Tuesday, June 25

Why Syria Matters: Sunni oil versus Shia oil and the battle for regional hegemony in the Middle East.








   The Syrian Regional War rages on and nobody knows how to put out the fire.

   Up to now, the Obama administration tech nerds have proved pretty savvy when it comes to dealing with foreign war-fighting policy. After all, they got Bin Laden. They buried Gaddafi via tech support so the French and British could get the job done. And every guy sporting an AK in a strategic desert these days knows he's just a drone strike away from oblivion. Even the plebs back home immersed in media driven bread and circuses know they're under 24 hour NSA surveillance every time they hit up Porn Hub. Few care. US defense policy these days is war via computer geek and it's working in this interim decade before the real resource wars get green lit.

   Meanwhile, we've got Syria like a festering splinter in the geopolitical game.

   Syria is proving to be a real head scratcher for Obama's nerds. On the one hand, you've got the "Free Syrian Army", the designated 'good guy freedom fighters', an idea the world media bandied about to describe the farmers in Dera'a that got the whole ball rolling in this 'civil war' when they tagged some graffiti on the wall of the wrong mud hut. Assad's heavy handed response meant Syria got lumped in to the whole Arab Spring narrative and there was all that talking head talk on US airwaves about democracy and freedom and ME dictators being assholes. But as with most stuff on US news networks, it's all a stinking pile of bullshit. All Arab countries are run by assholes because if they weren't they'd  be run my warring tribal militias and that's really bad for the oil business. The Arabs just don't do democracy. Voting booths are for pussies, infidels and ancient Greeks. Arabs respect strongmen going all the way back to Saladin. That's why the Syrian Civil War has got nothing to do with freedom fighting and democracy and everything to do with regional and global geopolitics at the heart of the desert energy chess game. Which is kind of funny when you consider Syria doesn't even have that much oil. But we're not talking geography here, we're talking regional hegemony and control of the human capital living inconveniently in the vicinity of major energy reserves.

   The Syrian Civil War is now a Middle Eastern regional proxy war.

  This war really has two aspects. First and foremost, it's a regional Middle East conflict between the Shia and Sunni. Yep, a good old religious war but religion really isn't a useful term here. Sure, they hate each other's guts but regional energy hegemony is the fuel that makes this war burn. On the one hand, you've got the Shia, that is, Iran, Hezbollah (firmly entrenched in next-door Lebanon) and the newly conquered Shia controlled region of southern Iraq (thanks Dick Cheney), aligned against Saudi Arabia, Qatar and everywhere else in the Middle East Saudi oil money stretches to Sunni client states.

    Basically, we're talking Saudi Arabia's oil versus Iran's oil.

   The Saudis took it really personally when Hezbollah retook the Syrian town of Qusair in pretty impressive fashion last week, fighting that ugly street by street Stalingrad type warfare Hezbollah have been proving adept at lately. This has kicked the Saudi royals back in Riyadh into raging camel mode. Although a long time coming, the Shia v Sunni grand regional war is beginning to take shape. The grand alignment of Riyadh and Cairo (who broke diplomatic relations with Damascus last week and called for a no fly zone over Syria) is kickstarting. Next up to the party, King Abdullah of Jordan (fearful of conflict creep and more refugee spillage across his border), mentioned recently at a cadet graduation ceremony  "Hezbollah must leave Syria... there is no place for Hezbollah in Syria". These are fighting words especially for the Jordanians who've kept their head down during this whole Arab Spring so as to maintain their benevolent dictatorship in the desert.

   What's all this saber rattling about?

   Basically, the Sunni oil Sheikhs fear the Iranian Oil Ministry will dust off the old maps from Ottoman times and build an oil pipeline from Abadan across Shia controlled Southern Iraq to Tartus in Syria and begin making billions exporting oil to Europe via the Mediterranean. Next up, why not build a nice railway line from Tehran to Damascus and on maybe to Beirut. That right there would be the type of Shia strategic encircling axis that makes every oil rich prince in Saudi Arabia want to rage drive his Ferrari Enzo off a cliff with his whole family in the passenger seat.

