Closing the Door – TTG

Sax Blog post

The Syrian Democratic Forces, including elements of the Kurdish people's protection units (YPG), are preparing to launch a large-scale operation to liberate the strategically important city of Manbij, about 35 km from the Turkish border in the northwestern Aleppo province, from the Daesh (ISIL) militant group.

According to information received by Sputnik Kurdish from the SDF command, the operation, which will be assisted by air support from the US-led anti-terrorist coalition, aims at liberating the city, which serves as a major stronghold for the Daesh jihadists in northwestern Syria, and is an intersection of several major highways, including the M4.

The operation was expected to begin last month, but was delayed due to Turkish opposition, Sputnik Kurdish explained. Ultimately, Washington is believed to have pressed Ankara into accepting the need for the operation, and active preparations, including the delivery of heavy weapons, have begun south of the Kobani Canton. (Sputnik News)


When Erdogan came to Washington last week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, he was hoping to have a face-to-face meeting with Obama. I have the feeling Erdogan got a lot more than just a snub from the Obama Administration. For him to suddenly acquiesce to this YPG/SDF push to Manbij and beyond, he must have received a painfully rude message from the Administration to curb his support for IS or face some serious consequences. As my old friend MSG Rivers would say, “The shit’s on, good buddy.”



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22 Responses to Closing the Door – TTG

  1. b says:

    Not sure you are right TTG.
    Erdogan did get something. “Rebel” groups controlled by the MIT took the Syrian/Turkish border station Al Rai away from ISIS today. They are moving west to east along the border under Turkish artillery protection.
    That is Erdogan’s “safe zone” in the making. I find it likely that Obama agreed on such a zone now in exchange for allowing the SDF to take Manbij.

  2. turcopolier says:

    IMO this was worked out in the field between our GB brothers and the Kurdish leaders and then sent up the chain where it was sanctioned by Obama because of unhappiness with Erdogan’s continued support of IS. b may well be right that Erdogan was given a “quid” in allowing him to try to construct a safe belt. pl

  3. b,
    If the deal was Turkey getting the border crossings from Al Rai to Jarabulus in exchange for the SDF/YPG and the SAA getting the rest of the region from Manbij to Al Bab and beyond, I would say Erdogan got the short end of the stick. He’s left with border crossings to nowhere.

  4. pl,
    Sweeter than sweet.

  5. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Sorry off topic:
    perhaps some would be interested in Amb. Chas W Freeman’s essay:
    The End of the American Empire

  6. Kooshy says:

    Colonel and TTG with your permissions, I don’t know if you have read, or anybody already posted a link to ambassador Friedman’s latest speech on foreign policy and it’s establishment ( as you say the Borg) it’s interesting speech ( line of thoughts without any change recommendation) and better than the last one on KSA.

  7. bth says:

    It seems that artillery range is defining demarcation lines in northern Syria and in Iraq more and more.

  8. VietnamVet says:

    TGG, NMS & K,
    We are balanced on the knife’s edge, waiting and watching to see what tomorrow brings in Syria. The civil war there is a microcosm of the world at war. The Russians and Syrian ethnic minorities are in a battle for survival and preservation of their sovereign states. On the other hand, the Western ruling elite need the proxy Islamist forces to destabilize Eurasia in order to raid it.
    We are living in a variation of the 19th century Robber Baron era. The American Empire would be sailing gunships up the Yangtze River; if it could. Instead, the western democracies are being dismantled and ethnic fault lines are exploited to promote weapon sales and grab flight capital.
    Americans are starting to recognize that something is wrong but haven’t reached the numbers necessary to overcome a rigged system and throw the bums out. Then the Empire will end.

