Update on Rojava – TTG


"Turkey’s policy aimed at preventing Syrian Kurds from gaining a swath of territory along the Turkish-Syrian border has totally trumped its desire to see the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Developments show that Turkey at this point is even enabling Assad’s drive to regain control of Syria. The Turkish drive to capture the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of al-Bab, only 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Turkish border, also aims at curbing Kurdish aspirations. Gaining control of this town has become a matter of prestige for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been arguing for weeks that it is on the verge of being taken.

The problem for Turkey, however, is that it is not just Kurds attached to the People's Protection Units (YPG) — which Ankara views as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — who are racing to take al-Bab.

The Syrian regime also wants the town to consolidate its imminent victory in Aleppo. Al-Bab is a gateway to Aleppo, which also leaves Moscow concerned that it could provide a supply line for anti-regime fighters.

Reports have appeared in the Turkish media claiming that the Syrian army and the YPG are collaborating to enter the town before the Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). But following assurances by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim regarding Turkey's intention in Syria, given during his visit to Moscow last week, there are indications that Ankara has obtained a conditional green light from Russia to move on al-Bab."



It does appear that Russia is copacetic with Turkish forces and their FSA allies taking al-Bab… at least for now. The Russians and the SAA clearly have other fish to fry. At least the Turks are occupying the attention of a sizable number of IS jihadis. The Turks have moved three hundred or so “commandos” to al-Bab along with a number of their Leopard 2 tanks. Within the last 48 hours, Turkish authorities report four F-16s have hit 28 IS targets in the area with another 157 targets hit by artillery. 

The IS is not just rolling over in this fight. The Hurriyet Daily News said IS has fortified the city with nearly a thousand ditches including two meter wide anti-tank ditches supported by minefields and anti-tank weapons. Three Leopard 2s have been reported to be destroyed by IS TOW-2s and Konkurs missiles as of yesterday. The Turkish/FSA offensive is stalled on the outskirts of al-Bab. The U.S. is providing no air or ground support to this Turkish offensive.

The Turks will probably take al-Bab before too long, but what’s next? Erdogan has answered that question himself. Anadalou Agency quoted Erdogan as saying, "At this moment, we are focused on al-Bab, we have surrounded al-Bab on the west, and we will go from here to Manbij.” Well that should get interesting.



 AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – The US-backed Syrian Kurdish-Arab alliance announced on Wednesday they liberated dozens of villages and approached a strategic town held by the Islamic State (IS) group west of the city of Raqqa. Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported that about twenty villages were liberated from IS in the western countryside of Raqqa.

On the third day of the second phase of the offensive launched last month to liberate the Syrian de facto capital of IS, the SDF advanced about 15 km/9 miles towards the IS-held area of Tabqa, some 60 km (40 miles), to the west of Raqqa.

Several SDF fighters on the frontlines told Kurdistan24 that most of IS insurgents were leaving their positioning without any resistance. "[IS] insurgents don't fight, they just flee in front of our forces," said Hoger, a Syrian Kurdish SDF fighter. Additionally, the fighters said they were fighting IS and helping civilians return to their villages immediately. "After we liberate a village, we clean it and remove the mines, and then we help people return to their homes safely," said Hasan, a Syrian Arab SDF fighter.    

SDF officers who talked to Kurdistan24 on conditions of anonymity said the target of SDF and their allies is controlling the Thawra Dam, near the town of Thawra, some 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Aleppo. By controlling the Tabqa dam, the SDF can control the western areas of Raqqa, and then separate those areas from the city, so that IS will be besieged from three sides.



Not long ago, the YPG was threatening to pull out of the Wrath of Euphrates offensive to take Raqqa to aid their brethren in the Manbij Military Council against the Turkish/FSA invasion. Now they are participating in phase two of the operation to take Raqqa. Perhaps the original threat and the YPG columns moving West were maskirovka to move forces into position to strike from the Tishreen Dam towards Tabqa. Looks like the plan worked. U.S. Special Forces and special operations forces are participating in this fight. I’ve also seen videos of Ospreys brings arms and ammunition to the SDF/YPG forces in Ayn Issa. Now we’ll see if IS reinforces this front in any meaningful way. 

Both these moves against IS will serve to take pressure off other fronts including Palmyra. Seems the R+6 and the U.S. are okay with all this at the moment. I seriously doubt it will stay that way once Turkey moves agains Manbij in a meaningful way. At some point, this will look like Tolkien's battle of five armies.


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109 Responses to Update on Rojava – TTG

  1. Lemur says:

    What a tangled web we weave…
    I’ve been trying to figure out the relationship between Trump the administration, Turkey, and the Kurds. We know Flynn is very pro-Turkey. Trump on the other hand may take a dim view of Turkish attacks on the SDF, which he may interpret as an assault on a force fighting the No.1 enemy that is ISIS.
    Another question is, what is better for Syria’s territorial integrity long term? Kurdish or Turkish advances?

  2. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re:” Another question is, what is better for Syria’s territorial integrity long term? Kurdish or Turkish advances?
    Most of us see the kurdish aspirations as a part of the PNAC plan. Over the past decade the izzies have provided logistics, intelligence, materiel and training to various kurdish groups. The Syrian kurds, themselves, have given mixed signals about their aspirations. Very few folks in the ME trust them. I am not sure if they are the US allies against ISIS or are something else. I am also not sure who has supported ISIS all this time. It is a complicated business.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  3. aleksandar says:

    I think Kurds in some waays knows that they can’t survive outside the protection of the syrian republic. A sort of autonomy has to be done, perhaps, but Assad is a very pragmatic man.
    I should add that Assad 2016 is not Assad 2000, no more ” son of Afez”.
    He IS Syria and nobody will stop him as it was the case in 2001.

  4. turcopolier says:

    No more “fils a papa?” pl

  5. paul says:

    the site has been the most informative and unbiased and reliably correct coverage of the Syrian war, i disagree with pretty much all other opinions that this blog has accepted, but that does not really matter when one prioritizes truthful information.
    many thanks for being an island of sanity in this ridiculous storm of nonsense we call our main stream media.

