The Turks are IMO planning to acquire NW Syria


"On March 5, the Pentagon announced that Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the area of Afrin had led to an “operational pause” in US-led efforts against ISIS in eastern Syria.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning added that the operational pause had not affected US strikes on ISIS and the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces still control territory it had seized.

Another Pentagon spokesman, Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, said:

“Some fighters operating within the SDF have decided to leave operations in the middle Euphrates river valley to fight elsewhere, possibly in Afrin.”

Thus, Washington at least admitted that the YPG was the main if not only ground striking force of the SDF. Various US officials had repeatedly claimed that the SDF consisted of some mysterious Arab-dominated forces with some YPG presence.

On the other hand, the US will be able to justify their further military presence in eastern Syria with “we are fighting ISIS” mantra now as long as its operation is on “pause”."  SF


The East Gouta operation goes on apace.  That ought to be over in a week or so.

In the meantime The Turks and their FSA friends are steadily grinding their way forward toward Afrin City from several directions.

DoD's spokesman states above that ground operations against IS east of the Euphrates have of necessity been ended for the time because many YPG fighters have gone to Afrin to resist the Turks  This must be causing a real identity crisis in DoD  They are are caught up in an effort to square the circle by standing by "our" Kurds while not getting completely crosswise with Turkey.  That is an impossible effort that will break down when "our" Kurds are being massacred by the Turkish Armed Forces.  Evidently the SAG and the YPG Kurds still cannot agree on SAG authority in Afrin.  That is a recipe for defeat at the hands of the Turks.


Sultan Tayyip I has been making revelatory and deluded statements.  1.  He told the US he will give us an Ottoman slap.  2.  He said that "we Turks will ride tanks where our ancestors rode horses."  3. He made a speech in which he told a little girl that she will be honored if she dies for the future of Turkey.  She cried.  4.  He has told reservists that they should be prepared to be called up for combat in Syria. 

I think he is far gone in irredentist reveries.  It is true that he wants to kill as many Kurds as possible , but IMO he mainly lusts to regain NW Syria.  pl

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79 Responses to The Turks are IMO planning to acquire NW Syria

  1. b says:

    Erdogan will surely make the attempt to “regain”(?) north Syria but why would Russia or Iran allow that? Greece could do little against the north-Cyprus heist as NATO was unwilling to give it support. But I do not see Iran or Russia agreeing with the wannabe-sultan on this. They would Syria in a fight. NATO would not come into action as Turkey is clearly not acting on its own soil.

    The “operational pause” in east Syria has been in place since January. The maps have not changed one bit since. The U.S. is coddling the rest of ISIS (some 3,000 allegedly) to later reuse them against Syria and Iraq. The same happens in Tanf.

  2. turcopolier says:

    It doesn’t square with US policy in Syria. Remove him? you have seen too many movies. Only the Turkish Army could have done that and they did not. pl

  3. turcopolier says:

    He is quite serious about the ottoman thing and believes that the lands of the Empire should be regained as much as they can be. The main question is whether or not the Russian and Iranian governments will prevent him from doing this in Syria. As for the US, you saw my response to Crooke. The quartet of generals are trapped in a largely self-fulfilling world view and they are running the show. Mattis seems the sanest of the lot but that is not saying much. Harper is doing a piece on efforts in the Congress to impose a new AUMF that will restrict the generals freedom of action. pl

  4. paul says:

    so are we actually going to have what everyone was afraid of at the start of this?
    that the next war would start before ISIS was totally routed and they will hang on as the various players fall on each other.

  5. outthere says:

    It seems that YPG is not going to subordinate itself to Syria,
    and that Syria, Iran and Russia are not going to defend Afrin from Turkey unless YPG changes this “submits”. And no one expects USA to protect them.
    Maybe YPG is strong enough to defend Afrin without help, but that seems doubtful to me.
    We saw in Iraq how Kurds blew what they had gained by being overconfident.

  6. luke8929 says:

    It seems hard to believe that there isn’t some tacit agreement between the Russians and and Turks, perhaps its better to have the Turks there than the Kurds which basically equal the US at this point. There are reports that Kurdish forces are now leaving Raqqua for Afrin to fight the Turks. I am sure the Syrians/Russians will allow them through to be killed by the Turkish military. Weakens the Kurds in Eastern Syria which eventually the Syrians and Russians will have to deal with once all the pockets such as Ghouta are cleared out. perhaps this is why all the western whining about Ghouta? Its a chess match.

  7. turcopolier says:

    “There are reports that Kurdish forces are now leaving Raqqua for Afrin to fight the Turks.” Do you actually read the material here or just the headlines? My post indicated that the YPG are departing the east for Afrin. pl

  8. Jony Kanuck says:

    Never mind Afrin, I’m sure the wanna-be sultan has designs on Allepo & Mosul. It’s my opinion that the Kurd’s are running a personality cult on Abdulah Ocalan: Radical politics often becomes a new, bad, religion. That blinds them to what is obviously going to happen in Afrin. I don’t believe Russia or Syria will save them, if they can’t make a deal.

