranians will control Syria. That is unsustainable, it will leave the country as unstable as it has been for the past few years.

      That’s the fantasy. Here’s the reality, according to US intelligence:

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington believes there are fewer than 2,000 Iranian troops in Syria helping the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and more than 1,000 in Iraq supporting the Baghdad government, the top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday.

      Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the number of Iranian forces in Iraq had fluctuated over time.

      “I think there’s more than 1,000 that are on the ground in Iraq,” Dunford said. “In Syria, we think the numbers are probably something less than 2,000.”
      Reuters Oct 27th 2015

      In the real world, Syria has been a Soviet/Russian ally since the 1970s and an Iranian ally for decades. Clive pretends that it being under Russian or Iranian influence would be some kind of disaster, but in the real world it’s just a return to the status quo ante.
      Which was infinitely better than the situation created by the ongoing regime change attempt in Syria.

      • Clive

        That Reuters piece is about ‘Iranian troops’. That’s like talking about ‘Saudi Arabian troops’. It would be surprising if there were more than a handful in Syria – 2000 is many more than a handful. There are far more Iranian irregulars like the Basij and proxies like Hezbollah.

        …Iran can no longer downplay its intervention in Syria’s civil war; there are too many public funerals these days. Two generals were killed in action this month. So was a senior bodyguard of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In recent weeks, senior Revolutionary Guards commanders—advertised as “military advisers”—have died on three separate fronts.

        The human cost of Iran’s intervention in Syria, on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad, started small, and with little notice. The first to die were young paramilitary fighters. I learned of one of the early casualties in December, 2013, when I visited Zahra’s Paradise, the largest cemetery in Tehran. It sprawls across many blocks. One section is devoted to martyrs killed during the devastating eight-year war with Iraq, in the nineteen-eighties. Iran’s Shiites revere the dead, especially their martyrs, so the cemetery is a good place to gauge public opinion. Among the old tombstones, and the families picnicking among them, I found a new grave. It had been squeezed in, next to a sidewalk. The red rose petals strewn across it, and the yellow flowers that neatly circled it, were fresh. A picture identified the man buried there as a martyr, Mohammad Hassan Khalili, a twenty-seven-year-old with dark hair and light facial stubble. An Iranian flag had been draped over the temporary headstone. A banner said that he belonged to a paramilitary wing of the Revolutionary Guards called the Basij. He died protecting the Tomb of Zaynab, a site of pilgrimages to honor the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad, one of Shiism’s early heroines. It’s on the outskirts of Damascus.

        The Islamic Republic described the first men to die as a few young “volunteers” deployed to protect symbols of the faith. The numbers have escalated since then. In June, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported that more than four hundred volunteers from Iran, including Afghan refugees living in the country, had died in Syria so far. Iranian news agencies and social media are now rife with stories about senior officers killed in Syria on the war’s toughest front lines. Last week, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that the death toll hit eight in just two days. The funerals have become major events, sometimes drawing thousands onto Tehran’s streets to escort the coffins to Zahra’s Paradise.

        Iran has increasingly been forced to acknowledge its losses—including at least four generals in the past year—with some reports suggesting that twice that number have been killed since the intervention began. Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, who was killed on October 8th, was given a state funeral. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally called on Hamedani’s family to convey his condolences. Khamenei’s official Twitteraccount, in English, lauded the general for fulfilling his “martyrdom wish.”

        Hamedani’s death was a setback for Iran—and possibly for Syria, too. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, Syria’s regular Army has been halved since the war began, in 2011. Assad has increasingly relied on leaders in Iran to develop strategy, and counted on Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy force in Lebanon, to provide new fighters. Hamedani was the senior Iranian tactician in northern Syria, where the regime is simultaneously fighting Western-backed rebels, the Islamic State, a local Al Qaeda franchise, and smaller militias. Hamedani was a hero of the war with Iraq—the deadliest modern conflict in the Middle East—and his death was the most notable Iranian military loss since that war ended.

        Iran has provided few details about any of the deaths. But the locations, in three different parts of Syria, offer insight into the scope of Iran’s intervention. General Hamedani was killed on the outskirts of Aleppo, which is Syria’s largest city, its commercial center, and, today, the war’s most important front line. On October 13th, two Revolutionary Guards commanders, both colonels, died in southern Syria, Iranian news agencies reported. On October 22nd, Brigadier General Reza Khavari died in clashes around Hama, in central Syria. Earlier this year, in January, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi waskilled, along with six Hezbollah fighters, when an Israeli air strike hit southern Quneitra. In February, 2013, Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Hassan Shateri was assassinated in the vicinity of Syria’s western border with Lebanon. Tehran blamed “agents and supporters of the Zionist regime.”