  6. Lemur says:

    Yes i agree with that.
    They would if they could. I believe the only thin stopping Western recognition of a sovereign Northern Syria is the Turkish meltdown that would follow. Assad should be able to play the Turks and Kurds off against one another to his benefit. I’m guessin the end result will be a communitarian rather than territorial autonomy for the Syrian Kurds. Syria territorial integrity is retained, the Kurds get a measure of self-determination, and Turkey avoids a Kurdish state on the border.

  7. mike allen says:

    The PYD (political arm of the YPG fighters in Syria) is not asking for independence, only for a form of federalism similar to what Virginia and 49 other American states enjoy. Unfortunately, that seems to be anathema to Assad and Erdogan.
    Meanwhile some Turks in Istanbul, a few with al-Quaeda flags, are protesting and shouting for jihad. https://twitter.com/DrAriMurad/status/809354274417295360

  8. mike allen,
    You are absolutely correct. Russia is pushing Assad to be magnanimous towards the Rojava Kurds when the time comes. Assad would be smart to take that advice. He could have an organized and armed frontier corps on his northern border if he plays his cards right. He would still have to keep an eye on future YPG-PKK shenanigans. But all this is a way off. Let’s slay the alligators first.

  9. Lemur,
    Erdogan seems bent on reviving the Ottoman Empire. He doesn’t give a fig about Syria’s territorial integrity unless its as a province of his Ottoman dream. Except for a few wild-eyed dreamers, the Rojava Kurds wish to remain in Syria with some kind of federated autonomy. An independent Rojava would be dead meat between Turkey and Syria.

  10. different clue says:

    Kurdish advances might be better for Syrian territorial integrity because as TTG says the Syrian Kurds may well settle for federal regional autonomy within a federal Syria. If they declared independence before the SAR were able to crush that independence, then Turkey would invade them to crush their independence. A Syria too weak to suppress a Kurdish declaration of independence would also be too weak to expel Turkish forces.
    And if any Turkish forces advance in that area, they will never leave unless driven out by force.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    TTG & Mike Allen:
    The US states began life as independent states within the English Common Law and Constitution. You are asking Kurds, in effect, to be like Americans.
    Well, they are not English men, can never be English, and are clueless as to how to run the machinary of a consituational system with decentralized power.
    You will be encouraging the worst sort of parochialism under the guise of federalism.
    Here is another modest Makkinejad proposal:
    Restore the Cherokee Nation to their ancestral lands, issue a Presidential Proclamation of Apology, and begin the process of setting up an autonomous Cherokee Government in the areas so wantonly and unjustly and illegally and inhumanly taken away from that nation.
    This would go a long way towards making you more credible to foreigners when you suggest to them how to organize their political lives.
    [If any Cherokee is reading these lines, please, if US Government enacts this proposal, I would be satisfied by a single statue dedicated to me and possibly a few streets.]

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not sure about ISIS but Jihadists are clearly supported in Aleppo by the European Union:

  13. Doug Colwell says:

    TTG, sorry I don’t have a link, but I saw Assad interview with a Russian woman in which he was asked about a federal arrangement with the Kurds. His response was that it was not his decision to make, and that the constitution could be changed only by the parliament.
    Make of that what you will.

  14. Babak,
    The PYD has called for a federated status under a united Syria. This isn’t something I or Mike Allen are making up. So it’s Rojava Kurds calling for this, not Englishmen. I applaud their realism and wish them well.
    As for your modest proposal, I’d like to see the USG at least stick to their treaty obligations. Canada had an interesting solution with the creation of Nunavut. Maybe they’ll make a snowman in your honor.

  15. VietnamVet says:

    The fate of Syria is the fate of the world. This is the cauldron that will determine if sovereign states persist or will they be superseded by trans-national undemocratic Corporations and Non-Government Organizations. Without the protection of government police and military, society devolves into tribes, gangs and families. To survive Syria must forge an alliance of minorities (Alawites, Kurds, Shiites and Secular Sunnis). If the Middle East war is ever to end, the Daesh cannot have their own land and their support by the West and Gulf Monarchies must end. Likewise, if the USA is to survive the end of its Empire, government must treat the fatal despair of mid-America.
    The current Western push to scapegoat Vladimir Putin serves globalist goals of diverting attention from the complete incompetence of the neo-liberal-con elite and continues the oligarchs’ wars and looting worldwide. The Great Game will be terminal if not ended.

  16. VietnamVet,
    With all its faults, Syria was a multi-confessional secular alliance before all this current unpleasantness started.

  17. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    You state in the above comment
    1-“The PYD has called for a federated status under a united Syria. This isn’t something I or Mike Allen are making up.”
    In a previous one you also state:
    2-“He would still have to keep an eye on future YPG-PKK shenanigans.”
    Now we should discuss what kind of shenanigans, and why, and what they mean by a federated state, etc. But, I guess, you might say that all these details are for the future. However, a more immediate issue is the US interests in the area. Now that “Assad must go” is a failure, what are you all trying to do there? Also, what is the kurdish role in your aims? Why would Assad or Putin want to have heavily armed infantry commanded by US SF in their area of control since, from the beginning, the US goals were orthogonal to those of the R+6?
    There are several reasons why TSK is in Syria.1-The formation of a convenient “kurdish” corridor to the MED is something TSK would prefer not happen. 2-It is highly possible that if, instead of reviving the Ottoman Empire, tayyip-the lesser’s gambit, and serious investment, in Syria resulted in an “independent kurdistan” as envisioned by PNAC/Clean Break papers, tayyip would-literally- lose his head. He is now desperately trying to establish status with Putin, and maneuver himself into claiming some gains for all this “effort”. It is a hard task. It just might happen that, when the West needs a sundenbock for the Syrian debacle, tayyip might be fingered as the ideal one. It would be such poetic justice.
    I wish to remind all that tayyip and his gang were lauded by the izzies and their US/Western amen corner as the pinnacle of “democratic islam” and economic prowess just a decade ago. Pretty much the same cast of characters who are claiming a “humanitarian massacre” in Aleppo.
    Interesting days await.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  18. mike allen says:

    Babak Makkinejad –
    I fully support your proposal for a Presidential Apology to the Cherokees. But why stop with them? Why not restore their land and autonomy to the other 500 nations? I’ll dedicate a street to you and build and put up the street sign myself when it happens.
    Turkey and Iran are the biggest foes of Syrian federalism. Turkish opposition I understand, as it would be a threat to Erdogan’s power. Why Iran?

