mad dog mattis is being clever here, by appearing moderate

White House Officials Push for Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections
Kate Brannen, Dan De Luce, Paul McLeary, FP.com, Jun 16 2017

A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there, according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration. Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the NSC, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want Pindostan to start going on the offensive in southern Syria. Their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Mad Dog Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once, the two sources said. The situation in southern Syria has escalated in recent weeks, after a U.S. warplane shot down an Iranian-made drone. Despite the more aggressive stance pushed by some White House boxtops, Mad Dog, the Joint Chiefs and top diplomatic boxtops worldwide all oppose opening up a broader front in south-eastern Syria, said Pentagon boxtops. Mad DoG, JCoS Dunford and Brett McGurk, the striped pants boy overseeing the anti-Islamic State coalition, all favor keeping the focus on pushing Daesh out of its remaining strongholds, including Raqqa. One said:

That’s the strategy they’ve signed off on and that’s where the effort is.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. The Pentagon has publicly asserted it has no intention to fight Assad forces unless provoked. CENTCOM said in a Jun 6 statement:

The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces but remains ready to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the de-confliction zone.

It’s not the first time Mad Dog and Dunford have found themselves having to push back against White House proposals for aggressive action they consider ill-conceived and even reckless. Earlier, the two opposed a tentative idea that would have sent a large ground force into Syria to oust Daesh instead of relying on local Syrian Kurd and Arab fighters backed by Pindo SOF. The latest disagreement coincides with a months-long White House review of Iran policy. The broad policy assessment has exposed divisions in the administration. (ZIO ALERT – RB) Danielle Pletka of the AEI criticized the previous administration’s policy on Iran as weak, saying:

I don’t think we have a serious Syria strategy or a serious Iran strategy, and they have to go together. Syria is Iran’s soft underbelly (sic! – RB). Iranians have proven to us over and over again, they’re committed to keeping Assad in power. The idea of pushing back on Iranians in Syria is a wise one, but what is the end game?

For Iran hawks in and outside the administration, the civil war in Syria represents a pivotal moment that will determine whether Iran or the United States exerts influence over Iraq and Syria. These Iran hawks fear that if Washington stands by, Tehran will emerge as the dominant player with a land corridor through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Colin Kahl, who served as national security advisor to former VP Joe Sixpack, says:

Pursuing a wider war against Iranian-backed fighters in Syria would be both unnecessary and extraordinarily dangerous. Targeting Iranian proxies in Syria would aggravate relations with Shiite-ruled Iraq and blow up the strategic relationship with Baghdad, and it would put thousands of Pindo grunts in Iraq at risk of retaliation from Shi’ite militias, just when Pindo-led forces are close to defeating Daesh. It’s unnecessary because the contest with Iran in Iraq and Syria is not something that will be won or lost in the next couple of months.

Pres Trump has employed tough rhetoric against Iran that seems to signal plans to confront Tehran. Although touted as a speech aimed at unifying the Muslim world, Trump’s address to the Toads in early May made clear that Pindostan was going to take sides in the Middle East’s sectarian struggle, choosing to back Sunni Arab states in an effort to isolate Shi’ite-ruled Iran. The Gulf monarchies and Israel have welcomed Trump’s vows to push back against Iran. Some admin boxtops have argued for taking on Iran in Yemen too, by expanding support for the Toads’ campaign of annihilation there. But a larger Pindosi role in Yemen’s annihilation carries an array of risks, and experts say treating Yemen as a proxy war with Iran could backfire badly. In their fight against the Houthi, the Toad-led coalition has worked on the ground with AQAP. It is unclear where National Security Advisor McMaster falls in the debate over Syria, but he likely sides with Mad Dog and the Joint Chiefs, given his own military background (and the fact that he is still on Active Duty as an Army General – RB). McMaster has also had previous run-ins with Cohen-Watnick and Harvey, both of whom work for him but at times have sought to go around him. Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had hand-picked 30-year-old Cohen-Watnick, who is viewed as too inexperienced by some of his colleagues and distrusted by some at the CIA, and Harvey, who was a military intelligence advisor to Gen Petraeus when he was commander in Iraq. According to a recent NYT article:

He told admin boxtops he wants to use Pindo spooks to oust the Mullahs!!

McMaster tried to move Cohen-Watnick to a different job within the NSC when he took over as national security advisor. To save his job, Cohen-Watnick appealed to two key advisors, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who then asked Trump to block the move. Harvey has also tried to outmaneuver his boss. He tried to get so-called Obama holdovers fired from the National Security Council by appealing to the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. But McMaster refused. While officials argue in Faschingstein over strategy and vie for influence in the administration, events on the ground in Syria are moving quickly, raising the potential of an inadvertent conflict. The pro-Assad fighters have continued to venture close to the Pindo-led forces at the al-Tanf base despite warnings to keep clear. A CENTCOM spox said:

If our folks are on the ground and they’re threatened, we will use air power, whether it’s against regime forces or pro-regime forces.

One Comment

  1. dixi3150
    Posted June 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Only the USA can fc things up so badly…WHO AND WHAT GIVES THEM THE RIGHT TO EVEN BE IN SYRIA❔❔The USA is a rogue state that only destroys wherever they go. DISGUSTING❗❗❗

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