“The World Turned Upside Down” – TTG


ISTANBUL — Syrian rebels backed by Turkish troops and tanks recaptured the Islamic State’s last major stronghold on the Syrian-Turkish border on Wednesday, inflicting yet another defeat on the militants rapidly dwindling “caliphate.” By late afternoon, rebel fighters and Turkish officials said the rebels had reached the center of Jarabulus after encountering almost no resistance from Islamic State fighters, who appeared to have fled ahead of the advancing forces. Photographs posted on social media showed rebels posing in front of government buildings in the town’s central square.

The capture of Jarabulus deprives the Islamic State of a crucial foothold on the Turkish border, used for funneling foreign fighters and supplies, and is expected to help accelerate the militants’ demise elsewhere across its self-proclaimed caliphate.

The offensive was spearheaded by Turkey, which sent tanks, troops and warplanes into Syria for the first time in the country’s five-year-old war to help a force of hundreds of Syrian rebels. The operation also includes U.S. advisers, who are advising the operation from inside Turkey, while American surveillance aircraft are providing overflight intelligence and are poised to contribute U.S. airstrikes if necessary, according to a senior Obama administration official.

The presence of Turkish troops in Syria will also add a new layer of complexity to the already massively complicated war, potentially pushing Turkey closer toward conflict with U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds and perhaps the Syrian government.

The offensive against Islamic State fighters in Jarabulus, along the Euphrates River, began just hours before Biden arrived on a mission to repair the eroding U.S.-Turkey relationship, which is considered crucial to the ongoing battle against the Islamic State.

“The major goal of the trip is to make sure that our alliance remains rock-solid and that relations get back on track,” said the senior official, who was traveling with Biden. “We can’t afford any friction in our relationship right now, because we have a lot of business to do with the Turks.” (WaPo)


So, has Turkey turned against IS? I’m not convinced. There have been no battles or casualties in the “Battle for Jarabulus.” All IS forces made an orderly redeployment to al-Bab prior to the Turkish-FSA invasion. This was all coordinated by Turkey to prevent further Kurdish advances in north Syria. I doubt Russia was surprised by this, but I have no idea of their part in this move. They only publicly expressed mild concern for these recent developments. Besides, the Russians have been busy tamping down the latest dust up between YPG and SAA forces in Hasakah.


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is calling on Syrian Kurdish forces to move back across the Euphrates River, telling them they will lose U.S. support if they don't.

Speaking at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday, Biden says Kurdish forces "must move back across the Euphrates River." He says "they cannot — will not — under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment."

Biden indirectly expressed support for the Turkish operation launched Wednesday to clear Islamic State militants from the town of Jarablus and deter Kurds from further expanding in northern Syria. (AP)


Once more we have stuck it to the Kurds. No one, including the Kurds, should be surprised by Biden’s remarks. I am sure the Obama Administration is desperate to prevent Turkey turning to Russia and away from the NATO and Borg hegemony. Obama cannot risk being labeled as the one who lost Turkey.

So far, I have not seen any indication that the YPG Kurds are withdrawing east of the Euphrates. I doubt the YPG is willing to abandon many of those newly liberated Kurdish villagers to the Turks. There are reports of YPG/SDF forces reinforcing their lines north of Manbij and digging trench lines to to meet the advancing Turks. We shall see what will happen in the coming hours.

I’d almost give my left nut to see the instructions sent by the CJTF in Baghdad to those Special Forces teams fighting along side the YPG/SDF for all these months. I am reminded of my team sergeant’s admonishment many years ago, “Well goddam sir. The first thing we do when we get off the goddam DZ is to put a goddam round through that goddam radio.”


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92 Responses to “The World Turned Upside Down” – TTG

  1. johnf says:

    Assad and Putin most probably got something out of all the whirlwind of diplomacy that preceded the whirlwind of alliance changing and fighting.
    Turkish newspapers are reporting the number of FSA rebels as 5,000 (whether that covers just the FSA or all the other jihadi groups I’m not sure) but they must have come from somewhere, and with those numbers quite a few must have come from the Aleppo/Idlib area (I’ve seen a rumour they were offered higher wages).
    That must weaken the terrorists in the West to Assad and Russia’s advantage. They did get something out of the diplomacy. And in the East, as they had little or no control, they lost little or nothing.

  2. alba etie says:

    Thanks for being our guest author in Col Lang’s away time.
    I would wonder if the Syrian Government might not be open to a deal with the YPG that would set the KURDS up as a federated state – in return for blocking Erdogan obvious designs on expanding Turkish sphere of influence ?

  3. alba etie,
    I think the Syrian government and the Rojava Kurds are fully capable of federated arrangement in a united Syria. It would involve tough and contentious negotiations, but as long as the Turks and the Borg buzzards circle overhead, it is in their best interests to do so. How the Kurds, the SAA and Russia respond to the Turkish invasion will definitely shape these negotiations.

