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Californiadreaming
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« on: July 25, 2016, 11:46:19 am »
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Hopefully I am posting this thread in the correct place. Anyway, though:

What do you think that the future of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria will look like over the next several years and over the next several decades?

Any thoughts on this?
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hurricanehink
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 11:55:50 am »
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Kurdistan gains independence, rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL. Not sure about Afghanistan though.
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2016, 12:00:33 pm »
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Kurdistan gains independence,

Agreed.

However, to clarify--you are talking about the Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds joining together to create an independent Kurdistan, correct?

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rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL.

Do both Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Syrian Sunni Arabs actually want to secede from Iraq/Syria, though?

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Not sure about Afghanistan though.

Frankly, Afghanistan is probably very unlikely to fall to the Taliban as long as the U.S. keeps over a meager force of 5,000-10,000 troops there.
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hurricanehink
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2016, 12:12:18 pm »
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Kurdistan gains independence,

Agreed.

However, to clarify--you are talking about the Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds joining together to create an independent Kurdistan, correct?

Correct. Turkish Kurds will hold out longer, depending how their next year plays out post-coup. But yes, the Kurds seem like a rare island of stability in the region.

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rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL.

Do both Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Syrian Sunni Arabs actually want to secede from Iraq/Syria, though?

I'd imagine they want peace. Syria and Iraq are both at civil war, and the status quo isn't an option for either. Ironically, ISIS has done a decent job holding together its territory and actually governing in Syria/Iraq, and future leaders may learn from their example (but without the bloodshed and fearmongering and all around evil-ness).

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Not sure about Afghanistan though.

Frankly, Afghanistan is probably very unlikely to fall to the Taliban as long as the U.S. keeps over a meager force of 5,000-10,000 troops there.

Then again, there are always tensions along the Durand Line. But if the US continues supporting Afghanistan, and Pakistan grows even more sour toward the West, then all bets are off for the region, especially with India growing each year (possibly representing a future buffer against China's aggression in the region).
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2016, 12:16:29 pm »
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Kurdistan gains independence,

Agreed.

However, to clarify--you are talking about the Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds joining together to create an independent Kurdistan, correct?

Correct. Turkish Kurds will hold out longer, depending how their next year plays out post-coup. But yes, the Kurds seem like a rare island of stability in the region.

OK.

Also, though, how long will Iranian Kurds hold out?

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rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL.

Do both Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Syrian Sunni Arabs actually want to secede from Iraq/Syria, though?

I'd imagine they want peace. Syria and Iraq are both at civil war, and the status quo isn't an option for either. Ironically, ISIS has done a decent job holding together its territory and actually governing in Syria/Iraq, and future leaders may learn from their example (but without the bloodshed and fearmongering and all around evil-ness).

I wouldn't really call a group that loses control of Palmyra, Tikrit, Ramadi, and Fallujah to be doing a good job of holding together its territory, though.

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Not sure about Afghanistan though.

Frankly, Afghanistan is probably very unlikely to fall to the Taliban as long as the U.S. keeps over a meager force of 5,000-10,000 troops there.

Then again, there are always tensions along the Durand Line. But if the US continues supporting Afghanistan, and Pakistan grows even more sour toward the West, then all bets are off for the region, especially with India growing each year (possibly representing a future buffer against China's aggression in the region).

In regards to the Durand Line, I would think that smart Afghan politicians know that this line can't be changed by force. Plus, do Pakistani Pashtuns actually want to join Afghanistan nowadays?

Also, in regards to Pakistan, I would think that having a stable, neutral Afghanistan would be in Pakistan's best interests. However, there is certainly no guarantee that Pakistan's leadership likewise sees this issue in this light.
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hurricanehink
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2016, 02:57:58 pm »
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Kurdistan gains independence,

Agreed.

However, to clarify--you are talking about the Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds joining together to create an independent Kurdistan, correct?

Correct. Turkish Kurds will hold out longer, depending how their next year plays out post-coup. But yes, the Kurds seem like a rare island of stability in the region.

OK.

Also, though, how long will Iranian Kurds hold out?

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rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL.

Do both Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Syrian Sunni Arabs actually want to secede from Iraq/Syria, though?

I'd imagine they want peace. Syria and Iraq are both at civil war, and the status quo isn't an option for either. Ironically, ISIS has done a decent job holding together its territory and actually governing in Syria/Iraq, and future leaders may learn from their example (but without the bloodshed and fearmongering and all around evil-ness).

I wouldn't really call a group that loses control of Palmyra, Tikrit, Ramadi, and Fallujah to be doing a good job of holding together its territory, though.

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Not sure about Afghanistan though.

Frankly, Afghanistan is probably very unlikely to fall to the Taliban as long as the U.S. keeps over a meager force of 5,000-10,000 troops there.

Then again, there are always tensions along the Durand Line. But if the US continues supporting Afghanistan, and Pakistan grows even more sour toward the West, then all bets are off for the region, especially with India growing each year (possibly representing a future buffer against China's aggression in the region).

In regards to the Durand Line, I would think that smart Afghan politicians know that this line can't be changed by force. Plus, do Pakistani Pashtuns actually want to join Afghanistan nowadays?

Also, in regards to Pakistan, I would think that having a stable, neutral Afghanistan would be in Pakistan's best interests. However, there is certainly no guarantee that Pakistan's leadership likewise sees this issue in this light.

All of these points are very highly dependent on who is on top in the region, and where their allegiances lie. I think Iran will become more powerful given its size, and the Iranian Kurds IMO won't break off due to being better off w Iran. As for ISIL, I only meant that they were effective until the west started their (justified) air raids. But any remaining government entity is practically guaranteed for failure, as years of attacks ruin their infrastructure, disenfranchise a citizenry that found its only solace in terrorism, and preclude a decent chance of a future due to lack of environmental protections. The area reached 129 last week and is projected to get hotter (making food production more difficult), making it literally uninhabitable. It will depend how involved the West gets (who could provide the technology that might make it possible to live there). As for Pakistan, you're quite right, and it'll depend on the intelligence and capacity for restraint in future leaders.
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2016, 04:12:52 pm »
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Kurdistan gains independence,

Agreed.

However, to clarify--you are talking about the Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds joining together to create an independent Kurdistan, correct?

Correct. Turkish Kurds will hold out longer, depending how their next year plays out post-coup. But yes, the Kurds seem like a rare island of stability in the region.

OK.