        The Iranians are dying in gun battles, not just on the sidelines or while protecting religious shrines. This month, a senior commander in the Basij, Nader Hamid, died of gunshot wounds suffered in a battle around Quneitra. He was reportedly coördinating a campaign by Hezbollah and a Syrian militia against Western-backed rebels. In April, Major General Hadi Kajbaf and three other Iranians died fighting rebels sixty miles south of Damascus.

        Iran has been sucked deeper into the Syrian conflict in phases. As a longtime ally of the Assad dynasty, which has ruled Syria for decades, Iran has provided military advisers and billions of dollars in arms and aid. Iran came to Assad’s rescue after an uprising, sparked by protests among teen-agers, erupted in 2011. Tehran increased its support as tensions disintegrated into a civil war over the next year. It urged and facilitated the deployment of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, which has often fought more effectively than Syria’s Army. In 2013, Iran’s élite Quds Force helped organize the new paramilitary National Defense Forces, which now total at least seventy thousand, to supplement Assad’s weakened Army.

        Iran’s aid has increased since the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other Sunni extremists began seizing large areas of Syria and Iraq, in mid-2014. Over the past month, hundreds of additional Iranian “advisers” have reportedly gone to Syria. Middle East media outlets claim that General Qassem Suleimani, the renowned commander of the Quds Force, arrived in Syria this month to mobilize a new offensive around Aleppo. The growing Iranian ground presence has coincided with Russia’s new bombing campaign by air….

        …And Assad is worried about the Iranians taking over the country:

        …Using a variety of pathways, both civilian and military, Tehran is currently in the process of establishing itself in Syria. Military means are being employed to strengthen the holdings of the Shiite militia Hezbollah in areas near the border with Lebanon. To serve this goal, the Syrian National Defense Forces were established, troops that exist alongside the regular Syrian army and which includes tens of thousands of fighters who were trained in Iran. Still, the National Defense Forces have begun to disintegrate into local mafia militias and have actually accelerated the loss of state control over those regions.

        Changes Afoot

        It is, however, primarily in the civilian sector where significant changes are afoot. Just as in Damascus, Latakia and Jabla, increasing numbers of hosseiniehs — Shiite religious teaching centers — are opening. The centers are aimed at converting Sunnis, and even the Alawites, the denomination to which the Assads belong, to “correct” Shiite Islam by way of sermons and stipends. In addition, the government decreed one year ago that state-run religion schools were to teach Shiite material.

        All of this is taking place to the consternation of the Alawites, who have begun to voice their displeasure. “They are throwing us back a thousand years. We don’t even wear headscarves and we aren’t Shiites,” Alawites complained on the Jableh News Facebook page. There were also grumblings when a Shiite mosque opened in Latakia and an imam there announced: “We don’t need you. We need your children and grandchildren.”

        In addition, Iranian emissaries, either directly or via middlemen, have been buying land and buildings in Damascus, including almost the entire former Jewish quarter, and trying to settle Shiites from other countries there….

        • Randal

          Iranian influence in Syria is nothing new (nor is Russian influence for that matter). If interventionists like you are concerned about the increasing influence in Syria of Syria’s allies, you don’t have to go far to find who to blame – both Russia’s and Iran’s presence in Syria are direct defensive responses to the ongoing regime change attempt there.

          If you are concerned about increasing Iranian and Russian influence in Syria – stop the flow of US arms and money, and tell the US’s regional proxies NATO Turkey and the Gulf sunni islamist US protectorates to stop pouring arms, money and recruits into the armed rebellion there and giving it cross-border sanctuaries and assistance.

          It ain’t rocket science.

          • Clive

            Well, why not do it the other way around and get the Iranians and their friends to leave ?

            I prefer the Iranians to the Saud. The trouble is, the Iranians have two faces. One is Rouhani and the govt and people who are for the most part reasonable. The other is the theocracy – and the IRGC reports directly to Ali Khamenei and the Basij are part of the IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard.

            The reality is that this war is going to go on for many years – as did the war in Lebanon which was similarly complicated. I hope it does not. I wish all of the non-Daesh people could agree to destroy them but it is not going to happen.

            Knowing Putin, Assad may just be assassinated by the Russians using a Sunni proxy who gets caught. That would simplify their negotiations with everyone else – including Turkey.

            But it would not solve the problem of Iran in Syria, which is getting worse by the day.

          • Randal

            Well, why not do it the other way around and get the Iranians and their friends to leave ?
            First because aggression should not be rewarded, and the attempt to regime change Syria to remove it from the Iranian and Russian spheres needs to be defeated, and be seen to be defeated.
            Second, because the most likely replacement for the Iranian-backed government in Damascus will be a sunni islamist one, backed by Turkey and/or the Gulf sunnis. Indeed, the fall of Assad, if and when it occurs, will likely be the beginning of the real problems in Syria.
            I don’t see Iran in Syria as a problem for anyone except for the aforementioned Gulf sunnis, Israel, and Turkey, none of whom deserve any particular consideration from us.

