Much has been made of the 120 hour truce supposedly negotiated by Pence and Erdogan. The “negotiation” called for the SDF to pull all its force back from the border. As I told Elaine earlier today, whatever Pence and Erdogan agreed to has no effect on the YPG, the SAA or the Russians. For that matter, it has little effect on the jihadis, either. The SAA has taken over the Kobani border post and have started to move heavy weapons into the area. The dog and pony show in Ankara means nothing… except for possibly assuaging Trump’s ego over his recent goat roping with Erdogan. I believe the true target of this ceasefire announcement is the US Congress which is about to impose sanctions on Turkey.
The SAA deployment to the border is continuing. At the same time, Russian and Syrian strikes on jihadi position in Latakia are intensifying in preparation for resuming the offensive on that front. In the meantime, the jihadis are bound to make some more temporary advances east of the Euphrates. All in good time, my friends, all in good time.
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have once again fended off a powerful attack by the Turkish-backed militants at the key border city of Ras Al-‘Ayn in northwestern Al-Hasakah. Backed by heavy airstrikes from the Turkish Air Force, the so-called “Syrian National Army” attempted to advance from the western districts of Ras Al-‘Ayn towards the city-center; however, they were unable to crack the SDF’s lines. According to a report from northern Al-Hasakah, the Syrian Democratic Forces were able to foil the militant advance, while also inflicting heavy casualties within the ranks of the Turkish-backed militants.
While the Turkish-backed militants were able to advance at Tal Abyad in Al-Raqqa, their offensive at Ras Al-‘Ayn has been plagued with heavy losses in personnel and very litle progress inside the city.
Since establishing their military cooperation agreement with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces have been able to free up several units and redeploy them to the Ras Al-‘Ayn front. This has been incredibly important for the SDF, as they have been able to reinforce their front-lines at Ras Al-‘Ayn and its surroundings. (Al Masdar News)
It’s just a five day pause for the Turks to resupply and reinforce their effort. Pence was snookered.
Erdo has cards to play and aspirations that in some areas will fit with Trump’s aspirations, so some genuine horse trading occuring.
The fat lady sings when pics come out of SAA at the oilfields.
Of course it is also a five day pause for the Syrian government army, their Russian supporters and assistants, perhaps Iranian personnel to resupply and reinforce THEIR effort . . . perhaps even co-ordinating with the Kurdish forces in the region on how to do that together.
Erdo is solving his own long term “Reaver” problem by sending them into a death mill from which they will never return.
I have seen the Israel First crowd increasingly fulminating about Erdogan and the Turks in recent years. Personally I wouldn’t be looking to make an enemy there, Turkey is above Israel’s weight division. I doubt the Turks are under any illusion as to who is pulling Menendez’s and Graham’s strings on the sanctions.
You are right about the intended audience for the ceasefire agreement. In fact I think it is increasingly looking like the whole affair is a show put on as cover for the plan to eject US forces from NE Syria. Did Erdogan ever intend a full scale invasion and massacre of the Kurds? I wouldn’t bet on it. But he will now be able to declare victory once Damascus & Moscow guarantee the YPG has pulled out of the ‘safe zone’. With luck Turkey will soon agree to pull its proxies out and allow the SAA (having absorbed the “SDF”) to deploy along the rest of the border. It should then be possible for Damascus/Ankara to revert to the 1998 Adana agreement, which if I recall correctly, allows 5km incursions by Turkish forces in case of PKK terrorist activity.
I believe what we have witnessed was mostly choreographed. Trump’s recent comments have to a large extent given the game away, particularly his “tough love” tweet, the following one about the country following his “somewhat unconventional path” (in Syria) and his comments at the Dallas rally. Trump doubtless had a good deal of help, but fundamentally I have no problem with the fact that he could have been in on it from the start. He would have appreciated the fact that US forces could not leave unless the Kurds reconciled with Damascus and that this would happen only with a Turkish invasion and their simultaneous and unequivocal abandonment by himself. His role was simply to shout “you’re fired!” at a bunch of folk who did a deal with Obama – perfect.