   Even more so, let's talk methane. The above mentioned pipeline could theoretically supply the Euros with natural gas, the "cleaner" energy the planet loving Euros crave. With the EU mandated carbon reductions set to go into effect by 2020 and Germany axing its nuke plants, suddenly, Shia Iran's South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf becomes a goldmine beyond the dreams of Xerxes. Guess who lays claim to the northern part of that gas field? Sunni Qatar. Yes my friends, dig deep enough into any war and you can ditch religion and always find money and taking other people's shit as primary motivations for any shooting war.

   All this makes Syria ground zero for proxy war central.

   Right now the Saudis have been pumping some serious weaponry into the FSA. MANPADS (quite apart from being the worst acronym for a weapons system ever) are shoulder mounted AA useful for taking down choppers and low flying jets and also supplied, somewhat ironically, are at least 50 Russian made 9M113 "konkors"; wire guided anti tank missiles that can waste Syrian T-72s. The CIA have been supplying weaponry too but through the usual plethora of back channels; shady deals via Euro allies via dodgy corporate warehouses that make the stuff impossible to trace and every government ends up with plausible deniability while the Syrian rebel at the end of the supply chain literally jizzes his pants while unboxing his new laser guided death ray; and then begins crying as he can't read the instruction booklet because it's printed in a language.


The 9M113 Konkurs AT missile. FSA instruction booklet included?


     This war is so interesting it has me glued to Live Leak and I'm getting fat on popcorn.

   One thing that makes me splurge is the second aspect of the Syrian war, namely the geopolitical aspect, and how that's leading to all kinds of complications that drag in Russia, China, the US and Japan, and surely has the policy nerds at the Pentagon tearing their hair out wondering what the best play is in this increasingly complex and risky game.

   If the US goal is to prevent the FSA from losing this war then that's going to require more than covert arms sales via shady transactions through the usual back channels. Let's face it, it's going to require a Gaddafi style no fly zone. As of this writing, Assad's forces are attempting to retake Aleppo, the home of the Sunni business elites, largely abandoned by them now as the squatting, multi denominational FSA fighters holed up there have helped, along with Syrian Army artillery and airstrikes, to turn that once thriving city into Beirut circa 1978. If Syrian forces manage to retake it, like they did Qusair a few weeks back, it'll be a major coup and decision time for NATO and the Sunni alliance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and even Turkey to make a move. If Aleppo falls to Assad's forces and the Iranian sponsored militias then the FSA initiative will have been lost. And as any general knows, losing the initiative means everything in war.

   That's when it will be decision time for the major powers.

   If NATO decide on a no fly zone, the first thing they are going to have to contend with is Russia's newly delivered S-300 SAM system (if deliveries have been timely and made as Putin promised). These will have to be manned by Russian personnel because of the steep learning curve on operating this complex anti aircraft system. Assad's troops just won't be up to speed if NATO decides on a Gaddafi maneuver. The S-300 is potent but as yet untested in combat but there's no doubt it's a serious contender and at least equal to anything NATO has counter measure wise. The Russians claim it is even effective against stealth aircraft but they would say that wouldn't they? Maybe time will tell. The best bet for any initial strike will be X band radar cruise missile attacks on the launchers and radar installations all of which will be manned, at least for now, by Russian technicians. That will mean the US will have to go all in and I don't think the Obama tech geeks have the stomach for it. If they do, does that mean we get to sit back and jump straight to a fun game of global thermonuclear war when Putin's personnel get vaporized? Nah. Just another shit storm at the UN and more head scratching at the Pentagon.

   From a purely realpolitik view, if the US does nothing, and Assad wins, that's a tremendous victory for Iran and Russia. On the other hand, if the US tackles this via half measures, floods the FSA with the latest shoulder mounted anti air and anti tank weaponry, you might hand the FSA a victory that will leave them hating the US anyway (even if they provide them with all those new fancy toys). The FSA itself is so fractious and made up of so many conflicting groups of martyr worshipping 72 virgin afterlife fucking crazies, including radical Al-Qaeda franchise elements, Sharia law nuts and radicals that, even an FSA win will mean the US will have basically armed another extremist state in the Middle East and created a hotbed for anti Western terrorist training camps that'll make the Taliban goat herders in Afghanistan about as threatening to world peace as Mahatma Gandhi on Xanax.

