The Syria “Deal”


"Statement of the International Syria Support Group

11 February 2016

Meeting in Munich on February 11 & 12, 2016, as the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States decided that humanitarian access will commence this week to besieged areas, and an ISSG task force will within one week elaborate modalities for a nationwide cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG members unanimously committed to immediately facilitate the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted unanimously December 18, 2015. The ISSG reaffirmed their readiness to carry out all commitments set forth in the resolution, including to: ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué in its entirety; press for the end of any indiscriminate use of weapons; support and accelerate the agreement and implementation of a nationwide ceasefire; facilitate immediate humanitarian access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas and the release of any arbitrarily detained persons; and fight terrorism.

Ensuring Humanitarian Access

In order to accelerate the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid, sustained delivery of assistance shall begin this week by air to Deir Ez Zour and simultaneously to Fouah, Kafrayah, the besieged areas of Rural Damascus, Madaya, Mouadhimiyeh, and Kafr Batna by land, and continue as long as humanitarian needs persist. Humanitarian access to these most urgent areas will be a first step toward full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country.

The members of the ISSG will use their influence with all parties on the ground to work together, in coordination with the United Nations, to ensure that all parties allow immediate and sustained humanitarian access to reach all people in need, throughout Syria, particularly in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, as called for in UNSCR 2254. To this end, the UN will submit a plan to an ISSG humanitarian task force, which shall convene on February 12 and next week. This group will comprise the ISSG co-chairs, relevant UN entities and members of the ISSG with influence on the parties in a position to ensure humanitarian access.

The ISSG reaffirmed that humanitarian access should not benefit any particular group over any other, but shall be granted by all sides to all people in need, in full compliance with UNSCR 2254 and international humanitarian law. The ISSG asks the UN to report weekly, on behalf of the task force, on progress on the implementation of the plan referenced above, so that in any cases where access lags or approvals are lacking, relevant ISSG members will use their influence to press the requested party/parties to provide that approval. There will be a process for resolving any problems so that relief can flow expeditiously. Any questions about access or delivery will be resolved through the task force.

All ISSG members commit to immediately work together with the Syrian parties to ensure no delay in the granting of approval and completion of all pending UN requests for access in accordance with UNSCR 2254, paragraph 12.

ISSG co-chairs and members will ensure that aid convoys are used solely for humanitarian purposes. International humanitarian organizations, in particular the United Nations, will play the central role, as they engage the Syrian government, the opposition and local populations, in arranging the monitoring and sustained and uninterrupted distribution of aid.

Achieving a Nationwide Cessation of Hostilities

The ISSG members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG members decided to take immediate steps to secure the full support of all parties to the conflict for a cessation of hostilities, and in furtherance of that have established an ISSG ceasefire task force, under the auspices of the UN, co-chaired by Russia and the United States, and including political and military officials, with the participation of ISSG members with influence on the armed opposition groups or forces fighting in support of the Syrian government. The UN shall serve as the secretariat of the ceasefire task force. 

The cessation of hostilities will commence in one week, after confirmation by the Syrian government and opposition, following appropriate consultations in Syria.  During that week, the ISSG task force will develop modalities for the cessation of hostilities.

The ISSG task force will, among other responsibilities continue to: a) delineate the territory held by Daesh, ANF and other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council; b) ensure effective communications among all parties to promote compliance and rapidly de-escalate tensions; c) resolve allegations of non-compliance; and d) refer persistent non-compliant behavior by any of the parties to ISSG Ministers, or those designated by the Ministers, to determine appropriate action, including the exclusion of such parties from the arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and the protection it affords them. 

Although a cessation of hostilities can facilitate humanitarian access, it cannot be a precondition for such access anywhere in Syria.

The ISSG decided that all members will undertake their best efforts, in good faith, to sustain the cessation of hostilities and delivery of humanitarian assistance, and take measures to stop any activities prohibited by United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, 2199, 2249, 2253, and 2254. The ISSG again expressed concern for the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons and the imperative of building conditions for their safe return in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law and taking into account the interests of host countries.

Advancing a Political Transition

The members of the ISSG reaffirmed the imperative of all sides engaging in negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, in strict compliance with United Nations Security Council 2254. They reaffirmed that it is for the Syrian people to decide the future of Syria. The members of the ISSG pledge to do all they can to facilitate rapid progress in these negotiations, including the reaching of agreement within six months on a political transition plan that establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.

Full implementation of these objectives will require the ISSG co-chairs and members, the UN and others, to work closely on political, humanitarian, and military dimensions.?

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97 Responses to The Syria “Deal”

  1. b says:

    I doubt that Kerry can deliver on “his” side, that the various Jihadis he sponsors will adhere to a ceasefire.
    UNSC resolution 2254 also excludes Nusra, IS and all associated forces from any ceasefire and demands that these are confronted by all parties.
    There will thereby be plenty of room to continue fighting.

  2. johnf says:

    Thank God. Let’s hope it works.
    Anyone know which “other groups” this includes:
    “The ISSG members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council.

  3. turcopolier says:

    I agree. This is really an agreement to facilitate humanitarian aid to surrounded localities. IMO that will work to some extent but the “ISSG task force” will undoubtedly use people like Mercy Corps to deliver the aid and they will inevitably lose people in the process as NGO groups keep losing people in Syria.. “Tant pis pour eux.” The national level cease fire aspect of this is really “pie in the sky.” I agree that the warring parties will continue shortly. pl

  4. gemini33 says:

    Lavrov did not look happy at that press conference. Granted, they had been at the table for long hours and it was after midnight and -3 degrees in Munich according to an RT journo who ran a periscope livestream outside for a bit of it. Kerry seemed to have a cold/flu. But Lavrov looked genuinely pissed off, in my opinion. In the video below, there’s no hand shaking thing at the beginning or end, though they may have done it off camera. We’ve seen Kerry and Lavrov together a lot of times in recent months. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but they’re usually warmer toward each other. Maybe Lavrov is under the weather too. I hope things haven’t broken down between them because it seems like they’ve been the glue holding things together a lot of the time.
    Yesterday, our anti-ISIS spox was openly fighting with Russia’s Ministry of Defence on social media too. If it’s true that we flew some planes and drones into Aleppo and bombed targets we then blamed on the Russians, that seems like a really big deal on a few levels. Plus the British troops with the Saudi troops advancing on the Syrian border through Jordan that Moon of Alabama wrote about yesterday? Did Jordan break its deal with Russia? Is this just a way to put some fast facts on the ground to prop up a weak bargaining position as part of the obvious huge push to pressure Russia this week? Boy, I hope so because if it’s not, it’s terrifying to think what could come out of that. Are the Israelis still massing troops in the Golan? Haven’t heard much about that for a few weeks but it was in the news some weeks ago.
    The call for Obama to exert more force has risen to a roar now. Please tell me we’re not going to do something really stupid.