People wondering what Erdogan gets out of this should appreciate his fear of the Borg’s desire to create a state of Rojava and this potentially being used as a launch pad to regime change him in the future. With US forces gone and Assad’s control being restored that is now a pipe dream. There is plenty more to work out, not least what now becomes of the “Syrian National Army”, but the plan seems to have been a huge success. It has been awe-inspiring to watch it play out.
Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, Rouhani (not forgetting the US taxpayer) 1 : Borg 0.
5 day-pause brings us to October 22nd when the Sultan meets with Putin in Sochi. Will have to see who will make demands?
The sultan may cave to Putin’s demands if he really wants those S-400.
In addition there is the Adana Agreement that both Turkey and Syria signed in 1982, unless the Sultan hopes to recreate his empire from Kirkuk to Bulgaria.
I have seen speculation that Erdogan gave Trump an ultimatum and he folded immediately. Maybe his bonespurs acted up again.
Not Syria BUT next door neighbour Lebanon
Does the “agent” David Ignatius know something that we will get to be informed later?
“What would a stronger Lebanese state look like? First, it would be better able to assert its sovereignty, starting with borders. To that end, the United States should push to resume back-channel negotiations to define a land and maritime border between Lebanon and Israel. The talks began this year, under a U.N. umbrella, but then foundered. And down the road, the United States should help Lebanon establish a real, smuggler-proof border with Syria.
In return for deepening its support, the United States should demand some urgent reforms. Lebanon needs a modern telecommunications regulatory authority, as a first step toward privatization of the largely state-owned telecommunications sector that could raise $6 billion. It needs to privatize its inept state-run electricity company, too, which could save up to $2 billion.”
Yeah every pro-israel hawk inside the beltway and NYC wants Lebanon to hand over Block 8 and 9 to Israel including Foggy Bottom political diplos.
Having said that, look at what is happening in Lebanon since Wednesday:
Right, but you’re limiting your horizon. Since the ceasefire doesn’t apply to the SAA and Russians, they have five days to move enough forces along the Turkish-Syrian border so that at the end of the ceasefire, Erdogan packs up and goes home, leaving the takfiris, who’ve almost certainly will have broken the ceasefire, to fertilize Syrian soil, the only thing they deserve.
How long does it take to move a SAA “convoy” 220 miles (der Ezzor to opposite Cizre) without any opposition? My guess is about five hours, say ten allowing for tea breaks, and a Toyota pickup could do it on a single tank of diesel with plenty (400 miles) to spare
This “operation” has been on the books for some time. The SAA stopping after capturing Khan Sheikhoun when they had considerable momentum. Russian SF throwing a new bridges across the Euphrates when the Russians tend not to do something for no reason.
As for Trump, he tried to get out of Syria once before and got nowhere, then he tried to unload American involvement in Syria onto other parties but neither the Europeans nor the Gulfies were prepared to do anything. That left the Turkish, Russians and Syrians but Putin had already made it clear that Syria would be left whole so that ruled out the Turkish except in a bit part, so Trump gave the job to the Russians and Syrians who also decided to help Erdogan with his three biggest problems, the takfiris, the PKK and a few million refugees. The takfiris will be fed to the SAA Meat Grinder, the PKK will be physically separated from the YPG and with the conflict over and the takfiris gone, they’ll be no reason for the refugees to not return.
With the refugees in Turkey returning to Syria, the Europeans will be relieved that they’re not coming to Europe and might even cough up some money for reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Trump, the master of disinformation and bullshit, is distracting the Republicans and corporate Democrats and succeeding. By the time that idiot Pelosi has worked out what’s happening, it’ll be too late.
For those worried about a resurgent ISIS, remember that Washington tolerated ISIS to displace the Syrian government and scare Baghdad and it’s only when Russia arrived in Syria and started hunting ISIS that Obama felt any real need to take action against ISIS. Syria and Russia will liquidate any attempt at resurgence by ISIS.
For the other view, see MOA:
Hope you’re recovering nicely, Colonel.
IMHO, the Trump Administration had to reach some kind of agreement with the Turks, just to try to take the heat off the Administration.