   Obviously, Obama's computer geeks are stumped.

   Another fun thing about this whole Middle East energy chess game is the stake Russia has in all this. If Assad manages to hold on, then Assad owes Putin big time. Russia loves that warm water but somewhat obsolete Mediterranean military base at Tartus on the Syrian coast. Arms sales to Assad have been booming and the whole Arab Spring thing has left Russia with a serious lack of allies and weapon clients in the Middle East. After the US appropriated Iraq's oil reserves and has that symbiotic relationship with Saudi Arabia's crazy Wahhabi sheiks who exchange petrodollar monopoly funny money for F-16s and Floridian beachfront property, the Russians are loathe to lose that last foothold in the Middle East that still buys their Migs and heavy weaponry. Also, the Russians would like to hold on to the regional influence Damascus provides as the historical and metaphorical heart of the Arab world. Holding on to Syria against NATO encroachment would be a major victory for the Russians who are feeling decidedly small since the heady days of the Soviet Union.

   Also, for the Iranians, Syria is the main supply route for weaponry to Hezbollah, their proxy army on Israel's northern border. Hezbollah proved themselves a serious contender for world's best irregular army when they bloodied the IDF's nose back in 2006 when the Israeli's tried an incursion into Southern Lebanon. For Iran, holding Syria will achieve multiple aims; piss off the Saudis, assert Shia aspirations for hegemony in the region and remind Israel that they've got some allies on speed dial if Netanyahu goes ahead with his dream strike on the Natanz centrifuge facility. A possible pipeline to Europe for oil and gas across friendly territory would be icing on the global energy cake. Hezbollah also proved themselves useful allies for Assad when they went into Qusair and kicked ass and showed the FSA what real idealogical fighters can do when you threaten to fuck with their shit. This furthers my pet theory that heavy infantry armed with state of the art shoulder mounted AA and AT weaponry is the most significant development in warfare since Guderian's tanks and Stukas Blitzkrieged around the Maginot Line.





    That's why the Pentagon are shitting themselves with the trillions they just blew on the F-22 Raptor... it's a pricey ~$140 million per plane option when your enemy fights from second hand Toyota Hilux trucks that cost about as much as a beer and pizza at Yankee Stadium. We're decades away from major power v major power conflict and this makes 5th generation fighter aircraft so 20th century. The future of warfare for the foreseeable future is in the hands of the tech nerds, total information monitoring, computer espionage and satellite controlled drones versus desert guys in sandals with AKs and used Toyota trucks.

   One final fun aspect of the Syrian War is the whole chemical weapons debate.

   Obama called their use a 'redline' moment for US involvement. Trouble is, the FSA are using them too. Also, if you're a fan of YouTube or Live Leak (and who isn't these days),  then you can go ahead and watch an FSA guy eat a Syrian Army soldier's raw heart. That right there is Liberia level warfare and makes death by Sarin gas about as troublesome as a skiing holiday in the Netherlands. Still, for some reason, the general population abhors death by chemical. Sure it's ugly, sometimes prolonged, but death in war is never pretty is it? The average web surfer sipping lattes in Starbucks hates death by gas but somehow maiming and vaporizing via kinetic blast energy is seen as fair game. Chemical weapons are the least of the problems the Syrian War presents except of course if some dissident FSA or angry Syrian Army dissident manages to export some Sarin gas to Times Square. And that's not even a crazy idea anymore.

   The Syrian Regional War can have many outcomes. None of them predictable.

   Only one thing is for sure for whoever "wins" this thing, and I can't resist a little history here courtesy of my old friend Tacitus, the Roman historian who quoted the Scottish chieftain Calgacus after his loss  in 83AD at the Battle of Mons Graupius and said of the Roman legions who defeated him...

   "They created a desert and called it victory".



77 comments:

  1. Another great read!!!

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  2. All I can say is:

    "NICE!"

    Wartard firing on all cylinders once more...

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  3. "The Syrian rebel at the end of the supply chain literally jazzes his pants as he unboxes his fancy new laser guided death ray; and then begins crying because he can't read the instruction booklet because it's printed in language."

    Good thing I keep my beer away from my keyboard when I read Tard :)

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  4. Great Article Wartard!!!!!!!