  9. ambrit says:

    Any possibility of the Kurds stirring up trouble for the New Porte in Hattay province?

  10. MGS says:

    The Russian’s and Iran’s lose nothing by letting the Kurd’s fall in Afrin and gain everything. Currently the independent minded Kurd’s have sneered at the SAG and their supporters with American backing. Now the SAG has leverage once the Afrin pocket is eliminated. It can recoup the Northeast ( especially the southeast ) once Turkey begins threatening it as it surely will. It also provides the SAG with a new supply of combat/cannon fodder eager to regain their homes. The goal is to bring the Kurds to heel.
    The Turks face a guerrilla warfare far more expensive and extensive then anything they’ve had in Turkey. Once Afrin is captured the Turk’s will need to decide where next. Manjib ? Probably. The Kurd’s have very little true support in the area. Are the Kurd’s willing to turn it over to the SAG or let it go to the Turks ? It may end up a race by the FSA and SAG to see who can gain the most territory. Perhaps why the SAG is cleaning up it’s own backyard first and not pursuing Idlib. It all in the end comes down to the US actions. The Russians and Iranians can sit back and watch things develop and maneuver as they like. The important things will fall their way if they are patient. They are playing longball.

  11. Emad says:

    Erdogan seems to be overplaying his hand. If he
    * Cedes Idlib to R+6 and re-populates the dominantly Kurdish border areas with his favorite Jihadis, he runs the risk of a rapprochement between the YPG and R+6. His best move then is to mend fences with the U.S., which also opposes this prospect. This will accelerate schisms among the Kurds, some staying with the U.S., others heading back to Assad. Can the U.S. broker a deal between its Kurds and Erdogan?
    * Blocks the R+6 advance to Idlib, he’ll have to count on Israel to open a new front in the South and on the U.S. to re-ignite the fight in the East with rehabilitated ISIS to blunt the R+6 advance. Can Erdogan meet the U.S. and Israel demands in return for their “help”?

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Neither Russia nor Iran will do anything against Erdogan – overt or covert. They have nothing to gain. At any rate, politically, Arab states will oppose any land grab by Turkey. That would be sufficient for Russia and Iran to join that protestation.

  13. Patrick Cockburn on events in Afrin and Eastern Ghouta.
    Syria Afrin Attack ‘Will Bring Devastation Akin to Eastern Ghouta’
    Of interest is the claim by a Kurdish officer of the Movement for a Democratic Society (a Kurdish group) that Putin won’t defend the Kurds because “the reason that the Russians gave a green light to a Turkish invasion was in retaliation for the drive of the Kurdish Arab forces into Deir Ezzor, depriving Mr Assad of Syria’s biggest oilfields.”
    He also claims that Putin won’t act against Turkey because relations between Russia and Turkey are more important than between Russia and Syria. ” “Even if all of Assad’s army goes to Afrin, Putin will not defend it,” says Mr Khalil.”
    I have my doubts on those claims but I believe it is true that neither Turkey nor Russia want a conflict between them.
    Neither Iran nor Russia have sufficient forces in Syria to force Turkey to back down although Russia could certainly give Turkey a “bloody nose” if forced to.
    Cockburn notes “He describes a Syrian political landscape in which all the players still believe they can be successful, making his belief that the Syrian war still has at least four more years to run sound horribly convincing.”

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Mokhtar of Gulfies instructed those generals to discomfit Iran in Syria and they are doing their best. It ruffled Turkish feathers, it is not like Turkey is going to leave NATO. And I do not think this “best effort” discomfits Russia or Iran. This is like Qatar and GGC; like Qatar is going to join the Resitance Axis.

  15. turcopolier says:

    I always transliterated your name as ‘Imad. Any reason you spell it this way? “Can the U.S. broker a deal between its Kurds and Erdogan?” I do not think so. pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    “It all in the end comes down to the US actions.” Why? It seems to me that the US has very limited options in the area having made enemies of the SAG, Russia and Iran. The comment by Babak that Trump the Saudi Mukhtar may have waved his hand and told the quartet to make life hard for Iran and that plus their hard-headed Russophobia has produced the present situation. A race between FSA and R+6 for territory? I hope so. Unless they take massive losses in East Gouta the SAA would crush FSA like beatles. pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    jony canuck
    Aleppo and Mosul? I am sure that is the next phase goal. pl

  18. Fredw says:

    Something is not right with these discussions. By and large my (not very informed) estimate of the forces is similar to that of other posters. But the Rojava Kurds don’t seem to believe it. And they have a pretty fair track record for realism and effectiveness. They have been careful to not commit beyond their means. Do they actually think they can defeat the Turks? That seems doubtful, but they are hanging pretty tough on conditions demanded by other players to back them up. They must think they can accomplish something by fighting.
    I don’t have any answers for these points, just questions. But the logic of the situation doesn’t feel right without an explanation for their willingness to commit their forces to a fight that looks pretty hopeless to everyone else.

