Continuing to read through Evgeny Krutikov’s piece in VZGLIAD, about the American military’s failed strategy in Syria. These strategic errors were committed mostly in the Obama administration and continued unto the Trump administration.
Where we left off, Krutikov mentioned, as one of a string of failures, Operation Timber Sycamore, which was intended to (secretly) purchase aging Soviet weapons in Eastern Europe, using money that Congress had not formally approved in the budget. Weapons intended for Kurdish fighters ended up all over the place, including Jordan, and mostly in the wrong hands. Krutikov compares this operation to the famous Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980’s. There are significant differences, however, in the two cases.
Leaving Krutikov aside for a few paragraphs and
Strolling down memory lane… The Iran-Contra Affair revealed a rather queer relationship between the Reagan Administration, and the nation of Iran, which was supposed to be a pariah. The essence of the matter is that Reagan and his minions (using Israel as an intermediary) were caught red-handed illegally selling arms to Iran (which was under an international arms embargo), and then using the money thus obtained, to equip the Contra forces in Nicaragua. According to wiki, the following arms were sold to Iran:
- August 20, 1985 – 96 TOW anti-tank missiles
- September 14, 1985 – 408 more TOWs
- November 24, 1985 – 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles
- February 17, 1986 – 500 TOWs
- February 27, 1986 – 500 TOWs
- May 24, 1986 – 508 TOWs, 240 Hawk spare parts
- August 4, 1986 – More Hawk spares
- October 28, 1986 – 500 TOWs
The beneficiary of the revenues from these arms sales, the Contras, were your usual ultra-violent “militant” and guns-in-hand types normally favored by the Americans in their regime-change operations. Except these guys weren’t Muslims or jihadists, of course; being Central Americans they were fanatical anti-Communists, the types who normally act as trained thugs of the banana landowners and such like. The type of people who rape and murder campesinos and Nuns, while parading as “pro-democracy forces”. The Contra bullies were sicced against the Sandinistas, a rather mild-mannered social-democratic government which sought to better the lives of the workers and peasants in this highly patriarchal and class-stratified area of the Spanish Civilizational World. However, their friendship with Cuba made the Sandinistas a target of American regime change. Left-wing governments typically don’t last very long in America’s back yard. Cuba being the one exception to that rule.
Americans have long supported such retrograde forces in South and Central America, so no surprise there. The only paradox was the Reagan administration’s seeming coziness with America’s legitimate foe, the Iranians. Those same Iranians who had invaded the American Embassy in 1979 and taken American diplomats as hostrages. Which action was not only a gross violation of international law and all the rules of diplomacy, but also served as, to my knowledge, one of the few times in recent history when the Americans actually had a legitimate beef and were actual victims as opposed to perps. Granted the Iranians were just getting even for some bad stuff the Americans had done to them in the past (Shah of Iran, long story…) But still, attacking somebody’s Embassy is still a big no-no, however great the provocation. And also serves as perhaps the only time in history that the Persians/Iranians actually did something overtly aggressive against the United States of America, and thus places a stain on their otherwise good record.
Given all that, it was quite astonishing that, just a few years later, Saint Ronnie was cutting a deal with those same Iranian “Shiites” and “Ayatollahs” that the American public had come to know and despise. There are tons of conspiracy theories out there concerning Reagan’s ties with the Ayatollahs, perhaps even pre-dating his election to the Presidency. Dirty deeds afoot, in other words…
The Kurdish Gambit Part II
But back to Krutikov… After the failure of Timber Sycamore — it is estimated that the Obama administration wasted half a billion dollars on that white elephant –, the Americans decided on a new play, this time also involving the Kurds. In May 2015 the Commander of the American Forces in the Middle East, Joseph Votel, secretly (and illegally) flew to Syria in a helicopter and met with the commanders of the two main Kurdish militias and their Arabic-speaking tribal allies. The Arabs, in particular, were expecting and hoping for heavy weapons transfers. Instead, Votel proposed for them an even better gift: American advisors and trainers – yay!
The Kurds reluctantly agreed. Thus, in October 2015 a small group of 15 American trainers landed in Syrian Kurdistan. And since that time the Americans have placed all their bets on the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
And the Kurds even got some of those heavy weapons after all: During the siege of Raqqa, American howitzers and HIMARS started to appear among the Kurdish forces. But only under the strict supervision of American personnel.
[to be continued]