          • Mr B J Mann

            What would killing the moderate front man achieve?!?!?!

        • Mr B J Mann

          You keep forgetting to post acres of screed about US and Saudi poxies!

          • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

            “Poxies”. Is that Freudian slip?

          • Mr B J Mann


      • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

        We see the malign hand of the CIA in all this.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Yes, but we’re talking about Syria.

      Where for decades before external manipulation – primarily by America and Saudi Arabia – drove them apart.

  • rolandfleming

    excellent, thoughtful article.

    • e2toe4


  • thetrashheap

    We should be fighting Islamism not just ISIS but we importing Islamism, we putting it on UN human rights council , we are siding with it and we arming it in Libya & Syria

    When this country decides to fight the enemy of its people rather than the enemy of its oil interests I’ll support it’s roll in fighting ISIS.

    At the moment the west is trying to put in power in Syria Islamists, so I oppose their intervention in the arena and support Russia.

  • anyfool

    We do not need to bomb Syria, let them slaughter each other, they love killing more than they love their children, Muslim men in the main do not adhere to any recognisable human traits when it comes to females, they are not much better when it comes to non Muslims, why would you want to assist them in any way.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    There are many reasons why it is going to very hard to stamp out ISIL, but even if that is achieved it will pave the way for an equally, if not more dangerous phenomena and that is the demand for Kurdistan.

    The battle to form Kurdistan has a high probability that it will rip the Middle East apart sending shock waves West to Europe and East to the Subcontinent.

    • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

      The demand for Kurdistan seems entirely reasonable. 1919 saw the end of multinational empires in Europe, to be replaced by nation states. The post World War 1 settlement in the Middle East saw, instead, the establishment of spheres of influence for Britain and France (Sykes-Picot). A redrawing of boundaries in the Middle East to allow for a Kurdistan is long overdue, and would help stability in the area.

      • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

        Agree. it is reasonable and fair. But that was not my point
        The damage it will do to achieve Kurdistan is massive. Every nation in the Middle East has a Kurdish population (maybe not Israel)
        In order to form Kurdistan the Middle East will face a few options
        -Kill all the Kurdish people in their land, which is a massive act of g enocide
        -Continue fighting the Kurds. This time using IS to help them
        -Give into the Kurdish people and watch their lands (from Turkey to Iran) be ripped apart to accommodate a new nation called Kurdistan.
        It is fair to us (you and I) it is fair the Kurds but how do you convince the Mid East that it is fair?’

        If you apply this on the continent of Europe or the formation of Scotland as an independent nation with similar consequences I can guarantee you NO European would want a new nation to form from chunks of land ranging from Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain etc.
        NO European would think that this is fair, but people outside of Europe will think it is fair regardless of the damage it does on Europe.

  • Mr Marginalia

    Why bother? The nature of Islam is currently such that another group will simply take the place of ISIS. The problem isn’t with one organisation, it’s with the entire ideology. The enemy that must be defeated first and foremost is the stigma attached to any criticism of Islam or of Muslims; whilst supposedly civilised people still conflate religion with race and thus criticism with racism nothing will change.

    Once Muslims feel the heat, Islam will reform or it will die.

  • Rowland Nelken

    No mention of cutting off friendly relations with the Saudis, the guys ultimately responsible for exporting the obscene ISIS ideology. Sure the Saudis deny all responsibility. They simply want to monopolise Islamist barbarity and object to freelance savages trying to take over their horrible little act.

    Just as in the latter days of the Soviets and Warsaw Pact, increasing numbers of people no longer believe in the poisonous and murderous creed. Maybe Islamism , state controlled and freelance, like Marxist – Leninism, will implode as the rising generation becomes more active.

  • sidor

    All the acts of Islamic (Wahhabi) terror that happened within the last 15 years were sponsored by 4 states: Qatar, KSA, Pakistan and Turkey. And they will keep doing it as long as the West keeps bombing irrelevant deserts in Afghanistan and ME and keeps calling these four “Allies in the war against terrorism”. A comedy.

    • Dogsnob


      • sidor


        • Dogsnob

          My thanks, apology and agreement.

    • trobrianders

      With Cameron we can have a provincial response to these matters and not get bogged down in detail.

    • logdon

      Most of the 9/11 Islamic killers were from Saudi.

      Answer, remove Saudi’s enemy, Iraq.

      It defies belief but that’s modern politics for you.

      This excuse for statesmanship is not lost on the Islamists, either.

      Yet another cranny to exploit.

