jackass follies

As Syria Transition Date Passes, Jackass Makes No Policy Change
Bradley Klapper, AP, Aug 1 2016

FASCHINGSTEIN — Jackass outlined no change in Pindostan’s Syria policy as a target date for a political transition passed Monday, despite warning a few months ago that no progress would lead to a more muscular approach for ending the 5½-year-old civil war. Jackass said Pindostan would press on with a multi-month effort to prod Assad and moderate opposition groups into a lasting truce and talks on a unity government. His tone was dramatically different from early May, when he issued an Aug 1 ultimatum to Assad and his main backer Russia and warned of “repercussions.” He said at the time:

Either something happens in these next few months, or they are asking for a very different track.

But on Monday, Jackass described a Pindosi strategy for Syria that is stuck where it started. He said:

Almost all of the time from the moment of the announcement of the target date until today has been consumed by trying to get a cessation of hostilities in place that is meaningful. And that is precisely what we are engaged in right now.

Although it was never likely that the Obama administration would confront Assad directly, Jackass’ comments three months ago implied a clear policy change would come. One feasible option diplomats discussed involved Pindo vassals like Toads giving the rebels new weapons to fight Assad, such as shoulder-launched SAMs (MANPADs). That could still be happening, but Jackass provided no such hint Monday. Instead, he seemed to share the blame for Syria’s standstill, pointing to offensive operations by both Assad’s government and Jabhat al-Nusra, for preventing a truce from sticking. Several Syrian opposition groups are embedded with Nusra, and Jackass said Faschingstein had a responsibility to control them. Russia must restrain itself and Assad’s government, he said, before issuing a new if vaguer suggestion of a potential Pindosi breaking point:

Now, my hope is that we can arrive at that. If we can’t, nobody is going to sit around and allow this pretense to continue.

The war has killed as many as half a million people since 2011, contributed to a global migration crisis and created a vacuum that allowed Da’esh to capture territory and emerge as a global terror concern. In that time, Pindostan has issued various, unfulfilled threats of its own, from declaring Assad’s days “numbered” five years ago to famously promising military action if chemical weapons were used and then backing down. Syria’s violence continued Monday as a Russian transport helicopter was shot down in an opposition-held part of the north of the country, killing all five crew and officers on board. It was the Russian military’s deadliest incident since entering the conflict 10 months ago.

Jason Ditz version, with added ditziness:

Syria Transition Deadline Passes, Jackass Makes No Policy Change
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Aug 1 2016

In early May, Jackass Kerry set an ultimatum for the Syrian government, demanding the beginning of a “transition” that would see the removal of Assad by the target date of Aug 1 “or else.” Today, the deadline passed. The response from Pindostan was minimal, with Jackass making some statements issuing his usual demands, but no signs that Pindostan is actually making any changes to its ongoing policy in Syria, let alone the “very different track” that Kerry had threatened before. It was never clear what the ultimatum really threatened, though suggestions were that Pindostan would transfer even more weapons to the “moderate” rebels, including anti-aircraft missiles, as a way of spiting Syria’s military. Pindostan has been picking up its arms shipments at any rate, though, so it’s unclear if anything else is happening, or if anyone would notice if it did. It’s unlikely that Pindostan would do anything too deliberately provocative, however, as they are in the middle of talks with the Russian government on potential joint operations inside Syria, focused on Jabhat al-Nusra. It’s unlikely that Pindostan would want to make an overtly hostile move against the Syrian government right now, particularly since their major ongoing fight is against Nusra. With the election so close, any major changes are probably unlikely until next year. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has talked up a massive shift in the war, aiming to oust the Syrian government militarily, despite that putting Pindostan on a collision course with Russia.

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