  19. wondook says:

    Mike Allen, in that video you linked, they shout “I-ran qa-til” (Iran, the Murderer) in Syria “suriye-de”. Flags are not ISIL, but rather the model used by AQ, Nusrah, IMU, ETIM and Taliban. Turkish NGOs are all up on this latest phase now suddenly being a “Katliam” (massacre), but a lot of intellectuals are joining in, and organise demonstrations in larger Turkish urban centers, both in Turkey and in Germany. Hamburg also saw a similar demonstration, first in front of the Russian, then at the Iranian consulate. Also Ankara and Berlin got a showing at the respective embassies.
    But following the agreement between Erdogan and Putin to continue Geneva talks in Astana (staring 1 Jan. Kazakhstan joins the UN SC), the Turkish focus is now shifting on Iran only (see http://www.ozgurder.org/). A Turkish brother from Central Asia probably now has a moderating influence.
    I see it likely that Erdogan will let go this whole stuff (Misaq-i-Melli, screwing with the Kurds), once he has changed the Constitution to a Presidential Lifer System.

  20. aleksandar says:

    Yes sir, but ” fils a papa ” refers mainly to money and wealth,
    ” born with the silver spoon in mouth”, If I remenber well, the same saying in french and english.
    I was more on a political side.
    You certainly knows that Bachar has quietly expressed frustration at the begining to be unable to implement political and democratic reforms due to Baath party caciqus resistance.
    I bet this will not happen again.

  21. JJackson says:

    Josh Landis, in a recent RT interview, was asked ‘where now for the SAA post Aleppo?’. His answer – which made sense to me – was that Idlib could be contained and wait as the Jihadis were too AQ to get a lot of overt support from NATO. The Turkish invasion onto Syrian soil was a much more immediate problem for Assad as the presence of a Nation State with a foothold would be more difficult to remove especially if they get dug in. I assume that it would also be Russian thinking too as they will not want to be fighting a NATO state that close to the boarder as it would cause too many opportunities for an accidental escalation from proxy to direct conflict with NATO/US.
    Assuming IS can not hold territory indefinitely against Russia and the US and that SAA keep clearing and holding more areas there must be a point at which Assad will say ‘thanks for the help be we can take it from here, please leave Syria now’. The US and Turkey have been looking for an end-game where they have proxies holding territory which the Syrian government can not retake and are willing to settle. This is looking less likely. To me it seems more likely that the SAA are going to end up with adequate force outside a Syrian city occupied by US or Turkish proxies and forces who will not leave. How does that one end?

  22. aleksandar says:

    1) This alliance was already set up before the war. You’re in the ME.
    I don’t remember who was saying, maybe one clever guy here about Lebanon, that a president even not democrat coming from a minority, ie Alaouite, is the best way of maintaining peace among communities and a sort of decent way of life politically and economically.
    2) When we tried to know what Afghans wanted, we discovered that it was nothing about democracy, they wanted jobs, electricity, hospitals, schools and soccer fields!

  23. turcopolier says:

    Alawi dominance of Syria since the early 50s is a by-product of French Colonial policy in which they policed Syria by using ethnic minority Alawis as auxiliary troops. after the French left the Alawis simply pushed the Sunni Arabs to one side and took power. In fact the Alawis overlords became protectors of the other minorities in Syria, Christians, Druze, Shia, etc. They also made common cause with the modernist element in the Sunni population. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    IMO Idlib Province must be recovered and soon from the AQ/Nusra occupation. If it is not IMO it will not be possible to govern a Syria that contains this cancer within. I will say again that the real world is not a graduate school seminar in which people can be argued into reasonable behavior. Facts must be established in the ground. pl

  25. turcopolier says:

    My French is actually pretty good and “fils a papa” also means someone who would have no significance if he were not daddy’s boy. pl

  26. JJackson says:

    It is the ‘The facts on the ground’ bit that I was thinking of. If the SAA can get into Al-bab prior to Turkish advance gaining control then a tricky ‘fact’ can be avoided. Idlib is already much as it is going to remain – in Nursa control. If contained and pressured will they build up forces from Turkey or will they bleed fighters over the boarder so they become Ergordan’s problem not Assad’s? I agree Idlib must be cleared before IS can be confronted in the East but should it take precedence over Al-bab?

  27. LeaNder says:

    TAZ reports, Putin envisions some new “alternative” talks, with Turkey representative or backer of the opposition.
    straight Google translate of the passage:
    Meetings could take place in Kazakhstan
    Putin puts on a new format of Syria talks with Turkey as a protective power of the opposition. Russia is trying to win the Syrian government for Turkey again, the opponents of President Assad. He agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said on Friday during a visit to Tokyo. The meetings could take place in Kazakhstan.
    After the start of an offensive, Syria’s army had taken the largest part of the former rebel territories in East Aleppo. Under the mediation of Russia and Turkey, the conflict parties agreed an agreement this week on the withdrawal of fighters and civilians from the city.

  28. jonst says:

    And the Lion, when he was working his way up, even signed a petition on behalf of Jewish ‘Settlers’ in then Palestine.

  29. shanks says:

    This is so weird that I don’t know how to summarize it. Apparently not going all in and doing this dual talk/force track is the cause of failure in Syria.

  30. JJackson says:

    “i disagree with pretty much all other opinions that this blog has accepted”
    Like what? If you are thinking climate change, peak oil etc, you may have an ally.