  19. turcopolier says:

    “Do they actually think they can defeat the Turks? That seems doubtful,” Is there nothing you would fight for in a hopeless cause? pl

  20. FkDahl says:

    Why aren’t the Kurds not opening up guerrilla action all over Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi land where there are Turkish forces? Why concentrate on Afrin, where the TAF+pet jihadists are deployed at force… why not dispersed harassment?

  21. Barbara Ann says:

    I agree Colonel, it’s all about the ancestors with Erdogan.
    Rather than Sultan though, I think Erdogan sees himself as the new pan-Islamic Caliph. He is not yet ready to formally declare himself thus & reinstate the Caliphate after its 94 year hiatus, but it would not surprise me if this was his ultimate aim. His mentor/adviser, a fez-wearing arch revisionist called Kadir Mısıroğlu makes no bones about the territorial goals: The translation is something like “This is our minimum limit. We will magnify our case step by step. We will claim everywhere the blood of our ancestors [that word again] is laid”. Note Aleppo & Mosul on this map.
    My guess is the aim is conquest, resettlement (with appropriate ethnicity), Hatay-style referendum & welcome the 82nd province. US are probably just delighted someone is conquering part of Syria. Will Russia of Iran stop him? I agree with Babak & don’t think so.

  22. Fredw says:

    Indeed there are things that I would fight for in a hopeless cause. And that may be what is happening – sheer desperation with no good options. That seems be a common assumption. But their actions in the war so far lead me to suspect a more purposeful and calculating attitude. They have not rushed in battles that did not further their goals. They held off from camapigns against Raqqa and Manbij until they saw clear opportunity and benefit. Even in the fight for Kobane, which looked to me like a hopeless cause, it turned out that they did have the strength (and help) to hold the town.
    But I don’t know these people, and I can’t make out that anyone else I read does either. And without any understanding of their thought process, I can’t feel very confident about theories based on abstract balances of forces, however compelling.

  23. Jony Kanuck says:

    Re: Afrin. Everything that Erdo has said & done inclines me to believe that he intends to ethnically cleanse Afrin & populate it with some combination of FSA & Syrian refugees. This would give him a ‘jihadi army’ to use to go after Allepo once the SAA is embroiled with the Izzies. I’m not sure what pretext he has in mind for Mosul but he can be inventive…
    I’d also note that Russia can stop Erdo anytime but they won’t, as long as they think he could be pulled out of NATO.

  24. Alaric says:

    Erdoğan is picking fights with everyone it seems. I’m sure you’ve all read about the Italian chartered oil exploration vessel that was threatened and stopped by the Turkish Navy off the coast of Cyprus.
    The US Navy is now accompanying Exxon chartered vessels that are engaged in the exploration the same area. Erdoğan and the Turkish leadership in general seem to try what they can get away with but I just can’t imagine Russia and Iran will let him get away with stealing parts of northern Syria and Erdoğan needs them.
    It’s pretty clear “the west” is dedicated to neocon plan of balkanizing Syria and creating a Kurd state. All of the think tank plans I’ve seen envision part of turkey as part of that Kurd state. Erdoğan really can’t turn on Russia and Iran anymore because NATO leaders, israel, and pretty much all of the gulf monarchs who oppose Iran pose an existential threat to turkey. So no I don’t believe Erdogan intends to steal northern Syria but he does need to put on a good show to get the Kurds to accept rule from Damascus and he is ultimately killing off both YPG and his Islamic nut jobs at the same time. He needs to do both and he is helping the SAG, Russia and Iran by doing so. Kurds are leaving eastern Syria already.

  25. turcopolier says:

    Barbara Ann
    The Ottoman ruler was Sultan/Caliph and pretender to be the ruler in God’s name of the entire ‘Umma. pl

  26. Fredw says:

    Some thoughts about the Kurds:
    1. They are not Arabs and they are not Turks. Knowledge of the Arabs and Turks may not help for understanding them.
    2. The Turks have insisted that the Rojava Kurds are a branch of the PKK, that they are building military capability for later use against Turkey. I know of no reason to accept this interpretation, but I think part of their strength does originate outside Syrian Kurdistan. From the beginning of the war they have punched above their weight in a way that suggests the presence of Kurds with pre-existing training and experience from outside Syria. Such people will not be looking to emulate the ISIS foreigners by dieing gloriously. Their cause may be hopeless, but it is very long term and not limited to this one area.
    3. They know the state of play in far more detail than we do. I would not be surprised to find that both the SAA and the Turkish army are weaker than appears to westerners. That is a guess on my part. But the Kurds know whether that is so or not. So I look at their actions to make out how they see the situation. Do they think they can be effective against the Turks? For how long? What would break them loose before sheer numbers overwhelm them? Is the SAA too weak to actually help them?
    4. They appear (at this distance) to be fairly rational actors.