  5. gemini33 says:

    AP’s Matt Lee is the best US journo on State Dept issues. He’s in Munich and this morning is correcting other news agencies (via Twitter) who are reporting a cessation of hostilities.
    #Munich talks on #Syria agree on humanitarian access and ceasefire to start in a week, IF details can be agreed.
    #SecKerry says #Munich talks on #Syria “produced commitments on paper. Real test is whether the parties honor and implement them.”
    #Munich talks on #Syria did NOT produce ceasefire or Cessation of Hostilities. Agreement to work out “modalities” of CoH not same as CoH.
    Article he published in wee hours:
    “Diplomats aim for temporary Syria truce in a week”
    Maybe relevant, maybe not but Lee cites and comments on this tweet by McFaul who simply tweeted “Putin is winning in Syria”. Matt Lee says it’s an “interesting observation”. It is interesting because McFaul … well probably everyone here knows what kind of actor McFaul is.

  6. gemini33 says:

    Lavrov specifically said in the press conference something very close to this: ‘Russian air forces will continue to operate against ISIS and al Nusra’

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Likely, Russia could not get her goal of closure of the Turkish border.

  8. Poul says:

    A nice piece of divide and conquer by the R+6. If they get a cease fire the R+6 can concentrate on mauling Jabhat al-Nusra and IS good.
    The al-Nusra controlled areas of Syria could by gone by the end of the year which will only undermining the rebels further. As an added bonus the mixing of al-Nusra troops with other rebel groups opens up the possibility of selected attacks on hostile groups under the cover of fighting al-Qaeda.

  9. LeaNder says:

    Kerry has a lot of reason to be grateful to Lavrov. If I may feed on my limited knowledge in this context. Handshakes without looking at each other have been reported over here. Forget the context. Not watching much TV.
    Concerning Britain and Saudi Arabia, they were parts of the conference. Concerning your comment above, are the ones they want or plan to support listed by the UN as terrorists?
    “Are the Israelis still massing troops in the Golan?”
    Haven’t paid much attention post events around UN troops at the frontier.

  10. LeaNder says:

    I agree concerning Matt Lee, good man.

  11. gemini33 says:

    Carter’s statements yesterday at NATO meeting about NATO joining anti-ISIS coalition (including “building partner capacity, training ground forces”):
    I should also mention that, thanks to the leadership of NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, we are now exploring the possibility of NATO joining the coalition as a member itself. This, too, is a significant development.
    NATO as a new member would bring unique capabilities that could be brought to bear against ISIL, including experience in building partner capacity, training ground forces and providing stabilization support.
    I look forward to discussing NATO’s appropriate role with fellow NATO allies in the days and weeks ahead, and as I indicated this morning, that was discussed this morning, and a path ahead was charted at this morning’s meeting.
    And I also indicated this morning what kinds of capabilities NATO brings collectively, over and above what its individual members bring, and therefore how it could, as an organization, also make a separate contribution. That’s very positive.
    Now, many of the nations present today are also contributors to the critical non-military aspects of the campaign against ISIL. That’s just as important. We discussed them, as well.
    Later, in the questions, he talks about how they want the Saudis to wind down in Yemen and training to “enable capable and motivated local forces to take and hold territory out of the simple recognition that at the end of the day, territory retaken from ISIL has to be occupied and governed by people who are from that area and want to live there.” He mentions Ramadi but at least one question was about Syria and he was affirmative.
    He also talks about accompanying these ground forces: “We need forces on the ground that participate in training. Then enabling, including even accompanying partner forces.”

  12. JohnH says:

    BBC reported last night that this deal is very limited in scope and does not cover much of Syria. Nonetheless, it is a very positive step in the right direction…if it happens on the ground.

  13. turcopolier says:

    I am impressed by the number of people for whom the humanitarian disaster in Syria is more important than the geopolitics of the ME. I am not numbered among them.
    I have a number of reservations concerning this agreement that depend on future developments. 1- Will the successful ground offensive against rebel forces continue all over the country. If it does not then the stage is set for eventual destruction of the Syrian government and its replacement by a jihadi dominated government favored by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. If this occurs it will a refutation of my dictum that you can’t win by BS at the negotiating table what you could not gain on the battlefield. 2- Will Turkey invade Syria between Azaz and Jarabulos? The Turks are currently grouping large forces from their 2nd Army just north of that stretch of border. If they do invade will the offensive carry south as far as Aleppo for which some Turks have long harbored irredentist hopes? This is also true of Mosul in Iraq. 3- Is Saudi Arabia really going to send its trivial little ground force into Syria from the panhandle of Jordan? The mind boggles at the thought. The mind also boggles at the idea of SA maintaining that force in the field at the end of a logistical tether reaching back through Jordan to Tabuk in NW Saudi Arabia. So far as I know SA has no power projection logistics capability at all. 4- Did the USAF really bomb targets in Aleppo City? If so, what targets and to what end? pl

  14. Thomas says:

    I have seen the news footage of them shaking hands at the end of the announcement with Lavrov not looking him and both pretty glum.

  15. Jack says:

    I’m curious what the Russians are thinking. Is this a fig leaf to prevent a Turkish, Saudi, US invasion?
    It must be clear to all parties that the grinding of the jihadists will continue and that R+6 will make all efforts to cut the supply line from Turkey. It would make no sense for R+6 to give up their current battlefield momentum.
    Is this “deal” going to be a pretext by both sides to blame failure on the the other side and use that as a smoke screen for military escalation?
    I’d really like to understand what R+6 strategy is with this announcement.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think, based on what I have gleaned from a number of speeches by R+6 officials, that the plan on long hard slug of 5 more years.
    I do not think that they expect Turkey to close her borders.

  17. b says:
    “Hala Jaber @HalaJaber
    #HNC leader #Riyad_Hijab slams #Munich deal saying no ceasefire deal can be agreed before the removal of #Syria’ s president.”