  31. turcopolier says:

    Muslims IMO do not deal well with the notion of federated states with some sovereignty residing in the federated parts. Muslims (to the extent that they are really religious) think of the world and the affairs of men as necessarily reflecting the nature of God, the invincible and indivisible lord of the universe. From that point of view, it is unity (tawhiid) that is valued not things like federation or confederations that can lead to a lack of unity (tawa’if). there are majority Muslim states that have something like federation (Pakistan, the UAE, the old Federation of South Arabia) but such institutions always struggle against distrust of disunity. Syria, before the civil war, worked because it was not a federation. It was a mosaic of distinct ethno-religious communities that were made to cooperate somewhat by one of the tessera like communities. In this case the Alawis and their bazaar style Sunni allies. I am not optimistic about the prospects of a Syrian federation. pl

  32. turcopolier says:

    SST (me) has no opinion with regard to climate change being a manifestation of human activity. In re peak oil. IMO the notion has no practical applicability in light of ever increasing discovery of massive oil/gas deposits like the monster in the Permian Basin. pl

  33. JJackson says:

    What do you think is next for Turkey? Erdogan has burnt a lot of bridges since his arrival. The days of ‘good diplomatic relations with all’ at the outset has now turned into soured relations with EU,US,Russia,Syria,Israel and the Kurds plus massive economic losses. Will Turkey be fighting an extended kurdish revolt and what of all the jihadis who may be pushed out of Syria and for whom Ergodan’s Islamism is nowhere near hardline enough are they going to become his next headache?

  34. turcopolier says:

    Idlib Province and the Bab al-Hawa border crossing are now the “key terrain” in the struggle for the existence of a multi-confessional more or less secular Syria. Al-Bab is now exterior to the mass of territory and people that the Syrian government can realistically expect to control any time soon. The YPG/SDF forces, SAA facing in that direction will have to form a front against further Turkish adventurism toward the south but the real deterrent to that is Russian diplomacy and Sultan Tayyip’s need for new and effective economic “friends.” pl

  35. HawkOfMay says:

    You are not alone. I feel I am to the left of most of the folks here but still feel an affinity to the people who come to Col. Lang’s site to comment. Tyler is an example of someone who is the complete opposite to my world view but I value the space Col. Lang has created where these conversations can take place.

  36. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    There are more fault lines than the ones you mention, and any one of them might cause the spark to blow the whole shooting match. It is interesting to watch Putin playing tayyip like a hooked fish. The guy must be a master angler.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  37. Norbert M Salamon says:

    With great respect, Colonel, the monster Permian Basin of some 2 billion barrel is negligible with respect to daily world wide use [95M barrels] which is good for about 20 days; conversely, USA usage is 14M, thus the Permian Basin is sufficient for approx. 150 calendar day’s supply.
    World wide in the past few years there was a lack of replacement of oil reserves to compensate for depletion due to production.

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    France is not a federal state, nor is Italy.

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Then let us wait until the Cherokee Nation has been restored to its ancestral lands before instructing foreign people how to organized their political lives.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “Federated Status under United Syria” is the phrasing of every single clan that wishes to get Western ear’s attention.
    Another one is, “Secular Democratic Pluralistic…” Muslim country – X.
    You guys should not fall for such formulations and recognize them for what they truly are: attempts at manipulating the gullible Faranji.

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Two weeks ago, the Brussels-DC Duopoly permitted Romania to once again resume her 50-year commercial relationship with Iran by agreeing to build a power plant there.
    What difference does it make to Romania if she is ruled from Moscow or from Brussels-DC; she is not sovereign in any case – and cannot even make a buck without foreigners telling her that she can?
    Likewise for Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Italy and many others.

  42. Barish says:

    As the wider Palmyra-region is touched upon here, I might as well expand on that:
    I’ll admit that I didn’t reckon that the ISIL-raid would turn into a full-blown take-over by them of Tadmur, but there it is.
    Even so, loot does seem to be the prime motivation here. For several days ISIL’s raids further westward have stalled around the Tiyas-airbase, and just now it has been reported that their thrust to the south-west of that, towards the road between Qaryatayn and the base, has been repelled with said road being declared open again.
    I mentioned before that there was a similar broader-scale attack in April this year out in the deserts east of Damascus, during which they even overran as-Sin air base:
    Does anyone have any more detailed information on how that raid went – what ISIL got out of it, whether the air base is operational again, etc. -, and whether connections can be made to how they went about their attacks in the Palmyra-region?

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The consciousness that Iran is the core & source of their civilization and culture evidently does not exist anywhere in the Muslim world.
    This must be contrasted with the Western Diocletian states for whom the centrality of France – over 800 years – was never in doubt; even NAZI Germany acknowledged its debt to France.
    Bernanos relates how this retired Brazilian diplomat would not emerge out of his study for 2 weeks following the surrender of France in 1940; the forces of Darkness had prevailed against Light and there was not Hope left in the world.

  44. turcopolier says:

    Did I say that France or Italy are federated states? No. I did not. What I am trying to communicate is that federations are possible in the West but are nearly impossible in Islamdom. pl

  45. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    As I said elsewhere here IMO the Sunni and other Muslim Syrians are the biggest true enemies of the idea of Syrian federalism. pl

  46. turcopolier says:

    Westerners generally do not understand how good the people of the Islamic Culture Continent are at telling those “trying to hustle the East” just what is imagined to be desired by the West. The crafty bastard whom I worked for in my ten years of captivity in the business world began after a while to tell his fellow Arabs not to bother to try to BS me because I would just laugh at them. pl

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I meant to indicate that Federalism was not prevalent even in such central and important states as France and Italy either.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    A Swedish view on Kurds in Sweden:

  49. Kooshy says:

    Those who love South Sudan would love an independent Kurdistan in any of the 4 major bordering states that will be carved out.

  50. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    Yes, the SNC and other Syrian opposition groups in Turkey and Qatar are against the federalization of Syria.
    The Arab League was also against it in the past. But I note that the new Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in September announced his support for the establishment of a federal system in Syria. Hard to say what his motives are.

  51. mike allen says:

    RE Palmyra:
    US airstrikes claim destruction of “14 tanks, three artillery systems, two ISIL-held buildings, two tactical vehicles, and an air defense artillery system,” that had been captured by Daesh from the Syrian Army a few days ago.