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  5. What if someone just air dropped a bunch of LSD, electric guitars, and amplifiers?

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    Replies
    1. We'd end up with a war with an awesome soundtrack.

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    2. You mean "Police Action," right? ;)

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  6. I assume that last quotation comes from Tacitus' "Agricola"? I first heard that quote as,

    "The Romans create a wasteland and call it peace." Then later as,

    "And where they make a desert, they call it peace."

    I guess all these renditions get at the same ethos you (and Tacitus) were trying to invoke, so I don't know exactly why I'm bringing this up. I suppose I think each has a flavor worth showcasing.

    As always, thank you for your articles.

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  7. Please post more often Wartard.

    You cut through mainstream media bullshit like nobody else on the internet.

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  8. I think you meant light infantry, not heavy, even though heavy sounds more boss.

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    1. The word "heavy" refers to the arms (weapons) they carry, not armour (or other modern equipment).

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  9. Seriously dude, start a podcast or something.

    You're too good for the blogosphere and need a wider audience.

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  10. I read your blog with interest and enthusiasm. Keep up the good work.

    Also, please write more often. Your articles are gold.

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  11. Just adding to the avalanche of the kudos well done. Keep up the great work, you deserve to make something big of this.

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  12. In my opinion, after viewing all the evidence, it really makes no sense for the U.S. to get further involved... in fact it probably shouldn't have gotten very involved in the first place... Sure Assad is no friend of ours, but he is hardly a threat, even when paired up with Iran, North Korea, etc.

    At the end of the day, do we really care enough about Syria to arm terrorist groups like you mentioned? If you look at both sides, neither is our friend and both are potential enemies so... we really are just spending money and getting mixed up with Russia and China for no good reason... We aren't going to lose the entire Middle East (or it's oil) just because Syria STAYS with Assad, because let's not forget Syria has been under the Assad family for decades, and it hasn't proved the downfall of the U.S. so far. It would be a different situation if we were losing a friend or ally to a miltant revolution..

    The only thing I can think of, based on the evidence, is perhaps we are thinking that because both sides ARE enemies of ours, then let them destroy themselves. In other words, give the F.S.A. just enough support to keep the war going, and let both side bleed themselves white... because at the end of the day if everyone is dead it won't matter what weapons we gave them or what chemicals they have at their disposal..

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    1. I was also thinking... it is really the perfect scenario for the U.S. Think of it this way, we have a situation where our known enemies are getting involved in a shooting war with each other, or at very least involved financially. Shit even Hezbollah is now losing men and ammo stockpiles in an actual shooting war. Sure they are currently gaining more in prestige and combat experience then they are losing... but never the less the longer the war drags on the more they and Assad and the Iranians will lose. The Iranians are burning through cash and weapons arming them and Assad, and even though the west and the Saudi's are burning through cash as well... they can better afford this kind of war of attrition.

      In the end, we are bottling up Shia and extremist elements in a Vietnam type situation (albeit with urban fighting replacing jungle), where manpower and resources are being burned off with no end in sight.

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  13. Tard,

    Unlike other requests above - Please stay on the blog. I dont want to see you end up like Mike Harris...

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  14. They created a desert and called it victory.

    Great read as always bro.

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  15. Excellent analysis. The best I've read on the Syrian conflict so far.

    New to this blog. Keep up the good work!

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  16. Hey WT, an interesting read as always, cutting through the BS to get to the real story is an art you've mastered.
    Your second map should've been colour coded based one which sect is in charge.
    Considering the options available to the US, I just can't see them sitting back and letting Iran win this war, losing Iraq to them was pretty huge, and this is their best chance to break their control over that stretch of land.
    If Aleppo goes to Asad, they will have to up the anti.

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  17. I heard that the Israelis are challenging the Russians to bring in their S300 systems so that IDF can show that the systems are worthless and make them unselable, while boosting their own arms deals...Any comments on that?

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  18. Great read as always bro.
    Thanks for your insightful comments and general badassery.

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  19. Not only is your analysis of this war factual and laced with a humorous sense of dread, it is also, in its own strange way, profound and moving.

    Stumbling across this blog has made my day. Thank you!

