March 12, 2016

ISIS Smartens Up In Obama's Shitshow; Pakistan Fumbles The Ball In Afghan Peace Talks; "Moderate Rebels" Stupidly Reject Reasonable Federalist Solution To End Syria's Crisis

I.  ISIS Smartens Up In Obama's Shitshow

A big reason why ISIS hasn't been successful in retaining captured territory in Syria is because many of the foreign elements in the terrorist group have alienated local Syrians with their reckless and domineering actions.

ISIS's lack of political pragmatism and inability to adapt its extremist ideology to local customs and beliefs, which are generally more moderate and liberal than those held by its hardcore members, caused resentment and anger in Syria's diverse ethnic and religious communities.

These terrorists invaded Syrian towns with their own kooky religious ideas and did very little to appeal to Syrians on a nationalistic level. They acted more like conquerors and less like liberators. Such an arrogant attitude held by foreign soldiers always leads to failure, no matter if they don the uniform of a world empire or a transnational terrorist group.

The leaders of ISIS seem to have learned their lesson, and now realize that local popular support is an absolute necessity in carrying out any successful insurgency.

In Libya, they are appealing to Libyans by posing as Islam's defenders against foreigners as well as a nationalist force.

An excerpt from, "UN: ISIS in Libya Presenting Itself as Key Bulwark Against Invasion" by Jason Ditz,, March 10, 2016:
A new UN report suggested that a key to ISIS’ success in Libya is that the affiliate there is branding itself in nationalistic terms, and presenting itself as a major bulwark against foreign invasion, welcome news for Libyans who have seen foreign intervention as damaging to stability.

That could be a big branding problem for the West, as they have designs on invading Libya to fight ISIS, and UN officials warn that intervention would further polarize the Libyan population, potentially giving ISIS more domestic support.
II. Pakistan Fumbles The Ball In Afghan Peace Talks

An excerpt from, "Pakistan May Have Jeopardized the Latest Afghan Peace Talks" by Umair Jamal, The Diplomat, March 12, 2016: 
In a way, Pakistan may have jeopardized the latest round of talks. The Afghan Taliban’s announcement came only a few days after Pakistani Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, in a rare admission, said that Pakistan still had significant influence over the Afghan Taliban because the group’s leadership is based in Pakistan. Previously, Pakistan has always denied any such claims.
This latest refusal by the Taliban to join any dialogue has weakened Pakistan’s position. From here on, Pakistan’s credibility will further decline as it has not yet been able to deliver on the issue, despite making promises to do so at various forums.

Aziz’s statement has led to more discontent in Kabul over the progress in the talks and particularly in Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the table. Many claim that Pakistan has not been exerting real pressure on the Taliban, except advising them to join the peace talks. Ahmad Rashid, a journalist and an expert on Afghanistan, recently said that “if the Afghan civil war worsens, Pakistan’s allies, China and the United States, will lose faith in Islamabad’s intentions.”

The Taliban have even promised to launch more attacks because of the growing number of foreign troops in the country. In the coming days and weeks, the security situation of Afghanistan is likely to deteriorate further, which will only put more pressure on Pakistan.
III. "Moderate Rebels" Stupidly Reject Reasonable Federalist Solution To End Syria's Crisis

An excerpt from, "Key Powers Mull Partitioning Syria" by Jason Ditz,, March 10, 2016:
Both Russia and the US, along with other Western nations, are said to be on board with the idea. Russia has favored federalism as a way to nominally  maintain nations’ territorial integrity while allowing more regional autonomy, and the Syria plan is said to eye dramatically weakening the central government in favor of local powers.

At some point they’re bound to run this idea by the Syrians, however, and while the US and Russia seem keen to simply impose a solution on Syria it’s not clear how much Syrian support they’ll have. Rebels have already made clear they oppose any effort to weaken the central government they believe they’ll eventually be installed in control of, and while the Assad government hasn’t ruled out federalism, they want it to be the result of a referendum and internal negotiation, not just something the US and Russia decided.
An excerpt from, "A Kurdish Convergence in Syria" by Michael Cruickshank and Gissur Simonarson, The New York Times, February 25, 2016:

Blaming the Y.P.G. suggests that Turkey is trying to drive a wedge between the Kurds and their international supporters. For this reason, the United States and Russia need to construct a nuanced response.

To date, the Y.P.G. has been little more than a pawn of the two superpowers, but the way the situation is evolving suggests an opportunity for the United States and Russia to cooperate with the Kurds to create an alternative future for some Syrians.

The United States should reinforce its military support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, but on the condition that the coalition continues to expand its multiethnic credentials by incorporating moderate Sunni groups. This would enable the United States to deflect Ankara’s claims that the Americans are giving aid to P.K.K. terrorism.

The democratic and pluralist goals of the S.D.F. make it a potentially useful Western ally in any future federalized Syria. At the same time, the S.D.F.’s relatively neutral stance toward the Assad regime helps it gain Russian support, both political and military.

Russia could use its influence with Damascus to ensure that Syrian government forces do not attack the S.D.F. The federalist model proposed by the S.D.F. also offers Russia options for a post-Assad transition of power. Another advantage of a federalized Syria is that neither Russia nor America would have to face the political challenges of completely partitioning the country — a possibility Secretary of State John Kerry warned of on Tuesday. A federalist solution would help to head off the risk of an independent Kurdish state’s emerging in northern Syria.