  4. johnf says:

    In addition, Latakis is especially close to Russian interests.
    From memory, Turkmen, Chechen, and Uighur jihadis have been especially associated with that province, but some at least of these groups have been mentioned as being deployed in Jarablus.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Wedding anniversary today. 53 years. That is actually un-American. That is a great piece you wrote. Yes, the message from Baghdad must have been classic. And so we have AMTRAK Joe stepping in to deliver yet one more betrayal of a native ally. It makes you sick to think of it, just sick. Who are the “rebels” who are cooperating with the Turks at Jarabulus? pl

  6. Matthew says:

    Col: Congratulations. 53 years. Many more to come!
    Col and TTG: Why did the Kurds attack the NDF in Hasakah? If this was not some long-range “strategery,” then are the Kurds as rife with factions as the Palestinians? If so, then their Rojava project might be doomed.

  7. Happy anniversary to you both. Don’t know how you’re going to celebrate, but a quiet day/evening centered around your outdoor kitchen would be wondrous.
    I think the Turks pulled a lot of fighters out of the Idlib area for this Jarabulus offensive. I’ve seen uncorroborated reports that the YPG/SDF has engaged the invaders and are holding their own and even pushing them back.

  8. Barish says:

    Liwa (or Fouj now) Sultan al-Murad, Faylaq al-Sham and – of all things – Harakat Nurideen al-Zinki, going by the logos attached to photos shot of the bunch advancing in camo gear and walking through abandoned Jarablus.
    Armor accompanying this “moderate” bunch appear to be operated by TSK themselves. Further, skirmishes have been reported between SDF and “rebels” to Jarablus’s south.

  9. Matthew,
    There have been tensions and skirmishes between the Kurds and NDF for years. I have no idea what the origins of these particular tensions are.

  10. alba etie says:

    One interesting marker to measure the viability of a Syrian /Rojava Federation will be if the YPG actually withdraws back across the Euphrates . I wonder how much the USG is really committed to forcing the Rojava Kurds to back down from Erdogan . Its pretty clear to me that the Russians can & will take up whatever support the USG withholds from the YPG . There seem to be preyy consistent reports that the YPG /SDF have even integrated CAS capabilities with the Russian Air Force now yes ?

  11. alba etie says:

    Col Lang
    Congratulation to you and Mrs Lang ! Happy Anniversary .

  12. The Beaver says:

    According to different sources on twitter ( the usual suspects on that topic)
    FSA and the so-called moderated al-Zinki (the same one that beheaded a 12 y.o Palestinian boy), Sultan Murad Division, Jaish al-Tahrir & Turkmen Martyrs Battalion plus some jihadist mercenaries abandoning Aleppo fronts & heading to join Jarablus because they were tempted with higher wages.

  13. The Beaver says:

    Meanwhile Barzani in Ankara:
    “Big changes coming to the region”

  14. Balint Somkuti says:

    Congratulations Sir!

  15. Thomas says:

    Happy Anniversary.

  16. The Beaver says:

    Here is Erdogan’s spin Twitter a/c on the operation:

  17. alba etie says:

    Another item to think about IMO is how far will Russia be willing to press Turkey for concessions in clearly what Leader Putin has come to see as his Near Abroad in the Levant generally – especially in regards to the Russian jihadis that johnf mentions below . IMO we also should remember recent events in Russia . I recall how the Polite Green Men intercepted the plane load of Turkmen -was it at the Sevastopol Airport a few years back ? Then there is the dead Russian pilot Erdogan’s minions murder . I think it could very well be in Russia’s interest to see the Rojava Kurds have a federated state inside of Syria.

  18. Lemur says:

    The US is torn between placating Turkey and supporting the Kurds in the same way Turkey is torn between supporting the rebels and supporting Assad (to stop the Kurds).
    Few other things i picked up on:
    >Apparently Biden was met by a mere deputy governor, not even the governor or a minister. Cold welcome. (Trump will not be pleased)
    >Turkish deputy chief of intelligence has been meeting with his counterparts the last few days in Damascus.

  19. alba etie,
    In the first comment, johnf hit the nail on the head. The Russians and the SAA benefit from the pullout of the rebels from the Latakia and Aleppo fronts. The Turks are paying them more to join the fight in the north. I think we’ll be seeing a series of surprises in the coming days.

  20. CE says:

    According to (YPG-affiliated) Firat News Agency:
    […] They have mobilized the “North Army”, whose main body consists of Jabhat Al Nusra, Ahrar Sham, Nuretting Zengi groups and Sultan Murad, Sultan Abdulhamid, Asifet Şimal groups in complete alliance to them. They put the man called Osman Salih, who is from Turkmen Mountain and had been there before, to lead these groups. Osman Salih set up a headquarters in Havar Kilis village in Kilis. The groups mentioned above have continually sent groups from their forces in Syria to prepare to attack Jarablus. Osman Salih received the coming fighters and equipped these fighters with the weapons, ammunition, uniforms and boots given to him by the Turkish army. These groups didn’t have much in numbers. A reliable source who wishes to remain anonymous has given the information that these groups recruit fighters from AFAD controlled camps and said:
    “These groups approached AFAD-controlled refugee camps to recruit more members. They recruited hundreds of boys aged 14 to 16 from these camps to attack Jarablus. They paid 300 dollars cash per person. The most obvious example is the Asifet Şimal group. This group under Ebu Ali Sico’s control doesn’t have a single fighter. But now, hundreds of their fighters are waiting in Karkamış to cross over to Jarablus. He recruited all of those fighters from these camps.”
    The gathered gangs had been waiting in Havar Kilis and Karkamış for a week. […]

    Apparently the Turkish army will have to do any serious fighting.