      But of course, none of this has anything to do with Islam.

    • Son_of_Casandra

      Not correct. Shia terrorism has also seen bombs being placed across the world and numerous innocents being killed by Iran’s proxies. They tended not to go for mass machine gunning though.

      • sidor

        Could you present us with facts in support of your opinion?

        • Son_of_Casandra

          Buenos Aires, Burgas, Beirut and a huge assortment of maimed or dead British and American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan from IED’s which came form Iran. Unlike the demented Sunni terrorists who machine gun people the Iranian Shia prefer bombs.

          • sidor

            On 5 June 2013, new Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Kristian Vigenin stated that: “There is no conclusive evidence for the implication of Hezbollah in the July 2012 bombing in Burgas.

            In Beirut a civil war is going on, and the sunnis are responsible for most of the bombings, the same as in Iraq.

            In Afghanistan Shia are fighting against Taliban. What you wrote about them killing the British and Americans is an apparent rubbish. No facts.

          • Son_of_Casandra
          • sidor

            Keep writing cheap Wahhabi propaganda? You failed to present a single real example of a terrorist act perpetrated by the Shia in the West. All the bombing terror in Israel was perpetrated by Hamas, a Sunni Palestinian organisation.

          • Son_of_Casandra

            I’ve just given you three examples of Iranian/Hezbollah terror and you can add to that every British serviceman who was killed or wounded by an IED around Basra.

            What propaganda about that? Are you incapable of dealing with actual facts?

          • sidor

            After several attempts, you failed to provide a single credible fact of Shia terror in the West. That means that your claim about “Shia terror” is an ordinary lie.

          • Son_of_Casandra

            Who was responsible for each of the three examples I’ve given above?

            And who was responsible for this?


          • sidor

            Another attempt failed. Iraq is not in the West.

            Just stop writing rubbish. You are boring.

          • Son_of_Casandra

            Goodbye. I’ve given you concrete examples of Shia terrorism and you’ve failed to engage or discuss any of them.

            You’re nothing but a cheap troll and apologist for Shia terrorism….and not a very good one at that.

          • sidor

            You keep writing demagoguery. Pointing out this fact is not an apology of anything.

          • Son_of_Casandra

            The news is your friend. Try reading it for a change.


            Suppose they weren’t Iranians either, promoting Shia terrorism.

            Islamic terrorism is Islamic terrorism the world over, no matter what type of Islam the terrorists practice.

          • sidor

            I wonder if your demonstrated failure to understand the plain text is a result of a natural cognitive defect or a deliberate attempt to imitate the latter? Let’s make a favourable (for you) assumption that the former is true. I repeat, read it slowly: do you know of any act of Shia terrorism perpetrated in the West? If you fail again to comprehend the question, accept my condolences. No medical treatment is available for mental retardation.

          • Son_of_Casandra

            So Argentina and Bulgaria aren’t in the west?

          • sidor

            Argentina isn’t the West, and Bulgaria isn’t a fact. You have nothing to tell besides primitive demagoguery.

          • Dogsnob

            Is it preferable to be blown to bits by a Shia bomb or Sunni?

          • Son_of_Casandra

            Makes no difference at all which is my point. Sidor for some reason is trying to pretend that Iran is whiter than the driven snow and doesn’t support terrorism. Sunni and Shia terrorism,,,,just two sides of the same very nasty coin.

  • Darnton

    Certainly there is a need for a military solution to the barbarism perpetrated by ISIS, and the author presents a measured and sensible way forward.

    The problem is ultimately one of countering the religious extremism of Islamism, which in turn requires that it be traced to its source in Islamic scripture. The actions perpetrated in the name of ISIS, however savage and barbaric, are nevertheless based on scriptural justifications arising from Islam’s foundational texts. Military solutions are half the equation. Eventually, it is the war of ideas which must be waged and won.

  • davidofkent

    IS is not a direct threat to the UK, but it is an indirect threat. Sending RAF aircraft and/or Western troops will not solve the problem. Good intelligence should halt most terrorist attacks on the UK (obviously that really means England). It might be a good idea to bomb to destruction the oilfields under IS control to cut off some of their money but other than that, bombing will have no decisive effect. If we cannot persuade the Iraqi Army (don’t laugh) to do some fighting, we should not be committing Western troops. The diverse anti-Assad groups are just as likely to turn against us as against Assad whenever they think it might help them. In other words, we cannot help the Arabs because they will not help themselves. So we should stay out of it.

    Cameron is itching for ‘his war’ but he really is not the man to follow in that direction, although I would love to see him being amongst the first to join any of our troops sent to fight in Syria.

    • Dogsnob

      I’m not too heartened by the reassurance that ‘most’ terrorist attacks on the UK should be halted by good intelligence. Meadowhall, anyone?