Seems that, in their rush to make some kind of a deal, any deal, the Administration gave the Turks everything they wanted, and the Turks haven’t even kept their end of the bargain.
Pence wasn’t snookered. He was playing from a weak hand, with little leverage over Erdogan, and facing enormous domestic pressure to come back with some kind of a deal, anything that could be used to deflect criticism that the Trump Administration left the Kurds out to dry.
That’s where Trump’s hyperbole about a victory of humanity or whatever come from.
As it is, the Turks got almost everything they wanted, and didn’t even bother to keep their end of the bargain.
Interesting comments from Stephen M. Walt about the Syria situation
at the Washington Times
(some comments from Ted Carpenter and Damon Linker are also included)
Too bad Walt isn’t Trump’s NSA.
Even so, Trump looks like a geopolitical genius on this (Syria) one.
The comparison with Nixon seems ever more apt.
Walt also has some accurate thoughts about Afghanistan:
“We Lost the War in Afghanistan. Get Over It.”
According to Walt,
“After 18 years of war, thousands of lives lost, and hundreds of billions of dollars squandered, the United States accomplished precisely nothing.”
Walt is wrong on that.
What the U.S. did “accomplish” was delaying for those 18 years the establishment of a stable, if certainly not politically correct, regime in Afghanistan, namely, that of the Taliban.
The ethnic map of Erdogan’s pretended ‘Safe Zone’ shows his intent of ethnic cleansing the Kurds with Trump’s consent. Kurds in yellow, Arabs in green, Mixed in pink.
The YPG agreed to evacuate from Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad, but they will never abandon the hundreds of Kurdish villages in Kobane to the west and Cizre to the east. Plus the SAA and Russian MPs are already in Kobane and Cizre and will keep the TKK out of those areas. And SAA artillery is already beyond Tel Tamr within range of Ras al-Ayn.
The question is when will Putin allow the SAA to intervene against the Turkish invasion?
Regarding the protests in Lebanon. Check out this lady-kick on one of the thugs:
We’re keeping the oil
https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/us-military-unlikely-withdraw-syrias-key-oil-fields-report … A military source in Damascus told Al-Masdar News
Yeah, I believe it, that’s how we roll today.
1. Trump is obsessed w/oil fields, it’s an angle the Neocons can play.
2. It’s a way to keep the Kurds bridled to keep them a thorn in Syria’s side.
3. As long as the SAA is stuck doing guard duty on the border and not able to actually able to occupy the oil fields in the east I wouldn’t count on it.
We are so small minded and petty, we would take the last piece of bread from a starving child, oh wait, Pompeo is already doing that in Yemen.
Last night Trump got a huge ovation for saying “Bring Our Troops Home.”
This was in Dallas. Dallas, Texas.
Nah, starting with being able to shoot down any foreign military aircraft that enter Lebanese airspace without permission including every one from that shitty little country just to the south.
The last thing Lebanon needs is US support because the nature of it will be what best suits Israel rather than Lebanon. If the United States really wanted to help Lebanon, it’d give it several squadrons of F-16s and the contract pilots to fly them. Failing that, the next best thing would be buying the Lebanese multiple batteries of S-400 and Pantsirs from the Russians. As for the Telco being sold off, I doubt Hezbollah would allow that and it’s probably the same with the electricity company.
There are too many balls in the air to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes. …But Idlib may indicate what a final settlement might look like.
In Idlid, Russia wants to remove the jihadists from the DMZ. BUT Turkey STILL occupies Syrian territory north of that zone. Is Putin going to demand that Turkey leave that area??
I doubt it, nor will he demand that Turkey leave the nascent “safe zone.”
Why? Because Russia needs Turkey as a crucial gas-transit country. That means, Turkey will have to be given something in exchange for its 8 years of fighting.
Putin has been a loyal ally to Assad, but eventually he will bow to geopolitical necessities. He’ll have to throw Turkey a bone to end the war and strengthen his position in Europe. But that’s just my opinion.
Very good summary. That is how I see it.