  21. Ghostship says:

    “Obama cannot risk being labeled as the one who lost Turkey.”
    Has it floated off into the Black Sea or is it happily chugging round the Indian Ocean? Perhaps it’ll pop up off Tierra del Fuego.

  22. turcopolier says:

    Yes, just as the “China hands”once lost the Middle Kingdom Turkey is probably just hidden in the mist for a bit. pl

  23. Kooshy says:

    Colonel, congratulations,you have already won the gold( much more valuable than BHO’ noble), and on your way to platinum, you are right, in this modern times, is rear to see marriages last that long. Encouraging, and wish you best.

  24. Kooshy says:

    Colonel, I remember back in 1980′ election,when Kennedy was running against Carter in primaries ( I still think he was D* head ), the rhetoric coming out of Kennedy camp was “Who lost Iran”. In this year’ no one to like to vote for, no hold is bared election, anything goes, including who lost Turkey which IMO will not make any difference to the shepherds and the sheep.

  25. VietnamVet says:

    Thanks for the update. This is too damn interesting. What ever happen to trust and honor?
    To preserve the Obama Legacy and avoid a Trump Presidency, this could be the first step of a joint Turkish American incursion on to Raqqa and Mosul by October. The Kurds will stand pat if is forced back across the Euphrates. Turkey will have to supply the troops and tanks to regain a part of its old Ottoman Empire. The Saudis and Israel will have assured that the Shiite ground supply corridor from Beirut to Tehran is severed. The world is at war. If NATO and Russia start shooting at each other for whatever reason, this starts WWIII.

  26. Brunswick says:

    There’s lot’s of money to be made from smuggling, taxes and bribes in a war zone.

  27. Lloyd D. Herod, Jr. says:

    Happy Anniversary Col & Mrs. Lang. May you celebrate many more years in good health. Surely the Gods are smiling upon your union today.

  28. Lemur says:

    Distinct possibility but there’s been a very muted response from Russia and Iran. Makes me think this is part of a plan struck behind closed doors.

  29. Poul says:

    A long but good piece on the problems between the Kurds and the pro-government population.

  30. David says:

    Happy Anniversary to you both.

  31. Peter Reichard says:

    To prevent the westward expansion of Syrian Kurdistan is Turkey’s primary goal,even the overthrow of Assad takes a back seat to this. The movement of rebels from Idlib/Aleppo to Jarabulus furthers the former even as it is counterproductive to the latter goal. Hopefully the SAA can take advantage of this. ISIS is slated for destruction but not just yet as it supports Ankara’s ambitions by fighting both the Kurds and Assad. The supply line from Turkey through Al Bab to ISIS and the southern rebels still remains open.

  32. elaine says:

    Colonel, Congratulations to you & Mrs. Lang.
    I second your remark about “AMTRAK Joe” & feeling “sick” about the entire event.
    Awhile back, using astrology, I predicted something ominous happening between Ankara
    & the U.S. on August 24th, however I never imagined it would be Uncle Joe kissing up to Erdogan. As for “who are the rebels?” I hope it’s not al Nusra under an ever changing brand.

  33. walrus says:

    congratulations Col. Lang, may you and Mrs. Lang enjoy many more happy anniversaries! Thank you for the excellent article TTG. I agree with you that the “framing” of orders to American special forces must be a thing of great wonder and complexity.

  34. johnf says:

    Thank you for your very informative piece, TTG.
    According to this tweet:
    “Peto Lucem ‏@PetoLucem 51m
    The fall of insurgent stronghold #Darayya will free up a lot of experienced #SAA troops for redeployment. An important development. #Syria”
    Anyone know how likely Darayya is to fall?

  35. Chris Chuba says:

    This has the feel of Kerry’s plan B, setting in motion a partition of Syria.
    The U.S. basically declared a no fly zone when the PYD attacked Syrian govt loyalists in Hasakah.
    The U.S. gave air support for Turkey’s incursion into Syria which looks like a big operation, not a border skirmish.
    The Turks obviously don’t want a Kurdish state in Syria long term but could be using U.S. aspirations in the short term to breathe life back into their pets.
    This is more than a little speculative. I would be a fool if I pretended that I actually knew what Erdogan was really up to. I just hope that Putin and Assad are not basing their plans on taking what Erdogan and Kerry have said at face value.

  36. LeaNder says:

    The very, very best to Col & Mrs. Lang, if I may copy Lloyd D. above.
    thanks, TTG.