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  20. Tard,

    America's position is best considered vis-a-vis their shift towards Asia. The most powerful weapon in the entire US quiver after despot, vassal, and obsequious kow-towers is anarchy (sanctions are great too - especially at preserving supply).

    As the US packs up shop in the ME (tar sands, fracking and all), they simply have no use for the goat fiddlers and are off. The very best way to control the entire region, is to prop up any remaining compliant states, while fostering chaos in non-compliant states which has the added bonus of providing unending stream of willing agent provocoteurs, terrorists, to carry out any actions needed around the world in western alliances or new Asian nations considering any alliance with China.

    As to Russia, if the Euro's decide they don't want Russian gas any more after Yulia spike the sprocket a few years ago and have a general wariness of bear based gas then their best interests are to simply continue funding any and all efforts to destabilise the entire region as well. After all - Russia has China drinking out of its gas bowl.

    So to me - the US and Russia have an interest in simply letting the region collapse back into the abyss, and with a new shift towards Asia the reality is that the US has a LOT to gain by letting the Europeans decline considerably as a competitive agent in the new Asian century.

    The Sheiks and Barons of the 20th century ME and EU are set to be replaced by Tigers and Bears in the 21st century with septic tanks continuing to capitalise on the entire process.

    Middle East is finished - fracking and tar sands are the future - Australia has just reported the largest field in the history of oil in central Australia - very VERY close to the new US base which also happens to be JUSt out of range of Chinas anti-ship ICBM's oh and for good measure is about to receive another 1000 marines in a few weeks as the expansion ramps up -Abbot is taling furiously about expanding norther Australia and i suspect it will be only a few months before BP and Exxon are setting up camp in the central Australia to supply the oil needs for the next century right on the US naval base in Northern Australia

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/01/24/business-australia-shale-oil.html

    Middle east is going to be set on fire and left to burn - the only people who need the gas are the Europeans and everyone wants them gone as well.



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    1. Hellenomania....posted that by the way.

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    2. The Middle East still matters and will matter for at least the next two decades.

      Shale oil is nice and all but it's filthy and costly to refine. Strip mining the planet is enviro hell. And the EROEI of the stuff operates at much tighter margins than the low hanging fruit sitting just under desert sands in Iraq and especially in Iran and the Gulf. Iran is actually benefiting from all these embargos as did Iraq under Saddam. Embargos on Iraqi oil kept it where the powers that be wanted it; safely underground and on tap for when it's really needed.

      Like now.

      I like your point about this being the Asian century, all the more reason Iran's oil is destined for China and their potential for regional hegemony is based on getting fat on all those dollar pegged Yuan.

      It's an interesting game my friend.

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    3. Haha, shale oil in Aus eh? Good ole Linc energy ramping their SP. They spiked on that announcement and then have collapsed since as the information was fleshed out. That field has been known about forever, and is not going to be economically recoverable for a long time. Like Tard mentions, it sits in a pretty poor spot on the EROEI curve.

      Aus potentially has a load of shale gas in our various basins, like everyone else. Overall though we're pretty screwed for liquid fuels. GTL and Oil shale (not shale oil) are a potential but we are -not- going to be an exporter of crude or distillate fuels any time soon.

      Love your stuff War Tard. Hope you're still enjoying it. I sure am.

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    4. "The Arabs just don't do democracy and voting booths."
      This is why we shouldn't let them into the country! STOP THE BOATS!!!!
      I loves me some racial slurs in the morning. Goes real well with the napalm, hey whitey.

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    5. Shale processing is the endgame, as others have mentioned. Now that the light, sweet crude of my childhood has almost gone, Shale being promoted as the second coming of fossil fuels is hilarious and cruel. It's also worth pointing out that there haven't been any 'new' discoveries since the 1970s, the geological structures that gave rise to crude oil in the first place don't tend to move around, and we've tapped everything with a high profit margin.

      There's a whistle-blower currently explaining the state of the Alberta strip mine, and it makes for some entertaining reading.

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  21. Why isn't Stratfor paying you to write their funny pages?

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  22. Always delighted when there is new War Tard. I would imagine this conflict has helped the sales of konkor missiles and Russian Anti-Tank weapons in general.

