Moscow's Game of Poker: Russian Military Intervention in Syria, 2015-2017 (Middle East@War)

Category: Middle East
Author: Tom Cooper
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by x_TC_x   2019-11-17

I'll reply here because I've been mentioned.

I went away the moment I found myself under attacks by multiple brainwashed characters insisting on dogmas, and brigading me. .

I'm online since 1998, and ever since I have left a number of other online forums under exactly the same conditions, and for exactly the same reasons. I have never returned to even one of them: I'm running my own - the ACIG.info - forum since 1999, and my standpoint - based on decades of experience - is that a place that once ruins its reputation through the lack of care by administrators is 'dead'.

In this case, there was an additional point of 'motivation' for me to leave: around the time I have left, I've been in the 'finals' for my book Moscow's Game of Poker - a volume covering the military history of the Russian military intervention in Syria in period 2015-2017 (indeed, even early 2018), against the backdrop of 'how comes' (i.e. explaining also how the Assadists have not only screwed up all of Syria, but then also themselves).

Book by side: while running the related work, I re-interviewed a number of genuine Syrian revolutionaries and/or 'at least sympathisers'. Pious Sunnis from Damascus and from Aleppo, entirely secular Sunnis from Homs, entirely secular Shi'a and/or deeply religious Shi'a from diverse other places, moderately religious Kurds from Damascus and from the Raqqa area etc. Indeed, I have interviewed a number of military officers that remained with the Assadist regime (mind: even they call it 'Assadist', i.e. I didn't 'pull this out of my small finger').

Quite soon, a specific conclusion was on hand - and indeed, 'unavoidable': all were protesting right from the start (or at least sympathizing with protesters), all were forced to take arms, all were betrayed by diverse of 'glorious', yet deeply corrupt 'commanders of the revolution' or 'defenders of freedom', by supposed 'comrades' that turned out to have been Assadist informants, by the Americans, Saudis, Turks, Jordanians... and whoever else. Nearly all have had to survive multiple assassination attempts by the Nusra while still in Syria (and most have only narrowly escaped), and nearly all have had to survive multiple assassination attempts by the Daesh while in Turkey (so much so that all have been told by the Turkish 'security services' they cannot protect them and it's better for them to flee to the EU). The few still in Syria have been forced to hide and shut up.

Logical conclusion from all of the interviews in question was that the 'Syrian revolution' was - just like all of the Syrian people - betrayed and then assaulted by nearly everybody involved: not only by Assadists, not only by the Daesh, not only by all the possible foreign powers, but also by its own 'leaders', the entirely failed coverage in the media, and an entire host of all other idiots, chauvinists, extremists, and dogmatics.

The literal 'dot on the i' was delivered by nobody less than Colonel Riyadh al-Assad, when he de-facto 'sided' with the the HTS (an act I have criticised here - even though I can perfectly understand it - for which I was then attacked by multiple posters here). For me, this was a 'blow too much'.

Mind: I am no Syrian, I just happen to love Syria... or at least the memory of what it used to be. This is so because - for me - Syria and Syrians are best summarized by the following recollection: during one of my trips around Syria, years ago, I forgot my Zippo lighter and a metal cigarette box at the stand of a poor little boy that was selling cigarettes on 'some corner on the road'. Two hours later, when I returned to pick them up, they were still there, and the little boy more than proud to return them, while turning down all of my offers to award him. This is why I love Syrians - for the majority of those whom I know happen to be as naive and as sincere as I think I am, no matter what they went through.

But sorry, precisely that is also the reason why I cannot but conclude: the Syrian revolution is lost. What was left of it was taken over by all sorts of egomaniacs with illusions of grandeur - most of whom are also religious extremists.

Worse yet: Syria is lost. It doesn't exist any more: nearly 70% of the population counted during the census of 2004 is out of the country, and I do not know any between them with a sincere wish to go back, no matter how much love for Syria they have in their hearts. Those that took over are no 'Syrians' the way I understand that honourable title.

Means: from my POV, Syria has lost its heart - it's population - too. What's left of the soil and ruins there was taken over by all sorts of egomaniacs with illusions of grandeur, too.

I do not want to discourage anybody (on the contrary: I wish all the involved here - but especially those still capable of providing SOBER analysis and INFORMATION - all the best). If you have any related questions: let me know, I'm still naive enough to be happy to help. But, I find it pointless and it hurts me to keep on discussing this.

by x_TC_x   2019-11-17

That's a little bit more complex than usually explained.

Firstly, in the SyAAF as of 2011, there was next to no flying and no advanced (or tactical) training at all. Actually, alone discussions of tactics, or such topics like causes for incidents, were (and actually remain) forbidden. Spares and fuel were as rare as snake's sweat. The only pilot to clock about 40 hours a year was the squadron CO, and his primary business was to keep everybody else loyal to the regime. His deputy served as something like 'chief instructor' for all the pilots in the unit: he was providing theoretical instruction only, though, and was clocking anything between 20 and 40 hours a year.

Under such circumstances, there was no need for new pilots - which was just fine for the Assadist regime, that was pocketing everything it only could (and usually saving it at diverse accounts abroad, which made Bashar al-Assad one of richest people on this planet).

Sure, the SyAAF was still running pilot training at the Kweres AB as of 2011, but the intake was only some 30-40 cadets a year, and output less than a dozen. These had mere 3-4 Flamingos and 5-6 L-39s for training. Plus, Kweres was then surrounded by the insurgents, and those inside cut off from the outside world for some 5 years. Thus, there was no intake, forcing the regime to recall reservists, and then retired pilots too.

Additionally, the impression that 'Syrian pilots are old' was created by the fact that most of photos and videos circling the internet are showing squadron COs and their deputies: they are the most praised ones (for 'burning Sunnis') and they were also those that flew most of combat sorties - because they were trusted the most. We hardly ever get to see photos of all those that defected (over 50% of the air force), just for example - except in cases where they joined the insurgency (where they usually acted as commanders, BTW).

Finally, try flying combat sorties in fast jets for seven years, survive 2-3 ejections - and see what happens to your body.

For further details, see Moscow's Game of Poker and/or MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East.