  37. YT says:

    “Love is the expansion of two natures in such fashion that each include as the other, each is enriched by the other.”
    Prof. Felix Adler
    Col. sir, I bid you & Mrs. Lang a Happy 53rd. Golden Anniversary [a record that outshines the medals won by your olympic medalists].
    (P.S.: Sir, we’ve not heard from Mr. William R. Cumming recently. Is he well?, I’m wondering if I oughta dial his office no. to enquire how he’s doing…)

  38. jld says:

    I would be a fool if I pretended that I actually knew what Erdogan was really up to.

    No, it’s very easy to tell: Erdogan is up to no good, he will try to screw everyone to serve his delusional ambitions and in the end he will be smacked down by some (which???) of the other players with probably quite a bit of “collateral damages”.

  39. Colonel Lang,
    Congratulations. I hope that SWMBO still thinks it worth your while expending energy presiding over this ‘bear garden’, and keeping our squabbles under control.
    Thanks for this very informative piece.
    As a congenital civilian, these matters are way outside my experience. But I think that if I was being sent to be shot at, I really would like to have some confidence that those doing the sending had some idea what they were trying to achieve, and were not ‘simply fiddling around by guess and by God, hoping it’ll come out all right somehow in the end.’ (Sam Spade to Brigit O’Shaughnessy’, from ‘The Maltese Falcon.’

  40. Jonathan House says:

    This,will not come as a surprise to any member of this committee of correspondence, but perhaps the confirmation will be of interest
    head line and first sentence below
    Israeli Think Tank: Don’t Destroy ISIS – It’s a “Useful Tool” Against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria
    Head of a right-wing think tank says the existence of ISIS serves a “strategic purpose” in the West’s interests

  41. The Beaver says:

    25-The US Pres & not State dept or congress or Pentagon or CIA runs Foreign policy. Inexplicably, this fact is still lost on many observers
    Very very good insights and perspectives about Syria since March 2011:
    Review of Obama’s Foreign policy Towards Syria

  42. Ghostship says:

    What serious fighting? Hamming it up for the media is about as dangerous as it’s been so far. I’m told those media guys can get quite violent
    From b at Moon of Alabama:

  43. Dubhaltach says:

    Colonel & Mrs. Laing,
    Congratulations on your anniversary and may you have many more of them.

  44. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to johnf 24 August 2016 at 01:37 PM
    Turkmen and Chechens in particular but yes also Uighurs to an extent.

  45. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to The Twisted Genius 24 August 2016 at 04:46 PM
    A wrinkle not to miss is that the Turkmen and Chechens in particular but also Uighurs were styling themselves not just as jihadis but as _settlers_.
    There’s an article by Andrew Korybko on Katehon Why Are The Kurds Saying That Chechens Are “Genuinely Native” To Syria”? | Katehon think tank. Geopolitics & Tradition that I think you would find repays the time spent reading it.
    I don’t always agree with Korybko by any stretch of the imagination but what he writes in this article ties in very well with what I’ve read and heard elsewhere as well as seeming to me be intuitively plausible.

  46. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to The Twisted Genius 24 August 2016 at 04:46 PM
    Well confound it I meant to include a link to this article from 2014 by Christian Bleur on the Afghan Analysts Network. Those interested in a bit more depth than the article on Katehon might find the internal links in Bleur’s piece useful. Here’s the link:
    To Syria, not Afghanistan: Central Asian jihadis ‘neglect’ their neighbour | Afghanistan Analysts Network
    As a side note there was an article last year (Fort Russ????) about how Chechen jihadis were leaving Syria in favour of fighting in Ukraine. Apparently on the basis that it’s more meritorious, patriotic, and fun to kill Russians than Syrian Arabs or Kurds.

  47. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to johnf 25 August 2016 at 05:20 AM
    “Anyone know how likely Darayya is to fall?”
    According to this report from al-Masdar:
    “Damascus, Syria (1:45 A.M.) – Calm reigned over the embattled city of Daraya in the previous day as a government envoy met a rebel envoy to negotiate terms of surrender in the Damascene city of Western Ghouta.”
    Read in full here: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/daraya-handed-syrian-army-following-agreement/

  48. johnf says:

    To answer my own question, but this is from Farsnews so should be treated with some caution:
    “Over 1,000 Militants Ready to Surrender to Syrian Authorities in Darayya.
    “Recent advances of the Syrian army troops and their popular allies inside Darayya and closure of most of the supply routes used by terrorists have caused at least 1,000 militants to lay down arms and call for government’s public pardon,” the sources said.
    “In the meantime, a large number of terrorists have called on the Syrian army to pave the ground for them to leave Darayya with buses and move to militant-held regions,” they added.
    “Opposition groups in their media pages have shut that militant groups’ leadership did not pay any attention to anti-government fighters’ demand for fresh forces but they sent a large number of forces to Jarabulus in Northern Aleppo due to being well-paid by Turkey,” the sources added.
    Also on Wednesday, Syrian army soldiers continued to beat back terrorists of Ajnad al-Sham and Liwa Shohada al-Islam from more strongholds in the town of Darayya, capturing new areas in the Central part of the town.”
    and this tweet from I presume the Syrian military:
    “SyrianMilitaryCap. ‏@syrianmilitary 3h3 hours ago
    a deal in #Daryaa have been reached ,everything is done , even SAA start to redeploy some of the units there”
    Less good news tho:
    “Hassan Ridha ‏@sayed_ridha 50m50 minutes ago
    Civilians evacuated from Daraya will reportedly be relocated to Qudsaya, Damascus, militants will be taken to Idlib prov”

  49. johnf says:

    Yes, Colonel and Mrs Lang, congratultions. Old wines are the best wines.