Also, though, how long will Iranian Kurds hold out?

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rump portions of Iraq and Syria merged and split differently along ethnic boundaries as a new government takes over ISIL.

Do both Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Syrian Sunni Arabs actually want to secede from Iraq/Syria, though?

I'd imagine they want peace. Syria and Iraq are both at civil war, and the status quo isn't an option for either. Ironically, ISIS has done a decent job holding together its territory and actually governing in Syria/Iraq, and future leaders may learn from their example (but without the bloodshed and fearmongering and all around evil-ness).

I wouldn't really call a group that loses control of Palmyra, Tikrit, Ramadi, and Fallujah to be doing a good job of holding together its territory, though.

Quote
Quote
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Not sure about Afghanistan though.

Frankly, Afghanistan is probably very unlikely to fall to the Taliban as long as the U.S. keeps over a meager force of 5,000-10,000 troops there.

Then again, there are always tensions along the Durand Line. But if the US continues supporting Afghanistan, and Pakistan grows even more sour toward the West, then all bets are off for the region, especially with India growing each year (possibly representing a future buffer against China's aggression in the region).

In regards to the Durand Line, I would think that smart Afghan politicians know that this line can't be changed by force. Plus, do Pakistani Pashtuns actually want to join Afghanistan nowadays?

Also, in regards to Pakistan, I would think that having a stable, neutral Afghanistan would be in Pakistan's best interests. However, there is certainly no guarantee that Pakistan's leadership likewise sees this issue in this light.

1. All of these points are very highly dependent on who is on top in the region, and where their allegiances lie.

2. I think Iran will become more powerful given its size, and the Iranian Kurds IMO won't break off due to being better off w Iran.

3. As for ISIL, I only meant that they were effective until the west started their (justified) air raids.

4. But any remaining government entity is practically guaranteed for failure, as years of attacks ruin their infrastructure, disenfranchise a citizenry that found its only solace in terrorism, and preclude a decent chance of a future due to lack of environmental protections.

5. The area reached 129 last week and is projected to get hotter (making food production more difficult), making it literally uninhabitable.

6. It will depend how involved the West gets (who could provide the technology that might make it possible to live there).

7. As for Pakistan, you're quite right, and it'll depend on the intelligence and capacity for restraint in future leaders.
1. Agreed.

2. Are Iranian Kurds more assimilated than Turkish Kurds, though?

3. Yes, this appears to be correct.

4. Couldn't all of these things eventually be fixed with the correct leadership, though? After all, I would think that the fact that Iraq endured two civil wars over the last 15 years could cause both the West and Iraqi politicians to try harder to ensure economic development and whatnot in the Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq.

5. Couldn't food be imported from elsewhere, though?

6. Given the ISIS terrorist attacks in Europe (especially in France), I would think that Western countries would provide a lot of aid to Iraq, no?

7. Completely agreed. Indeed, Pakistani leaders are idiots if they think that a neutral (if necessary, by international treaty, such as was previously the case for Belgium) Afghanistan in worse than a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is.
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ClintonianCake
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 08:31:21 pm »
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The Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Kurds won't join up - they are at loggerheads at a lot (specifically the Syrian Kurds are friendly with the PKK, and the Iraqi Kurds are more 'conservative/neoliberal/cronyistic/sultanate'; and also the former don't really want independence, largely following Ocalan's new beliefs on democratic confederalism. Only the Iraqi Kurd establishment (I.e. The Barzani and Talabani families) really really want an independent state, and they'll probably get it or something very close to it following the referendum). The Iranian Kurds will never leave. The Turkish Kurds again, unless the war ramps up to the levels we saw in the 20th century and the AKP lose their base in rural Kurdistan, won't go (although the demographic dilemma that the Turks find themselves in irt the high birthrate of Kurds and below replacement rate of the "natives" are currently causing panics in the Turknationalist mind.)

Iraq won't be allowed to break up on Sunni-Shia lines because is isn't good precedent to allow that to start happening. Besides that would just lead to a Shia supremacist Iranian puppet state and a Sunni half that would be like a more Yemeny Yemen.

Neither will Syria for that matter. An Alawite state? Please.

Pakistan and Afghanistan is a whole other matter that I might add later.
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2016, 02:29:51 am »
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The Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Kurds won't join up - they are at loggerheads at a lot (specifically the Syrian Kurds are friendly with the PKK, and the Iraqi Kurds are more 'conservative/neoliberal/cronyistic/sultanate';

Out of curiosity--how exactly did these political differences originate among Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds?

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and also the former don't really want independence, largely following Ocalan's new beliefs on democratic confederalism.

Would Assad actually be willing to support democratic confederalism, though?

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Only the Iraqi Kurd establishment (I.e. The Barzani and Talabani families) really really want an independent state, and they'll probably get it or something very close to it following the referendum).

So the Turkish Kurds don't want independence either, correct?

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The Iranian Kurds will never leave.

Not even in, say, 100 years?

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The Turkish Kurds again, unless the war ramps up to the levels we saw in the 20th century and the AKP lose their base in rural Kurdistan, won't go

They won't go due to the fact that Turkey won't let them leave, correct?

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(although the demographic dilemma that the Turks find themselves in irt the high birthrate of Kurds and below replacement rate of the "natives" are currently causing panics in the Turknationalist mind.)

Aren't Kurds only like 20% of Turkey's total population, though?

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Iraq won't be allowed to break up on Sunni-Shia lines because is isn't good precedent to allow that to start happening. Besides that would just lead to a Shia supremacist Iranian puppet state and a Sunni half that would be like a more Yemeny Yemen.

Do any Iraqi politicians actually want Iraq to be broken up, though?

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Neither will Syria for that matter. An Alawite state? Please.

So, is Assad going to fully defeat ISIS, or what?

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Pakistan and Afghanistan is a whole other matter that I might add later.

Can you please elaborate on this right now? Wink
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ClintonianCake
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2016, 08:50:42 am »
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Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) is a clientalistic machine dominated by two parties, the conservative KDP and ostensibly socially democratic PUK. Both parties are corrupt to the core and have sustained their rule through classic petrostate means - large amounts of nonsense jobs for cronies, a cut of the profit going to private banking accounts etc. KRG's main ambition, aside from the aforementioned corruption (which is becoming a big problem as the war/oil crash is driving the population antsy), is forming an independent Kurdish state they have autonomy over. To do that, they need the support of their neighbours, and you do not get the support of your neighbours (or, for that matter the major powers/UN) by announcing you have irredentist aims like you're in WW1 or something. Remember, the key aim for them is a Kurdish nation, not THE BIGGEST KURDISH NATION THERE CAN POSSIBLY BE (that never ends well). Even worse for relations, PUK has lost a huge amount of power recently in its strongholds to Gorran, an anti-corruption leftist group that the KDP claim are linked with Iran. This means the conservative KDP and its leader Bersani has consolidated a lot of power, antagonising the Syrian Kurds.