  • SeanLM

    How to defeat ISIS: Replace the “leaders” of western countries with even marginally competent individuals. You all know exactly the leaders to whom I’m referring. It’s not just the leaders of one country but rather a collective “emperor has no clothes” moment for elitists who are not actually elite in any way. They simply cannot comprehend or deal with this, because they are fundamentally non-serious individuals, cloistered in a bubble their entire lives. Their life experiences are shockingly limited. Their knowledge of religion, history, economics, military matters, and culture is sorely lacking. In some cases, they are actually proud of this ignorance. Their will to act was bred out of them a the university, so now the discussion or the appearance of taking action is considered adequate to fool a citizenry for which they routinely show their contempt. These people make Neville Chamberlain look like Charlemagne, and I hate them for it. Replacing them with random names out of a phone book would be preferable.

    • evad666

      I blame the PPE course in Oxford for creating the sheepie.

  • Roger Hudson

    Good article, plenty of help for Corbyn in his search for a ‘no’ vote.
    As a ‘commander’ he should know one has to secure the rear area before and during a campaign, the British rear area is riddled with 5th columnists.

    • trobrianders

      Not healthy for anyone’s rear to be riddled with anything I should imagine.

  • Sid Falco

    Interesting take. Not sure why the Sunnis deserve their own chunk of Syria though – they treat everyone else like chattel. Likewise, the “moderates” prevailing in this state – good luck with that.

    As for your points, the real stumbling block isn’t Putin, it’s obviously Obama. He is not in the slightest interested in doing anything that damages Sunni muslims in the middle east.

    Until he is out of the door of the Whitehouse (and hopefully replaced by Trump or Cruz) then the entire planet is in danger from the lazy, arrogant incumbent.

    • trobrianders

      Are those Sunni’s even capable of peaceful, stable society?

      • Sid Falco

        No, but I thought I may as well start off with something vaguely constructive.

    • Dogsnob

      I fear Mr Obama is anything but lazy.

  • Jacobi

    The need for the defeat of ISIL is widely accepted.

    ISIL does not operate on its own. It is part of that whole swath of Sunni Islam, financed, supported and supplied by Saudi-Arabia. This construct must be broken up and Saudi Arabia brought under control.

    A new, dangerous factor is Turkey. The recent downing of the Russian bomber was a deliberate pre-planned, organised, with instantly available false “tracks” for TV consumption and was intended to produce a Russian response on a NATO country, that is Turkey. Different accounts naturally have been presented but the Russians, it is now clear , had kept the Turks and the USA fully informed of their actions.

    Turkey is dangerous for two reasons .

    It is part of, and complicit with this Saudi/Sunni/ ISIL stream of terror. It supports, arms, and offers sanctuary to ISIL groups in Syria. It is not a Western country. It is an active Islamic state operating against the West. It is not in any way fit to be a member of NATO and should be expelled.

    Turkey is also instrumental in feeding as many as young Muslims of military age, via the Lesbos route as Europe will tolerate with violent reaction, never far off as we have seen in this morning’s news. These men are not refugees, but religious migrants all intent in their individual ways
    in establishing the Caliphate.

    This war has a long way to run, and we have to face up to some awkward and unpleasant factors, but the dismantling of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey are part of that .

    • SunnyD

      Yes – very well put. I agree that Turkey shouldn’t be a part of NATO either…..

    • Michaelinlondon1234

      You left out Israel’s roll.

      • sidor

        Do you mean Israel supports ISIS? As a kind of act of national suicide?

        • Michaelinlondon1234

          No but it is supporting terror groups in the country. There has been some odd things happening on that border….I actually do not know of a single group in the region that is not involved in this conflict. Every one from the UN to individuals is trying to use every thing as leverage. It is the ultimate slaughter greed festival.

          • Jacobi

            Odd things happen in all wars. You had better get used to it because things will get a lot odder in the next 20-50 years!

          • Dogsnob

            Is there any footage available of Cameron’s pronouncements whilst balancing on said seasonal confectionery?

      • Jacobi

        True. Israel is a true friend of the West. It reserves it’s position on the Shia/Iranian/Persian stream of Islam while keeping a very close eye on them.
        With regards to the once overwhelmingly Christian town of Bethlehem, it ensures that Christians are not openly bullied, but if Christians move out and Muslims choose to move in, which they do in a pre-planned way, then no doubt they believe that is not their fault..
        Israel is there to stay. They have been there a long time. Well before Christ was born and there six hundred years later when Islam was dreamt up and invaded in the 7th century.

        • Michaelinlondon1234

          I am aware of the different tribes of the Levant. Trying to pull that supremacist stuff with me does not work.

          The only thing I really have to say to you is plant trees.