  27. Barbara Ann says:

    Thanks Colonel, didn’t realize the terms were synonymous in the Ottoman context.

  28. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    1-There will be an election in Turkey in 2019 that Tayyip must win. The last time he “opened” to the kurds, he lost the subsequent election. Analysis of his actions/speeches/etc. must also take these points into account.
    2-Tayyip is presiding over a very precarious economy. He has very limited freedom of action.
    3-It is also well documented that the Afrin/Rojawa gambit is a Borg plan. Those who oppose the Borg should be pleased to see it fail. The kurds, true to their nature, overplayed their hand.
    4-It is well documented that YPG is identical to PKK. Turkey cannot permit the Afrin/Rojawa gambit irrespective of who runs the country.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  29. Jony Kanuck says:

    The Kurds practice what I would term ‘post-anarchism’ or anarcho-syndicalism. It comes from the ideas of American Murray Bookchin. The Kurds came to that from Marxist-Leninism. These are not politics, these are belief systems. I’ve seen Kurdish textbooks; they worship Ocalan. Last I’ve heard, from Syrian sources, the Kurds in Afrin want to keep their own police & militia!
    Erdogan is running a straightforward modern dictatorship: Complete control of army, police, judiciary & especially, the media. He’s put so many in jail that he may soon run out of room. Turkish media is even worse than the MSM. Most of the population is behind him but the Turkish economy has problems. Erdo is trying to play everyone off against everyone else & kill or drive away anything resembling a Kurdish state. Something could blow up in his face.

  30. JW says:

    It suits Assad to have FSA and YPG kill each other, the question implied by Col Lang’s post is what is the agreed limit of advance of Erdogan’s forces. Factors would be the depth of Erdogan’s ‘desired’ buffer zone and where the oil/gas reserves are within Afrin.
    At the limit, what then ? Will we see subtle messages from Assad and Putin as the FSA and rebadged Daesh approach the limit ?
    Erdogan will try to get away with whatever he can seize by increments and later successfully hold through military but primarily diplomatic means, and I have no doubt he sees the distant borders of the old Empire as an objective for later generations of Erdogans.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is pre-modern bravado. I would not take it serously; rather I find it embarassing – if I were a Turk.

  32. turcopolier says:

    Barbara Ann
    They were not synonymous but both were occupied by the Ottoman Emperor. pl

  33. elaine says: reports “Turkey detains 4 Iraqis for plotting attack on U.S. embassy”, finally they do something decent for the U.S. & “France told Turkey to end its Afrin operation” but they don’t.
    I think it’s a big mistake to allow Turkey to create mischief & go unchallenged.
    I’ve been concerned since the sultan’s wife first appeared dressed like a mummy; I’m surprised her face isn’t veiled. Then there’s the Turk’s tank barricade @ Kobanie insuring Kurdish slaughter by ISIS, the incident @ Incirlik AF base of shutting off the electricity, the so called coup & subsequent incarcerations of any possible discenters & dispatching thugs to rough up lawful Turkish protesters in D.C. the list just rolls on. What is the U.S. trying to accomplish by playing patsy
    to this bullying? I wonder if 4 Iraqis were really going to attack the U.S. embassy or if this is just a little friendly distraction.

  34. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    It might be worth remembering that tayyip himself was a Borg project. The article at the following link is a good summary of tayyip’s transformation:
    Quite a few of the original sources documenting the Borg support for tayyip has disappeared from the web. I guess the Russians are responsible.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ever try to chat up an unmarried young Kurdish woman? All of sudden all that anarcho-syndicalism melts away and you would be faced with the same enraged Muslim male whose namus is being thresthened. Cognitive Disonance par excellence.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    He was harmed by Kurds, they bit his outstretched arm, the first in hundreds of years. Kurds fancied themselves Machiavellian

  37. kemerd says:

    Yes, indeed. The islamists of Turkey hates Ataturk not only because he made the country a secular republic but also Ataturk explicitly ruled out going after lost territories of ottoman empire. Erdogan, true to all turkish islamists, is daydreaming to bring the former ottoman vilayets under his sultanate and there is a significant public support for this among turkish populace as they apparently do not to understand what that truly entails in terms of blood and treasure. But, that would quickly change as the first body bags of mass casualties starts to come home and syrian missiles starts to land in turkish cities