Rojava meanwhile is a formation of PKK-friendly PYD (the KDP friendly KNC has less institutional support within Rojava itself). They have little interest in the project of Kurdistan independent state (as the PKK is a nationalist, but no longer a separatist organisation) and even if they did, would find the KRG distasteful for ideological (as PYD is very much a New Left party) and personal reasons (they distrust President Bersani, who keeps them at arms bay because he wishes to remain on good terms with Erdogan and the Turkish military). The PYD, because it is not interested in independent kurdistan, is attached to reforming Syria itself through the NCB, a broad Marxist-socialist-secular umbrella party. The NCB is basically the most moderate of the various rebel groups, being the most open to a peace agreement keeping Bashar Al Assad and very secular (they are very much throwbacks to the classic stage of Arab "socialism", which was merely a worship of modernity). Their equivalent in Turkey, the HDP ,is also opposed to independence, even if Erdogan (or the military) because it is a sort of "every minority join together" affair. (And as for the Kurds status as a minority, fertility rates of Turks are below replacement levels and of Kurds are way above).

A certain number of politicians in both Iraq and elsewhere have called for autonomous regions or an actual federation. Basically my main diagnosis is that it is a bit of a distraction in that what is really neede: a general protection of Sunni areas from Shia militias, which are backed by Iran and caused the backed up against the wall effect that led to Daesh, and more unity not less.

The Iranian Kurds don't want to go, and again they are PKK affiliated so don't want an independent nation.

Isis's territory in Syria will be destroyed in the next few years, that's for sure. They'll still leave an unpleasant legacy which will stink up the region; but the organisation of the territory doesn't strike me as tight nit and efficient as they'd like to be feared as. I doubt Assad will be leading it, if reports from Russia are to be believed. He'll probably take everything that isn't bolted down and "retire gracefully", install a puppet who will give some concessions to the Kurds and quickly try and get back the old status quo.

To put the situation irt Taliban in context Pakistan is extrenely cowardly and doesn't want to target the Taliban because they might strike back.
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2016, 08:52:26 am »
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Quite likely there might be an independent South (ex-Iraqi) Kurdistan in the near future.
The Syrian Kurds may eventually be granted far-reaching local autonomy.
No such thing in Turkey and Iran. Also constant unrest in the south-eastern regions of Turkey.

ISIS has become weak on a military level. The Iraqi Army(!) and its allies have already re-conquered most of the Anbar and Saladin Governorates and will eventually also take back Niniveh. On the other hand the tensions between Iraq's Shia majority and its Sunni minority will remain high even after ISIS is militarily defeated.

In Syria ISIS is in my opinion the weakest of the four major forces (regime, Kurds+allies, ISIS, "other rebels"). The reason why ISIS is still strong is that for both the regime and the "other rebels" Eastern Syria is not a priority. They are both concentrating on the central corridor for good reasons. And that is probably the main problem. Both are well-armed and both represent relevant factions of Syria with ideas that are difficult to reconcile. A military solution would be a bloodbath and there would probably remain constant unrest. A political process is the only way to go, but will be extremely difficult, even if the US, Russia and Turkey all support it. The Kurdish question will be the easiest part of the problem, as long as they nominally remain within the Syrian state. Assad (if he remains) will accept if Russia forces him, the pro-regime social coalition doesn't really care how some far-away villages are administered and the hard-core islamists won't be asked.
But for the moment fighting between regime and rebels will continue and ISIS has chances to stay just by being ignored.

Afghanistan will probably remain like it is. Constant unrest, but Taliban or IS takeover in Kabul unlikely as long as there is some Western presence.
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2016, 12:49:26 pm »
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Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) is a clientalistic machine dominated by two parties, the conservative KDP and ostensibly socially democratic PUK. Both parties are corrupt to the core and have sustained their rule through classic petrostate means - large amounts of nonsense jobs for cronies, a cut of the profit going to private banking accounts etc. KRG's main ambition, aside from the aforementioned corruption (which is becoming a big problem as the war/oil crash is driving the population antsy), is forming an independent Kurdish state they have autonomy over. To do that, they need the support of their neighbours, and you do not get the support of your neighbours (or, for that matter the major powers/UN) by announcing you have irredentist aims like you're in WW1 or something. Remember, the key aim for them is a Kurdish nation, not THE BIGGEST KURDISH NATION THERE CAN POSSIBLY BE (that never ends well). Even worse for relations, PUK has lost a huge amount of power recently in its strongholds to Gorran, an anti-corruption leftist group that the KDP claim are linked with Iran. This means the conservative KDP and its leader Bersani has consolidated a lot of power, antagonising the Syrian Kurds.

Thanks for this information! Smiley Indeed, all of this certainly makes sense! Smiley

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Rojava meanwhile is a formation of PKK-friendly PYD (the KDP friendly KNC has less institutional support within Rojava itself). They have little interest in the project of Kurdistan independent state (as the PKK is a nationalist, but no longer a separatist organisation) and even if they did, would find the KRG distasteful for ideological (as PYD is very much a New Left party) and personal reasons (they distrust President Bersani, who keeps them at arms bay because he wishes to remain on good terms with Erdogan and the Turkish military). The PYD, because it is not interested in independent kurdistan, is attached to reforming Syria itself through the NCB, a broad Marxist-socialist-secular umbrella party.

OK.

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The NCB is basically the most moderate of the various rebel groups, being the most open to a peace agreement keeping Bashar Al Assad and very secular (they are very much throwbacks to the classic stage of Arab "socialism", which was merely a worship of modernity). Their equivalent in Turkey, the HDP ,is also opposed to independence, even if Erdogan (or the military) because it is a sort of "every minority join together" affair.

What exactly does NCB stand for, though?

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(And as for the Kurds status as a minority, fertility rates of Turks are below replacement levels and of Kurds are way above).