What the U.S. also accomplished in those 18 years was the establishment of a extremely profitable opium smuggling operation.
If I’m getting this correctly you & Christian J Chuba see this conflict
primarily as a blood for oil conflict. Is that really the prime mover?
Excuse my flippancy but what about the Green New Deal? Lots of sunshine in the M.E. & there are ppl on this committee who seem to gravitate to progressive values. What’s next? More armed conflict for sunshine & wind?
I concur there’s a fossil fuel component @ play but if that’s all that’s
driving this madness it could be worked out. It’s much deeper, it’s tribal,religious, autocratic & vengeful IMHO. Americans have a unique
ability to forgive & forget, not so with many in the M.E.
As for Vegetius’ post of Trump getting a big ovation for yelling, “Bring
the Troops Home”; I wonder how that’ll work out. My guess is lots of mostly soldiers & Marines who’ve put their lives on the line for 8 to 16
long years thinking they were actually on a career path in the military
will be informed they can’t re-up. & plentry of the brass will likely
also get the heave-ho a hair’s breath away from making more rank. And the
average civilian won’t pay an iota of attention. Honor? What’s that? That’s not a business concept. The closest we’ve come to winning any armed conflict since WWII is cut n run. Perhaps it’s best that way, it
saves lives but not without a certain amount of humiliation. The west is
in decline & debt. The 3rd world is on the march. What could possibly go wrong?
I would respectfully disagree with you that the conflict is ” much deeper, it’s tribal,religious, autocratic & vengeful”
Turkey’s territorial ambitions are primarily imperial originating from the breakup of the Ottoman empire following WW1.
As far as Putin is concerned: He sees the nation state as the foundation block upon which the international system rests. Russia joined the fight not simply to save Assad to to prevent another Iraq or Libya. As Putin said in his 2007 speech at Munich, the way the US is thrashing around toppling sovereign regimes carelessly, “No one feels safe.” His defense of the nation state is actually a defense of Russia itself.
As for the US: Washington wants to checkmate Putin in Syria to control pipeline corridors from N Iraq thru syria to Turkey and onto the EU. The US also wants a greatly-weakened balkenized syria that cannot resist US-Israeli machinations.
In short, I don’t think the main drivers of the conflict are “religious or tribal” at all, but geopolitical, and on that count, the US is losing quite spectacularly.
Turkey, world power. Or, the bonespurs that kept Americans from being killed in a foreign land for foreign freedom. Either one works for me.
Erodogan needs Putin as much as Putin needs Erdogan. Where is Turkey going to get weapons? The gas can only come to Turkey from Syria or Iraq, both of which are firmly in the R+6 sphere of influence.
Turkey and Russia have convergent interests. Together they would have a monopoly on the flow of gas into Europe and would be able to form a de facto gas cartel (excluding NGL, but nobody knows how long this shale gas boom is going to last).
The idea was to capture Baghdad, not to scare it. That is when ayatollahs in Baghdad and Tehran mobilized Shia Arabs and Shia Iranians to defend Iraq.
Until then, the US-organized and US-led Coaltion of Europeans and Gulfies were waging a phony war (including France & UK)
I agree with Elaine, you yourself stated “US-Israeli machinations”: which are for the religious cause of Jewish power over Palestine. There is also the sectarian animosities unleashed by Jihadists.
Why is the secular state in the middle of all of that?
If the deplorables are getting fed up with forever wars were will the US military recruit from? Immigrants?
Kurds, Jews, Arabs, Turks, Persians, what’s not tribal? And then there’s numerous subsets of tribes too numerous to try & mention. Shake & add a good portion of religious differences & a helping of neo-fanaticism. We
under emphasise this @ our peril.
I agree, “Turkey’s territorial ambitions are primarily imperial originating from the breakup of the Ottoman empire…” yes, & who can best reestablish that empire better than an autocratic sultan. Does that description remind you of anyone? Remember the quote: “Democracy is just a train you can get off of when it reaches your destination.” or something like that. The House of Saud seems autocratic to me, but what do I know. It can all be “geopolitical”, that’s just a term I can easily agree with. Guess rather than looking at a big forest I was hung up paying attention to the trees in a portion of the forest. We all have basic needs so in that sense all ppl share much in common however I think
there are very real cultural differences. Just bc someone is wearing jeans & t-shirt doesn’t imply they feel, think or react like an American.