    Pat, what about the second brigade of the 101st that you were told would be send?
    The Saudis would only go in under U.S. command. Probably through Jordan the north-east to capture Deir Ezzor and the oil in the area. A brigade of the 101st could do that with some attached Saudi spec-force as “Sunni” propaganda cover
    A Turkish move to capture a border zone could come at the same time.
    Russia would have difficulty to counter that. It is currently training one Syrian brigade specifically to counter a Turkish incursion. That may not be enough To fend of the 101st brigade it would need to airdrop a brigade into Deir Ezzor, punch IS away from there and go south-west to block the desert. Doable but risky.

  18. leCashier says:

    Is the purpose of this agreement really to give Turkey the political cover to invade? Or was this a way to keep the Turkish border open? But why would Iran and Russia agree to it? I was hopeful at first reading the headline, but now Im confused and little bit scared.

  19. Valissa says:

    This announcement triggered my “inner cynic” and my sense of this agreement is that it will only make things worse. No surprise that US cannot deal with Russian or R+6 success so far and probably “victory” and is doing it’s best to sabotage that.
    Today’s informative post by retired diplomat MK Bhadrakumar confirmed all my suspicions. He makes an interesting point about the diplomatic difference between a “ceasefire” and the “cessation of hostilities”. Obviously “Assad must go” is still the operative plan.
    US presses ‘pause’ button in Syria
    Ploughing through the transcript of the joint briefing given by the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the overpowering sense is about the play of words.
    Did you ever know that there could be difference between ‘ceasefire’ and ‘cessation of hostilities’? Now, Kerry explains:
    “So, a ceasefire has a great many legal prerogatives and requirements. A cessation of hostilities does not – is not anticipated to – but in many ways, they have a similar effect. A ceasefire in the minds of many of the participants in this particular moment connotes something far more permanent and far more reflective of sort of an end of conflict, if you will. And it is distinctly not that. This is a pause dependent on the process going forward, and therefore cessation of hostilities is a much more appropriate, apt term… But the objective is to obtain a durable, long-term ceasefire at some point in time.”
    … Unsurprisingly, Lavrov who spoke immediately afterward reacted sharply to sidestep the minefield:
    “(UN Security Council) Resolution 2254 talks about the ceasefire only. This term is not liked by some members of the International Syria Support Group. What I’m referring to is how something that has been agreed upon should be implemented rather than try to remake the consensus that has been achieved in order to get some unilateral advantages.
    We have agreed to this because it is said clearly that this is the first step towards a ceasefire. John has explained that there isn’t much difference actually, but this play in words is the same thing as statements about the existence of some kind of Plan B, statements that ground forces should be prepared. This is a slippery road… there is no doubt that this will only lead to the aggravation of the conflict.”
    In plain terms, the Russian military operations have met with devastating success lately in strengthening the Syrian regime and scattering the Syrian rebel groups. The US and its regional allies stare at defeat.
    They forthwith need an end to the Russian operations so that they can think up a Plan B. The Geneva talks will not have the desired outcome of President Bashar Al-Assad’s ouster unless the tide of war is reversed. Therefore, a cessation of hostilities in Syria is urgently needed.
    Whereas a ceasefire brings in legal obligations, which would commit the US to sit across the table and meet the Russian – and, more importantly, Syrian – military counterparts and draw up detailed modalities of implementation, UN Security Council supervision and so on, the ‘cessation of hostilities’ can be punctuated at will without breaking international law.
    Meanwhile, US and its allies are keen to gain access to all nooks and corners of Syrian territory, which will eventually help to mobilize any military operations under Plan B, especially ground operations. The humanitarian missions provide the cover for reconnaissance and ground work.
    … A miracle is needed to make this ‘cessation of hostilities’ to morph into a durable ceasefire. There are far too many stakeholders, there are conflicting interpretations of what has been agreed upon, and the necessary flexibility to compromise is lacking. Clearly, the US and its regional allies have not conceded defeat in the Syrian war.
    This “cessation of hostilities” agreement sounds like an attack that’s part of a war strategy, not a step towards peace.

  20. Thanks P.L. for hitting the proverbial nail on its head. A very insightful comment IMO!

  21. Charles Michael says:

    I was surprised to see RT this morning endorsing the new casualiies count of 449.000 thousands, thus accepting the BBC uped figures.
    There was also information of refugee camps established by Turkey just inside the Syrian territory. These camps being controlled by djihadists (Al-Masdar News)
    Nato is sending a naval force to control the refugees flow in Greece. Are they supposed to puncture holes in rubber dinghy ? or is there an other purpose ?
    USA is a formidable force in many ways, able to shift the ground, to play the finance angle and always much superior in communication.
    Is there some other agreement unknown concerning other topics ? or is it all just world of the mouth ?
    Time will tell, maybe.
    It would be very frustrating and morally despictable to watch the liver eater escape.

  22. Thomas says:

    ‘Did the USAF really bomb targets in Aleppo City?”
    From reports I read it was two A-10s and a drone. The question for me would be did the A10s hit legitimate targets and the drone hit the hospital for propaganda purposes? If the latter, I am willing to bet it was a CIA operated one.

  23. SmoothieX12 says:

    If this occurs it will a refutation of my dictum that you can’t win by BS at the negotiating table what you could not gain on the battlefield
    Not necessarily. It may merely mean that larger (much larger) geopolitical bartering, with much higher stakes, is in progress. And there is at least one such stake is existence as of now.

  24. Jack says:

    Turkey has neither the interest nor intention to close their border. Erdogan has a huge investment in the toppling of Assad through a proxy invasion by jihadists. He needs to keep the supply line open for his invasion force. His threats to invade are just for that and to create a safe haven for his jihadi proxies.
    The task of disrupting and closing this supply line belongs to R+6. They have been doing exactly that and making good progress. It’s due to their success that the Turkey, Saudi, Qatari and US “coalition” are now getting desperate. They need to change the state of battle momentum away from R+6. That’s why it’s straightforward to understand why they want a “cessation of hostilities”. But……why does R+6 who have the jihadists on the ropes?

  25. bth says:

    There is no evidence besides a Russian statement that this actually happened.