  9. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Kooshy, Norbert M. Salomon,
    Great minds thinking alike. A very clear-eyed reading of the situation, indeed.
    To those not up to speed on the experience and accomplishments of Amb. Freeman, and why his perspectives should carry some weight in the national discussion, I recommend a visit to his page at Wikipedia:
    If Senator Sanders should attain the nomination of the Democrats, and then go on to win the presidency, I should hope that this individual would find a major role in his administration. With any others in the Oval Office, it’d probably be more years wandering in the wilderness (with the possible exception of Mr. Trump) for Amb. Freeman, willful, biddable dolts that they all are.
    We all got our fill of hearing how G.W.Bush was constantly clearing away brush at his home in Texas. Amb. Freeman could certainly perform a genuinely signal service to the nation in clearing away the pernicious overgrowth in the executive bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., in my opinion. Undoubtedly, a tall order, but I think that he has already identified where to wade in swinging the axe. By helping to defuse some key elements of the Unitary Executive, and potentially re-introducing Constitutional balance, maybe a start could be made toward restoration of the republic. It would make for a nice change from the direction in which we are currently headed.

  10. Trey N says:

    Very good insight and analogy, VV. We can only hope that your last paragraph does indeed come to pass — the sooner, the better.

  11. different clue says:

    If Sanders were to speak very quietly with Ambassador Freeman and ask if Ambassador Freeman would be willing to be SecState in a Sanders Cabinet if he were confident that he would have Sanders’s full backing through every step of the process and the endpoint . . . and if Ambassador Freeman were to decide that Sanders would indeed be a sincere backer and supporter and co-political warfighter against all the forces and people who would oppose, obstruct and undercut Freeman ( and Sanders for picking him) . . . then Freeman might indeed decide that offering to be Sanders’s SecState in the event of a President Sanders would be something worth working very hard at.
    If all those things came together exactly that way in silent secret, and Freeman further agreed to Sanders pre-announcing that if elected he would nominate Freeman for SecState and he would either have a SecState Freeman or otherwise let the SecState position stay vacant for his entire term . . . then Sanders could announce that Loud and Proud before any microphone and camera which wasn’t hurriedly turned off as soon as someone saw him getting close to it.
    That might have a real bombshell effect on the establishment and its Nominee-Wannabe campaigns. It would be like dropping an Angry Bird on the Borg pigs’ castle.

  12. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Different Clue,
    I’d pay good money to be a fly on the wall in AIPAC’s council chamber if this came to pass. From your lips to God’s ear.

  13. Balint Somkuti says:

    Well the current use of chemical ammunition by “moderate” Jaish al-Islam in Aleppo, ends the neocon dream in Syria, once and for all. Finally.

  14. Barish says:

    Thing is, might this crawl along the border by the Azaz-crews, as drawn here:
    be more of a way for Erdoğan’s MiT and other handlers to better keep under direct control the flow of material and personnel to ISIL-lands? As well as making the Azaz-crews, the utility of whom was severely diminished ever since the direct route to Aleppo-city was lost earlier in February, “needed” again: either as intermediaries of said flow of materials and personnel, or as a “bulwark” against ISIL to show off to the wider public. Or both.
    Looking at the above map from edmaps again: other than “securing” the border, might there be some manner of “cauldron” in the making between Kadrish and Mare’? Dabiq would be in between there, and to sell an advance and even capture of that place, significant as it is to ISIL, by “moderates” might be worthwhile to further claim these groups to be “effective local forces on the ground” against ISIL.
    Even with the Azaz-route to Aleppo-city being cut, however, taking into account stuff like the following, taken from
    Turkey introduced a 100-member special forces into Syria through the Bab al-PPC Hiua in Idlib province.”
    as well as the shooting war that the various insurgent outfits are currently conducting primarily against the YPG-held Sheikh Maqsoud-district in Aleppo-city, Padişah Erdoğan might not have given up on laying claim to that city just yet.

  15. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    IIRC, Chas Freeman was mentioned as a candidate for national security advisor during the Obama transition in 2008-09 but there was immediate and fierce push-back from the Borg. We know the rest.