The USA is a very young country messing around with tribal cultures that
are centuries/thousands of years old. Seems like everybody wants/needs energy, I believe that can be worked out without shooting wars, that’s just business. Now territory, that’s a big one especially when so many borders were sketched out after WWI, which really wasn’t that long ago by M.E. standard time.
That was one strange alliance the U.S. formed with Stalin during WWII to
defeat a common threat & then things went downhill fast. Sometimes it seems the commies have all adopted more than a little smithering of capitalism & if some of the Dems win in the U.S. elections we may be copy catting a lot more of Marxist collectivism. I doubt you care about my ancestry anymore than I care about yours but that’s just not true everywhere & ditto religion including all the devout atheists.
I’m sure the Taliban know how to put an end to that, they did it once before. Meanwhile in Mexico the Sinaloa cartel defeats the Mexican Army and drug running across the US border continues unabated. How many Americans have died from all those drugs and why don’t any of the US presidential candidates, press, or retired officials give a damn about them?
Neither Persians nor Turks are tribes or tribal. Kurds are. So are many, but not Arabs. Jews are a religion and not a tribe.
The real problematic is that the management of the particularities of the Near East is beyond the cognitive capacities of USG, US politicians, or the Think Tanks.
Erdogan does not want to expand Turkey and include more Arabs and Kurds. Neither do Turkish people. Calling him Neo-Ottoman is just silly.
Are you sure Erdogan doesn’t want to expand his territory after cleansing
it of Arabs & Kurds?
I think the original intention was to scare Nouri al-Maliki enough for him to hand power to someone Washington found more pliable but ISIS were too successful.
So now Trump is wrong for “Bring our troops home” because it will mean less opportunity for current military members? This is a legitimate problem? I think many people here would hate the number 4 if Trump said that is what 2+2 equals.
I voted for Trump because he spoke out against foreign interventions and promised to secure the border. On those two issues he is far superior to anyone on the Democratic side.
How could the removal of US troops from foreign soil ever be a bad thing?
I cannot be certain.
It would be a good thing if it happened. But did it happen? Unfortunately for us he left some US troops in Syria at al-Tanf in support of the Israelis. Plus he recently claimed that we secured the Syrian oil fields. How many is he leaving in Syria?
And no matter how many he takes out, those numbers are dwarfed by the 3000+ he just sent to Saudi Arabia to buck up Prince Bone-Saw.
Washinton and her allies had adjudicated among Muslim sects and had consigned the Shia to the category of “The Enemy”. How could Al Malaki hand over power to someone more acceptable to Washington, for such a person would almost certainly be an enemy of the Shia as well?
“… exceeds the cognitive abilities of the USG, American politicians or Think Tanks.”
Very funny. A little humour to brighten up a dark evening.
Let’s go further, there seems to be a lot of things that are “beyond the cognitive capacities of the USG, American politicians, or Think Tanks”. Not surprisingly, when the power of weapons replaces diplomatic thinking.
I’m mean, but it doesn’t matter. North of the Golan Heights, the United States is toasted. Discredited and discarded.
QUOS VULT PERDERE JUPITER DEMENTAT.
I think we are dealing with the practical consequences of the philosophical position of Enlightenment Tradition, namely denial of particularity in favor of rationalistic universalim as applied to human scene. The Communists, with their belief in the new Soviet Man were another manifestation of that.
Lebanon needs to privatize its inept state-run electricity company?
Really? A privatized privately run electricity company would be epter?
Some private privately-run electricity companies are ept. But privatism doesn’t necessarily guarantee eptness. PG & E is private and how ept has it shown itself to be?