  26. h... says:

    ‘Cessation’ is the word being used by China –
    Speaking to Chinese media on Friday, Wang said the ISSG meeting had come to three major achievements.
    Firstly, all sides have agreed to open up channels for delivering humanitarian aid to those in need in Syria within the week.
    Secondly, a cessation of hostilities across Syria will be carried out within a week. A task group, led by the United States and Russia, will be set up to deal with details related to the agreement on reducing violence and a future ceasefire in Syria.
    Top diplomats have also agreed that Syrian peace talks need to restart in Geneva as soon as possible.

  27. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    “This “cessation of hostilities” agreement sounds like an attack that’s part of a war strategy, not a step towards peace.”
    Valessia : Absolutely. No end of semantics at this point

  28. turcopolier says:

    I listened to Assad’s interview with AFP today. He made it clear that the government’s present offensive campaign to re-conquer all Syrian territory would continue and with Russian air support against jihadi targets. He said that negotiations and offensive action would go forward simultaneously. I think that is the real deal, and that Kerry/Obama knows that. Tthis must enrage the R2P/neocon crowd. pl

  29. VietnamVet says:

    We are dealing with cognitive dissidence and full blown war propaganda. It appears that the West used the “mad man” threat of a two pronged invasion from Turkey and Saudis Arabia through Jordon to force a partial stand down by Russia. This is a relief. But, it is not a ceasefire or even peace negotiations. There are two wild cards. Why is the West so damn persistent in calling for Assad’s removal? There is one answer; Israel and its western supporters. The Syrian government is an ally of Israel’s enemy Hezbollah. The other is the military. Once they’ve been directed to mobilize for an invasion, someone has to tell them to stop. Turkey may not invade since the military is reportedly against it. But, the new Saudi rulers are out of control. Also, Ash Carter, Jens Stoltenberg and Philip Breedlove are behaving like turning the second Cold War hot is a good idea.

  30. turcopolier says:

    It is not a “relief.” R+6 should get on with the process of eliminating the rebels and stabilizing Syria. pl

  31. Walrus says:

    I think that this agreement is setting the stage for an invasion of Syria. The allegation will be that R+6 are not complying with the agreement and that therefore American saudi and Turkish forces are securing Syrian territory to engage in humanitarian relief operations.
    I expect to see small scale Turkish operations to secure forming up areas, start lines or whatever they are called today very shortly. Also operations by American special forces to do likewise from Jordan.
    How R+6 will react to this I do not know.

  32. The Beaver says:

    This just came out:
    “It is most likely that elements of the Turkish Second Army are positioned along the southern border with Syria, and will form the nucleus of any invasion force. The 2nd Army is responsible for defending Southwestern Turkey. Its headquarters is based in Malatya, with approximately 100,000 troops under its command. The army is comprised of three corps, the 4th, 6th and 7th which are composed of the following units”:

  33. bth says:

    Let me suggest a slightly different scenario that conforms to current information.
    All parties are looking at a major inflection point at the closing chapter of the Aleppo campaign. It is likely to end by March 1 (corresponds to proposed Russian ceasefire date). The Russians and Iranians saved the Syrian government in western Syria and prevented its epic defeat. Now, the financial cost and the battlefield risk (Turkish, Saudi intervention and Russian prestige) is going up as the campaign moves to the Turkish border and then to eastern Syria against IS. The prospect of Turkish intervention by its own little green men or by actual movement of the Turkish Army has gone from speculation to really possible. Also IS hasn’t really been engaged and one could see them drifting back and forth across the Syrian-Iraq border indefinitely without decisive defeat.
    Assad Replacement Redux. What if the US and its gang said to the Russians this week via Kerry that Assad has to go after a respectable time period and the Russians might be reluctantly agreeable but the Iranians are firmly opposed and Assad, now that the wolf is off the door, is equally committed to hanging around breathing air indefinitely whereas last summer he felt he might go one way or another to protect his sect. This is a decision Russia doesn’t want but might be the price necessary for US coalition cooperation.
    Sunni-land and the need to split IS from it. What if the US told Turkey and Saudi Arabia that it didn’t necessarily have a problem with a Sunni-land state-let from eastern Syria to western Iraq provided IS was put down first? The Saudi bluster about sending forces to Syria may be about proving that it no longer supports IS in the only way IS and the US would understand – by Saudi sending special forces. No one believes the Saudis so the Brits maybe helping Saudi special forces cross from Jordan and point them toward SW Syria to take on IS just to confirm Saudi’s commitment. So the Saudis are talking it up and may actually do it because there is no other way of getting a Sunni state-let out of the sovereign states of Syria and Iraq if the Russians actually do rally the Syrian government and hated Iranian cohorts.
    Economic dead-enders. Everyone (Syria, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Gulf States and Saudi Arabia) is running out of cash. The Syrians under Assad are bankrupt, and the Russians already got their trade and O&G so Assad doesn’t have anything more to give. The Russians sent groups over as late as this week to discuss infrastructure reconstruction contracts, electrical grid projects, water development and offshore O&G but assuming Russians win the Syrian contracts who can pay for it? Assad doesn’t have the cash so it is going to have to come from some international community fund that will never be repaid by the Syrians and will require the US to approve and possibly fund. To build groundwork for this a series of reports are released about economic collapse, human suffering and refugee waves heading to Europe. The Iranians likely promised to pay Russia for expenses in Syria with escrowed nuke funds to this point in the campaign. That part of the transaction, was negotiated last August good through this March. But the Russians now feel like the Iranians didn’t come through as hoped on major trade deals last November and worse the Iranians thought O&G prices would be at least double what they are today so money is tight for the Russians and Iranians. Plus, its an election year in Iran and the Iranian on the street want his nuke dividend, but with O&G priced as it is and another funding need for Syria imminent, the Iranians can’t fund Assad to the levels needed to insure victory being won on the battlefield. Assad has big Mo but no money needed to get enough men and equipment to finish retaking all of Syria. The prospect of a protracted Afghanistan type ten-year conflict that keeps investment capital away and the electricity flickering is just enough to keep Syria teetering indefinitely and the Russians know this. So does IS. No one except IS can afford the Afghanistan scenario in Syria.
    Would the Russians agree to Assad’s departure if the international community agreed to provide tens of billions in reconstruction funding to the Syrian government? And is a Sunni-land possible without IS or will the Syrian government and the Shia led Iraqi governments be able to finish the job without US, Turkish and Saudi cooperation on the matter?
    I submit for your consideration.