  52. Chris Chuba says:

    I read that as a confession that we supported rebels who were hopelessly aligned with Al Qaeda for at least two years.
    ‘Why we failed’ reads like a rhetorical question.
    What if we got every single thing we asked for, what was our plan, did we expect the rebels who were buddies with Al Qaeda to suddenly turn on their brothers the day that Assad fell, defeat them, then drive ISIS out of the country? This was never explored.

  53. JMH says:

    And what’s off the coast of Brazil? Probably just a few weeks supply.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup and before that was Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor…
    Always ready to breakup other people’s states in heart beat, yet so reluctant to apply the same policies to their own countries.
    And the hero to many of them is the man most responsible for the break up of British India – one Mohandas Kramchand Gandhi…
    It must be the Beige Third-Worlder in me speaking…

  55. aleksandar says:

    Right sir, I was speeking about “shade” in commmon french.

  56. aleksandar says:

    Yes, you can add ” Umma” as a strong sign of this thinking mode.

  57. Serge says:

    A very interesting detail in an otherwise unremarkable politico article on the Mosul situation:
    “One senior Pentagon officer with access to daily battle reports on the Mosul fight says the battle for the city has been so intense that the Golden Division’s veteran battalions “are suffering upwards of 50 percent casualties. If that rate stays constant,” he told me, “the division could become combat ineffective in a little over a month, and perhaps even sooner.”

  58. BraveNewWorld says:

    At the end of the day none of the countries in the area can afford to leave an American presence sitting there like a tumour. Syria can’t afford it because the US will continue to push arms in there and use it as a staging area for the next war against Syria. The Turks can’t have it because the US is backing the Kurds. Iran can’t have it because every one Trump wants to nominate is foaming at the mouth about Iran. Iraq can’t have it because … the last 15 years. Russia can’t have it because it gives NATO a new attack vector against Russia.
    Trump could pull the special forces out of the region but almost no one in the Republican or Democratic parties or any one Trump is going to nominate are on board, so that looks dubious. So sooner or later the Kurds are going to have to turn on their handlers if they want any kind of peace with their neighbours. That will happen later rather than sooner, but happen it will.

  59. Henshaw says:

    Estimates of oil reserves are slippery because they have to include estimates of extraction costs, and thus of likely prices. You have to look closely at how the estimate has been defined. If it will cost $100 to extract a barrel of oil from a site but the price of oil is only $50, it’s not economic to extract, and estimates of reserves will reflect this. Increase the price and suddenly it becomes economic to get oil from higher extraction cost reserves.
    Recent low oil prices have depressed estimates of ‘economically extractable’ oil.

  60. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Per Col. Lang we need to evaluate any news separate from their source but some validation links would always be welcome.
    Ishmael Zechariah
    P.s: Here is an earlier bit of news from rudaw.net.

  61. mike allen says:

    Ishmael Zechariah –
    Here is a link to the Coalition strike release for 15 December. I make no claim to its veracity. But I take it at face value. Other than a pilot’s possible exaggeration of his strike results. I would hope that CJTF-OIR had gun camera evidence or independent verification of BDA by other sources.

  62. Babak Makkinejad says:

    One has to observe a string of wreckage from Hindu Kush to the Atlas Mountains to despair.

  63. FND says:

    I saw a clip of a actual independent journalist who had actually spent time on the ground in Allepo talking to civilians. At least she seemed to be legitimately independent. She gave a report on the Ron Paul report. Her name is Vanessa Beeley. She’s a brave journalist. She’s not a fan of the white helmets or our American Pravda media.

  64. kooshy says:

    Mike, as other situation in the region for iran, it is all about and depends on Iran being a minority nation both ethnically and religiously in region what I call the sea of neighbouring sunnis, including Arab and Turk Sunnis, as well as Arab and Turk Shia who also wouldnt appreciate if Iran recognized part of their country passes to another Iranian ethnicity the Kurds, remember Tip O’Neill ” all politics are local” you seating in the west don’t have that problem you are not local, Iranians do. The closest people in the region to Kurds are not Israelis or the US Kurd simpetizers , it’s the Iranian, this is since, Kurds are ethnically also Iranian. Iran will not compromise it’s national and her respected arab shia minority’ security siding with Kurds independence, or whatever federalism you like, or in same way, recognizing Israel and or becoming bosom buddies with US. IMO that is minimum security requirement for Iran, trying not to alienate neighbouring muslim streets as much as possible, that is cheapest and safest security you can buy.

  65. mike allen says:

    James –
    Isn’t Iran already providing PKK with support?

  66. Phil Cattar says:

    BTW,There is a lot more Native American land in the USA than most people realize.The Navajo reservation in the 4 corners area of the Southwest is larger than the smallest 3 states of New England combined.

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is really funny, a few years ago Speaker of Iranian Parliament took evidence with him to Turkey that purported to show US material support for PKK.

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Heard in a Café in Aleppo a while back…
    The Christian Owner:
    – The guns are blasting again, the Takfiris are gathering.
    – The ex-intelligence officer from Turkey: Yes, but Iranians are gathering the Fatemiyoon and Zeinabiyoon. Nasty bunch, from what I hear.
    – Let me get you a drink effendi –
    Gives him a drink which the fellow sips:
    – Good God Man, what is this? It is awful.
    – Ah, this is a common Iranian drink, Borage tea.
    – It is vile.
    – Yes, I know, just like the Iranians. But you know what? After a while it starts growing on you.
    – Do you think they can stop the Takfiris?
    – I do not know my friend, by I sure hope so.

  69. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    ” Borage for courage.” —old English saying.
    Years ago I grew some borage in the garden once. I had read that the leaves were edible boiled. And they were, but they had a sort of woolly hairy tongue-feel/ texture even when cooked. Maybe some day I will try it again. Maybe I will try younger leaves.
    Here’s a bunch of pictures of borage.