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  23. Love your work Wartard!

    Can we get gay married when its legal?

    LOL

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    1. no, but seriously, call me

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  24. One aspect that is only lightly touched upon is that in every little party, the Russian arms industry has come up way short of expectations. And in the international arms biz, nobody wants to buy weapons that don't cut it.

    Syria is probably the last place the Russians have where they can showcase that their junk (and I DO mean junk) has even a shadow of a chance of standing up to NATO hardware.

    Lets face it: anybody crewing a T-whatever tank, any MIG or Su aircraft and has ever seen a book, video or newspaper has got to know darn well what his life expectancy is.

    Yes, they do occasionally get a kill on an M-1 Abrams or a F-16. But those kills have more to do with quantity rather than quality, and in the back of the mind is always the nagging question: "Did we really get lucky? or did something malfunction on the target that let us get lucky?".

    Anyway you cut it, despite Putin's attempts to make up for his lack of adequate equipment (probably biological AND military), every Russian military commander that isn't an REMF/FOBBIT has to realize deep in his heart that in any confrontation that turns serious, his boys are pretty much baby seals. Which means that HE is gonna end up with his posterior in rather extreme climatological conditions without adequate covering. And fairly good chance to research the afterlife.

    Which gets us back to the meat of it: How would YOU like to be the Russian 'Technical Advisor' teaching the local Wogs how to use a S-300? Can you say 'cancelled life insurance policy'?


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    1. I would tend to disagree with some of your points. The SU 27/30/35 series is very well regarded internationally. The conflict in 2006 in Lebanon showed the effectiveness of Russian Anti Armour weapons. The user is in many cases as important as the hardware.

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    2. I'd love to see some type of "weapon primer article". I've seen a few of the articles on specific weapons, but are there one in the archives that are more general/broad, ie. which countries make which jet/tank/AA/AT etc.

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  25. > "The Syrian Regional War rages on and nobody knows how to put out the fire."

    lol .. i think you mean: "no one in the west knows how to stop feeding the fire."

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  26. Fantastic, as always, kind regards from a faithfull reader!

    P.S., I agree with others that you are ready for wider audience, hell, you always were!

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  27. What about Israel trying to get Turkey to fight in that war by making fake Syrian bombings in Turkey much like this fanatical diaperhead warned just a while before it happened?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CISHTtNywyk

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  28. Another great analysis ... Great work wartard. You cut through all the BS from western media like no else. God bless you.

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  29. The map lists Saudi Arabia as 89.9% Sunni. But Saudi Arabia is predominantly Wahabbi, and the Wahabbi hate list reads as follows:

    (1) Sunni Muslims, because according to Whabbis, the Sunnis aren’t Sunni enough.
    (2) Shia Muslims, because since the split following the phrophet’s passing, the Sunni have always hated the Shia.
    (3) Everyone Else.

    And how radical are the Wahabbi, in their suppression of “idolitary”? The graves of the prophet and his companions were desecrated and destroyed (in the 1920s), the home of the prophet was destroyed to make room for a car park, and the home of Fatima (the prophet’s daughter) was turned into a public toilet. Mecca and Medina look more like a combination of Las Vegas and Disneyland, with nearly all of the historic buildings and monuments being systematically destroyed. Why is there no outcry over this desecration and destruction of the history and culture of Islam? Saudi money buys silence, and alot of money buys alot of silence.

    And when it comes to killing Muslims, no-one does it better than other Muslims.

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  30. You presume one thing in your analysis that i think might be a bit off: you assume that the US right now is acting in its "own interest." It is clear to anyone with even a passing knowledge of mid east affairs right now that Muslims hate america, and due to their culture they will ALWAYS hate america. And yet, who do we choose to support and, in doing so, depose? Muslim brotherhood morsi and FSA over relatively stable and peaceful leaders.

    Now, it should be clear to anyone, like i said, that supporting groups that are programmed to hate america, and historically always end up hating america after they have done our bidding and we leave, why should we continue to do this?

    I'm afraid i dont have the answer. I could make empty conjecture, but it honestly comes down to some clandestine agenda that is not made public. I'd be more than happy to hear any theories, though !!