  34. VietnamVet says:

    A clarification. It is a relief to me that a nuclear war hasn’t ignited yet. A Sunni alliance invasion of Syria is one such trigger. I for one can’t understand why the West doesn’t ally with Russia to eliminate the apocalyptic sects, build strong borders and return the refugees home.

  35. turcopolier says:

    IMO the R2P/neocon/CIA faction in the Borg is working on a last throw of the dice in Syria involving a Turkish/Saudi/US/British invasion of Syria. David Cohen, the neocon (my opinion) deputy director of CIA was on 24/7 TV two days ago. When asked if the game were not “up,” he said with an arch look on his face that the rebels were tough folks and should not be written off. That looked to me like a hint of things to come. Is Kerry a party to this “plot?” I know not if that is true or if he is trying to impede the progress of this scheme by reaching an interim arrangement with Lavrov. pl

  36. Fred says:

    “International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States …”
    This would include everyone but the Syrian’s and the Russians. Since Russia is on the Security Council I would think they would veto any agreement that didn’t allow the Syrian’s to defeat those in rebellion against the central government. They are winning after all, why give up now?

  37. Jack says:

    I think you are right and possibly Kerry did this deal with Lavrov to buy time. If the axis you note cant be resisted how do you think Obama sells this to a skeptical American electorate during the heat of a presidential campaign? Will people buy the humanitarian intervention story?
    Trump and Sanders are likely to oppose it. Hillary, the triangulation maven may get caught in a vice. Could turn rather messy???

  38. Mesquite says:

    This looks like it may be the result of NATO’s new powers at work. They are just now empowered to prevent refugees from entering the EU. What better way than to keep them in their own country? If the Russians signed this but aren’t so happy with it (how could they be?), I suspect they were threatened with a Turkish invasion of Syria with full NATO support under the auspices of keeping refugees out of EU. The agreement makes it look like Turkey/ NATO will proceed anyways, but not till some time after March 1.

  39. SmoothieX12 says:

    Colonel, sorry for OT. Is there something wrong with my browser or did you blacklist me–I tried to reply to you several times, but was redirected to the beginning of the entry, without opening the post field.

  40. turcopolier says:

    you are and were not banned. pl

  41. SmoothieX12 says:

    you are and were not banned. pl
    Thank you for your prompt response. The “thing” performed on me the same trick again as I wrote this. No worry, I will figure it out.

  42. Bill Herschel says:

    1) The statement is filled with references to the United Nations, an anathema to the “neo-cons”. And, more specifically, Resolution 2254 which permits basically everyone to attack ISIL, the Nusra Front, and any other terrorist organizations. In other words, if Turkey wanted to “invade” Syria and attack Raqqa, it could. What is more, if some Kurd group is “terrorist” under the UN rubric, Turkey could “invade” and attack them. I don’t know if they are.
    But what can’t happen is for pieces of Syria to be bitten off by Turkey, et al. Syria is very much for the Syrians under this statement, which makes absolutely no mention, pro or con, of Assad.
    Russia has agreed to a statement that provides for humanitarian aid under the auspices of the UN. Bravo.
    2) If this guy is lying (the whole thing has to be watched), then he gets best actor a thousand times over. He knows where his planes are and are not. And he knows where American planes are. in order for him to be lying or mistaken one has to assume that Russia bombed the hospital (why?). Call me gullible.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I re-state my opinion:
    The Russian Federation is motivated, IN MY OPINION, by security considerations for waging war in Syria – she is cognizant that Central Asia will decay and a cordone sanitaire is needed to insulate her and her Near-Abroad from Jihadi menace that emanates form the Non-Seljuk parts of Islam.
    Putin flew to Tehran and immediately went to meet Ayatollah Khamenei – almost certainly to finalize strategic understandings between Iran and the Russian Federation.
    The Shia Crescent, the R+6, the Iranian Sphere are not economic or any other sort of dead-enders.
    The Russian Federation is a vital state, their science and technology and industry can operate without foreign input. Iran and Turkey are the only vital parts of Islamic world.
    In my opinion, NATO states have made a profoundly misguided choice to allie themselves with Sunni Arab interests – those are truly the dead-enders of Islamic World and no amount weapons or oil revenue will alter those salient facts.
    In regards to Assad’s departure, Iranians, who have been fighting in Syria for the last 4 years, are not going to agree to that. I think they are prepared for another 5 years of war.
    The AKP government – a variant of Ikhwan – is anathema to Saudis; there is snow-ball’s chance in Hell of them fruitfully cooperating for any length of time.
    Are the NATO states and their Sunni Arab friends ready for another 5 years of War?
    Are the Sunni Arabs or Sunni Turks ready for a religious war that would destroy the fabric of their societies?
    I think not.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree.
    But Erdogan might be stupid enough or cornered enough to do something erratic.
    So could Saudis.

  45. bth says:

    Col. I can only opine on my experience with him after 03 until his Sec of State appointment. He is self centered, smart, informed, even brave. He realizes that his current appointment is his last chance to make a world difference and he wants to make a positive difference. I do not believe he would be a part of such a ‘plot’. He will view himself as a person willing to fight the good fight and play the diplomatic card to the last. He will be his own man on this and I would contrast this with Sec. Powell who did what was good for Powell when it mattered. It would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall with Kerry and Lavrov in the room. IMHO FWIW.

  46. Kyle Pearson says:

    Yes. That has been my reaction, too.
    Hard to understand how R+6 allowed so many uses of the word “ceasefire” into the document, like that.

  47. Liza says:

    A critical new development just reported by Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry on her Facebook page.
    The ceasefire agreement has already collapsed. The Saudis have now said that their proxies will not comply unless the Russian-led forces end air strikes.
    “I do not envy the State Department (right) now — yesterday they really tried.”

