I have been puzzling over the emerging Turko/Russian relationship and in the end have decided that Erdogan and Putin have reached an agreement in which Turkey has a green light from Russia to destroy Kurdish attempts to build an autonomous region in the northeastern wing of Syria so long as Turkey stops supporting FSA/jihadi efforts to bring down the present Syrian government.
I suspect that the Turks will try to cheat on this arrangement through covert support to the rebels west and south of Aleppo but they will have a difficult time doing so under the watchful gaze of the Russian aerospace forces and Russian intelligence.
IMO the Turks will seek to manage their relationship with NATO as a hedge against Russian and Iranian potentials as future threats. The NATO and larger US incomprehension of the perfidy of Erdogan's government will make such an ambiguous duplicity possible.
On the ground the meat grinder attrition battle at SW Aleppo City is going well for R+6. Russian airpower is killing off a great many jihadis, men who must be gone to make the Russian goal of a negotiated peace in which Assad's government remains in place a reality.
The jihadi attack into northern Hama is a problem but one that will prove temporary and yet another opportunity for attritional warfare against the rebels. Unfortunately many civilians will suffer while the effort to re-take lost ground is underway.
It will be interesting to see how large the Russian ground presence at Aleppo City will become.
So far only one or two Russian marine platoons are in Aleppo. Their task is coordinated with the UN. They will supervise the Castello road should it open for UN controlled access to the surrounded east-Aleppo.
There are alos some trainers and observers around with the regular Syrian troops but not in a combatant role.
I do not expect any more Russian units to come to Aleppo.
I think Russia is keeping the economic incentives as the stick against any Turkish double-cross. Russian sanctions did not do Turkish economy any good and Turkey can not replace Russia as a economic partner.
Why would Russia welcome a Kurdish state that was wedded hand and foot to us? A Kurdish state would be a land based American aircraft carrier, able to interdict s.yrian, Iraqui and Iranian airspace at will. Is such a transparent ploy really in our best interests?
The growing complexities of Turkey’s position in North East Syria, not least the fact that the local Turcomen are turning against Ankara:
“Is Turkey falling into its own Syrian trap?”
” But with the YPG claiming to be standing aside, now tensions are mounting between Turkey and the SDF with its local elements such as Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Circassians. Even though Turkey has not given up targeting the YPG in its statement, more recent threats against Ankara has been coming from the SDF. That means Turkey is turning local groups into an enemy as well.
For Turkey, which has been trying to play the Turkmen card all along, opposition from the Turkmens at Jarablus was probably the last thing that it expected. But the Seljuk Brigade made up of Turkmens went as far as accusing Turkey of being an “occupier.””
Col: The Russians already suspect that the Turks are playing a double game. See http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160902/1044878608/nusra-turkey-border-russia.html?utm_source=short_direct&utm_medium=short_url&utm_content=ccEQ&utm_campaign=URL_shortening
You are probably right about the sizing of the Russian presence, but, as you know IMO that is a mistake that could be finessed with volunteers “temporarily” mustered out of service and formed into something like the Abraham Lincoln Brigades in Spain or a ground version of the AVG in China. pl
My view is that Turkey+Saudis are operating from the correct premise that they have near infinite reserves of manpower available to achieve their ends as long as the will to fight is sustained, while the Syrian government does not have such manpower available. Imagine the tens of thousands of able bodied men willing to fight in the Turkish refugee camps alone. These have already been used to flood the ranks of defunct unicorn rebel groups currently being used against the SDF+ISIS in manbij, conscripts fighting for groups and coalitions that have not existed except on paper since 2013-2015, at their official disbandments by al Qaeda in Idlib/Aleppo. The same will follow with these groups within months. SDF is already falling apart at the seams, arab groups seen splitting away in ayn issa/tel abyad today amidst clashes and declaring allegiance to the ever-nebulous “FSA”
I don’t agree with any of that. there are only so many of the disgruntled and or fanatical who want to go to heaven in the near term. If the men in the Syrian refugee camps anywhere had wanted to fight they would have stayed to do so. pl
Russian involvement in Syria is still for self preservation.
Their coastal bases and goodwill in Syria must be protected in order to safeguard the Bosphorus straits in the classic Russian pincer doctrine – Any force blocking the straits can be attacked from north or south.
The Rus see the Kurds and their mountains are the perfect Northern containment of the sunni head-choppers badlands with Iran holding the Eastern flank. The Rus suffers from the same enemy identification problem we have. The kurds/Iranians/Armenians can see through the local tribal/sect/religious allegiances and call a spade a spade. Let them be the border screeners for the badlands.
The diverse & fragmented kurds need to be corralled/contained within those mountains to prevent their forces from being over extended.
Any overextended kurdish force will be attacked with a 50% probability that the attack will come from a rival kurdish faction stabbing them in the back.
Hence all the lines in the sand to stop kurdish expansion.
Turkeys’ current power holders have received their wake up call, their Sunni power-base can easily be led astray and turn on them – see Gulenists and now Daesh. Their draining of the ultra fanatic fever swamps to locations ‘south of their border’ isn’t working anymore and the dawning realization that the Caliphate is flanking their regime from the religious right has them currently scrambling for an answer.
The crux of the Rus-Turk talks is: Russia will forgive all if:
1) Turkey mans up and protects its southern border from the madness. (Re: the kurds – see above)
2) Moderate its religious nature so as not to become another Saudi Arabia. A race to the religious right will end with loss of state control / endless appeasement of the most fanatic groups and eventual takeover by the Caliphate
3) Maintain the quiet in Georgia, which is currently pacified with their able bodied fanatics draining south to the caliphates killing zone
(The shootdown of SU-24 by Turkey was probably part of the coup sect trying to create an incident to overthrow the Sultan)
I still see the end result of the conflicts as a 3-way partition of the crescent with a Sunni fanatical badland wedged between all the different state players. There are too many globally indoctrinated in the wahhabi pipeline to deal with. Let them drain to the badlands and deal with them there.
Assad is waking up the Southern Front, and is keeping the pressure on around Damascus.
Is the thinking that he will knock out those rebel pockets and then redeploy the freed up troops to Aleppo and Latakia?
Did the Syrian Kurds at some point go beyond wanting just Kurdish Autonomy withIN a Federated Syria . . . to wanting the beginnings of an all out Independent Kurdistan Nation? If so, is there a press release or a speech or a statement where they stated they had crossed that line of desire? Or do their actions just make it more and more seeming that way?
If any of that is true, that could be when the RussiaGov decided the Syria Kurds deserve only “so much” support and no more. Because the non-partition of UN recognized countries is also a RussiaGov diplomatic Prime Directive. If so , I wonder how the RussiaGov will respond to Erdogan’s desire to keep forever those parts of Syria he can get conquered?
You must have missed it earlier.