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    1. I don't have all the answers you're looking for, but perhaps you could start with examining your statement that they are "programmed to hate america". A quick examination of history reveals that "they" have some legitimate beef. Hell, if I was raised in a world where another country dropped death from the skies whenever it felt like and in ways that would put God(s?) to shame, I might be a bit pissed off too, and wonder why those americans' are programmed to hate them, their camels and their desert?

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  31. Saladin wasn't an asshole.. He gave all his wealth to the poor by the time he died.

    In my opinion this whole thing in Syre is to cause instability in the region, and leave it hanging in a stalemate, at least that's US's goal right now and maybe was from the start.

    It was in the interests to remove Assad to weaken Russia's arm, Iran's hand and Hezbollah and more so, like you said, all with just one stone, but it hasn't turned out that way, though they knew if worse came to worse, and it failed, they'd make sure it was a stalemate, and that's what we're seeing here.

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    1. Reading comprehension 101.

      Nowhere did War Tard call Saladin an asshole. He called him an "Arab strongman". Which is certainly true. Saladin was probably the greatest leader Arabia ever had.

      Read it again.

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  32. Its time that the middle east map/islamic map includes India as well... We have the largest shia population next to Iran & 3rd largest sunni population... And in some parts of India its already sharia...

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  33. Fantastic article. Thank you!

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  34. Hey WT, how are things? .... nudge nudge wink wink new article?

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    1. He should change the name to Wartard Quarterly.

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    2. The cost/benefit ratio of reading WQ is infinity, so I won't complain.

      Something tells me he's going to have lots of popcorn in the microwave in the next few months and years, so we might benefit from his play-by-play of global affairs more often (or is it more color commentary at his pace?).

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  35. 'Arabs respect strongmen going all the way back to Saladin'...er Saladin was a Kurd.

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  36. HEY WARTARD..............you have profiled / observed conflicts which get dwarfed by the potential conflict of Pakistan and India ........ should these two go to war now .........with more than billion people and nukes [miniature nukes for theatrical use??????? what is that]

    Its surprising that the normal skirmishes [though sorry about the body count] escalated so much so that India is actively threatening war??? India loving Pakistan PM also going from dove to hawk?????????

    What is going on...................

    Will appreciate your take on it

    Thanks in advance

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  37. We need you WT.

    Tell us about Egypt!

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  38. uuuuuuuupppppdddddaaaaaattttteeee.

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  39. Hey 'tard,

    I've got a question: Why then, if this Syrian Regional Conflict is a proxy for different energy-corporo-state alliances, why don't we just let the Russians have this one? Go to Moscow with Xi Jingping and say "we're willing to let you do whatever to keep the peace" - War's done, no threats to the energy supply-line, less $ expent from CIA black-budget accounts, and maybe we could get some grudging respect from Assad and co?

    The largest hitch I'd see would be potentially emboldening Iran and pissing off the Sauds, but, if you can have Russia mollify Iran and convey that we're doing this to keep status quo and that further fuckery is going to kick off WWIII - would that work?

    I'd recommend to the Sauds that they get busy investing in alternative energy options.

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    1. Russia isn't exactly a neutral player here. They're keen on Assad for the same reason that France is keen on rolling the dice on this one. Currently, Russia holds a petro-monopoly over Europe and they quite regularly use it as leverage for political means (as well as periodically cranking up the price, in the knowledge that continental Europe doesn't have another viable supplier who can deliver oil via pipeline instead of more costly shipping).

      The Saudis and other southern Middle-East oil states have been openly wanting to build an oil pipeline to Europe for some time (and the Europeans are keen, to say the least, to have another option so they don't have to keep going cap in hand to Russia). The problem is that the only feasible paths are through Iran or Syria. Iran has refused (Shiite v Sunni political and religious differences) and Syria has stuck with its Russian backers in effectively blocking the proposal.

      I'd rather have the status quo then have further destabilisation of the middle east, but Russia isn't exactly a benevolent party in this.

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  40. Whats your opinion on the gas attack, do you think Assad is stupid enough to use chemical weapons even though he has the initiative and is pushing the rebels back into Damascus where they will probably meet their end.