  48. robt willmann says:

    This is a very difficult, tricky, and dangerous situation to try to figure out. And now, there is a report that somebody, perhaps the CIA, has provided the “rebels” with some ground-to-ground missiles with a 12-mile / 20-km range–
    I saw in passing today on the Fox “News” television channel CIA director John Brennan, who was saying things like ISIS has used chemical weapons and has the precursor chemicals to make them; it looked as if Fox was replaying an interview from the CBS 60 Minutes program.
    Still hiding in the bushes (semi-pun intended) is Joint Senate Resolution 29, to “authorize” the U.S. to use military force against ISIS and anyone else anywhere, which is still sitting on the Senate calendar where Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell quietly put it. Fortunately, nothing happened today (12 February) and the Senate will not reconvene until 22 February.
    It is obvious that the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, and their group have made enough headway that they want to take back all of Syria, and if they can get the western part of the country cleaned up, they have it made, because the U.S. and Britain have painted themselves into a corner by massive propaganda building up ISIS/Daesh to be the biggest bogey man in the solar system. If the maps are at all accurate, ISIS is mostly in the large eastern part of Syria, and the U.S., Britain, Israel, and others are trapped by their propaganda and cannot object or ask for a cease fire once R+6 gets a north-south line established in the western part and starts charging eastward to wipe out ISIS all the way to the Iraq border. This is why the U.S. and its buddies are desperately trying to stop the action by R+6 in the west through this ISSG statement. But the added saber rattling is dangerous.
    1. The U.S. is also running out of cash, and the Not-Federal Reserve Bank is trying every trick in the book to keep the treasury debt moving.
    2. If the Syrian situation will settle down such that rebuilding and reconstruction can begin, I think China might get involved in it.

  49. robt willmann says:

    Here is a transcript of the interview by AFP with Bashar al-Assad from today–

  50. Mesquite says:

    I meant to say the agreement appears designed to allow Turkey/NATO to invade Syria on some minor pretext, not that they necessarily will.

  51. Ghost ship says:

    Report of an interview with Assad in the Guardian where he makes it clear that he intends to retake the entire country.
    The State Department claims that he is deluded if he believes there is a military solution to the war in Syria which is a bit rich considering that the Washington Borg believes that war is the solution to almost everything.
    Saudi Arabia is still pushing for regime change.
    “The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said on Friday that Assad’s removal was vital to defeat Islamic State. “We will achieve it,” he told the Munich security conference. “It might take three months, it might take six months or three years – but he will no longer carry responsibility for Syria. Period,” he later told newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
    Promises, promises……….
    The “moderate” rebels are concerned that the deal excludes al-Nusra. How thoughtful of them, as it would be a shame to see Ayman al-Zawahiri upset in any way.
    A transcript of the interview is here:

  52. YT says:

    RE: “Everyone (Syria, Russia, Iran, Iraq, gulf states and saudi arabia) is running out of cash.”
    Ah!, all to the benefit of the izzies (again).

  53. Jack says:

    I’m impressed with Assad. This was a good interview. He expressed reality and noted the West and in particular the French were terrorist supporters. Policy vs Individuals. It makes no sense why we don’t work with this guy,

  54. bth says:

    China will get involved if there is something in it for them. They are rarely philanthropic. What does Syria have to offer at the moment to the Chinese? China would rather negotiate with oil suppliers like GSS, Saudi or Iran or customers like Turkey.
    As to the US running out of cash, that is nonsense and to put it in perspective $35billion or so in damage in Syria if that is the correct figure (probably not) is about 4 months of expenditure that we made for over a decade in Iraq/Afghanistan.

  55. Barish says:

    I am not certain if this was brought up yet.
    The SAA opened a new front against ISIL itself – shocking news for main stream press, that:
    “Syrian Army continues to advance towards Raqqa: Tal Madakhah captured
    Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), Fouj Al-Joulan (Golani Regiment), and the pro-government Palestinian militia “Liwaa Al-Quds” (Jerusalem Brigade) – continued their advance to the Al-Raqqa border and the Tabaqa Military Airport, capturing another hilltop along the Ithriyah-Raqqa Road.
    According to a military source in eastern Hama, the Syrian Armed Forces imposed full control over Tal Madakhah after advancing from Tal Abu Zayn along the Ithriyah-Raqqa Highway, leaving less than 40 km of territory between them the Al-Raqqa Governorate border.
    The source added that the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is attempting to counter the Syrian Army’s recent gains in the Ithriyah countryside; however, they have been relatively unsuccessful so far.”
    Tabaqa airbase is the declared goal, located just to the south of Tabaqa (also called Thawra in places) at the tail end of lake Assad. Of course, further than that Raqqa city itself would be within reach once that base and place is secure.
    Other than that, through the interactive Military Maps here:
    another development is pointed out to the east and north-east of Sayqal airbase: SAA gaining control of various locations on the main road through Saba Bayar as far as the junction at Ruym Maymur, and from there towards the direction of El-Barida. Source given is this here map:
    These two developments may be indicative that ISIL’s LOC is eroding rather more rapidly than anticipated, seeing how they are under constant pressure in the Syrian theatre of war at Qaryatain, Palmyra and the Kuweires-Aleppo de facto pocket.
    The Saudi, UAE and Bahraini “generous” offer to provide footmen against ISIL in Syria won’t be needed, it would appear. No thanks to their efforts to denigrate the Syrian govt.’s efforts to expel said group.

  56. Brunswick says:

    “Then, Maria Zakharova commented on the statement by the representative of the Higher Committee on negotiations of Riyadh.
    “Today, after sleeping on it the representative of the Higher Committee on Negotiations of Riyadh said it would accept a truce in Syria only if the actions of the RuAF are terminated, otherwise it is unacceptable. In his words, “without stopping Russian airstrikes, a truce in Syria will not be stable”.
    I don’t envy the state Department right now — yesterday they tried really hard,” wrote Maria Zakharova on Facebook.”

  57. johnf says:

    I agree. I think Kerry a man of honour. In Vietnam he showed bravery and resoucefulness under fire, and repeatedly returned to action after injury. He is dogged. And after Vietnam he had the courage to publicly oppose the war – not the wisest of career moves at that time.
    He might have a certain thirst for revenge, too. After, a decorated warrior in 2004, he had to endure being called a coward and a fake by a Borg draft dodger posing as a military hero. As you say, this is his last chance.
    I think he and Lavrov have worked out an MO (and I think albie etie agrees with this). In 2013 it was Lavrov, by the smartest of manoeuvring, who enabled Kerry and Obama not to succumb to the Borg’s demands to bomb Assad after the “gas attacks.” It was Lavrov working with Merkel and Hollande who prevented a Borg war in Ukraine (the ceasefire still mainly holds).
    Lavrov did much behind the scenes to bring Iran to the table in the nuclear deal. Since their time at the UN last October I think Kerry (and Obama) have an understanding with Lavrov (and Putin) on Syria.
    It might be that – to hold off the Borg’s Turkey and KSA (and Israel) – it is necessary for Lavrov to say that Assad could go. But the Russians have been saying that for months and Assad gets stronger all the time.
    Kerry (and Obama) have a few months left. They have worked out a way of working (with surreptitious Russian help) against the interests of the Borg. (And I think, like VV, that it is Israeli interests which drive most of the Borg). I think they want a Syrian deal alongside the Iranian deal before they retire.
    But I speak as a thinker not a doer.