  38. confusedponderer says:

    I don’t believe Erdogan intends to steal northern Syria
    I think that’s a mistaken view at it.
    In my impression Erdogan would liklely say that doesn’t steal the land he craves for.
    To him it is his Turkey’s property anyway, unfairly lost in WW-I (by folks “who didn’t know what they were doing”, actually close to an actual expression made by a Turkish politico).
    That’s why he wants to get it back. He wants to ‘fix’ the losses of WW-I. That would also explain his trouble with Turkey over greek islands in the aegais (which once were turkish).
    My feeling is that, in his own way, Erdogan simply wants to undo the borders set at the end of WW-I.
    That’s geographically an extension, but seen from a “neo-osman view”, it is a “restauration of the old empire”. IMO Erdogan doesn’t see himself as a “destroyer” but as a “repairer”.

  39. confusedponderer says:

    A correction, I wanted to write “…his trouble with Greece …”

  40. JohnsonR says:

    Why would either Russia or Iran care enough about Afrin, or even northern Syria as a whole, to risk getting into an open confrontation with Turkey about it? Their priorities are surely: 1 keeping Assad in power and: 2 getting the US out of Syria. Even the Syrian government would find it hard to justify getting into a fight with Turkey over Afrin alone, so long as the US still squats menacingly in the far more strategically significant eastern Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria. The likelihood is that all they would achieve is ensuring the US and Turks both return to focusing their energies wholly on Syria, instead of at least partially on each other as at the moment.
    Likewise it appears the US has decided it is not worth confronting Turkey over Afrin.
    The interesting thing is what happens after Afrin, or if Afrin bogs down, if and when the Turkish operations are more openly extended into eastern territory held by the US-backed Kurds, or perhaps into Idlib in response to Syrian operations there. The Syrians and the Russians and Iranians are probably hoping for the former, the US for the latter.

  41. Barbara Ann says:

    You just defined revisionism and you are dead right, he feels the Treaty of Lausanne ‘cheated’ Turkey. I found this article helpful in explaining the history of the Treaty and the Kemalist secular state/neo-Ottoman feud than has been going ever since. It ends with

    When the doctrine is based on delusions of senile and twisted minds how can the actions be true and decent?

    Such thinking gave us Hitler & Mussolini, I pity the Turkish people.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Borg had been looking for an alternative to the Islamic Republic of Iran; first it went with Salafism and Neo-Salafism – when that did not work out too well they groped for another alternative – the candidate was Muslim Brotherhood – first in Turkey and then in Egypt.

  43. Sid Finster says:

    From the outset of “Operation Olive Branch” I have said that Erdogan will not simply leave.
    That is also why the United States tolerates his antics in Syria.
    The goal of the United States government is the destruction of the Syrian government. Whether this is accomplished by ISIS, al Qaeda in the guise of “vetted moderate headchoppers”, Turkey or the Kurds is irrelevant as long as the Pentagon and State Department get what they want.

  44. robt willmann says:

    In your comment you say: “It’s pretty clear ‘the west’ is dedicated to neocon plan of balkanizing Syria and creating a Kurd state. All of the think tank plans I’ve seen envision part of turkey as part of that Kurd state.”
    That seems to say that the West wants to create a Kurdish state in Syria but at the same time part of Turkey is going to be removed from Turkey and made part of the new Kurdish state. Who is going to provide the force to take over part of Turkey and hand it to the Kurds for a new state?
    Which “think tanks” have written papers saying that part of the existing land of Turkey is going to be taken from Turkey and given to the Kurds?

  45. JPB says:

    Yesterday al-Masdar news was saying that the regiment deploying to Afrin from Raqqa was NOT ypg. Instead they were saying it was Jaysh al-Thuwar, a multi-ethnic (Arab, Turkmen, and some Kurds) FSA group originally from northwestern Syria. Many are from al-Bab and Sheba in Turkish controlled north Aleppo, the Euphrates shield Azaz-Jarabulus-Bab triangle. They will have to go thru SAA controlled territory to get to Afrin, will Assad let them? Or will they even go to Afrin and perhaps instead create a diversion by attacking Erdogan’s proxies in al-Bab?
    Also I suspect that Johnny Kanuck is correct that Russia will not stop Erdogan’s adventures in Syria as long as there is a remote chance they may drag Turkey out of NATO. Putin is playing the long game. Assad is not happy about that but has little choice in the matter. Other parts of the R+6, Iran and Hezbollah, have spoken out against Erdogan’s trespassing into Syria.
    There will be a Russian/Iranian/Turkish summit in Istanbul next month. The FMs of all three countries will meet in the next week or two in Astana to work out the agenda of the April summit. A lot of that agenda is going to depend on the “facts on the ground” in Afrin at the time.