          • Jacobi

            Well one could do worse than that.
            No more to say. When the other resorts to insults you know you have won the argument, or they are not being honest??

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            I am being “polite”. Mankind has spent thousands of years cutting down trees. We certainly have not done a lot about replacing. This was its sole intention.
            Interesting to note now 3 northern white rhino’s left in the world today…..
            Humanity has so much to celebrate.

          • Jacobi

            Michey, or whoevereyo asrte behind tyahty t shyn

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            You mean. The issue under discussion here is the latest of many assaults by the Israeli mafia on Islam, the resulting war, and who will win
            Cameron Tory Friends of Israel
            Blair Labour friends of Israel.
            All like slaughtering Arabs, Persians and Africans…Yes I know.
            I advocate for WW3

          • Dogsnob

            I have to say, advocating WW3 seems rather rash. Think how many trees will be damaged?

        • Gilbert White

          Why not give Israel a failed muslim state as an overseas colony, it would help their trade?

      • Dogsnob

        It’s a ‘role’ – no ham or cheese.
        And just what is Israel’s role would you say?

  • Michaelinlondon1234

    There are many factions from Cameron with his kill kill kil mantra to the US military trying to do world empire.
    But this is interesting.
    Quote from
    Harut Sassounian
    Publisher, The California Courier
    “A team of Columbia University researchers from the United States,
    Europe, and Turkey confirmed last week that the Turkish government has
    provided to ISIS: military cooperation, weapons, logistical support,
    financial assistance, and medical services. This detailed investigation
    was headed by David L. Phillips, Director of the Program on
    Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the
    Study of Human Rights. He had served as Senior Advisor and Foreign
    Affairs Expert for the U.S. Department of State.
    Here are brief excerpts from the extensive research documenting the direct links between Turkey and ISIS:
    Turkey Supplied Military Equipment to ISIS
    An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014: “Most
    of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via
    Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”

    Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP),
    disclosed on Oct. 14, 2014, documents from the Adana Office of the
    Prosecutor, revealing that Turkey supplied weapons to terrorist groups.
    He also produced transcripts of interviews with truck drivers who
    delivered the weapons to the terrorists.

    According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, Turkish agents drove
    three trucks loaded with rockets, arms, and ammunition to ISIS in Syria,
    on January 19, 2014.

    Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Fuat Avni as stating that Germany and
    the United States had audio tapes confirming that Turkey provided
    financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda
    on Oct. 12, 2014.

    Documents made public on Sept. 27, 2014, revealed that Saudi Prince
    Bandar Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through

    Turkey Provided Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters

    According to a June 13, 2014 article in Radikal newspaper, Turkish
    Interior Minister Muammar Guler issued the following directive: “Hatay
    is a strategic location for the Mujahidin crossing from within our
    borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be
    increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will
    mostly take place in Hatay.”

    The Daily Mail reported on August 25, 2014 that many foreign
    militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey.

    Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish
    government stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the
    Turkish border into Syria to join ISIS.

    A senior Egyptian official indicated on Oct. 9, 2014 that Turkish
    intelligence is passing to ISIS satellite imagery and other data.

    Turkey Trained ISIS Fighters

    CNN Turk reported on July 29, 2014 that in the heart of Istanbul,
    places like Duzce and Adapazari have become gathering spots for

    Turks who joined an ISIS affiliate were shown on July 28, 2014, at a public gathering in Istanbul.

    A video showed an ISIS affiliate holding a prayer-gathering in Omerli, a district of Istanbul.

    According to Jordanian Intelligence, Turkey trained ISIS militants for special operations.

    Turkey Extended Medical Care to ISIS Fighters

    An ISIS commander told The Washington Post on August 12, 2014, “We
    used to have some fighters — even high-level members of the Islamic
    State — getting treated in Turkish hospitals.”

    On Oct. 12, 2014, Taraf newspaper reported that Dengir Mir Mehmet
    Firat, a founder of Pres. Erdogan’s ruling party (AKP), divulged that
    Turkey supported terrorist groups and still supports them and treats
    them in its hospitals.

    Turkey Supported ISIS Financially Through Purchase of Oil

    On Sept. 13, 2014, The New York Times reported on the Obama
    administration’s efforts to pressure Turkey to crack down on the
    extensive network of oil sold by ISIS.

    Fehim Taştekin wrote in Radikal on Sept. 13, 2014 about illegal pipelines transporting oil from Syria to Turkey.

    Turkey Assisted ISIS Recruitment

    Kiliçdaroğlu announced on Oct. 14, 2014 that ISIS offices in
    Istanbul and Gaziantep are recruiting fighters. On Oct. 10, 2014, the
    Mufti of Konya stated that 100 men from his city had joined ISIS four
    days ago.