  50. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Colonel and Mrs. Lang,
    A wonderful milestone. Our congratulations and wishes for many more.
    Ishmael Zechariah & Spouse

  51. LeaNder says:

    David, there is something deeply human in this, not least considering context:
    I am reminded of my team sergeant’s admonishment many years ago, “Well goddam sir. The first thing we do when we get off the goddam DZ is to put a goddam round through that goddam radio.”
    Not too long ago, I stumbled across the argument, if only 5% of US soldiers actually kill, then, special forces must somehow be some type of inhuman over-killers. …
    Now I realize, I should have copied the complete argument. … Fact is, having been around here for several years by now, I wonder if Pat and TTG would ever have been successful, no matter if they liked the respective order or not, if that was all they did. 😉

  52. mike says:

    What Koryoko may be missing is the 19th century Chechen diaspora when Imperial Russia occupied most of the Caucasus. In a 1965 census there were over 100,000 Chechen speakers in Turkey. There are also several thousand more in Syria and northern Iraq, leftovers from the Ottoman Empire.

  53. Lord Curzon says:

    Many congratulations! Raising a pint to you and the Long-Haired General…

  54. All,
    An al Masdar News article announced the YPG has pulled out of the city of Manbij and left it under control of the Arabs of the Manbij Military Council. The VOA says the Kurds are retreating east of the Euphrates to prepare for the liberation of Raqqa. I’ve seen no other confirmation of a wholesale YPG retreat. I tend to believe the al Masdar report as a reasonable military move by the YPG. Why garrison a city when there’s real fighting to be done? The VOA might be getting their info from Kerry’s people. It sounds more like DOS Plan B prattling. He’s currently kissing up to the Saudis and other Gulfies in Riyadh.

  55. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    As someone noted above, Biden was met with the lowest possible protocol. However, this might have been a “show” for the masses. He was the third high-ranking US official here in the past month. One eschewed Ankara and stayed in Incirlik.
    The current Syrian situation reminds me of the classic Conan Doyle story “The Silver Blaze”, where there was a dog that didn’t bark. Now there is a whole silent pack looking on. I wonder…
    Ishmael Zechariah

  56. Jonathan House,
    It is not clear to me whether Efraim Inbar and his like – a notable example was Michael Oren – realise the dangers of the game they are playing.
    In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S., and also the migration crisis, a very significant body of opinion in Britain sees jihadists as posing an ‘existential threat’, which needs, as far as possible, to be eliminated.
    The ‘Shia Crescent’ may be perceived as posing an ‘existential threat’ by Israelis – it patently does not pose such a threat to people in Britain.
    A situation in which it came to be perceived that there was a chance of dealing a devastating blow to the jihadists, that the Russians were attempting to do this, and that their efforts were frustrated by a coalition of Western governments, the Saudis, and the Israelis, could be fraught with very explosive potentialities.
    One obvious such potentiality – in Britain at least – is that the issue of ‘dual loyalty’ would be liable to raise its head in a particularly acute form, in relation to Jews in positions of influence.

  57. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    First of all, Congratulations on 53 years, Col.
    Also, I found a report that the Iranian General Hossein Hamadani was killed last night near Aleppo.

  58. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Thanks for the post. From comments to Saker’s “48 hours lets wait…) today. Where does this fit in (is it germane) re the incursion/invasion?
    Thiamin on August 25, 2016 · at 8:13 am UTC
    I think that the Kurdish leadership is deeply infiltrated by Israel. Same goes for the Hamas in the occupied territories. So, there is no real hope for Kurds because like for the palestinians, their leadership is totally taken over. This is why they are such convenient scapegoat. Their best hope is to stop fighting and abandon their coward leaders.
    Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Some people might not have the means to go live elsewhere. So, they have to play to the tune of the empire.
    Anonymous on August 25, 2016 · at 3:01 pm UTC
    I agree, Kurdistan has been a Zionist project for a decade or more…

  59. johnf says:

    I wonder if this could be changing with our new government, as Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s chief policy advisor, is a noted realist rather than a neo-con.
    I would take as evidence of this the government’s leaking of the 35 year old news of the role of Israeli armaments in the Falklands War, sold to the Argentinians during the war despite the pleas of the British, which resulted in the sinking of several British warships and the loss of many lives. It was splashed all over the Torygraph’s front page:
    “Israel sold weapons to Argentina at height of Falklands War, reveal declassified Foreign Office files”
    Its our equivalent of the USS Liberty and the UK government seem to want us to know about it.

