from Politics, Power, and Preventive Action and Center for Preventive Action

You Might Have Missed: FSA fighters, ISIS, and Cruise Missiles

October 31, 2014

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

More on:

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Military Operations

General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,Interview with Al Jazeera Arabic News Channel, October 29, 2014.

QUESTION: The mission of the train Syrian fighters is confined for war against ISIL. How can you guarantee that you are not going fight the regime?

General Allen: Your question presupposes a limitation that we have not imposed. We are preparing the Free Syrian Forces to fight ISIL, but we fully expect they’ll have to fight Jabhat al Nusra and other elements of the battle space to include the Regime.

QUESTION: Do you expect them to fight the regime after they have fought ISIL?

General Allen: It is difficult to predict at this particular moment how operations in Syria will unfold. But we clearly expect the Free Syrian forces to be built into a credible battlefield force to hold their own and to deal with Da’esh, but to also deal with Nusra elements and to be able to defend themselves against the regime in those operations.

(3PA: Theo Padnos, who was held captive by al-Nusra Front for twenty-two months, asked a Free Syrian Army fighter about whether the FSA would fight ISIS now that the United States is supplying training and arms. The fighter replied, “We lied to the Americans about that.”)


Mark Perry, “Is Gen. John Allen in Over His Head?” ForeignPolicy.com, October 30, 2014.

In one recent 24-hour period, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command in the region received hundreds of requests for air support from embattled Iraqi units, militias, and tribal leaders fighting the Islamic State, a senior Centcom officer told me. But the requests are nearly useless when they’re not accompanied by air or ground coordinates—and even then, it would be hours before an air operation could be mounted.


Adam Entous, Joe Parkinson, and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Cooperated Secretly with Syrian Kurds in Battle Against Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2014.

As the U.S. role rapidly evolved, U.S. and Syrian Kurdish commanders began to coordinate air and ground operations far more closely than previously disclosed. A Syrian Kurdish general in a joint operations center in northern Iraq delivered daily battlefield intelligence reports to U.S. military planners, and helped spot targets for airstrikes on Islamic State positions…

The U.S. asked the Turkish government to let Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross through Turkish territory to reinforce Kobani. U.S. officials said Turkey agreed in principal and that Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, proposed sending a specially trained force of Syrian Kurdish refugees. But events on the ground forced Washington’s hand. U.S. contacts in Kobani sent out an urgent SOS. “We needed weaponry and fast,” said Idris Nassan, the deputy foreign minister of the Kobani regional government…

“If there is one moderate force in Syria, that’s us,” said Khaled Saleh, the group’s representative in France who took part in many of the preliminary discussions…

Impressed by its military performance, the U.S. decided to invite a representative of the group to sit in the coalition’s joint operations center in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to liaise with special military units in Kobani collecting battlefield intelligence and coordinates for airstrikes.


Dan Reiter, Allan C. Stam, and Michael C. Horowitz, “A Revised Look at Interstate Wars, 1816-2007,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, October 16, 2014.

We made changes across many of COW’s ninety-nine interstate wars [from 1816-2007]. As described in Table 1, we change at least one coding for existence of war, initiation, outcome, and/or list of belligerents in thirty-two of these ninety-five wars, about 34 percent of the total (in none of those thirty-two cases was the only recommendation to change a ‘‘transforms to interstate/extrastate war’’ outcome). In some wars, we made more than one revision. The categories of changes include change in coding of initiator/joiner (15/95); change outcome codings, other than change to ‘‘transforms to interstate war’’ outcome (9/95); change transforms to interstate war outcome (4/95); split up a multilateral war into constituent campaigns (3/95);combine a war into another war (1/95); delete a war (5/95); and alter list of war participants

(7/95). We also change the start and/or stop dates in twelve wars. This brief summary understates how much our revised data set differs from the COW data set, as the revised data set very substantially restructures World Wars I and II, but in the 32/95 assessment we count each of those wars only once…

First, Soviet participation in the Korean War against the United States is evidence against the nuclear peace, that nuclear armed powers do not fight each other. Second, Soviet participation in the Korean War is also evidence against the realist proposition that bipolarity makes great power war less likely, and more generally slightly shortens the observed length of the ‘‘long peace.’’ Third, we confirm the finding that democracies almost never fight each other. The only instance is the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan. Fourth, democracies appear to be significantly less likely to start or enter wars they go on to lose. Only 4.5 percent of democratic initiators and war joiners go on to lose their wars, whereas among other regime types 33.9 percent of initiators and joiners go on to lose.


Richard H. Speier, George Nacouzi, K. Scott McMahon, “Cruise Missile Penaid Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of Countermeasures Against Cruise Missile Defenses,” RAND Corporation, 2014.

This report recommends controls on 18 penaid-relevant items and subitems. Because cruise missile penaids can have applications either not restricted by the MTCR (e.g., for manned aircraft) or subject only to the regime’s less rigorous controls (e.g., for relatively small cruise missiles), the report recommends that the 18 items be subject to case-by-case export reviews under MTCR procedures. To be effective, these less rigorous controls will require energetic implementation, and cooperation by Russia and China will be critical. (p. vii)

The relationship of cruise missiles to the broader category of UAVs is critical for defining controls. UAVs, even if ostensibly designed to return to their launch sites, can be used for munitions delivery and one-way missions. (p. 7)

More on:

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Military Operations

Up
Close