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US Wants Ground Troops in Syria, But Can't Find Any Takers

But trusy US vassal Germany may be getting ready to oblige

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Originally Appeared at German Economic News. Translated from the German by Werner Schrimpf.

The Russian military initiative has proven to be successful but a final break through can only be achieved with “boots on the ground”. The Russians are reluctant to take this step. On the other hand the U.S. wants to keep its hands clean and it has not found a proxy who is prepared to send servicemen to the Syrian theatre for the time being. Germany received a U.S. request in this direction but did not provide a favorable reply.

Russian-Syrian military operations achieved good progress over the last days. In Southern Aleppo the Syrian army is pushing forward and on last Saturday the Syrian news agency SANA reported on the liberation of the villages of Mreikes, Abu Roweil, Qreihiyeh, al Sei’viyeh and Dalameh. Terrorist commander Al-Jabha al-Shamiyeh Ahmad Kheirallah lost his life in combat. Posts of IS in the villages of Rasm al-Kabir, Jarrouf and Beija were under heavy attacks from Syrian troops and could be successfully captured.

In Northern Aleppo an important supply line of Al-Nusra could be cut and Al-Quds commander Qassem Soleimani was injured according to Times of Israel reports.

SANA released an article telling that president Baschar al-Assad met with UN-officials in order to discuss efforts and options to disarm all parties in the area of Homs.

But these achievements won’t be sufficient to solve this military conflict. Allegedly there arose disputes amongst partners Russia and Iran.

According to non-confirmed information of pro-Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Iran is prepared to withdraw its troops because the Iranians showed disappointment that four soldiers of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) had been killed by Russian air strikes. Russia’s air force raids could not be as pinpoint accurate as requested. Bloomberg came up with the same information but there was a denial from the Iranians just the other day.

The problem for Russia’s Air force is restricted accuracy of air strikes when operating without ground support. For the time being, they have to rely on Syrian data which is vague and outdated to some extent.

Russia’s president clearly denied any operation from Russia’s ground troops because he wants to avoid any deeper involvement in this conflict which would impose an extremely high risk for Russian servicemen.  

U.S. President Obama isn’t prepared to dispatch American troops to Syria either. But nevertheless more aggressive-minded U.S. neo-cons like senator McCain and Graham believe in the success of a ground operation and are pushing hard for additional troops.   

To avoid unpleasant scenes on U.S. morning TV, the U.S. is right now looking for suitable partners to get the dirty aspects of this job done.

The first piece of this strategy was the Turkish miniature invasion in the northern part of Iraq which immediately triggered harsh protests from Bagdad. This operation violated international law, stated Bagdad, and U.S. ground troops would also not be welcomed by the Iraqis.

German news magazine SPIEGEL reports that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter asked for more support from the German army without specifying what exactly would be needed. But Germany wasn't the only country with the pleasure of getting this friendly reminder. Other U.S. “allies” were addressed as well.

German Chancellor Merkel – well known for usually having a friendly ear for U.S. desires – seems to be shy on this question. At least this is true for the moment.

“I am convinced that Germany will contribute its part and the time has not yet come to address new issues.” Ms Merkel told in an interview in German state TV station ZDF.

Last Thursday German “Tornado” reconnaissance jets and a tanker aircraft were dispatched to the Turkish military base Incirlik which is also used by the U.S. The tanker aircraft will start their first missions next week but the Tornado jets will not initiate their raids before January 2016. A German frigate has also been sent to the Persian Gulf in order to provide escort and protection for French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. There are no data available whether IS operates its own naval forces right now.

The interesting question is whether Ms Merkel will be able to sustain her naïve attitude. Pressured by the U.S. Merkel had to announce in an interview that Germany might be requested for more activities in foreign affairs and this would also include military engagements. “We had to learn that we cannot isolate from developments around Europe!” Merkel told and cited the so-called Syrian civil war and the disaster left in Libya after Western interventions.

“We can experience the consequences right now and therefore we have to engage more outside of the European Union. Of course there will be efforts in the framework of development aid measures. But if we want to contribute to peace missions then we have to be prepared to support our partners and allies militarily as well, i.e. to fight against IS”.

In her weekly podcast Merkel stressed the coherence between military interventions on the one hand and political negotiations and development aid on the other hand. According to Mrs. Merkel this concept is of utmost importance when looking at the influx of refugees to Germany. “Many of them would be pleased to return home if the civil war were to come to an end” Ms Merkel lectured. “Nobody is happy to leave his home!”

It is not that unlikely that Ms Merkel – after having massaged public opinion in Germany – will no longer resist a friendly invitation from the U.S. to send German troops for ground operations in Syria. The informal agreement between Washington and Berlin read as follows up to now: “The U.S. care for the bombing and Germany cares for the refugees!”

But keeping in mind the trouble within the EU to distribute refugees to member states and the complex military situation in Syria, it could bring us to a stage which would be characterized as “a completely new scenario.”


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