  60. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to mike 25 August 2016 at 11:03 AM
    I’m aware of both the Chechen and the Turkman diaspora – both communities but particularly the Chechens stick out like a sore thumb. These Jihadis are Chechens from Chechnya, some of whom are already experienced fighters with the remainder being novices wanting to gain experience.
    The presence of diaspora “Chechens” (and Turkmen) to which you refer is the figleaf being used to declare that the incomer Jihadis and more importantly Jihadi-settlers are the Chechens are “genuinely native in this land” and that they “participated in creating the region’s history and culture” that’s not even true of the diaspora Chechens who kept themselves very much to themselves in Syria and in Lebanon. (It’s also wholly false to claim as some have tried to do that these diaspora Chechens welcomed the wahabbist incomers). The idea that Sufi diaspora Chechens are filled with anything other than fear and revulsion at wahabbism is to ridiculuous to be worth refuting particularly given the way in which the incomers have behaved whenever they’ve managed to get hold of some of their diaspora cousins.

  61. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to David Habakkuk 25 August 2016 at 11:52 AM
    “It is not clear to me whether Efraim Inbar and his like – a notable example was Michael Oren – realise the dangers of the game they are playing.”
    They don’t see them as dangers, they see them as problems to be managed. I’ve actually had this said to me – “It’s not a problem, we’ll deal with it when it arises”.
    These people are overwhelmingly arrogant.
    “A situation in which it came to be perceived that there was a chance of dealing a devastating blow to the jihadists, that the Russians were attempting to do this, and that their efforts were frustrated by a coalition of Western governments, the Saudis, and the Israelis, could be fraught with very explosive potentialities.”
    I keep an eye on the comment section of Daily Mail and the Daily Express and greatly regret the Telegraph’s decision to no longer allow readers’ comments. There’s already a notable refusal to toe the line and that the recent referendum result was only the tip of that particular iceberg.
    I suspect that a rather curmudgeonly and very specifically white English nationalism is becoming more and more pronounced amongst the right-wing tabloid readers. Now should the perception you outline above spread then it’s a very reasonable question to ask – “which of the two countries do you give your loyalty to? Us or them?” The problem is that the average pissed-off little Englander is unlikely to wait for the answer beofre providing it for themselves.

  62. different clue says:

    David Habakkuk,
    Is the UK government and/or armed forces playing any role in these Turkey-Syria theater events? Is it playing enough of a role in any one way or another that the UK governators would even need to care what someone in Israel might think should be done?

  63. Dubhaltach,
    Two slight qualifications.
    The right/left divide is only partly relevant here. It is very difficult to get a handle on precisely what is happening, because people often do not say straight out what they are thinking. But curious things are happening on the ‘left’ as well as on the ‘right’. As was evident in the ‘Brexit’ vote, some old divisions are of limited relevance.
    Also, this is not necessarily simply an English matter.
    There is a very interesting man called Robert Cohen. A former BBC News journalist, who started in local radio in Essex (always very useful, to have ‘cut one’s teeth’ in local news), he now works for the Co-operative Group, and lives in North Yorkshire. His wife is an Anglican minister.
    As a result, unlike very many Jews who have inhabited a London ‘bubble’ all their lives, he is in a peculiarly good position to have a sense of how opinion in England as a whole is moving.
    A particularly interesting piece he has just produced, however, does not relate to England at all – but to Scotland. It is entitled: ‘Two years on, Scotland’s Jews concerned over Gaza – but for all the wrong reasons.’
    (See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2016/08/two-years-on-scotlands-jews-concerned-over-gaza-but-for-all-the-wrong-reasons/ .)
    The changes he is talking about are related to the impact of the Likudnik enthusiasm for ‘mowing the grass’ – not the preference for ISIS over Assad. But the issues involved are interrelated.
    His analysis of the myopia of the organised ‘Jewish community’ seems to me exactly right, in relation to England as well as Scotland.

  64. The Beaver says:

    @ ex-PFC Chuck
    October 2015 ? not last night

  65. Thomas says:

    “Distinct possibility but there’s been a very muted response from Russia and Iran. Makes me think this is part of a plan struck behind closed doors.”
    Agree, the upcoming G-20 meeting in China would be a good time to publicly announce a conference to close out the Syrian Civil War.

  66. mbrenner says:

    One additional piece to be added to the puzzle. It concerns the American aim to use the Kurds as the main force against ISIL in Raqqa and other towns beyond traditionally Kurdish areas. (Mosul, too?)One can only wonder as to the Kurds’ readiness to do our bidding just as we pull the rug out from under their Rojuva project.