  70. mike allen says:

    Babak Makkinejad –
    That was before Turkish overt support of Salafis in Syria. The game has changed now.
    Or maybe even back then the Speaker of Parliament you mentioned was trying to deflect the blame?
    Cemil Bayik, one of the PKK co-founders has reportedly been in talks with the IRGC. PKK has had bases in the Qandil mountains right on the Iran/Iraq border a couple of years without apparent Iranian interference. And al-Monitor claims that Iran and Iranian-supported Iraqi militias are allying with the PKK in Sinjar to counterbalance Turkish military presence near Bashiqa. Perhaps that is all Turkish & Saudi agitprop.
    But even Breitbart had a recent article on PKK in Iran having a firefight with members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI). And Breitbart never pushes fake news do they (snark alert). But they may have got that from LtGen Flynn, Trump’s National Security Adviser, who has close ties to Turkey. So that too could be BS.
    But the PKK is getting support from somewhere. If not Iran, then who? Russia? Could be. Saudis or Qatar? No way. The US as per your Speaker? Horse pucky I say.

  71. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    We (secular Turkish progressives) consider the PKK- in fact, the whole kurd gambit-a Borg operation. The nations which support this operation, as well as the kurdish “role” designated by the “Masters of the Universe™” are well documented. For example, this operation has similarities to the Ukraine and the social/ethnical disintegration engineered there. However, such issues are not mentioned in polite company, where it is better to bemoan the massacres in Aleppo conducted by the vile Russians, Iranians and SAA.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  72. trinlae says:

    It might be worth distinguishing Arab Muslim culture from *all* Muslims in general. For example, Muslims in Bangaladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia have a different political and cultural history especially with respect to European colonial history and related extant governance and political systems. Similarly for Muslim populations in India and China. This diversity reflects a population much higher orders of magnitude than the total of Arab Muslims. This may also be one reason why Wahabbi (Arab style) Sunni Islam appears to always be looking to export and replicate itself among non arab muslim populations outside the ME. It has the ME money but not the populations.
    Still, the question of whether federalism can work suitably is a good question. Recent experience in Nepal is that trying to define federal states that loosely reflect indigenous ethnic and cultural residential population history is a tricky but not necessarily impossible business. One problem is that the nature of electoral politics is short term in interests, often to used by parties to obstruct the political systems from productivity, so naturally providing inertial resistance to any long term structural developments like government administering creation of federal states and so forth.

  73. medhat behjed says:

    Kurds not iranian and not Turks or Arabs.Kurds are Kurds only nothing to do with Iran.

  74. LeaNder says:

    Yes, I guess that is what makes Pat’s SST interesting. It’s not a pure echo chamber.

  75. LeaNder says:

    i disagree with pretty much all other opinions that this blog has accepted
    That’s life. Associative, aesthetical, indirect response: The most “unfamiliar” among my siblings once told me: It may make sense to study an artist who for one reason or another didn’t attract me.
    Not that I ever seriously tried, except analyzing the ritualistic worship by art historians. 😉 There still are works of art that seems to call me from far and there are others that don’t.

  76. LeaNder says:

    I see it likely that Erdogan will let go this whole stuff (Misaq-i-Melli, screwing with the Kurds), once he has changed the Constitution to a Presidential Lifer System.
    This puzzles me a bit. I get Misaq-i-Melli, or “screwing with the Kurds”, but if I may?
    Could you elaborate. Especially since you started out with: “I-ran qa-til”. What’s are his intentions behind his presidency-for-life? A variant of the Sunni state model, and thus (necessarily?) Iran as enemy?

  77. turcopolier says:

    “It might be worth distinguishing Arab Muslim culture from *all* Muslims in general. For example, Muslims in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia. You may want to think that but IMO you would be incorrect in regard to the specific cultural feature I described. I am not writing here of transient constitutions, political parties or elections. I am talking about a basic disinclination to accept the idea of delegated autonomous power. pl

  78. Fred says:

    “There are now 6 Kurdish MPs within the Swedish Parliament, but they are polarized. “The Arabs are doing Arabization and Islamization, the Turks pursue nationalist politics, ”
    The multiculturalists of the left in action. The destruction of Sweden on behalf of cultural marxist ideology continues apace. It has been remarked on before.

  79. kooshy says:

    “Many Kurds consider themselves descended from the Medes, an ancient Iranian people,[65] and even use a calendar dating from 612 B.C., when the Assyrian capital of Nineveh was conquered by the Medes.[66] The claimed Median descent is reflected in the words of the Kurdish national anthem: “We are the children of the Medes and Kai Khosrow.”[67] The Kurdish languages form a subgroup of the Northwestern Iranian languages like Median.”
    I have Kurd relatives.

  80. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Qandil was captured by Iranians before ISIS emerged.
    Per IZ’s comment above, the perception in Turley is that PKK is supported by US.
    Consider yourself and TTG; with a fondness for Kurds in Syria, and for US in Iraq, with her fondness for Kurds in Erbil.
    That only leaves out the issue of who is supporting PKK and KDP.

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, they have nothing to do with Iran; that their first names are the names of the historical or legendary kings and heroes of Iran, that their flag is the tricolor of Iran, that the symbol of sun is splashed large on their flag, that their languages are Iranic, that they celeberate Nowruz, that the pants the men wear harken back to pre-Islamic Iran – all of those are just coincidences.
    I know it is tough for many Kurds to accept that they are just like Lores or Gilacks. Road to Reality is a hard one when one has been wrong and has been for so long.

  82. hemeantwell says:

    Yes, this makes sense to me. Erdogan will not be able to resolve the Kurd problem by force outside of his country, and hopefully not within it now that he’s relatively weak post-coup. The YPG will have to tack towards Assad, which they’ve already been accused of doing by Assad’s opposition. That may have been damning at the very onset of the anti-Assad uprising, but (I’m following Gareth Porter here) the subsequent hijacking of the uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations put an end to that issue. From the standpoint of the YPG the situation must look promising, though very delicate and dangerous.

  83. Cameron Kelley says:

    I hope I’m not hijacking this thread, but I just read on South Front a claim that ‘US-led advisers’ have been captured in Aleppo. SST commenters are far more knowledgeable than I am about what’s going on in the ME, and I’m curious if anybody else has further information on this. Thanks!

