The Turks have now launched their long threatened military operation in northeast Syria, under the Orwellian name of "Operation Peace Spring." "Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area," said Erdogan today. Up through today, the Turks were working overtime to get international support for their planned military operation and plans for resettling up to two million Syrian refugees in the so-called safe zone they intend to create but it all seems to me to be so much double talk, so full of obvious contradictions as it is. The most obvious one is in almost every Turkish statement about Syria, the claim that Turkey respects Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. How can that be when prior to today, Turkey had already conducted two military cross border military operations in northern Aleppo province west of the Euphrates in violation of Syrian sovereignty, still occupies those areas and is, in the process, continuing to support armed groups that wish for the violent overthrow of the government in Damascus? Those with more expertise than I have will point to Erdogan's Ottoman ambitions for Turkey as a major motivator of his actions in Syria.
Turkish government spokesman Fahrettin Altun, in an op-ed published in the Washington Post late yesterday, claimed that during his phone call with Erdogan on Sunday, Trump agreed to transfer the leadership of the counter-Islamic State campaign to Turkey. He further claimed that "Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a long-standing threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs."
Even more dubious is Altun's claim that Turkey "was the first country to deploy combat forces to fight the terrorists in Syria. Our country also helped the Free Syrian Army keep thousands of Islamic State militants behind bars for years." Erdogan and his AKP loyalists should be reminded that Turkey played a huge role in the cancerous growth of ISIS in Syria in 2015-2016 by allowing itself to be used as a corridor for the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, by providing a logistics base that kept ISIS well supplied with weapons, ammunition and other equipment, and serving as the market for oil that ISIS was smuggling out of Syria (an operation which was largely, and very visibly, destroyed by the Russians).
"It remains to be seen whether YPG militants will agree to the change in the campaign's leadership," Altun droned on. "Indeed, they have two options: If they are genuinely interested in fighting Islamic State, they can defect without delay. Or they can listen to their commanders, who say that they will fight the Turkish forces — in which case we will have no choice but to stop them from disrupting our counter-Islamic State efforts." This suggests that the Turks are saying that they're really going in to fight ISIS and will only fight the Kurds if they get in the way. The evidence of the last few years, however, suggests that Turkey's interest in fighting ISIS has been marginal at best while their focus has been mainly on the PYD/YPG and its alliance with the U.S. military. There is very little evidence, if any at all, of cross border terrorist attacks inside Turkey carried out by the PYD, though ISIS when it still control a large portion of Syria carried out several very large attacks in Istanbul and other cities in western Turkey.
Ibrahim Kalin, whose role as the face of Turkey and the AKP is second only to that of Erdogan himself, told CNN that Turkey is not occupying any part of Syria and has no desire to do so. "Turkey has no interest in occupying any part of Syria. We haven't done so in Jarablus when we fought against Daesh and eliminated 3,000 terrorists there," Kalin said, and continued: "Or when we entered Afrin, we have not occupied any part of Syria, we have returned those places to the local owners and residents, we have no intention of occupying any parts of Syria in the east of the Euphrates either, and also we have no interest in changing the demographics there." All the reports I've seen certainly indicate that the Turks are indeed in full control of Afrin and northern Aleppo, even if through Syrian Arab proxies. They likely intended to do the same thing east of the Euphrates except on a larger scale.
When asked about whether or not the Turkish resettlement plan will change the demographics, Kalin claimed that the PYD/YPG had already done that (and this may have some truth to it but it doesn't excuse the Turks). "It was the PKK/PYD that has changed the demographics there. The refugees in Turkey, which is about 3.5 million from Syria, will go back to the places where they have come from. We are not forcing anybody to go anywhere they don't want to go," he added. Again, my understanding is that most of the refugees in Turkey came from the western half of the country, the region ranging from Aleppo through Hama to Damascus. This is what has been asserted in critiques of the Turkish resettlement plan that I've seen.
How many years did the Kurds have to make nice with the Syria government and ally with SAA? Had they done so there would be no Turkish soldiers in Syria. The Kurds had a role in weakening the Syrian government and the fraying of Syria.
This betrayal by Donald Trump will cause such a bloody stain on the reputation of the US that it will take a long time to remedy, if ever. The Armenians still remember what the Turks did to them a very long time ago. Who in their right mind will trust the US in the future?
re: Kalin claimed that the PYD/YPG had already done that (and this may have some truth to it but it doesn’t excuse the Turks).”
A few questions:
1-How much truth do you attribute to this statement?
2-What should have been done to rectify the issue if it were true?
3-Who would have “done” said rectification?
P.s: If you could also identify a nation which does not use “double talk”, it would be enlightening.
Excellent summary of Turkish/neo-Ottoman IO. The ancient sharia concept of taqiya (justified lies to the infidels) is clearly a factor.
Artillery shelling of women and children by US made 155mm howitzers. Direct fire on some targets by US made & Israeli upgraded M60 tanks. Bombing of Mansour Dam that distributes water to millions of Syrians by US F16s. Targets located by Israeli IAI Heron UAVs.