  58. johnf says:

    “Pope Francis sees Putin as “only man” to defend Christians around the world.”
    “Putin is “the only one with whom the Catholic Church can unite to defend Christians in the Wast.”
    For some reason I can’t paste the address on here but it is Sputnik News reporting a French article. The top line is the title so it can be googled.
    (And if il Papa says its OK to back Putin then no mother-fuggin’ neo-con asshole is going to stand in my way – so to speak).

  59. Ghost ship says:

    Either Turkey and Saudi Arabia are painting themselves even further into the corner or the Washington Borg believe they’re increasing the pressure on Russia. Neither option looks good.

  60. Tel says:

    My take is that Russia cannot sustain a long war of attrition, and Putin is aware of his limitations.
    I agree that the KSA military projection is unimpressive, and I agree that the Turks would be taking a massive risk by invading. However, Putin is also taking a risk by overextending himself, we don’t know how severely stretched he is already, but I’m sure he knows it.
    Syria is fighting on many fronts simultaneously against many different opposition groups, they have done well so far, but at some stage they would need to consolidate their gains anyway.
    In terms of the Turkish border, bombing a few oil conveys is easy enough but really sealing off a border like that and securing it would be another thing entirely.
    War is a fire. Either someone puts it out quickly at the start, or else it takes hold until it burns itself out (Sun Tsu).

  61. The Beaver says:

    @ Smoothie
    Clear some of your cookies even ‘typepad’ and then reboot your machine.
    When you connect back to “turcopolier” you will have to re-enter your name and email and then submit your comment.
    Don’t leave your comment window idle or incomplete and then come back to it to submit, that’s when you see those problems.

  62. Luis says:

    Colonel, in case SA & Co enter Syria, what are the best places to establish a defensive line for R+6?

  63. turcopolier says:

    The Syria intervention is nothing like a war of attrition from the Russian POV. A war of attrition involves wearing down the other side by trading body blows with them until they collapse from a paucity of remaining assets. Russia is doing nothing like that. This has been a remarkably cheap war for Russia. They have lost three or four people and one obsolescent aircraft while the rebels have lost a great many men from casualties and desertion, a lot of ground and have lost the initiative in the war. What Russian assistance has done is restore mobility to the forces of the Syrian government and its allies. This now a maneuver war rather than a war of attrition. So far as I can see Russian financial costs have been limited to fuel and replacement costs for expended munitions. These are not imported. The Russians do not import military materiel so there is no foreign exchange currency expended in replacing expendables made in Russian factories. This cost stimulates the economy. Russia is not a third world country. They make their own toys unlike countries such as Saudi Arabia. IMO you have misread the news from the Borgian IO machine. It is more clear all the time that Kerry and company are in fact trying to win a war through BS in the media that they have not won in the field. This effort will collapse shortly unless the Turks invade Syria in strength. pl

  64. turcopolier says:

    If the Saudi led ghost army seeks to take territory away from the Syrian government then the appropriate response would be to destroy them in the field in a maneuver battle of the kind that R+6 is now waging. Walid Mu’allam has already stated the Syrian intention to do that. pl

  65. kooshy says:

    Col. As of this morning It all sounds like the Berlin “photo up Syrian peace talk” was very very short lived.
    “Russia said on Saturday a ceasefire deal for Syria agreed by major powers was more likely to fail than succeed, as Syrian government forces backed by further Russian air strikes gained more ground against rebels near Aleppo.
    International divisions over Syria surfaced anew at a Munich conference where Russia rejected French charges that it was bombing civilians, just a day after world powers agreed on the “cessation of hostilities” due to begin in a week’s time.”

  66. Misanthrope says:

    I think too many people have internalized the BS about Russian being “a gas station with a flag” and as a result they have no respect for or fear of Russia any more. I’m very much afraid that the Russians are going to have to grind someone’s face into the dirt in order to recover any respect.

  67. jld says:

    It doesn’t look like Kerry is working “against the interests of the Borg”, rather to the contrary he seem to lean dangerously toward a confrontation with Russia.
    (or maybe “diplomatese” is way, way too contrived for my understanding)

  68. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to turcopolier 12 February 2016 at 12:36 PM
    What I find both alarming and depressing is the number of people who are incapable of seeing that the scale of that catastophe is a direct consequence of external support for the Daesh attempt to overthrow the current Syrian government.
    The reasoning (if one can call it that) is that the current government is bad and against yoominrites and therefore human rights democracy and the little fluffy bunny rabbits will all flourish once the evil dictator is removed.
    These same people are utterly unwilling to even consider the notion that the Mosuli child who has been burnt of its home by Daesh or the malnourished Syrian children you see selling trinkets or cheap sweets on the streets of Beirut have had their human rights savagely violated and that responsibility for their plight rests fairly and squarely both on those who perpetrated the acts and on those who made it possible.

  69. Richard Sale says:

    I remember that NGO groups came replete with CIA agents, according to many former agents I interviewed about the Balkan war. It’s a dangerous profession.
    Richard Sale

  70. johnf says:

    He certainly puts up a great smoke screen – as he has in all four of the crises I mentioned – but its what happens out of sight that has and does matter.

  71. bth says:

    Does Syria’s government, even with Russian and Iranian help have sufficient resources to take back eastern Syria? Or are we looking at something like a protracted stalemate we are seeing in western Iraq?

  72. turcopolier says:

    Maybe not. We will be able to judge better after we see how well they do in trying to take Tabaqa air base back. pl

  73. Bill Herschel says:

    Nominally, Russian has no boots on the ground in Syria. Were Turkey etc. to invade Syria, they would either be allowed to proceed if their target was clearly ISIS (although even that is not clear, Russia is operating under 2254, could Turkey claim it was too, as I have stated), or if they attacked Syrian troops, they would have to do so without an air force (I’m repeating myself) because I feel very strongly that Russia would knock every single Turkish plane out of the sky with it’s air defense system, fighters etc.
    That is where it gets interesting. Can Turkey, without air power quickly sweep the Syrian Army (and Iran and Hezbollah) aside?
    I keep in mind that at that point Turkey is annexing at least part of Syria (cf. Crimea). How does that fly at the Security Council? Or with the Turkish people? And Turkey is not being threatened by Syria. They do not even claim to be threatened by Syria.
    It will never happen. The only country whose foreign policy is bizarre enough to commit a large force to Syria is the United States, and, boy, do the “hold my coat” crowd long for them to do it.
    So, it’s either the U.S. on a humanitarian mission (military mission) to save innocent civilians from the Butcher Assad, or it’s nothing.

