8:12 AM, Jan 16, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Gordon Lubold writes, at Defense One, that:
The Pentagon will deploy more than 400 U.S. military trainers and hundreds more supporting personnel to four training sites in three countries as early as March as part of a long-awaited plan to help rebel forces to stabilize Syria.
In addition to the trainers, the U.S.military expects to deploy hundreds of additional U.S. military personnel as so-called enabling forces who will deploy alongside the trainers to provide security and other support at the training sites, according to senior defense officials. Coalition partners are expected to contribute forces as well for an effort that for now is envisioned to train about 5,400 rebel forces each year for three years.
The U.S. military personnel will not actually be sent to Syria:
Since December, administration officials have said that training program could begin as early as March in the three countries that have agreed to host the training: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At least four training sites in those countries are being identified and the plan is to split the approximately 400 U.S. trainers and their accompanying support forces evenly across those sites for what is expected to be a six- to eight-week training cycle.
The mission is critical since, as Aaron David Miller writes in the Wall Street Journal, should the Assad regime fall
… ISIS and other Islamists would benefit. Islamic State would take over its first major Arab capital, and recruitment would skyrocket. Alawites and other minorities would flee, further stressing neighboring Lebanon and Jordan, which are already burdened with refugees.
Or is it a U.S. 'residential compound'?8:13 AM, Sep 1, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Here's video reportedly of Libyan rebels swimming (and doing a belly-flop) in the U.S. embassy pool in Tripoli:
And here's the raw video from the embassy:
The New York Times and Hurriyet on White House's incoherent and opaque Syria policy.3:01 PM, Oct 23, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
A long New York Times story today details the quarrels and vicissitudes that have marked the Obama White House’s Syria policy over the last two and a half years. Some senior officials wanted to arm the rebels to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, while others pushed back.
They’re not all jihadist dead-enders.Sep 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 02 • By LEE SMITH
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry went against received wisdom—and against the assessment of the White House he works for—when he argued that Syrian opposition forces are not dominated by Islamic extremists. “I just don’t agree that a majority are al Qaeda and the bad guys,” Kerry argued in his congressional testimony. “There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists. . . . Maybe 15 percent to 25 percent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys.”
8:01 AM, Jun 15, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Thursday the White House announced that the American intelligence community assesses, with a level of high confidence, that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against the opposition multiple times, in a limited fashion. Now that it is clear Assad has crossed the Obama red line by using chemical weapons, the question is, has this changed the president’s “calculus,” as he said it might? The media is reporting that it has.
10:40 PM, Apr 17, 2012 • By ANN MARLOWE
As shells fell around the Amazigh city of Zwara on the evening of April 3, the city’s five tanks thundered back at its Arab neighbors in Rig Dalin. Men, ranging in age from their teens to their sixties, fought and supported the fighters—and updated the Zwara Media Center’s very active Facebook page. Also, they talked incessantly about the meaning of democracy, minority rights, gun control, and other topics usually left to less urgent settings.
10:39 AM, Sep 2, 2011 • By DALIBOR ROHAC
As heartening as it is to see Muammar Qaddafi lose his grip on power, our expectations of Libya's future need to take into account this ethnically diverse country’s complicated reality. The biggest problem is Libya's enormous oil reserves.
9:35 AM, Sep 2, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Libya—Here, west of Tripoli, the revolutionaries are fighting largely without direction from Benghazi's Transitional National Council. I’m traveling with three Sabratha fighters—Rowad, his brother Ahmed, and their cousin Mansur. The goal is to get to the frontline at Adjilat, where they plan to join a large force campaigning against one of the remaining groups of Qaddafi loyalists.
7:44 PM, Aug 25, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Zwara, Libya—We’ve arrived in Zwara, which is about 70 miles from Tripoli and 35 miles from the Tunisian border. It’s impossible to get out in any direction, though one could get out to sea, if one fancied a long boat trip.
12:07 PM, Aug 24, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Zwara, Libya—The coastal city of Zwara, near the Libya-Tunisia border, is under siege by pro-Qaddafi forces who continue to shell the city and appear to be the last of Qaddafi’s forces still fighting in Libya.
12:16 PM, Aug 18, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Jadu, Libya—Yesterday, around 4 p.m., 10 Jadu fighters, who were attempting to cut off the retreat of a column of Qaddafi militiamen, were killed by an errant NATO missile strike near Badr, Libya. Two other fighters are missing. The loss of ten, who included two commanders, is an unimaginable catastrophe in this closeknit town of 10,000 Amazigh or Berber citizens, which until yesterday had lost just 4 men in the revolutionary war.
2:26 PM, Aug 16, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Western Libya—Only about thirty volunteers of the three hundred strong Martyr Wasam Qaliyah Brigade are gathered around former Libyan army general Senussi Mohamed as he outlines the plan for the liberation of the coastal city of Sabratha, about 90 kilometers north from Qaddafi’s forces. Crouched in a pleasant pine grove in Jafara Valley, just north of Zintan, they listen intently. This morning, they struck their camp in Jadu, in the western mountains, to join the Sabratha Brigade and volunteers from other cities in what’s planned as a big operation for this Lilliputian war, where groups of 100 or 200 barely trained volunteers skirmish in the streets of rundown cities.
3:38 PM, Aug 4, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Djerba, Libya—As Saturday night wears on, the young men talk more and more confidently about an offensive they anticipate the next day, the big move 100 km north that will allow them to liberate their city of Sabratha. The mood is exultant, with some speculation that we will move forward at dawn.