    OdaTV reported that Takva Haber served as a propaganda outlet for ISIS to recruit Turkish-speaking men in Turkey and Germany.

    Minister of Sports, Suat Kilic, an AKP member, visited Salafi
    Jihadists who are ISIS supporters in Germany. These Jihadists recruit
    supporters by distributing free copies of the Quran and raising funds to
    sponsor suicide attacks in Syria and Iraq.

    OdaTV released a video showing ISIS militants riding a bus in Istanbul.

    Turkish Forces are Fighting Alongside ISIS

    American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh asserted in the
    London Review of Books that “Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was known to
    be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a Jihadist faction among the rebel
    opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups.”

    On Sept. 20, 2014, Demir Celik, a Member of Parliament representing
    the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), stated that Turkish Special Forces
    had joined ISIS in the battlefield.

    Turkey Helped ISIS in Battle for Kobani

    Anwar Muslim, Mayor of Kobani, revealed on Sept. 19, 2014 that
    trains full of Turkish forces and ammunition were delivered to ISIS. On
    September 30, 2014, a CHP delegation visited Kobani, where locals
    declared that everything from the clothes of ISIS militants to their
    guns comes from Turkey.

    A Nuhaber video showed on Sept. 25, 2014 Turkish military convoys,
    carrying tanks and ammunition, moving freely under ISIS flags in the
    Jarablus region of Syria and the Karkamis border crossing.

    Salih Muslim, PYD leader of Kurdish fighters, reported that 120
    militants had crossed into Syria from Turkey on Oct. 20-24, 2014.

    According to an op-ed written by a YPG Kurdish commander in The New
    York Times on Oct. 29, 2014, Turkey regularly allows ISIS militants and
    their equipment to pass freely over its border.

    Diken reported on Oct. 1, 2014: “ISIS fighters crossed the border from Turkey into Syria in full view of Turkish soldiers.”

    Turkey and ISIS Share a Worldview

    RT reported on Oct. 3, 2014 on Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks detailing Turkish support to ISIS.

    Hurriyet newspaper quoted a Turkish civil servant on Sept. 26, 2014:
    “I was shocked to hear words of admiration for ISIL from some
    high-level civil servants.”

    An AKP council member posted on his Facebook page: “Thankfully ISIS exists…. May you never run out of ammunition….”

    Erdogan’s son Bilal and Turkish officials met with ISIS fighters, according to Sariyer Gozlem.

    It is absolutely unacceptable that while ISIS is committing mass
    murder in Paris and other European cities, its NATO ‘ally,’ Turkey, is
    continuing to aid and arm these terrorists. It is high time that Turkey
    is expelled from NATO and its leaders are indicted and brought to
    justice for their role in these heinous crimes.”
    End Quote

    • Dogsnob

      What year is it that Turkey is to be admitted to the EU?

      • Gilbert White

        After they have changed their genocide laws made a full conversion?

  • Simon Fay

    “Efforts to excite opposition to Assad”

    And without any clear honest rationale for regime-change’s imperative there that was presented to any Western public IIRC.

  • uberwest

    Take their oil (which they stole anyway) them and bomb them to wreck their infrastructure and keep them weak. If we leave them alone then they will steal more territory, gain control more and more of the arab oil, eventually getting to the stage that they will pose an existential threat to Europe, with nuclear and chemical weapons.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    So who ya rooting for in the Russia-Turkey conflict?
    Have to say I’m warming towards Vladimir’s fun-loving boys.
    I mean come on, Muslims are the bad guys, right?

    • EUSSR 4 All!

      You (A Milner) from Billingham and now in Central Japan has been banging on about Nick Griffin and “fun-loving boys” for years. Really, are you really just a repressed bisexual or homosexual trapped or voluntarily-exiled in Japan?!

  • Knight of Tipton

    Doh’ bomb em, it’s what they want.

  • grimm

    British foreign policy is proving to be as narcissistic as ever. The main tenor of the discussion is about whether or not it would be morally correct for us to bomb ISIS, whether we might kill “innocent” civilians in the process and can we live with the guilt. I’m sure the jihadis (who have no concept of innocent civilians) must be quaking in their boots when faced with such ruthless and determined fighting spirit.

    The Western nations seriously overestimate their power and underestimate that of the Islamic threat. If we ever finally get around to bombing ISIS command and control centres they will be totally prepared.

  • boiledcabbage

    Thankfully, the Russians have enough intelligence on Turkeys’ support for ISIS, hence the incident with the SU-24. “Bombing ISIS” per Dave’s strategy is pointless unless the logistical, financial, intel and other military assistance from Turkey is violently halted.