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In Persian, it is actually called “Cow Tongue Flower”- “Gol Gav Zaban”.

  85. kooshy says:

    I know base on locals that since 90s French, US, and Israelis have been active in Kurdistan, promoting and encouraging Kurds for a very aggressively semi autonomous federalization, why federalization? Key word for that is access. They know full independence will deny access by carved out states. Turkey, Iran , Iraq and Syria know this well and they know who is pulling and pushing the strings behind the curtain. It’s not going to happen, except getting some dumb Kurds and Turks killed. Back in 2006 the line of Truks delivering Kurdish Iraqi oil to
    Kirmanshah was over 20 mile long and line of truks delivering Kurdish imports from Iranian ports to IK was longer. They need To figure what access means.

  86. kooshy says:

    Mike, Don’t miss Taleban, Al Q and Boko Haram, who else can I think of, ah yes Farcs.

  87. kooshy says:

    I forgot they know why and who is pushing the Kurds to fill the cavity and get access or link to Mediterranean Sea. IMO, that is what changed Turkey’ stupid (totally Turk) policy once they learned US has sent advisers to help Kurds pass the river. And precisely that is the reason Syrians, Iranians and Russians agreed for Turks to pass the border. This folks wouldn’t give up feeling sorry for Kurds is just alligator tears.

  88. kooshy,
    The US has a long and rich history of using and discarding Kurds, almost as long as the history of Kurds abusing each other. The last I remember was in 1996 when the KDP sided with Saddam to go after the PUK. The US launched an operation to rescue some of our PUK allies. Of course they probably wouldn’t need rescuing if we didn’t encourage them to try to topple Saddam in the first place.
    I don’t know what our overall plan for the Rojava Kurds is. Assisting a force that is effectively fighting IS is something I can get behind. That fits with my hopelessly anachronistic and romantic notions as an anthropologist and Special Forces officer of an indigenous population telling the rest of the world, “Leave us the fu*k alone!” I have a nagging suspicion there are some in the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom who eventually want to use this area and the YPG/SDF as a new anti-Assad base and force. I hope those people are soon purged out of government service.

  89. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    The MAIN reason TSK moved in to Syria was to stop the Kurdish Corridor. Forget neo-ottoman dreams, or deposing Assad. The Army resisted these pressures for half a decade. tayyip has a big mouth with no brain behind it and Putin shuts him up summarily when his rhetoric becomes silly. Most of the population is being kept in the dark about these issues:the Turkish media is as bad as the US MSM when it comes to spinning things.
    However, things are changing. We are now seeing a string of suicide attacks in Turkey against security forces by PKK bombers. Some folks must be getting very desperate. The end of the Syrian Gambit is nigh.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  90. mike allen says:

    Babak Makkinejad – “Qandil was captured by Iranians…”
    Yes, a PDKI base near Qandil was overrun there. And now the PKK are given refuge there and they are working with the IRGC against Kurdish nationalists in Iran.

  91. jld says:

    Thank you very much!
    Not something that could be easily guessed beside such “informed comments” on SST.

  92. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This is a fundamental problem of any monist doctrine; how to account for and operate in a world which is, to all appearances, is fragmented and partial.
    I wonder if delegated autonomous power could have emerged and lasted in Western Diocletian states without the Legacy of Rome. Certainly the Orthodox and Byzantium went the other way.

  93. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You won’t get any arguments from me; agitating Kurds here, agitating Kurds there and then there is just the fact that such agitation leaves a bunch of corpses and keeps Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran further and further away from the task of the day – which is the development of their political, scientific, technical, legal, commercial aspects of their countries.

  94. kooshy says:

    I think I said the same thing, yes IMO the Turkish military was agreed (allowed) to move in to block/ interrupt connection of the two Syrian Kurdish regions on both side of the Euphrates river, which if allowed could eventually conect Sanandaj to Mediterranean Sea. IMO that’s not what Kurds dreamed or even wanted ( a bridge too far) but that’s what the westerners are telling them you could have. They can’t. Turks became sure of the American double game a bit too late.
    An earlier related part of this plan, which I have read from Iranian analysts, is that once they (the west) become sure that they can not get a Libyan style UNSC resolution on Syria, the plan B was stated. Plan B was to claim R2P, with money for arms and fighters from KSA and Qatar and EU promises for Turkey’ participation, they unleashed ISIL to occupy Jazerah region so they can start a coalition of willing bombers to faciliate bombing under the cover of R2P to protect against ISIS and Assad, justifying illegal invasion of Syria by western proxy and non proxy forces. That plan was got F*ed once the bad old puttin catches on and stepped in.

  95. kooshy says:

    Yes sir, I agree , here is what I have been told by some Kurds I know, on how they remember US and US’ support for Kurds. First they remember that US did not allow , a UN resolution or even a condemnation of Saddam’ chemical attack on Halabja (BTW Halabja means little Halab/Aleppo), which we know US and western media tried at first to blame it on Iran, which like Iran helping PKK don’t make sense. Secondly they remember, when after the 1st US Iraq war, after saddam was defeated, US allowed Saddam to have and use its attack helicopters on Kurds and Shia arab villages, Kurds in millions mostly escaped to Iran we all remember that, some stayed and became Iranian citizens and now live in Naghadeh.

  96. AEL says:

    When I watch Al Assad on TV, I always get the slight impression that he would rather be running an eye clinic in London than running a country in the middle east.

  97. mike allen says:

    Kooshy & Babak –
    Kurds do have many cultural and linguistic ties to Iranians. That is not surprising since they have lived so close together for millenia. But those cultural and linguistic ties do not make them Iranian. They do descend from an Iranic people, but so do Pashtuns, Tajiks, Baluchis, and Ossetians who also have ancient ties. But that does not make Kurds or those others Iranian. Some even say that most Europeans stem from pre-Iranic or Aryan backgrounds.
    Kurds are recognized internationally as a separate ethnic group despite Tehran’s desire to make Iran homogenous.