  46. kooshy says:

    Yes IMO, that is a valid analysis, IMO they knew a secular subservient client sate model will not work and seat well with newly more educated young urban muslims, it needed to have a hint of religious tone, and not for sure Shia since their experience with shia muslims was not at par with western hegemony. So far, in this last 40 years everything they tried, including the kitchen sink ,has not stopped or reversed Iranian islamic revolution. At the end of the day Iran will not, and can not, dominate the Sunni muslims, but nor can US and the west, with their past strongman dictators, or the newly creative models, based on “American Islam” as late ayatollah Khomeini use to say.

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The only secular order in a Muslim society is Bayonet Secularism, a.k.a. Garrison Secularism.
    But so much of contemporary political theory is based on the ideas of Western Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment Thinkers that few could conceive of normal quotidian politics except in terms of European norms.
    The funny thing is that they love the theocratic Israel – for which they have paid and are paying a very heavy price – as well as the Gucchi-wearing head lama of Tibet.
    I have concluded that they are against Islam.

  48. outthere says:

    Amazing to read: “Gucchi-wearing head lama of Tibet.”
    That description comes direct from Rupert Murdoch, and Murdoch said it at the time he was trying to gain favor from government of China for access for his Star TV network.
    And it is not true, he does not wear gucci shoes.
    He is a very humble man, also very funny.
    Have you met him?

  49. VietnamVet says:

    I for one miss the realists. It is simply impossible to have a rational vision of what is happening in the Middle East. The never-ending war is the intention. It is of no matter that it is against the best interests of Europeans and North Americans. The number one priority of Israel and the Sunni Gulf Monarchs and therefore of the American Empire is cutting the Shiite Crescent and neutering Hezbollah. The USA will stay in Eastern Syria until it or the Syrian Arab Republic collapses. Russia is playing a cold game to allow Turkey to invade Syria to soften the Kurds. Although the Turkish Army left Iraq; now that Turkey is fighting the Kurds in Syria, it will take a cataclysm as bad as WWI force the Turks back to their old borders. The Kurds are fighting to keep their arms, institutions and autonomy. They must fight to survive. Without Peace, the holy war will kill off any minorities left and bring on the Apocalypse that the fanatic Abrahamic religions profess to want.

  50. Tom says:

    What do you think of Iran? Constitutionally it is an interesting and new mixture of western style democracy (election of the majlis and the president) with the council of guardians as the final arbiter. Do you think that might be a model for other Muslim countries? I am genuinely interested.

  51. outthere says:

    Russia/Putin has never said it will help Syria regain ALL of its territory. As for Turks fighting Kurds in Syria, the Kurds have chosen NOT to submit to the government of Syria, so I do not think there is any reason for Russia to defend the Kurds from Turkey.
    Do you really think that Russia should defend the Kurds from Turkey, win that battle, and then attack the Kurds on behalf of Syria?

  52. outthere says:

    You did not ask me, so pardon me for my reply.
    Sistani has been unequivocal in his opposition to the Iran model of government as applied to Iraq. He is the most respected religious authority in Iraq, and he seeks no political power. He thinks that is not the appropriate role for a religious leader.
    Remember, Sistani has refused to ever meet with USA authorities, military or civilian. He met with UN leader who was killed long ago, but he regards USA was/occupation as illegal as well as wrong.
    Remember, Sistani was the person who called the people out to defend Sadr when USA surrounded the Kufa Grand Mosque in Najaf. And so many people came out and put themselves between USA military and the mosque that USA backed off.
    And Sadr was NOT in any way a part of Sistani’s organization.
    So Sadr had/has the final word when he speaks, but he wants no part of ordinary politics.

  53. JPB says:

    @VietVet – “Although the Turkish Army left Iraq;…”
    When did that happen? As far as I have been able to find, the Turkish Army (TKK) still has about a thousand troops in multiple bases within Iraq’s Duhok Province and at Bashiqa in Iraq’s Nineveh Province.
    Just three weeks ago several Turkish soldiers were killed by gunmen at a Turkish base near the Iraqi city of Zakho. And two weeks ago the Iraqi Ambassador to Russia was complaining to Russian FM Lavrov that the Turkish presence was considered an invasion by Iraqis. They have been invited to leave by the Iraqis many times. But have not left since they got there back 20 years ago.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think the Philosopher-King, with the power to suspend Sharia was the real innovation. The Guardulian Council was already present in the 1905 consitution. Both had accepted the principle of separation of powers and representative government.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It could not be a model for other Muslim states until and unless they come to the Ijma’a that they can never become like Western European country and furthermores, that Iran is the core state of their civilization.