  • Frank

    The article is supposed to be about defeating ISIS, but actually focusses on re-organising Syria. It is remotely possible that doing such a re-organisation might result in the defeat of ISIS, but I suspect that ISIS would just move to another broken state.
    The reality is that to defeat ISIS you have to remove both the sources of funding and the sources of religious authority and justification. Neither of which necessarily involve going to war with various states, but almost certainly does require the implementation of economic and banking sanctions.

  • paulus

    What will happen is that NATO is split down the middle and continental Europe is cleaved in two. Not likely happen , will happen. Its very doable. And never expect your opponent to give you a break. They literally have no idea what they are doing or how to do it. Review and assess the assets of continental Europe For clarity the military, diplomatic and political must be integrated at the top, the only way out of the problem is using all three in conjunction. And a ruthless will to win.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Just bomb IS with copies of Penthouse and bottles of Jack Daniel’s. That would slow them down.

    • EUSSR 4 All!

      Pretty lame stuff, those, these days!

  • evad666

    I always find the Magazine NEXUS is informative the latest issue carries a piece on TOW Missiles provided into Syria.

  • Chris de Boer

    to defat isis is easy: slam Frau m erkel and Blabla o’ Blabla

  • Gilbert White

    Who writ this, Paddy Pants Down scaring his secretary with his secret weapon?

  • 9sqn

    Cameron doesn’t truly believe bombing ISIL will make a jot of difference. You can’t defeat the fundamentals of a religion. What he really wants is to oust Assad by the back door .. a sort of ‘welcome’ collateral damage .. his blind, idiotic belief being that Assad’s ROP internal opponents can provide some sort of credible alternative. What he’s really creating is the very real chance of us being stuck in Syria for a generation.

  • John Booth

    Over the last 2 years since I retired from full-time work, I
    have found the time (and inclination) to read a great deal and perhaps more
    importantly, to think and reflect a lot about our society and what is happening
    to us. In particular, I have found myself
    puzzling a great deal about the massive increase in immigration in the UK (and
    other European countries), the growing Islamization of Europe
    and why our political elite is not only allowing it, but also actively
    promoting it.

    Today I found something that has explained much of my
    puzzlement. This is a most excellent
    essay and is gripping, informative and chilling all at the same time.

    Please don’t be offended by this post, you don’t have to
    read this essay – but I urge anyone who is as puzzled as me and who cares about
    what is happening to our Western society to read it.


  • “How to defeat Isis…”


    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.

    Approximately 20% of the Marxist front group Islamic [sic] State are Ukraine Ground Forces (UGF) posing as Islamic [sic] State, the UGF mission in Iraq being to cut Iraq’s oil exports–once American ground forces return to Iraq–for the purpose of assisting Russia’s oil based economy, thereby allowing Russia to complete her military modernization program. The Marxist governments of the West and Marxist media* are spinning the reality of what’s taking place in the Ukraine and Iraq, where in the Ukraine the anti-Communist Ukrainian people are waging a war against the Marxist Kiev government and mis-named ‘Ukrainian separatists’ who are really Russian Spetsnaz/Guards Airborne troops assisting the Marxist Kiev government suppress the anti-Communist revolution raging throughout the Ukraine. The revolution could only have occurred thanks to the weakened security apparatus within the Ukraine, where a critical number of UGF are currently in Iraq preparing to assist Russia’s oil based economy by sabotaging Iraq’s oil exports.

    With the weakened Marxist security apparatus throughout the Ukraine, due to the UGF presence in Iraq, the Ukrainian population destroyed, to date, over 800 statues to the reviled Vladimir Lenin, and other Marxist ‘heroes’, statues that were supposed to have been destroyed in 1991 if the collapse of the USSR were real and not the strategic ruse it is. Currently approximately 1,300 statues to the butcher of Ukrainian nationalism/Orthodoxy remain standing throughout the Ukraine, rubbing salt into the historical wounds of every non-Marxist Ukrainian (95% of the population) that is forced to view such monuments to the infamous butcher.

    Russian regular forces are also in the eastern Ukraine (attired in UGF uniforms) fighting the Ukrainian freedom fighters, losing to combat operations approximately 25,000 soldiers, which is why on January 2 Vladimir Putin was ordered by his superiors in the Russian Communist Party to sign a four-year old piece of legislation that allows foreigners who speak Russian to join the Russian military…


    The following is a discovery I made in April regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist-atheist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…


    Notice, however, the Kremlin staged anti-government demonstrations that took place in Russia (and other Soviet republics) in the years immediately preceding the ‘collapse’, yet ZERO celebrations after the ‘collapse’!

    For more on this discovery see my blog…


    The above means that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending ‘War on Terror’; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West ‘lost’ China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the ‘alternative’ media. When determining whether the ‘former’ USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the ‘former’ USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the ‘collapse’ was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    * The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) taught Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…