    The Syrian army has tactical superiority with their armor, artillery, air-power and support of the Hezbollah. While the rebels have gear supplied they lack training and the ability to use it so they are stuck up shit creek without a paddle. What the rebels really want is more input from the US, Euro or Saudi to give them training at the least or military intervention at best.

    The only ideas I could see are an interested third-party setting up a gas attack, a Syrian army battalion getting overzealous of hashish and using sarin unauthorized or the rebels themselves setting the gas off to raise support for them.

    People are claiming that Assad disallowing the UN officials going into the area is proof of it being the Syrian Army doing the attack, but the truth is Assad himself might not know and it's entirely possible that they could have been set up, in either of those scenarios they would not want to let the UN in. There's also the chance that letting UN inspectors into a war zone would hamper the SAA's momentum and prevent them bombarding the FSA.

    Some people are stating it's a double-bluff, that Assad called the UN inspectors over to give himself an alibi but it wouldn't make sense for the Syrians to bring Russia into a diplomatic shitstorm when they are getting so much fancy export gear from them.

    Overall this seems extremely silly as an event.

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    1. It is extremely shady that a major media event level gas attack happens a day after UN inspectors moved into Syria to monitor chemical weapons usage.

      My gut tells me NATO is gearing up for a no fly zone.

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  41. Here's me thinking to myself is this another conflict over oil in Syria and there you are Wartard! However I wasn't taking your rather more direct approach. Iran is still suffering restrictions on their oil shipments because of their nuclear ambitions and unless they switch these off (unlikely) then their will be some restriction to their exports. I'm thinking more along the lines of the Saudi Arabia that is a 'pseudo'American ally who currently still provides the world with a large amount of the black crack. American currently has no choice but to support the dictatorship there and whatever they are fighting for however distasteful they find it. I think the loss of ordinary people on both sides is terrible but there is something in getting the fanatics to just kill each other! Why isn't the Middle East carved up into Shia and Sunni countries as they hate each other so much- this shit's being going on for centuries and is only going to get worse. Keep up the good work

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  42. We're waiting for an update War Tard. Your articles are excellent. If I need to start contributing, let me know if there is a PayPal account. I can't get my news from the news, you know.

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  43. zero mountains in the Netherlands, but good article nonetheless.

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    1. That was the joke.

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    2. must have misunderstood it then, i thought Liberia-level heart-eating makes sarin gas pale in comparison, hence the skiing.

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  44. Site sources when you make claims, don't insult an entire civilization, don't assume all the "rebels" are illiterate, stop making claims that have no solid backing.

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    1. I'm going to cite your misuse of the word site as the source of the hilarious irony in this comment.

      Delete
  45. Firstly, and at the risk of turning the comment section into a circle jerk, thank you for writing this. It is phenomenal.

    What are your thoughts on the role of shale in the grand energy game? Is it possible that the West could actually be trying to take energy supplies off the market? From a strategic perspective, chaos in the entire region means they stand to reap the benefits of high energy prices caused by the decrease in supply, while simultaneously being the biggest new supplier in town due to your now-much-more-economical shale and tar sands. Oh, and you knock out the source of supply to your biggest economic competitor (Iran to China). Sounds like a good way to maintain hegemony for at least a little while longer.

    I know your thoughts on the long term energy future of the world, and I agree. If you're the US, and you know that is the reality you are facing, why not at least try to kick off the resource war on your terms instead of waiting for a time in the future when you've already been weakened?

    Anyways, just some thoughts, thanks again.

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    1. Sorry, didn't read the comments above about shale gas, so just ignore me!

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  46. War Tard, I have been depressed for weeks watching world events unfold! You made me laugh a dozen times reading this article.
    Raw, ugly, and laughable - like war. Peace is so boring, but I will still beg my elected reps to resist our benevolent leader's Nobe Peace Prize winning Libya II. Lynn USA UT

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  47. It was a great blog with lots of information but i want to know something about shawn bartholomae

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  48. wartard please continue writing, you have one of the best and most interesting blogs

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  49. The tard is gone.

    6 months since the last post. It's over. Too bad - he did some great writing.

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  50. Give Wartard a few more days to complete his research, a new entry pertaining to the Crimean War will follow shortly.

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  51. Prodigy oil and gas is looking developments of reserves in and across the borders of United States

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