  56. confusedponderer says:

    Barbara ann,
    in response to comment 45: “
    It isn’t just the Treaty of Lausanne but also the Treaty of Sevres.
    The Sèvres treaty marked the beginning of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, and its dismemberment. The terms it stipulated included the renunciation of all non-Turkish territory and its cession to the Allied administration.[6] Notably, the ceding of Eastern Mediterranean lands allowed the creation of new forms of government, including Mandatory Palestine and the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon.[7]
    The terms of the treaty stirred hostility and nationalist feeling amongst Turks. The signatories of the treaty were stripped of their citizenship by the Grand National Assembly led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,[8] and this ignited the Turkish War of Independence. In that war, Atatürk led the Turkish nationalists to defeating the combined armies of the signatories of the Treaty of Sèvres, including the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. In a new treaty, that of Lausanne in 1923, Turkish sovereignty was preserved through the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
    and then
    If Erdogan is as I suppose he is, then he will see a lot of ‘things to fix’.
    It speaks for itself and himself that he is pissing off people up to … China. We’re speaking of troubling up turkomens along the silk strait. A new ‘Big Game’.
    That’s a lot of territory and a lot of people and especially a lot of people who won’t like that.

  57. daniel says:

    Very True, in my (poor) opinion. Kurds of Syria are little idealist but realistic. And pragmatic and combat proven. They don’t want a state. They want “arab” drop from Syrian Arab Republic, no big deal in a multi-ethnic country.
    Around fighting, never forget Viet-Minh/North VietNam were very weak when US war begin. But not the will to fight and win.
    This is a fact that clear big countries politics.
    Turks are likely to suffer.I hope time will say.

  58. Tom says:

    @Outtheere @Babak Makkinejad
    Thank you both. I find it indeed a model that could at least theoretically combine elements of the will of the people with the longer term perspective that is so lacking in Western style democracy. In Europe Ireland and Poland come to mind where the Catholic Church has (had) tremendous powers. I have read “Revolutionary Iran” by Michael Axworthy. Do you think it is a fair description of modern Iran?

  59. Barbara Ann says:

    Re Turkish troops in Iraq:
    “Even if the Afrin operation has not yet been completed, we have the capacity to carry out both operations simultaneously,” Çavuşoğlu said.

  60. turcopolier says:

    The Viet Minh were quite weak when they started fighting the French, but in 1950 they acquired communist China as an active sanctuary and sponsor on their northern border. After that they got stronger and stronger until they had a full blown army as well as a big guerrilla and political establishment. They were never weak during their war with the US and got immensely more strong after they brought the NVA down from the north in 1965. Do you think the US will be a dependable sponsor for the Kurds? pl

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have not read that book, do not know.
    Please note that both “secularism” and “Liberty” have many roots in the West but it is significant, in my opinion, that the first one could be traced to the famous Hadith of Jesus on giving the King what is his due etc. and the second one to the distinction that Saint Paul made between “License” and “Liberty” – neither of which exists in Islam.
    The idea of representative government and elections could be supported within Islam by reference to the Quranic injunction: “Consult Among Yourselves!” and to the practice of electing the 4 early Khalifs.
    Basically, if you take my argument seriously, one may conclude that Muslim countries could have representative systems of government but without Liberty and Secularism as understood in the West.
    Muslim Thinkers, likely could graft the idea of Liberty to Islam after a lot of labor, but Secularism? That is a pipe dream, in my opinion.

  62. daniel says:

    I agree with your statement about hardware help from Russia and China and others marxist states. Albeit very weak in front of US military power, Air Force and Navy.
    With regard to Kurds and US, the 2 have little in common. Help Kurds then US is on the verge of losing Turkey, huge strategic gain for Russia. The US is stuck with no good choice.
    Best plan for US diplomacy (it’s free!):
    Kurds: stop Turkish Air Force. Its material and human damage are huge and Kurds have nothing to oppose.
    Syria: quit this country and help peace between Syrians only.
    Turkey: calm down its anti-Kurdish fury. Help this country to dry up its wounds and resume its place in democratic countries with économic gains.
    Vast and difficult plan, then the US is again appreciated for his wisdom (and loved) in this little region.

  63. kooshy says:

    IMO, can’t work and wouldn’t work. Iranian system is based on principles of Shia islam ( a cardinal like election by Assembly of experts for the head of state, Valley e Fagih, Governance of the Jurist) and cultural Iranian nationalism. No other arab country shares high majority (92%) shia and cultural Iranian nationalism. Iranian nationalism is millennials old, Pan Arab nationalism started in 1900s, and individual arab country nationalism does not exist, european colonialist knew that from day one, IMO that is the main reason they will not and can not accept a independent Iran.