  16. Barish says:

    Regarding this, here’s a link to footage showing very yellowish smoke going up in the Sheikh Makhsoud-district that was allegedly targeted, as well as a few people for whom it is claimed that they were affected being interviewed in a clinic:
    Is the yellowish smoke characteristic for chemical cocktails being mixed by amateurs and delivered via cehennem topu/ “hell cannon”? Exhibits for that type of improvised mortars can be found a-plenty searching for that Turkish term, e.g. the following from earlier this year:
    What’s of note there: the good man shown in front of the camera scribbling stuff on the home-made mortar rounds – a gas canister of some sort – appears to be a Turk. At 0:50, prior to firing the “hell cannon” he’s shown babbling Türkçe something about him and his crew having “cut fire”, referring to the cessation of hostilities, and says something about some of his own people “becoming martyrs” in the Turkmen Mountains after said cessation of hostilities/ceasefire came into effect. Hence, they are answering their comrades’ martyrdom in kind by firing in the “enemy’s” general direction with that gaudily decorated “hell cannon”.
    Another note on the scribbling: yes, that too is Turkish, and what’s standing out there apart from him drawing the name of this “Turkmen” outfit on one “grenade”, Türkmen Cephesi / “Turkmen Front”, is the name on the other canister, Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu. That happens to be the name of a prominent Turkish nationalist politician who died in a helicopter crash in Turkey’s southeast in 2009.
    So, aside from the fact that this “Türkmen Front” doesn’t make it much of a secret that they got openly declared Turkish nationalists in their ranks: would such devices as the show-cased “hell cannon” be capable of delivering improvised C-weapon materials, and would their impact look anything like the footage that I linked to above? Are the patients shown therein also showing typical symptoms, i.e. is it not “faked”?

  17. IMO essay seems soundly reasoned based on available open source facts.

  18. Kunuri says:

    Barış, what would the Sultan do with Aleppo, the place is a ruin. It will not turn any profits in his lifetime. If anything, he would know a bad investment when he sees one.

  19. different clue says:

    ex-PFC Chuck,
    Yes, I remember that. None of my idea would even be worth considering unless Sanders understood just as clearly as Freeman understands how nasty the Borg fightback would be . . . and unless both felt the Borg were now just weak enough and rendered visible enough to a growing chunk of the public that they would both be ready to take the pain involved in trying to inflict greater pain on the Borg.
    If both men felt that the situation made such action even possible, and if both trusted eachother to be equally ready to commit to bringing tire irons to a tire iron fight; then a pre-Convention announcement by Sanders ( and confirmed by Freeman) that Freeman would be Sanders’s only choice for SecState upon election would indeed be like dropping an Angry Bird on the pigs’ Cathedral.
    Maybe if someone(s) who know(s) Sanders and/ or Freeman thought the idea so much fun to think about that they decided to pass it along just for laughs if nothing else, it might even come to pass out there on the ragged edge of low probability events.

  20. Barish says:

    You aren’t completely wrong there. But then again, what good business-sense did riling up Russia via destruction of its warplane and thus enabling the killing of one of its pilots make back in November 2015?
    The endeavours he tolerated or encouraged in Syria as a whole can’t be called anything but a “bad investment”, really, with some of it coming back to bite Turkey itself not just through ISIL this and last year, but as early as 2013 when you take into account the Cilvegözü and Reyhanlı bombings, which were likely carried out by Nusra.
    As for Aleppo and most of Syria ruined, Padişah may have thought that once whatever client he thought he could put in place in whatever semblance of “government” established after Damascus is conquered he could proceed to bless his southern neighbour with Turkish reconstruction work, with a bit of the pseudo-Ottoman kitsch he so likes applied as well.
    I used to regard Erdoğan as a sensible man once. Not any longer since it has become increasingly apparent how deep into it he is when it comes to the Syrian chapter.

  21. Trey N says:

    “I used to regard Erdoğan as a sensible man once. Not any longer.”
    Yeah, me too. Whatever happened to that “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy he announced to so much fanfare in 2004?
    If he’d stuck to that program, he and Turkey would be in a helluva lot better shape than they are today….

  22. Thomas says:

    Trey N,
    “Yeah, me too. Whatever happened to that “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy he announced to so much fanfare in 2004?”
    Recep’s recipe for a slow boil of Islam for the Brotherhood got its cover blown off when the Arab Spring brought Brother Morsi the Moron into power and he placed his portion in the microwave for all to see.
    In fairness to the man, it was his lifelong dream and he can’t quit now, so he went all in at the Global Game Table.
    It has been recently pointed out by a commentator here that one of the Sultan’s advisors is from a Potomac River Policy Chop Shop. I am willing to wager that when the history of these times comes to light, the decision to ambush the Russian aircraft was made with the belief (however wrong) that he would have backing by the “International Community”.

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