Yes, but it would still take the Kurds a very long time to become anywhere near a majority of Turkey's total population, no?

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A certain number of politicians in both Iraq and elsewhere have called for autonomous regions or an actual federation. Basically my main diagnosis is that it is a bit of a distraction in that what is really neede: a general protection of Sunni areas from Shia militias, which are backed by Iran and caused the backed up against the wall effect that led to Daesh, and more unity not less.

Aren't both gender autonomy and protections for Sunni Arabs from Shiite abuses (including abuses by Shiite militias, obviously) needed, though? After all, these things certainly aren't mutually exclusive.

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The Iranian Kurds don't want to go, and again they are PKK affiliated so don't want an independent nation.

OK.

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Isis's territory in Syria will be destroyed in the next few years, that's for sure. They'll still leave an unpleasant legacy which will stink up the region; but the organisation of the territory doesn't strike me as tight nit and efficient as they'd like to be feared as.

OK.

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I doubt Assad will be leading it, if reports from Russia are to be believed.

Should these reports from Russia actually be believed, though?

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He'll probably take everything that isn't bolted down and "retire gracefully", install a puppet who will give some concessions to the Kurds and quickly try and get back the old status quo.

Where exactly will this puppet come from, though? From within the Syrian military?

Also, to clarify--you are suggesting that Syria's government will directly control all of Syria other than the Rojava-controlled (as in, Kurdish-controlled) areas, correct?

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To put the situation irt Taliban in context Pakistan is extrenely cowardly and doesn't want to target the Taliban because they might strike back.

Yes, this might very well be correct. However, doesn't Pakistan also use the Taliban as a tool/pawn in order to try preventing India from acquiring greater influence in Afghanistan?
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Californiadreaming
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2016, 01:00:12 pm »
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Quite likely there might be an independent South (ex-Iraqi) Kurdistan in the near future.
The Syrian Kurds may eventually be granted far-reaching local autonomy.

Completely agreed.

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No such thing in Turkey and Iran. Also constant unrest in the south-eastern regions of Turkey.

What about if/after the Iranian mullahs and Ayatollahs will get overthrown, though?

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ISIS has become weak on a military level. The Iraqi Army(!) and its allies have already re-conquered most of the Anbar and Saladin Governorates and will eventually also take back Niniveh. On the other hand the tensions between Iraq's Shia majority and its Sunni minority will remain high even after ISIS is militarily defeated.

Yes, all of this certainly appears to be correct. Indeed, as far as I know, what Iraq's government should do after ISIS is totally defeated is to give more autonomy to Iraq's Sunni Arabs (either through a federation or through greater local autonomy), to curb the power, excesses, and abuses of Shiite militias (who might eventually become a "fifth column" within Iraq if they will get too powerful), and to aggressively promote economic development in Iraq's Sunni Arab-majority areas.

Indeed, do you agree with all of this? Smiley

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In Syria ISIS is in my opinion the weakest of the four major forces (regime, Kurds+allies, ISIS, "other rebels").

Aren't the "other rebels" in Syria weaker than ISIS is, though? Completely serious question, for the record.

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The reason why ISIS is still strong is that for both the regime and the "other rebels" Eastern Syria is not a priority. They are both concentrating on the central corridor for good reasons. And that is probably the main problem. Both are well-armed and both represent relevant factions of Syria with ideas that are difficult to reconcile.

Out of curiosity--the dominant force among the "other rebels" in Syria is al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, correct?

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A military solution would be a bloodbath and there would probably remain constant unrest. A political process is the only way to go, but will be extremely difficult, even if the US, Russia and Turkey all support it. The Kurdish question will be the easiest part of the problem, as long as they nominally remain within the Syrian state. Assad (if he remains) will accept if Russia forces him, the pro-regime social coalition doesn't really care how some far-away villages are administered and the hard-core islamists won't be asked.

I've got a question, though--is a political solution actually possible with groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (let alone with ISIS)?

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But for the moment fighting between regime and rebels will continue and ISIS has chances to stay just by being ignored.

Out of curiosity--can Iraq's Army and/or Iraq's Shiite militias invade eastern Syria after ISIS is completely kicked out of Iraq in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of an ISIS resurgence at some future point in time?

Plus, here is an interesting question--do the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in Syria actually want to live together in one state? After all, I know that ISIS boasted about how it has destroyed the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria. In turn, this raises an interesting question--why exactly would ISIS be boasting about this if there isn't a lot of support for eliminating this border among the people under ISIS rule?

Indeed, this map of the Middle East's historical zones suggests that eastern Syria and western Iraq have some things in common:



In turn, this raises the question of whether or not the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria is actually the best border that can be drawn between these two countries.

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Afghanistan will probably remain like it is. Constant unrest, but Taliban or IS takeover in Kabul unlikely as long as there is some Western presence.

Completely agreed.

Also, though, do you agree with me that the Taliban could eventually (possibly in 5-10 years, but perhaps as late as 20+ years from now) agree to peace deals and to some kind of peace deal with the Afghan government if the Taliban will become convinced that a total military victory is impossible for them to achieve?

Indeed, any thoughts on this?
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2016, 03:01:48 pm »
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No such thing in Turkey and Iran. Also constant unrest in the south-eastern regions of Turkey.
What about if/after the Iranian mullahs and Ayatollahs will get overthrown, though?

Well, it is possible that they get overthrown and it is possible that during the course of these events the Kurds could try to break from Iran. Also if somehow a Persian nationalist regime were to be established. But this is all highly hypothetical at the moment.

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ISIS has become weak on a military level. The Iraqi Army(!) and its allies have already re-conquered most of the Anbar and Saladin Governorates and will eventually also take back Niniveh. On the other hand the tensions between Iraq's Shia majority and its Sunni minority will remain high even after ISIS is militarily defeated.
Yes, all of this certainly appears to be correct. Indeed, as far as I know, what Iraq's government should do after ISIS is totally defeated is to give more autonomy to Iraq's Sunni Arabs (either through a federation or through greater local autonomy), to curb the power, excesses, and abuses of Shiite militias (who might eventually become a "fifth column" within Iraq if they will get too powerful), and to aggressively promote economic development in Iraq's Sunni Arab-majority areas.

Indeed, do you agree with all of this? Smiley

Yes of course. In theory the sane option is clear.

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In Syria ISIS is in my opinion the weakest of the four major forces (regime, Kurds+allies, ISIS, "other rebels").
Aren't the "other rebels" in Syria weaker than ISIS is, though? Completely serious question, for the record.