The biggest threat to those women and children though is the busloads of jihadi TFSA or TSO liver-eaters. They are enroute through Turkey hell bound for the border so they can do some slave-raiding on Syrian women. Plus a bit of looting and head-chopping like they did in Afrin and the al-Bab triangle. And when the YPG and the Syriac Christians defend their villages against these Salafists, Erdogan will cry foul and say “I told you they were PKK terrorists”.
Erdogan is the terrorist. Guess who are his enablers?
“most of the refugees in Turkey came from the western half of the country, the region ranging from Aleppo through Hama to Damascus.” Absolutely true! Few if any came from the NE. Erdogan is doing this because he cannot dump those refugees in Idlib. They would riot first, they know Idlib is a killing ground. And besides the Russians would not let him get away with it.
He’ll be establishing fortified OPs soon along within his so-called ‘Peace Zone’. Those OPs and Erdogan’s jihadi bases in the 30km corridor will definitely be targeted by the YPG and others.
I guess you missed my piece on the long tradition of US betrayals. Nothing could have been more treacherous than our betrayal of the anti-communist Vietnamese. Millions of them showed the depth of their abandonment than their flight from communist rule by the millions.
JSoban, The Kurds tried to make nice for several years. But Assad would not play. He maybe thought he was bound by the 1998 Adana Agreement which stated ‘no support for the Kurds’ like his father Hafez used to provide. But Erdogan screwed him anyway. First by occupying al-Bab, Idlib, and Afrin; and now by stealing another 15,000 square kilometers of Syria in the NE (if he stops at 15K?).
The Kurds never had any role in weakening the Syrian Government. The Syrian Army and Syrian Government officials left NE Syria fleeing fro al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Kurds did not force them out and never asked them to leave. The Kurds, and Syriacs, and some Arab tribes of that region took up arms to protect themselves against jihadis because the Syrian Government had abandoned them.
I would hope you would do the same to protect your family and neighbors from roving bands of murderers if the law enforcement authorities had given up and left town.
There was plenty of time to volunteer with the “Free Syrian Army”. I don’t recall Barrack ever asking for any. I’m sure when Hilary “wins again” she’ll rally the country behind her to free, well, whoever it is we need to free then.
Those are not US made howitzers.
You know not whereof you speak.
Will this be a greater stain than what the US government did to the Hmong and the Montagnards? Great Britain and the Karen?
About the same.
When juxtaposing “ Syria” with “territorial integrity” is to illustrate a flagrant oxymoron. For several years there have been foreign actors both invited and uninvited that have inserted themselves in this morass. Russia, al-Quds, Hezb’ullah, Israel, the US, Turkey, KSA, inter alia all are in the mix, and all claim a “national interest” or a “national security” rationale for their continued presence. Assad and his government – and indeed the country’s sovereignty – are held hostage by both his foreign supporters and enemies, and I doubt that I will live long enough to see a truly independent Syria, free from foreign interference or “support” of any kind, regrettably.
SAC Brat –
The Karen are still fighting 70 years later. If Turkey is allowed to stay in Syria for another 70 years they will still be facing an insurgency by the Syrian Kurds. That so-called peace corridor plus al-Bab & Afrin might just turn into Turkey’s Viet-Nam.
Regarding the Hmong, they are still being persecuted.
IMO the Turkish operation is just cover for freeing the ISIS prisoners so they can fight SAA’s coming attempt to re-take the oil fields.
USA probably has some agreement with Turkey to safeguard the Kurds. But the hair-on-fire talk of the “betrayal” of the Kurds, along with the revival of ISIS sets up Trump’s eventual cave-in to future neocon demands.
Naturally, the above analysis is INCONCEIVABLE to those who are invested in the fake media narratives surrounding the ‘Trump Show’. We are encouraged to love or hate Trump and thus invest ourselves in the ‘Show’. Hehe, the kayfabe is certainly entertaining at times.
PS great analysis Willy!
The buddhist temples I have been to in the US have large Hmong congregations. I have met a few US veterans at the temples that where sheep-dipped for the Secret War. I love learning history from the participants.
Ishmael, did you mean the 95% Samsung designed and developed K9 Thunder, built under license in Turkey? If they are using that exclusively and none of their recently upgraded M52T SP then I will stand corrected. But I’ll wait for photos from the specific batteries being used.
If Erdogan is using the longer range T55 Firtina then he obviously plans to go much deeper than his buffer zone.