  67. FB Ali says:

    I think he is overly impressed with Obama. Obama’s actions in the White House have consistently been those of a weak President trying to keep his underlings happy without letting them drag him into anything too messy.
    In Afghanistan (where he vowed to end the war) he grudgingly allowed them to send in limited numbers of troops for limited time-periods. Then, grudgingly, extended the periods. So that now he is going to bequeath the war to his successor.
    In Syria, he went along until they wanted to send in the military, then pulled back. However, he couldn’t stop a headstrong subordinate such as Brennan from running his own policy in support of the Saudi venture. Carter is also slowly pushing US troops into Iraq.
    Obama has been a poor President.

  68. Croesus says:

    Congratulations to you and your bride, Col. Lang; Molti più anni felici. (Also hope her unfriendly encounter with stairs has mended well and fully.)

    btw, for those of us whose ability to analyze military affairs is at the level of a PuttPutt scorecard, could someone please explain Who are the Rebels, Who is the Islamic State, and what is the designation as well as the rights and legal status of the sovereign state of Syria and its legitimate government?

  69. The Beaver says:

    Brig. Ali,
    Looking at pt #23/24, I believe that the author could be the former Syr Ambassador in DC-He used to have a blog before the events of March 2011 when he was practically forced out because of a Kuwaiti newspaper: Imad Mustafa. Used to follow his blog because of its cultural angles on and off.
    He may be in China representing Assad’s govt these days

  70. Larry M. says:

    Col. Lang
    Congratulations on your 53rd wedding anniversary. I wish you many more in good health.

  71. Cortes says:

    53 and counting! Congratulations to you both.
    And thank you for this forum. Open-minded and exploratory, like the America we outsiders always admired.

  72. mike says:

    No offense intended. I am sure you know the history of that era. I was questioning Korybko’s understanding. Nowhere in his article does he cite any evidence that the Kurds are extending an olive branch to Chechen Jihadis as he claims. He only uses a single Kurdish statement that Chechens are “genuinely native in this land” and “participated in creating the region’s history and culture.” As far as I know that statement is true and has been since at least the year 1864 and perhaps 40 years earlier than that. Even in Erbil Province, the heart of Iraqi Kurdistan, there are Chechen villages dating to before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
    What am I missing in Korybko’s article that points to the Kurds claiming friendship with ISIS’s Chechens? I am not familiar with Korybko’s work or with Katehon so have no basis on which to judge truth or bias. But it seems implausible to me. Again, what am I missing in Korybko’s reasoning?
    PS – Didn’t you yourself claim that many of those Jihadi Chechens are jumping ship and going to kill Russians in the Ukraine?

  73. JMH says:

    “What ever happened to trust and honor”
    Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power, nothing.
    Robert’s Father: Nothing?
    Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and their children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk, they fought for William Wallace, and he fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him, when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield and it’s tearing me apart.
    Robert’s Father: All men betray. All lose heart.
    Robert the Bruce: I don’t want to lose heart. I want to believe as he does.”
    And to quote the 80’s tenor: Don’t stop believin.

  74. Anna says:

    Dear Colonel Lang, congratulations to you and Mrs. Lang. Wishing you both all the best.
    You are a moral compass in many respects.

  75. Sherry Long De Mandel says:

    Happy Anniversary Colonel and Mrs. Lang.
    Sherry and Rob De Mandel

  76. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Chechens in the Russian Federation speak flawless Russian; they are very clearly Russified to a certain extent.

  77. John Ison says:

    Dear Colonel Lang,
    A Happy Anniversary to you and Mrs. Lang. May there be many more.
    Thank you again for hosting this fine committee.
    John Ison

  78. mike says:

    Daesh is using decoys to mislead Coalition airstrikes. They appear to have read the history on Patton’s Phantom Army of canvas airplanes and inflatable rubber tanks:

  79. alba etie says:

    There have been several media reports that the PRC will be actively advising and assisting the Syrian Government in the near future . There should be substantial work to be done rebuilding Syria from its Civil War – Yes the G-20 would be a great place to close out this conflict & make that the PRC gets its piece of the Syrian “Marshall Plan ” . This bodes not well for the Liver Eaters – I wonder too if this might be were the Kurds get there federated status with Assad ?

  80. dc,
    The élite consensus that emerged here in the wake of the retreat and collapse of Soviet power and of socialism more generally was essentially neoconservative and neoliberal. To this, Blair and ‘New Labour’ added ‘multiculturalism’ etc, in which they were followed by Cameron and Osborne.
    For complex reasons, what Babak Makkinejad aptly termed the ‘secular cult of the Shoah’ is a key part of this. It is ideology, as much as interest, that dictates deference to Israeli and Zionist susceptibilities. But, by the same token, as confidence in élites has collapsed, this deference is also coming into question, and the question of ‘dual loyalty’ becoming an issue.
    In relation to British participation in the ongoing trainwrecks in the Middle East, what has been at issue, since the Iraq fiasco, is not really direct military involvement. Involvement in ‘covert’ operations, and in particular the ‘information operations’ of which neoconservatives are so fond, is however a different matter.
    Here, it can be very advantageous to have certain matters run out of London – it makes it more difficult for avoid awkward questions being asked on your side.