And a very good question indeed. In 2014 I would have said ISIS was the strongest insugent group/alliance.
Then Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) successfully destroyed the Western-backed SRF and Hazzm groups. In the aftermath JN and other rebel groups established a joint operations room, the so-called Jaish al-Fateh (JF, Army of Conquest) in North-western Syria. JF was heavily supported by Turkey and Saudi-Arabia and soon managed to conquer Idlib and Jisr ash-Shogur, even when the regime tried everything to hold on Jisr ash-Shogur. The loss of Palmyra to ISIS on the other hand was more due to lack of manpower, because the North-west was (and is) first priority for the regime. Many also say that it was the JF advance and not ISIS that caused the Russian intervention (and the massive injection of ground forces by Iran beginning in June 2015). Hence I would say that in 2015 JF was clearly stronger than ISIS.
Since then JF has been weakened by the cut of important supply lines and has lost territory, but parts of it have still been able to conquer or re-conquer strategically important places like Morek, Al-Eis, Khan Touman, Kinsibba etc. despite the Russian, Iranian and Syrian efforts. So I would say that JF is probably still slightly stronger than ISIS, although the situation is not as clear as it was in 2015.

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The reason why ISIS is still strong is that for both the regime and the "other rebels" Eastern Syria is not a priority. They are both concentrating on the central corridor for good reasons. And that is probably the main problem. Both are well-armed and both represent relevant factions of Syria with ideas that are difficult to reconcile.
Out of curiosity--the dominant force among the "other rebels" in Syria is al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, correct?

Dominant is maybe to strong, because there are other strong rebel groups like Ahrar al-Sham etc. But most of the decisive players (particularly in the North-west) are almost equally Salafi fundamentalist and the difference is more JN's al-Qaeda affiliation than anything ideological. Also from time to time JN eliminates "unreliable" rebel groups.

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A military solution would be a bloodbath and there would probably remain constant unrest. A political process is the only way to go, but will be extremely difficult, even if the US, Russia and Turkey all support it. The Kurdish question will be the easiest part of the problem, as long as they nominally remain within the Syrian state. Assad (if he remains) will accept if Russia forces him, the pro-regime social coalition doesn't really care how some far-away villages are administered and the hard-core islamists won't be asked.

I've got a question, though--is a political solution actually possible with groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (let alone with ISIS)?

That will be a big problem, although JN is a relatively disciplined organization and might be able to act tactically with respect to alliances, peace-talks or truces (Well, that's a euphemism, is it?). This is also one of the reasons why JN has never tried to establish an ISIS-like mini-state. The existence of the other rebel groups allows it to move like a fish in the water and maybe even to dissolve and go underground. The problem is of course that fighters that have been fighting for Sharia law for many years and that have lost many comrades, might not be pleased to compromise with secular regime and post-regime groups, Russia and the US and not to destroy what remains of the state apparatus. Also the foreign rebel fighters are a big, big problem because who should want them back? Someone might be tempted to give Assad a free pass.

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But for the moment fighting between regime and rebels will continue and ISIS has chances to stay just by being ignored.

Out of curiosity--can Iraq's Army and/or Iraq's Shiite militias invade eastern Syria after ISIS is completely kicked out of Iraq in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of an ISIS resurgence at some future point in time?

Well, since the relationship between the Iraqi and Syrian governments is relatively good, they probably can. But keep in mind that Iraqi Shia militias are already fighting in Syria alongside regime troops (mainly in Aleppo as Iranian proxies).

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Plus, here is an interesting question--do the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in Syria actually want to live together in one state?

By Sunni Arabs in Syria do you mean Sunni Arabs in the Eastern provinces (Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Hasakah) or also in the Damascus-Aleppo corridor?
Answering the question: I don't know. I've heard that many Eastern Syrians see ISIS more as an Iraqi/foreigner organization and are not too happy with them, but course this says more about ISIS that their general idea regarding a common state. In the end I think it won't matter that much because who except ISIS should try to put it into reality?

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After all, I know that ISIS boasted about how it has destroyed the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria. In turn, this raises an interesting question--why exactly would ISIS be boasting about this if there isn't a lot of support for eliminating this border among the people under ISIS rule?

Probably this is a double message directed 1. towards the broader Middle Eastern public playing on anti-colonial (anti-British, anti-French) resentments and 2. toward Iraqi Sunnis who fear Shia majority rule. I think that it's less attractive with Syrians.

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Indeed, this map of the Middle East's historical zones suggests that eastern Syria and western Iraq have some things in common:
[...]
In turn, this raises the question of whether or not the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria is actually the best border that can be drawn between these two countries.

Create another land-locked desert state? Maybe better not...
Or include Aleppo and Idlib in it?
Maybe also Hama, Homs, Damascus? And an Alawite statelet, seriously? And still no harbor?
I'm very skeptical about all these border-redrawings, but I can't rule it out.

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Afghanistan will probably remain like it is. Constant unrest, but Taliban or IS takeover in Kabul unlikely as long as there is some Western presence.

Completely agreed.

Also, though, do you agree with me that the Taliban could eventually (possibly in 5-10 years, but perhaps as late as 20+ years from now) agree to peace deals and to some kind of peace deal with the Afghan government if the Taliban will become convinced that a total military victory is impossible for them to achieve?

Indeed, any thoughts on this?

Possible, wouldn't be the worst thing to happen.
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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2016, 03:52:52 pm »
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No such thing in Turkey and Iran. Also constant unrest in the south-eastern regions of Turkey.
What about if/after the Iranian mullahs and Ayatollahs will get overthrown, though?
Well, it is possible that they get overthrown and it is possible that during the course of these events the Kurds could try to break from Iran. Also if somehow a Persian nationalist regime were to be established. But this is all highly hypothetical at the moment.

Completely agreed with all of this.

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ISIS has become weak on a military level. The Iraqi Army(!) and its allies have already re-conquered most of the Anbar and Saladin Governorates and will eventually also take back Niniveh. On the other hand the tensions between Iraq's Shia majority and its Sunni minority will remain high even after ISIS is militarily defeated.
Yes, all of this certainly appears to be correct. Indeed, as far as I know, what Iraq's government should do after ISIS is totally defeated is to give more autonomy to Iraq's Sunni Arabs (either through a federation or through greater local autonomy), to curb the power, excesses, and abuses of Shiite militias (who might eventually become a "fifth column" within Iraq if they will get too powerful), and to aggressively promote economic development in Iraq's Sunni Arab-majority areas.