Saw Kedmi on Rus TV with smoke coming out of his ears over Syria. He was laying the thinly veiled references to the Izzies Samson Option-ing Iran on mighty thick. Still, to my eye, he looked shocked, in a way, and not just shocked but literally shamed, if Kedmi is capable of shame, which seems unlikely. Syria is even more of an affront to Izzy self-regard, perhaps, than getting their hat handed to them by Hezz.
Only when it creates an opening for groups such as ISIS
And apparently they are NOT being removed from foreign soil. They’re not coming home. Trump’s Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, says they will stay in Iraq.
Looking back on what went on in Iraq a fews ago I think I recall the Shia
doing a real number on many Sunnis. Was that just vengeance for for their
ill treatment under Saddam’s reign or did it also have a religious component? I don’t know how to separate these things.
Currently there seems to a budding lovefest between Iran & Turkey so
perhaps the Shia Sunni divide can be overcome when the end goal benefits
both parties & exactly what that end goal is remains elusive to me but
I’m guessing it’s the main reason Trump is moving so many troops into
Saudi Arabia on Saudi’s dime.
I think there are still French, German & Dutch special ops in NE Syria but exactly
where I’m not sure. Anybody know?
Elaine, per Reuters the French special ops troops will leave or may already be in the process of leaving. The Times of London reported that British SAS units will leave.
I don’t know of any German and Dutch ground troops there. Although Damascus once claimed there were. My sense is that the German and Dutch contibutions against ISIS was by their respective Air Forces. But I’m no expert.
Thanks Leith, It sounds like Turkey now occupies the cat bird seat in NATO.
Dutch Air Force from Jordan. Dutch SOF trainers in Iraqi Kurdistan. Both missions are finished now.
re “I don’t know of any German and Dutch ground troops there. Although Damascus once claimed there were. My sense is that the German and Dutch contibutions against ISIS was by their respective Air Forces.”
That is about correct. Germany iirc used air force only and perhaps, but then quietly, KSK and Kampfschwimmer as well and/or a submarine or SIGINT ship listen to Syria also.
Recce missions were flown from Incrilic. The planes and personnel were removed in July 2017 after some serious Turkish harassment to soldiers and visiting parliamentarians.
There was also unhappiness that through NATO Turkey would get access to pretty good German recce imagery and use that to fight kurds (and not so much IS).
Erdogan, with demanding more money, now, while threating to let loose another refugee wave is happily pissing into EU ally faces with his blackmailing. Like Trump’s habitual penal taxery, just much more vulgar.
(article in german)
German Recce Tornados and tankers were then moved to Jordan, safe from Turkish and Erdogan harassment (like arbitrary arrests, visit denial and the like).
Today in South Idlib
The following is EXTREMELY important:
“Mitch McConnell Warns President Trump Not to Remove Troops from Syria, Or Else….”
The or else?
McConnell clearly has Trump by the short hairs on this one.
What a shame for America.
The harassment of German parliamentarians and soldiers began when Germany granted asylum to turkish officials and soldiers fleeing from Erdogan’s wrath in turkey.
In the last years, since that coup, the number of turkish diplomats and soldiers seeking asylum in Germany has increased strongly.
The resulting Erdogan fury about that was perhaps a reason for Erdoganists to blame the Lufthansa, the largest german civil airline, to be responsible for the protests against Erdogan in the Gezi park.
If that doesn’t makes sense but nonsense that is because it simply is nonsense.
At the same time arbitrary arrests of germans on holiday started.
Posting that killing off Kurds and the like was bad on facebook was reason enough to be arrested “as a supporter of terror”. More nonsense, but that joke is clearly lost on the folks dragged into jail to be left waiting and waiting for many weeks or months.
To be arrested to be an competing Gülenist islamist it was enough when travellers … had a dollar bill with them. Very suspicious.
That written, as far as the so called safe zone (Ankara) and ceasefire (Trump) go – I don’t expect it to be anything but Erdogan resuplying ammo and reloading before sending the turkish army back into combat again “to cursh the heads of the kurds” in Erdogan’s own words.
It’s a peace mission only in the sense that graveyards are usually not lively places – excluding of course zombie sites.
The ceasefire was to allow time for US troops to be replaced by the SAA and Russians. Peace Spring is over.