By the way the Samsung design was based on the US M109.
what turkey does in north east syria by moving in troops in the medium to long term is irrelevant. it is the stated goal of the ‘principal’ deciders (to quote W) …russia, syria, iran, china and hezbollah that syria should remain territorially whole and sovereign.
turkeys future is in eurasia as part of the OBOR and as a member of the various organizations that constitute that emerging multipolar civilization. turkeys future as part of nato and even the west is over, they know the west knows it. which is why washington is building up a large military presence in greece and bulgaria
washington, tel aviv and ryahd have increasingly less power and leverage to decide anything as regards syria and the middle east…….hello… the houhti’s lighting up the refinery and washingtons non response is all you need to know
do not be misdirected by short term military maneuvers and what happens to the kurds is now of their own making. they could have reconciled with damascus as damascus tried on their behalf. they adamantly refused expecting washngton promises were actually worth something.
hey lars, the kurds must have gotten takeout from the same candy crapping unicorn where you eat.
in any event washington is replaying the role of the ottomans in the twilight of WW1. they are slowly being expelled from any position of real power and influence in the middle east. the war mongers in DC know it, the neocons know it as do the MIC oligarchs. hence the msm hysteria about trump and troop redeployment in syria.
tel aviv is militarily weaker than ever before and they know that as well. they have remained more or less in stasis while the nature of warfare has changed under their feet and now they find themselves indefensible.
the real goal playing out BEHIND the curtain is to manage the american empires accelerating collapse so the crazies in washington do not in a fit lunacy light up the planet in a final effort to hold onto what is already lost………unipolarity…. as they are pushed off the stage and out of the building.
The Kurdish leadership had multiple opportunities to reconcile with the Syrian government, they have up until now refused and instead allowed themselves to be used as a US proxy which has divided Syria further.
If they were only interested in self defence why did they hugely expand the territory which they controlled, they have also skirmished directly with SAA forces on numerous occasions and the Syrian government forces didnt abandon NE Syria, they were overstretched from trying to fight so called ‘rebels’ all over the country. The Syrian government held on to territory the best it could and still has a presence in NE Syria i.e Qamishly. They didnt tuck tail and run. They were beaten back and had hundreds of soldiers massacred in the process
If the Kurds never wanted to weaken Syria why have they not handed back territory that used to belong to Syria such as Raqqa, Manbij the Omar gas fields etc.?
The Kurds have had their own agenda, they got greedy and tried to take advantage of a weakened Syria to get their slice of the pie now they are paying the price.
I did not miss it and I agree that this is not the first one, but with modern media, this one will be recorded in real time and that will be different. One problem is that much of the world will see this as a betrayal by the US, when it actually is a betrayal by Trump. Some in the GOP are protesting, but they won’t do anything about it, so they will own it too.
I realize that you did not live in the US during VN but the media was plenty modern then.
Will the media notice it is Turkey attacking our ally? Isn’t that going to trigger article 5 of the NATO treaty?
Taqiyya is usually translated as “prudential or precautionary dissimulation” and has a counterpart among Jewish minorities facing persecution. It is *only* ethically acceptable in all of its historical manifestations as a defensive mechanism under duress or pain of death. But all peoples under persecution practice it even if they don’t develop a specific ethics language to describe and delimit it. Of course all people also violate such norms and lie, or fac et excuse under its guise. But claims that this or that group have a “norm of lying” are generally an outgrowths of historical apologetics and so said about one people by their enemies. It is an ironic form of bearing false witness for a scholar to characterize it thus when they actually ought to know better.
I don’t think the Kurds’ American friends would allow a reconciliation with the Syrian government, even if the Kurds wholeheartedly wanted such.
Russia, Hezbollah and Al Quds were all invited by the legitimate Syrian government.
Israel, the US, Turkey and assorted jihadis were not.
Yes, in the past. But now not having troops on the ground how do you suppose the US would prevent it?
I agree with you that the Syrian government was overstretched from trying to fight jihadis from all over their country. But except for their more easily defensible bases in both Qamishli and Hasakah cities, the Government did in fact abandon the remainder of the area east of the Euphrates.
The Kurds overall cooperated with the government Forces in Qamishli. The skirmishes you mention were a few minor shootings by young men on checkpoint duty near Qamishli, fueled up on adrenalin & testosterone, and started by both sides. After Kurds & Assyrian Christians & Shammar tribesmen cleaned out ISIS from the area around Qamishli and Hasakah they cooperated and never interferd with the Government troops there. Check out the older Syrian War maps with those of today and you will see that the red areas of Government control in Qamishli expanded by a factor of four or five. That expansion was allowed and welcomed by the Kurds as it was that much less they had to provide security for. The YPG in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo City fought alongside the SAA in the liberation of that city and helped in other neighborhoods beside their own. Kurds also cooperated with Assad in both Manbij and Tel Rifaat.
And they never expanded their territory. They made allies with the Arab tribes in the provinces of Raqqa, Hasakah, and northen Deir ez-Zor. They do not control those areas. Those Arab areas are under the control of their own councils and tribal leaders. The Kurds did help to liberate them from Daeshis, and they provided support to root out jihadi sleeper cells after liberation. Other than that there was no expansion. It was the US and their Coalition that kept the SAA out of NE Syria after it was liberated, NOT the Kurds.