Indeed, do you agree with all of this? Smiley

Yes of course. In theory the sane option is clear.[/quote]

Completely agreed. Smiley

Also, would you say that everything that I wrote above also applies to Syria's Sunni Arab-majority areas?

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In Syria ISIS is in my opinion the weakest of the four major forces (regime, Kurds+allies, ISIS, "other rebels").
Aren't the "other rebels" in Syria weaker than ISIS is, though? Completely serious question, for the record.
And a very good question indeed. In 2014 I would have said ISIS was the strongest insugent group/alliance.
Then Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) successfully destroyed the Western-backed SRF and Hazzm groups. In the aftermath JN and other rebel groups established a joint operations room, the so-called Jaish al-Fateh (JF, Army of Conquest) in North-western Syria. JF was heavily supported by Turkey and Saudi-Arabia and soon managed to conquer Idlib and Jisr ash-Shogur, even when the regime tried everything to hold on Jisr ash-Shogur. The loss of Palmyra to ISIS on the other hand was more due to lack of manpower, because the North-west was (and is) first priority for the regime. Many also say that it was the JF advance and not ISIS that caused the Russian intervention (and the massive injection of ground forces by Iran beginning in June 2015). Hence I would say that in 2015 JF was clearly stronger than ISIS.
Since then JF has been weakened by the cut of important supply lines and has lost territory, but parts of it have still been able to conquer or re-conquer strategically important places like Morek, Al-Eis, Khan Touman, Kinsibba etc. despite the Russian, Iranian and Syrian efforts. So I would say that JF is probably still slightly stronger than ISIS, although the situation is not as clear as it was in 2015.[/quote]

Wow! Thank you very, very much for sharing all of this information! Smiley

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The reason why ISIS is still strong is that for both the regime and the "other rebels" Eastern Syria is not a priority. They are both concentrating on the central corridor for good reasons. And that is probably the main problem. Both are well-armed and both represent relevant factions of Syria with ideas that are difficult to reconcile.
Out of curiosity--the dominant force among the "other rebels" in Syria is al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, correct?
Dominant is maybe to strong, because there are other strong rebel groups like Ahrar al-Sham etc. But most of the decisive players (particularly in the North-west) are almost equally Salafi fundamentalist and the difference is more JN's al-Qaeda affiliation than anything ideological. Also from time to time JN eliminates "unreliable" rebel groups.

Thanks for sharing this information!

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A military solution would be a bloodbath and there would probably remain constant unrest. A political process is the only way to go, but will be extremely difficult, even if the US, Russia and Turkey all support it. The Kurdish question will be the easiest part of the problem, as long as they nominally remain within the Syrian state. Assad (if he remains) will accept if Russia forces him, the pro-regime social coalition doesn't really care how some far-away villages are administered and the hard-core islamists won't be asked.

I've got a question, though--is a political solution actually possible with groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (let alone with ISIS)?

That will be a big problem, although JN is a relatively disciplined organization and might be able to act tactically with respect to alliances, peace-talks or truces (Well, that's a euphemism, is it?). This is also one of the reasons why JN has never tried to establish an ISIS-like mini-state. The existence of the other rebel groups allows it to move like a fish in the water and maybe even to dissolve and go underground. The problem is of course that fighters that have been fighting for Sharia law for many years and that have lost many comrades, might not be pleased to compromise with secular regime and post-regime groups, Russia and the US and not to destroy what remains of the state apparatus. Also the foreign rebel fighters are a big, big problem because who should want them back? Someone might be tempted to give Assad a free pass.

By "free pass," do you mean that the West should allow Assad to fully crush all of the Syrian rebels other than the Kurds (Rojava)?

Also, for the record, my own position on this is that compromises with Islamists--especially of the jihadist variety--should not be made unless absolutely necessary (such as with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where the mountains and whatnot ensure that the Taliban will not be completely militarily wiped out). Indeed, while Assad is certainly vile scum, he is certainly preferable to Islamists.

[Continued on another post due to length.]
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2016, 03:53:23 pm »
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[Continued from an earlier post due to length.]

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But for the moment fighting between regime and rebels will continue and ISIS has chances to stay just by being ignored.

OK.

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Out of curiosity--can Iraq's Army and/or Iraq's Shiite militias invade eastern Syria after ISIS is completely kicked out of Iraq in order to reduce or eliminate the possibility of an ISIS resurgence at some future point in time?
Well, since the relationship between the Iraqi and Syrian governments is relatively good, they probably can. But keep in mind that Iraqi Shia militias are already fighting in Syria alongside regime troops (mainly in Aleppo as Iranian proxies).

OK. However, wouldn't it be a good idea for Iraqi forces (including Iraqi Shiite militias) to invade eastern Syria through Iraq in order to ensure that ISIS will be forced to continue to fight a two-front war even after it is completely expelled from Iraq? (Heck, if I was a Western politician, I might sweeten the deal for Iraq by allowing Iraq to indefinitely occupy and annex any parts of eastern Syria that it will expel ISIS from. Indeed, that might result in a better border between Iraq and Syria than the border that existed before 2014. Smiley)

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Plus, here is an interesting question--do the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in Syria actually want to live together in one state?
By Sunni Arabs in Syria do you mean Sunni Arabs in the Eastern provinces (Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Hasakah) or also in the Damascus-Aleppo corridor?

Well, I certainly want this question answered for both of these categories of Syrian Sunni Arabs. Smiley

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Answering the question: I don't know. I've heard that many Eastern Syrians see ISIS more as an Iraqi/foreigner organization and are not too happy with them, but course this says more about ISIS that their general idea regarding a common state.

OK.

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In the end I think it won't matter that much because who except ISIS should try to put it into reality?

Well, I am unsure that Assad or whoever will succeed him as Syria's President (a.k.a dictator) will mind it too much if, say, Iraq indefinitely occupies eastern Syria (initially as a part of the fight against ISIS, and then simply refusing to leave), and eventually annexes it. Indeed, considering that Assad is an Alawite (Shiite), letting Iraq have some of his Sunni Arab population might actually be a relatively appealing proposition for him, even if he will never dare say so publicly.