  98. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, it is sad, watching all those Pashtuns wallowing in that miserable life, having been deprived of being part of Iran when their ancestors help destroy the Safavid state.
    They missed both on the cultural developments of the last 150 years as well as the oil wealth that befall what they had despised and left behind.
    But, per US Army War College study, Afghanistan will fracture – along the Seljuk Boundary Line – by 2019 and the Pashtuns will have their own country to be miserable in.
    Afghan-istan – Land of Lamentation.
    Tehran is trying to make Iran homogeneous?
    Oh yes, where are all those Shia missionaries among the Baluchis, with suitcases full of money, trying to convert them those hard Deobandis into Shia?
    And I suppose all those books published in Kurdish, Azeri Turkish, Armenian, Arabic are imported from abroad into Iran.
    The country that does its best to suppress diversity is the Azerbaijan Republic – ask the Taleshis there.

  99. kooshy says:

    Mike, if it walks like a duck if it talks like a duck it’s duck.

  100. kooshy says:

    Mike, what you refuse to understand is that being Iranian is similar to being American it’s not about sharing religion or blood is about sharing culture. Think of Iran as the old world’ melting pot.

  101. mike allen says:

    Babak Makkinejad –
    I have said it here previously that I have a lot of respect and admiration for Iran and the Iranian people. Since the time of Cyrus most Iranians have respected the culture and religion of other people. It is a shame that the IRGC has abandoned that code of behavior. I do not believe that the great majority of Iranian people agree with the IRGC labeling those Kurds that ask for self-determination as being ‘enemies of God’.
    But even I have to admit that Tehran is ten thousand times better than Ankara. At least in Iran there have not been state sponsored pogroms like in Turkey. Or maybe there have been and were kept out of the press?

  102. kooshy says:

    Mike, the very narrow line of thoughts you push or work on, in support of Kurds, IMO is not working since they are contradicting each other, as far as I have read, this same lines has been pushed for many years and hasn’t got anywhere or changed anything. Here is why, in one line you say Iran is helping and sheltering PKK this line hopes to form and open a gap a wedge, between Iranian (IRGC) and Turkish military (IRGC), and Barezani warlords (they know if they don’t cooperate they get access denial), for a minimum hope of eliminating intelligence sharing between this 3 groups, for mistrust of each other’ intention. The second line you push is that the Iranian military (IRGC) is killing the Kurd insurgents (PJAK) and blocking Kurds “self determination” which IMO is western BS like the R2P.
    IMO, the problem with this 2 lines of thoughts you push is, that this 2 Kurdish insurgency organizations are one of the same they work and live together very closely ever since PJAC an offshoot of PKK was started, guess when, when real men was suppose to go to Tehran back in 04. You can’t claim in one comment Iran is helping PKK against Turks and in next comment claim Iran is killing jailing PJAK/ PKK insurgents.
    “Some experts describe PJAK as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).[4][5] Both groups are members of the Kurdistan Communities Union or KCK (Kurdish: Koma Civakên Kurdistan‎), an umbrella group of Kurdish political and insurgent groups in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq.[6][7]”
    There is this old Persian proverb, which comes to mind, when fox gets cut and denies he stoled the chicken “they ask the fox should we believe you or your tail”
    Colonel Lang- my apology for long comment.

  103. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The preamble of the US Constitution states:
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to … establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
    I think that the Islamic Republic of Iran has partly or in whole has achieved those goals; with the two goals of establishing Justice and securing Liberty lagging considerably as compared to United Kingdom, for example.
    Put another way, of the 3 elements of the popular slogan of the Iranian Revolution: “Independence, Liberty, Islamic Republic” 2 are achieved – Independence and Islamic Republic – while the goal of establishing a Liberal order remains distant.
    This goal of Liberty, in fact, was also a goal of the Constitutional Revolution in 1907 – more than a hundred years ago.
    Over the years, regrettably, I have come to the conclusion that the intellectual and religious basis of a Liberal Order – the ideas and ideals of Freedom as understood in Western Diocletian states – do not exist anywhere in the Muslim world; neither as political institutions, nor in bodies of works by Muslims, nor in actual social practices in Islamic world.
    It reminds me of what one heard whispered in Pakistan, in reference to Democracy of India, “Is it because of Islam?”
    In my opinion, there is no Muslim country that is Free as you would understand it in place like Minneapolis or Copenhagen and nor there is any one even remotely as Free as the Russian Federation.
    However, in my opinion, the existence of this deficit of Liberty in these states should not be used by the Fortress West as a wedge to beat down Iran or other Muslim states; without robust Muslim states Fortress West cannot extricate herself from the religious war that she has entered – not when there would be 3 billion Muslims on this planet in a generation or so.

  104. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I also recently got an inkling of the connections and mutual influences among Sassanid Iran, Byzantium, and early Islamic Caliphates; e.g. the almost fanatical opposition to any innovation characterized Byzantium which, evidently, bequeathed that to later Islamic centuries.

  105. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No no no.
    That country exists because of Shia Religion – the Iran idea is a distant second.

  106. kooshy says:

    IMO it is what it is it’s PKK and is not going away, some in the west wish the same for Iran.

  107. mike allen says:

    Kooshy –
    What I said was NOT about PKK vs PJAK, but PKK vs PDK-I. The PDK-I is also sometimes known as KDPI. This is a completely separate organization from PJAK.
    Regarding Turkey, what I suggested was that Iran now sponsors PKK in Turkey. This has not always been the case. Babak is correct in stating that at one point in the past both Iran and Turkey considered PKK as terrorists. But that was before Erdogan started assisting anti-Assad Salafi movements. So now at that time Iran started fighting back, not only in Syria and Iraq but also in Eastern Turkey using the PKK as a proxy.

  108. mike allen says:

    James –
    The PKK has bombed Turkish security forces but that is mostly in the east. The recent terrorist bombing in Istanbul has been attributed to TAK, which is a splinter group of the PKK. TAK, also known as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, is in open dissent against the PKK readiness to compromise with the Turkish State. Although the Turks claim that the two groups are still linked.
    Other terrorist bombings in Istanbul have been connected to and and claimed by Daesh the Islamic State.

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