I sent in this advice (reprinted here below in full) as an open letter.
Dear Western Leaders,
So far every strategy rolled out on Syria has been a failure. Why? Because first and foremost is the simple fact that Syria has never been a major concern, or of interest, to western states excluding the egos of old regional colonial powers (France and UK). Secondly we have failed the ‘Clausewitzian Test’ of defining the exact character of the war we (or rather yourselves as our western leaders) seek to get involved in. At one moment the west is engaged at war against Jihadists extremists in the likes of ISIS (also known as Daesh or Islamic State) as well as highly secretive and powerful little-known terroristic entity referred to as ‘Khorasan Group’. At the next moment the west is supposed to be planning a war against a brutal dictator (Mr. Assad) and previously mentioned groups with support of the local ‘moderates’ (who apparently are ready to switch teams as soon as they cross the border) such as Division 30 or Free Syrian Army (does it even exist today? Of course it does but just not as a significant player, mostly banditry as old Chinese revolutionaries would say). While next, of course, we appear to be thinking at a more bigger-levels of geopolitical-meet-regional strategic containment and ‘Great Game v.2’ war[s] against Iran and Russia growing influences and sphere of interests as well as power-encroachment. So this outset failure to pinpoint and outline the true nature or character of a war we are suppose to be engaged in is exactly why we have failed to produce any feasible (and best) strategy for Syria.
But here is the good news. For western states (and coalition such as NATO) in Syria at the moment we have all time on our side. We can, and did (as we have been doing so far), experiment and fail flatly. This strategy can go on but I guess it is Messr. Putin, President of Russia, recent rapprochement with an offer of how to deal with – and apparently, again, work in partnership on – Syria that forced me to finally break my silence and come forward with the best strategy out there for western allies in dealing with Syria and it’s local opponents (sort of two-in-one).
Of course, first and foremost, the western leaders can not accept or trust, yet again, Messr. Putin ”offers”. The very fact Messr. Putin came forward with new offers for partnership and the likes shows – to close followers and students of Syria Crisis today – that the Russian president just realized how he has compromised his state and it’s armed forces by going all in with support for Assad. From the start things never looked rosier for Russians or Iranians. To shorten up our discussion one can say these two actors – plus their local client, Assad and Lebanese Hizb Ul Allah – are hemorrhaging to almost empty-levels and as a result they are getting extremely exhausted and burnt/bleed out in all fronts; manpower reserves, logistical capabilities, weapon system expenses and perhaps most threatening for these actors is the fact that they are being aggressively counter-attacked [and isolated diplomatically] locally (regional geopolitics) and beyond.
So how does one approach Messr. Putin’s or Iranians – including Assad’s – offers of partnership hands against extremists? Spit on these hands. Be Machiavellian and appreciate the fact that Syrian Crisis is one of the rarest opportunities offered to actors on opposing side (the West) against their enemies (Iran, Russia, ISIS, Hizb Ul Allah, Assad etc). For along time in the west strategic thinking appears to have been sacrificed for ‘compassionate ”soft” foreign policy and geopolitical strategic thinking’ (Realists left for Nye) which have proved so far to be disastrous. Yes, the west should care about the ordinary suffering Syrians and seek to help them as refugees but the west must not turn away from such a golden opportunity of sealing Syria (as a country) up with it’s key international and regional enemies inside and let them exhaust and bleed-out each other for as long as it takes (Russia and Iran did, and still are doing, the same to the West in Iraq and Afghanistan). While this goes on, the sealing up of Syria strategy, western states must make use of its elite forces to surgically hunt down and strike ISIS hubs, allies and capabilities everywhere it seeks to pop-up it’s ugly head across the region and beyond (e.g. Libya, Sinai, Yemen, South Asia, Afghanistan etc). However this strategy (Silent Wars against ISIS and Co.) alone will not work and will require human intelligence assets (local Moderate Muslims) as well as newly formed – and truly non-religious or tribal affiliated – Muslim combat ‘legions’ akin to French Foreign Legion to work along side western elite forces in hunting down and striking the extremists (specifically at the present, ISIS) inside and outside of Syria.
Cease big aerial sorties. Cease debates on bigger ground footprints. Cease confusion on nature of war engaged in. Cease playing Realpolitiks with ‘ethics’ and not feasible national security, economics and political strategy. Let your enemies kill each other out or at least bleed [hemorrhaging-ly] each other to the point of full exhaustion, while not seating on the side as spectator but as a smart participant hitting hard and when needed and against high-value assets and/or personalities without giving advantages to your enemies. This is how one deals with Putin & Co. in/and Syria.