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After all, I know that ISIS boasted about how it has destroyed the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria. In turn, this raises an interesting question--why exactly would ISIS be boasting about this if there isn't a lot of support for eliminating this border among the people under ISIS rule?

Probably this is a double message directed 1. towards the broader Middle Eastern public playing on anti-colonial (anti-British, anti-French) resentments and 2. toward Iraqi Sunnis who fear Shia majority rule. I think that it's less attractive with Syrians.

Don't Syrian Sunni Arabs also dislike being ruled by the Alawite (Shiite) Assad, though?

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Indeed, this map of the Middle East's historical zones suggests that eastern Syria and western Iraq have some things in common:
[...]
In turn, this raises the question of whether or not the Sykes-Picot border between Iraq and Syria is actually the best border that can be drawn between these two countries.

Create another land-locked desert state? Maybe better not...
Or include Aleppo and Idlib in it?
Maybe also Hama, Homs, Damascus? And an Alawite statelet, seriously? And still no harbor?
I'm very skeptical about all these border-redrawings, but I can't rule it out.

That's certainly not what I was talking about here, though. Rather, I was talking about having Iraq annex all Syrian territory east of Jarabulus which isn't already controlled by Rojava (the Syrian Kurds):



Indeed, if one looks at this Syria population density map in combination with a population density map of Iraq, one might understand why exactly the Iraqi-Syrian border that I am proposing here might make more sense that the pre-2014 Iraqi-Syrian border:



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Afghanistan will probably remain like it is. Constant unrest, but Taliban or IS takeover in Kabul unlikely as long as there is some Western presence.

Completely agreed.

Also, though, do you agree with me that the Taliban could eventually (possibly in 5-10 years, but perhaps as late as 20+ years from now) agree to peace deals and to some kind of peace deal with the Afghan government if the Taliban will become convinced that a total military victory is impossible for them to achieve?

Indeed, any thoughts on this?

Possible, wouldn't be the worst thing to happen.

Completely agreed--as long as the peace deal that the Taliban will agree to will be at least slightly/mildly pro-Western. Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2016, 04:05:17 pm »
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Indeed, I certainly oppose partitioning countries such as Syria and Iraq because the people in these countries don't appear to want this. (Heck, here is a good article which argues against partitioning Iraq: http://warontherocks.com/2016/05/partitioning-iraq-make-a-detailed-case-or-cease-and-desist/ )

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the pre-2014 Iraqi-Syrian border was the best one. Indeed, in addition to the population density and cultural perspectives, having Iraq annex the Sunni Arab-majority areas of eastern Syria would weaken the power of sectarian Shiite politicians in Iraq (and strengthen Sunni Arab political power in Iraq due to them having more people and thus more votes) and make it easier for Assad or whichever Alawite (I would think that, if Assad leaves, his successor will be another Alawite, no?) will succeed him (if Assad actually leaves power, of course) would succeed him to govern post-war Syria (since there would be less angry Sunni Arabs within Syria in this scenario).

Indeed, here is what Anatoly Karlin (Yes, he has some unpleasant views; however, even a broken clock is right twice a day) says about the idea of having Assad reconquer all of Syria (other than presumably the Rojava-controlled (Kurdish-controlled) areas):

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/generally-accomplished/?highlight=syria+russia

"However, if Assad were to regain full control of Syria, this would be a poisoned chalice. The cost of repairing all the destroyed infractructure, rooting out radicalism, and providing welfare for millions more displaced people will be an unbearable strain on its already heavily beleagured finances, causing resentment in the Alawite heartlands and buying no love amongst people who will come to think of their defeated forebears as having pursued a noble Lost Cause. Most critically, there is absolutely nothing stopping the Saudis and the Turks from once again trying to topple a Syrian government strained from the costs of reconstruction, Sunni refugee repatriation, and demographically dominated by Sunnis in another 10-20 years time."

Indeed, with its hefty oil money and Shiite-majority population, Iraq appears to be much more capable of rebuilding and ruling over eastern Syria than Assad and his regime is.
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« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2016, 12:41:22 pm »
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For the record, I know that my proposal to redraw the Iraq-Syria border is controversial. However, it might very well actually not be a bad idea. Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2016, 02:34:12 pm »
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Indeed, as far as I know, what Iraq's government should do after ISIS is totally defeated is to give more autonomy to Iraq's Sunni Arabs (either through a federation or through greater local autonomy), to curb the power, excesses, and abuses of Shiite militias (who might eventually become a "fifth column" within Iraq if they will get too powerful), and to aggressively promote economic development in Iraq's Sunni Arab-majority areas.
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Also, would you say that everything that I wrote above also applies to Syria's Sunni Arab-majority areas?
Local autonomy and so on is certainly a good thing, but Syria is not Iraq. Sunni Arabs make up ca. 60% of the country's population (at least before the war) and the question is whether a post-war Syrian government will be Alawite-dominated at all. Also every major economic center of Syria had/has a Sunni majority. (I'm not sure about Latakia, which historically has had a Sunni majority, but which has seen Alawite influx from the hinterland.)

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By "free pass," do you mean that the West should allow Assad to fully crush all of the Syrian rebels other than the Kurds (Rojava)?
No, I'm not. Most rebels will have to get full rehabilitation, depending on group, ideology, rank and country of origin. But the US, Russia and other foreign powers may identify certain groups (in particular international jihadists) that in their eyes should be dealt with physically. They will press the remaining groups hard to dissociate themselves from the unacceptable groups, otherwise they will be treated the same. Some say that this has already begun an that the US completely ignoring the current Aleppo offensive is a way to teach the rebels a lesson. Also it seems that JN is dissociating itself from al-Qaeda, even changing name and color of flag. This might also have to do with becoming more "palatable".

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However, wouldn't it be a good idea for Iraqi forces (including Iraqi Shiite militias) to invade eastern Syria through Iraq in order to ensure that ISIS will be forced to continue to fight a two-front war even after it is completely expelled from Iraq?
If that means a higher total strength, then yes, of course. If the decision is between two fronts or one front with double the strength, then I can't answer your question because I'm not a military strategist.

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Plus, here is an interesting question--do the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in Syria actually want to live together in one state?
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Don't Syrian Sunni Arabs also dislike being ruled by the Alawite (Shiite) Assad, though?
Assad won't rule forever and Syria is majority Sunni. In fact the Assad regime was never purely sectarian. It always had to rely on the Sunni economic elite and middle class and on local clientele networks. I guess that most Syrian Sunnis would prefer to live in a (reformed) Syria and not in a majority-Shia state. I doubt that the Iraqi government would want to have even more potentially unhappy Sunnis within its borders. And I think that Eastern Syria still has some ideological importance for many Syrians, and natural resources, too. Also the ISIS territory doesn't seem to be the most ruined part of Syria, which is probably the rebel territory.

