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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Obama To Decide Friday On Military Action In Syria

Two weeks ago when the US broke off bilateral relations with Russia over the ongoing Syrian proxy war,we reported that as part of America's "next steps" would be a discussion on military options. As Reuters reported then, the "discussions were being held at "staff level," and have yet to produce any recommendations to President Barack Obama, who has resisted ordering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's multi-sided civil war. "The president has asked all of the agencies to put forward options, some familiar, some new, that we are very actively reviewing," Blinken said. "When we are able to work through these in the days ahead we'll have an opportunity to come back and talk about them in detail."
Fast forward to today, when as Reuters once again reports, the time has come for the US to make a decision: on Friday President Barack Obama and his top foreign policy advisers are expected to meet to consider their military and other options in Syria as Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to pummel Aleppo and other targets.
The tensions here are well known: some of the more hawkish "top officials" told Reuters that the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or "risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State." Naturally, this means that one set of options includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases.
That is also the scenario which General Joseph Dunford warned may lead to war with Russia. Indeed, the quoted said one danger of such action is that Russian and Syrian forces are often co-mingled, "raising the possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia that Obama has been at pains to avoid." This is also known as the "world war" scenario.
Luckily, there are options.
One alternative, U.S. officials said, is allowing allies to provide U.S.-vetted rebels with more sophisticated weapons, although not shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, "which Washington fears could be used against Western airliners." Like, for example, what happened above the Donestk region during the peak of the Ukraine proxy war in 2014.

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