  74. bth says:

    Col. let’s say for discussion that a small unit of Saudi special forces did show up in SW Syria with big suitcases of cash. And that they are in fact good to their word that they are going to fight (or more likely help others fight Assad) and then they will deal with ISIS in their own way.
    Is there an historic pattern for the Saudi’s in Syria we might consider? For example are there particular Sunni tribes that they will go to that would be against IS and Assad but with the Saudi’s? b had raised the question of how the Saudis would get to Syria and I’m wondering who they would buy off when they get there.

  75. Jack says:

    Turkey it appears has a formidable military force that if Erdogan orders to invade Syria would pose a serious decision for Putin. What are some of the unintended consequences if Russia decides to confront the Turkish forces in Syrian territory? And can Russia not attempt to defend Syrian integrity after their current military involvement?
    Southfront, that Col. Lang linked to earlier had a writeup of Turkish forces being mobilized.

  76. Jack says:

    There does not seem to be much of a stalemate in western Syria since the Russians entered.

  77. bth says:

    Its been interesting to watch the Iranian diplomats working the Turks on the Kurdish issue which the Iranians think the Turks are more sensitive to an independent Kurdistan than the future of Assad and the Saudi’s on the weeping sore of Yemen where the Iranians imply some sort of negotiated solution is possible. The Iranian diplomatic service has been very impressive in recent years.

  78. bth says:

    Lavrov is impressive and as I understand his current articulated priorities they are: 1. Diplomatic resolution of Syrian problem from a position of strength 2. Negotiated resolution of the eastern Ukraine with Croatia being off the table and 3. Speedy termination of economic sanctions on Russia.
    I wonder how Lavrov views the coming US elections and whether that puts a timeline on some of these items? Were his relations with Hillary good? Would Russia view Trump as someone they could deal with?

  79. bth says:

    If you recently did the Windows 10 upgrade you may need to opt out of the edge program and back to the internet explorer browser

  80. bth says:

    All true but the cost of economic sanctions plus the collapse of O&G prices is having a brutal impact on the Russian economy. True enough the Russians are tough as nails, but there is a heavy price being paid.

  81. Jack says:

    I wanted to add that like western Syria the stalemate in Iraq requires an equivalent setup of Russian impact and the combat effectiveness of the Syrian army and aligned forces.
    What I don’t get is why the Iraqi army is not very good considering that Saddam had a competent force.

  82. turcopolier says:

    The Russians are not paying a heavy price for their efforts in Syria. they are sanctioned for their supposed efforts in Crimea and Ukraine. The Russian economy has been improved the last two quarters and they have a massive market in China. pl

  83. turcopolier says:

    We destroyed and disbanded the nationalist army of Iraq. this force was built to have no connection to that one and it has not. pl

  84. bth says:

    The Turks could justify such a move as to prevent a humanitarian disaster, or another mass migration to Europe and guilt or blackmail the EU into paying the Turks to prevent that from happening. Also most likely the Turks would approach this the way the Russians did in eastern Ukraine. Why would Erdogan risk his prestige right off the bat when he has other options?

  85. bth says:

    I don’t know either, except to note that no group in 13 years in Iraq has been able to take an hold territory that they do not otherwise ethnically control.

  86. turcopolier says:

    “the Turks would approach this the way the Russians did in eastern Ukraine” IMO such a less than regular army intervention would be defeated by R+6. If he sends Turkish 2nd Army across the border, Erdogan faces the prospect of instigating war with Russia, Iran and Syria. Can he be sure that NATO would support him? pl

  87. turcopolier says:

    bth et al
    What is there to understand/ I have tried endlessly to tell you that the pre-2003 Iraqi armed forces were a NATIONAL force, not an ethnic force, not a sectarian force nor a party militia as you all keep implying by calling then the BAATHI army. pl

  88. turcopolier says:

    Yes, spreading money around is the traditional Saudi way of doing things but we are way past that in Syria where it is now a case of do or die. King Abdullah of SA used to mess around a lot with the Shammar beduin tribe in Syria because his mother was one but he is dead. The traditional SA targets for payoffs in Syria and Lebanon are rich townie people of any faith. pl

  89. Bill Herschel says:

    He can claim that he is trying to eradicate the Kurdish threat or to prevent a humanitarian crisis, but when the Syrian Army starts killing Turkish troops, it either becomes an all-out war of conquest for Turkey or he backs down.
    It’s not going to happen.

  90. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    What is “not going to happen? pl

  91. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Independent Kurdistan is a canard, in Turkey as well as in Iraq or in Iran.
    Prior to that, during the oil boom, entire villages were emptied since their inhabitants moved to Irbil and other cities to become employees of the KRG – roughly about 750,000 public servants.
    Now, of course, after the oil bust, KRG cannot pay their salaries and estimated like 200,000 Kurds have left for Europe – out of a population of roughly 5 million Kurds in entire Iraq.
    KRG does not produce anything, everything has to be imported from Iran and Turkey.
    In Turkey, the situation of Kurds economically is even worse as there is no oil and they eke out an existence in pre-industrial work and in smuggling.
    What is not a canard, in my opinion, is the security threat that Kurdish politics poses to Turkey and to Iraq; there are enough emotional fools there to be manipulated into subversion.

  92. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They want to create an incident to force US hand; that is my best guess.
    I suppose they expect a rapid conclusion of the war in Syria on their terms afterwards.
    Likely scenario, should US intervene, would be a prolonged war.

  93. alba etie says:

    I still believe that the talks ongoing are kabuki theater ,that the Realist including Kerry are going through the motions of a cease fire to allow the R + 6 to exterminate the Liver Eaters. The Realist in the USG have been slow walking this outcome in my opinion since the CW was removed from Syria. The USG Realist are playing for time- Assad is staying in power . This is why Erdogan- among is about to have a nervous breakdown …

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