I remain skeptical about the redrawing of the border between Iraq and Syria.
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2016, 03:11:38 pm »
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Indeed, as far as I know, what Iraq's government should do after ISIS is totally defeated is to give more autonomy to Iraq's Sunni Arabs (either through a federation or through greater local autonomy), to curb the power, excesses, and abuses of Shiite militias (who might eventually become a "fifth column" within Iraq if they will get too powerful), and to aggressively promote economic development in Iraq's Sunni Arab-majority areas.
[...]
Also, would you say that everything that I wrote above also applies to Syria's Sunni Arab-majority areas?
Local autonomy and so on is certainly a good thing, but Syria is not Iraq. Sunni Arabs make up ca. 60% of the country's population (at least before the war) and the question is whether a post-war Syrian government will be Alawite-dominated at all.

Why exactly wouldn't a post-war Syrian government be Alawite-dominated considering that Assad is currently winning the Syrian Civil War, though?

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Also every major economic center of Syria had/has a Sunni majority. (I'm not sure about Latakia, which historically has had a Sunni majority, but which has seen Alawite influx from the hinterland.)

Yes, and?

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By "free pass," do you mean that the West should allow Assad to fully crush all of the Syrian rebels other than the Kurds (Rojava)?
No, I'm not. Most rebels will have to get full rehabilitation, depending on group, ideology, rank and country of origin. But the US, Russia and other foreign powers may identify certain groups (in particular international jihadists) that in their eyes should be dealt with physically. They will press the remaining groups hard to dissociate themselves from the unacceptable groups, otherwise they will be treated the same. Some say that this has already begun an that the US completely ignoring the current Aleppo offensive is a way to teach the rebels a lesson.

Are these Syrian rebels going to need to abandon their Islamist political views as well, though?

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Also it seems that JN is dissociating itself from al-Qaeda, even changing name and color of flag. This might also have to do with becoming more "palatable".

Do you have any source(s) for this (other than for the flag part, I mean)?

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However, wouldn't it be a good idea for Iraqi forces (including Iraqi Shiite militias) to invade eastern Syria through Iraq in order to ensure that ISIS will be forced to continue to fight a two-front war even after it is completely expelled from Iraq?
If that means a higher total strength, then yes, of course. If the decision is between two fronts or one front with double the strength, then I can't answer your question because I'm not a military strategist.[/quote]

Why exactly would it be a decision between two fronts or one front war with double the strength, though? After all, I am hesitant to believe that the (regular) Iraqi Army would be willing to be transferred to central Syria and to fight along with Assad's troops on the front lines there.

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Plus, here is an interesting question--do the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in Syria actually want to live together in one state?
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Don't Syrian Sunni Arabs also dislike being ruled by the Alawite (Shiite) Assad, though?
Assad won't rule forever

No, but another Alawite (Shiite) can theoretically succeed Assad.

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and Syria is majority Sunni.

Yes, it is. However, why exactly would Assad (or whoever will succeed Assad) actually be willing to give large amounts of his own power to the Syrian Sunni Arabs?

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In fact the Assad regime was never purely sectarian.

Of course not! After all, Alawites make up only like, what, 15% of Syria's total population? Indeed, it would certainly be utter suicide for a group that only makes up 15% of a country's total population to govern this entire country in a sectarian manner! (In contrast, 60% Shiite Iraq is much more ripe for sectarian Shiite politicians, though even there Shiite sectarianism can and has caused problems.)

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It always had to rely on the Sunni economic elite and middle class and on local clientele networks.

Are the economic elites and middle class in these Syrian cities actually Sunni Arabs, though? After all, even if Sunni Arabs make up a majority of the population in these Syrian cities, this doesn't necessarily mean that a majority of the economic elites and middle class in these Syrian cities is actually composed of Sunni Arabs. For instance, I would think that Jews form a disproportionate percentage of the economic elite here in the U.S.; thus, why exactly can't the same be true for various minorities (Alawites, Christians, et cetera) in Syria?

Also, for the record, while I certainly don't agree with everything that Anatoly Karlin says, I certainly have to acknowledge that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Thus, what I am wondering is this--do Syrian Alawites (and Christians) make up a disproportionate percentage of Syria's elite and hold a disproportionate percentage of Syria's wealth (like Anatoly Karlin argues in the link below)?:

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/banging-cousins-to-islamic-state/

Or is Anatoly Karlin incorrect in regards to this?

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I guess that most Syrian Sunnis would prefer to live in a (reformed) Syria and not in a majority-Shia state.

How "reformed" are you thinking of here, though?

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I doubt that the Iraqi government would want to have even more potentially unhappy Sunnis within its borders.

Agreed, but it really might depend on what exactly the alternative to this is.

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And I think that Eastern Syria still has some ideological importance for many Syrians,

Can you please elaborate on this part?

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and natural resources, too.

How much natural resources, though?

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Also the ISIS territory doesn't seem to be the most ruined part of Syria, which is probably the rebel territory.

OK. However, doesn't eastern Syria still have a lot of issues that need to be dealt with?

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I remain skeptical about the redrawing of the border between Iraq and Syria.

OK. Indeed, I can certainly open to continuing to discuss this issue with you. Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2016, 03:19:18 pm »
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Also, I would like to point out that my proposed Iraq-Syria border actually appears to be pretty similar to the Iraq (Mesopotamia)-Syria border that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's advisers proposed back in 1918-1919. Indeed, please take a look at pages 258-261 of this book Smiley:

https://archive.org/details/MyDiaryAtConferenceOfParis-Vol4

In addition to this, though, here is another question for you--would Syrian Alawites actually want to live in a Sunni Arab-dominated Syrian state? After all, didn't Syrian Alawites support independence back in 1936 in order to avoid living in a Sunni Arab-dominated state?

Finally, I am certainly curious as to whether or not Anatoly Karlin is correct about the disproportionate amount of power, influence, and wealth that Syrian Alawites (and Christians) have as well as about the higher rates of cousin marriage in Syrian Sunni Arab-majority areas. Indeed, any thoughts on this?
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