  64. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    The overwheming drive in US policy in the Near Easr is ‘what’s good for Israel. Since Israel has a plan to balkanize all its neighbors to pevent any of them from even having a functional economy, it’s a cinch that is the goal of American diplomacy in the region. Letting Erdogan drive seemingly at will over Syria’s northern frontier is just part of the multifaceted campaign to destroy the Syrian central government and leave the place an ungovernable collapsed state. Isreal will never treat with any entity in Syria that claims the Golan heights (where the water is) or the coast (Where the oil is)

  65. JPB says:

    Thanks for that link. I was fairly certain Erdogan had not removed Turkish troops from northern Iraq, this confirms it.

  66. Emad says:

    Thanks for answering my question.
    Emad is the Persian transliteration of the word a la Hezbollah not Hizbullah, Taleban not Taliban and the like.

  67. Barbara Ann says:

    Turkish forces took Jindires today, seemingly without a major fight. They also advanced on the Azaz front NE of Afrin. According to my reading of the map this this puts them only 3-4 villages on each front from cutting off the remaining roads/tracks to Afrin itself – no wonder the civilian population is leaving. I wonder if the forthcoming siege will get the same Western media attention as Allepo & Ghouta.

  68. Barbara Ann says:

    And for the Gary Johnsons out there, I of course meant Aleppo.

  69. Terry says:

    Clearly a reference to Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters article “Blood Borders”published in the June 2006 Armed Forces Journal. Peters is a member of PNAC.

  70. different clue says:

    I assume the little symbolic drawing is what’s called a sigil. But I don’t know what sigil it is if that is what it is. I looked up sigil images on the yahoo and didn’t see it pictured.
    I hope someone will tell me what the sigil is. Unless it is one of those “those who don’t know don’t need to know” sort of things.

  71. turcopolier says:

    different clue
    That is the “tughra” (signature) of Suleiman the Magnificent. All Ottoman sultans had one modeled on that of suleiman’s. Tayyip does not have one yet. pl

  72. Babak Makkinejad says:

    May be “Magnificent” to Turks; he captured Tabriz, could not hold it, and like Napoleon & Moscow centuries later, set it on fire before leaving.
    He likely would have done the same to Vienna; capture it, hold it briefly, burn it, and leave.

  73. Tom says:

    Thanks a lot. I find Iran tremendously interesting as the whole world tried to stifle the revolution in the Eighties but Iran prevailed. What tremendous energy was generated. I can compare this achievement only to postrevolutinary France. Just as France changed all of Europe (Germany can only be understood if you understand the importance of the reforms of Napoleaon) so maybe Iran (has already?) will change the Middle East. I have to say I don´t find anything attractive in Salafism. Nothing I can relate to as a Christian who believes we are totally going the wrong way. Iran is a different story.

  74. mikee says:

    Story in Al-Monitor:
    Russia considering course change after new challenges in Syria
    Read more:
    “Russia once saw a return on its investments like the de-escalation zones, its use of private military companies (PMC) and engaging opposition groups. But these efforts are no longer producing the kind of results Moscow wants. Perhaps others have learned to adapt and deal with them. But Russia will not back down in the face of challenges, even if it means more political losses or physical expenditures. Instead, it will revise its course. Moscow already appears to be shifting its military and diplomatic strategies.
    Russia’s Defense Ministry plans to make use of the “gray zone,” that Cold War-like area between peace and conventional warfare.”

  75. Tel says:

    I believe this scenario sounds plausible, but I also repeat my earlier suggestion that somehow Russia and Turkey worked out a deal between them as to how much of Syria has been allocated for Turkey to acquire.
    Assad seems overly cautious about direct confrontation with Turkey, and Russia is staying very quiet on this. Of course Assad must do whatever Russia tells him to do, so I expect he will continue to sit and watch it happen.
    I’m not sure exactly what Russia gets out of the deal. Maybe they feel that US support of the Kurds is destabilizing, maybe they are buying a favour for future use.

  76. frances says:

    Do you think what Ero is actually up to is the creation of a “safe space’ for all the Syrian refugees now in Turkey? If he can clear out the Kurds, repatriate the Syrians and leave a garrison or two to protect them until Syria is finally up and running, how can this be a bad thing for all concerned? Assuming that is his plan of course…

  77. different clue says:

    Colonel Lang,
    (reply to comment 75),
    Thanks for telling me what this is. Since it is not a sigil at all, I would never have found it anywhere in “images of sigils”.
    Given its ornateness, I am left to wonder whether Suleiman the Magnificent signed with it by his own hand whenever his signature was needed, or if he had a professional signer to do that work whenever he so decreed it, or if he had a “rubber stamp” made up for his signature to be imprinted whenever he decreed it.

  78. Barbara Ann says:

    Re how far gone Erdogan is, this is extraordinary. ‘Bozkurt’ is the Gray Wolves, whose salute he appears to have made at a rally.

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