  81. johnf,
    Extremely interesting – I had missed the ‘Telegraph’ story. I agree that, coming at this time, the release of these particular files is of singular interest. However, whether the ‘UK Government’ is acting as a coherent whole seems to me unclear.
    The ‘neocon consensus’ in British politics, while it is beginning to be challenged, remains very strongly entrenched in crucial places.
    An interesting piece just appeared on the ‘Media Lens’ site on a discussion on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme on Syria between Nick Robinson, who as you know is the Corporation’s World Affairs Editor, and Karin von Hippel.
    (See http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/825-propagandising-for-war-the-bbc-today-programme-on-syria.html .)
    Discussing the patent bias exemplified in this programme, and so much other BBC coverage, ‘Media Lens’ write:
    ‘It has long been clear to us that BBC journalists perceive this, not as bias, but as an accurate depiction of a world that really is divided into well-intentioned Western ‘good guys’ and their enemies, the ‘bad guys’.
    This mentality – involved in which is an intoxicating combination of a sense of absolute power and of absolute righteousness – became pervasive in large sections of the British élite in the wake of the retreat and collapse of Soviet power. Surrendering it courts a bad case of ‘cold turkey’, and so is resisted.

  82. Babak Makkinejad,
    I do not think this is really off-topic.
    An interesting analysis of relations between Russia and Iran has just been produced by Dmitri Trenin.
    (See http://carnegie.ru/2016/08/18/russia-and-iran-historic-mistrust-and-contemporary-partnership/j3qm .)
    What do you – and others – think?

  83. The Beaver says:

    @ TTG
    From the spin twitter a/c:
    Despite US assurances, terrorist organization PYD not retreating. #Jarablus

  84. giovanni says:

    Or is Biden’s comment designed to soothe Turkish public opinion, covering for the Kurds who “obedezcan pero no cumplen” by “redeploying their Kurdish units” while leaving only their “SDF units” in the Manbij rif? Meanwhile, the Kurdish advance shows little sign of being halted. Even in the days since the Turkish advance, they’ve pushed their northern flank nearly to Jarabulus and invested Arima. ISIS of Jarabulus may have fled to al Bab, but other reports have the Babish fleeing to Raqqa.

  85. Thomas says:

    “I wonder too if this might be were the Kurds get there federated status with Assad?”
    That would be the end game for those competent statesmen wanting to cool the cauldron and would be a model for others in the region wanting to maintain territorial integrity while properly dealing with their minority issues.
    Since information gathering is a natural byproduct of your business, and one of your clients seems to be in tune with Kid King and his contentious courtiers, have you learned anything new regarding the current status of policy conflicts within the District Circle?

  86. Looks like the YPG/SDF forces are still holding their own against the Turks/jihadis. The YPG have even taken a few villages south and west of Jarabulus in the face of Turkish bombardment.
    One source has reported that the new US Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, LTG Steven Townsend, ordered all US Operational personnel to withdraw from YPG units. They were (or will be) sent to Rmeilan airfield in the northeast corner of Syria. US stopped all artillery ammo supplies to YPG and stopped all transfer of field Intelligence. The US allegedly told the Kurdish PYD leader Salih Muslim Muhammed, “These US measures are temporary.”
    This would be the time for the Russians to up their contacts with the Kurds. Even if they do, the thought of taking out Turkish tanks or troops has to give them pause.

  87. Thomas says:

    In a news brief this morning about US-Russia inability to reach a Syrian agreement for now, Kerry did his usual boilerplate BorgSpeak but Lavrov’s comment was about the need for the Kurds to be represented in future talks.
    It seems that current battlefield maneuvering is a rearranging of chip stacks on the table for an impending conference that will count.

  88. alba etie says:

    No sir – but the all the buzz right now is about defeating Trump before he retweets the Grand Kleagle again .

  89. Thomas says:

    Thanks and take care.

  90. alba etie says:

    My two cents regarding Erdogan , the Kurds & Russia . I believe that Erdogan & Putin have arrived at at least a short term deal – that the Kurds can keep a federated status with a still seated President Assad ( but with no PPK or other elements that want Turkish real estate ) after cessations of hostilities once Daesh is defeated . In return Erdogan gets to give join Eurasian Economic Union ( Shanghai Cooperation Council 2.O ) . Turkey can then tell EU to pound sand and Erdogan gets to participate in the rebuilding of Syria.
    And yes I will continue to take care – you as well Thomas .

  91. turcopolier says:

    Seems that the YPG Kurds have decided to “follow their own destiny” and are advancing on Al-Bab from west and east. I wonder who encouraged them to do that. Can this represent US resentment at turkish indifference to Ben Rhodes’ will? pl

  92. pl,
    I did see reports of an advance from Afrin towards Al-Bab with US air support. Maybe that is the US message to the Turks that they have advanced far enough on the Jarabulus front. The Turks may get their safe zone along the border, but it does their IS allies no good if the Kurds link up at Al-Bab. You’re right about the Kurds following their own destiny. The only thing that will stop them is outright military defeat with or without US support.

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